Thursday, April 22, 2010


That ever-helpful Sex Offender Research site has yet another remarkable entry: dated 4-20-10, it is entitled “What To Do When The Police Come Calling”. It’s written by a defense attorney, Norm Pattis, who also has his own site, and there’s a link to it.

He has what he calls his Four Points (which sounds a little like one of Mao’s press releases, but so what?) and I’m going to riff on them.

But he has a couple of pre-notes, and the observations thicken an already meaty stew.

We all have “an urge to confess”, he says. He’s right. In a way I think that’s one of the most ‘human’ characteristics a person can possess (and ‘antisocial and ‘psychopathic’ personalities are recognizable precisely by their lack of it).

It’s so human because, well, humans all wind up sometimes exercising their freedoms in some way that damages others. It is called ‘sin’ – and with a capital letter (Sin) it denotes that inborn tendency that all humans seem to have; certainly, any observation of humanity’s and humans’ sustained performance over the course of recorded history strongly suggests it. The Catholic term is “Original Sin”, but that term tends to be perceived kind of statically as a ‘condition’ or a ‘state’ into which humans are born.

Sin – even the tendency toward it – is a dynamic concept; it is always in danger of getting into the Transmit position among all the frequencies that exist in any individual’s ‘radio’; once it is selected, it emits all sorts of bad stuff.

I always imagine that humans are like Masters and Commanders: responsible for everything that happens on their individual ‘ships’ and also for what those ships do with their various powers and potentials.

But in a way that’s not a sufficient image to convey the complex human reality. The sailing ships and warships of the Age of Sail, the starship ‘Enterprise’ in any of its incarnations (Kirk’s, Picard’s, Janeway’s) – these were all vessels that humans conceived, designed, and built.

Humans can know those ships in their very core because the ships are purely human products.

But that’s precisely where the image is insufficient. Because humans did not build humans. We seem to come from somewhere (or Someone) else, conceived, designed, and constructed according to specifications in some Shipyard and by some Ship-builder beyond (or Beyond) us.

In a way, each of us winds up in charge (it takes a lot of work to be ‘in command’) of an alien vessel, that perhaps was ‘captured’ and now placed into human service. But – as with so many used vehicles – the owner’s manual was no longer in the glove-box and we sort of have to figure how the thing works as we go along.

This is not a new insight.

From the very beginning, humans have developed civilizations and cultures in order to transmit from old to young the accumulated wisdom of generations as to how to operate these marvelous but volatile and sometimes darkly dangerous craft. Religion has been just one – although I would say a very comprehensive and powerful – civilizing element in that sense.

And it has the added benefit of being sufficiently comprehensive as to deal with the absolutely un-erasable human urges toward Meaning and Purpose, and toward some sensed but not fully grasped Beyond and the Presences that seem – somehow – to be there.

So when Attorney Pattis points out that everybody is sort of primed to ‘confess’ … he’s on to something profound and genuinely ‘big’.

And let’s not forget that every human being – nice people, normal people, police officers, ‘heroes’, even judges and politicians – has something to ‘confess’, in that regard. Although the sociopathic among them won’t realize it. And nobody, really, wants to admit it – except celebrities looking for a little publicity.

But that’s exactly the deep and dark spring that waters ‘scapegoat Mania’: rather than think of how Sin unites all human beings (which does not constitute my approving a vigorous program of ‘sinning’ as a social bonding experience), it’s psychologically easier (and sleazier) to simply imagine that a certain group is somehow Evil (therefore carrying the full awfulness of Sin within them) while everybody else is Good (thereby free of Sin – which, if you say it out loud, reveals itself as truly blasphemous).

This dark stream dynamically flows under every human settlement, threatening to break out, flood the place, and undermine solid ground – and all the foundations dug into it. Indeed, the Framers were very much aware of it – and constructed the Constitution precisely with an eye toward preventing such up-wellings from turning into floods.

But in an era of mass society, and a young and impatient mass society, and in an era where governments have often found it easier (if sleazier) to distract people from real and serious problems (often involving poor government performance) by starting ‘wars’ foreign and domestic (and what is the Sex Offense Mania if not a government-sponsored ‘distracting war’?), and with the fabled ‘press’ debauched by the easy (and sleazy) sales guaranteed by Good-vs-Evil, Innocence In Danger scripts (that used to be the preserve of Saturday matinee movies) … in that kind of an era, things can really get out of hand.

And a real Flood that can not only be released but sustained. (Think Katrina in New Orleans, except that the government actually helped seed the hurricane in the first place and continues now to seed it so it keeps coming back.)

Building on that insight, Pattis than observes – with refreshing and incisive candor – to the next (and really kind of unsurprisingly logical) point: “Police prey upon our tendency to trust them”.

Since we all have something to confess, and the police are always looking for confessions as the easiest way to ‘solve’ a case, then they will use that natural human tendency to whatever advantage they can make of it.

Which is indeed logical.

But dangerous for humans who, although they have a natural tendency to ‘confess’ since they have all to some extent sinned, may not necessarily be guilty of the crime in the particular case that the police are asking you about and for which they dearly would like a ‘perp’ and a ‘conviction’ with the expenditure of as few resources and as little time and effort as possible.

You see where things can go wrong verrrrry easily and verrrrry quickly.

In fact, the police – as Pattis logically observes – thereby become pretty much ‘predators’ themselves, feeding with not only premeditated deliberation but with training on the weakness of folks: those folks are trusting and vulnerable … sort of like the victims of sex offenses when faced by ‘sexual predators’, come to think of it.

The police are “trained in the art of deception”, they “know how to prey on fear and uncertainty”. In that weird and ominous symmetry, they resemble nothing so much as genuine habitual sex-predators, “grooming” their targets with tactical sweetness while manipulating their chosen target’s vulnerability.

Funny how the night moves.

In combating the predatory, and in the urge for Meaning through professional ‘success’, the agents of Good (as it were) wind up doing a lot of Evil (in fact). Which, in the Sex Offense ‘war’ yields exactly the same results that we see in the recent foreign ‘wars’, where troops (though not their bosses) now acknowledge torture, gratuitous killing, and cover-ups; you may have read recently of former troops admitting that after shooting persons they then realized were not ‘enemy combatants’ and couldn’t in any way be made to appear as if they were ‘enemy combatants’, they then used pliers and jackknives to pry their bullets out of the corpses of women and children in order to remove the evidence; they were told, they say, that their higher-ups would 'protect' them ... and that cannot be a good thing to instill.

Such are the awful frakkeries consequent upon unleashing violence in the cocky certainty that mere human competence can always and easily separate the Good Wheat from the Evil Tares in the field of this human life.

What will the Lord of the Harvest say, do you think?

So all this leads Pattis, rightly and logically, to advise average folks not to wind up providing an “improvident confession” – or even the possible grounds for one – to a lawman (or law-person … in the crusade against Evil gender isn’t proving to be much of a firewall).

What he is going to be saying in his Four Points is not aimed at criminal sociopaths: they already consider the police to be an enemy and they can’t see that what they do is evil, or at least they don’t believe that consequences should apply to them if they can at all avoid them.

What Pattis is going to say is directed at ‘average’ people: folks who, while under the veil of Sin (as are we all) still respect society and law and pretty much are ‘team-players’.

This is a classic characteristic of a ‘bourgeois’ society. Peasants – dealing with ‘lords’ and ‘war lords’ – instinctively don’t trust ‘authority’, consider it an enemy to the hard work of just keeping your own and your family’s life together, and generally pray that ‘the Lord bless and keep the Czar … far away from us”.

So Pattis is addressing his comments to folks who are basically ‘bourgeois’, see the civilizational enterprise as one in which they have a stake, and respect the right of government to perform its house-keeping and maintenance chores with some real cooperation from everybody.

But especially in a time of Mania this country is – as I have often said – regressing to a type of government activity that is less Constitutional and more like the old Medieval days (which weren’t anything like your local annual ‘Renaissance Faire’ or MGM’s idea of ‘Camelot’).

After all, as Pattis notes sagely, while “confession is good for the soul”, confession to the police (as opposed to your clergy) can land you in prison, which, he notes, “is not good for the soul”.

And he’s mostly right. Although, if you are of a spiritual bent, and to the point of heroic sainthood, then a journey through the hell that American prisons have now become can perhaps raise you a notch or two closer to a formidable spiritual development. But that’s not the usual course of things.

And if there’s one thing that the ‘crusaders of the Good’ recoil from like vampires from holy water is the idea that a person they have classified as Evil and gleefully consigned to prison might return more spiritually anchored in genuine Goodness than they themselves. That’s when you see some real wailing and gnashing of teeth among the self-proclaimed paragons of ‘Good’.

No wonder that ‘God’ really doesn’t enter into the Sex Offense Mania – His action is toooo unpredictable, and may wind up contradicting the most cherished delusions of the ‘Good’. Which shouldn’t be too much of a surprise, you’d think, since certain notable spiritual figures seemed to indicate a divine preference for sinners. And that “the last shall be first”. And that “the stone that the builders rejected shall become the cornerstone”.

Yes, no wonder the only thing the Mania can really do with religion is to try to pull it down into its own darkling world. Although whether that means that the Mania will have pulled God down into it … another of the questions that are too full of mystery and dense complexity for any Mania to spend time on.

He dispels some common myths; thoughts that occur to people either because they have seen police-procedurals on TV or in the movies (which, for the most part, are the work of police-glorifying producers who bend reality to their purposes); or, again, they just want to be polite and ‘good citizens’ or, perhaps are fearful and intimidated.

And nowadays, you don’t have to be guilty or paranoid to have cause for concern. Indeed, it may help, if you were born too late to see them on TV in the 1950s, to catch a few WW2 era films about Occupied countries in Europe, where the knock on the door or the black sedan pulling up on the street out front always put people on their guard – just to remind yourself how things have not changed … and how, especially in a time of Mania, they have.

Or perhaps Solzhenitsyn’s point that there were times when the Stalinist police (the Russians, with a peasant-like blunt cleverness, called them ‘the organs’ – from their commonly-accepted Soviet press designation as ‘the organs of State security’; the phrase worked on several levels) were looking merely to fill a certain quota of arrests assigned to them.

First, the police can’t order you down to the station to give a statement. Again, while this is no time for getting in anybody’s face, especially a face with a badge, and while a certain civility is almost always good form, the natural instinct to be polite and helpful can be exactly the wrong way to go.

Many people, too, are indeed fearful – and also hope that by ‘being nice’ they can ward off whatever might be in store.

But Pattis notes that if they say that if you don’t come down they’ll seek an arrest warrant, they aren’t being quite truthful – as if by coming down you can guarantee they won’t seek a warrant. When really, they might well be looking for a little something that would justify getting a warrant – and if you wind up giving them anything that could even distantly be construed as useful, they’ll then go and get the warrant anyway.

And that if you go down to the station voluntarily, and they tell you pleasantly you’re free to leave if you wish, and you still stay and talk, then a court will gladly construe that as a ‘voluntary’ statement. Courts, he notes, aren’t as picky as they should be (but who needs to tell the SO community that?).

Ditto if the police suddenly show up on your doorstep – you don’t have to talk to them. (And vampire movie buffs are a little better prepared here: don’t invite them in; even for a cup of tea and a pleasant chat.)

Because, as Pattis reminds anybody who hasn’t drawn conclusions from the news in the past 20 years, “it takes perishingly little to convict for certain crimes”, into which category sex-offenses most certainly fall.

And, he goes on, even a minor detail you give might be used “to corroborate a far-fetched story told about you by others”. And again, in matters sex-offensual, this is a verrry real possibility.

He uses the specific example of child-abuse cases, and with good reason. You don’t need to be a Catholic priest to realize that now somebody can tell the police that 20, 30, 40 or perhaps 50 years ago you ‘touched’ them, and in the current atmosphere – supported by grave weakening of Rule of Evidence, Statutes of Limitations, and Presumptions of Innocence – little more ‘evidence’ might be required.

Nor will you be able to defend yourself as Ronald Reagan so effectively did in the Iran-Contra matter: in response to a sharp question as to whether he met with someone on such and such a date at such and such a time in such and such a year and discussed A and B and C, he said he couldn’t really recall. When the questioner evinced suspicion of such a ‘dodge’, Reagan simply asked him: Can YOU remember what you were doing on such and such a date at such and such a time in such and such a year, and what you might have said?

And again, that if the police don’t read you your rights, then they can’t use anything you say. That only works if you’re already formally and clearly under arrest and in custody. Otherwise, you’re making a ‘voluntary’ statement and “courts are increasingly reluctant to meaningfully enforce the rights of the accused”.

And you see here where the National Security State and the National Nanny State wind up taking the country to exactly the same dark and awful police-state place. And especially in matters of the current Sex Offense Mania. People are as ready to accept that you must be a ‘sex offender’ now as they were once ready to believe that if Hoover’s FBI said you were a closet pinko Commie then you must be a closet pinko Commie.

Especially if – as is happening much more frequently these days – their accusations go back years or decades, where any evidence that might exonerate you has dissolved with Time.

So to Pattis’s Four Things.

There are actually four “discrete harms” to which you are potentially exposed in this sort of situation.

Imprisonment is only the first of them. Though it is the one that transfixes the target emotionally (and understandably so).

But beyond prison there is the simple brute fact of a Felony Conviction. This will effectively preclude or destroy any professional career most of the time.

But beyond the possibility of Prison and the Felony Conviction record, there is the entire Sex Offense registration (and notification) matter. In these matters, Pattis rightly and candidly notes, “the law is particularly savage”. [italics mine]

An excellent choice of words.

And folks would do well to realize just how this ‘sensitive’ Sex Offense Mania has resulted in such frakkulously savage laws (against all American tradition, and against the ethos of Constitutionality).

For anybody, I would say, who still thinks that ‘victimism’ is not dynamically a front for the increasing war of the government upon its own citizens in a continual decline into authoritarian control, they need only look at the brute reality that victimism has served not so much as a catalyst for increasing ‘sensitivity’ to genuine victims’ pain, but rather as a pretext for such savagely expanded punitive legislation (and to too far an extent, jurisprudence as well).

It’s as if ‘liberals’ sought both to prove their ‘sensitivity’ AND their ‘toughness’ by savagely dealing with a scapegoat class in the name of ‘sensitivity’. Rightist authoritarians, of course, need no pretext for their savagery: it is in the interests of ‘order’.

Marvelously – and he being a legal professional is well-placed to reveal it – Pattis observes that “judges acknowledge the cruelty of these laws in private conversations, but few will do anything about it when it counts”.

To which I can only add that ‘Judgment at Nuremberg” – the 1961 film about the postwar trials of former Nazis (including judges during the era of that monstrous regime) – should be shown once every semester in law schools and attendance taken.

Particularly the last scene, where the American chief judge (Spencer Tracy) – having sentenced a formerly highly-regarded German judge to a life-sentence – is told by that former judge (Burt Lancaster) that “it wasn’t supposed to turn out like that”, that the ‘good’ judges in the Nazi era hoped to transform the system from the inside, by going along a little with the craziness in order to maintain at least a little sanity in the system.

Says Tracy in quick but sober response (I’m quoting from memory here): “It was guaranteed to turn out like that the moment you first sentenced a man you knew to be innocent”. [italics to show the emphasis in Tracy’s delivery of the line]

To which there could be no reply. Nor was there.

And lastly, there is the danger of sex offender treatment. Anyone who winds up facing that ‘treatment’, Pattis says, “can expect demeaning treatment by scarcely trained and often poorly educated folks with the equivalent of undergraduate degrees”.

We may not realize how right he is.

It has been one of the consequences – hardly unforeseeable – of the Mania. Once the government knew that it was setting up for ‘rehabilitation’ a crime-type that had no specific diagnosis or treatment, then it needed and indeed created an opening for, hordes of ‘cottage-industry’ ‘therapists’ who would ‘surf’ this government-generated wave.

It was an under-trained (though perhaps well-intentioned) helper’s dream scenario: ‘therapy’ that could be anything, for a ‘disease’ that was at once hugely dangerous and impossible to clearly define, that was both all-things and no-thing at the same time.

And with all the government monies made available (up until recently), and with all the ‘status’ that went with being a ‘sex offense therapist and expert’ … it was a quick road to all sorts of happy outcomes (except for the sex offenders, but that was a small price to pay, and they were heinous convicts and hideous freaks anyway). *

And so then also all the individual practitioners and small companies that suddenly sprang up to serve the ‘need’ and garner the dollars, employing those under-trained (though perhaps well-intentioned) ‘providers’. And at the upper reaches, the ‘experts’, some with a modicum of academic standing, who embraced such frakkery as ‘recovered memory’ and all the rest. Or put together ‘measurement tools’ that turned out to have a predictive ability far below reliability.

And of course, once convicted, then the only way to ‘pass’ this ‘therapy’ was to admit to everything you were convicted of or else be classified as ‘in denial’ and therefore guaranteed to be at high risk of ‘re-offending’.

And if you were appealing your case – well, then you were still ‘refusing to admit’ for ‘therapy’ purposes, which was fine with the government because it simply meant that you wouldn’t start toward that distant release-date until your appeal was finished and you were ready to ‘admit’ since you had run out of legal hope.


All in all, this Mania has created a dangerous and dark terrain indeed.

And like a volcano that hasn’t finished yet, continues to spew its poison into the atmosphere. In case anybody is thinking that it’s ‘far away’ from them and not their problem.

This Mania is everybody’s problem; its effects have now seeped into all areas of national life, like poisonous gas or toxic, fine-grained ash.

If all the frak were to be repealed tomorrow, it would still take years to straighten out the deformities that have been created in the systems of legislation, law enforcement, jurisprudence, clinical therapy and research, law-school education, as well as in the media and the public at large.

So, I would say, the sooner repeal is started – shutting down this government made volcano from continuing to generate fresh spew day in and day out – then the sooner the clean-up and repair can be begin.

There will be an awful lot to do.


*Not to bring politics and economics into it, but you wonder just how much things like this figured in as elements of the ‘expanded service and knowledge economy’ and as contributing to the GDP, even as the actual productive industrial capacity of the country was – with government collusion or acquiescence – deconstructed, disassembled, outsourced, and dissolved.


It occurs to me that folks don’t really grasp the danger of simply accepting ‘ideas’, especially if they are cutely packaged.

Let me offer an example.

William Marshall published a novel in 1989: “New York Detective”, about a New York city police detective in the 1880s and his sidekick, a big Irish cop – Muldoon, of the Strong-Arm Squad, temporarily assigned to keep an eye on the dimunitive (and somewhat idealistic) detective. As you may well imagine, Muldoon is an upstanding fellow, full of sparkling and winsome Irish wit and with a mighty capacity for drink – but as equally dedicated to Justice as his detective boss.

But there is a difference between them.

Muldoon demonstrates it as he discusses a “pinch” he had recently made: the arrestee was a known ‘bad actor’ with a long record; Muldoon happened to have an unsolved case on his hands for which his superiors wanted an arrest forthwith; so he consulted his voluminous mental database of New York’s lowest, found a suitably available ‘suspect’, framed him, arrested him, and testified to all manner of things under oath in order to secure a conviction. Everybody was happy: his bosses, the papers, the judge, and the folks who had originally been held up.

Hearing the story, the detective objects that the man actually sentenced was not guilty of the crime in question.

Which objection Muldoon brushes off cheeribly: the man’s done many bad things in his life, for which we may rest assured he has not been caught or punished; by sending him up the river I’ve removed him and made the City safer for decent folks; and someday somewhere some other decent copper will find himself in need of a ‘collar’ and grab the man actually responsible for the crime I had to find a perp for; and that decent copper will frame him for that crime, and so will have done his duty, and the world will be a safer place, and in the end it all balances out.

There’s an indubitable charm to the equation. And not a small amount of sense.

BUT, if you were too busy feeling warm and cuddly to notice, it is hell-and-gone from the Constitutional ethos.

Because to the Framers several things were paramount: 1) all people are ‘sinners’ (or in the Enlightenment version ‘capable of acting irrationally’); and 2) the government police power is the most historically predatory ‘actor’ of all; and so 3) the best way to secure Justice is to make sure that the police power cannot be deployed against any Citizen unless there is solid evidence.

The government police power is the element most potentially dangerous to any true and politically legitimate Justice. And while the police power is a necessary component of government, it is never to be seen as anything better than ‘a necessary evil’.

Contrast this with the Rightist-jingoist idea that the police-power is ‘good’ because it ensures ‘order’ or because it is ‘the power of God working through the American government’. Or with the Leftist-victimist idea that in the script where ‘innocent victims’ are put into pain by ‘evil perpetrators’ then the government-police power is always the white-hatted ‘Hero’ who will save the victim and smite the perp (to which the congregation will respond together: AMEN!).

So before there was the seeming ‘progress’ of a Hero-police power that always saved the pained and (always) ‘innocent’ victim from the evil perp (who, conveniently, is no longer remembered as a Citizen) … before that there was the winsome pre-Constitutional idea that as long as it’s in the right hands, well-intentioned if a little rough, then police power doesn’t need to obstruct itself with such formalities as solid evidence.

Surely you can see the lethal danger to any genuine and actual Constitutionality here. To any genuine and efficacious awareness of just what the Constitutional vision consists of. And what it requires.

The victimist approach simply creates an emotional stampede in which the Script of Victim-Perp-Hero Government overrides the Constitutional vision. The ‘right hands’ approach simply insists that the police power be in the ‘right’ hands and then it can do ‘whatever it takes’.

No wonder the Bush-Cheney years created such an awesome catastrophe, building upon a ‘bipartisan’ (of Left and Right) consensus that as long as it has – or says it has – the ‘right intentions’, then government power –the police domestically or the military in foreign affairs – can do whatever it damn well pleases.

Those familiar with matters sex-offensual can see the path of crumbs that has led everybody now deep and deeper into a dark dark forest indeed.

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