Monday, September 26, 2011

Fair Lessons

On the last day of the Oklahoma State Fair my father came into possession of some tickets for free admission. Neither of us were really enthusiastic about going, considering how much it seems to have gone down hill; it's become less and less a fair and more and more like going to a new car and portable building show. However, I did learn one interesting thing today and I think it's a lesson that says a lot about America in general.

If you can eat it, we'll fry it and put it on a stick.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Job 13:16

Why entitle this entry after a bible verse? Because the verse is apt for the topic I am about to post. It's a topic about hypocrites. Now, I'll admit readily to having hypocritical tendencies, but they're small (or so I hope) and limited mostly to opinions and philosophies. I want to talk about the kind of hypocrisy that impacts others.

I'm talking to you, American Family Association.

Before I get too far ahead of myself, allow me to give some back-story for the reason for this entry. The state of Mississippi is going to vote on an amendment to their state Bill of Rights that will redefine the term "person" to apply "from the moment of conception." The move was challenged by a citizen in court "because it failed to comply with the state's official ballot initiative process which forbids making modifications to the Bill of Rights." The court, in all it's infinite stupidity, refused to block the amendment so it'll go to a general vote.

So now I come to the main reason for this rant.

But anti-abortion groups such as the American Family Association and Pro-Life Mississippi welcomed the judge's decision.

"Today we rejoice and celebrate this hard-won victory, but tomorrow we roll up our sleeves and return to work," Stephen Crampton, the attorney for the proponents told the Associated Press. "Our opponents are discouraged, but not yet ultimately defeated. They will be back, spreading fear, confusion, and dire 'sky-is-falling' warnings about this simple Amendment, and we must be ready to rebut their baseless charges and set the record straight."

The AFA loves to scream "WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN?!" as though they actually give a shit about the kids. They say they do, but it's clear that they don't and you can see this most glaringly from their inaction. They go around, protesting abortion clinics and trying to strip women of their constitutional right to privacy and the decision about her own medical needs, and yet they have done nothing to stop the horror children face every day in the form of Christian "teen homes." A Teen Home, in this sense, is a place well-meaning but naive parents send their kids if they're having emotional issues with a promise from this place that they'll show the kids tough love and put them on the straight and narrow. What emotional issues? It can range from drug abuse and acting out to being gay.

I want to say they're well-meaning but naive because many of these places will say right on their website that if the kid says they're being abused to ignore them because they're lying. In case you didn't know, this is a flagrant case of Poisoning the Well. "Ignore your child, he'll lie to you to go home." I have to say naive, but if they're not naive, they're malicious. Why is this? Because the teen home will suggest or offer the services of "Teen Escort Services" and no, that's not the name of a brothel. A Teen Escort Service will come to your home at around three in the morning and take your child by force across state and national lines if need be to be delivered to this place, often times with no requirement that proof be shown the kid needs this sort of treatment. On the way they'll use whatever tactics they need to in order to keep the kid from getting help from the authorities, not limited to simple intimidation.

Here's an excerpt about one such escort service from one of these teens who's crime was being gay:

On May 10th of 2007 at around 2:30 in the morning two strangers barged into my bedroom. I started screaming and crying, as in my mind I was sure that these two strangers had broken into my house and were going to abduct me, rape me, kill me, or in some way harm me. They immediately told me that if I did not shut up that they would handcuff me. I was not being in any way violent or threatening. I was reacting in fear for my life by being vocal and hoping that someone would come to help. I had no idea what was going on. I stopped screaming, still in fear for my life. They started going through my closet digging out clothes as I was only in a night gown. They still had not explained what was going on. I asked, frightened, what the wanted from me, trying to see if I could in some way appease them and get them to leave. They then explained that they were going to take me to a school. It took me a second to understand what they meant by this, as this was an extremely bizarre way to introduce a child to a new school. It then occurred to me that this was what my mother had arranged for my brother several years ago when she had him shipped away to Cross Creek. The two strangers were from Teen Escort Service, a for-profit company that transports teenagers, usually by force, to WWASP (World Wide Association of Specialty Programs) facilities.

I was extremely upset and cried the entire trip, but I obeyed all of their orders. Even though I was being cooperative they said it was their policy to put a belt around the bust of the child and hold the belt so that there would be no chance of attempting to run. It was so humiliating to be led around like a fucking dog around the airport. It was also extremely uncomfortable to have this strange older male putting his hand so close to my breast. I never understood how any of this was legal but definitely knew that none of it was ethical. To this day I feel extremely angered, disturbed, and violated by this entire experience. In addition to this they “forgot” all of the psychiatric medication I had been on at my house. It’s not that I am for psychiatric meds, but it certainly did not feel healthy or normal to go from taking this medication regularly, to just not having it and stopping with out tapering off of it.

Any parent who would use this is, I honestly believe, either willfully stupid or maliciously evil. This young woman was sent to a place called "Cross Creek" which is, sadly, one of many abusive places teens get sent to.

Shortly after I left the program I was raped. I shared what happened with my mother, who then told me, like Cross Creek did, that it was my fault, I asked for it, and that I should have known it would happen. She then proceeded to share her own twisted version of the story with my Cross Creek therapist, who shared it with my group. I was mortified and my self-esteem was completely destroyed by this utter lack of confidentiality and complete betrayal of trust.

I still can't understand why these places are allowed to exist, but an article from another website has yet another horror story.

New Beginnings describes itself as a character-building facility for "troubled teens," and what Jeannie Marie heard in church that day was that this might be a place for her daughter to heal. While jogging earlier that year, the 17-year-old (whom I'll call Roxy) had been pulled into a vehicle and assaulted by a group of men. Since then, she had begun acting up at home, as well as sneaking out and drinking. Two weeks after seeing the girls in church, Jeannie Marie and her husband left Roxy in McNamara's care with the promise that she would receive counseling twice a week and stay at New Beginnings no longer than two months. "It sounded like a discipleship program," Jeannie Marie recalls. "A safe place where a daughter can go to have time alone to find God and her direction."

Instead, Roxy found herself on the receiving end of brutal punishments. A soft-spoken young woman, blonde and blue-eyed with a bright smile, Roxy confided to me that she found it easier to discuss her ordeal with a stranger than with the people closest to her. She told me how, in her first weeks at the academy's Missouri compound—a summer-camp setup in remote La Russell, population 145—she and other girls snuck letters to their parents between the pages of hymnals in a local church they attended, along with entreaties to congregants to mail them. When another girl snitched, Roxy said, McNamara locked some girls in makeshift isolation cells, tiled closets without furniture or windows. Roxy got "the redshirt treatment": For a solid week, 10 hours a day, she had to stand facing a wall, with breaks only for worship or twice-daily bathroom trips.

She was monitored day and night by two "buddies," girls who'd been there awhile and knew the drill. They accompanied her to the shower and toilet, and introduced her to a life of communal isolation and rigid discipline. Girls were not allowed to converse except from 6 to 9 p.m. each Friday. They were not allowed contact with their families during their first month, or with anyone else for six months. By that time, Roxy said, most girls are "broken," having been told that their families have abandoned them, and that the world outside is a sinful, dangerous place where girls who leave are murdered or raped.

The girls' behavior was micromanaged down to the number of squares of toilet paper each was allowed; potential infractions ranged from making eye contact with another girl to not finishing a meal. Roxy, who suffered from urinary tract infections and menstrual complications, told me she was frequently put on redshirt, sometimes dripping blood as she stood. She was also punished with cold showers, she said, and endless sets of calisthenics after meals.

To be completely fair to this story, the girl's mother seems to have been genuinely deceived. She went nuts trying to get in touch with her daughter and was only able to do so after two months. They finally pulled her out of that place shortly after the call.

When Jeannie Marie arrived at New Beginnings, she had a tense conversation with the school counselor, who insisted that Roxy wanted to stay. She extracted her daughter nonetheless. The school's effects on Roxy were striking, Jeannie Marie told me. When they stopped at a restaurant on the way home, she robotically asked for permission to speak or to use the bathroom. After months of punitive mealtimes, including five-minute "force feeding" sessions for girls on redshirt, she wolfed her food. Back in Maryland, she showed signs of an eating disorder, self-destructive behavior, and severe depression. "I was only there for three months," Roxy said, "but because we weren't allowed to keep track of time, it felt like six."

Desperate for a way out, she'd attempted suicide—many of the girls did, she added nonchalantly, if only for the chance to get taken to a hospital and beg for outside help. "They take away any feeling that you are capable of doing anything outside the home," she said. "You have this sense of total isolation: There's no way out of it, you're there for the rest of your life."

This was after just three months in that place. We don't treat criminals, prisoners of war, or even war criminals that badly. The article goes on to say about why these places are allowed to exist;

A week or so after the disastrous conference call, Jeannie Marie traveled to La Russell with a friend who'd heard about places like New Beginnings—sketchy teen homes drawn by Missouri's laissez-faire policy toward faith-based residential facilities. Authorities in the state are barred from inspecting the homes or even keeping track of them. (New Beginnings has operated under multiple names in Florida, Mississippi, and Texas.) "It's hard to understand it, but faith-based is just taboo for regulation," says Matthew Franck, an editor at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, who authored an investigative series on the state's homes in the mid-2000s. "It took decades of work to get just the most minimal standards of regulation at faith-based child-care centers," he adds. "I just knew that when certain lobbyists would stand up to say, 'We have a concern about how this affects faith-based institutions,' the bill was immediately amended—it was a very Republican legislature—or it would immediately die. That's still true." (Missouri isn't alone. In April, Montana state Rep. Christy Clark, who campaigned on a "faith and family" platform, joined 11 other Republicans in scuttling a bill that would have regulated religious teen homes; a mother of three, she cast the homes' residents as unreliable witnesses who "struggle with truthfulness.")

These places are all over the USA and even in other nations.

And so what do those hypocrites, the AFA, want to do about it? Apparently not a god damn thing. They're rather silent on the matter. Oh, but they'll yell and scream about the person-hood of a clump of cells so small you need a microscope to see them. But as for these real, living, established thinking and feeling children? It seems George Carlin was right.

If you're pre-born, you're fine, if you're pre-schooled, you're fucked.

The AFA says they care about children, but they refuse to actually help children. Children who can think, who can reason, can feel, can be hurt emotionally, who can be broken so far they're ambivalent about committing suicide just to escape the torture. These people are hypocrites of the worst sort. They wrap themselves in hypocrisy and call it righteousness. At best, it seems they're likely to have forfeit their place in their heaven.

He also shall be my salvation: for an hypocrite shall not come before him. ~ Job 13:16

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. ~ Matthew 23:23-24

At worst, there is a special place in hell for people like them; those who have the ability to prevent suffering and yet turn a blind eye to those most in need.

Dear God, save us from your followers.