Republicans would do well to catch up to the rest of the culture on the issues of sex assault and child sex abuse. They are quickly being outpaced by a society that no longer is willing to wink at the rapist or child abuser. Context for rape and child abuse no longer matters: the people are sick of child sex abuse and sex assault, period, whether it occurs in the religious, sports, school, university, or family arena. Smart politicians are seeing that this is a scourge with no political preference.
Yet, too many Republicans—with rare exceptions like Rep. Jason Spencer of Georgia and Rep. Deborah Hudson of Delaware—are responsible for blocking simple legislative change that would identify the hidden predators and provide justice to victims. And they are doing it for all the wrong reasons. Read more
There is a deep connection between education and a successful, well-run representative democracy. Voters need significant education to be able to judge the people to whom they delegate the power to make governing decisions and to assess how their governing system is operating. Without adequate education generally and specifically about representative democracy, the system itself is at risk. Read more
The wild ride of this year’s presidential election has left many looking for landmarks that will guide their choice for the next president. One place to figure out who stands for what lies in the 2016 Republican and Democratic Platforms. So I decided to explore how each party deals with children.
It would not have been irrational to assume that this would be the year when the epidemic of child sex abuse might find its way onto a platform. After all, Spotlight won the Oscar Award for Best Picture. Read more
Sometimes I feel like I should pen a letter of apology to the Framers of the Constitution. They fundamentally understood that people are inevitably tempted to abuse power and that concentrations of power are dangerous. It was a fortuitous and sage combination of common sense and the Presbyterianism of Princeton at the time. To put it a bit more simply: power must be checked, or it will run amok, and that goes double for combinations of power. And, oh yes, those who have power will work hard to be unaccountable. Power without accountability is the gravest danger we can face.
With that as the foundation, we really should be able to do better. Instead, lawmakers are increasingly the unaccountable power-grabbing people the Framers warned us about. And nowhere are our elected officials failing more spectacularly right now than in the case of child sex abuse. Read more
Herculean efforts across the United States have been undertaken to eliminate the threshold legal barrier for most sex abuse victims: the statute of limitations. Some states have been very successful like Delaware and Minnesota while others remain mired in a system that blocks the vast majority of survivors like New York. To their credit, advocates, survivors, and their supporters continue to press even in the most backward states.
While a legislative push can be empowering for many survivors, it can also be traumatic when legislators irrationally reject the survivors’ pleas for justice. For example, Pennsylvania senators have professed allegiance to a non-existent Pennsylvania constitutional doctrine to avoid passing a bill that would revive expired SOLs for those who were shut out of the system. It is a cruel position that was captured beautifully in this political cartoon. Read more
When the Internet began, there was a great deal of celebration that this would be the route to true democracy, justice, and progress. At first, it was such a wondrous thing, it was difficult to imagine its underbelly. But the child pornographers wasted no time polluting the ether with some of the most heinous crimes there are. The Internet in the end, reflects the human condition—a deep and complex mix of good and bad.
Just like real property, good fences make good neighbors in the ethersphere. Therefore, the critical issue facing us all is when will truly effective fences on the Internet become operative. The best fences protect privacy, but they are also constructed in a way that permits the authorities to enforce the law. Read more
Children in the United States are routinely sacrificed on the pyre of their parents’ faith by pandering politicians without a moral compass. Children don’t vote but insular religious communities often vote as a bloc mandated by the male officials at the top, and that fact is not lost on power-hungry politicians like those in Utah who let the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS) patriarchs marry off girls and abandon boys so that the men will have a better place in heaven. The same relationship between elected officials and the ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities exists: there are known risks to children but these politicians look the other way as they are feted by the rabbis and a community that keeps children at risk. Read more
There was widespread and well-deserved derision when a photo circulated of Vice President Mike Pence with dozens of Republican men from the far right “Freedom Caucus” at the White House last week as they discussed elimination of the ten essential (as in mandatory) health benefits for insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act. Why? Because one of the ten essential benefits is maternity care. It would have taken only one mother in that room to ridicule these men engineering a return to the good old days when maternity coverage was not always included in coverage and a woman could be denied maternity coverage after she became pregnant because it was a “pre-existing condition.”
Yet women are not the only population seriously threatened in this picture. Children are especially at risk, because both maternity, as in pre-birth care, “newborn care” and “pediatric services, including oral and vision care” are essential health benefits as well. Read more
The headlines on child sex abuse have been dominated for years by issues from the Catholic Church, culminating with last year’s Oscar-winning movie, Spotlight. There have been other scandals, of course, like Penn State, the New England boarding schools, and the polygamist sects, among many, but the Catholic cases and issues have continually rolled into the headlines. The latest is that the Manhattan Archdiocese in New York is partially covering the cost of sex abuse claims there by getting a mortgage of $100 million on hotel property that it owns.
I am the last person to say that the Read more