Janice’s Journal: Preparing for the Spotlight

This is not a movie review. It is, however, my reaction to a movie. A movie that could bring negative attention to all who have been convicted of a sex offense.

The movie is “Spotlight” which has just been released and has already been nominated as best picture by the Screen Actors Guild and may be nominated for an Academy Award.

The movie is about a small group of reporters at The Boston Globe newspaper. The movie is also about a multi-decade cover up by the Catholic Church. Finally, the movie is about dozens of priests known to have molested hundreds of children.

My concerns about this movie stem from the belief that those who watch the movie will miss its primary point, that is, newspaper reporters uncovered and reported on a cover-up conducted by the Catholic Church. My concern with the movie is that its viewers will focus upon the harm done to the children of Boston and demand harsher penalties for all registered citizens regardless of where they live, the offense they committed and/or the amount of time that has elapsed since that offense occurred.

Registered citizens today already face a plethora of penalties that no one should have to endure – broken families, unemployment, homelessness and vigilante violence.

There is growing recognition of these penalties by public officials in a few states. For example, a recent decision by the highest court in Massachusetts recognized a long list of penalties experienced by registered citizens such as increased registration requirements, harsher penalties for failure to register, ineligibility for federal housing and extensive dissemination of registrants’ private information. The court also noted that registered citizens face profound humiliation and community wide ostracism.

While progress is being made in some states, there are other states where the opposite is true. For example, a town in Texas has proposed a law that would require all registered citizens who live in that town to post a large sign in their yard stating “A registered sex offender lives here”.

And in our state, state senator Sharon Runner is criticizing the wise and humane decisions of the CA Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to exempt many registered citizens on parole form residency restrictions. She is vowing to move forward a bill she introduced earlier this year that would overturn a decision by the CA Supreme Court that recognized residency restrictions are inhumane and violate the state Constitution.

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Thank you Janice. Registered friends: in the face of hostility and fear, do not react with anger and fear of your own. Focus on the positive steps you have made and are continuing to make. Develop relationships one at a time. 12 Steps groups will generally welcome you and will provide some level of support. Some churches will do the same.

When my wife and I saw the movie, the first thing I said as we left was that it showed what we were up against. It is in fact a terrific movie, and the audience burst into spontaneous applause when it concluded. That reaction was from the gut, and I share Janice’s concern that it may make it more difficult to have rational policy discussions on sex offenders.

Of course the Boston Globe reporters performed a very important public service, and the Church has been justly condemned for the coverup of the awful acts committed by so many priests. But of course, that’s the real point of the movie: any organization that is shielded from outside scrutiny has a tendency to circle the wagons and protect its own whenever an outsider attacks, rather than to look at itself critically. That’s what the church did, and that’s what the prison guards in New York did at Riker’s Island and the Clinton correctional facility, scandals the New York Times has been uncovering. Guards beating mentally ill prisoners to death because they’re bothered by the prisoner’s odd behavior is also pretty bad, and covering it up to protect the guards from any disciplinary actions is essentially the same institutional illness that Spotlight revealed about the church.

And that’s the message of Spotlight, so far as I am concerned. I am glad the Church has finally been forced to address its handling of criminal acts by priests, and I also hope the prison system will similarly be forced to address criminal acts by its guards. Those who shine a spotlight on such things are in fact heroes.

The Boston Globe is a terrible, dishonest, newspaper, especially in its decades of reporting on pedophilia. For those of us who have been watching it carefully, over many years, we do not share any enthusiasm for its journalism or its integrity.

It’s also worth noting that there is a completely different side to the scandals of the Catholic Church, one that is never reported, and one in which many priests have been unjustly convicted. Paul Shanley is one such priest for whom there was zero evidence against him who was convicted on the strength of now thoroughly discredited recovered memories. His accusers were motivated entirely by dreams of winning the ‘Irish sweepstakes’, as it were, and have collected prodigious awards from the Catholic Church. There are many more priests, just like him, including Fr. Gordan MacCrae, who languish in prison still as very elderly, completely harmless, men.

I recommend being rather less credulous in our desire to distinguish ourselves from what we believe to be genuine “boogeymen”. We may find that we give away rather too much in these accommodations to the hysterical.

Sharon Runner Must be stopped. Why does she need to do this?

I think a movie about the Kern County buyoff scandal would have made a much better movie. I know there was a problem with the church that has long since been resolved; unfortunately people are so stupid that they the think trash out of Hollywood peddled as entertainment is actually reality. Hang on to your seats! This could get uglier than it already is!

We should all set aside some time and money so that we can join Janice in Sacramento to lobby against Ms Runner’s bill(s). If we show up in mass, she can’t win. And perhaps, she will get the message, although I doubt it.
Janice, I am ready to join you to fight her bills – in the Legislatures’ offices and in the Committee meetings. Who else will join her?

Just playing on their own rhetoric, the Runners should be apprehended by the authorities and transported by helicopter to San Nicholas Island to live out their days away from society due to the threat and risk they pose to the community and families of registered citizens.

Pretty much what they are advocating is to drive registered citizens and their families out into the desert to wander the land as Nomads.

You simply can’t reason with ignorance.

Just curious as a juxtaposition, a sex offender who once lived in a Catholic Boys boarding school in the 3rd and fourth grade?

Does the idea of Nazis and their Jews come to mind?

What was the conversation of the Nazis as they convinced their population regarding the Jews?

Good theater here if anyone wants!

Thank You Janice for keeping us informed of activities detrimental to those of us who are forever banished (Registered)!

Shit we can’t even wonder the lands as nomads since we have to report all the time where we are. I would love to be able to purchase a gun and move into the Alaskan bush and never see humanity again except to see my son and grandson every once in awhile. If if wasn’t for the bears and wolfs and the fact that I would be a fugitive I would be gone. As it is I am trapped at the mercy of the good ol US of A.

I think the Texas town with the yard sign is more honest at trying to get rid of its offenders all the other towns have just administratively evicted the registrants.