I must be getting old. Earlier I blogged about Scott Brown, who I knew from way back in high school. Today, I'll be talking up someone who really ought to be in office already. My old co-worker, Joel Pollak, is running for Congress in Chicago against Ms. Jan "Single Payer" Schakowsky. Joel, a naturalized U.S. citizen from South Africa, delivered some rather powerful speeches assailing President Obama's disastrous policy. You can read them and see them at his campaign website here.
Joel and I cross paths when I was a researcher for Alan Dershowitz back in my Massachusetts days. At the time, I was struck by how knowledgeable and active Joel was at Harvard Law School. Everything that there was to be run, Joel seemed to be running it, always expertly. He gave great comments in one of the Dershowitz's seminars I attended. At the time, I had little idea that he was political and apparently before the McCain campaign, he was a Democrat. (Many Dershowitz RAs, contrary to popular opinion, are right leaning or moderate.)
Unlike some of the other RAs, I didn't get to know Joel as well as I would have liked, but all the more I found him charming. Joel was a consummate gentleman. He was gracious enough to invite me, and a friend, to see Tony Leon, the former opposition leader of South Africa, speak before a gathering of African lawyers. He never once made me, a high school student, feel as anything other than a colleague.
Leon's message was about the Democratic Alliance, South Africa's major opposition party and how it might be the way forward for African politics. Essentially a classically liberal party, it had Lincolnian vibes permeating it, stressing natural rights, non-racialism, and liberty.
Joel has been writing for Big Government.com, where he's been writing some great posts. Above you can see him challenge Barney Frank and becoming a YouTube sensation. You can listen to him here, making the argument against our old boss, Professor Alan Dershowitz, that Obama has betrayed Israel. Be sure to read The Politico article on him, too!
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Claremont McKenna's downgraded bond rating mentioned in Inside Higher Education. Have a look, won't you to see how much more costly all of Gann's new spending will be.
I must say that I read with some trepidation that the Town of Claremont has passed a new sex offender law this evening.
No, I am not, as some of my illustrious comments would have you believe, a registered sex offender, but I do have a great bit of compassion for those forced to register as one, given how capricious the sex offender laws have become. From my own experience, a few friends faced prosecution and were all expelled when they received oral sex from a willing 15 year old classmate. The problem? They ranged in age from sixteen to eighteen and the girl in question was but fifteen at the time. The news shocked my prep school and there were meetings after meetings on what had to be done. Here's how the Boston Phoenix described what happened:
On January 30, the family of a 17-year-old former Milton Academy student sued the 207-year-old prestigious prep school in Norfolk County Superior Court. James Driscoll and his parents allege Milton mistreated him in connection with a sex scandal that resulted in his and four other boys’ expulsion for receiving oral sex, in a locker room, from a 15-year-old female schoolmate. The lawsuit, in addition to describing a student-body social life of Bacchanalian proportions, could result in legally obligating Massachusetts private schools (whether preparatory, college, or university level) to treat their young charges fairly, even — perhaps especially — when administrators think the school’s reputation competes with the students’ best interests.The Economist ran two very good articles on these draconian laws earlier this summer. These laws have lost all meaning and all pretense of letting the punishment fit the crime.
According to the 33-page complaint, after hearing rumors that a female student performed oral sex on a group of male students in the boys’ locker room in late January 2005, school officials interviewed the girl three weeks later. Milton administrators then called in the boys and, without even suggesting they contact their parents — let alone a lawyer — demanded the boys’ written confessions, supposedly for school-disciplinary hearings provided for in the school’s student handbook. But within 24 hours, instead of holding hearings Milton expelled the boys and handed over their signed statements — statements that amounted to confessions to statutory rape — to the police.
. . .
Throughout the affair, Milton pursued an aggressive public-relations campaign. With trumpets blaring, Head of School Robin Robertson declared in letters to parents and alums that Milton had taken “strong and decisive action” by expelling the boys. In one letter, Robertson indicated (falsely, according to the complaint) that James and the other boys coerced the girl into performing oral sex by creating a “pressurized situation”, merely by outnumbering the girl. And yet Robertson’s letter also tells how, as time went by, revelations surfaced that the January 24 incident was not isolated. On the contrary, in at least two prior instances the girl had engaged in the same behavior with various groups of boys. Nonetheless, the girl was treated differently: she was neither disciplined formally by the school nor charged with a crime.
I suspect that the reason we require those 18 year olds who "raped" their sixteen year old girlfriends and later married them in the sex registry is because we, as a society, have mostly lost the stomach for chemical castration.
Every American state keeps a register of sex offenders. California has had one since 1947, but most states started theirs in the 1990s. Many people assume that anyone listed on a sex-offender registry must be a rapist or a child molester. But most states spread the net much more widely. A report by Sarah Tofte of Human Rights Watch, a pressure group, found that at least five states required men to register if they were caught visiting prostitutes. At least 13 required it for urinating in public (in two of which, only if a child was present). No fewer than 29 states required registration for teenagers who had consensual sex with another teenager. And 32 states registered flashers and streakers.
Because so many offences require registration, the number of registered sex offenders in America has exploded. As of December last year, there were 674,000 of them, according to the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children. If they were all crammed into a single state, it would be more populous than Wyoming, Vermont or North Dakota. As a share of its population, America registers more than four times as many people as Britain, which is unusually harsh on sex offenders. America’s registers keep swelling, not least because in 17 states, registration is for life.