Saturday, June 8, 2013

Why Queers Should Care About Sex Offenders

Andrew Extein
Original Article

We are not sure what gay people think about the term "queer," but to us it seems to be a derogatory term and shouldn't be used. The person who wrote this, which has some good info, uses the term a lot, but also uses gay and homosexual as well.

06/08/2013

By Andrew Extein, MSW (Web Site)

"So, how are the pedophiles doing?"

As a group psychotherapist for convicted sex offenders on parole and probation who also operates a private practice for queer people, I am bombarded with comments and questions from friends and family:

  • Aren't you scared?
  • I could never do that.
  • What's it like to talk to all those child molesters?

At first I was surprised to hear some of my most educated, liberal friends ask questions that were, to me, biased and misinformed. I had assumed that, as queers and allies, my friends would have a greater sensitivity to the persecution sex offenders face in American society. I have since come to realize that queer folk are not more prone to find empathy for this population.

I often find myself feeling defensive, and almost guilty, in the line of such questioning. "So... why are you interested in them?" they ask, a look of distaste on their faces.

Here's the thing: I don't consider "them" my bizarre, special interest. All queer people are invested in the plight of sex offenders, whether they like it or not.

Deviance and the Dangers of Othering

Although I studied many subjects in college, my interest especially aligned with the radical thinking of my queer theories coursework. Queer theory obliterates the idea of good and bad sex and what should and should not be deemed deviant. As such, my courses covered gay history, the timeline of the gay rights movements, queer theory, and the burgeoning transgender studies, as well as genderqueers, kink, sexual fluidity, and asexuality.

But there was a strange silence in these class discussions as well. As my education continued, I began thinking about other people who transgressed cultural norms of sexuality, other people whose sexual desires had been labeled deviant -- people who even queer theory courses weren't talking about. There might be no group more maligned, marginalized, and disconcerting as modern-day America's "sex offenders."

In treatment, lawmaking, and cultural discourse, sex offenders are referred to as participating in deviant sexual behavior, having deviant sexual fantasies, and being inherently "deviant" themselves. From one angle, this is true; all sex offenders have deviated from the boundaries of one or more laws regarding sex or the body.

But sociologist Joel Best describes the problematic nature of how the term "deviance" is used in our culture. In his book Deviance, he emphasizes that "a deviant label was simply a sign that some groups with power had singled out some acts or conditions for disapproval." The term means that, according to the rules of a powerful few, something is inherently wrong with you if you are not like everybody else. In other words, deviance becomes a viral social construct that serves as a moral imperative to dictate and intimidate people into behaving.

Queer theory has well documented how those in power have employed the terminology of deviance to oppress queers. In recent history, society has labeled gays, lesbians, and transgender folk as abnormal, problematic, and threatening. Gay men, for instance, threatened to lure, groom, and convert children into the homosexual lifestyle; they were not to be trusted or validated. At one point, they were considered mentally ill and criminal. Sex between consenting adult males was illegal and morally reprehensible and served to mandate a gay man to a mental hospital or jail cell. Gay men and trans people socially congregating in bars, such as at Stonewall, was a valid reason for police to raid, frisk, and arrest mass numbers of them.

This is an important part of history that needs to be retold, to serve as a reminder of what happens when authorities dictate the lives and behaviors of "deviant" populations. In fact, this history is still among us; trans, gay, and queer people are currently arrested and incarcerated at a rate disproportionate to the general population. In this infographic (PDF), the Sylvia Rivera Law Project outlines how trans and gender-nonconforming people are at a high risk of incarceration, police harassment, and violence. Despite the existence of these contemporary systems of inequality, I worry that in the era of gay marriage, pinkwashing, and assimilatory LGBT politics, we queers may be forgetting the dangers of othering.

Because there's no use mincing words here: The same methods historically used by the government to imprison and pathologize homosexuality and gender variation are being used today to justify the extreme marginalization, lifetime institutionalization, and oppression of people who have violated sex laws. Sex offenders are the new queers.


MI - Amber Lynn McCain charged with falsely reporting kidnapping and sexual assault will head to trial

Amber Lynn McCain
Original Article

06/08/2013

By JOHN COUNTS

A 21-year-old Dundee woman accused of lying to police about being kidnapped and sexually assaulted last November had her case bound over to circuit court by Judge Joseph Burke during a preliminary exam in the 14A-1 District Court Tuesday.

Amber Lynn McCain is charged with one count of false report of a felony for telling Pittsfield Township police a man drove her against her will to a secluded spot by Ann Arbor Municipal Airport and sexually assaulted her.

Police determined the allegations to not be true and McCain was arraigned on the charge of filing the false complaint May 28.

Burke made the decision to bind over the case after hearing testimony from Pittsfield Township police Detective Jason Hohner, who was assigned the case.

Hohner testified McCain told police a man named “Caleb,” who she knew from cosmetology school in Monroe, came to pick her up the night of Nov. 4, 2012 at her home in Dundee. He had flowers and tried to kiss her, Hohner testified she told police.

She said she wasn’t that kind of girl,” Hohner said.

McCain told police she was acquainted with “Caleb,” but not enough to know his last name.

The two decided to go to see a movie together at Rave Motion Pictures, located at 1400 Carpenter Road in Pittsfield Township, according to the testimony. After the movie ended, McCain told detectives “Caleb” drove her to a dirt driveway near the airport at Ellsworth Road and South State Street and sexually assaulted her, according to Hohner’s testimony.

When she tried to get away, “Caleb” held her by the wrists

McCain told police she punched him and made a desperate escape to a nearby Speedway gas station.

After taking the report, Hohner began his investigation.

I scoured every database I knew of looking for anything that would find out the identity of 'Caleb,'" Hohner said. “I couldn’t find anything that indicated who this person was.”

At a follow-up interview in December, Hohner informed McCain the charges related to the alleged incident were very serious: unlawful imprisonment and first-degree criminal sexual conduct — life offenses.

Still, Hohner said McCain stuck by her story — at first.

Police had obtained video from the Speedway gas station that night. The surveillance tape revealed a very different story than the one McCain was telling, Hohner testified: she did not walk to the gas station, but was dropped off from a different direction than the airport, and she appeared to cheerily chat with the clerk.

She appeared happy,” Hohner said. “She was smiling. I would call it grinning ear to ear.”

When police showed McCain the pictures they had of her smiling at the gas station, her story began to change, Hohner testified. McCain said the assault took place, but she called her friend, “Raffi,” who picked her up and dropped her off at the gas station where she could call police. “Raffi” didn’t stick around because he was afraid of getting deported, according to testimony.

But the story would change yet again. “Caleb” existed, McCain confessed, but had nothing to do with the incident as reported, according to testimony.

In the end, she said the suspect really was ‘Raffi’,” Hohner said.

Raffi,” who police also were unable to identify or contact, and McCain watched the movie “Wanted” at his Ann Arbor townhouse before he drove her to the Speedway, according to testimony. It was while they were watching the movie in his bedroom the sexual assault took place, McCain told police.

She said she didn’t want him to get deported,” Hohner said was the reason she substituted “Caleb” with “Raffi.”

Hohner said McCain could not provide a last name for “Raffi.”

McCain’s public defender Timothy Niemann told the judge McCain’s cousin was the one to urge her to report the sexual assault. In fact, it was her cousin’s wife who actually called police to report the assault by “Raffi.”

Niemann argued it still was a sexual assault regardless of whether it was done by a different suspect under different circumstances. The case, he said, had been handed over to the Ann Arbor Police Department.

Ann Arbor police Detective William Stanford told AnnArbor.com a report had been generated, but the case was not being actively investigated.

A pretrial date was set for July 17 in the Washtenaw County Trial Court. McCain remains free on a personal recognizance bond. The charge of a false report of a felony is a crime punishable by up to four years in prison, a $2,000 fine or both.