The ACLU is Not Our Friend

Since the beginning of President Trump’s tenure, there has been rhetoric about immigration, and violent sex offenders turned loose from prisons. Leading the way is, supposedly, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). But the ACLU has habitually missed significant steps forward in fighting for the rights of those impacted by the sex offender registry. Instead, the ACLU failed to identify the inaccuracies, injustices, and misinformation about sex offender registries. Instead the ACLU focused upon people that are not American citizens and have direct diplomatic relations with their respective nations to highlight an obvious problem. Registrants have no constituencies what so ever. While I think it is essential to protect all people, the American based (ACLU) focused on non-Americans to grow its membership internationally, alienating sex offenders, families, allies, and most of all the common American citizen.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is a nonprofit organization whose stated mission is “to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States.

The ACLU has had since the 2006 federal passage to a nationally based sex offender registry has failed to become involved in the sex offender registry issues. Anyone that performs a web search where the ACLU has become a defender of registry issues may be in for quite a surprise. The ACLU has made no real effort to fight for the rights of registrants and their families. However, when a case such as Packingham v. North Carolina or the recent Michigan Doe vSnyder, the national ACLU will take credit for something it didn’t really have an initial substantial interest or follow-up after the fact. The ACLU habitually misses civil justice by quickly touting a win in the courtroom but failing to apply that win to the public for immediate use. It is deeply saddening and an injustice to all of those impacted by the sex offender registry that the ACLU has done nothing to enforce the rulings after the fact or to become involved in complex registry issues. The lack of representation by a nationally known organization somewhat renames the ACLU to the “Abandoned Civil Liberties Union.”

Sure, there can be a supporting argument that Michigan ACLU did a marvelous job in protections of those impacted and punished by sex offender registries. However, it is safe to say that the national ACLU didn’t lend the Michigan chapter much support. Instead, I foresee the ACLU with an agenda to further other registries without taking into consideration that “all registries do harm” approach. Therefore, I am a skeptic of the ACLU because the organization fails to embrace the sex offense conversation and the collateral consequences associated with registries.

Over the past year, I and many others have reached out to form partnerships, memberships, and request guidance or assistance for blatant human rights violations of registered sex offenders particularly in North Carolina or the national level. Such developments surround the Alabama Castration law, registrants in North Carolina unable to attend religious services, and the Georgia Halloween issue that quickly spread into North Carolina that still goes unanswered and unchallenged. Each and every time, I received a reply that “the ACLU is unable to provide assistance at this time.” My question to the ACLU is, “when is an approrpiate time?” Thos on the sex offender registry have endured ex post facto policies and inhumane liberties for decades. Yet the ACLU rushes to the #MeToo movement alienating simple Americans because they are not as cash rich as the Hollywood machine to capitalize a money gravy train. When the ACLU fails to address the complexities of sex offender registry issues presents a harsh reality to the sex offender community that the ACLU has given its stance about sex offender registry rights by completly ignoring them and will continue to ignore them.

But one thing is for sure, the ACLU and its chapters are quick to send out a mass mailing or email to beg for our money. It presents an appearance that the ACLU has migrated from grassroots to become a cash-for-rights agency, or it appears to be the reality for most registrants.

People listed on the sex registry, not on probation or monitored, are banned from religious services, banned from public spaces, banned from picking up or dropping off their children from school or daycare, banned from attending church, banned from visiting a state fair, banned from Facebook or other social medial platforms, cannot vacation or commercial properties in Florida or other states without registering within so many hours or the threat of jail. Yet, the ACLU remains invisible to sex offender registrants. The harsh reality is that at least those detained in an immigration holding center have more freedoms and representations than a person affected by the sex offender registry because they may do all those things mentioned once released. Immigrants are not living under a bridge, homeless, jobless, have a sex offender stamp printed on their driver’s license or passport, can receive health care, and assistance for legal advice. Registrants do not have these basic needs and equal access to these rights as Americans.

Civil rights begin right here on our doorsteps. Our nation relies upon effective leadership and organizations to advocate our concerns. But the ACLU with its ennoormous tax-free breaks and agenda on the backs of hard working Americans has gone to the wayside in the name of big donors and publicity of the easy tasks. The ACLU has become an agency center-stage to politicize its agenda by involving itself in the center of the #MeToo movement. Doing so presents a one-sided advocacy that rather than a focus on liberty and justice for all which implies both sides. Clearly the ACLU doesnt seem to care about liberty and justice unless it is profitable for them and allows easy access in giving the ACLU sole recognition value for hard work done by grass-roots advocates. The nearly 1 million registrants and their families have been significantly let down by the ACLU.

The purpose of “Me Too”, as initially voiced by Tarana Burke as well as those who later adopted the tactic, is to empower women through empathy and strength in numbers, especially young and vulnerable women, by visibly demonstrating how many women have survived sexual assault and harassment, especially in the workplace.

The ACLU has had nearly a decade to identify through various high profile federal cases grass-roots organizations to help benefit their primary cause and mission statement. Organizations such as NARSOL, ACSOL, WAR, and other state-affiliated organizations seek a relationship with the ACLU. But perhaps the ACLU is too ashamed to deal with real problems or association? With almost a million registrants, there doesn’t seem to be a blip on the radar screen that the ACLU is an ally the registry community can rely upon or trust. Civil liberties don’t take sides. It is to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country. This is where the ACLU has failed us and will continue to do so until the registry community hold them accountable for for abandoning registrants. Registrants are not seeking to overturn convictions. Registrants are simply asking for liberty to be preserved after incarseration or sentencing once completed.

We must immediately stop any contributions to the ACLU financially and socially until it returns towards its grassroots of defending liberty and civility for all citizens. Registrants can no longer depend on the ACLU name to support unjust causes – unless, of course, you have a significant cash reserve to present to them. The ACLU must stop acting like a social club with a velvet rope among the very supporters of liberty. Perhaps it is time to close the good ole boys club and support real causes that affect real people?

Eventually, the ACLU will become ensnared into the registry somehow. I certainly do not wish that upon anyone. However, for the lack of ACLU representation amongst us it will perhaps take years of trust building to return towards a civil and educative conversation. The ACLU has abandoned those impacted by the sex offender registry and should be ashamed to call itself an national organization that “defends and preserves the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country. ” A friend would not abandon another brother.

Forgiving My Sexual Assailant

Watching the recent Royal Wedding was a fantastic event with an important message about the power of love. The sermon delivered by Micheal Curry was a sudden change from centuries of royal tradition and protocol. Curry said, “When love is the way, we will lay down our swords and shields down by the riverside to study war no more.” It was a stark reminder that sometimes our world seems consumed with finding fault that we forget about forgiveness and pursuit of discovering happiness.

Now that the sermon of love and treating each other as family, friends, and neighbors are quickly forgotten and instantaneously abandoned the media. Those hell-bent on spreading hatred and negativity are right back on the front pages of our lives. Despite if you embrace spirituality or not for the sake of finding a decisive moment, there will be plenty of pessimistic viewpoints with an agenda of destruction before actually introducing forms practicality, reason, and forgiveness.

Recently I read It’s OK to Tell: A Story of Hope and Recovery by Lauren Book. While I am sensitive to what Lauren talks about in her book I felt she was more focused on her political and social ambitions than taking care of her situation. It seemed like a story of hate rather how to cope or find tranquility. After all, self-help books should mention how to overcome trauma. Yes, it is okay to tell someone about abuse, especially over a period of time. However, it is vitally important to take care of self in the meantime. I guess Lauren is in the business to advocate for herself with an agenda so she can speak for other sex assault survivors? She certainly doesn’t speak for me because I refuse to re-sell my body or experiences as a cash revenue flow.

When I was sexually assaulted at eleven years old, I was threatened never to tell anyone, or I would have violence committed against me. That is what I was told. The sexual assaults kept occurring for several summers and other kids my age knew because they briefly saw what happened. Did they share my story to help me or come later in life during the #metoo movement? No. They kept that secret deep inside for their own personal fear or sense of virtue by not getting involved. I kept the secret of my assault for over forty years. When I finally told someone, I was relieved filed with all sorts of wild emotions. But over time I learned to let go and move on because I indeed wasn’t alone.

Instead, my message to others was to learn to become your own advocate and voice. Merely telling someone is the first step. The second step is taking care of self because that step will become the longest journey to identify how you wish to proceed. Instead of making it a lifelong mission to profit off of my personal injustice, I decided to go on with my life and focus on who and what I want to be. I don’t wish to live in the past or dwell upon an event that isn’t pleasant to me or anyone else. Mainly, I became a forgiving person without having to find a special relationship with my God or higher power. Instead, I found the ability to move forward and continually seek guidance from professionals. A lesson learned moment is to invest in self instead of exploring how to take from others.

A valuable lesson for me about sexual assault was that I didn’t know how to say no or how to disappear from situations. During my childhood, as many others experience in schools today, is a matter of survival to keep from being physically harmed. Somewhat like a school shooting where people play dead to avoid being shot by an active shooter. I mentally played “dead” during my assaults to survive. However decades later I learned to get past the anger, self-pity, sadness, mood swings and isolation to become forgiving, engaged, upbeat, self-assured, but most of all compassionate. I basically learned to love again and definitely know how to assert ‘no’ for my own advocacy. It doesn’t happen overnight, but it does get better and repeating the story becomes easier.

Maybe Rev. Curry is right. Perhaps we should take a look at ourselves and the value of love. I certainly have to love myself to love others. I think it is ultimately essential to lay down my weapons of hurtful words, personal agendas and disgust for past actions thinking it will buy me a renewed life? In the religious context, Jesus certainly didn’t sue or condemn those that propelled objects during his Via Delorosa on his way towards the crucifixion. I cannot do the same to those that witnessed the crimes against me and the person responsible that sexually assaulted me. Instead, I choose to let go, forgive and move forward sharing my story so that others may learn freely learn from it. Doing so makes life so much more optimistic and worth living.

The Decade​ of the Sexual Diet

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Growing up I often would hear euphemisms “Batting for the other side instead of homosexual” or “Sleep together instead of having sex.” Within that context, I would often hear the words, “badass,” “Um-hum,” or “go for what you know.” American culture lives deeply rooted within a complex system of worded slang.  Pop culture reinforces such slang with mature body language or subtle nods to perhaps relieve a labyrinthine of situations replaced with instantaneous vocal and verbal cues. The approach is somewhat universal and inferred. However, under the increasing scope of the #metoo movement, slang, and body cues are being dissected and interpreted as nonconsensual.

Throughout Hollywood film culture there have been iconic films such as “Fast Times At Ridgemont High,” “Sixteen Candles,” “The Breakfast Club,” “Porky’s,” “Risky Business” and many others. Within each of those films, there were instances of consensual and nonconsensual situations with many body cues and generational slang. However, the audience understood and interpreted what went too far – or did they?  If those movies were released today, there would be a sudden outcry about victimization and statutory offenses. Naturally, there are generational interpretations combined with visible cues to assert yes versus no. However, to understand that one would have to be connected to that particular generation to fully understand.  Based on the #metoo movement and its thin-skinned assessment it may be safe to conclude that Fifty Shades of Gray would be renamed to Black and White?

There was a time during the early days of television and film where two people being in the same bed was strictly forbidden or taboo. Yet that particular generation understood what two people in the same bed meant.  To American culture, there appear to be two divisions where religious or upstanding citizens demand immoral behaviors to be censored or disguised in hidden suggestive content. The other side wants a more realistic portrait of everyday living society ridding of the racy content. Somewhere along the way the two intertwined and began demanding its own social media script revision campaigns thus the interpretation value has become convoluted. The same euphemisms, slang, metaphors are mentioned without leaving a viewer to interpret what is right or wrong. Usually, the next day film and social critics begin hammering out its agenda on how artistic value creates moral complications or sets the stage of assaults. Actually, its movements and critics that do more harm to the value of art because its film, television, music, comedy, and novels that paint a colorful picture of the real complicated world we live in. There is no such thing as black versus white because humanity was not intended to all react in a unifying manner.

Rather than look at the present, specific movements want to exploit the past to make its case and how it affects the present. That does have a ring of truth. However, history proves to be circumstantial and passionate. It has its language and consent standards based on that particular period. For example, the soulful and teasing song Drive by Melissa Ferrick how to beg and reject sexual advances all at once.  Let’s not forget the iconic Rick James and the bouncy hit Give It To Me Baby where the lyrics exclaim “I’ll make you holler if you’ve had enough.” In fact, the period where rape was identified during the Rick James era was leaving bruises, visible marks, and scars. Today simple consent seems to be withdrawn after the act is over because the thought has set-in. It may sound far-fetched, however, this is the current generational ground zero because of influential critics with ambiguous interpretation and imaginative view.

Anyone with condoms tucked away in a drawer thinking about STD’s or safety conscious are characterized as predators by today’s standards. Additionally, one-time hookups could be interpreted as the sexual hunter or assholes that must be dealt with if he/she fails to return texts or calls. It is so overly complicated that even the most consensual sex could potentially unravel and become sexual assault within seconds based on the wording, verbal cues, body language, and failure to use proper words. Essentially, gone is the days of passion and sexual appetite. Social movements have set out the unforgiving scales of shaming and placed us all on sexual diets.

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