WI Senate frontrunner opposed bill that would have eased justice for sex abuse victims

Via TPM:

Ron Johnson, the businessman and Republican nominee for Senate in Wisconsin against Russ Feingold, is now coming under fire for a previous foray into a public position that he took last January: When he testified against a bill that would have made it easier for adults who had been victims of childhood sexual abuse to sue the responsible organizations such as the Catholic Church.

Earlier this year, the Wisconsin legislature considered a bill as a result of the Catholic Church’s abuse scandals, which would have eliminated the statute of limitations for victims to sue organizations responsible for sexual abuse, and created a three-year window for past victims to file new lawsuits. The bill, which failed to pass, was opposed by the insurance industry and church organizations — and by Johnson, who had served on the Green Bay diocese’s financial council. (Johnson is not Catholic himself, but a Lutheran.)

Johnson’s testimony was first highlighted this past June by political columnist Daniel Bice of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Then in the past week, Bice again reported that the video was posted online.

“I believe it is a valid question to ask whether the employer of a perpetrator should also be severely damaged, or possibly destroyed, in our legitimate desire for justice,” Johnson told a state legislative committee back in January.

“This bill could actually have the perverse effect of leading to additional victims of sexual abuse,” he also added, “if individuals, recognizing that their organizations are at risk, become less likely to report suspected abuse.”

The victims’ rights group Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) has now called upon Johnson to urge the Catholic Church to release the names of priests accused of committing abuse.

Johnson reportedly no longer serves on the financial board, but did release this statement that seems to fall a bit short of SNAP’s demand: “I call on the Diocese of Green Bay to provide the utmost transparency in order to answer any lingering questions or doubt among victims of child abuse and those who seek to prevent child abuse in the future.”

The TPM Poll Average gives Johnson a lead of 53.0%-43.1%.

This man is winning a race for a seat in the United States Senate.

I’m sickened by humanity.

Muck Fichigan

Andrew Shirvell, the borderline assistant attorney general of systemically harassing Chris Armstrong, a gay student councilmember at the University of Michigan, was defended by Attorney General Michael Cox. He is just as detached from basic decency and the universe of acceptable discourse as his employee. It’s more disgusting than watching Shirvell himself; it’s one thing to be a sick, sick man like him, and another thing entirely to defend his insanity.

And besides allowing poor Armstrong to suffer, Cox’s equivocating is doing violence to Shirvell himself. Cox is letting a clearly sick man humiliate himself on national television, denigrate his party and office, and preclude himself from employment within a realm of constructively critical discourse that he desperately needs to participate in.

Dude Be Crazy

Via Chicago Suntimes Roger Ebert’s Blog:

“It’s one of the strangest stories, I gotta tell you, that we’ve reported on recently,” says Anderson Cooper — and man, is he correct.

Watching this video is hypnotic. Michigan Assistant Attorney General Andrew Shirvell has launched a frenzied web assault on the president of the University of Michigan student body, a man he asserts is “Satan’s representative on the student council.”

Study Shirvell closely here. You may, as I do, see a prim, repressed, rigid fanatic.

As Cooper pointedly asks, would you want this man representing you? Cooper refers to Shirvell representing a hypothetical gay person. I am straight, and I gotta tell you, I wouldn’t even want to be on the same internet with him.

 

Shirvell doesn’t seem to actually grasp the fact that Armstrong is not a political figure in the sense that Shirvell wants him to be. He was not elected by public citizens, but by students at the University of Michigan. I am just wondering how Shirvell isn’t getting in legal trouble for libel and slander.


Prostitutes of God

VBS tv, the video brance of Vice Magazine, has made a documentary about sex workers in India, the Devadasi, who are dedicated to to a specific deity and serve the deity. Originally the devadasi served as ritual dancers, but this practice has turned into young women being dedicated into sex work. It can be watched here.

There are a few commenters on the website that say that the documentary unfairly represents the devadasi. While there is always a risk of patronization and colonialist sentiment when making a documentary like this one, the video (which can be watched below) that is in response to the documentary doesn’t present good arguments for how and why the documentary wrongfully portrayed the devadasi. In fact one of the commenterrs (Raju, the man who’s mother was a devadasi) enforces the documentary’s point that women turn to this line of work to support their families and should not have to become sex workers in order to make a living.

“Dancing with the Stars” studio audience has better taste than you’d think

I’m sure there’s a reasonable explanation:

Updates: There really is a resonable explanation.

Ontario high court strikes down many anti-prostitution laws

Via CBC News:

An Ontario court has thrown out key provisions of Canada’s anti-prostitution laws in response to a constitutional challenge brought by a Toronto dominatrix and two prostitutes in 2009.

Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice ruled Tuesday the Criminal Code provisions relating to prostitution contribute to the danger faced by sex-trade workers. Dominatrix Terri-Jean Bedford and Valerie Scott and Amy Lebovitch had argued that prohibitions on keeping a common bawdy house, communicating for the purposes of prostitution and living on the avails of the trade force them from the safety of their homes to face violence on the streets.

The women asked the court to declare legal restrictions on their activities a violation of charter rights of security of the person and freedom of expression. The women and their lawyer, Alan Young, were expected to hold a news conference later Tuesday afternoon.

The government had argued that striking down the provisions without enacting something else in their place would “pose a danger to the public.” Some conservative groups such as Real Women of Canada, who had intervener status in the case, argued that decriminalizing prostitution may make Canada a haven for human trafficking and that prostitution is harmful to the women involved in it.

However, in her ruling Tuesday, Justice Susan Himel said it now falls to Parliament to “fashion corrective action.”

“It is my view that in the meantime these unconstitutional provisions should be of no force and effect, particularly given the seriousness of the charter violations,” Himel wrote.

While prostitution is technically legal, virtually every activity associated with it is not. The Criminal Code of Canada prohibits communication for the purpose of prostitution. It also prohibits keeping a common bawdy house for the purpose of prostitution. Those laws enacted in 1985 were an attempt to deal with the public nuisance created by street walkers. They failed to recognize the alternative — allowing women to work more safely indoors — was prohibited, Young had said previously.

Young called it “bizarre” that the ban on bawdy houses is an indictable offence that carries stiffer sanctions, including jail time and potential forfeiture of a woman’s home, when the ban on communication for prostitution purposes is usually a summary offence that at most leads to fines. The provisions prevent sex workers from properly screening clients, hiring security or working in the comfort and safety of their own homes or brothels, he had said. Young cited statistics behind the “shocking and horrific” stories of women who work the streets, along with research that was not available when the Supreme Court of Canada upheld the communication ban in 1990.

Anna North contextualizes:

[P]rostitution is legal in Canada, but “virtually every activity associated with it is not.” Sex workers were previously barred from “keeping a common bawdy house, communicating for the purposes of prostitution and living on the avails of the trade.” Even a judge once called these prohibitions “bizarre” — and three sex workers filed a lawsuit saying that the laws forced them to work outside their homes and in unsafe conditions, and kept them from doing things like paying security guards or screening clients. Dominatrix Terri-Jean Bedford (pictured, left) told Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice that she still bore the scars from being attacked with a baseball bat by a client several years ago. But her job may be about to get a lot safer: the Court just ruled all three laws unconstitutional.

“These laws, individually and together, force prostitutes to choose between their liberty interest and their right to security of the person as protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” said Justice Susan Himel in her decision. Conservative group Real Women of Canada argued against repealing the laws, alleging that prostitution harms women. But being attacked with a baseball bat pretty clearly harms women too, and making prostitutes’ jobs more dangerous is hardly the way to help them. It appears that the Superior Court of Ontario has finally listened to sex workers’ voices — maybe some in the US will start doing so too.

Judge orders servicemember expelled under DADT reinstated

It’s been a confusing month for DADT; first, a federal judge ruled the law unconstitutional, but it’s still in effect as the DOJ promised to appeal, and an effort to slip in a legislative repeal was aborted by Senate Republicans. And now…

A federal judge ruled Friday that a decorated flight nurse discharged from the Air Force for being gay should be given her job back as soon as possible in the latest legal setback to the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

The decision by U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton came in a closely watched case as a tense debate has been playing out over the policy. Senate Republicans blocked an effort to lift the ban this week, but Leighton is now the second federal judge this month to deem the policy unconstitutional. Maj. Margaret Witt was suspended in 2004 and subsequently discharged under the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy after the Air Force learned she had been in a long-term relationship with a civilian woman. She sued to get her job back. Leighton hailed her as a “central figure in a long-term, highly charged civil rights movement.” Tears streaked down Witt’s cheeks and she hugged her parents, her partner and supporters following the ruling.

“Today you have won a victory in that struggle, the depth and duration of which will be determined by other judicial officers and hopefully soon the political branches of government,” the judge told her, choking up as he recalled Witt’s dramatic testimony about her struggles.

It seems inevitible that either this case or the Log Cabin Republicans’ will end up before the Supreme Court sooner rather than later; so a chance (I cannot say if it is a good or bad one) that the policy will be nullified even if when the GOP takes back Congress next year.