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Letters 2/23/09

- February 23rd, 2009
Predator priorities
I read the article “Computer Cop” by Anne Stanton. I commend her on her work. I will state my position on child pornography and child abuse in this manner: I have no patience or tolerance for a person who has harmed a child, I sincerely believe that a man who has been found to have sexually abused a child should suffer public impalement on a fence post. I am NOT joking.
We must be very careful though, to separate the wheat from the chaff. The idea that a person is deemed worse for looking at a disgusting picture is WORSE than the person who actually commits such acts is ABSURD!
The authorities who hunt these predators must not be forced to do their job on a “shoestring” budget either. But, we must be aware of the pitfalls.
One of which is to become a zealot in pursuit of “sin.” We’ve seen this happen before. Recall all of the hysterical probes into the “satanic, child-sacrificial killing cults” that proved nonexistent in the 1980s?
We desperately need dedicated people to pursue these criminals on the Internet, and elsewhere, and I wish Detective Heller success in cornering his quarry; but, I sincerely hope he is not unduly influenced by the sign he has so prominently displayed on the wall behind him in what I assume is his office; to wit: “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”
No investigator should rely on his/her “imagination” rather than the use of “knowledge” to present facts.
I can “imagine” what my neighbors might be doing in their bedrooms at night; but I certainly have no “knowledge” of those activities.

Jim Parsons • Thompsonville

1st Amendment issue
Anne Stanton’s recent article on Todd Heller, the “computer cop,” raises important questions about the First Amendment which were lost in the glare of the more titillating (and apparently more newsworthy) subjects of internet child pornography and child sexual abuse.
Personally, I find that the idea of law enforcement agents having free rein to examine data on my personal computer smacks of Big Brother. The idea that my privacy is protected by the requirement of a search warrant pales in this day of the Patriot Act, which could be invoked for nothing more than an intercepted email expressing criticism of the government. The oft-used justification that “If you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to fear” obliterates the distinction between privacy and secrecy, a distinction I feel is fundamental to our First Amendment protections.
Regarding the article: Ms. Stanton paraphrased comments from myself and Dr. John Ulrich (as experts in the evaluation and treatment of sex offenders) to respond to discrepancies in the law as it applies to internet child pornography and criminal sexual conduct law.
The fact that one can go to jail significantly longer for looking at internet child porn than for actually committing criminal sexual conduct against a child is certainly of legal interest but really speaks more about the trees than it does the forest of our society’s posture on sexual misconduct as well as sexual behavior in general.
I cannot speak for Dr. Ulrich, although I have worked in shared capacities with him on several occasions in the past and know him to be a caring, highly competent and dedicated professional. In the article, I felt that out-of-context quotes attributed to myself might lead the reader to conclude that I might feel the accused are themselves being victimized (by discrepancies in the law). I can say that in my experience, I would never let my professional empathy towards my clients minimize the seriousness of the behaviors of which they may be accused: That is for their attorneys to advocate.
As for so-called “legitimate” Internet pornography in general, while I am a staunch advocate of freedom of expression, I am at the same time a bitter critic of a capitalist economic system that panders to our society’s continuing confusion over sexuality by prostituting it on the Internet solely for monetary gain.

Michael Nunn, LMSW
Interlochen

Bush league
George Bush was right in keeping the nation safe after 9/11. Many times senior Democrats were briefed on interrogations, including then-Senator Clinton, who agreed there would be things done to keep us safe, including in Iran.
Then-Senator Obama voted for the Bush wiretapping program. To this day, more Americans support retaining the Guantanamo prison than oppose it, and many prisoners who have been released by Mr. Bush have come back to oppose the U.S. again in many ways.
Michigan Rep. John Conyers wants to prosecute both Bush and Dick Cheney for war crimes, but will not be allowed to do so if Obama demures.

Len Barnes • Mission Peninsula

Yogi denied entry
(Yogi Shibendu Lahiri, who was a subject of a Feb. 9 article in the
Express, was recently denied entry to the U.S. and was unable to stage a workshop in TC. - ed.)

After a 3.5 hour ordeal, the US Immigration office revoked the Visa of Shibendu Lahiri. What was done to him was unbearable, and I could only sit there as the utter abuse of power continued on and on. The abuse of that 70-years-YOUNG body was a nightmare.
After his denial, I inquired with the immigration supervisor who was rude and disrespectful. He singled out Shibendu because an event flyer from his travel bag indicated that a fee is paid [for the yogi’s workshops]. I asserted that the fees are paid to cover only the tour costs. Shibendu does not receive fees of any kind. He is a simple man we bring to the U.S. from time to time to conduct workshops on spiritual philosophy.
For 19 years, Shibendu has come and gone without problems. Now he is stopped, perhaps forever. So let us celebrate 19 years of beauty, truth, friendship. And let us vow to gently steer our country away from this horrible direction. How on Earth did we let our country get this way?!

Joe Passalaqua
Seattle resident and US tour coordinator for Mr. Lahiri

Date issue
I found your medical marijuana article, “A Puff of Hope” (Feb. 16) to be refreshingly unbiased, and very informative and helpful. But (there’s always a but!), one thing did bother me, and prompted this email. You stated “on April 4, all this will change.” This would lead the reader into thinking the law is not in effect right now. It is. It went into effect December 4, 2008.
Many publications have, through deliberate intent or simple misunderstanding, made the same statement. The citizens of Michigan need to know the truth. I believe it was not your intent to mislead, and I sincerely hope you point out this fact to your readers.

Scott Watkins
MMMA member

Reminder...
Readers: A reminder that letters with fake signatures are not welcome at the Express. Please have the courage of your convictions to sign your real name and include a phone number and address for verification. -- ed.


 
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