First off, greetings m’lord, how’s the fog and rain? Not sure what caused the rather large influx of visitors from the U.K., but I’m not complaining. Some of my fondest memories occurred on the British Isles.
Of course, that’s not enough to warrant a post, so….
Progressives, liberals, or whatever you prefer to call yourselves. Can we please get off Ahmed Mohamed‘s underage dick?
He built a clock. Yeah, the school’s response was idiotic, especially since they knew damn well it wasn’t a bomb (cause if they actually would have any doubts, you can bet the school would have been evacuated and the bomb squad called in to make sure), but it isn’t like this is the first time a school has responded idiotically to a zero threat situation. Yeah, a lot of the stories the right’s outrage machine cranks out are false. Kids don’t get suspended for reading the Bible, or praying silently at their desk. But a girl did get strip searched over an Advil and a kid did get suspended for chewing his Pop Tart into a gun like shape. I don’t remember either of them getting invitations to the White House, though the right did admittedly try to make the Pop Tart Bandit into a poster child for something or other. (Which was every bit as ridiculous as the left making the Clock kid into a celebrity.)
Let’s be honest.
That is awesome. When I was 14, if I would have built something like that I would have been proud as well, and I would have also wanted to show it off. But in a post-9/11 America, where people are on edge and taught to report any unattended package, can you kinda understand how someone may look at that and get a bit freaked out? Hell, first time I saw the picture, with no background information, I thought it was a fake bomb. I would have still brought it in to show my science teacher, but I first would have explained to him/her what I was bringing in before hand.
Was the school’s response colored by a healthy dose of Islamophobia? Yeah, probably. Is it sad that we live in a country where I would urge any young person, no matter their race or religion, not to bring an awesome science project to school if anyone could possibly mistake it for a bomb? Yep, definitely. National paranoia doesn’t make us safer, just less free. Depending on racial/religious profiling to prevent terrorism just increases the likelihood that the people behind the next attack don’t fit into those categories. Protip: Not every Islamic terrorist looks like the stereotypical Islamic terrorist. Do you think they can’t read or listen to the news? That they are unaware that we pay special attention to those who “look terroristy?”That all, or even most terrorists are Islamic? *cough*OklahomaCity*cough*
Ahmed Mohammed never should have been put in handcuffs. The school’s reaction was insane. But all “zero tolerance” policies are insane, just like mandatory minimum sentences are insane. But he isn’t a “hero,” just another victim of the “zero tolerance” society we are creating. I’m reluctant to do any victim blaming here, because I am far from convinced the school would have had the same reaction if he would have been Christian and white.
So yeah, feel free to continue bitching about a “zero tolerance” system that routinely treats kids like criminals for nothing. But get off this kid’s dick already. He’s underage.
Seeing how I come from the county that handed down a totally reasonable 104 1/2 to 216 year prison sentence (not a typo, and not the only insane sentence for drug distribution to come out of Blair County courts) for non-violent drug offenses while imposing an excessively harsh, borderline unconstitutional sentence of 3 to 23 months in jail, followed by 5 years of probation for the indecent assault of a five year old girl, I figured there was nothing the US justice system could do that would surprise me. Wow, how wrong I was.
And so it was that in February, the two teenagers were arrested for sexually exploiting … themselves.
Wait, what now?
The strange story began last year when the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office was investigating accusations of a statutory rape involving students at Douglas Byrd High School in Fayetteville, N.C., according to the Fayette Observer.
As part of a broad investigation, Sheriff’s deputies examined the cellphone of Cormega Copening, a star football player who was then 16 years old.
The deputies didn’t find any evidence relating to the alleged statutory rape. What they did find, however, were consensually taken nude photos of Copening and his girlfriend, Brianna Denson, also 16 at the time.
(The Post is using the teenagers’ names because they have been charged as adults. They did not return requests for comment.)
Just as a quick aside. How “broad” was their investigation into this statutory rape to justify them seizing this kid’s cellphone? And then they charge him with a crime over pictures they found on his phone unrelated to the case they were investigating? That may be legal, but you will never convince me that it is ethical. Moving on….
In almost any other state, such consensually taken photos would be completely legal or, at worst, a misdemeanor. But in North Carolina, Copening and Denson came up against a counterintuitive confluence of laws.
“In North Carolina you are considered an adult at 16 years old as far as being charged,” Swain said. “But to disseminate and receive sexually explicit texts, photos or videos, you must be over 18.”
And so it was that in February, the two teenagers were arrested for sexually exploiting … themselves.
North Carolina to the teens: “Sex? Sexting? Don’t you kids know you could ruin your lives doing this stuff? Here, let us ruin your lives to show you.”
Charging documents listed Copening as both the culprit (as an adult) and the victim (as a minor), simply for snapping a nude photo of himself in the mirror and sending it to his girlfriend.
“Copening’s age traps him in a sort of sexting legal netherworld,” wrote North Carolina Lawyers Weekly. “He’s accused of exploiting a minor (himself), but because North Carolina is one of just two states that automatically tries 16-year-olds as adults, he’s being tried as an adult.”
So as we try to wrap our minds around the idea of sexually exploiting yourself, at least we can take solace in the knowledge that as ridiculous as these charges are, at least they aren’t serious.
All told, prosecutors charged Copening with five felony counts of sexually exploiting a minor: two for taking nude selfies, two more for sending them to his girlfriend, and one for possessing an explicit photo of Denson on his phone. Denson, meanwhile, was charged with two felony counts of sexual exploitation of a minor: one for taking a nude selfie and another for sending it to Copening.
The felony charges meant that Copening faced up to 10 years in prison, if convicted; Denson faced up to four. They also could have been labeled sex offenders for life.
Jesus fucking Christ on a pogo stick. Hasn’t this prosecutors office ever heard of judgement calls? Why the hell did they even file these charges? Are they black or something? (Yep.)
While the existence of the internet resulted in the accused couples prom(?) pictures to be plastered on newspapers across the world, it also made damn sure that this case wouldn’t be yet another example of prosecutorial misconduct heard of by no one except those involved. Thankfully, in this case the outcry may be loud enough to change future applications of the law.
The case quickly drew intense criticism, both in Fayetteville community and around the globe.
“We’ve got too much big crime in this community to put this kind of effort into wrecking two kids’ lives,” wrote the Fayetteville Observer’s editorial board, recommending the statutes be amended. “This should never happen again to anyone.”
Legal scholars lined up to pick apart the prosecution’s case. Many focused on the sheer absurdity of the situation.
“It’s dysfunctional to be charged with possession of your own image,” Justin Patchin, a professor of criminal justice at the University of Wisconsin and cyberbullying expert, told the Guardian. “I don’t think it should be a criminal offense where there is no victim.”
“You’re talking about millions of kids being charged with child pornography” if the law were applied nationwide, psychologist Jeff Temple of the University of Texas Medical Branch told the Fayette Observer.
Others delivered even starker assessments.
“It’s ludicrous,” Fred Lane, a computer security and privacy expert, told the Guardian. “It’s crazy. It’s an overreach.” He explained that such laws stem from the 1983 Supreme Court decision upholding a ban on child porn, but that many state laws were woefully outdated in our current era of cellphones and texting.
Sgt. Sean Swain is not impressed with the outcry. In what is sure to earn a nomination for “Most Ludicrous Comment by Law Enforcement Personnel, 2015,” Sgt. Swain insists that he is saving these poor, misguided kids by arresting them for multiple felonies. Seriously. (Bolding, as always, is mine.)
“This technology and this problem that we’re having with this case, we don’t know where it’s going to go in five years when they apply for college,” Swain said. “We don’t know where these pictures are going to go. We’re more or less saving the kids from themselves because they’re not seeing what’s going to come down the road.”
Oh, fuck off. Or for a less vulgar response, here is U. of Miami law professor Mary Anne Franks:
“This [case] demonstrates an utter failure to understand the nature of sexual exploitation,” she wrote in an e-mail to The Post. “Consensual sexual activity among peers should not be a crime; we should not allow our social hysteria over teen sexual activity to justify prosecutions that will destroy teenagers’ lives ‘for their own good.’ ”
“Sexual activity that does not even involve another person — such as taking a sexually explicit photo of yourself — should not ever be a crime. In fact, criminalizing such expression likely violates the First Amendment,” she said. “Child sexual exploitation laws were clearly designed to address the exploitation of children by adults, not teenagers exploring their sexuality on their own or with a willing peer.”
Officials would be better off focusing on numerous instances of people maliciously sharing explicit photos or videos against the wishes of those depicted, so called “revenge porn,” she said.
“Non-consensual sexual activity, on the other hand, including the creation or distribution of private sexual images, is wrong and should be a crime. This should be the focus of law enforcement, yet North Carolina does not yet even have a law prohibiting this conduct,” Franks said.
What makes me even more sick over this case? Rather than risk their futures in a legal fight, they both signed plea deals.
both teens have taken plea agreements in order to avoid trial. In July, Denson pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of “disseminating harmful material to minors.” If she stays out of trouble for the next year, her record will be wiped clean and she will avoid the label of sex offender.
Copening followed suit earlier this month, pleading guilty on Sept. 4 to two similar misdemeanor counts in exchange for the same deal.
Now let’s watch the authorities responsible justify their actions.
“The legislature makes the law; I enforce it,” Cumberland County District Attorney Billy West told the Fayette Observer. “The legislature has obviously criminalized the conduct, arguably at a more serious level than we resolved the case at.”
Similarly, Sheriff Moose Butler told the newspaper that he didn’t necessarily agree with the felony charges but that it was his duty to enforce the law as it’s written.
While the actual author of the law just rolls his eyes.
But the man who wrote the law back in 1990 said he never intended for it to be used against kids in a consensual relationship.
“That would seem to me not the thing that most prosecutors are elected to do,” said North Carolina state Rep. Paul “Skip” Stam of West’s decision to prosecute the two teens.
Seriously, that justification from DA West is laughable. He’s telling us that he has never made a judgement call while in office? Bullshit. By his logic, why does it even matter who the DA even is if all they do is mindlessly follow a set of guidelines handed down by the legislature?
This. Vanity Fair : “Game of Thrones Finally Conquers the Emmys with Record-Breaking Wins.”
I can not even pretend to know what I would think about the show if I had never read the books. I do know that the show got me into the books, and until this past season I thought the complaints of so-called “book purists” or “book snobs” were petty little nit-picks worth little more than an eye roll. I know that while I am willing to admit that yes, the signs were there early on, I still feel that the first three seasons, and most of the fourth still stand as some of the finest television ever made. And after last night, I know that I am on the apparent losing side of this pop culture decision.
Best fucking writing? Are you fucking kidding me?
The others I’m willing to forget. This wasn’t Dinklage’s best season, but he definitely deserves an Emmy for his Tyrion. I don’t know enough, or pretend to, to argue with the best directing nod, and the show is a legit phenomenon when you look at the viewership numbers, so the best drama series win is at least comprehensible.
But best fucking writing?
At approximately 8 am this morning, September 14th, 2015, a mere two days before my fortieth birthday, potential lion lunch Kim Davis will return to work at the Rowen County clerk’s office. What she will chose to do upon re-assuming her clerkly duties is anybody’s guess. Even her “lawyers” claim not to know what this morning will bring.
Even Davis’ lawyers at Liberty Counsel, the Florida-based group that has been representing her, haven’t offered specifics on what she plans to do.
“Kim Davis is the only person that can decide what Kim Davis will do,” said one of her attorneys, Harry Mihet. “She has told the court and everyone else that she will not — under any circumstances — violate her conscience and the core of who she is.”
I find it hard to believe Mrs. Davis has not informed the Liberty Counsel of her plans for this morning. If I had to guess, I would assume that Kim Davis has told her “lawyers” that she will be violating the court order against her once again this morning and the Liberty Counsel is claiming ignorance in case the threat of returning to jail changes her mind at the last minute. After all, it wouldn’t be good for their little martyr’s image if they publicly announced her continuing defiance only for her to back down at the last minute.
And that, after all, is what this is all about. The Liberty Counsel has never had the best interests of Kim Davis in mind at any point of this case. They are using her to create a martyr for fund raising and rabble rousing. Even that bastion of liberalism Fox News admits that for her to have a legal leg to stand on would require a leg transplant while questioning the intelligence of her team of “lawyers.” Any member of the bar that understood the concept of “ethics” would have explained the legal reality to her by now and urged her to either resign or allow her deputy clerks to issue the licenses. Instead they watch their client go to jail as she ignores orders from the Supreme Court, while staining their briefs at the thought of the bigot bucks rolling into their coffers and the visits from Republican presidential nominees hoping to court the bigot vote. It plays right into their absurdist narrative of Christians as a persecuted group in the United States, and while an honest examination of the case quickly shows that Kim Davis is in no way being jailed because of her religion, honesty has never been important to the more extreme Christians in their quest to make America a Christian nation.
Perhaps a frightening addition to this story came to light this weekend as well, as the Oath Keepers has offered to provide a security detail for Kim Davis to prevent her future incarceration, should she choose to continue violating the court order.
In a statement on their website, Stewart Rhodes, the group’s founder, said that, “Federal District Court Judge David Bunning grossly overstepped his bounds and violated Mrs Davis’ due process rights.” He continued:
No one man should have that kind of power in his hands alone to decide guilt and impose a sentence of indefinite detention. Under our Constitution, that dictatorial power does not exist. We must stand against this. And so we will protect her and prevent it from happening again.
Now I do want to point out that neither Kim Davis or the Liberty Counsel apparently want anything to do with these lunatics.
A spokeswoman for Liberty Council, a conservative Christian group that has supported Kim Davis throughout the controversy, condemned Oath Keepers in a statement: “Neither Kim Davis nor Liberty Counsel heard of Oath Keepers before erroneous reports of their involvement in our case. Likewise, neither Kim Davis nor Liberty Counsel supports or condones any form of armed resistance, violence, or force.” Davis’ lawyers have reportedly turned down Oath Keepers’ offer of protection, so that’s a grand total of one thing they’ve done right.
Of course, that doesn’t mean the Oath Keepers will listen. They continued “protecting” military recruitment centers after being asked to stop, so while I doubt they will show up, they are still an armed, insane wildcard to add to this mix.
So what will happen? We won’t have to wait that long to find out, as the office opens in 20 minutes as I write this sentence. My prediction? Kim Davis is going to fire every deputy clerk except her son, who stood by her the whole time, and once again stop issuing marriage licenses. This will lead to a court date tomorrow, resulting in her ass returning to jail. While Kim settles down to a dinner of fine jailhouse cuisine, her “lawyers” will be partying like it is 1999, still unable to believe they actually found a rube like Kim Davis who is willing to do jail time for their fund raising campaign. Of course, thanks to the new reality of crowd sourced bigot jackpots, no one should actually feel bad for Kim Davis and the way she is being used, because she will make out on this deal in the end. No, the true losers in this case are the Christians living in places where they are actually persecuted, as all this time and energy which could be used to make their reality a bit better is instead wasted defending a person who had to show up and beg to be persecuted. And Rowen Country tax payers, who will have a nice bill at the end of the day from lawsuits, especially if Kim Davis fires her deputy clerks. Hell, just any Rowen County resident for that matter, since they now have to drive to a neighboring county for a marriage license because their elected clerk doesn’t feel like doing her job. Also on the loser list, intelligent members of the GOP, who have to watch their presidential candidates support this idiot. And participants in any Mike Huckabee related drinking game, who have all died from alcohol poisoning.
And perhaps most of all, the poor hungry lions, who no matter what happens, will never get to eat Kim Davis.
T-minus 4 minutes.
Live-blogging the persecution, 2015!
Okay, there is beating a dead horse and then there is the rapid fire, blister-raising, skin-chafing deceased equine torture that only takes place when Mike Huckabee sees something that would let him use the words “martyr” and “persecution” in a sentence near the word “Christian.” While it is perhaps the easiest thing in the world today to find a person to compare Kentucky law-breaker-for-Jebus Kim Davis to (Seriously. Think of anyone you know who sucks at their job. Got someone in mind? There’s your comparison for Kim Davis. You’re welcome.), to say Huckabee is reaching a bit with his latest comparison is kinda like saying that Huckabee mentions his faith every now and then. Really Mike? Abe fucking Lincoln?
Appearing on MSNBC this morning, Huckabee said that’s just like Abraham Lincoln, who was not in favor of the Supreme Court’s 1857 Dred Scott decision which held that African Americans were not full citizens.
“Look, you would have hated Lincoln, because he disregarded the Dred Scott 1857 decision that said black people aren’t fully human,” Huckabee said when host Joe Scarborough questioned him about his support of Davis. “[Lincoln] disregarded [Dred Scott] because he knew it was not operative, that it was not logical.”
No, Mike. No. Although it is an easy mistake. Here, I will help you out. Abe Lincoln was President of the United States, that position you want but will never ever have. Sorry. Before he had the job you will never have, the Supreme Court got really high on some nasty drugs and issued the Dred Scott ruling. Lincoln was not in favor of what may be the worst Supreme Court ruling in the history of our nation. a ruling that pointed at all the stuff in the Constitution that talked about “all men” and “created equal” and such and so on, then said “oh but not for darky, oh snap!” At which point the Justices in the majority probably high fived, made a few racist jokes, smacked their secretary on the ass, then ran out the door and jumped in the windows of the General Lee, which they drove out to the farm where they kept the slaves they used for sex. (Or something like that. ; ) This was in a time of upheaval and change that led to The War to Keep Black People as Property. (Hey, if southern revisionists can give it names like “The War of Northern Aggression,” then I can name it as I see it as well.) Now this is important, so pay attention. While Lincoln disagreed with Dred Scott and spoke against it, he never refused to issue any marriage licenses because of his personal talks with J.C.
Kim Davis, on the other hand, is an elected official who really needs to do her fucking job. A job that she apparently does not understand. She is not required to morally approve of the relationship between the people applying for marriage licenses, she is just required to verify the people meet the legal standards to get married. Thanks to the Supreme Court people can get married now to people who have the same no-no spots, so peens and peens and hoohas with hoohas. Her job is “paperwork is good? Check. Issue license.” Other than her son, all the deputy clerks in her office are totally down with the law and their job and are all like “Judge type person, we want to do our jobs but crazy Christian lady scares us and will probably fire us, and we like having jobs, so help!?!” Unfortunately, Kim Davis believes that every time she issues a marriage license she is saying, loud and proud, that Jesus H. Christ, acting through his oh so humble vessel Kim Davis, morally approves of this love match between no no spots that are not the same.
Now some of you may be reading along thinking (out-loud cause thinking be hard when done at the same time as reading) well good for Kim, after all, “God made Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve!” If you are thinking that please send me a message and permission to use your real name and likeness. But your homophobia aside, this is one of those slopes that are like slip and slides, you know, like the homophobes insisted that gay marriage would unleash an unstoppable torrent of increasingly absurd marriages (man marries dog, man marries baby, man marries frog, man marries toaster oven, man marries Fleshlight, man marries right hand, man marries ham sandwich, asks for annulment upon eating said sandwich, man marries both his left and right hands, society has crumbled, cats and dogs living together, seas of blood, checkmate, atheist! I mean checkmate pro-equality fascist!) except this slope is actually slick and all sorts of things are ready to start slipping on down. (And no, no gay man is going to slip anything into any scared straight guys because of the Supreme Court. Unless the scared straight guy wants something slipped inside, in which case two consenting adults yadayada) What do I mean? Well, if this homobigot in Kentucky can refuse to give teh ghays a marriage license cause Jesus, then what exactly is stopping the Clerk in Alabama to stop issuing interracial marriage licenses cause of his Jesus? Then Clerks all over the nation go crazy, with different marriage requirements in every county, let alone every state.
“Hi, we’d like to get a marriage license.”
“Sorry son, but it is against my religious convictions to issue a license to anyone under 33. If Jesus thought you should get married young, he would have been married before he died. Now you can’t go to the next county over either, cause Jed believes with all his Jesus loving heart that blonds and brunettes are not allowed to get married to each other. It is crazy, he makes people prove their natural hair color. The county down south is pretty much out as well, I’m afraid, as Clerk Robertl Silma seemingly issues licenses at random. See he took a vow of silence last year and he never did learn to write, so no one has been able to figure out why he refuses each couple. Now if your star signs are compatible, Clerk Grisn in Chekard county will issue you a licens….what’s that? She’s a Scorpio? Well, that options out the window. You can’t go to North county cause you’re a lefty, can’t go to Brower county cause she is jewish and you’re Christian, can’t go to Lux county unless you speak in tongues, you can’t speak in tongues can you? Thought not, let’s see….”
-4 hours later-
“Alright, if you go to Tuscaluna county
“Um, that’s a 5 hour drive….”
“Are you going to keep interrupting me? As I was saying, if you go to Tuscaluna county and drive towards the state park, you will find a cabin right outside the park. In the cabin lives a woman who will give you a token that proves your true love. Once you have the token, then drive out of state, to Misango county. While the Clerk is only on duty one Tuesday a month, since the county has a population of 272, and he is so conservative that he refuses marriage licenses to women who wear pants, but he does believe in true love and will issue no question asked licenses to anyone who brings the woman’s token.”
“You’re sending me on a fucking quest to get a marriage license?
So yeah. Kim Davis does not equal Abe Lincoln. Kim Davis is also not a martyr, unless being locked in jail until you ask to be let out is actually a path to martyrdom. Which, while personally not a believer in martyrdom, I still get the feeling the actual people who got horribly tortured to death for their faith would tell Kim Davis to eat a bag of dicks.
Right after telling her to do her damn job.
Though on the bright side, at least her office has started to do its damn job.
Saturday saw thousands of the War against Women folks take to the street to protest against Planned Parenthood. They managed to get several anti-Planned Parenthood hashtags trending on Twitter as well. While the Center for Medical Progress continues to release its deceptively edited videos to outrage the loud and proud ignorant fringe of the right, elected officials with actual power keep attempting to defund PP while wasting taxpayers money with investigations into PP that turn up no wrongdoing.
It is beyond time to fight back.
Abortion only makes up 3% of Planned Parenthood’s services. Zero federal dollars out of Planned Parenthood’s funding goes to abortion services. The federal funds go to the other 97% of services Planned Parenthood provides, stuff like STI testing, cancer screenings, contraception prescriptions, and FUCKING prenatal care. Sure, there are other locations women can go to get these services, but there aren’t enough of them to handle the overflow that would occur if Planned Parenthood actually disappeared. Sure, rich and upper middle class women would still find someone to smear their pap, prescribe their birth control, provide prenatal care, or terminate their pregnancy. These things are never in danger for the rich and upper middle class. It doesn’t matter how conservative the state Congress gets, or how many clinics get shut down, rich girls from Texas or Mississippi can just get on a plane and fly wherever they need to go to get whatever service they need.
These attacks on Planned Parenthood are attacks on the health and family planning of all women who can’t hop on the jet for a quick trip to Cali for an IUD or an abortion.
The issue isn’t abortion. It isn’t “selling” baby parts.
The issue is poor people having sex and the right’s quest to make sure they have to face the consequences.
Donate something to PP. Write your Congress Critter. Send out a tweet.
And smack down an anti-PP troll on social media. Do your part for a great organization.