No other country of the world puts as many of its citizens behind bars as the United States of America, especially minors. There are diverse reasons for this but other than America’s failed “war on drugs” there is one that stands out: The privatisation of prisons. Privatising any part of public service is usually a terrible idea but trying to make a business out of something like prisons is such an obviously fucked up plan that even America’s closest allies are disgusted by it.
And since bad ideas almost always have bad consequences the USA end up with cases like a bill in Michigan that guarantees private prisons a occupancy rate of 90% because less prisoners would be a drag on profits. Or the judges in Pennsylvania who were earning millions of dollars for jailing kids for minor offenses. And things like this are going on to this day, often with the help of American schools where cops are already part of the daily routine. For example in Mississippi were a county is running a school-to-prison pipeline:
An investigation launched last December revealed that “the agencies have helped to operate a school-to-prison pipeline whereby children arrested in local schools become entangled in a cycle of incarceration without substantive and procedural protections required by the U.S. Constitution. The department’s findings show that children in Lauderdale County have been routinely and repeatedly incarcerated for allegedly committing school disciplinary infractions and are punished disproportionately, without constitutionally required procedural safeguards. Children have also been arrested at school for offenses as minor as defiance.
And to make this clear, “defiance” can be anything, even laughable offenses like dress code violations. And hardly surprising, it’s mostly queer kids and those who happen to be anything but white who end up in this horrible system. And once they’re in, it’s almost impossible to get out:
In 2009 the Southern Poverty Law Center brought a class-action lawsuit against the Lauderdale County Juvenile Detention Facility, accusing it of keeping youths “crammed into small, filthy cells and tormented with the arbitrary use of Mace as a punishment for even the most minor infractions — such as ‘talking too much’ or failing to sit in the ‘back of their cells.’”
Photos by Steve Liss for No Place for Kids
Gay, transgender, and gender nonconforming youth are significantly over-represented in the American juvenile justice system—approximately 300,000 gay and transgender youth are arrested and/or detained each year, of which more than 60 percent are black or Latino. Though gay and transgender youth represent just 5 percent to 7 percent of the nation’s overall youth population, they compose 13 percent to 15 percent of those currently in the juvenile justice system.
These high rates of involvement in the juvenile justice system are a result of gay and transgender youth abandonment by their families and communities, and victimization in their schools—sad realities that place this group of young people at a heightened risk of entering the school-to-prison pipeline.
Despite the disproportionately high rates of gay and transgender youth entering the juvenile justice system, America’s schools, law enforcement officers, district attorneys, judges, and juvenile defenders are not equipped to manage the unique experiences and challenges that these young people face. As a consequence, the system often does more harm by unfairly criminalizing these youth—imposing harsh school sanctions, labelling them as sex offenders, or detaining them for minor offenses—in addition to subjecting them to discriminatory and harmful treatment that deprives them of their basic civil rights.
In a landmark case the Swedish Supreme Court decided that Shota and Lolicon are legal. A Swedish manga-translator has been cleared of child pornography charges in a case that has sparked debate about whether cartoon characters can be considered people. Simon Lundstroem had appealed to the Supreme Court against his conviction for possessing 39 sexual images depicting young-looking characters drawn in manga style.
While child pornography is illegal in Sweden as it is everywhere, it wasn’t clear whether the definition extended to drawn characters. The court ruled that all images of fantasy figures can not be considered as images of real children. While potentially offensive to some, the images posed a substantially lower risk of provoking abuse against children than realistic ones, the judges found. They said it was important to recognise that manga cartoons are deeply rooted in Japanese culture.
Freedom of speech campaigners will take heart from the judges’ contention that criminalising the possession of such images would be an infringement of the freedom of speech and of information. The chair of the Swedish Writers’ Union, Mats Soederlund, had been concerned that Swedish law was at risk of "forbidding fantasies". "To punish the possession of such drawings is a threat to the freedom of speech and art," he said.
The verdict was also applauded by the child pornography unit of the Swedish police who warned that investigating such cases was a dangerous waste of resources. They argued that there would have been a risk that the focus will shift from combating pictures and films of real child abuse to a discussion of whether we will judge drawings of fantasy figures as child pornography or art. "Let us not forget that it is children we must protect and not put imaginary figures on an equal footing with them." they said. [via BBC News and The Local]
Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan is the first volume in one of the most exciting new young adult series to come along lately. Leviathan is set in an alternate steampunk past, in which the powers of the world are divided into "Clankers" who favour huge, steam-powered walking war-machines; and "Darwinists," whose hybrid "beasties" can stand in for airships, steam-trains, war-ships, and subs (they even have a giant squid/octopus hybrid called the kraken that can seize whole warships and drag them to their watery graves).
Set on the eve of WWI, the story’s two main characters are Aleks, the incognito orphan of the freshly assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand (fleeing his murderous uncle Emperor Franz Josef from Austria to the safe haven of Switzerland in a liberated battle-walker); and Deryn, a Scots girl who has dressed in boys’ clothes to muster into Britain’s Darwinist air-corps and finds herself a midshipsman on the Leviathan, a floating ecosystem a quarter-mile long, made up of whales, bats, bees, six-legged hydrogen-sniffing dogs, and all manner of beasties that make her the meanest thing in the sky.
Filled with gripping air and land-battles, political intrigue and danger, science and madness, Leviathan is part Island of Dr Moreau, part Patrick O’Brien. And to top it all off, the volume is lavishly illustrated with fabulous ink-drawings of the best scenes from the book, executed in high Victorian style by Keith Thompson. Thompson also produced contrafactual propaganda maps of alternate Europe for end-papers.
Westerfeld writes gripping, relentless coming-of-age novels that are equally enjoyable by boys and girls, adults and kids, and Leviathan is no exception. Leviathan is also available as an unabridged 8-hour audiobook on DRM-free CDs for a very reasonable price. The reading is by Alan Cummings, who absolutely nails it, and the production — bed music, editing — is just superb, bringing the whole swashbuckling tale to life. [via BoinBoing]
We seem to be entering a period of exposure for extremist Christians with the latest being one Pastor Curtis Knapp of New Hope Baptist Church in Seneca, Kansas, saying that gays should be killed:
They should be put to death. That’s what happened in Israel. That’s why homosexuality wouldn’t have grown in Israel. It tends to limit conversions. It tends to limit people coming out of the closet. — ‘Oh, so you’re saying we should go out and start killing them, no?’ — I’m saying the government should. They won’t but they should. [You say], ‘oh, I can’t believe you, you’re horrible. You’re a backwards Neanderthal of a person.’ Is that what you’re calling scripture? Is God a Neanderthal backwards… in his morality? Is it his word or not? If it’s his word, he commanded it. It’s his idea, not mine. And I’m not ashamed of it.”
Of course Knapp was later interviewed by CNN and of course he claimed that he was misunderstood. But, of course, his own words tripped him up as he said:
We punish pedophilia. We punish incest. We punish polygamy and various things. It’s only homosexuality that is lifted out as an exemption.
Such ideas are not fringe to those Christians who call themselves reconstructionists, meaning that they want the equivalent of Sharia law, a return to Old Testament law, and dominionists, who want to install a theocracy by stealth (again mirroring the much quoted idea by anti-Islamists from Islam that you can lie and deceive to achieve God’s purpose).
Someone like Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association has argued openly for America law to be “bible based” and has called for homosexuality to be recriminalized, though has been careful to avoid calling for execution. In a number of instances, the links between those explicitly calling for the death penalty for gays and very mainstream religious right figures have surfaced.
Last December, Ron Paul (who keeps trying to become the Republican nominee for the presidential election) was discovered to be touting the endorsement of “Eminent Pastor Rev. Phil Kayser, Ph.D.” Kayser is the pastor of Dominion Covenant Church in Omaha, Nebraska, and supports the death penalty for gays, delinquent children and adultery. Paul’s campaign later removed the endorsement from his website.
George Grant, a well-known reconstructionist, was the co-author for Mike Huckabee’s (who was another wanna-be presidential candidate) 1998 book, “Kids Who Kill: Confronting Our Culture of Violence.” In the book, Huckabee and Grant lumped homosexuality with pedophilia, sadomasochism and necrophilia as “institutionally supported aberrations.” Grant has called for the execution of gays.
Right-wing TV superstar Glenn Beck’s “Black Robe Regiment” was an effort to get pastors and religious leaders to take a stand on political and cultural issues. It included another Pastor ‘out’ for killing of gays, Steven Anderson from Tempe, Arizona.
Then we have the ties between Michele Bachmann (who was also running to become America’s president) and a ‘hard rock ministry’ in Minnesota which broadcasts from the very mainstream conservative Heritage Foundation. It says that countries that execute gays are “more moral” than America. Bachmann has ignored calls to disassociate from that ministry.
The now viral video of a four-year-old boy at the Apostolic Truth Tabernacle in Greensburg, Indiana, singing “Ain’t no homo’s gonna make it to heaven,” where the congregation leap to its feet in shouts and applause, may have shocked some, but the point is this is not isolated.
Greensburg is where 14-year-old Billy Lucas killed himself because he was perceived as being gay and that community banded together for a massive cover-up. That led Box Turtle Bulletin to call Greensburg America’s Ugliest Town, but it is far from the only place where murderous hatred is the norm.
[Article via Care2]
Some people just want to see the world burn. Even if it’s just to rebuild it on the ashes of its blatant injustice. One of these people who always seem to be out to make trouble, who just can’t stay away from controversy is indie publisher Karl Andersson. Not too long ago he pointed out the hypocrisy & utter hysteria within the modern queer culture when it comes to teenage boys with his infamous Destroyer Journal (and using Comic Sans in its blog’s header wasn’t the only controversy about it
But now that Destroyer is (queer) history, Karl couldn’t keep his feet still. In-between several trips to Japan he found the time to not only bring something to Europe’s bookshops that was hardly ever seen there before, he’s also making a point in a political & cultural debate that is dividing (not only) Europe’s gay culture, art scene and literary circles. It’s the debate about not only a legal issue but a matter that will be a crucial part in forming our future; a matter of free speech & common sense.
He is publishing what is, as far as I can tell, the first commercially distributed shota manga in Europe: Entartete Shota 01 by Japanese manga artist Tsukumo Gou, translated to English by Karl and, unlike in Japan, uncensored. As he explains on his blog “Shotacon (shota) comics are drawings of young boys having sex. The genre is popular among male as well as female readers in Japan, and the artists too are of both sexes. The girl equivalent is called lolicon (loli).”
Even though no real boys are involved at any point in the the production of shota manga, they are illegal in many countries. The Supreme Court of Sweden, Karl’s homeland, is about to decide if these laws, which you could just as well use to ban thousands of years old depictions of boy sex in classical art, are constitutional. A decision that could become a precedent for the world.
If you want to become a part of this little piece of queer history you can order one of the 500 available issues at I <3 Mags or win one right here. Just leave a comment under this post and let us know if you think shota should be legal or not and explain why you think so. We’ll pick a random winner tomorrow!
The Earth has been attacked twice by aliens called Formics, or more popularly, Buggers, and everyone is sure a third invasion is coming. So the military embarks on a crash program to breed the ultimate military genius to lead the fleet in a pre-emptive attack against the Formic home world. These kids are trained from age 6 in an off-world facility called Battle School, and their training consists mostly of games.
Ender Wiggins may be the child they are looking for. Brilliant, compassionate, and tormented, he is better at the games than anyone has ever been. But how can they manipulate a compassionate child into wiping out an entire species, and at the same time give him the skills to do it effectively? The adults who run the school are literally out to save the world: they will stop at nothing to achieve their ends, and one small boy, or even a school full of kids, are nothing but means to that end.
For many Ender’s Game is one of the great ones, a novel of extraordinary power that is among the very best the science fiction genre has ever produced. But the are critical voices being annoyed by the “chosen child” theme resembling the birth of Jesus itself. A redditor put it this way:
“It’s pure escapist fantasy for picked-upon kids in middle school who are relatively small and weak and think they’re smarter than everyone else. When read as a kid it’s a fantastic triumph of the clever over the brutal and a story of how the entire world learns to appreciate the true worth of a seemingly ordinary little boy.
Then you reread it as an adult and see how myopic it really is. It’s not that well written, the characters are shallow, the science fiction aspects are weak and the ending is obvious a hundred pages out. […] I’m not even going to touch on the fascistic social engineering he suggests is going on in the background. Overall the book comes off as much lamer than you remember.“
Orson Scott Card, the author of Ender’s Game, is what keeps some people from buying the book. He’s a right-wing Mormon who wrote opinion pieces against same-sex marriage and demanded laws banning homosexual behaviour to stay in effect (while his young, mostly male, characters spend a good part of the book completely naked. Makes one wonder…). He also suggested that there is a conspiracy to supress publications of scientists who don’t believe in global warming.
A film is in production with 15-year-old Asa Butterfield (pictured bleow) playing Ender. But as Declan pointed out in the milkboys forums: “The release date for Ender’s Game has been pushed back to Nov. 2013. Principal photography is still ongoing and going by his tweets, [Asa] seems to be having a blast with his castmates. Also, he’s apparently got himself a girlfriend recently, a news met with much wailing and gnashing-of-teeth by 12 year-old girls on tumblr –ell oh ell.
At some point in the future you will have to ask yourself how you’re going to deal with Ender’s Game. To watch it in theaters is to directly/indirectly support Asa –which, unfortunately, also means directly/indirectly supporting Orson Scott Card the homophobe.“
On any given night in the U.S., there are approximately 60,500 youth confined in juvenile correctional facilities or other residential programs. Photographer Richard Ross has spent the past five years criss-crossing the country photographing the architecture, cells, classrooms and inhabitants of these detention sites. The resulting photo-survey, Juvenile-In-Justice, documents 350 facilities in over 30 states. It’s more than a peek into unseen worlds — it is a call to action and care.
“I grew up in a world where you solve problems, you don’t destroy a population,” says Ross. “To me it is an affront when I see the way some of these kids are dealt with.”
The U.S. locks up children at more than six times the rate of all other developed nations. The over 60,000 average daily juvenile lockups, a figure estimated by the Annie E. Casey Foundation (AECF), are also disproportionately young people of colour. With an average cost of $80,000 per year to lock up a child, the U.S. spends more than $5 billion annually on youth detention.
On top of the cost, in its recent report No Place for Kids, the AECF presents evidence to show that youth incarceration does not reduce recidivism rates, does not benefit public safety and exposes those imprisoned to further abuse and violence.
Ross thinks his images of juvenile lock-ups can, and should, be “ammunition” for the on-going policy and funding debates between reformers, staff, management and law-makers. “My images were used by a senate subcommittee as part of a discussion on Federal legislation to prevent pre-adjudicated, detained [pre-trial] juveniles from being housed with kids who’d committed hard crimes. You shouldn’t house these populations together,” says Ross. “That’s a great thing for me to know that my work is being used for advocacy rather than for the masturbatory art world I grew up in.” Read on and see more of the photos…
An American toy store, which isn’t usually known for its progressive agenda, is selling, among thousands of other things, a comic that dared to show a married gay couple.Some conservatives are outraged about kids being confronted with something nasty as love between two persons of the same gender. They say kids can’t handle that stuff. Oh really? On a side note: It’s ironic how they think children can’t comprehend the concept of sexual equality because they can’t understand sexuality, yet they charge the same kids as sex offenders when they’re as young as 6.
Anyway, Puppystuff has a nice analogy about this issue: “I keep seeing this argument from homophobic representatives that children should be sheltered from portrayals of gay romance because it’s ‘too complicated’ of a topic for them to understand. Every time I see it I’m reminded of a story.
When I was seventeen, I had a driving instructor who just went by “The Reverend” (I think this is because he used to be a reverend). He was a decent driving instructor; his advanced age hadn’t taken the same rasp to his perception and reaction time that it had taken to his voice and features. He told good stories about his time as a driving instructor, and his instruction was firm without being harsh. I never really had any awkward conversations with The Reverend.
Until we had a conversation about the Metric System.
The Reverend didn’t like the metric system. It was ‘too complicated’, with all its millimeters and centiliters, and it was all too much for him and he wanted to stick with what he knew, ‘cause it was simpler. This threw my high-school brain for a loop; were we talking about the same metric system? The kind with organized, powers-of-ten conversion, with clearly delineated systems for each method of measurement? It was completely beyond my ken that anyone could look at the hodge-podge mess of the Imperial Unit system, with its arbitrary methods of conversion, its frequently redundant and misleading labelling, and say “this is way simpler than that European goofiness.”
But the Reverend liked it. When pressed on why he thought the metric system was complicated, he muttered a few numbers, and one jumped out at me — two point two. The number of pounds in a kilogram.
The Reverend thought the metric system was complicated because he had to convert to it from Imperial. He couldn’t comprehend a remarkably simple system because he was approaching it from a complicated one that he knew by heart.
Homosexuality is not complicated. It does not confuse children at all. Over and over again we see instances of children asking questions about gay couples and, when the explanation is given to them, understanding perfectly. Children aren’t capable of the kinds of lust and love as adults are, so seeing two grown men or women in love is no more alien to them than seeing one of each in a relationship.
But to the homophobic parents of children, they find themselves halted and flummoxed by a concept for which their current system of measurement has no unit. The conversion to a simple idea about love is too complicated, coming from an archaic and narrow set of beliefs. They can’t imagine trying to explain homosexual love to their children even if they wanted to — they imagine it must be hard for the children because it’s hard for them.
Come on, you silly grown-ups. Homophobia is complicated. Homosexuality is not.”
Jazmine Khan, a transgender 15-year-old with wisps of blue hair and nails to match, is crying in her doctor’s office. “I just wish I was me already,” she says to the camera held out in front of her, and wipes away tears with her free hand. “I just wish that I could be a real girl.”
Moments ago, her doctor told her that she won’t be allowed to start taking estrogen to aid her full transition — not for a long while. That means it’s time for yet another shot of Lupron, a drug that suppresses testosterone production. The Canadian teen has videotaped each of her six shots thus far — along with updates on the changes brought about by the drug — and posted them on YouTube for the world to see.
This particular video marks a low point after a particularly difficult visit: First, her mom referred to her as a “he,” then a nurse did the same. When she finally got to see her doctor, her hopes of moving on to estrogen treatment were dashed. “It’s too slow,” she tells the camera, angry with her doctor’s caution. “They gotta make sure I’m trans? Of course I’m trans. Who in their right mind would go through this [otherwise]?”