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November 5, 2011

"Life Sentence for Possession of Child Pornography Spurs Debate Over Severity"

The title of this post is the headline of this effective New York Times story discussing the remarkable case from Florida first blogged here. Here is how the piece starts:

Does downloading child pornography from the Internet deserve the same criminal punishment as first-degree murder?

A circuit court judge in Florida clearly thinks so: On Thursday, he sentenced Daniel Enrique Guevara Vilca, a 26-year-old stockroom worker whose home computer was found to contain hundreds of pornographic images of children, to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

But the severity of the justice meted out to Mr. Vilca, who had no previous criminal record, has led some criminal justice experts to question whether increasingly harsh penalties delivered in cases involving the viewing of pornography really fit the crime. Had Mr. Vilca actually molested a child, they note, he might well have received a lighter sentence.

November 5, 2011 at 11:57 AM | Permalink

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One may best understand this anomaly as a feminist witch hunt of the productive male. As there is no place for the KKK in this country's halls of power, so there should be no room for feminists. A purge of all feminists and their male running dogs should be undertaken in all branches of government, all academia, and all responsible positions in business. It is a hate filled supremacists ideology, and a Trojan Horse for the lawyer criminal enterprise rent seeking.

Defense lawyers should think about these responses, so far never tried, despite their obviousness. Defense lawyers owe their jobs to the prosecution, so only pro se defendants are likely to try them.

The biggest promoter and generator of horrible, violent child porn? This prosecutor. By these prosecutions, child porn becomes a bigger profit center for international crime syndicates.


1) Defense lawyers demand a Daubert hearing on the claim that buying child porn increases its production, when it is the prosecution of child porn that increases the production of horrific, violent scenes, by increasing prices.

2) Defense lawyers move for total e-discovery of the computers of the prosecutor and judge. They are the most likely to have child porn on them because the US government is the biggest buyer, downloader, and subscriber to child porn in the world. The feminist running dog prosecutor can explain to the FBI how those images were part of his job.

3) Do legitimate business front organizations owned by the crime syndicates provide any funding, material support, or other considerations to the election campaigns of these feminist running dog prosecutors and judges? Investigate them.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Nov 5, 2011 12:32:32 PM

I am English, resident in the USA for over forty years, and I have always been horrified by the length of prison sentences meted out in this country, which seem to me generally barbaric, certainly in comparison with prison sentences sentences in other industrial countries. And recently I have seen more than one barbaric sentence for viewers of child pornography. This is almost a victimless crime. I stress 'almost' as obviously there is an element of what in England is called "aiding and abetting" those who are committing the much more serious crime of taking and promulgating the pictures.
But, come on--get real--life without the possibility of parole? It's laughable that any judge could impose such a sentence: he should be disbarred.
I am always interested in law: my wife is a lawyer, and my son works as a legal editor for Lexis/Nexis. I was prompted to look at your blog by the NYT article.
And the comment about feminism is...well--perhaps I will not comment.

Posted by: David Cutler | Nov 5, 2011 4:15:24 PM

Child porn spurs the black market for CSEC. Nothing is more traumatic or devastating than child sexual abuse, especially when money is involved. Not life sentence worthy obviously but I would think 6-10 years served is enough.

"when it is the prosecution of child porn that increases the production of horrific, violent scenes" That is just sickening. You'd rather let young children be sexually abused than prosecute those who create it because it'll jack up the price? People will be doing this regardless if it's prosecuted or not. These individuals who watch/create are sick and need some kind of help.

Also, Seto (2008) found that 1 in 8 convicted of CP had a prior conviction for a sexual offense though 55% admitted it in a self-report survey. Considering how sex offenders, especially child sex offenders, are masters of deceit, minimization, and denial, I'd reckon the rate is much higher.

Posted by: Concerned PhD student | Nov 5, 2011 10:55:16 PM

Forget about it, Mr. Berman. American has increasingly equated the right with dogmatic evangelism. Dogmatic evangelism equates right with galloping puritanism. The entire nation, Democrats included have shifted far to the puritanical right. There's no discussion. Sexual neuroticism wins hands down. Our country is losing its brain functions and irrationality such as this is to be found in every quarter. Bring back the guillotine and public executions. We've been soft-soaped by the Proctor & Gambles, by the evangelical right, the Zionist left, the feminist Democrats, and the Republicans (Tea Party included) as a whole.

This subject demands a greater exploration, but from a more profound point of view, for a sentence as stupid as this FL one is but a symptom of a deep-seated, psychic, national illness.

Since you ask, I'm writing a novel based on the subject of the public's puritanical/sexual hysteria, its causes and the limits of logic. We live in a dramatically disturbed nation.

Posted by: Jack Siler | Nov 6, 2011 12:07:46 AM

Dear Concerned PhD Student:

I hope you remember that that means Piled High and Deep! Grow-up and stop being either an extreme feminist (your 55% self-reporting lie is common of feminists. The study was stacked to benefit those who over reported) or just plain dumb.

Define your terms!

Many of the cases prosecuted on the federal level for obtaining CP were provided free by the FBI to entrap and ensnare individuals. How does providing "free porn" create a black market?

Is CP mature looking 16-17 year olds or is it baby rapers? Both are legally CP.

There are many more questions. My problems are with the Feds providing it and any lack of legal differentiation.

Anyone who "actually" molests or abuses a "real" child should be taken outside and shot! These, however, are the vast minority of CP cases.

Posted by: albeed | Nov 6, 2011 1:17:55 AM

@Concerned:

I'm somewhat familiar with the research that has been done thus far on attempts to explore the link between CP possession and child molestation. There are some pretty major methodological studies in at least the studies I'm familiar with, but more to the point that I want to make is this idea of due process.

Even if, as you assert, that the rate of child molestation and / or contact offenses amongst child pornography defendants is high, it seems to me that would not justify such a sentence either. You can't be sent to prison for things that you haven't done (or at least, you're not supposed to be sent to prison for things you haven't done) -- and, for all intents and purposes, if the government has not proven that an individual committed an act, then they did not commit the act as far as the judicial system is concerned.

And even if you seek to justify lengthy sentences because of a hypothetical strong association, then doesn't that seem a little unfair to the ostensible minority of defendants who really were passive users? Or, do we just throw them under the bus along with the rest of them because the whole thing is one big icky affair?

Posted by: Guy | Nov 6, 2011 3:44:46 AM

Concerned PhD student --

Welcome to the Wonderful World of SL&P commenters.

Your post is actually quite mild, and expresses disagreement with the life sentence imposed in this case. You say instead that a far lower sentence -- 6 to 10 years -- would suffice. You then go on, however, to note that a child's being used as a "model" in this sort of display is devastating to her/him.

That's where you crossed The Forbidden Line.

The two posts immediately following yours set you straight. Thus, thinking like yours is part of "dogmatic evangelism" and "galloping puritanism." "There's no discussion" of child pornography laws, we are told (even though the discussion of CP just on this one site covers probably a thousand comments over the last year or two). You are becoming "irrational" and losing your "brain function." People like you want to "bring back the guillotine and public executions." Indeed, you are at best the cat's paw of "the evangelical right, the Zionist left, the feminist Democrats, and the Republicans," and are contributing to "sexual hysteria" of a "dramatically disturbed nation."

And this was in just the FIRST comment after yours.

But they weren't done with you, since you committed The Unforgivable Sin of departing, albeit ever so slightly, from The Received Wisdom.

Thus in the next entry, you are advised that you're simply a fool to be pursuing postgraduate education, since PhD "means Piled High and Deep!" What you need to do, you see, is, "Grow-up and stop being either an extreme feminist...or just plain dumb."

Then we hear that those sharing your concerns are actualy paving the way for "the FBI to entrap and ensnare individuals," (never mentioning, of course, that if the defendant actually shows entrapment, he gets acquitted).

In other words, Concerned PhD student, what you get for showing even minor deviation from The Required Party Line, is a raft of ad hominems ranging from snark to snarling to outright insult.

At least you haven't been called a Nazi or a necrophiliac. Not yet, anyway. I can't in conscience advise you to stick around to see when those get tossed in, as both have been within the last week.

To comment on this site if you don't COMPLETELY tow the liberal line has become to make yourself a target for any slur, no matter how unhinged, low or vulgar. You'll have to decide for yourself if you have the stomach for it.

In the meantime, good luck in your studies.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Nov 6, 2011 10:37:27 AM

LOL@Jack Siler

Anyone who would equate possessing child porn with "galloping puritanism" is suffering from a terminal case of "galloping delusion."

This country has been becoming more and more "sexually liberated" since its inception, and has been moving in that direction at warp speed since the 60's. It is no coincidence that the social fabric of this country has imitated the sound of cheap velcro for the last 50 years.

Y'all sit here and pontificate week after week about why this country is "incarceration nation" when the answer is right in front of your face. It is no coincidence that it began to occur the same time we became a faithless, guiltless, shameless, and blameless nation of throbbing ids releasing legions of feral children into society.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Nov 6, 2011 11:06:28 AM

Concerned PhD Student.

I have no dispute with you, just with the lawyers in this enterprise. I oppose child abuse. I oppose any coercive methods used on adults, such as a criminal syndicate might use. I favor the death penalty after three violent convictions, and would have no problem with the execution of 10,000 people a year to end crime by attrition, including the producers of child porn.

Can we agree that child sexual abuse is wrong, and should be punished? Can we agree that the reduction in the rate of child sexual abuse is among the primary functions of government to protect the weak from the physically strong?

If we can, the data from several national, historical experiments (in real life) show that the legalization of child porn possession, but not production, decreases its production and the incidence of child abuse in the general population. Those consistent results in several countries should be considered by anyone trying to reduce the incidence of child sexual abuse.

Had the lawyer not protected vicious child murderers and predators, both Jessica and Megan would be alive. What we get instead is expensive paper work, child sex offender registration. If you go the to register, it also says, the use of this list to harass or in any way bother a sex offender is a crime itself and punishable with severe penalties. One may not even talk to a child predator about leaving the neighborhood without risking a jail term oneself.

This is the work of the lawyer traitor to our nation. I hope you can join me in getting rid of these internal traitors from responsible policy making positions in the three branches of government.

I hope you join the debate, and I value your challenging remarks, even if you are a feminist.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Nov 6, 2011 11:49:21 AM

hmm

"Then we hear that those sharing your concerns are actualy paving the way for "the FBI to entrap and ensnare individuals," (never mentioning, of course, that if the defendant actually shows entrapment, he gets acquitted)."

Bull shit bill! we have men across the country going to prison for DECADES for talking to 14 year old girls who turn out to be 50 year old fart cops!

sounds like the textbook definiton of ENTRAPMENT but off they go anyway!

Posted by: rodsmith | Nov 6, 2011 2:49:39 PM

rodsmith --

Why are adult men having extremely graphic phone conversations with 14 year-old's?

Cops don't make men seek out teenagers. They do that on their own. And the reason they do it doesn't have anything to do with the cops. It's that they wanted that sort of thing to start with. Cops provide the opportunity, yes. But it's the defendant who takes it. All he has to do to avoid prison is say "no" from the getgo and hang up.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Nov 6, 2011 4:39:38 PM

SC --

"Had the lawyer not protected vicious child murderers and predators, both Jessica and Megan would be alive."

Although I don't know for sure, there probably was a defense lawyer assisting John Couey in seeking release, although Couey had a not insubstantial record as a child predator. Couey was in fact released, whereupon he raped and murdered (by burying alive) nine year-old Jessica Lunsford. Since this is an inconvenient fact for the defense side, I suppose I should be watching out for (again) being labelled a necrophiliac for offending them. That is, unfortunately, the way it works now on this board.

Still, I'm glad you reminded the commenters of what sex offenders can do. The mantra is that it's all public urination and Romeo/Juliet high school romances. That mantra has a basis in a tiny sliver of reality, but basically it's a lie, as the people putting it out know. This hasn't stopped them and it won't.

You have a skewed outlook from where I sit, but the leftist ideologues who look down their noses at you could learn from your non-patisanship and your manners. Don't hold your breath waiting for it to happen.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Nov 6, 2011 4:55:46 PM

Bill,

Do you think that life in prison was appropriate in this case?

Some other questions:

1) Why shouldn't it be illegal to view a picture of any crime being committed against a person? Why isn't is illegal to watch a video of someone being beaten, or see a photo of war?

2) If your only answer in these cases is that the desire to see such media does not create a market for such material, what would your objection be to my providing a naked childhood photo of myself to a friend with pedophilia?

3) Is it always or inherently harmful to see someone under the age of 18 engaged in nudity or sexual conduct? That is the common (conservative and liberal) assumption these days. Any answer you give should be able to explain why children are not generally traumatized by visits to the doctor, rectal thermometers, or nude baby photographs.

4) A related question. If you do believe that these things are inherently harmful, and not completely or nearly completely socially constructed, how do you explain that most people do not feel traumatized by circumcision? As a formerly Orthodox Jew, I can tell you what this process involved. A group of adults (and children) gathered publicly while a portion of my naked, infant body was mutilated and blood flowed from my penis. Pictures were taken. All because a dubious religion suggested as much. Why am I not traumatized by this? Why don't I care that there are such pictures out there? Why do most people not care? Surely, this is far more painful, graphic and permanent than most CP. And why is this an acceptable thing for parents to impose on unconsenting infants?

5) Do you think it a fact of psychology that minors exposed to nudity or sexuality are necessarily harmed? Or do you think that minors have to be taught so? Do you think that people would be traumatized by such things if they were raised in a society in which it was completely acceptable, if not respectable? Any answer you give should explain why we don't have evidence of increased dysfunctionality or mental illness in such societies, including ancient Greece and non-Western civilizations.

I have many more questions, but I think this is a good start.

AnonymousOne

Posted by: AnonymousOne | Nov 6, 2011 5:17:44 PM

AnonymousOne --

You actually asked 13 questions, not 5.

I am not about to answer 13 questions set out in one post. No commenter has ever answered such a number of questions, and I have neither the need nor the desire to be the first. Are you under the impression that this is an interrogatory or that I'm your servant?

Having within the last week been smeared as a necrophiliac and a child molestor, while you and your pro-porn pals snickered in accepting silence, I am no longer inclined to be as responsive as I once was on this forum. If you don't like it, tough. I am not going to react to a forum that has descended into the sewer in the same way I reacted to one that had managed, although just barely, to stay above it.

I will, however, answer three questions you may select from your list. They are not to be compound questions. I will do so, however, only if you give your real first and last name and your business affiliation. The day has passed when I respond to anonymous creeps who want to spit from behind the curtain.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Nov 6, 2011 5:50:04 PM

Bill,

Nothing in my post was disrespectful to you. I didn't call you any names, nor will I. Nor do I think my questions are unreasonable, regardless of whether you think they have any ultimate merit. For the record, you have been the first to lob ad hominem at me in response to a thoughtful post.

I take exception to your reference to me and my "pro porn pals," or to my having stood by in accepting silence at something. You don't know my view on any subject, you simply have a list of questions that any thinking person that thinks about these issues should have answers to. Nor did I sit by in any accepting silence to anything. I'm not even sure what you are referring to. I just read this post and its comments, and decided to write one. I also take exception to your implicit reference to me as an "anonymous creep."

Perhaps it doesn't pay to engage in a dialogue. I am not sure. But I certainly don't want to do so if this is the kind of response I can expect to receive.

AnonymousOne

Posted by: AnonymousOne | Nov 6, 2011 6:07:04 PM

Dear AnonymousOne:

Your 6:07 response hit the nail on the head. Bill feigns insults and smears from anonymous posters when they don't swallow his comments hook line and sinker.

Bill, don't you ever call me a liberal pro-porn advocate. You are a faux conservative, a RINO. I am more conservative that you. I have merely critically tried to strain the government dogma that has been fed me since I was a baby. And yet, I may be a bit cynical, but am hopeful that we can change the direction of our government, our education and our society.

Posted by: albeed | Nov 6, 2011 6:19:28 PM

Bill: When I say, the lawyer, I meant the profession, not the defense lawyer trying to do a difficult job. He was kept alive past his 18th birthday, and if the family of a victim tried to kill him, they would be prosecuted.

Couey was likely a sexual predator from childhood. His repeat offenses had the foreseeability of planetary orbits. He generated lots of government make work jobs, especially for lawyers. So he was kept alive past his 18th birthday. I doubt that Jessica was his only victim after a busy criminal career. Kill a predator early, at 18, save likely dozens of innocent lives. The predator has the protection of the lawyer because of the jobs he generates. Victims generate nothing and may rot. Little problem. The sole to have a government at all is to protect victims. In that regard, the lawyer run government is in utter failure, allowing 20 million crime victimizations, prosecuting 2 million, with 90% of criminal conduct resulting in no inconvenience to the criminal whatsoever. These victimizations are not mala prohibita. They are all serious FBI Index felonies, real crimes.

Jessica's was a wrongful death, because of the 100% foreseeability of future Couey victimizations. The entire chain of lawyer traitors should be held liable in torts, especially the judges, but also the legislatures that failed to enact the laws to permit the killing of Couey at age 18 or the immunizations of families of victims who would do that job. All payments should come from the personal assets of these careless lawyers. Let these incompetents buy liability insurance, as everyone else competent has to.

As a prosecutor, I am sure you will have no difficulty uttering the V word, as others here might. You not be choking, coughing, or need a rescue squad if you try it. You believe you represented and served victims. I agree with you, but disagree it was enough.

Ironically, vengeance was wrought upon Couey by the medical profession. It would not let him go, but tormented him with painful, futile end of life care for his anal cancer. I am not here to discuss medical rent seeking, however. I can only say, it makes the lawyer profession look pretty virtuous. The death penalty would have been humane compared to that torture followed by death.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Nov 6, 2011 7:41:56 PM

AnonymousOne --

"I take exception to your reference to me and my 'pro porn pals,' or to my having stood by in accepting silence at something."

Then take exception to it.

"You don't know my view on any subject, you simply have a list of questions that any thinking person that thinks about these issues should have answers to."

Your list is a good tipoff as to what you think.

"Nor did I sit by in any accepting silence to anything."

You most certainly did.

"I'm not even sure what you are referring to."

Then find out. You'll get some clues shortly.

"I just read this post and its comments, and decided to write one."

As is your right. It is my right to respond on such terms as I see fit, including noting that I do not, on demand, answer interrogatories from complete strangers.

"I also take exception to your implicit reference to me as an 'anonymous creep.'"

Your complaint as the the "creep" part is well grounded. I withdraw that and apoligize for it. Your complaint as the "anonymous" part is baseless, since you insisted on anonymity then and continue to now.

"Perhaps it doesn't pay to engage in a dialogue."

I don't know that I disagree with you. For years I have attempted to have a dialogue here, but of late it's getting harder and harder, although I can still have productive discussions with pro-defense commenters like Jonathan Edelstein, Marc Shepherd, Mark R. Levine, beth and several others.

As a conservative, I'm used to hearing the usual hateful (and often anonymous) stuff like "Nazi," "bloodluster," "savage," and "racist." Indeed that kind of junk, though in a sane world confined to the gutter, gets tossed at me and other conservatives here so often that I barely notice anymore.

But things have recently taken a turn. Rather than settling for the usual smears, a few days ago one poster referred to me as a pedophile and a necrophiliac. That crosses a line; it essentially sends the comments section from the gutter to the sewer.

The most important thing, however, was not the "pedophile" and "necrophiliac" standing alone. The defense side here has some hate-mongering hotheads, and it would be unfair to tag all of them with what one particular troll says. The important thing was that, from the day it was said to this, not one pro-defense commentator has taken even slight exception to it. This is true although it's clear several of them have seen it. I suspect, indeed, that most have seen it and are just staying mum, content to let their hatchetman do their dirty work for them while they technically stay clear of the slime.

That episode and its aftermath have changed how I view the forum. The previous hateful epithets had been at standard gutter level, a level that seems to be tolerated in the anonymous Internet age. But "pedophile" and "necrophiliac" have taken it from the gutter to the sewer. My participation here is not going to remain what is was before I found out in graphic terms just what the Left is willing to do, and to tolerate.

Taken on their own, your questions are, as you correctly point out, neither disrespectful nor unreasonable. Indeed, some of them are thought provoking. Eight days ago, I would have given a different response. But eight days ago, this forum was a different place. And, even though the questions have merit, I must say, with all respect, that asking 13 or them is a presumption on my time.

My offer remains open: I will answer three questions provided they are not compounded. In addition, you'll have to provide your true first and last name and your business affiliation. I am done answering questions from those who refuse ever to accept personal resoponsibility for what they say, as I do in every single comment.

You seem like a serious minded person. It may be that a productive discussion will be possible with you. Time will tell.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Nov 6, 2011 7:50:51 PM

Anonymous One: You should go to law school. This is brilliant issue spotting, and the potential for a new defense. If you ever decide to do so, I would like to talk to you. The false claim that downloading and viewing child porn promotes child abuse, not only violates the procedural due process rights of the defendant, not only does it violate the Daubert decision that applies to criminal prosecution, it represents an improper motive by the prosecution. It is the basis for counter suing the prosecutor for malice, and for filing ethics charges against judges and prosecutors.

"1) Why shouldn't it be illegal to view a picture of any crime being committed against a person? Why isn't is illegal to watch a video of someone being beaten, or see a photo of war?"

I bet, no defense lawyer will ever use it because it would end the prosecutions and their jobs.

The biggest irony? These prosecutions raise the profitability of producing child porn by criminal syndicates, and increase the incidence of real child sexual abuse.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Nov 6, 2011 8:20:13 PM

Bill: I know you do not speak for the DOJ, especially this one, but I would like to read your answers to the 13 questions of Anonymous One. They are not personal attacks on you, and deserve a prosecution perspective. I am sure Anonymous One has no intent to make any personal remarks, just to debate you. Unlike my points, they are mainstream, common sense, logical questions, deserving of some thoughtful replies.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Nov 6, 2011 8:27:58 PM

SC --

I agree with you on a number of points: That AnonymousOne is serious and not a bomb thrower; that his questions are worthwhile; that he seems to be a respectful person; and that a prosecution pespective would be interesting.

Nonetheless, I am going to stick to the conditions I set out. I'm not going to answer more than three because 13 is just too much (indeed it would be unprecedented by a considerable margin); and, in light of recent developments regarding the scurrilous and vulgar attacks made on this forum, I will no longer answer questions from persons who refuse fully to identify themselves. From now on, people who want to talk to me are going to accept the same responsibility for what they say that I do. I may make exceptions to that from time to time, but it won't be that often.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Nov 6, 2011 9:07:40 PM

I have heard that 25% of students in high school have sent nude or partially nude pictures of themselves via e-mail.
I'm sure that makes the private prison industry happy to think of the huge number of future prisoners.

Posted by: JS | Nov 6, 2011 9:39:59 PM

On the other hand, were the viewers to have unlimited free access to erotic pictures of children ages 16-18 and they viewed them 8-10 hours per day, there would be no time to harm the public.

Posted by: JAG | Nov 6, 2011 9:54:57 PM

"On the other hand, were the viewers to have unlimited free access to erotic pictures of children ages 16-18 and they viewed them 8-10 hours per day, there would be no time to harm the public."

On the other hand, were the viewers to have unlimited free access to erotic pictures of children ages 6-8 and they viewed them 8-10 hours per day, there would be no time to harm the public.

Not so?

So is that OK?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Nov 6, 2011 10:33:42 PM

Bill: I will gladly send you a resume of everything about me. It would be meaningless information about a stranger. I live in your home town, a lawyer residential area. Fun fact, but of no use. Doug can attest, I am a fun person. I lost my cool only once during his conference, at a federal prosecutor, accusing him of providing federal price supports to Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and Mexican drug cartels by his prosecutions. But, I was able to speak to him privately, afterward, in a civil, friendly tone. You, as Doug, would get little from knowing everything about a total stranger, with whom you are unlikely to get involved in the physical world. Your insistence on knowing real names is not annoying, but it itself is an ad hominem, implying bad faith in those who do not want to be second guessed at work, at home. Second guess me, and I am a hero taking on the oppressor to most of the public, and especially to the members of the most regulated profession to which I belong.

I also view personal attacks a bit differently. They are admissions of defeat. Call me names, and you have knocked down your King in admission of a hopeless position, headed toward a now inevitable check mate.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Nov 6, 2011 10:39:36 PM

JAG: You may have put your proverbial finger on one of the mysterious factors or dark energy keeping crime down during a recession. Video addiction.

The other is childhood obesity among the poor, fatherless children of the under class. Too fat to go roaming into the street. Not fat enough to miss out on the Roman Orgy lifestyle going on in the house every school night.

You should be thin if you are going to be poor. The last mysterious force is likely the great material wealth and comfort of the poor, making crime a complete waste of valuable time, when they have everything, and too much of it. You wonder, are they the fools, or am I? He is having the time of his life in the pursuit of the full time Roman Orgy lifestyle. I am working hard. At 15, he has the lifestyle and experiences of a 25 year old. I have no lifestyle at all, wasting all that time on education and work. It takes me hours to feel good about what I achieved. It takes him 1 minute after a hit from a crack pipe to get the same exact sensation, but 10 times as strong, all for $5, at taxpayer expense. The answer is not obvious, at all, as to who is the bigger fool.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Nov 6, 2011 10:50:48 PM

SC:

I Thank You from the bottom of my "liberal" heart for your last two posts. I have alway known where you are/were coming from and your comments should be seriously considered in how your ideas create an optimal, fully employed and useful/useless economy.

But I am tired of being accused of being a liberal or a failed libertarian by people on this blog who have fed at the government trough too long to have the guts to provide real data to support their opinions as I have been accused of doing!

Posted by: albeed | Nov 6, 2011 11:09:28 PM

SC --

I might not have made myself adequately clear. I don't need identifying information from you, because I have a long pre-existing acquaintance with you on this forum, and have learned that, while we see the world a good bit differently, you are a gentleman, a non-partisan, and something of a scholar. I am going to require such information from now on, however, at the very minimum from anyone who wants to get personal and nasty. I have had enough of the cowardly stunt of spitting from behind the curtian. If people had to identify themselves, the spitting would decrease considerably, to the betterment of the entire discussion. As things stand, it's out of hand.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Nov 6, 2011 11:22:26 PM

Bill: One problem with name calling? Boring. These comments are an adult playground of the mind, and facts are the most powerful movers of the reader. I would like to know if most of the people making personal remarks about Bill are lawyers or civilians. I think he wouldn't care so much if they were unknowing civilians. Lawyers calling people names are another matter, because they are throwing in the towel of advocacy. It is really lawyer bad form. In a tribunal, the judge would admonish the name calling, and the befuddled jury would take that as a signal of which way the judge wants the verdict. The lawyer would be sunk. If lawyers call people names here, it may become a habit, and slip through in a legal setting, with dire consequences to the utterer. I strongly urge all lawyers, even if very left wing and abandoned by the facts 100 years ago, to stop all personal remarks.

Let's bash each other vigorously with facts, logic, and constitutional points. Bashing each other with Supreme Court precedent does not count, since their decisions have no outside validation, and reflect mere "feelings" lawyer rent seeking, and other biases. They know nothing about nothing. Yet they get to decide the future of highly technical fields, from admiralty to torts. Most of their decisions are amateurish, reflecting ignorance of the reality of a difficult, technical field, including prison sentencing and crime control. My person who cuts hair had 2000 hours of training, took a difficult 100 question written test, and had to show licensing officials proficiency at cutting the hair of three types of people, facial massages, manicuring, etc. The Supreme Court decision is at least as hard as cutting hair. Yet, these nominees breeze in, with no training, and make decisions with the wisdom and validation of a two year old throwing things around a room.

The Congress will do nothing about them because they take care of pesky, difficult, politically explosive issues, and allow the Congress to avoid facing them.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Nov 7, 2011 12:05:05 AM

I have two questions for albeed (from his/her 1:17am post on 11/6):

1) You state: "Many of the cases prosecuted on the federal level for obtaining CP were provided free by the FBI to entrap and ensnare individuals." Do you have any actual facts to back up this statement, or is this anectodal? I have actually heard the opposite, that most federal CP cases are based on the feds "raiding" share web sites and pay sites.

2) You state, "Is CP mature looking 16-17 year olds or is it baby rapers?" Here, there is data. Over 95% of federal CP defendants had pictures of kids under the age of 12 in their stash (this is taken from Sentencing Commission data on the application of the guidelines). So, it isn't the 16-17 year olds in pictures that are getting people sentenced in federal court.

But let's not let actual facts enter this string.

Posted by: Kelly | Nov 7, 2011 10:46:41 AM

bill i might buy this!

"rodsmith --

Why are adult men having extremely graphic phone conversations with 14 year-old's?

Cops don't make men seek out teenagers. They do that on their own. And the reason they do it doesn't have anything to do with the cops. It's that they wanted that sort of thing to start with. Cops provide the opportunity, yes. But it's the defendant who takes it. All he has to do to avoid prison is say "no" from the getgo and hang up.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Nov 6, 2011 4:39:38 PM"

If a big part of them were not hanging out in ADULT FANTASY CHAT ROOMS pretending to be 14! not sure about you but when i pick up a fantasy book i don't expect it to be REAL! same applies to a fantasy chat room.

Heck not sure if your familiar with florida law. But here you could meet a woman in a bar with a smoke in one hand and a drink in the other.... demand and copy her ID and Birth Certificate and it turned out later she was UNDER AGE....GUESS WHAT! you are LEGALLY PROHIBITED from using any of that in your defense!

i also know of at least one case where an underage girl made it a hobby of putting older man in prison. Think last time i heard her head count was up to 4!

Posted by: rodsmith | Nov 7, 2011 11:12:07 AM

Kelly --

Good questions. I'll be curious to see if they get answered.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Nov 7, 2011 12:31:44 PM

rodsmith --

The only thing a teenage girl would say to me in a bar is, "Wow, you look a lot like Grandpa."

Posted by: Bill Otis | Nov 7, 2011 12:34:26 PM

bill: "The only thing a teenage girl would say to me in a bar is, "Wow, you look a lot like Grandpa.""

me: are you just trying to provoke me today? Won't work, but I will say this comment made me smile.

But seriously, do you or anyone else want to make a serious case why a LWOP sentence is justified for icky pervs for mere possession? And if so, can you explain how it is consistent to claim that the death penalty is needed to deter crime such as keeping a rapist from killing his victim, but yet it somehow protects children to punish mere possession as badly as the most vicious child rape? I'm all for locking icky pervs up for long prison sentences and it does not bother me in the least that we are essentially using the possession charges - even through what is essentially entrapment to lock up the icky pervs - but it makes absolutely no sense to punish icky pervs so severely for mere possession that they feel that they might as well go out and assault actual children. Maybe the deterrence theory is completely bogus - I have my doubts about it, but why risk the health and safety of real children in case it is true? Society should not be so blindly focused it its admirable goal to protect children from icky pervs that we fail to question whether child pron possession penalties are so high as to put actual children at risk?

ginny :)

Posted by: virginia | Nov 7, 2011 2:00:24 PM

'The mantra is that it's all public urination and Romeo/Juliet high school romances.'

Wow Bill, didn't know you also had one of those high falutin' PhDs (Piled High and Deep) too...don't let your ears get plugged up.

Posted by: ; | Nov 7, 2011 4:34:51 PM

Thanks to all who commented for their thoughtful compliments and encouragement. I am glad to have teed-up these issues for some good discussion.

Bill: For the record, I don't approve of any ad hominem attacks against anyone, and if some have been lodged against you, they are plainly inapprorpiate. I did not see them, as I don't read all of the posts or all of the comments, but it is not the way that I will, or anyone should, engage in discussion. If I see such comments in the future, I will make it clear that civil dialogue is expected.

Nor did I mean by my message to tax your time. I know that answers to my questions could take pages, and I assume you have better things to do. I was not being presumptuous. I don't expect you to answer all of these questions at one, or at all. I was merely putting the questions out there.

I need to think about two things. First, which of the questions I want to be my "three." Second, if I am comfortable shedding anonymity. I understand your desire to have a responsible, identifiable human on the other end of a discussion. But, you must also understand my desire to protect myself from completely unfounded allegations or implications that because I ask such questions--and demand that our criminal law jurisprudence be justified--I somehow think it isn't or think it can be. This is part of the reason your characterization of me as "pro porn" was upsetting. Even if I thought that that current justifications for CP proscriptions were lacking, that doesn't mean I think CP a good or useful thing, and certainly doesn't mean it or condone disrespect for the law as it stands. This is a very touchy subject, and I want to be able to ask these questions in an environment where I don't suffer reputation (or other) harm merely for doing so.

AnonymousOne

Posted by: AnonymousOne | Nov 7, 2011 4:43:24 PM

'For years I have attempted to have a dialogue here, but of late it's getting harder and harder,'

..probably because some are just tired of the mantra and possibly have a desire for discussions and approaches other than those presented to date thus far. Could it be time to move on and dialog with an audience more sympathetic to your beliefs? Not necessarily, I believe you provide a counterpoint to the discussions whether you feel you're outnumbered or not. Maybe a thicker skin may help.

Posted by: ; | Nov 7, 2011 4:55:56 PM

; --

"Maybe a thicker skin may help."

Maybe the basic, elemental decency of refraining from calling opposing commenters child molestors may help. Ya think?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Nov 7, 2011 6:46:12 PM

AnonymousOne --

I believe, on reconsideration, that my initial response to you was aggressive and ill-tempered, and I am sorry for those things. You appear to be one of the commenters who is interested in issues rather than persons, and thus would be a welcome addition here so far as I am concerned.

I will await the questions you select.

I have been blogging on this site for some time, and there is a trend underway that you, being a newcomer, wouldn't know about. The trend is toward making increasingly reckless and vile personal remarks. I put up with it for a long time, but a week ago today a poster rather directly accused me of being a pedophile and a necrophiliac. The poster only gave a first name, thus making himself unidentifiable, and evading responsibility for his excursion into the gutter.

It was at that point that I decided to stop responding to people who will not identify themselves. I have never written a single post here in which I did NOT sign my true name, and I have disclosed my background many times (I am an adjunct professor of law at Georgetown Law Center and a former federal prosecutor and aide to President George H. W. Bush).

I understand the special difficulties you encounter given the nature of the subject, and, now that I have seen some of your writing, I'm sure you're not the kind of person against whom I need to impose an identity requirement. While I would appreciate your telling me who you are, I will field your selected questions as best I can without it. I should say, however, that I am not a criminologist nor a psychologist, so you might find my answers wanting.

Again, I regret my initial belligerence. Some people here have earned it. You are not one of them.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Nov 7, 2011 7:05:56 PM

Bill,

Thanks for your thoughtful response. Let's start on a clean slate.

I think this cluster is a good starting point:

4) If you do believe that these things are inherently harmful, and not completely or nearly completely socially constructed, how do you explain that most people do not feel traumatized by circumcision? As a formerly Orthodox Jew, I can tell you what this process involved. A group of adults (and children) gathered publicly while a portion of my naked, infant body was mutilated and blood flowed from my penis. Pictures were taken. All because a dubious religion suggested as much. Why am I not traumatized by this? Why don't I care that there are such pictures out there? Why do most people not care? Surely, this is far more painful, graphic and permanent than most CP. And why is this an acceptable thing for parents to impose on unconsenting infants?

You don't have to answer all or even most portions of this, though I think that all are related enough that any answer would likely touch on all of them. It isn't easy picking a cluster on which to focus, and hopefully we will, over the course of time, have a chance to discuss many of the issues I've raised. I think this may be a good starting point because it is a poignant illustration of my biggest issue--inherent harm and the lines we draw around what we suppose is inherently harmful. Discussions about the market for CP, while important, are secondary in that they presuppose such harm.

As for my identity, I may be more comfortable divulging in a more private forum, though I don't know if you give your email address out.

AO

Posted by: AnonymousOne | Nov 7, 2011 9:34:25 PM

Kelly @ 10:46 AM:

Google: Slashdot, FBI Posts fake hyperlinks:

You will find that federal officials may obtain warrants on IP addresses that click on the FAKE hyperlinks, often with a SWAT Team in tow.

The questions is, not how many times this happens. That it happens one time demonstrates where we are headed as a country.

I disagree with the government setting up honeypots to aggressively attack and prosecute those who smell the honey.

Posted by: albeed | Nov 7, 2011 10:55:19 PM

Kelly:

Please also note that not all CP that has been prosecuted means an actual child was abused. Check out the case of a Japanese ANIME comic collector who was prosecuted for CP.

Posted by: albeed | Nov 7, 2011 11:01:52 PM

AO --

I am insufficiently versed in cultural anthropology to know whether CP is "inherently" harmful. There are, as I believe you pointed out, societies both past and present in which child nudity was accepted or even routine right up into adolesence. So I guess I would say that CP is, as a general matter, a social construct, with two important caveats.

The first is that it depends on what specifically we're talking about. If we're talking about a picture of two 15 year-olds having intercourse, that's one thing. A picture of an 8 year-old screaming in pain as she is forced to engage in sex with an animal is something else. I cannot believe that the latter was ever accepted in civilized life, except perhaps in barbaric civilizations as a torture to be inflicted on wartime captives. It strikes me as so completely cruel and inhuman that I have a hard time believing it was ever viewed as anything but a perversion, and a monstrous one at that.

The second caveat is that, to my mind, it is not a knock on modern society's ban on CP that it is based on a "social construct." Many uncontroversial but stern laws are so based. For example, private property and associated property rights are a social construct. One could imagine a different, communal construct that doesn't recognize private property. One can imagine societies that tolerate or encourage polygamy. This soceity, however, honors only monagomous marriage and recognizes and safeguards the right to private property. None of this is at all bad. It's the way we have chosen to organize our culture and economic life, and, like every organized society, we enforce the chosen order with laws and penalties for breaking them.

Let me end here for now and continue tomorrow. I live in Northern Virginia, and it's past midnight here.

I appreciate your willingness to forgive my bad temper yesterday, and I hope you''ll be equally willing to forgive my relative ignorance of psychology and anthopology. I was a decently successful lawyer in my day, quite successful some might say, but I am out of my field here.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Nov 8, 2011 12:20:21 AM

AO --

Let me now continue with the answers I promised.

"...how do you explain that most people do not feel traumatized by circumcision?"

I think the baby being circumcised most certainly DOES feel trauma. The people invited to watch it do so out of deference to the parents who did the inviting (which is how I happened to see one). Whether they feel traumatized, I don't know. I kind of winced, 'cause it's bound to hurt the kid, but I can't say I was "traumatized." I suspected the pain wouldn't last very long, and it didn't seem to. The rabbi gave the baby a wine-soaked handkerchief to suck on, and within a minute the baby was back asleep.

I'm not quite sure why you brought this up in a discussion of CP, since to my knowledge absolutely no one does or could think of a circumcision as prurient. Indeed, I can scarcely think of anything LESS likely to cause sexual arousal in the persons viewing it.

"Why am I not traumatized by this? Why don't I care that there are such pictures out there? Why do most people not care?"

You are better situated to answer as to your own feelings than am I, but I'll take a shot. I think you're not traumatized, and no one is traumatized, because millions upon millions of infants and very small children have shots taken of them in the bathtub or something similar. The very fact that such pictures are so widespread and so accepted would by itself make you (and others) feel like there was nothing embarrassing about it. And no one thinks of such pictures as intended to degrade or as degrading. No one thinks of them as prurient or exploitative. Also, such pictues are taken before the child develops a sense of privacy. Finally, the child is in such an early stage of physical development that he or she is unrecognizable in adult life from his baby bath or circumcision pictures.

"And why is this an acceptable thing for parents to impose on unconsenting infants?"

For the same reason parents make virtually ALL decisions concerning their infant children, to wit, that the infant has neither the information nor the judgment to make any decsions for himself, and it's up to the parents to do it. For the reasons set forth above, parents believe such pictures are cute and harmless, and might be something the kid himself would want to see much later in his life. (Whether I personally would think any of those things is a different matter).

Although I'm no doctor, I believe circumcision is considered a heath measure as well as a religious ritual. I also believe that, largely for that reason, most boys in this country, Jewish and not Jewish, get circumcised, although the practice is less widespread in Europe (except among Jews).

I might add that, although I was a federal prosecutor for 18 years, I never heard of a CP case that was based on, or even included one item of, circumcision pictures. As I said, I can scarcely think of something less likely to cause sexual arousal even in a person whose sexual tastes are beyond bizarre.

Lastly, let me say that real world CP prosecutions are not about baby bath pictures. They are not about public urination. With only an infinitesimal number of exceptions, they are not about some 15 year-old texting a nudie picture of himself/herself to his/her boyfriend/girlfriend.

They are about utterly gross, disgusting, expoitative and often cruel depictions of teen or pre-teen girls and boys who have very much developed a sense of privacy and who are certainly and painfully aware that it and they are being violated, but are powerless to stop the adults who are doing it to them. They are produced and marketed for money, and their audience is very much sexually aroused by them (which is the whole purpose of these CP Internet sites and the reason for their proliferation).

Posted by: Bill Otis | Nov 8, 2011 9:30:32 AM

bill, have you ever thought that maybe the reason why no one responded to the claim that you were an icky perv or a necrophiliac is because it is so riduculous on its face that it is not worth dignifying with a response? by carrying on about it, you just make yourself look as riduculous as the original accusation was and you let the troll win.

just some friendly advice.

Posted by: virginia | Nov 8, 2011 12:55:50 PM

that's good advice virginia and you hit it right on the head. I learned a long time ago the best way to beat a bully was to ignore them unless forced then take a baseball bat to them.

but the best way to beat smart assed that are all talk and no action...was just to ignore them. that really pisses them off!

Posted by: rodsmith | Nov 8, 2011 3:32:08 PM

virginia and rodsmith --

As I have mentioned before, the important thing about the child molestor/necrophiliac comment is not that it was made, but that no one on the defense side condemned it.

Do you think that, if I had said such a thing, I would have heard about it? Well that one's kinda easy: About a dozen posters would have come down on my head in a New York minute, outraged that I would issue such a slur, and that it was only proof that I was, indeed, a gutter-puncher and a Nazi.

And coming down on it would absolutely have been the right thing to do.

The conservative side is the minority on this site (not in the country, but on this site). There are some here who resent my having the audacity to dissent from the Conventional Liberal Wisdom on this defense-oriented blog. That's fine. Let's debate. But it is decidedly NOT fine to approach the liberal vs. conservative divide, not by debate, but by being so vulgar and disgusting that the opposing viewpoint will simply be driven off the board to avoid the stench.

That such an accusation has been attempted is in my view an important and ominous (and revealing) development. Silence in the face of this McCartyite tactic is no more productive, and no more honorable, than silence in the face of the orginal McCarthyism. I am no Margaret Chase Smith, but I remember her example of meeting McCartyism, not with silence, but with the frontal attack that started McCarthy's demise. It is, IMHO, an example well worth following.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Nov 8, 2011 4:01:22 PM

Bill,

I appreciate your concession that CP may, as a general matter, be a social construct. For many, that is a hard concession to come to terms with, though it need not be. I think that is a reasonable conclusion and one that many experts—even if they are staunchly opposed to any form of CP—would probably accept. The anthropological literature, in my estimation, supports this conclusion, and its import cannot be ignored. As you note, however, there are reasons beyond inherent harm that a society might criminalize behavior, and account must be taken of contingent harm. I will get to that in a subsequent post, and try to limit this one to two discrete issues—that of inherent harm and the status of sexual interest.

I use the example of circumcision not for its frequency as a prurient matter (I too have never seen such a case). I would use it, instead, to address your first caveat. You say that “A picture of an 8 year-old screaming in pain as she is forced to engage in sex with an animal” was never accepted in civilized life and, though I may be wrong, I take you to mean that this may be an instance of inherent harm. To this, I would offer circumcision. Notwithstanding the cultural gloss we give it and its ubiquity, I think it plainly barbaric. In a society in which nobody was ever circumcised, imagine trying to explain to a judge who has caught you attending such an illegal and rare ceremony that it was not inherently harmful. He would, I suppose, frame the act in much the way you framed your first caveat. I suspect his response to your protestations would be that an infant screaming in pain as he is forced to have his foreskin cut from his penis, in front of a smiling crowd, blood flowing from his body, is so completely cruel and inhuman that he would have a hard time believing it was ever viewed as anything but a perversion, and a monstrous one at that. Would he be wrong to view it as such? If not, what makes your own first caveat different? (I don’t mean to imply that I view your first caveat’s example as unharmful or something that should in any way be permitted in civilized society; only that I think the caveat may be inconsistent with our views about circumcision.)

I don’t think that any of this is dependent on the victim’s infancy. Societies throughout the world have painful and involuntary rites of passage, with much the same consequence—i.e., a socially constructed consequence that can be good, bad, or neutral. If adolescent circumcision was the norm in society (and I don’t see any necessary reason why society couldn’t make that decision), I think most people would come to accept it as a painful inconvenience and nothing more. Were it a religious matter and were society to frame endurance as a matter of bravery and pride, I suppose some adolescents would actually find the experience, overall, to have been a positive one. Our senses of privacy and violation are, I believe, socially constructed.

The gist of this is that it may be harder than one thinks to establish something as inherently harmful in a sense greater than immediate physical discomfort or pain. That is the sense in which I want to focus the present discussion, because I think that is what we are really talking about. We will both agree that circumcision and certain coerced sexual acts are immediately and necessarily painful. So why is one celebrated and the other criminalized? And why should pain resulting from a sexual act be treated more harshly than illegal pain resulting from any other motivation, such as that to rob or maim?

This carries us to the subject of sexual interest itself. What I think lies at the heart of the issue for those that understand the social construction of much sexual legislation, even accepting arguendo your first caveat as a universal and thus except if from a social construction theory, is that it is the nature of sexuality itself that makes CP wrong and justifies proscribing what may not, and when compared to circumcision, seem malum in se. That is, if an activity is not inherently harmful (such as a man massaging a naked child), it may become so or nonetheless be properly proscribed by virtue of the nature of the interest expressed, rather than the actual harm inflicted.

I think you indirectly hint at this “heart” issue. You note that no CP cases to your knowledge involve circumcision, and that nobody witnessing a circumcision is deriving sexual pleasure from it. This is a fine distinction if you accept another premise that I am going to want justification for accepting. That premise is that sexuality or prurience is somehow wrong or immoral or base or inappropriate. Again, that is not the case across cultures, nor am I convinced (yet) that there is a good biological or logical basis for such premise. Why should we be distinguishing between sexual feelings and others such as love, cuteness, beauty, and talent? Why is it any more legitimate to dress a male child in clothing that the parent or anyone else finds “cute” (regardless of the child’s opinion)? Why is it any more legitimate to kiss a child as an expression of love than it is to touch a child as an expression of physical attraction? Why is it any more legitimate than admiring a child’s ability to sing? Put aside, for a moment, the question whether the child wants or likes or consents to being the object of sexual interest, for that is important though secondary to the question whether, in the first instance, the fact of sexual interest alone is somehow wrong.

It is not necessary for something to be inherently harmful before the law proscribes it. However, if it is not inherently harmful, we should wonder what in fact has caused its proscription. History, intuition and religion may be useful guideposts, but they can also be very misleading (as they have been on numerous issues), and should not supplant more principled justification.

Two minor points. First, I don’t think the potential health benefits of circumcision should carry much weight, because I doubt we would view the practice any differently if it turned out that such benefit was illusory. Second, while I agree that most CP is not just a picture of a teenager or an infant in a bath, those are better questions to address once the initial harm is understood and justified. I’d also add that in many of the solicitation/exploitation cases where an adult chats with or tries to meet a child, the adult is not looking to do anything inherently harmful (such as strike the child or force pain upon them).

Again, no need to answer all or even most of the questions I have posed in this way-too-lengthy post. And I will forgive your ignorance of anthropology and psychology if you will forgive my ignorance of almost every subject. Whatever you want to respond to, if anything, is perfectly fine.

AO

Posted by: AnonymousOne | Nov 8, 2011 4:16:48 PM

i agree with this statement bill 100%

"That's fine. Let's debate. But it is decidedly NOT fine to approach the liberal vs. conservative divide, not by debate, but by being so vulgar and disgusting that the opposing viewpoint will simply be driven off the board to avoid the stench."

it is possible to disagree without getting rude and dirty about it!

Posted by: rodsmith | Nov 9, 2011 12:10:38 AM

bill: "The conservative side is the minority on this site (not in the country, but on this site)."

me: this is really wrong in three respects. First, conservatives do not represent the majority of this country - only about 33% of the country describes themselves as conservative. Second, ideological self identification is largely meaningless - on most individual issues the "liberal" side comes out on top - often by large margins. And third, many issues - including the most devisive ones here - the death penalty, punishment of icky pervs, the drug war, etc. - are not actually a liberal/conservative issues at all and its a mistake to see them as such.

bill: "But it is decidedly NOT fine to approach the liberal vs. conservative divide, not by debate, but by being so vulgar and disgusting that the opposing viewpoint will simply be driven off the board to avoid the stench."

me: fine, but keep in mind that people's opinion on what is vulger and disgusting will vary. Have you ever noticed that on almost all death penalty threads here are dominated by death penalty supporters? Why is that? Maybe because speaking out against the death penalty here will guarantee a stream of abuse from the pro-death penalty side - and yes, saying that someone thinks that America stinks or is pro-criminal is abusive. And who engages in those tactics? What about the drug war threads? Speak out in favor of marijuana legalization here and you will be called a stoner or worse - and again, who is doing that? Basically Bill, what I am saying is that you need to take a good look at yourself before you go after others.

bill: "There are some here who resent my having the audacity to dissent from the Conventional Liberal Wisdom on this defense-oriented blog"

me: I don't - I like debating with intelligent conservatives and I hope I hold my own - but I also do not like hypocracy and dishonest debate tactics either. And when you engage in dishonest and hypocritical debate tactics like you are currently engaged in, I will call you out on it.

bill: "Silence in the face of this McCartyite tactic is no more productive, and no more honorable, than silence in the face of the orginal McCarthyism"

me: so says the person who has told many liberals, including me, that they are part of the "America Stinks Brigade" - ponder the irony and hypocracy. And incidentially, since when have Conservatives opposed McCarthism? Your side is constantly saying that McCarthy was right and has constantly attempted to silence liberals using the charge of being unpatriotic or soft on crime or pro-drug or pro-porn or pro-icky perv or whatever. You engage in those tactics all of the time. And because I believe in honest debate, I feel that I must call you out on it. You cannot consistently wallow in the sewer and then complain when others respond in kind. You cannot consistently try to silence critics through abuse and complain when others do the same.

Posted by: virginia | Nov 9, 2011 7:15:19 AM

rodsmith --

Spot on. Thanks!


virginia --

-- I didn't say conservatives are a majority in the country. I said they're a minority here, but not in the country. Specifically, they're a PLURALITY in the country, outstripping the self-described liberal segment by a 2-1 margin. They have 41% of the population (not the 33% you noted). Liberals have half that, 21%. Source: http://www.gallup.com/poll/148745/Political-Ideology-Stable-Conservatives-Leading.aspx

-- I agree that the specific issues you mention do not necessarily cut along liberal/conservative lines. For example, liberals favor the death penalty, but by a smaller majority than conservatives. Source: http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/gallup-poll-who-supports-death-penalty

In addition, drug legalization splits the traditional lines. Although very few on either side favor legalization of hard drugs, libertarian conservatives (e.g., Ron Paul) are big for legalizing pot, along with many but hardly all liberals.

-- No serious person could possible doubt that accusing someone of being a child molestor and a necrophiliac is vulgar and disgusting. It's not even debatable.

By contrast, saying that a person believes America stinks is utterly unobjectionable if that is, in fact, what he believes. There are huge numbers of people in this world who think America stinks, or worse, and a few of them post here. When a person relentlessly and acidly criticizes the USA, and seldom or never has anything nice to say, that's a good tipoff.

Same with saying a person is a doper. At the outset, smoking dope is not regarded as remotely similar to the depraved conduct of being a child molestor, much less a necrophiliac. In addition, at least two people I can recall on this forum openly admitted (proclaimed might be a better word) that they presently smoke dope. To call them dopers is thus, far from an insult, a truism. It's virtually what they say about themselves.

-- The reason the death penalty threads are dominated by DP supporters is that the DP is so massively popular in the country as a whole that, so far as I can estimate, it even has a small majority on this site as well, including none other than Grits -- a man who is, if anything, more to the left than you are. When I do DP debates at law schools, I find many, many students who describe themselves as generally liberal but DP backers nonetheless.

Another reason the DP threads are dominated by backers is that Doug will put up stories of murders so gruesome or horrifying that the abolitionists want to lay low, as they did during the McVeigh case and the more recent Petit murders in Connecticut. Their silence reflects, not having been intimidated, but having been shrewd (although not very courageous, since a strong advocate should be willing to make his argument on the worst facts).

-- The recently employed tactic of having attempted to push me off the forum by lurid smears so disgusting no sane person would much feel like sticking around is both despicable and McCarthyite. That's the way it is, period. It's true whether you think I'm a hypocrite or, for that matter, an axe murderer. The obligation to denounce such tactics is both compelling and free-standing, and does not depend on the characteristics are the person against whom they are employed.

Contrary to what you imply I have never, ever attempted to silence a critic with personal smears or otherwise. You confuse opposition with smearing. When you say that someone is a gross sexual pervert, that is smearing. When you say they believe America stinks, and their comments consistently show exactly that, you're telling the truth. That is the opposite of smearing.

Example: If you can find a single post by claudio in which he has said one nice thing about the United States, ever -- as opposed to how barbaric we are, which is exactly what he says time and again -- I'll buy you a steak dinner at the Four Seasons.

I encourage debate with my opponents. Some would say I provoke it. In no event have I ever used the you're-a-pervert, sewer-level route that a liberal used here quite recently.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Nov 9, 2011 9:12:59 AM

I still disagree with you and I am going to explain why, Bill.

bill: "I didn't say conservatives are a majority in the country. I said they're a minority here, but not in the country. Specifically, they're a PLURALITY in the country, outstripping the self-described liberal segment by a 2-1 margin."

me: you did nothing to refute my point that people's self identification means next to nothing. Taken by itself, the indentification of "liberal," "conservative," or "moderate" is rather meaningless - especially since this country lacks a truly liberal political party (the Democrats are really a broad centrist based pro-Corporate collition that includes everything from moderate conservatives to flaming liberals who really have no choice but to back the lesser of two evils, but not that you'd know it listening to the conservative/corporate controlled media). What matters a lot more is that on almost all individual issues the "liberal" - more accurately described as the "Democratic" position - wins, even among self described conservatives.

bill: "When a person relentlessly and acidly criticizes the USA, and seldom or never has anything nice to say, that's a good tipoff"

me: except this blog covers a single, narrow issue - criminal sentencing. Its entirely possible that many people - especially outsiders - may see the criminal sentencing in the U.S. as being a black mark on an otherwise fine country. It may also be that people see the sentencing practices in the U.S. as being incompatiable with the freedom that our government tries to promote around the world. You cannot tell what people really think based upon one issue - it is folly to think otherwise. And that is what makes your assumptions of people a personal smear. And of course, it is exactly the same thing that Joseph McCarthy did whether you like to admit it or not (and you still have not answered my question of since when did conservatives oppose McCarthyism)

bill: "Grits -- a man who is, if anything, more to the left than you are"

me: I seriously doubt that. I'm practically a Socialist - and not in the dumbed down modern Fox News definition where a mushy moderate - maybe even a moderate conservative - like President Obama is called a Socialist.

bill: "In no event have I ever used the you're-a-pervert, sewer-level route that a liberal used here quite recently."

me: that is because you prefer much more insidious, less overt smears which take someone's position on one issue and generalize it. one can reasonably believe that you haved implied that people who question draconian sentences in child pron cases are pro-child molestation by calling people "pro-porn." while its not directly calling someone an icky perv, the implication is clear. That is why I disagree with you on this issue - an implied smear - especially one based upon a generaliztion from one issue - is still a personal attack.

I know you are going to disagree - and that is fine, but I hope I explained my position on why it is my belief that you are regularly engaging in personal smears adequately.

Posted by: virginia | Nov 10, 2011 7:24:33 AM

Virginia:

Thank you for your accurate observation. What we have here are general smearing of a Class, (which is OK), but smearing of an individual because of specific ideas is criminal.

That's the current Fed thinking!

Posted by: albeed | Nov 11, 2011 6:52:28 PM

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