Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Imagine the outrage . . .

Imagine the outrage if this scenario were true: a terrorist organization is holding American civilians captive, and torturing them. Other Americans, in the hundreds of thousands at the least, are downloading photographs and video of the torture for their personal entertainment and pleasure. Some even submit requests to the torturers, with specific directions for what they want to see.

Would we rally behind efforts to rescue the captives? Would we see an entertainment industry based on their degradation and suffering, as a violation of human rights? Would we be outraged by the producers and consumers who trade in images of torture?

The reality that inspired this metaphor is bigger, badder and more relevant than the semi-imaginary scenario. You might be surprised to learn how young the civilian captives are, how appropriate is my use of the word torture and how many Americans are involved in the child pornography industry and marketplace, and how close to your home.

In reality, the producers are not a terrorist organization. Worse, they are the victim's parents or step-parents, other relatives, neighbors, close family friends, coaches, baby-sitters, or the boyfriends or girlfriends of the children's parents. I find this reality more shocking than the metaphor.

Some semantics: child pornography is not a "vice" issue. Whether something is a "vice" or not is a matter of opinion, open to interpretation, varies from time to time and place to place. Sexual assault is a violent crime. When a prisoner-of-war is sexually assaulted this is categorized as torture. Producing, distributing and/or downloading images of real human torture, for its entertainment value, is a human rights violation, not an understandable human "vice."

From words to numbers: in one 2-and-a-half year span, nearly 625,000 computers were identified, in the U.S., as having trafficked in child pornography. But sometimes a big number is not how we comprehend an issue's relevance to our own lives. I liked what naplesnews.com did in reporting the results of a Florida sting. They provided a map, with orange push pins indicating from where real perps had been arrested in the sting.

On another map, orange, often-overlapping squares represent Florida computers from which child pornography was being distributed. But to really drive it home, naplesnews.com listed the street addresses of three very local, very real people who were arrested in the sting. I imagine the issue would have begun to feel much more relevant if you lived anywhere near 5343 White Sky Circle, Fort Myers; 4497 Beechwood Lake Drive, East Naples; or 2100 51st Terrace S.W., Golden Gate . . .

So I became aware of this problem about a year ago, and immediately started looking into who was doing what about it. A recent development inspired me anew, and was the catalyst for this post. Imagine, now, that world-class computer scientists were made aware of this problem. They were so shocked and energized, both, that they decided to apply their intelligence and experience (previously involved in finding national-security-definition terrorists) to the problem.

A partnership was formed between the scientists and law enforcement. Highly efficient technology was adapted and developed for the specific fight. How inspiring if this were true!

It is. Scientists at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory have teamed up with law enforcement, to help them more effectively rescue children. World-class scientists have decided this issue merits their time, attention, intelligence and effort.

The production and distribution of child pornography is a violation of human rights that should be unacceptable to anyone who realizes its true nature. Every effort should be made to stop the producers and distributors and rescue the victims. If you think this issue is important enough to merit your time, attention, intelligence and effort, here are 3 organizations who actively share your view:

The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children helps law enforcement identify the real children victimized by child pornography, so children can be rescued and justice can be realized.

PROTECT wants law enforcement to have the resources they need to find, investigate, prosecute and convict child predators and rescue their victims.

The Innocent Justice Foundation wants to help law enforcement get the resources they need, appealing to private sector individuals and companies to bridge the funding gap (the one PROTECT is lobbying to close)

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing. (attr. to Edmund Burke)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Kerry: The open hand is more powerful than the clenched fist.

Jeffrey Bentler: I don't know . . . I think I'd rather be smacked than punched :)

You know I'm speaking figuratively Smileys

Terrence Bentler:
He means our dad is stronger than his dad. Figuratively

Actually, in a very real way--though not physically

Jeffrey Bentler:
ha-ha, "our dad is stronger than your dad"

Terrence Bentler:
More powerful, he said. Actually both works, in a way.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Jeffrey Bentler: I like the word catalyst

Jeffrey Bentler:
Something that makes things happen. Important things--things that would have never happened, otherwise . . .

Kerry Bentler:
That's technically not true. A catalyst doesn't "make something happen that would've never happened otherwise." It simply makes the reaction occur "more easily," "sooner"--"faster," if you will; it doesn't "make.it.happen."

Weston Bentler:
Actually Ker, I believe Jeff's usage of the word is perfectly valid when discussing literature or its inspiration, Life.

Kerry Bentler:
You KNOW I wouldn't know anything about that.

Jeffrey Bentler:
And YOU should've known I wasn't talking about chemistry :). When did I ever? :)

Your dad made something happen that would've never happened otherwise . . .

Jeffrey Bentler: There you go. ONE smart Kerry knows how to think romantically . . .