Oprah Gets it Right

Thursday, September 18, 2008
Over the years, I've vacillated between really admiring Oprah Winfrey and rolling my eyes.

Admiring her because she's a pretty involved philanthropist who's done a lot for kids and education, and rolling my eyes because she's really impressed with her own wealth, and she's also into the woo (The Secret, anyone? ::snort::).

But this time, she really got it right.

On Monday, she aired a show on Internet child predators, and the statistics were staggering. Taking information from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the FBI and other law enforcement agencies, she notes that even though modern technology allows law enforcement to track and identify hundreds of leads a day on child predators, only 2% are ever investigated, due to a lack of manpower (read that: money). Please note that some of these shitbirds molest and abuse babies and toddlers, and provide instructions on how to molest your very own child, complete with pictures, from her birth all the way to adulthood.

I dearly wish I was making that up. You have no idea how much I wish that. But there are forty analysts working at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children who see video of this every day. The analysts require the services of a full-time psychologist (no surprise), and according to the experts, the video or still documentation helps "normalize" the molesting behavior for the perpetrators.

We'll pause now so you can go vomit.

Allow me to be clear. Nothing - nothing - makes my blood boil like those who prey on children. Seriously. In spite of my grave misgivings about capital punishment, I'll make an exception for these motherfuckers. There's something fundamentally wrong with those who see children as sexual objects. They're broken. There's nothing normal about this, on any level.

In an effort to address this issue, there is a bill currently in the Senate called PROTECT our Children Act, Senate bill 1738. The bill authorizes over $320 million over the next five years in desperately needed funding for law enforcement to investigate child exploitation, mandates that child rescue be a top priority for law enforcement receiving federal funding, and allocates funds for high-tech computer software that can track down Internet predators.

This bill won't fix all that's wrong with how our society addresses these issues, but it's a start. I'll be writing to both my Senators on this matter.

On this issue, I'm proud to stand with Oprah. Let's lock these pusbags up, and do more to protect those who cannot protect themselves.

15 comments:

Jeri said...

I'm all for expanding the application of the death penalty in this limited instance. And I'm not entirely being facetious.

Anne C. said...

There was a law or a trial in a southern state (Florida?) that was looking at the possibility of death penalty for rapists of children. The downside, and I have to say, I agree, is that most molestors are relatives and the law already has difficulty getting people to turn in relatives for this crime. If the penalty is pushed to the extreme, it could decrease reporting, which is the opposite of what we want.

What I'd "get behind" is putting them in prison with a jumper labeled "Child Molestor" so the other prisoners know. That would be justice in my mind.

Janiece Murphy said...

Anne, I know you're right intellectually.

Viscerally? I want to vivisect the perpetrators. This just is not a subject on which I'm capable of being objective.

Lance Weber said...

I intellectually understand that robust civilizations don't tolerate mob justice, vigilantism, etc.

Having said that, I'm not sure I'd vote to convict anyone involved in taking justice into their own hands in the case of child molesters. Hell, put me down as willing to bring the rope if it happened on my street.

Lance Weber said...

Janiece - Exactly. I have an immediate, 100% caveman, "Hulk Smash Bad Man Who Hurt Kid" reaction that bypasses any rational curbs.

Shawn Powers said...

My pastor, who is also one of my best friends, has 2 masters degrees in counseling, psychology, or some such head shrinkiness. (Yes, he also has his masters of divinity, he's one of those school-loving blokes)

Anyway, it's important to realize that he's a Bible believing, conservative (but not freeze dried), Baptist. And he quite openly believes child molesters, specifically those that molest young children, have committed the unforgivable sin. Like you, he believes they are fundamentally broken in a way that is not redeemable. While it may not seem so, that is a HUGE deal for such a man to feel that way.

While I too want some horrible things to befall them -- in all honesty, I just want them to no longer exist. I don't want to live in a world where such individuals even exist. I say death penalty. Quickly.

John the Scientist said...

Death penalty. Because that scum destroys lives generations hence, and the molested are much more likely to become molesters themselves.

Like we're getting a lot of family members turning in each other now right? I don't buy the "they won't come forward anymore" argument.

More on the forum.

Random Michelle K said...

Like we're getting a lot of family members turning in each other now right? I don't buy the "they won't come forward anymore" argument.

It's not just that they won't come forward, it's that they'll actively lie if put on the stand.

To put it another way, when you were a child, could you have condemned a parent to death, because that is exactly what their testimony means.

A child who has been traumatically abused doesn't need the additional guilt of someone's death on their conscience.

Cindi in CO said...

I've gotta agree with Michelle on this one.

Anne C. said...

Thanks Michelle.

Dirty Tom Bonney said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dirty Tom Bonney said...

My first post was too foamy.

I'm going to try to stay calm.

I'm going to try to stay calm and reduce this to a few points, and then I'm going to shut up.

1) People lie.

2) Children, like other people, lie too.

3) Sometimes when children lie, they're just being "helpful" or imaginative, like the children in Edenton, NC in the early '90s who helpfully told police, parents and social workers what they seemed to want to hear--that they had been molested at their day care--and even helpfully described the sharks, ritual sacrifices of babies, and trips on hot air balloons that were involved.

4) Sometimes children tell the truth about sexual activity, but lie about who did it.

5a) Sometimes when someone lies, they have a motive, e.g. they were told to lie by a parent seeking revenge against an ex or a neighbor; however,

5b) Anybody who thinks people need a reason to lie is an idiot. Some people lie because they're liars, it's just what they do.

6) Police officers and social workers, like other human beings, often look for what they expect to find, and commit ordinary fallacies and mistakes doing so. Such as asking leading questions. Such as accepting falsehoods that fit their biases and rejecting truths that do not.

7) Our legal system puts decisions of guilt in the hands of twelve people who have been carefully selected by the prosecutor and defense attorney for their gullibility.

8) There are innocent people on death row.

9) One problem with the death penalty in all cases is that mistakes are permanent.

10) Even when a jury gets the facts right, there are guilty people who simply don't deserve to die. The danger in making a broad statement like "All x should get y," is that one is presuming he knows too much and that every instance is exactly the same. Life is uncertain, and no two lives are identical.

11) Without being at liberty to go further here or elsewhere, I personally know that it is possible for a victim to find mercy, forgiveness, and love for somebody who wronged him or her in the way we're discussing at an age we're discussing. It's hard for me to understand the love and forgiveness parts--and it also isn't my place to.

12) There is not actually a consensus on the statistics regarding child exploitation. Media reports and agencies whose funding depends on outrage tend to focus on larger estimates.

That is all I'm going to say on this; frankly, I didn't want to get involved, but I felt I had to.

Janiece Murphy said...

Eric, speaking only for myself, my commentary on capital punishment for the molesters of young children was not a comment regarding the efficacy of our legal system. It was a moral judgment on those who would perform such an act. Not the same thing, but given your own belief system, I can see how it would seem so.

I have grave, grave misgivings about the death penalty, for all the reasons you list, and a few you didn't, including the preponderance of convicts of color who receive it. As a general rule, I don't approve of it. It's too easy to make mistakes, and I'm concerned about the moral implications of a society that chooses to kill its citizens.

Having said that, however, I do believe that death is the appropriate punishment for those who have committed these acts. Note that I am attempting to separate the jurisprudence end of things from the facts - they deserve death if they did it. A factual statement as opposed to "if they're convicted of doing it."

However, I am aware that I am utterly and completely incapable of exhibiting even rudimentary objectivity on this issue. I can hold the "child molesters deserve death" moral position, while simultaneously knowing I am completely unfit to sit on a jury who is assigned to a molestation case. My presence would be prejudicial (to say the least), and I am fully aware that I'm emotionally unfit to judge in a legal setting.

So I can recognize my emotional position as frothy, and also be glad that cooler heads will prevail, at least in terms of our society's response to such matters.

Carol Elaine said...

I concur with Anne, Michelle and Eric.

Cindi in CO said...

And I also gotta agree with Anne, Eric and Carol Elaine.

And with my sister as well, because this issued messes up everybody with even a hint of conscience.