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Medium Dawn Felagund of the Fountain

Christian Fundies, Child Abuse, and More LiveJournal Scandal. Huzzah.

The (Cyber) Bag of Weasels

bread and puppet




"About as much fun as a bag of weasels"...when I first saw this Irish adage, it made me think of the life of a writer: sometimes perilous, sometimes painful, certainly interesting. My paper journal has always been called "The Bag of Weasels." This is the Bag of Weasels' online home.

Christian Fundies, Child Abuse, and More LiveJournal Scandal. Huzzah.

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wtf
I am crawling out of Green-Knight-induced lurkdom for a few minutes to point my fellow LJ citizens to the following links on dark_christian, a.k.a. the folks who helped bring you the Warriors for Innocence connection to LJ Strikethrough the First.

This first post discusses religiously motivated child abuse/neglect being promoted in communities on LiveJournal. Keep in mind, these are real children suffering and dying here, i.e. not might-be-fifteen-might-be-eighteen-but-certainly-fictional Harry Potter doing the naughty with certainly-fictional Professor Snape in a certainly-fictional drawing.

This second post discusses the response of LJ Abuse when the activities of these communities were called to their attention.

And ... this final post is furthermore interesting because of the connection made between "judgment calls" LJ Abuse is expected to make when investigating obscenity complaints versus situations involving illegal activity and abuse.

Some of the posts linked are pretty long, and it's also terribly easy to get sucked into the link labyrinth that is dark_christian (as I do on pretty much a daily basis upon coming home from work), so I don't blame those of you who don't want to read all that I've linked above but remain interested in the matter nonetheless. And the bottom line is pretty straightforward.

Communities that encourage religion-based childrearing practices that include starving and beating newborn babies, infants, and toddlers are acceptable. The practices that are being advocated have led to the deaths of real children, i.e. children who exist in flesh and bone, not just paper and pixels, as well as severe injury, anxiety, starvation, dehydration, and failure to thrive in children subjected to these practices.

But communities or journals that show fictional characters doing "obscene" things to other fictional characters are unacceptable.

Real kids ... fictional kids. Whom do we value more? Hmmm ...

And furthermore, it's interesting to consider that much of the Strikethrough hullabaloo on LJ has been spurred by Christian fundamentalist groups aiming to cleanse the Internet of what they feel is obscene "in the defense of children," even when no children are actually harmed.

But yet these child-abuse communities that are run by Christian fundamentalists and do lead to the harm of real children are okay.

The pie-eyed optimist in me says that LJ was simply blindsided during the recent Strikethrough/Boldthrough mess and are still disorganized about how things should be handled and made some mistakes, but all will be well in the end. The more discerning optimist in me thinks that it's all corporate/money-related. The pessimist/conspiracy theorist/radical/militant agnostic in me notes that two themes common to daily life in the One Nation under God are also present here: 1) sex is always worse than violence and is the true cause of all that is wrong in the world and 2) we can't possibly stand up against something that's Christian because this might insult their beliefs and we can't be doing that. (And for the record, I have no problem with Christians who practice their faith quietly and without constantly needing to bury their pointy elbows in my agnostic side. You can believe in whatever you want to believe in; I have some pretty wonky ideas too and appreciate my right to hold onto them within my own private sphere. I have a problem with fundamentalists who think that the United States is a Christian nation and that those of us who don't believe in what they believe in are "un-American" and deserving of punishment, loss of rights, and death because of it.)

Anyway. I have a novella to finish. I need badly to escape back to Fantasyland ... dark_christian is a great comm, highly enlightening (and highly recommended to those on my flist who are into such things), but it's also depressing as hell.

Back to lurkdom.
  • I'm actually confused about the turning "Regarding your allegations about James Dobson, Michael and Debbie Pearl, Gary and Anne Marie Ezzo, the Abuse Prevention Team is a small volunteer organization with a heavy case load, and its members are not legally equipped to make judgments regarding their activities." into "Livejournal's own abuse department explicitly admits that it is not at all trained in potential legal issues regarding network abuse." (Emphasis mine) Doesn't that mean that the LJ Abuse team can't go reading and researching every book or person that somebody says is bad just to determine if they should suspend a person or community that recommends it? Erm, I don't mean to always sound like I'm standing up for LJ and dismissing other arguments or the people making them, but I'm often surprised how I can read the same thing others read and not feel the same way about them.

    Blargh, LJ can want all the money they want for all I care, and I do actually support the banning of depictions of people under 18 having sex (at least visual images, regardless of what people consider "child porn") while pro-ana communities remain (that's not saying pro-ana communities don't need to be watched more closely) regardless of my hating robotic "protect the children!" mantras, but... argh. I wish LJ's communications gave me more of an impression that they really know what they're doing!
    • Doesn't that mean that the LJ Abuse team can't go reading and researching every book or person that somebody says is bad just to determine if they should suspend a person or community that recommends it?

      Hmmm ... I don't think that the correspondent put up his/her original letter to LJ Abuse? I don't remember; it's been a while. :^P See, to me, the point LJ Abuse made about those specific authors felt like a bit of a red herring to me, like, "Oh! Well, we can't go investigating all these specific authors and specific practices in the interest of determining what is and is not abuse!" I didn't see the complaint arising so much from the fact that these authors were cited as from the allegations that posts and comments in the community indicated that the children of the communities' members were showing signs of abuse and neglect. Since the comms are both f-locked (due to past abuse allegations, ironically), then I took the correspondent's purpose as trying to get LJ Abuse--who surely have the power to go into locked journals where illegal activity is alleged--to use their Powers that Be to do so and shut down any abuse they may have found, based on the idea that those authors tend to encourage the abuse and neglect of children. LJ Abuse needs to know nothing about the sordid pasts of those authors to make a judgment about whether the posts and comments in the comms indicate that people are abusing and neglecting their children based on the authors' books.

      Just my reading of the whole issue. :)

      But yes, I totally agree that the crux of the myriad issues being raised in recent days is LJ's poor communication of standards to its userbase. No matter my personal squick with drawings like the ones that got some users banned, I find it deplorable that LJ is taking a stand against fictional content and allowing that which involves real people, i.e. pro-ana communities and those advocating Bible-based child abuse/neglect, to flourish.
      • Another odd opinion of mine: I actually think pro-ana communities should be allowed to stay (not without conditions, of course), while I have no problem with LJ taking a stance on that sort of fictional content--and I'm not just talking as someone easily squicked by porn. One part of the "Sorry, we're leaving those pro-ana comms alone" thing I saw that they should have left it at instead of getting into "Freedom of speech" or the incredibly stupid "What's wrong with aspiring to be thin?" that a different LJ employee said was that banning them would do more harm than good (or perhaps it was that their existence did more good than harm) and from what I've read of pro-ana comms (and yes, I read the "bad" posts and comments in them, too), I can't disagree. Too bad LJ didn't communicate that position well, either...

        Though I don't certainly have an answer for the child abuse/neglect thing. It certainly feels like Six Apart bit off way more than it could chew with the "You can't post harmful stuff here." And the LJ Abuse people remind me too much of me when I have a sense of the rules but don't feel I know them well enough (or else I'm just not confident in my job or judgments yet) to tell a customer everything as it's supposed to be told.

        (Sorry, I hope the pro-ana thing doesn't sound like me ranting at you--the whole "pro-ana" backlash that happened just left me stunned when it went beyond "But why do you say this and allow that?" to people rather suddenly turning anti-anorexia into a huge cause. :S)
        • Trust me, your rants never come off as such. You're the politest ranter I know. So rant on, with my blessing! ;)

          Truly, I am not too informed on the pro-ana comms, so I bow to your judgment on this. ;) And I agree that adults talking to other adults about harmful behavior should certainly be protected. If we got rid of that, we'd have to get rid of the cigar aficionados and the smokers' rights people too. But I would have a problem with adult "pro-ana" people encouraging minors to do the same. But I suppose that's a different issue entirely.

          On "fictional kiddie pr0n," I don't agree only because I find tracking down fictional works a serious distraction to the actual, underfunded business of tracking actual predators harming actual kids. To me, it will always be "no harm, no foul." As much as those drawings squick me and as much as I do question the judgments of those who post and share them, no one is being harmed, so it seems a shame to waste time, energy, and resources on stopping these people when plenty of people online are doing actual harm.

          And I hope I didn't sound as though I was ranting at you. ;)
          • Not at all, and I agree! :)

            I think LJ's said that they only take action against things that are reported to them, so I wonder how much they'd really care about the "fictional kiddie porn" if nobody reported it... (And for the sake of curiosity, I think it'd be interesting to know what percentage of "real harm" gets taken care of "properly" as it's reported that we're not hearing about amidst the "I reported this journal to LJ and they didn't do anything" reports.)
  • *pokes head out of lurkdom*

    Gah, does this LJ crap never end? The mess started a while ago and I was under the impression that it had somehow been brought under control. Aparently not.

    Re fundamentalists: I've just been re-reading the Da Vinci Code and next week, we have a great big gathering of priests in Sibiu. Beats me what it's about , but the hotel I work in will be backed with holier-than-thou "personalities" whom I will jab at by keeping my copy of the Da Vinci Code in a most visible spot. I am just itching to be provoked and to tell those representatives of the church how their institution is the primary cause of my lack of belief.

    Eh, I just had to add my bitter two cents. Many huggles to you before I slide back to lurkdom.
    • Hello, fellow bitter LJ user (and lurker). ;)

      Nope, it's far from under control; in fact, each week seems to introduce a new twist or a new drama unfolding. LJ has yet to set forth a clear TOS or to define the "community standards" upon which their judgments are based. (Because the standards between even two fandom communities--Harry Potter and Tolkien, for example--can vary widely. Just imagine the breach between standards in the Harry Potter community, mainstream bloggers, and Christian fundamentalists! So who are we supposed to follow??)

      Yay for you, on doing your part to piss off the religious right. ;) Such is one of my goals in life. The more fundies I irritate, the more successful I count myself. They're dangerous people (in the US anyway) and need to have as many people as possible speak out against what they're trying to do to our country and world.
  • What you said.

    And I echo the WTF sentiment.
  • *words fail*

    I guess it's just so much easier and safer to go after some silly fandom pr0n - after all that only means that kids and a few bored housewives get mad at them. Tackling real issues like supporting slow suicide aka anorexia or religious child abuse would actually get them into real-world politics. Meh.
    • Yes, one of the things that has infuriated me the most about this whole ordeal is how the witch-hunt for "Harry Potter pr0n" has simultaneously served as a setback for those who are legitimately trying to shut down online child pornography sites. Our culture (speaking as an American, of course) desperately needs to have a conversation about how to handle sexual child abuse, predators, et cetera, and things like this only muddle the issue and make frivolous something that is certainly not.

      I mean, law enforcement doesn't know how to deal with this. The things we're trying on the LE and legislative fronts don't solve the problem and can make it worse. Medically, we don't know how to treat pedophiles. It's one of the most difficult psychological conditions to treat. And socially, children are still be abused because parents don't know how to talk to other parents to say, "Hey, keep little Dylan out of Uncle Joey's basement." Several of my younger cousins were sexually abused by my step-grandfather because the parents of my older cousins didn't know how to tell other parents what had happened and to use some extra caution. Lives were ruined because we couldn't have a frank conversation about how to deal with a problem that ended up ripping our family apart. Sadly, my family is not unique in this. There are still places in the US where girls are blamed because their fathers and brothers rape them.

      And we worry about fictional drawings of fictional people. Ooookay.
  • I've been reading the links, posts and comments, but I wonder, why hasn't anyone reported this at the FBI? Even though LJ is based in california, this applies to other states as well and lj's bullshit attitude is just making me want to scream. They stated that they can look into locked communities and while pornish pixies probably suffers from a right wing fundamentalist nut, communities like those two get away with it because they shut down all activities while LJ plays the; oh but someone has to report it so we ain't looking. Yeah right.

    So as they say at the comm, does a child first have to die behind that locked door before they move in? If they want LJ to have a good image, that means barging and knocking down that door too. Be fair and honest to all. Isn't that a message to send?

    I have a problem with fundamentalists who think that the United States is a Christian nation and that those of us who don't believe in what they believe in are "un-American" and deserving of punishment, loss of rights, and death because of it.)

    Don't get me started on that one. For months I have been reading Kevin Beck's posts at the Chimps refugee (he tagged them, I think you will like the blog if you aren't already following it :) ) where those idiotic fundamentalists calling themselves reporters or so called Grokkers will grab anything to say that homosexuality is a sin and is a serious threat to all that is so good. You know I got so fired up about it yesterday, had a long ass entry typed up about this weird fascinations these persons have with gay people (men specificially), I stumbled upon a good analysis of leviticus 18:22 and how this text alone, especially in historical and Aramaic cultural context has a complete different meaning. I looked at it and thought: wowa, lets not post that before people think I lost my mind with such cynism. But oh one nation under one god right? And they are wondering why people turn away from their 'holy' religion. There are just times that I feel privilegded to live here, honestly.
    • I think Felagund's reach to the Refuge may be limited to nights and weekends. Nice comment, btw, in the bag of chimp scat thread, too. :^)

      The f*ckwitted Granite State Grokkers are just one example of Dominionist-flavored Xtians in the US. Tim LaHaye and his ilk, an especially scary bunch since they are dedicated to bringing on "The Rapture" through their political machinations, are among these fundopaths. dark christian just touches on the festering cesspool of that is fundagelical pathology.

      It will likely take documented deaths and reports to child welfare agencies before the FBI can be called in. Even then...well, look at how the US government at state and federal levels handled the Terri Schiavo case. If that wasn't infused with religious interference, I don't know what was.

      The Dominionist "child-rearing" journals linked in dark_christian are insidious in that they take some delving to see just what they are about.

      But oh one nation under one god right?

      Oh, yeah! Let's not forget what one of the um, leaders of the Western world said:

      George H.W. Bush, as presidential nominee for the Republican party; 1987-AUG-27: "No, I don't know that Atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered as patriots. This is one nation under God."

      Religion is untouchable in this country. I suspect that LJ wil not disappoint by the turning of its cheek to the sites linked in dark_christian.

      • Poor 'gund, I am checking the Chimp's rss feed daily. Hmm what does that say about me?

        It will likely take documented deaths and reports to child welfare agencies before the FBI can be called in.
        This is one of the FBI's goals:
        It is the mission of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) Crimes Against Children (CAC) Program to provide a quick and effective response to all incidences of crimes against children. Making this a priority increases the number of victimized children safely recovered and reduces the level of crime in which children are targets.


        So maybe I am missing something? This sounds that they are keen on prevention and stopping it before a child gets killed...

        Religion is untouchable in this country. I suspect that LJ wil not disappoint by the turning of its cheek to the sites linked in dark_christian.

        I know, so much for the leader of the free world, just bring along your bible...
    • I've been reading the links, posts and comments, but I wonder, why hasn't anyone reported this at the FBI?

      I think the dark_christian correspondent was trying to file a report with the District Attorney's office in California, wherein lies the home offices of LJ/6A. I know that the FBI claims to have a proactive stance in these matters--as do all American law enforcement agencies--but the reality of the matter is that the Bush administration has consistently underfunded intelligence and law enforcement agencies to where we are having problems handling actual abuse cases, much less investigating "mere allegations." Yay Bush, the guy that is all for homeland security and families and all that, right?

      So as they say at the comm, does a child first have to die behind that locked door before they move in?

      And still, they'd never know. Those comms are locked up tight (because of past abuse allegations) and carefully screen members before letting them in. I have the urge to go undercover. Anyone care to help me become a Christian fundie mom-to-be? ;)

      But as long as they're saying that they need a report of abuse ... well, asking a ring of abusers to turn in one of their own is about as stupid as asking a group of pedophiles to do the same. Life don't work that way, LJ.

      You know I got so fired up about it yesterday, had a long ass entry typed up about this weird fascinations these persons have with gay people (men specificially), I stumbled upon a good analysis of leviticus 18:22 and how this text alone, especially in historical and Aramaic cultural context has a complete different meaning.

      Even the meaning of Leviticus aside, the majority of Christians don't follow Leviticus anyway. It is not required of their faith. When fundies throw Leviticus into my face as a Biblical argument against homosexuality, I ask them,

      Do you go to church on Sunday? Or on Saturday, like Leviticus requires?
      Do you eat shrimp and lobster, because that's a no-no according to Leviticus?
      Do you talk to women on their periods, and if you are a woman, do you leave the house and have contact with other people? If yes, this is unclean and in violation of Leviticus.
      Do you wear cotton-poly-blend T-shirts? Wearing a mixture of fibers is a no-no according to Leviticus too.

      People who do all of these things are just as bad as gays, according to Leviticus.

      Whosoever.org has a wonderful rundown of Biblical passages used to condemn homosexuals, along with arguments against each. My sister directed me to this, long ago. Even though we're agnostic, these passages fuel the hatred against her in this country, so I've made it a point to learn about them. (If you ever feel like "losing your mind," there's some good information here to help you along. ;)

      There are just times that I feel privilegded to live here, honestly.

      And as much as we need people with your attitude on this side of the pond, I wouldn't wish it upon you. ;)
  • When everyone started posting about the Strikethrough actions, I had no clue what was going on and had to do a fair amount of research. Much of that research led to WFI's own website, where any faith (heh) I'd had in their actions were quickly erased when I read the following (paraphrasing - I don't care to return to their website to get an exact quote):

    "WFI activists go into chatrooms and pose as children as a way to distract pedophiles. Under no circumstances are you to reveal who you are or go to the police (unless you have been threatened). Our task is merely to distract the pedophiles, not punish them."

    So it's true... WFI's priorities are screwed up and undeniably self-centred. If someone who cares so much about children happens upon a pedophile, the correct response is not to turn them into police and thus get them away from children, but to chat them up, waste a few hours of their life, and then let them continue with whatever they were doing. Um...

    Yay, fundies! *Rolls eyes*
    • Wow, that is indeed ... speshul.

      I never went to their site because I came into the fray after it was being reported that visitors their site tended to find themselves afterward overrun with malware. I don't know if these allegations were ever confirmed, but I kept my distance and "enjoyed" the screencaps and quotes that I saw posted instead.

      Not surprisingly, they had connections to hate groups and militias. Surprise, surprise! *rolls eyes*

      But even their tactics on LJ were criticized (rightfully, imho) on the grounds that the communities and journals they targeted were identified by interests alone. Many were fandom journals or RPG journals where a "bad guy" fictional character listed "murder, rape, and mayhem" as his interests, for example. These people and these crimes did not exist! But they sure did a nice job of raising the alarm for people who were using LJ to share explicit pictures of (real) minors, giving them plenty of time to edit their user interests and lock down their posts.

      Though I'm sure that provided a good five minutes of distraction, right?
      • Hmm... I wonder if that's what's wrong with my computer (it has been dying a slow, painful, overheated death, although I think it's illness may pre-date the Strikethrough thing). Thankfully Firefox blocks out most things.

        Many were fandom journals or RPG journals where a "bad guy" fictional character listed "murder, rape, and mayhem" as his interests, for example. These people and these crimes did not exist!

        I can't say I personally understand this (I don't "get" the whole RPG thing, as you probably know) but I do agree that a blanket approach was the wrong way to do it, for the same reasons that I periodically sift through my Bulk Mail folder: sometimes your friends just want to email you a Viagra joke. ;-)
  • I hereby award the Ultimate Pretzel Award to the LJ staff, who are doing a first-rate job of twisting themselves into knots with every policy "clarification" they issue. I think it's obvious now that they have no idea how to effectively run this site they purchased.
    • *brings the salt and yellow mustard*

      They've opened up a can--no, a bucket--of worms, certainly. I think it's pretty clear now why it's generally a good idea to grant that freedom of speech--company policy be damned--except where actual illegal activity is occurring. I fear that they'll increasingly find themselves judging shades of gray in the months to come.
  • I have a problem with fundamentalists who think that the United States is a Christian nation and that those of us who don't believe in what they believe in are "un-American" and deserving of punishment, loss of rights, and death because of it.

    Thank you.

    (random person scuttles off)
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