Sunday, July 18, 2010

Missing woman "opens herself up". Police officer "open themselves up" to my wrath.

For those of you who haven’t been reading NZ news papers over the last few days, one of the reoccurring headlines has been regarding a missing person case.

Carmen Thomas, 32, was last seen in Auckland on July 1 and was reported missing to police on Tuesday. Her car, a black Nissan Pulsar with the registration number ATS209, was found in Hamilton on July 5
She was described as Caucasian, with a fair complexion and long brown hair. She was about 1.7m tall with a medium to heavy build. She wore two sets of earrings in each ear and was usually well-presented.
Her cards and phone have not been used, and it is out of character for her to spend time away from her 5 year old son. Investigators are concerned for her safety.

The media have had a tricky job addressing the fact that Carmen worked under a pseudonym as an escort. There was mention in one of the articles that people needed to treat this case like any other missing persons case
“The owner wanted people to put Thomas' occupation aside. ‘This thing happens and people think, 'Oh, just another dead hooker'. That couldn't be further from the truth. Carmen was a good girl."”
By accounts in the media she was just like any other young Mum, was very close with her son, shared custody with the Dad, was excited about being cast in a minor speaking role for an up coming movie ‘sparticus’ filming in NZ.
It will be a tragic loss if she has been hurt by someone.

In an article there are several quotes from the police officer working on the case.

“While there was no evidence at this stage to suggest anything sinister, Ms Thomas's work as an escort at a gentlemen's club heightened the chances of her having come to harm, he said.”

I can understand highlighting that working as a sex worker might open you up to being alone with some negative characters, but the following sentence… "She was quite a vivacious young lady who liked partying, so it means you open yourself up." really upset me!

Can any of you Mums, Dads, Brothers and Sisters who know a woman in their mid twenties NOT describe them as a “vivacious young lady who likes parting?”
We have just finished discussing Andy Haden’s ignorant comments on women putting themselves at risk just by being in the same room as a rugby player and now THIS!

Presumably, from his comments he is making the assumption that this is likely to be a sex crime. Not unreasonable under the circumstances.

Can I just clarify one more time? No one ASKS to be raped.
Not in our clothes, our manner, our words or our jobs.

If we say the words as a genuine request “please rape me” and mean we want to have sex with you that is consensual sex and therefore not rape.
If we say “please pay me” that is business, not rape.
If we wear a short skirt, get drunk, invite you to have sex with us then don’t call you again, that is a one night stand, Not rape.

One of the main points of rape is WITHOUT CONSENT.

So no one can possibly ask for it.
And the phrase “open your self up” is just insulting.

Prostitutes are at high risk of assault or murder because the nature of their job enables men to get close to them with no one else around.
Not because they ASK to be killed or hurt.

Young women out alone, drunk, and vulnerable are at risk because, again they are THERE. Not because they “open themselves up”. The phrase opens themselves up means the victim has done something deliberate to incite the violence that follows.

The responsibility is entirely on the sick person who gets off on taking power away from someone else and hurting them.
The only way to guarantee avoiding assault is to cut yourself off from human contact entirely.

Any question that the woman is at fault re victimizes all those who have been hurt before and makes it harder for future victims of assault, rape, or domestic abuse to step up and speak out.
And the last person I want to hear it from is an officer of the law designed to protect the victims.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Website blocking a rights violation? Not in USA apparently!

I was a wee bit disturbed by some news that I read this morning on my tea break.
The article revealed a clear breach of church-state separation in the USA, within Indianapolis schools. They are banning students from viewing the websites of certain religions, as well as atheist and LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) sites.

Some quotes that I pulled from the offending document regarding banned sites...

"Sites that promote and provide information on religions such as Wicca, Witchcraft or Satanism. Occult Practices, atheistic views, voodoo rituals or other forms of mysticism, [...] the use of spells, incantations, curses, and magic powers. This category includes sites which discuss or deal with paranormal or unexplained events."

Pardon? How on EARTH have they popped Atheism in with occult and witch-craft? It is one of the very few theologies that DONT subscribe to “magic.”
And how was a man who rose again after death, walked on water, turned water into wine and hung out with hookers NOT part of this ban?

The ban of LGBT sites says that sites can't "cater to one's one's sexual orientation or gender identity including, but not limited to, lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgender sites".

At first sight this appears to simply be directed toward parental concerns that their children may be exposed to adult themes or content that they shouldn’t be at school. I can’t condemn them for protecting children from unsafe or dangerous sites.
However there is also a section specifically stating that adult content is banned.

So it appears that this LGBT section is banning the kids from viewing anything other than heterosexual Christian, Jewish and Muslim role-models.
How dismal that children sent to a public school in a country founded on the separatism of church and state are being exposed to absolutely no variety of role models involving consenting adults in healthy relationships with each other and their gods.
The real world waiting for them has plenty of variety of relationships, both healthy and unhealthy in the straight and LGBT community. I see no reason for age appropriate sites to be banned to children and young adults questioning their sexuality or belief systems.

So that was distressing but I already had a dismal view of the American public school system, thanks to my exposure while working with young people in the New York state.

Upon further research it appears that the problem began in 2009 but is still current.
The Freedom from religion foundation hit on it when it first started, and have this week reposted the issue – clearly still a problem that has not been addressed.

What I was not aware of is that this is a more widely spread problem than just Indianapolis.

The American 'Children's Internet Protection Act' requires that all schools seeking federal funds through the E-Rate program and Title VI of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, install a "technology protection measure" to protect against access to obscene material, child pornography, and material that is harmful to minors.

Many public school districts in the U.S. have or will be installing filtering software that functions by blocking access to sites that the filtering company has determined are inappropriate.
Some of the companies that are the focus of this report were active in the efforts to ensure the passage of this legislation through the efforts of a trade association called the Internet Safety Association(ISA) and through testimony provided to Congress.
The other major champions of this legislation were conservative religious organizations.

According to
“The open secret about content filters, besides the fact that they can be easily hacked, is that many of the site lists used in these filters had their genesis with conservative Christian organizations”

“Some of the filtering companies appear to have partnership relationships with conservative religious organizations. Some filtering companies have been functioning as conservative religious ISPs and have recently established new divisions that are marketing services to schools. Most of the companies have filtering categories in which they are blocking web sites presenting information known to be of concern to people with conservative religious values -- such as non-traditional religions and sexual orientation -- in the same category as material that no responsible adult would consider appropriate for young people. “

“Because filtering software companies protect the actual list of blocked sites, searching and blocking key words, blocking criteria, and blocking processes as confidential, proprietary trade secret information it is not possible to prove or disprove the hypothesis that the companies may be blocking access to material based on religious or other inappropriate bias. This situation raises concerns related to student's constitutionally-protected rights of access to information and excessive entanglement of religion with schools.”

So in summary, if your provider of filters origionated from a religious organisation you may find more that just objectionable material being blocked from your kids.

I would hope that even if my teenage son or daughter was in the grumps with me, that at the very least they could go to school and use the computers to look up something they needed to know – rates of homosexuality in young NZ men for example.

The internet has a lot of flaws and filth within it, but its major strength is that no one should feel alone with the variety of the world at their fingertips.

I would be VERY interested to know what programmes are used in New Zealand schools.
Does anyone have a way of finding out? I would hope that our public school system has a stronger level of freedom to it, but there is only one way to find out...

First passed the post.

I used to write. A lot.

I used to write weekly in a professional reflection journal, to note my attachment (or not) to patients, to see my knowledge and clinical professionalism grow (hopefully).

Before that I wrote weekly in a blog, for personal reasons.
Reflection on my own growth in life and progression through experience as a young woman still in the education system.

Before that it was a series of ratty journals, tucked under an unsteady stack of novels by my bed.
A passionate out pouring of current love, struggles with mood, changes in my life, the emotional lability of my age, and the evolution of my network of friends- and ‘frenemies.”

I haven’t written properly in about 5 years.

When did I get so good at this living thing that I no longer needed to reflect and remember the failures so as not to repeat myself?
I have been enjoying reading my friends’ blogs revolving around their worlds and also politics and life relating to their beliefs.

So thanks, Julie at the Hand Mirror, you are an inspiration for introspection and constant improvement of one’s self.