Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Is this tongue-in-cheek? Or just plain cheek?

Every now and then we're presented with a crystal-clear lesson in just how out of touch with Main Street America people in some walks of life truly are. That hit home for me again this morning when I saw a blurb about this piece in the January 2010 Vogue, which gives us the tragic tale of model Lara Stone: She is, you see, an elephantine size-4, complete with curves and actual "boobs" (to use the magazine's own terminology), so naturally she's having trouble navigating the fashionista world of living (for the time being) stick-figures. In the course of its sympathetic lament, the Vogue profile includes such memorable lines as "It's not easy being a four in a land of zeros" and "She has tried to lose weight with diet and exercise, but nothing worked." (I shit you not.) The article even chronicles Stone's descent into the bottle (!), where the overfed model sought refuge from her lingering body-image problems.

Fortunately for us all, there's a warm redemptive ending, as we learn that Lara has come to terms with her personal cross. "People still tell me I'm fat," she says, "but when I look in the mirror, that's not what I see."

Well bully for you, Lara. Gee, I'm sure that the millions of size-14-and-beyond women all over America are choking back the tears, maybe even thinking about staging a benefit on your behalf.... And remember, gals, this is your media [sic] at work. This is the industry that was supposed to empower you, speak for you, make you feel good about yourself. Make you feel comfortable in your own skin.

To paraphrase the line from former New York mayor Ed Koch, "So how are they doing?"


To continue what some perceive as my ongoing "defense" of sexual predators, this man, 25-year-old Shaun P. Austin, was sentenced to "72 to 192 years" in prison on Tuesday. That is, of course, the equivalent of a life sentence. Austin's crime consisted of having 100 images of child pornography on his home computer. That is it; that is the totality of his offense against society in this case. To be fair, this is no model citizen we're talking about. Austin, who is HIV-positive, also is accused in a separate case of having unprotected sex with underage girls. If he's convicted, and if that judge decides that the public interest is best served by locking this man up and throwing away the key for having committed that crime
a patent and despicable act of violence against another personit'd be hard to argue. Especially given the psychiatric profiles of Austin, which are not encouraging. But life in prison for surfing child porn? I ask you to put aside your gut reactions and tell me how you can justify such extreme punishment for what is, in effect, a thought crime: a guy looking at something on a screen in the privacy of his own home. To my knowledge, even the lowlifes who produce child porn don't get those kinds of sentences, at least not the first time out.

Do you know that your fellow Americans are being questioned and (on admittedly rare occasion) arrested for frequenting other types of sites as well? Like, sites that teach you how to build bombs or wage a successful jihad? Apparently curiosity, in the form of a desire for certain types of knowledge, is illegal these days. Do you realize that spending a lot of time searching out and perusing sites put up by terrorist sympathizers may land you on a watch list, and your activities may be "tracked" thereafter? Do you know that if your school-age children talk too much about how angry they are, how they sometimes think of doing terrible things to their classmates, they may be charged with "making terroristic threats"? I've said this before, but when I was a kid in Brooklyn, we would've all been locked up; we made terrorist threats on a weekly basis. We threatened to beat the crap out of each other (and yes, sometimes acted on it), and now and then you'd open your locker and find a charming little note that said something like, "YOU'RE DEAD MEAT, SALERNO." To me, that's all part of growing up, of venting normal pubescent anger. I can't prove this, but I think that such bluster, if anything, often helps defuse situations, rather than inflaming them. It's when you don't let people vent, when you force the emotions underground, that you have the problems. But again, that's just my theory.

Regardless, this is your America, folks. Let's all sit around the Christmas tree and drink sparkling wine as it slips away.

P.S. Thursday morning, Dec. 24. The examples I could cite in support of the foregoing are legion, but I happened to notice this story in today's paper. A guy was sentenced to 60 years for killing his friend's wife. So on the one hand we have a man who kills someone and gets 60 years (with a possibility of release after 28). On the other hand we have a guy who looks at kiddie porn on his own computer and gets a minimum of 72 years. Once again, I would like this explained to me.


Dave Lakhani said...

Steve, the issue of child porn like many crimes isn't the issue that someone is surfing child porn at home. It is that they are buying or searching for photographs of crimes. Their commerce is supporting the continuance of those very despicable crimes. Children who are abused in that way suffer their whole lives, why should the person who encouraged their suffering suffer any less? And, recidivism in those cases (especially since this guy is alleged to have had sex with underage children) is incredibly high. There is very little evidence of rehabilitation. So, should they be taken out of society for the rest of their life? Probably.

Personally, I think there is a strong argument to be made for a lack of privacy across the board but I'm happy to give up some of my privacy (and I know the argument, how much, who decides, where does it end) to help keep my daughter safer and to keep the children of others safer.

And while we may disagree on this point, I don't see you as a supporter of sex offenders for stating your opinion.

Markus said...

You trying to say that he shouldn't be getting life in prison for surfing child porn? You're dead meat, Salerno.

Steve Salerno said...

Dave: Thanks for weighing in. But by the logic you present here, if I search for photos of murders and rapes, or even bank robberies--which are also crimes--then is that act in itself criminal? I understand full well that we need to tamp down on child porn--I have three granddaughters, for God's sake!--but I don't see how we can penalize people for looking at it once it's made, especially if they're not paying for it. I don't understand how you can criminalize the act of merely looking at anything, no matter what it is. But I'm open to examples that may make me reconsider.

Markus: Oh yeah? I'll meet you at the lockers at 10, pally...

Tyro said...

Re size 4 - Subtitle of the Vogue piece should read "Shocker: white girl can't make a living being beautiful!" The fact that she could put her whining in Vogue doesn't speak well to her being an outcast and bereft of hope.

Re pedophiles - I'm mixed on the issue and can see arguments on both sides. It seems excessive to lock people up for something which doesn't directly harm anyone but if that's the argument, drug possession and even prostitution laws ruin millions more lives than the "crimes" they're supposedly protecting against. And within the field of sex crimes, how many kids have their lives harmed by being placed on sex predators lists for streaking or Romeo & Juliette relationships (e.g.: 17 yo boys having sex with their 15 yo girlfriends)? I gotta say my heart bleeds more for them, if only because it happens to far more people and is something that could happen to most of us. Change those laws and we might have a chance and rationally addressing other sex "crimes"...

Stever Robbins said...

If we comment on this thread, does that put us on a watch list, too?

Steve Salerno said...

I could be mistaken, Stever, but I think you're already on one.

Martha said...

Hi Steve...guess what. You're beginning to sound like a conservative. At least in the area of freedom of being about to move about fields of inquiry without being tracked. (However, I grant you: The Patriot Act comes courtesy of our friends on the right.)

Cruising for child porn is gross. No question. But why is it a crime in and of itself, I wonder. Is it because it's a gateway behavior, predictive of predatory inclinations? (Which I have no doubt it is...but then we're getting into Minority Report area here...related to some of your earlier posts.)

This is an interesting post (as are all your posts)...Because just an hour or so before reading this I toyed with the idea of searching out that "Ann Landers" American Imam and checking out what he has to say. But I decided not to specifically because I didn't want to find myself on some tracking list.

As a zaftig middle-aged white lady, I don't fit any FBI profiles at the airport. (Unless people are on the lookout for covered hot dishes and blinking Christmas sweaters.) However, like him, I now hail from New Mexico. No doubt the gateway state to radical Islam inculcation and training. (I say that only partly in jest. It's kinda creepy driving through Gallup, in the middle of nowhere, and passing a chain-link fenced mosque.)

So I choose willful ignorance, on the off chance I might end up on a list. Instead I'll busy myself with counting out my peas so that one day I might shrink down to a single digit size.