Saturday, May 10, 2008

Responding to Gary

I posted an entry yesterday about the Bernie Ward case. Gary responded with a comment. Normally, I briefly address comments in the comments section, but today I want to do something a little different. I want to post substantial passages from Gary's comments and respond to them in this entry. I want to do this because I believe that the subject is important and because I believe that Gary's thinking on this issue is shared by many, and I disagree with most of it. Gary's comments are in italics; my responses aren't.

Pedophilia is a sickness that is true, but it is a sickness that can not be treated.

I think you're right that pedophilic desires can't be cured, but I think there are treatments that can stop or prevent some people from acting them out. But let's be clear about Bernie Ward. He was not indicted for child molestation, and, indeed, after a thorough investigation, he was allowed to stay in the home with his children. He was indicted for possessing and distributing a few sexually oriented photos involving minors. Having and even distributing a few such images doesn't necessarily mean that someone is a pedophile, much less a dangerous one who must be removed from society for the rest of his life.

Now I'm aware of the recent Dan Noyes report alleging that Bernie came on to a couple of teenage girls years ago when he was a priest. But these are only allegations. He was never convicted of sexual harassment or molestation of children or anyone else. What's more, even if the allegations are true, as bad as it would be for him to have acted as alleged, being attracted to pubescent high school girls is not pedophila. If it were, most adult males would be pedophiles. Pedophila is attraction to prepubescent children.

It truly is sad that these people do what they do. If you could put them up in a condo complex where they could live and work(without ever leaving the premises of course) I would be all for that. But they can never be allowed out in society. The harm they do is extraordinary.

I agree that child molestation can be extraordinarily harmful and that a case could be made for locking away for life anyone who has shown a pattern of child molestation suggesting that he or she can't prevent himself from continuing to molest children. However, I agree with you that these people are mentally ill and do not deserve the punishment of a life sentence in federal prison for their actions. They need to be placed in another kind of more humane facility, and they should not be blamed and held in contempt for their illness or its manifestations. But, once again, Bernie was not indicted for child molestation.

You also have to remember that most pedophiles do not think they are doing harm. They honestly believe that they love the children and that they are not harming them. How do you treat someone who has those beliefs?

Doesn't your preceding statement imply the answer to your question? If someone molests children because they don't understand the harm it causes to their victims and they can be made to understand it, they won't molest anymore.

I truly feel sorry for Bernies family and friends(especially his childrens friends) but for Bernie I feel nothing but contempt for he of all people should know exactly what his actions will do.

I don't understand this statement in light of what you said previously. You believe that Bernie is a pedophile (even though there's no proof I'm aware of that he is), and you say that pedophilia is a sickness; yet, you feel "nothing but contempt" for him. Do you also feel "nothing but contempt" for someone who breaks out with a rash as a result of having chicken pox? Isn't acting out one's pedophilic desires analogous to breaking out with chicken pox? We may need to isolate a contagious individual until he no longer poses a threat to the public, but we don't hold him in contempt for being sick. Why should we hold Bernie in contempt? If he really knew "exactly what his actions would do," don't you think he must have been awfully sick to go ahead and commit them anyway? And if he didn't know exactly what they would do, then why scorn him? Because "ignorance is no excuse"? Why isn't it? If not an excuse, then at least a mitigating factor?

You also need to do a little research on the case. Bernie actually was storing the images in cyber space on his AOL account and was in possession of at least 30 images.

Thank you for that additional information. But have you seen the images or read detailed descriptions of them? This touches upon an issue I raised in yesterday's post. Not all pornographic images are of equivalent severity, and this should be taken into account. What's more, no matter how extreme these images may have been, Bernie was not indicted for nor did he plead guilty to playing any role in creating these images. I don't believe that someone should spend years in federal prison for merely possessing or even distributing a few such images to consenting adults. He should face some legal sanctions, and, indeed, he already has, along with numerous social ones. But not prison.

He harmed children, some grievously(just imagine his children reading the transcripts of what he was saying to Sexfairy about them and their friends) even if he did not do the actions he describes, the mere fact that he could come up with these alleged "fantasies" should outrage you!

I believe that what he wrote about his own children and their friends was actually far worse than the pictures from a "moral" standpoint and from the standpoint of what is likely to have done the most psychological harm. But this was not illegal and he was not indicted for it. What's more, I don't feel "outrage" over this; I feel great perplexity over why he did it, and I feel great sadness for him and his family that he did it and for the fact that they all are now having to deal with the consequences.

I have a 2 year old daughter and you know what I have never had a thought like that, EVER!

I have suggested, although I don't claim to know for sure, that maybe Bernie posted those things not because he really wanted to do them for real but because he wanted to shock his "mistress" with his naughtiness. But let's say, for the sake of argument, that he really did entertain those fantasies. Now I think it's wonderful that you don't entertain similar ones. But what if you or someone close to you did? It's easy to condemn other people for desiring bad things you're fortunate enough not to desire. But suppose you had these desires. Would you believe that you should be condemned for them? And how do you know that you could control them any better than Bernie did with his online sex chat?

Have you actually sat down and thought about what he did in a logical non emotional way? Unclouded by your personal feelings for the man?

Yes, I think I have done precisely this. Have you? Or are you the one who has let his reason be clouded by emotion and "personal feelings"?

Imagine how outraged you would be if you found out it was Dick Cheney who was doing these things.

I think Dick Cheney has done far, far worse than Bernie Ward. I think he has contributed more than his share to the deaths of countless thousands of people who didn't deserve to die and to the misery of countless millions of others. Compared to that, Bernie Ward's actions are an infinitesimal blip on the radar. Nevertheless, if Dick Cheney had done what Bernie has, I truly believe that I would feel the same way about his having done it than I feel about Bernie having done it.

That's the difference between conservatives and liberals(I am a rational anarchist) a conservative when presented with evidence like this demands punishment for the person involved regardless of political party.

What is a "rational anarchist," and just how "rational" could such a stance be? Beyond that, I mildly agree with part of what you say. A conservative is likely to urge punishment (although I suspect that he's likely to be more punitive toward a liberal than toward a fellow conservative) than is a liberal. And I think this is because so-called conservatives tend to have a more simplistic and false understanding of human nature and behavior than do many liberals who better understand that cultural and social conditions interact with our genes to shape who we are and how we behave and that unadulterated "punishment" is not necessarily the answer to all misbehavior.

Liberals refuse to believe that their people are really bad and make all kinds of excuses for them.

Again, I think, or would like to think, that liberals are more likely to understand the complex concatenation of factors that go into shaping a person's character and conduct and that just blaming and punishing people for "bad" character and behavior is neither fair nor effective.

Or more laughable of all they claim some "government conspiracy" has brought there person down. I mean come on....when are you folks going to grow up?

You folks? When have I said that I believed the legal action taken against Bernie was the result of some "government conspiracy." But I do submit this question for your consideration. If Rush Limbaugh or Dennis Prager had done what Bernie did and the government became aware of it, are you altogether certain that it would have responded as severely as it did to Bernie?

61 comments:

shirley said...

Gary said:

"That's the difference between conservatives and liberals(I am a rational anarchist) a conservative when presented with evidence like this demands punishment for the person involved regardless of political party. Liberals refuse to believe that their people are really bad and make all kinds of excuses for them. Or more laughable of all they claim some "government conspiracy" has brought there person down. I mean come on...."


And the excuses continue.

Nagarjuna said...

Care to elaborate, Shirley? What "excuses"? Whose "excuses"? What did I write that you disagree with, and why do you disagree with it?

Anonymous said...

Thank you for responding. As a rational anarchist I believe that people are free to do whatever they wish, so long as they do no harm to others. That being said there is a place for limited government to protect those who can't protect themselves otherwise in a truly anarchical world the weak would be left to the whims and abuses of the powerful. Picture a 80 year old woman with osteoperosis trying to fend off a 200 pound twenty something with evil on his mind. Unless she has a gun(which I hope she does, and knows how to use it) she is dead. Society as a whole has a responsibility to keep predators like that off the street.
Bernie actually pled guilty to distributing between 15 and 150 images. That is not research, that is pedophilia.
What I still think you don't understand is that because Bernie wants that type of content, those children are abused and raped...for the pleasure of men and women like Bernie. Bernie may indeed not have been accused of doing those heinous acts but he certainly profited from them.
Liberalism is not evil unlike what some right wing twits would say, but I do think that liberals allow more crime to occur because they believe that people are inherently good and society warps them.
Some people are inherently evil.
Some people are predators and they use the system to further their self gratification. Gangbangers are an excellent example of this. They kill innocent people because they happened to stray onto the gangbangers block. The ACLU uses yours and mine tax dollars to protect gangbangers rights to congregate and commit crime. That is liberalism run amock. Please tell me the logic of that?
When you are dealing with the mentally ill you have to make a cost benefit analyses and figure out if the harm they are surely going to cause is less then the amount of good they may do. With pedophilia the harm is so great that they must not be allowed out. My contempt for Bernie is derived from the fact that of all pedophiles who could regulate their behavior(something which liberals think is possible BTW) he should have been the most qualified to do so. He was a priest so had the spiritual support, he was very well educated, so should have been able to logically think through what he was doing and the harm it could cause(we,re not talking about a moron here...we are talking about a very smart, highly educated, individual) thereby controlling his impulses. But no, instead he continues to gratify himself with the pain of children. That is why I hold him in particular contempt. He had every resource to fight his impulses and chose not to do so. Instead he prevaricated, cajoled and manipulated the truth in an effort to avoid punishment. In other words he was exactly the type of hypocrite he was allegedly writing about.
Your analogy of chicken pox is also spurious. A person with chicken pox may harm someone, but they do not intend to do harm. Pedophiles intend to do harm, they just think it is not. The entire rest of the world knows they do harm (with the exception of some Bernie loving liberals, it was amazing listening to Gil Gross when the plea was announced), chicken pox once it has run it's course is over. The mental anguish of childhood rape is forever. You give simple platitudes about how child abuse is bad but I still think you don't understand just how truly devestating it really is.
Conservatives really do think criminals should be punished, Nixon was forced from office, Cunningham was sent to jail, and nowhere do you see conservtaives rationalising their behavior. That is a purely liberal response to one of theirs being cot in trouble, congressman Jeffers being caught with 50,000 in his freezer is ignored. C'mon! At some point you folks have to got to say enough is enough! You want to know why corruption is so rampant in politics, look to yourselves. You aid and abet it with your support for these people no matter what their crime so long as they vote for your beliefs. You sell your souls for crumbs.
I don't care who the criminal is. If he is a criminal who should be dealt with that way. I listened to Bernie for many years and liked the majority of his shows even if I didn't agree with his viewpoint most of the time. I believe that Dick Cheney is guilty of a host of crimes and if they would ever investigate and prosecute him I would be all for that. You should feel the same for any criminal....even Bernie.


Gary

Nagarjuna said...

Gary--
Thank you for your thoughtful response to my post. Let me address some of your points.

I, as what some might call a "liberal," do believe that some people are of such bad character that they're unlikely to change significantly. However, I do not blame them for it the way you seem to. I don't say that the environment made them that way, but I do say that their character and behavior are the result of a complex combination of hereditary and environmental factors. I guess you could say I'm a psychological determinist of sorts. I believe that what we think, will, and do are the inevitable effects of countless interrelated causes that extend beyond the domain of a responsible free agent. Thus, my philosophy is to condemn bad deeds rather than the people who commit them. In biblical terms, "Hate the sin but love the sinner." I realize that this is a much more difficult philosophy to practice if one has been victimized or is close to someone who has been victimized by the behavior at issue than if one hasn't or isn't, but that doesn't, in and of itself, make the philosophy a bad one.

You say you have such "contempt" for Bernie because, with all of his intelligence and education, he SHOULD have known better. Well, the question I ask you to consider is why he went ahead and did what he did anyway. It seems to me that he either didn't REALLY know better in some deeply compelling way, or he knew better but couldn't restrain himself. I believe that there must be a cause for why he did what he did, and, given that cause, he couldn't have done otherwise at the time. And if that is the case, it makes no more sense to blame him for his actions than it does to blame the weather for turning bad and doing damage or worse. Actually, let me amend that a little. If blaming someone for bad actions gives that person and others contemplating such actions in the future cause--i.e., the desire to avoid the aversiveness of social scorn and ostracism--to abstain from such actions, it might be a good thing. But I'm not convinced that blaming people and treating them with extreme and hateful harshness for their misdeeds accomplishes this end better than does more compassionate treatment tempered with measures to prevent future actions of that kind. Thus, in order to protect children from victimization, it might be necessary to incarcerate for life someone who has shown a disturbing pattern of behavior strongly suggesting that he (or she) poses an incurable threat to children. But this incarceration should take place in the most humane conditions possible and those incarcerated should not be held in contempt for their sick actions.

Again, neither you nor I know the exact nature of the images Bernie had on his computer or transmitted to others, nor do we know for sure what his motives were for having or transmitting them. But what we DO know is that he was not arrested for molesting anyone, much less PREPUBESCENT children. Thus, there is no proof that he is the pedophile you categorically state that he is.

I don't see how my chickenpox analogy is "spurious," and your rebuttal seems self-contradictory when you write: "Pedophiles intend to do harm, they just think it is not." If they don't think they are doing harm, how can you say they blamefully "intend" to do it?

I may understand the devastating consequences of child abuse better than you realize, but that issue seems to me to be quite beside the point we're discussing here. If someone causes these terrible consequences because they "know not what they do," or they do know but can't prevent themselves from doing it anyway, it seems to me that they are sick and, therefore, should not be blamed, scorned, hated, and abused themselves for the symptoms--i.e., their criminally abusive acts--of their sickness. But then once again, Bernie didn't go to court for raping anyone and he won't be sentenced to a minimum of five years in prison for raping or otherwise sexually abusing anyone. He will be going to prison for having and distributing "15 to 150" images of which we don't even know the specific details, and the young people in those images don't even know that Bernie had them or distributed them. That is a far, far cry from his having actually raped or otherwise sexually abused anyone.

As for Bernie having "profited" from those images, how in the world did he do THAT? I've seen no mention of his having sold those images. If you mean that he "got off" on them, neither you nor I know what he felt about them.

Please understand that I'm not condoning Bernie's actions in the sense of suggesting that they were perfectly OK and that there should be no social and legal sanctions for them. But what I continue to believe and argue is that incarceration and federal prison is draconian, and incarceration for a MINIMUM of five years is beyond draconian. It's a reprehensible miscarriage of justice far exceeding the "evil" of Bernie's actions.

Anonymous said...

Hello again,

First off let me stipulate I do not hate Bernie. There are very few people I truly hate as I think that that is a particularly strong sentiment and one that in general does harm to the hater, both physically and mentally.
Second I think you and I are not to far apart in terms of philosophy. I agree with you that some people can't control their impulses and because of that they need to be kept seperate from society so that they can do no harm. Unfortunately the only mechanism currently available is prison, or a mental facility. Please refer back to my original post, if there were a condo complex where these people could be housed for the duration of their lives I would be all for that because for the most part if they are kept away from children they can be productive.
What I find egregious, when it comes to liberals as a group, is they will quite willingly allow a pedophile out into the world to live his life because that condo complex doesn't exist. Most notoriously a judge in Kansas I think it was refused to imprison a man convicted of several counts of child rape because he was of small stature and would no doubt be beaten in prison. I am sorry but that is simply ludicrous, especially when you consider that prisons now have Administrative Segregation where all inmates of at risk lifestyles and criminal backgrounds will stay(yes that is where Bernie will go too) because amazingly enough hardened criminals hold child molestors in the lowest contempt and will indeed attempt to kill them. I wonder why that is so? Is it perhaps that their road to crime started with a assault at the hands of a pedophile?
Bernie profited in the fact that he was able to gratify himself with those images. Juvenile sex slavery is a reality, a multi, multi million dollar reality according to the UN. I will bet you a rather large some of money that one of the images that Bernie had was generated by a child forced into sexual slavery.
So I ask you. How many images like that are acceptable? How many children have to be harmed before you say, "you know what, Bernie may not have actually done these horrible things to these poor children but he certainly enjoyed looking at the images and that has been paid for by the misery of a child or two or ten thousand, and somewhere along the line people are making money on the backs of slaves".
In reference to the news story about his alleged assaults on the teenage girls, you are correct that he was never charged but that statement ignores the fact that the Catholic Church had a history of hiding those cases and finally after decades the lid has come off of Pandoras Box and the Church is paying millions of dollars to the victims of that abuse. Two women filed complaints at that time and to blithly ignore them because no charges were filed is insulting to those women. Thousands of crimes are comitted each day and very few charges are filed against the perpetrators, does that make them innocent?
You ask why he did what he did even with all of the help at his disposal, well at some point you have say he did it because he wanted to. He had all the powers of reasoning and logic to help him choose the right path and he chose otherwise. When I accuse him of hypocrisy I mean what I say. He at some point came to a point and said I feel that my pleasure is more important than their pain. He had to because of his background and education.
I refer back to the way I live my life(it is a Wiccan philosophy BTW)'First Do No Harm', that means that no matter what I do I have to consider whether it will cause someone injury. If it will I figure out a different way. I have to go to dinner now(my two year just came to get me!) but I am enjoying the correspondance!


Cheers
Gary

Nagarjuna said...

Gary--
I too am enjoying our discussion, and you might be right when you say that we aren't as far apart in our thinking as it may have first appeared. Even so, we do appear to disagree on some important matters.

For one thing, I don't agree with you that Bernie's actions enslaved any children sexually and that he deserves to suffer anything approaching the consequences deserved by those who actually create kiddie porn or profit from it financially. I say place the responsibility for these images and videos squarely on those who make and sell child pornography and not on those who did what Bernie did.

Secondly, I am fascinated by the question of why Bernie did what he did and by your answer that maybe we just have to accept the fact that "he did it because he wanted to," despite all the "powers of reasoning and logic to help him choose the right path." I say if he did it because he wanted to, WHY did he want to, and WHY did his wanting to override his education, reasoning, and logic?

I think that if people spent more time more deeply contemplating these why questions concerning people's bad conduct, they would see this conduct and those who perpetrate it in a different light. They would understand that when people do the kinds of things Bernie did, they do it because they couldn't help but do it at the time, and if they couldn't help it, they not only don't deserve our hatred, but they also don't deserve our contempt.

You say you don't hate him for what he did, but you DO say that you "have nothing but contempt" for him over it, and it seems to me that unadulterated contempt and hatred are not so far apart, and that both are neither fair nor helpful.

As for the accusations leveled by the young women, I don't "blithely ignore" them, but neither do I believe that these unproven accusations either by themselves or in concert with the legal charges to which he's pled guilty make him deserving of five or more years in federal prison. I don't believe that he poses the threat to children if he's allowed to stay out of prison that makes incarceration perhaps the only viable alternative for those convicted of serious crimes of actual child molestation and who appear to have irresistible tendencies in this direction.

shirley said...

Steve,

Do you wish that Bernie was given probation and was back on the air given that the good he did far outweighs any of the kiddie porn stuff?

Nagarjuna said...

Shirley--
You ask a very good question. To be honest with you, I don't so much know what I'd like to see his sentence and extralegal consequences be as I know what I don't want to see them be. I don't want to see them include prison time, and I don't want to see them include having to register as a sex offender.

Actually, in keeping with what I wrote to Gary about how I think that most of the responsibility for child pornography should be placed squarely on those who make and sell it, I'm not sure I think Bernie should face any legal penalties for what he did. Or if he does, probation for a short or even a long time would suffice, along, perhaps, with a warning that he will be closely watched and if he is ever caught receiving or distributing more pornography of this kind, the legal sanctions will be far more severe.

I really believe that, as reckless as he may have been in landing himself and his family in this awful mess to begin with, he has learned his lesson not to involve himself with child pornography ever again, thereby removing the need to incarcerate him to protect children.

As for getting his old job back, you and I both know that ain't never gonna happen. His radio career is over. His teaching career is over, at least that of any teaching of minors. The two kinds of work he loved most and at which he was most talented are now lost to him for the rest of his life, whether he goes to prison or not.

I think Bernie has already gone through hell, and his family has gone through it with him, and that hell will continue for a long, long time, if not for the rest of his life, whether he steps foot inside a federal prison or not. Enough is enough.

What legal sanctions and extralegal consequences do YOU think he should face, Shirley, and why?

shirley said...

Steve,
You didn't answer my question. Lets say you had the power to change this to your liking. Would you put Bernie back on the air given that the good he did far outweighs any of the kiddie porn stuff?

Nagarjuna said...

I honestly don't know, Shirley. Maybe in time I would. But not anytime soon. It would probably be bad for business, and talk radio is a business. Especially for a station like KGO.

Now, would you care to try to answer MY question of what you think should happen to Bernie, and why?

Anonymous said...

Hello again and please forgive me for the delayed response. I will answer in as close to order as I can.
First off, you are correct Bernie himself did not enslave children but his desire for the product of the slave runners causes them to do what they do. If there was no Bernie and people like him there would b no childhood sex slave industry, ergo he is indeed a proximal cause of that trade. You say to place the responsibilty squarely on the shoulders of those who produce it, and yet the ones who demand the product you want to give a free pass to. I don't understand that logic. The two are entrenched in a symbiotic relationship. The two are essential for the crime to exist, thus both sides are equally culpable.
I sort of understand your fascination of why he did it, I don't share your curiosity however, but I most certainly believe that prevention first, then you can analyze all you want..just don't let him out. As far his ultimate reasoning for his actions.....certainly I believe arrogance played a very large art in his actions. There is an old adage that the worst crusaders against behaviors such as alcoholism, cigarette smoking et al are those who have kicked the habit...or not as the Elliot Spitzer case revealed. He prosecuted prostitution cases very vigorously in New York yet felt very comfortable using them in Washington DC. I think the gentleman(Bernie and Elliot) and their way of viewing the world is very similar. Do as I say not as I do. There is a considerable amount of evidence that has not been exposed to public scrutiny that would I think shock the community as regards Bernie's conduct with his children and how he would deal wit them in public if they did something wrong. He is very much the tyrant. Talk to any of the hosts who worked with him and they will privately say that at KGO functions where his children were present he would overreact if they did something a little wrong.
As far as my contempt for him, it is for his contemptable behavior, pure and simple. He could have chosen a different path, he could have asked for help, he could have done a whole host of things other than what he did indeed do. He chose to do otherwise.
Once you have determined that these people are going to do the harm they do, what should be done with them? If you knew Ted Bundy and knew he was going to kill another woman would you sit down and try to talk him out of it? I would suggest you do otherwise. Ted Bundy and those like him are animals in all but name. If you tried to talk him out of killing someone, he would first kill you then continue on his merry way. That is what those people do. They actually enjoy the sensation of kiling. Well pedophilia is a close analogy. The children are not killed(though many do eventually commit suicide) but the mental and emotional harm is just a little less than killing them in a lot of cases. They are sadly affected for the rest of their lives and all of their future relationships are colored by the experience. Knowing that what is more important, prevention, or analysis? My vote is for prevention. The number of children attacked in this way is phenomenal, they then continue to harm other children and the cycle continues. It has to stop. The only way we can do it now is to either kill the perpetrators or incarcerate them for life. I think execution is certainly in order for some of them. Maybe not for Bernie but I certainly don't want him out in the world to do more harm.
In the end, no matter how deeply you contemplate what they do and try to understand what they do and why, you have to deal with them. You think that he is not a threat to children, I say he is demonstrably so. He has allready committed several felonies and has a history(granted unsubstantiated but then so are most criminals till they are finally exposed...sometimes after comitting crimes for decades I refer now to the Austrian father who imprisoned his daughter for 18 years to sexually abuse) also pedophiles have a propensity to escalate their behavior. They start small but then go on to commit ever more serious crimes. This is documented behavior in approximately 90% of pedophile cases. I don't know about you butI personally would not risk it.


Cheers
Gary

Nagarjuna said...

Gary--
A quick response, because, unfortunately, that's all I have time for.

First, I agree with you that there would be no child pornography without consumers of it. However, I believe that those who actually make it and profit from it do far, far more harm and pose a far, far greater threat than those who merely "consume" it and, therefore, should face far sterner legal and social sanctions for it. I've not said that Bernie should face no sanctions. I've merely said that they shouldn't be as harsh as it looks like they're going to be.

When I've asked why Bernie did what he did, I've done it to make the point that if he's attracted to minors sexually, as you seem convinced that he is, I consider (and you seem to concur) that a sickness, and I don't believe that we should hold people in the "contempt" that you seem to for manifesting the symptoms of their sickness. In Bernie's case, viewing child pornography could be seen as a symptom of his sickness.

Finally, I agree with you that a sick or otherwise disturbed person who poses a serious danger to the community needs to be dealt with in such a way that the threat he poses is eliminated or reduced as much as possible, regardless of how much compassion we may have for him and his sickness or disturbed condition. However, you and I differ profoundly on the degree of danger we see Bernie as posing to the community and, therefore, on the kinds and degree of sanctions we think should be brought to bear in his case.

I don't see Bernie posing any significant threat to minors. I think the last thing on earth that he would ever do after what he's been through is download, much less distribute, more child pornography or go out and molest a child. So, if you're urging incarceration to prevent him from repeating his offenses or committing even worse ones, I think these measures are unnecessary. If you're urging incarceration because you think a man you regard as sick needs to be punished for acting sickly, I think that is just plain pointless and cruel. The best case that might be made for sending Bernie to federal prison and forcing him to register as a sex offender is that it could conceivably help to deter others from making or consuming child pornography. But I wonder if the laudable end justifies the draconian means, and to what degree these draconian means even deliver the desired end. As I suggested in my post, I suspect that the legal sanctions for mere consumers of child pornography yield rapidly diminishing returns past a point that falls far short of incarcerating someone in federal prison for years.

And if we're talking about LIFETIME incarceration, as you seem to be, for Bernie Ward for what he's been charged with doing, I think that is simply outlandish. Boiling him in oil would be only slightly more so.

shirley said...

Steve said,

"I don't see Bernie posing any significant threat to minors. I think the last thing on earth that he would ever do after what he's been through is download, much less distribute, more child pornography or go out and molest a child."

That statement points to a profound misunderstanding of why pedophiles are compelled to do what they do. They are nhot rational in their actions and will repeatedly do things against their own self interest. Look at the statistics with regard to recidivism pertaining to people who have become addicted to child pornography, their minds will return to it regardless of the consequences.
When Bernie Ward is released and is caught again, would you be willing to change your position? Because as time goes on, these people are continuing to ruin the lives of innocents.

Nagarjuna said...

Shirley--
I have to go to work in a few minutes, but here are some brief points:

(1) Pedophilia is, technically speaking, sexual interest in PREPUBESCENT children. So far as I know, the pornographic images in question didn't involve prepubescent children. Hence, even if Bernie achieved or tried to achieve sexual gratification from those images, he may not be, technically speaking, a pedophile.

(2) I suspect that there are varying degrees of compulsion to gratify one's sexual attraction to minors, and varying ways of seeking that gratification. Some ways are worse than others. Merely viewing child pornography is not nearly as bad as making it, and merely viewing the sexual molestation of children in an image is not nearly as bad as actually molesting a child. Hence, even if Bernie, after all he's been through, were to download more child porn, it would not be such a horrible thing in terms of causing actual harm to any child that such drastic measures as longtime incarceration in federal prison are necessary to prevent it. And, let's face it, what you and Gary are implying is that Bernie Ward should spend the rest of his life in prison for what he did. Once again, I think that's preposterous.

You wrote, "Because as time goes on, these people are continuing to ruin the lives of innocents."

I say that those who truly "ruin the lives of innocents" are those who make child pornography--i.e., the adults who actually molest and tape or film the children in the videos or photos. People like Bernie, who have merely downloaded a relatively few such images to their computer and sent out a couple of such images to other adults have not done something they should be applauded for by any means, but they have not ruined a child's life. If the child's life has been ruined, the adults who abused them and recorded it are the ones who did that. If there are to be long or even lifetime prison sentences, let THEM be the ones who receive them, not the Bernie Wards of the world.

Anonymous said...

Hello Again Steve,

Well we are getting closer. I still think you need to do a more thorough review of the evidence that has been released, one of the children involved was 6 years old and one of the others was 12. Bernie's own "fantasy" sequence involved pre-pubescent children(his own), I am sorry but that is the definition of pedophilia. To fantasize to that level of detail is remarkable and worthy of a fiction writers award. My personal belief is that he has engaged in those behaviors, he just hasn't been caught yet.
In a court of law those fanatsies would have been introduced as factual evidence that he had in fact committed those crimes and he would have been quite promptly convicted. You know it and I know it. Those transcripts are so damning that in my opinion when they could not get them barred from the evidence Bernies attorneys told him to shut up and take the deal. The other allegations from his priesthood days were just iceing on the cake for the prosecutors.
What you seem to misunderstand about my point of view is I don't care how onerous it is for Bernie. I do care how onerous it is for those he may harm. Shirley has it spot on. Pedophiles are not rational human beings. They are predators and given enough time they will do extreme harm. I think that if Bernie had indeed not perpetrated any of the more heinous aspects of the crime of pedophilia, I think he was getting real close. For evidence I point to the simple fact that he transmitted the images in question to someone he did not know, unsolicited. That is indicitive of the final break with reality. He had lost the last vestige of self preservational control. That is the end. He may not have done anything truly bad....but he was going to and pretty quickly too.
In dealing with any criminal a cost benifit analyses has to be done. It has to be logical, it has to take into account the potential harm, the harm allready done, the cost to the perpetrator, the cost to society as a whole, the cost to the perpetrators family, etc. etc. etc.
When this is done it is quite evident that pedophiles as a group cause harm far out of proportion to their numbers. Serial killers are the only group that does more harm. That says a lot.
You believe that lifetime incarceration is too much for pedophiles, I say no it is not. I do agree that a specialised condo complex would be better for the vast majority of pedophiles, but because we don't have that, they must be incarcerated the only way we have.
I don't care how unfair that is to them, they have allready proven to us that they don't care about the rights of the children involved, so why should we care about them? I really do believe in the Golden Rule, but the Golden Rule has a corolary and that is you will be treated as you treat others. If you don't care about others rights, I don't care about yours. You have set the rules. The Swiss Pikemen during their mercenary fighting days were famous for two things, first they were unbeatable in combat, second they took no prisoners. When finally they were defeated, they were exterminated. That is the way it has almost allways been done throughout mans history. I personally don't see a reason to change.
Bernie has demonstrably shown that he is a threat to minors. How you can't see that I havn't quite been able to figure out(have you reviewed the evidence?) so will close with the simple geologic theory of uniformitarianism which states "that which has happened in the past will continue to happen in the fuuture", or as Santa Ana stated, "those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it".

Cheers
Gary

Nagarjuna said...

Gary--
First of all, I'm just glad that our discussion of whether Bernie should receive a life sentence for his crimes is strictly academic, because the fact of the matter is that his sentence, as draconian as I think it will be in its own right, will be far less than than life, unless he happens to die in prison or soon after his release.

Second, no, I haven't examined all of the "evidence" you say you have, but what I've seen of the court and police documents tells me that Bernie didn't do anything that warrants ANY prison sentence, much less a life term, and I don't believe that those documents reveal that he is a mad pedophile teetering on the brink of actually molesting minors. Fortunately, the law convicts people for crimes they've actually committed, not for naughty fantasies they share with an online dominatrix in order to be punished for their taboo naughtiness. And not only do those fantasies, as I recall, NOT involve prepubescent children but teenage adolescents, but they also don't seem to me to contain the "remarkable" "level of detail" that you attribute to them. On the contrary, they seem like the vague inventions of someone trying to be naughty about something he hasn't really thought a lot about much less done or would even want to do in real life. And, once again, a presumably thorough police investigation uncovered no compelling evidence that he had ever done with minors any of the things he described.

I'm also glad that not everyone takes your position that if a person's sickness leads him to commit acts that infringe or even MIGHT infringe your human rights, you don't care about his human rights. That is, your argument seems to be that Bernie's behavior shows that he will, if not locked away for life, actually molest children, and, because he would do this if allowed to, you don't feel any compassion for him as a human being, even though you acknowledge that he's sick, and, therefore, you don't care what happens to him. Honestly, I find this reprehensible, and I actually believe that this kind of attitude helps to perpetuate a set of sociocultural conditions that contributes to mental and behavioral pathology rather than minimizes them. Of course, I realize that you probably consider my perspective equally reprehensible or, at least, misguidedly naive and dangerous.

It seems to me that we've clarified our perspectives pretty well and reached a point of impasse in our discussion such that further discussion is unlikely to yield much of value. However, I would like to pose this question for your consideration:

If you could somehow know with certainty that Bernie will never molest minors or view more child porn even if he doesn't go to prison, would you still want him to spend the rest of his life or any time in prison?

Anonymous said...

Hello Again,

I don't personally think that Bernie is going to get a very severe sentence. I will be very surprised if he gets more than five years. Whatever sentence he gets will be done in Administrative Segregation so he will not have to worry about being attacked and for the most part he will be able to go about his routine fairly normally(as normal as it can be in prison). His family will in the end suffer more than Bernie will in my opinion, and that pains me.
I also think you should do a little more research on Pedophilia in general because I think most of our argument is based on what each of us know's(I have the good fortune to have a psychologist as my wife so I can ask her and that saves a lot of time) For instance you read the dictionaries definition of pedophilia and that is good up to a point but the DSM guide defines it a little more accurately
"Diagnostic Criteria for Pedophilia"
A. Over a period of at least six months, recurrent, intense sexual urges and sexually arousing fantasies involving sexual activity with a prepubescent child or children (generally age 13 or younger).
B. The person has acted on these urges or is markedly distressed by them.
C. The person is at leas 16 years old and at least five years older than the victim(S) in "A". Late adolescents who are involved in ongoing sexual relations with 12 or 13 year old children should not be included in this disorder.
Abnormal Psychology texts also have much more extensive definitions of pedophilia and also take into account the laws in individual states that will have an effect on the charging of crimes etc.
Acording to the Oakdale Police Supplamental report filed on 1-21-2005 the following was disclosed to the investigating DA "I viewed the photograph attachments under the screen name Vincentlio. The photograph attachments were sent and recieved by Vincentlio. Several of the photographs depicted children engaged in or simulating sexual acts with adults or other children. The ages of the children in the photographs ranged between approximately 4 years old to 17 years old and were both genders."
I took that text verbatim from the police report. The seventeen year old is also chargable in CA because Bernie is over 5 years older than the child involved. We don't know who the children are(that is being kept under wraps, are they Bernies children?, his childrens friends?) both to protect them and I think also to help Bernie out. I truly believe that if this had been somebody else than Bernie they would be up on over 30 felony counts. He does have friends in high places after all so this is not too surprising.
I too am glad that people are only punished for what they are convicted of but I also have the added advantage of being an officer of the court so can read between the lines as it were, and see much more of what has truly happened. We do not have a justice system, we have a "legal" system and it is very flawed. It is still one of the best on the planet but injustices occur every minute of the day. Bernie is profiting from it this time. If all of the evidence were released(Bernie is pleading guilty to prevent that) even you would say OK I now see what is going on and while I am sure you would not want him dealt with as completely as I do you would still agree that it needed to be done.
I percieve your problem, if you want to call it that :),is that you are too nice. You truly believe that all people are nice and given the right help will turnout OK. I too used to think that way but with education and just plain living my life and seeing all the horrible things that a very small minority of people do to others, my views have changed. I now am very intolerant of those who harm others. Bernie has harmed others. He may not have been convicted of it but he has, and given the opportunity will do so again.
I do care about his human rights right up till the point he decides he doesnt care about others human rights. You can't have it both ways because that just simply isn't fair. It's like asking a boxer to fight another boxer with boths hands tied behind his back.
Sportsmen simply would not allow it, and yet our legal system thrives on that very inequity. Even with that I do care what happens to him. I don't want him killed, I don't want him harmed. I do however care more about the kids he will harm. That is why I think he needs to be kept away from them. I think that if you did some research I think you would find that the more liberal methodologies are in fact contributing to the "sociocultural conditions that contributes to mental and behavioral pathology"
If you do a survey of mental health and crime you will find that the more liberal the society the more crime there is. This is true with Byzantine history and all the way up to the US criminal history since it has been documented. I refer to the Uniform Crime Reports formulated by the US Department of Justice. And also to several historical studies by professors from UCLA, UCI, University of Oklahoma and a whole host of others. I have studied it for 30 years now and liberal states, cities, and countries have much more crime then those of a more conservative nature. I am not talking the Sharia law of Islam which is truly Draconian, I am talking of the way the laws were enforced in the US from the late 1800's to the mid 1900's. Criminal activity was much less. Violent crime was concurrently much less. Violent criminals were for the most part kept away from society. Was there terrible conditions in the jails back then? Absolutely, that was one of the deterrents to crime. Now we have a much more violent society. 7% of the criminal population commits 80% of the violent crime. Due to liberal policies those violent offenders are consistently allowed out to prey on society. Instead the legal system pursues non violent drug offenders and puts them in prison for life. That to me is draconian. They are for the most part not harming people. Their customers deal dirrectly with them and they are not a part of the larger narco terrorism problem. Which would itself disappear if drugs were decriminalised.
To answer your last question about Bernie. The answer is no. If it could be guaranteed that he would not ever be able to harm kids I would have no problem with him not going to prison, nor would I want him to. At that point he would do far more good fighting against pedophilia from whatever pulpit he would have. But I would make him do community service around that subject.

Now I have a question for you. Knowing that pedophiles have a 100% recidivism rate, do you think it is safe for any CONVICTED pedophile to be let out?

Please note I specify convicted, not someone who may have done it.

Cheers
Gary

shirley said...

Steve said,
"If you could somehow know with certainty that Bernie will never molest minors or view more child porn even if he doesn't go to prison, would you still want him to spend the rest of his life or any time in prison?"

What you will see is that Bernie WILL go back to doing what he has done if he makes it out of prison. Pedophiles are not rational and when he proves this point, it will be time for you to review your position.

Nagarjuna said...

Shirley--
You didn't answer my question.

Nagarjuna said...

Gary--
You and I agree that when adults have sex with children, it can cause grave and lasting harm to the child. You and I also agree that adults who have shown that they're very likely to molest if given the chance should be denied that chance and that the state's only recourse, at present, is to confine these individuals in a prison or mental hospital. So far, so good.

Where you and I disagree profoundly is over the criteria the state should use to determine that an adult poses this kind and level of threat. You appear to believe not only that any adult who has ever been convicted of molesting any child under any circumstances should be imprisoned for life to prevent inevitable further molestations, but that any adult who has even been convicted for viewing child porn has either already molested children or will inevitably do so if allowed to remain free and, therefore, should also be locked away for life. Hence, you believe that Bernie Ward, even though he was, after a thorough police investigation, indicted only for possession and distribution to other adults of a relatively small number over a relatively small period of time of still images allegedly involving explicit sexual or simulated sexual relations between minors and other minors and between minors and adults, has demonstrated beyond a reasonable doubt that he poses a serious threat to sexually molest minors if allowed to remain free; therefore, he should be locked away in prison for the rest of his life.

I think this is ludicrous. Not because I naively believe that adults who have irresistible urges to molest children can now be cured or reformed, but because I believe that there are different kinds and degrees of sexual involvement with children and with child pornography; that those who have only viewed and distributed a few images of child porn will not, especially after an encounter with the legal system over their activities, inevitably go on to molest children; and that Bernie Ward will very likely not molest any children if he's allowed to remain free. Hence, lifetime incarceration is not only "cruel and unusual" punishment for someone like Bernie, but also unnecessary to protect our children.

Is there a chance that someone like Bernie could, if he isn't kept in prison, molest a child? I suppose so. But I believe that the risk is small enough that when we balance the need to protect our children against the need to be fair and just in our legal system, people who have done no worse than Bernie Ward has should be afforded the benefit of the doubt, although, perhaps, also watched closely and duly warned that the sanctions for subsequent sexual offenses of any kind against children will be extremely severe.

As to your culminating question, first of all, I don't accept your explicit or implied premises that Bernie is a confirmed pedophile, that pedophilia or, more broadly, strong sexual attraction to minors invariably results in molesting minors, and that there is a "100% recidivism rate" with any and all such behavior. Therefore, I believe that each criminal case involving adults convicted of sex offenses involving minors must be examined and decided in light of its specific circumstances and that not all sentences for all these offenses should be life in prison. In Bernie's case, not only do I not believe that he deserves life in prison; I don't believe that he should receive ANY prison time.

Anonymous said...

Hi Steve,

I think you misunderstand one of my points. I don't rely at all on whatever criteria the state chooses to use for it's determination of potential harm.
I rely instead on the many studies performed over the last 40 or so years by recognized criminologists and psychologists on aberrant behaviors and how best to deal with them.
Also you are woefully uninformed about pedophilia and it's effect on the person so afflicted. Shirley is absolutely correct that they are not rational and will do incredibly self destructive behaviors. Research has shown that 100% of the time if given the opportunity the individuals WILL ENGAGE IN SEXUAL ASSAULTS OF ANY CHILDREN THEY CAN GET THEIR HANDS ON. This is not some ridiculous "gateway drug" argument where if you take marijuana you will then graduate to heroin. If you are arroused by viewing child pornography you will absolutely assault a child if given the opportuniy. It is absolutely guaranteed. I understand that you are having a hard time believing this but I urge you to do some serious research on this subject. Don't believe a word I say. But do the basic research so you can prove that what I am saying is wrong. You will be surprised by what you find.
Bernies case is illustrative of how political influence can color an investigation. He plead guilty to sending up to 150 images to many people other than Sexfairy. He sent three to her. Who did he send the others too? How many were there really? Why was he allowed to plead to just one felony? He should have been charged with a felony for every image. Use your powers of critical thinking I implore you. You are obviously smart, you obviously care about people. Don't allow your compassion to color your judgement. The law is one thing, science tells us that he is indeed a child predator. As I have stated before we have a legal system and not a justice system. We should have compassion for the victims. Where is that in the liberal world I wonder? I never hear liberals talking about how they feel compassion for the victims, they allways show it for the perpetrator but never the victim. I wonder why that is? I really do.
How many people have been murdered because liberals say that just because a person has murdered someone doesn't mean they will do it again? I lost a girlfriend to a convicted murderer who had murdered a woman in Los Angeles, served 8 years, got out and after an 8 month period murdered my girlfriend. Guess what, he only had to serve 20 years for her murder and is now no doubt walking the streets looking for another scalp for his trophy room. Do you see a problem with that?
Liberals consistently ignore the evidence placed in front of them and will fight tooth and nail to give these people "just one more chance", when will number of victims be enough for you to figure out that maybe, just maybe, your approach is wrong?
You think it is ludicrous to lock those people away for life. I think it is ludicrous to allow them out to perpetrate more harm.
The fact remains that we don't know how far down the path Bernie has travelled. The evidence points to those who wish to look deep enough, that he has travelled quite far down the road and leaped at an offer to keep that evidence locked away. If Bernies crimes were as low grade as you seem to think they are, he not only would have gone to trial he should have gone to trial. He plead guilty, not no contest that says a lot. That says that the prosecutor was more than willing to go to trial and moreover that he was certain he would gain a conviction. It also means that Bernies attorneys knew it too. It also means that there was a ton more evidence that would come out that Bernie decided he didn't want to be exposed to the eyes of the world.
Lifetime incarceration for one person is not "cruel and unusual punishment" when that person is a predator. What is cruel and unusual is the victims that could have been spared had society done its duty to protect them. Pedophilia of all the crimes out there is known for serial offences. There is never, and has never been a case of one time is enough. Multiple victims is the norm. The only thing that prevents them from harming opthers is prison. It is a sad truth, but it is the truth.
As far as your denial of my assertion of a 100% recidivism rate. As I stated before. Don't believe me. Do your own research and then come back and tell us what you have discovered. Until you do that you may certainly have your opinion, but it is an uniformed and predominately ignorant opinion. I am not trying to be insulting. I am trying to encourage you to do the research. Ignorance is merely a lack of education about a particular subject.

Cheers
Gary

Nagarjuna said...

Gary--
Like I said before, adult sexual attraction to minors varies by degree and type, and I know, as certainly as you claim to know the opposite, that you are absolutely WRONG...WRONG...WRONG when you state:

"Research has shown that 100% of the time if given the opportunity the individuals WILL ENGAGE IN SEXUAL ASSAULTS OF ANY CHILDREN THEY CAN GET THEIR HANDS ON. This is not some ridiculous "gateway drug" argument where if you take marijuana you will then graduate to heroin. If you are arroused by viewing child pornography you will absolutely assault a child if given the opportuniy. It is absolutely guaranteed."

Research has NOT shown this, and the reason it hasn't is simply because it's just not true. Ask your wife. If she's a real psychologist who's on top of this research, she will back me on THIS point. And I challenge you to cite even ONE reputable scientific study that categorically asserts what you say. Yes, you will find studies showing that certain categories of pedophiles have a very high rate of recidivism and/or escalation, but you won't find ANY reputable study that claims what you imply that they all do. I hope YOU "do the research" and get back to me about what you've found.

As for how the law must have a lot more on Bernie that has been brought to light, I think it makes a whole lot more sense to believe that they brought EVERYTHING to light in their indictment that they had on Bernie that they thought they could prove in a court of law, and, when you come right down to it, it wasn't all that much. Certainly not enough to justify incarceration in federal prison, much less a life sentence.

Finally, a true "liberal" doesn't care only about the rights of the accused; he also cares about the rights of victims and seeks to take both into account in social and legal policies. I don't want children to be sexually abused. You and I agree that child sexual abuse can have terrible repercussions for the victims. But I also don't want people like Bernie Ward to go to prison because of exaggerated concerns generated by faulty readings of scientific research.

shirley said...

Your post, and as a thinking person I assumed your question, was addressed to Gary.

Nagarjuna said...

Shirley--
My comments are open to anyone who cares to address them. You quoted my question, and, as a thinking person, I was disappointed when you didn't answer it. You are stil welcome to answer it.

shirley said...

Your question;
"If you could somehow know with certainty that Bernie will never molest minors or view more child porn even if he doesn't go to prison, would you still want him to spend the rest of his life or any time in prison?"

Is coming from a position of unreality or fantasy as the statistics show that Bernie Ward-pedophile, is far more likely to continue to offend than not. The question is a fantasy world hypothetical as one is far more likely to "somehow know with certainty" that he will continue his ways when released.
You can wish, hope and pray for it to be true but reality will continue to show otherwise.
Is it possible for you to get your head around that?

shirley said...

Since you brought up the subject of Dennis Prager and Rush Limbaugh being caught in the same crime. If either of them had been caught, would you have written even one word on how unfair the punishment was?
Now isn't it time to move along to a post on how the Califonia Supreme Court has struck a blow for freedom with its gay marriage decision?

Anonymous said...

Hi Steve,

I decided to take you up on your challenge and did a fairly quick survey of the available research work and you are correct it is not 100%, it actually falls out like this. 43% will re-offend within 5 years of release from prison, 82% within 10 years, and 97% within 15 years. The 20 year study is currently ongoing but due to the deaths of a few of the research subjects they have had to extend the study. This is for convicted pedophiles who have been sentenced to prison and served their sentences. I am also in contact with Dr. Lisa Puma who is the director of the Arapaho County (Denver Colorado)Mental Health Department and she will be sending me some further research materials.

Now a simple question for you.

Should child pornography be illegal to possess?


Cheers
Gary

shirley said...

Why not post the second post I submitted today?

Nagarjuna said...

Shirley--
As you've probably noticed, this blog is on comment moderation. Not because of you or Gary, but because of someone else. So, I have to approve comments before they are published. I'm here at work and had the luxury tonight of being able to check during my break. I saw your second comment and published it. I'll respond to it now and your first comment later.

Yes, I really think I would have written about the unfairness of the government's action against either of the other two gentlemen you mentioned, although I sincerely doubt that the government would have taken such severe action against either one of them.

And, yes, I'm delighted that gays can now, if only for a limited time before too many of my fellow Calfornians foolishly vote for a constitutional amendment to ban homosexual marriage, legally marry. And I may very well publish a post on this story later on. But, then again, I may not, because I've already posted articles to this blog explaining my stance on gay marriage. What it comes down to is that I can see excellent reasons for allowing it and no compelling reasons not to.

Nagarjuna said...

Shirley--
Once again, a pedophile is someone strongly sexually attracted to prepubescent children. I don't know that Bernie is a pedophile. What's more, not all pedophiles or, more generally, people attracted to minors molest minors. Many confine themselves to fantasizing or doing as Bernie did and looking at pictures. I don't want to minimize Bernie's actions. He shouldn't have done what he did, and I'm not saying he shouldn't suffer any legal consequences from it. But I don't think he begins to deserve what you and Gary seem to think he does.

Look, Shirley, like you, I don't want to see any more children molested and damaged for life. But neither do I want to see an adult's life ruined if it doesn't need to be in order to protect our children.

Nagarjuna said...

Gary--
A quick response.

I agree that recidivist rates are very high among pedophiles who have molested children. But Bernie was never charged with molesting children. What I disputed was two points of your prior comment. (1) That those who get off on child porn will, if allowed to, inevitably molest children; and (2) That all adults attracted to minors will molest any child they can "get their hands on." I'm sure there are many adults who "like" children who never move beyond their fantasies or looking at pictures, and if these adults molested every child they could, it wouldn't take 15 years for the recidivist rate to climb as high as you say it does for those who've been convicted of molesting minors.

But, once again, Bernie was never charged with actual molestation. So, your statements and stats don't necessarily apply to him.

shirley said...

Is it Tom whos comments you are moderating? I haven't seen him post in awhile.

Anonymous said...

Steve,

Please answer the question.

Should child pornography be illegal to possess?

Cheers
Gary

Nagarjuna said...

Shirley--

No, it most decidedly isn't Tom. It's someone else. Everyone is welcome to comment here unless they abuse the privilege. Someone abused it repeatedly, and now he's banned and his posts, including some half-way legitimate ones, have been deleted.

As for Tom, he is going through a very difficult time right now, and I'm extremely concerned about him.

Nagarjuna said...

I implicitly answered this question in a previous reply to Shirley. Let me be more explicit here I'm not opposed to making possession of child porn illegal. However, I don't believe that the punishment for it should be nearly as severe as it is now, especially on the first offense.

shirley said...

What's wrong?

Anonymous said...

Hello Again,

What then do you think is an appropriate punishment for its possession?


Gary

Nagarjuna said...

Gary--
I prefer not to characterize it as "punishment," but more as something like "rational response" or even "intervention." My preliminary thoughts on this is that a person convicted for the first time of merely possessing or distributing images of child porn that he didn't sell or participate in creating should have to go through a comprehensive program that aims to educate him as well as possible as to just how harmful child molestation and child porn can be to its victims, their families and friends, and to everyone else involved. There could also be a fine imposed that is commensurate with the offender's ability to pay. The could also be some kind of appropriate public service required. There could also be a temporary ban on using a computer to connect to the Internet, along with the threat of much more severe sanctions for violating this ban and for possessing child porn anytime in the future.

Nagarjuna said...

Shirley--
I'm not sure that Tom would want me to share the specific details of his misfortune with the general public right now. Suffice it to say that he is facing some very significant financial and emotional challenges, and I'm very concerned about whether he'll be able to cope with them effectively. Unfortunately, his circumstances make it virtually impossible for him to receive the kind of expert help he needs, and I, as someone who is hardly expert in any of these areas, feel poorly equipped to be of much service on my own. All I can do is care and be the best friend to him that I can be.

Anonymous said...

Steve,
You do realise that the vast majority of child porn images are freely given. It is kind of a competition between them as to who can come up with the most images and they take great pride in not taking money for the images, they just want images that they don't have so the deals are most commonly a trade.


Gary

Nagarjuna said...

Gary--
And your point is?

Anonymous said...

My point is the prime people you want to intervene with will be exempt because they are not making money on it. Seems a rather large loophole.


Gary

Nagarjuna said...

Gary--
I previously said that these individuals should not go to prison, but I didn't say they should be exempt from any intervention. In fact, I said just the opposite, and I listed some of the intentions they might be subject to.

Anonymous said...

Steve,

This is the quote I am referring to

"preliminary thoughts on this is that a person convicted for the first time of merely possessing or distributing images of child porn that he didn't sell or participate in creating should have to go through a comprehensive program that aims to educate him as well as possible as to just how harmful child molestation and child porn can be to its victims, their families and friends, and to everyone else involved"

That passage exempts 90% of the purveyors of child pornography.

One other thing, you may want to listen to the KGO radio archive for the 9am to 10am period on May 20 2008. It was Brian Copelands show and is fairly enlightening on Bernies case. It has some more of that evidence that has not been out for general consumption. I commend Brian for coming forward and giving his testimony on the air.

Cheers
Gary

Nagarjuna said...

Gary--
Again, I don't understand who is exempted from what. My understanding is that most of those involved in child porn are involved to the relatively limited degree to which you and I referred, and they would NOT be exempt from the kinds of interventions I outlined. Am I missing something?

Thanks for the heads up on the Copeland program. I'll check it out if I can.

Nagarjuna said...

Gary--
I listened to the Copeland program. I heard no "evidence" presented that Bernie's a pedophile who has molested any children or was in imminent danger of molesting any children. In the prior debate that Copeland aired, I heard Bernie defending the First Amendment, which he has consistently done over the years regarding ALL KINDS of speech. I didn't hear him defending pedophilia per se, and I think it was unfair of Copeland to spin it that way.

The most disturbing part of what Copeland presented was his account of a colleague walking in on Bernie while he was masturbating while having Internet chat sex with a woman. But that woman was presumably a consenting adult, and there's no evidence that the chat had anything to do with pedophilia.

Of course, I could see someone arguing that Bernie's behavior in the studio shows that he was becoming very reckless in his sexual behavior, and that that recklessness could have already involved or ended up involving children.

But, again, Bernie, after what was surely an extremely thorough investigation, wasn't charged with child molestation, and I suspect that his involvement with child porn and with reckless sexual behavior of any kind ended when the police became involved with him over the Sexfairy incident.

Anonymous said...

Hi Steve,

Your interventions would only target those who actually make money from the abuse. That is the loophole. The vast majority make no money from it because that is not what they are interested in. They are only in it for their gratification and that IS the profit.

The KGO report was mainly about his increasingingly reckless behavior and about his admission to a colleague after the raid that he had been doing bad things for years and was going to end up going to jail for years and was going to commit suicide instead.

You keep harping on how he is only guilty of one charge and I am telling you that that is because of his association with Senator Boxer who I am sure has been pulling strings for him. Just based on his admission of up to 150 images he should be going to prison for a minimum of 75 years(that is the mandated minimum sentence that was upheld by the Supreme Court yesterday), he isn't, that says someone is helping him not that there was no evidence. He admitted to it that means there was evidence.
We can argue about what is a proper punishment or intervention but the fact remains he has clearly recieved a lot of help from someone. Based on his working for Boxer for many years my guess is it's her.
Bernie was arguing that a confessed pedophile had the right to take photo's of young girls and post them on his website and tell other pedophiles where they(the little girls) could be found. That is Conspiracy to Commit a crime. That is not a protected right under the First Ammendment anymore than posting bomb making instructions and where to place the bomb is. For Bernie to argue otherwise is further evidence of just how out of control he is. The legal reasoning of what I am saying is contained in the phrase "a reasonable person would find this action to be inapropriate". One of these days the person about whom they were talking is going to be killed and the father or mother who does it when they go on trial(if it even go's that far as any DA will know it is an unwinnable case) will be acquitted because the jury will see that they have done society a favour.
That is how far out of the norm pedophilia is considered. The society as a whole will condone the murder of a pedophile and will not think twice about it. If you don't believe me just do a search under jury nullification and you will see that the very few times pedophile murderers are tried, they invariably are acquitted.
I don't advocate the murder of anyone but according to Bernie I could and that would be protected under the First Ammendment. That is absolutely fundamentally not what the Framers had in mind(and yes I have read the Federalist Papers as well as the collections of correspondence's between the authors of the Bill of Rights), and further shows how far out of his mind Bernie has become.
I wonder if he is suffering from some form of dementia or other brain wasting disease? When I first started listening to him 20 or so years ago he was never this twisted. I think he has allways had a prediliction for young children but I think his questionable reasoning and clear lack of critical thinking is a more recent manifestation of possibly a real physical disease.
I would certainly want to have that possibility checked out. Otherwise we are simply left with a man who is just simply nuts who should be in an asylum.
I know you are going to disagree with me on that last point, but you have to at some point realise that we are only getting a very small sampling of his abberant behaviors. Either he is the most unlucky person in the world who every time he is going to do something bad gets caught(now how likely do you really think that is?) or he has been doing it for a long time and when he has been caught was able to deal with it in house(like the masturbation in the studio) or it was never reported, or he paid off the victims etc. Just because he hasn't been accused of some of these acts you seem to think they didn't occur. I know they occured, I don't think he should be punished for them because we don't know what happened for sure, but we do know they have happened.
I do however think that what he has confessed to he needs to pay for.


Gary

Nagarjuna said...

Gary--
I have to get ready for work, so I don't have time right now to address all of your comments. However, let me briefly say that I'm mystified by your continuing to say that I would "exempt" people like Bernie from any kind of "intervention" when that is precisely the opposite of what I've said. I've said that people convicted of simple possession and distribution without money changing hands could go through the kinds of interventions I outlined. So, where do you arrive at your 90% exempt figure?

shirley said...

Is Tom staying at your place?

Nagarjuna said...

Gary--
Bernie's "increasingly reckless behavior" and admission that he had done some "bad things" may have had nothing to do with child porn or molestation. He could have been masturbating in the studio over ADULT sex fantasies, and the "bad things" he confessed to, which, as I recall, he said were with his computer, could well have referred to a moralistic assessment of his involvement with sex chats and other interactions that had NOTHING to do with children. It could, for all we know, have been fantasies or materials involving ADULT gay (e.g., his Palm theater "experience") or ADULT "kinky" sex or even sex with animals. But Copeland's insinuation and yours seems to be that it had to have referred to sex with children. We don't know that, and, in any case, the feds apparently didn't find evidence of it beyond what has come to light, and they certainly didn't charge him with it.

We also don't know that Bernie got help from high places in likely receiving a sentence far less than what he could have for his offenses. I suspect that most people involved with child porn don't receive anything close to the maximum sentence, especially on the first conviction. It's my understanding that people who are caught with child porn often have thousands of images; yet, I've never heard of anyone going away for life because of it, even though they could theoretically receive such a severe sentence. I further suspect that even those who make and sell it seldom receive life sentences for it, even thought they could. Do you mean to suggest that people in high places are intervening for ALL of them? Relatively speaking, what Bernie was caught for was pretty mild.

Yes, Bernie argued that people should be able to do what McLellan was doing, but his argument was within the context of protecting our First Amendment right to free speech. Now I happen to agree with you and Copeland that this right should NOT be absolute and unqualified, especially with regard to what one can express regarding children, but I believe that one could take Bernie's position, which, as I understand it, is essentially the position of the ACLU, without it necessarily reflecting "dementia" or the rationalizing of one's own perversion. Bernie has argued for the decades I listened to him that it's important to be "consistent" in one's philosophical, ethical, and legal principles and in their application. And I can understand his concern that without this consistency with regard to the First Amendment, we risk a dangerous "slippery slope" of taking away McLellan's right, as distasteful as it might be, today and taking away our right to criticize government officials tomorrow because, after all, the government could justify such a prohibition on the grounds that criticizing the president or other high officials could engender disrespect for and even incite acts of violence against the government that, in turn, could cost lives, including those of innocent children (e.g., the Oklahoma bombing) and undermine security.

No, I don't "realize that we're getting only a very small sampling of his aberrant behaviors," much less with your seeming implication that he's engaged in much more sexual behavior of various kinds involving children than has come to light. For all I know, what has come to light may be very indicative of the kinds of things he has done, and, if it is, he hasn't done anything bad enough to spend years in federal prison for.

Finally, you write: "Just because he hasn't been accused of some of these acts you seem to think they didn't occur. I know they occured, I don't think he should be punished for them because we don't know what happened for sure, but we do know they have happened.
I do however think that what he has confessed to he needs to pay for." Gary, I don't say that other things didn't occur, I merely disagree with you that we "know" they occurred; I agree with you that he shouldn't be punished for unproven suspicions; and I believe he's already paid a terrible price for what has been proven and that he should not have to pay the additional, and, in my considered opinion, draconian price of years in prison and permanent sex offender status for what he has been proven and has confessed to have done.

Anonymous said...

Hello Again,

OK, I was misreading your original posting so please accept my apology for being dumb :)!
Now back to Bernie, why, I ask you, would he say that he is going to jail for many years merely for looking at legal adult or gay porn on his computer? The only illegal thing that you can do on the computer(at least that is sex related) is look at child pornography. That seems pretty cut and dried to me. His declaration had nothing to do with a moralistic problem. It had everything to do with a legal one. If it was merely a morals problem KGO managment would have slapped his hands and sent him back to work. A person does not contemplate suicide for a "moralistic" issue.
Reckless behaviors such as Bernie was engaging in is one of the diagnostic descriptors that psychologists use when using the DSM to determine a particular psychological disorder. That particular descriptor is one of the most evaluative indicators of where the disorder is going and how treatment should be handled.
I have not been following California cases lately but if the case ever goes Federal then mandatory minimums are supposed to be followed, and after a cursory check of the data bases I have found 17 individuals who have been convicted in the last 2 years of similar levels of child porn activity, the average sentence was 75 years. Bernie will probably get 4-5 years and the feds are ignoring the other 149 images he sent. They are not allowed(according to Federal Criminal Code) to do that, that's what mandatory minimums mean. It is officially taken out of the hands of the judges and are intended to be draconian in nature. I don't agree with mandatory minimums for most cases (especially drug violations which are ridiculous) but they are there and in Bernies case they are clearly not being followed. Thus a "reasonable person" would be led to believe that he is obtaining help from somewhere.
Finally the McClellan issue.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

That is the full text of the First Ammendment. Please show me the relevant passage that implies you can commit a crime? And when it comes to the ACLU they were founded by communists and their original stated goal way back in 1920 when they were founded by Roger Baldwin and Crystal Eastman and in 1935 Baldwin made this statement

"I am for Socialism, disarmament and ultimately, for the abolishing of the State itself … I seek the social ownership of property, the abolition of the propertied class and sole control of those who produce wealth. Communism is the goal.

This group has nothing to do with AMerican values and wants nothing less than a retry of Stalinist Russia, only they want to do it here. 80,000,000 dead people is not enough of a failed social experiment for them, they want to do it again. Madness, sheer madness!
And finally we are indeed in agreement. I do not believe he should be punished for things we can't prove. I do however believe he should have to register as a sex offender...because he is one. He MAY not have actually committed violence against children. But because of his weakness they most certainly are being harmed. In my mind(I understand not in yours) that makes him culpable. Not to the same extent I grant you, but still a essential part of the machine that commits these horrible crimes.


Gary

Anonymous said...

Hello Again,

OK, I was misreading your original posting so please accept my apology for being dumb :)!
Now back to Bernie, why, I ask you, would he say that he is going to jail for many years merely for looking at legal adult or gay porn on his computer? The only illegal thing that you can do on the computer(at least that is sex related) is look at child pornography. That seems pretty cut and dried to me. His declaration had nothing to do with a moralistic problem. It had everything to do with a legal one. If it was merely a morals problem KGO managment would have slapped his hands and sent him back to work. A person does not contemplate suicide for a "moralistic" issue.
Reckless behaviors such as Bernie was engaging in is one of the diagnostic descriptors that psychologists use when using the DSM to determine a particular psychological disorder. That particular descriptor is one of the most evaluative indicators of where the disorder is going and how treatment should be handled.
I have not been following California cases lately but if the case ever goes Federal then mandatory minimums are supposed to be followed, and after a cursory check of the data bases I have found 17 individuals who have been convicted in the last 2 years of similar levels of child porn activity, the average sentence was 75 years. Bernie will probably get 4-5 years and the feds are ignoring the other 149 images he sent. They are not allowed(according to Federal Criminal Code) to do that, that's what mandatory minimums mean. It is officially taken out of the hands of the judges and are intended to be draconian in nature. I don't agree with mandatory minimums for most cases (especially drug violations which are ridiculous) but they are there and in Bernies case they are clearly not being followed. Thus a "reasonable person" would be led to believe that he is obtaining help from somewhere.
Finally the McClellan issue.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

That is the full text of the First Ammendment. Please show me the relevant passage that implies you can commit a crime? And when it comes to the ACLU they were founded by communists and their original stated goal way back in 1920 when they were founded by Roger Baldwin and Crystal Eastman and in 1935 Baldwin made this statement

"I am for Socialism, disarmament and ultimately, for the abolishing of the State itself … I seek the social ownership of property, the abolition of the propertied class and sole control of those who produce wealth. Communism is the goal.

This group has nothing to do with AMerican values and wants nothing less than a retry of Stalinist Russia, only they want to do it here. 80,000,000 dead people is not enough of a failed social experiment for them, they want to do it again. Madness, sheer madness!
And finally we are indeed in agreement. I do not believe he should be punished for things we can't prove. I do however believe he should have to register as a sex offender...because he is one. He MAY not have actually committed violence against children. But because of his weakness they most certainly are being harmed. In my mind(I understand not in yours) that makes him culpable. Not to the same extent I grant you, but still a essential part of the machine that commits these horrible crimes.


Gary

shirley said...

Steve,
Do you think Bernie may have been mastubating to child porn while on the air?
I recall a few times when his voice was a little shaky.

Nagarjuna said...

Shirley--
In light of what Brian Copeland revealed on his program last Sunday, I'd say it's distinctly possible.

However, the more I think about that program, the more I believe that Copeland was wrong to discuss what he did. He said he did it to set the record straight about Bernie and refute fellow talk show hosts and callers who defended Bernie or suggested that Bernie's prosecution might be politically motivated. However, the "evidence" Copeland presented--the masturbation incident in the studio, the prior debate he had with Bernie over McLellan's right to free speech, and Bernie's confession to a colleague that he'd done some bad things on his computer that were going to send him to prison and because of which he was going to kill himself--didn't establish that Bernie was a pedophile or that the severity of the government's action didn't have a political aspect to it. I think all Copeland really succeeded in doing is kicking a man who's already way, way down and causing more hurt to his family. And, by the way, who were the talk show hosts who were defending Bernie or arguing that political motives lie behind the prosecution? Not Ronn Owens, Gene Burns, Gill Gross, or anyone else I heard. Karel was probably the most sympathetic to Bernie, but even he didn't deny that Bernie did what he did and that the law could legitimately do what it was doing about it.

Nagarjuna said...

Gary--
When Bernie confessed what he did to a colleague, he could well have been referring ONLY to the things that have already come to light, and he could well have been talking about committing suicide to escape the consequences of having been caught for THOSE things. In other words, he knew he had broken the law with the acts that have come to light and that he faced severe legal and social sanctions for those in themselves. He needn't have been implying that he'd done more than that, whereas you seem to be suggesting that he must have been.

If I'm not mistaken, Bernie confessed to "15 to 150" images. So, your 150 count may be a huge overstatement. It may have been only 15. Second, while it may be true that the government has sentenced some people to 75 year sentences for what Bernie was indicted for, I suspect that, in the overwhelming majority of similar cases, it didn't invoke such severe sentencing, especially if it was the defendant's first conviction, the defendant plea bargained, and there was no evidence that the defendant actually molested anyone. And I strongly suspect that there was no influence from high places in THESE cases.

As for showing you the "relevant passage" of the First Amendment "that implies you can commit a crime," I don't understand your question. Could you elaborate? Bernie didn't argue that one has a First Amendment right to commit child molestation or any such crime. He argued that it was wrong to make what one says a crime unless there is clear and compelling evidence that it had incited people to crime.

Your implicit argument that the ACLU arguments for free speech are fallacious because of the ACLU's alleged origins and motivations is fallacious. Arguments are sound or unsound regardless of where they come from or why they're made. What is wrong with the arguments themselves, and with Bernie's argument that if you make it a "crime" to do what McLellan was doing, you open the door to making it a "crime" to criticize the government? How do you draw a clear and compelling legal line of demarcation between the former and the latter such that the latter cannot happen?

Finally, you and I agree that Bernie needs to "pay for" his self-admitted crimes. But where you and I differ profoundly is on HOW he should do this. He has already paid terribly for it and will continue to for the rest of his life. He doesn't need to spend five years in prison as part of his "payment." You disagree, and I guess that on that point we've reached an irremediable impasse that warrants no further discussion.

Anonymous said...

Hi Steve,

I have not stated that I think Bernie needs to spend five years in prison. I have said that if he could be prevented from engaging in those behaviors 100% of the time I would prefer him to do community service. What I demand however is that he confess completely what he has done. You and I know he will never do that.
On the Copeland show he admitted (to the colleague) that he had been doing it for years. That certainly implies to me that it is not limited to what he has confessed to.
I don't demand draconian consequences....I do demand honesty and Bernie has obfuscated at every turn. Until Bernie comes clean then I think he SHOULD go to prison. Until he does that he is not worthy of lenient treatment.
As far as the ACLU is concerned, the allegations are supported by fact. There were congressional hearings on the ACLU in the 1930's that were very critical of them and almost resulted in their abolition. The source of the argument does matter in our legal system because of the use of precedent. Once a silly ruling had gotten into the Legal Code it is very difficult to remove it. That is one of their tactics. That is also one of the reasons they choose the cases they do.

Cheers
Gary

Nagarjuna said...

Gary--
Bernie has confessed to what he confessed to. I see no need, nor would it be legally prudent, for him to confess to more, if he's actually done more. For the fact is, the legal system doesn't generally reward "true confessions." A good rule of thumb to follow in dealing with the law is, "Don't cop to anything you don't have to." If you do, you're likely to get nailed for it. Sad but true.

As for the ACLU, once again, you're engaging in a fallacious "genetic fallacy"--i.e., their argument is wrong because they're bad people-- instead of substantively refuting their (or Bernie's) position on free speech.

Anonymous said...

They are wrong because the very battles they choose to fight result in the long run in the abolition of those very rights they claim to defend. When you look at the laws that were passed by the Weimar Republic, no one could have imagined that those same laws could be used to legalize the pogroms that occured. Yet they did. When the League of Nations was founded they set forth a set of laws that when taken at their base meaning said, if you can attack a country and conquer it then hold elections within a prescribed time frame that your side then wins, then you get to keep the land you have taken.

Hitler, reading that and understanding its implications used that as the basis for his campaign of Lebensraum (growing space), only he figured that if you killed everyone who would oppose your elections then you were guaranteed a victory. Sadly the League had not thought of that particular tactic so it was....wait for it.....legal! In the eyes of the world court genocide was legal because there was no prohibition against it. It took the end of WWII and the intervention of the US to catagorize the criminal complaint of Crimes Against Humanity. No one else did that, we did it. The ACLU is interested in promulgating laws and rules of conduct that when the right person comes along can take those very laws and use them for the new pegrom, just like Hitler, Stalin, Beria, Tito, Pol Pot, Mao, et al. They have taken laws that were passed in a time of peace and twisted them to their own nefarious goal. Socialism has killed more people than religion, and that is saying something! Religion had at least a 2000 year head start but it is a piker when it comes to the number of victims compared to socialism.
Once again, please don't believe a word I said but do some reading and make your own conclusion.

Gary

shirley said...

Just think of the poor radio host coming in and doing a show after the perv. He'd have to use the same equipment and sit in the same chair. Yuck!

Nagarjuna said...

Shirley--
I'm sure he cleaned up after himself. :-)

shirley said...

With what, a tissue? And don't tell me he didn't miss any. He probably got off on leaving a little behind.