Category Archives: Hysteria

Google’s plan to eradicate child porn from the web

The Telegraph reports that Google plans to create a global database (databases seem to be in the news a lot these days) of child abuse images which will be shared with its competitors that will permit the images to be deleted from the internet en mass.  To identify what images constitute child porn, Google will rely on child protections organizations such as the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF).   While no one else seems to be able to define child porn in a way that doesn’t infringe on constitutionally protected speech, the IWF apparently knows it when it sees it.  Of course, a lot of people knew this 1999 Calvin Klein billboard proposed for Times Square was child porn, too.

Presumably, since the IWF declares pictures to be child porn before any court judges them to be, their determination of the age of the people depicted in the images is based on how old they look rather than on how old they are.  Child porn that doesn’t involve children hardly constitutes abuse of children anymore than porn with women in white dresses constitutes abuse of nurses.

IWF is not without controversy in terms of its precision in identifying what it calls illegal content.   Back in 2008, the IWF attempted to censor a Wikipedia article which turned out to be a “false positive” which is a polite way saying, “we accidentally declare some content to be illegal when it isn’t — too bad for you when some service provider bans it based on our say-so”.

Almost all early attempts by the U.S. to control internet content were based on restricting child porn.  Some of those attempts were thrown out in court.  Other aspects, such as today’s onerous record-keeping requirements that target legitimate adult pornography industry, survived.  More recent mechanisms to control internet content come from a government partnership with the entertainment industry to protect copyrights.  Once screening technology is in place, it can effectively be used to censor any content.

But, it should be remembered that Google is a private company and not the government, so they have the right to do what they want with data that passes through their systems.  And, as we have recently learned, Google will work with the government if asked.  The IWF already works closely with law enforcement agencies.   If they start targeting people instead of pictures, a “false positive” can destroy someone’s life.   On just the mere accusation of child porn, you won’t have a friend in the world regardless of your innocence or guilt.

If you think it’s paranoid to believe that innocent people can be sent to prison for false accusations of child sex crimes, read up on the Satanic Ritual Abuse cases that started in the 1980s.  A lot of people went to prison.  Eventually many were exonerated, but only after their lives were destroyed.  I’d give you statistics, but apparently the definition of Satanic Ritual Abuse is different depending on who you talk to.  Imagine that.

Late Afternoon Links

  • LAPD cop arrested for molesting two young girls, both under age ten.  Interesting to note that he is on paid administrative leave even as he sits in jail.  I don’t get paid if I have to go to court for a speeding ticket.  Cops must live is some kind of parallel universe.
  • Sacramento cops subdue an unarmed man to death during an arrest at a convenience store.  The police department has launched an investigation which will presumably lead to a declaration that their officers behaved appropriately.
  • From the New York Daily News“A Massachusetts kindergartner sparked panic on his school bus when he brought a plastic Lego gun — the size of a quarter — on board.”


School shut down triggered by man dressed in camouflage

L’Anse Creuse High School in Harrison Township, MI, was shut down today when a man dressed in camouflage was was spotted at the school.  It turned out that the man was a former student who worked at a nearby Air National Guard base.  He was there to try and get a recommendation.

In response, the school was closed for the day and sheriff’s deputies were called in to investigate and check the building.  Students being bussed to school were diverted to a safe location away from anyone dressed in scary camouflage.  For good measure they also closed L’Anse Creuse Elementary and Middle schools.

In typical bureaucratic style, school spokeswoman Kelly Allen says “We still believe that the right decision was made by making sure our students were safe…”

I think this is exactly why today’s heavily militarized police wear Gestapo black instead of the more war-like camouflage.

Kid is suspended for chewing pastry into a gun shape

A few days ago seven year old Josh Welch was sent home from school for chewing a breakfast pastry into the shape of a gun.

Josh takes full responsibly for trying to shape his breakfast pastry, but admits it was in innocent fun. He told FOX45, “All I was trying to do was turn it into a mountain but, it didn’t look like a mountain really and it turned out to be a gun kinda.”

When his teacher saw the strawberry tart he knew he was in trouble, he recalls, “She was pretty mad…and I think I was in big trouble.”

The school, immediately went into damage control mode trying to get a jump on the epidemic of childhood trauma caused by this disaster, sending out the following message to parents offering the services of the school’s counselor to help troubled students navigate past this devastating event and get on with their lives:

Dear Parents and Guardians:

I am writing to let you know about an incident that occurred this morning in one of our classrooms and encourage you to discuss this matter with your child in a manner you deem most appropriate.

During breakfast this morning, one of our students used food to make inappropriate gestures that disrupted the class. While no physical threats were made and no one [was] harmed, the student had to be removed from the classroom.

* * *

As you are aware, the … Code of Student Conduct and appropriate consequences related to violations of the code are clearly spelled out in the Student Handbook, which was sent home during the first week of school and can be found on our website,….

If your children express that they are troubled by today’s incident, please talk with them and help them share their feelings. Our school counselor is available to meet with any students who have the need to do so next week. In general, please remind them of the importance of making good choices.

It’s pretty clear that pastries are covered under the school’s weapons ban…

Any gun of any kind, loaded or unloaded, operable or inoperable, including any object other than a firearm which is a look-a-like of a gun. This shall include, but is not limited to, pellet gun, paintball gun, stun gun, taser, BB gun, flare gun, nail gun, and air soft gun.

Josh’s dad seems to be in denial about the seriousness of the matter:

I’ll just call it insanity,” Josh’s father said. “It’s a pastry.”

Hit & Run makes this observation about the letter to parents:

To be fair, the phrasing leaves open the possibility that the students would be “troubled” not by the imaginary gun but by the suspension, and by the ensuing realization that they’re powerless pawns in a vast, incomprehensible game run by madmen.


The war on sex workers

The February Reason magazine has a great article by Melissa Gira Grant on the “An unholy alliance of feminists, cops, and conservatives” that targets the commercial sex industry.  Those of you who arrived at this site via Sex Hysteria! are already familiar with my past writings about how conservatives and liberals have joined forces in a fight to wrest from women the right to control their bodies, their sex lives, and their incomes.

Melissa Grant’s article presents an excellent portrayal of the movement to ban sex work, how it evolved into what it has become, and what its strategies are to eliminate the world’s oldest profession.  My few comments don’t begin to do the article justice.

While these crusaders prefer to be called abolitionists, they are much closer to prohibitionists in terms of their end goals.  They have been hard at work to recast their message in a way that makes it much simpler and easier to sell.  By focusing on prostitution as separate from pornography, the  movement has eliminated opposition from that part of the women’s movement that supports First Amendment rights.

To garner further support through the tools of newspeak, they broadened the definition of sexual exploitation to include essentially all commercial sex work. Essentially, all prostitution is now human trafficking, conflating voluntary prostitution with sex slavery, instantly painting themselves as if they were out to rescue women from bondage, hence their adopting the mantra of “abolitionists” and identifying themselves with the Civil War era abolitionist movement.

To shed the stigma associated with advocating the arrest and imprisonment of those they are claiming to be rescuing, they now define prostitutes as victims of their customers and campaign for tougher laws against soliciting prostitution.    When sex workers reject the characterization that they are victims, the prohibitionists ignore them: Anyone who claims to be selling sex by choice are simply deluding themselves.

The power of this strategy hinges on one factor above all others.  By characterizing these victims as adolescents (which can mean anyone under 22 years old), they combine the issue of sex with children, instantly disarming people’s natural skepticism.  The mainstream media totally buys into the theme and quotes these organizations without question.  The logic works like this: All prostitution is human trafficking and almost all prostitutes begin as children, therefore to voice opposition to this movement is the same as condemning children to live as sex slaves.

The extent to which these organizations distort the facts is nothing short of stunning.  They know they are doing it, but they’ve convinced themselves that they’re saving children, so the ends justify the means.  They know that they will get a warm reception by CNN and be seen by a million people, but those who actually question and investigate their claims reach only a few thousand.  They can’t lose.

And what is the ultimate result of all this crusading to deny woman the right to make their own decisions about their own lives?  The bad side is that it drives prostitution deeper into a lawless underground where exploitation, danger, and fear are an inevitability.  There is no good side.

Read the whole article.

Sex predator Alert!

Here is a typical example of the kind of spam sent out to inspire fear in parents that their children are constantly under threat of being abducted by a sexual predator.  I received this today.   The From line was “Child Predator Alert” and the subject line was “Child Predator Warning in Your Area“.sex-pred-spam

This particular outfit is commercial in nature, capitalizing on the sex offender paranoia to get you to send them $30 per month for membership, but their tactics of abusing statistics in order to intentionally mislead the public is a common practice among many NGOs crusading for a myriad of different causes (many of which leverage off the idea that children are under some kind of over-blown threat).

But what about the claims in this message?

No one likes statistics more than an NGO trying to justify its existence.   People believe them.   If you go to the Kids Live Safe website, you will find that they cite the U.S. Justice Dept as the source for their facts, but rather than link directly to the actual Justice Department study, they link to other NGOs.

The Justice Department study overview can be found here.

The most common abuse practiced by organizations such as this is the conflation of statistics to intentionally get you to misinterpret them.  In this case they conflate the number of children who go missing with abductions by placing the statistic next to the pictures of three highly publicized extreme cases of children who were kidnapped and murdered.  The 2100 figure comes from the total number of children reported missing in one year (~800,000 per year divided by 365 days).

Although runaway/thrownaway children reflect a substantial minority of reported missing children (45 percent), nearly as many children (43 percent) became missing because of benign reasons. Comparable percentages of reported missing children were missing because they were lost or injured (8 percent) and because they had been abducted by a family member (7 percent). Only a small percentage were missing because of a nonfamily abduction (2 percent).

Parents who are interested in knowing about sex offenders living nearby, are more likely worried about non-family (stranger) abductions, which account for only 2% of that total.  Stand by.  It gets even sleazier.

Here is what the report says about the kind of serious kidnappings that the spam message illustrates with its tree examples:

Stereotypical kidnappings. In table 3, the estimates for nonfamily abducted children include primarily crimes involving a modest amount of forced movement or detention that correspond with the way in which abduction is legally defined in most State statutes. Such abductions are rare enough that the estimates of the number of caretaker missing and reported missing children abducted by a nonfamily perpetrator are not very reliable and have very large confidence intervals. Stereotypical kidnappings are the particular type of nonfamily abduction that receives the most media attention and involves a stranger or slight acquaintance who detains the child overnight, transports the child at least 50 miles, holds the child for ransom, abducts the child with intent to keep the child permanently, or kills the child. They represent an extremely small portion of all missing children. (The Law Enforcement Study found that an estimated 115 of the nonfamily abducted children were victims of stereotypical kidnappings and that 90 of these qualified as reported missing.)

The emphasis is mine.  Ninety reported stereotypical kidnappings for the entire year falls a little short of the 2100 per day that the message cites.

I should also point out that this business gets an A rating by the Better Business Bureau, which makes an interesting statement about the BBB.

Morning Links

You can have all the free speech you want as long as it doesn’t paint Israel in an unfavorable light.

The UK uses the identities of dead children for undercover cops.

Having trouble attracting babes?  Become a serial killer.  Maggie McNeill explains why many  women are attracted to “Bad Boys“.

In the Your-Tax-Dollars-At-Work category, a 50 year old Canadian Super Bowl contest winner denied entry to go see the game because of a pot conviction back in 1981.

Thousands of hookers flocked to New Orleans for the Super Bowl, right?  Wrong.  And the myth is repeated every year for every major sporting event.

U.S. ramping up military drug war tactics in Latin America because, according to drug czar Gil Kerlikowske, the strategy has been working so well.

Massachusetts Dept of Transportation removes violent video games from rest stops and one mayor launches a campaign to get parents to remove them from their homes.  Because, while the government can’t really protect us from actual violence, they certainly can take action against harmless portrayals of violence.

Obama on gun control

“…if there is a step we can take that will save even one child from what happened in Newtown, we should take that step…”

–Barack Obama, Jan. 14, 2013–.

Whenever someone claims that “saving even one child” justifies some legislation, you can be certain that you are about to become less free.  And, because this happens so frequently,  the child that is supposedly being saved, is going to grow up in a world much different from the one you enjoyed as a child.

Claims like this are intentionally designed to elicit an emotional reaction that trumps rational deliberation.   Not only does it work, but the public never seems to tire of it or see through the manipulation, which is why it is almost always used to justify bad legislation.  It’s has the effect of making people instantly stupid.

According to the Bureau for Investigative Journalism, U.S. drone attacks have killed at least 204 children in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia over the last seven years.

You want to save some children, Mr President?  How about you clean your own house before laying the blame at the feet of the American public.  Stop your drone strikes. Don’t do it to save a bunch of Pakistani and Yemeni children.  We already know you don’t give a shit about them.  Do it to save American children who are likely to be the victims of the next 9/11-style attack that will inevitably come if we keep making enemies of the entire Muslim world by continuously and callously killing their children.

Post Traumatic Stupidity Syndrome

From Lenore Skenazy at CNN:

In the wake of the Sandy Hook shootings, we are suffering from a very American malady: Post-Traumatic Stupidity Syndrome.

Folks in the throes of PTSS are so traumatized by a tragic event that they immediately demand something – ANYTHING – be done to prevent it from ever occurring again. Even if the chances of it happening are one in a million. Even if the “preventative measures” proposed are wacky, wasteful, ridiculous – or worse.

I wish I had thought of that term.  It happens after every calamity in the U.S.  It’s a like contest to see which government official can come up with the dumbest ideas, supposedly meant to protect us in the future, but really intended to do nothing more than allow some political parasite to get his name into the headlines.

The world is a different place than when I was a kid.  Safer, yes.  But also much more paranoid.  It looks like the fear of pedophiles behind every tree is giving way to the belief that video games and guns are the root cause of killing sprees.