How “sexting epidemic” exposes our hypocrisy

WRITER’S NOTE: a heavily edited version of the following piece was published in the Tucson Weekly in 2010. In the wake of the events in Nova Scotia, and others, I decided to update the full text and publish it here.–TH

In March of 2009, Pennsylvania Federal Judge James Munley took the near unprecedented step of preventing local prosecutors from bringing state child porn charges against six teenage girls who took and sent pictures of themselves and each other in states of undress. The girls are just the latest example of the sexting epidemic, which has been addressed kind of like termites in the house – you’ve heard the creaking for years, but have turned away until the bottom falls out of your kitchen floor.

Too bad there was no Judge Munley for Keimond Brown, and the millions of boys like him

Mr. Brown was charged with Aggravated Molestation of a 13-year-old girl, and now has to register as a sex offender. Before your chorus of “They should have shot him” reaches critical mass, consider that he was 15. Oh, she also consented. The same applies to Ben Wood, the Middletown, Ohio 7th grader arrested and charged with felony child porn, and the thousands of other teen boys whose lives are ruined after being ensnared in this web, such as Phil Alpert. Some, like William Elliot and Gary Blanton, are murdered.

Nothing in our current zeitgeist illustrates the dichotomy of how differently we treat boys and girls when it comes to punishment. Sex Crime jurisprudence is the A-Bomb in The War Against Male Sexuality; indiscriminate, unmerciful, inexorable, and oblivious to the Law of Unintended Consequences. Only now that the cloud threatens to envelop and swallow whole the population these laws were drafted to protect–white girls—are we looking to the underground shelters. The Chickens have indeed Come Home to Roost, in 8 megapixel resolution, brought to you by Olympus and Kodak.

Radical feminism and social conservatism long ago saw their one mutuality – The Deadly Penis – and happily wed. For the better part of 30 years, we’ve seen their progeny wreak havoc, from the false Satanist molestation scares of the 80s, to the White Girl Memorialization fad of the last 15 years, from Meghan to Dru to Jessica. Whether boys with raging hormones, or men obeying 10,000 years of evolutionary biology, we’ve put them in the soup with Ted Bundy and Joseph Duncan. In the meantime, our girls are taught they’re allowed to play House with House Money. If you enjoy it, have fun. If you have regrets or the boy/man pisses you off, run to the cops.

It has been the catalyst for the lack of any police modesty, as cops no longer know their place, and now actively lobby for more laws to enforce. Is it any wonder schools are hemorrhaging staff while at every Job Fair, who’s hiring? The State and Federal prisons. Just have a look at law, which says about 95% of boys and men are sex offenders. Don’t believe me? Any of you men who touched a 14yo breast, regardless of whether you yourself were 13, is a guilty of sexual abuse.

Of course, irony never takes a holiday. In 2007, 18-year-old Joshua Lunsford, older brother of Jessica of “Jessica’s Law” was charged with a sexual felony after being seen at a mall groping a 14-year-old girl – his girlfriend. The hue and cry from Mark Lunsford eventually led to reduced counts and no registration. Attribute that not to enlightenment but utility. Can’t have the martyr’s brother sacrificed at the same altar as his fellow boys

The Sexual Hysteria Industrial Complex (SHIC) is a dissonance-free zone. I hear mothers like my aunt comment all the time about how “the girls are worse than the boys these days.” And yet, the angle the mainstream press almost invariably takes is The Boy (predator) coercing the Innocent Girl (victim). We don’t call Miley Cyrus a victim, nor Brad Pitt and Wilmer Valderrama predators, even though both dated teens when they were in their mid-20s.

America is now compelled to come to grips with some Inconvenient Truths. We now have a sex crime whose primary perpetrators are 11-18-year-old women. The production of minor porn is being driven by Chelsea and Heather, not balding white Physics professors. Yes, Mrs. Robinson, your daughter and her naughty bits are on 40 Thumbnail Gallery Posts in Europe, and she put them there.

The upside of this is that we have an opportunity to re-evaluate our sex-crime laws, and hopefully shutter the SHIC. First, we must rethink how leisurely we throw around words such as “dangerous,” “predator,” and “victim.” The flasher is not dangerous; he is a creep, to be laughed at and shunned. Jessica Lunsford was a victim. The 16-year-olds who go to adult Spring Break and flash for Joe Francis are not. Michael Devlin, 40-something who befriended and abducted Shawn Hornbeck, is a predator, regardless of what Bill O’Reilly says. The guys in Adult chat rooms lured by geeks and actors pretending to be kids are not; they’re often just losers, and often just typical men. If you want to catch real predators, make the fake child nine, not 15. Next, we must acknowledge that for most Sex Offenders, treatment is the magic bullet. They have the lowest recidivism rate. Finally, understand that puberty makes one a sexual being. If John Walsh can date his future wife when he was 21 and she 16 1, then why can’t anyone else?

Any of these laws that don’t target molesters of actual children (read: 12 and under), rapists, and sex traffickers should be scaled back, changed to misdemeanors, or expunged. Keep the felonies for all in positions of power like teachers and coaches, and stop letting female teachers like Traci Tapp, Sarah Jones and Pamela Rogers off easy if the male teachers get 25 years, like Charles Robson, whom I served time with. Believe it or not girls are better equipped to handle relationships with older men than boys are with women. See Vili Fulau and Jason Eickmeyer.

All boys who had sexual contact with girls that was not rape should have their convictions expunged. Stop rousing the sheep with Pavlovian “public notification” regimes and goofy residency restrictions that rupture families and make someone more desperate and thus likely to offend. Keep offender data with police, and notify school teachers and administrators of what local molesters, and only molesters, look like. Accept that 14 is not 9, that most relationships that cross age boundaries are welcome, that for teen girls an older boyfriend has often been a trophy (tell the truth, we ALL knew girls with older guys when we were in school), and that age of consent laws were enacted to keep girls out of prostitution. Give parents veto power via restraining order, put in more community service, and implement more sensible penalties, like lifetime computer monitoring for those convicted of looking at child porn but not trafficking, and felony charges for molesters who apply at day care centers and schools. Eliminate prison time for victimless crimes like failure to register.

Look around us. The prison and jail system has been playing hot potato with inmate populations for about 20 years, and based on edicts like those of the Supreme Court to California, many have reached a dead end. In the meantime, school systems are collapsing (my local, Tucson Unified School District, laid off a staggering 622 people in a single day back in 2009), and the Universities are dying. I wonder if they saw the disconnect before their ox was gored.

These laws are eating the young in myriad ways, and irony is merciless. How many more Keimonds, Bens, Phils and Garys do there need to be before we heed its warning?

 

1. “The Dark World Of John Walsh,” Men’s Journal, June 2002

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