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It takes too damn long for the sci-fi / comics / gamer / geek communities to recognize predators in their midst and do something about it.
Now word is out of a new problem, this one associated with Aki Con, a cosplay / anime con operating out of Seattle.
Mr. Shotwell is a convicted sex offender. He has served 4 years of a 6 year sentence for sexual conduct with a minor, attempt to commit a sexual act with a minor, and dangerous crimes against children. He has been paroled and has been working since his release from prison.
People, even convicted sex offenders, have a right to rebuild their lives after they have paid their debt to society, but there are reasonable limits that should be placed on them to protect society at large.
Just as a person convicted of causing an accident while driving under the influence should not be employed as a commercial driver, neither should a person convicted of sexual crimes against children be put in a job that enables them to have access to young people.
Aki Con, despite being informed of Mr. Shotwell’s record,
has repeatedly hired him as a DJ for their costume raves.
Recently a young woman attending Aki Con awoke after the rave to find herself in Mr. Shotwell’s room and in a dazed and confused state. She contacted Aki Con’s guest liaison who stayed with her until friends showed up. The young woman then went to the police where she filed a report against Mr. Shotwell and had herself tested for drugs.
Flunitrazepam a.k.a. Rohypnol a.k.a. roofies a.k.a. the date rape drug was found in her system.
Now, it needs to be pointed out that Mr. Shotwell, despite refusing to register as a sex offender as required by law, has not been charged with any crime yet related to this incident at Aki Con. And it needs to be pointed out that Mr. Shotwell is to be considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
But it also needs to be pointed out that business and organizations that deal with the public should not put that public at risk by employing people who are known predators against that public.
Be aware if this. Be aware of Mr. Shotwell and of the staff of Aki Con.
Spread the word around the campfire.
In a lifetime of seeking out odd movies, few have come odder than this. If you’re a fan of low brow bawdy English musical hall comedy, offbeat low budget films, and/or a sci-fi completist have we got a movie for you!
Bees In Paradise is a 1944 quote quickie produced while England was still in the thick of WWII (though eventual victory was in sight). It mines the old trope of an idyllic society of females but does so with a decidedly contemporary twist: Though World War Two is never mentioned directly, it’s clear from the dialog that the women in the story have in direct response to the conflict raging around them deliberately rejected the war-like patriarchy of the Western world and set up on a remote island a new civilization deliberately patterned after a beehive. Males are kept (off camera) as workers and breeders; they have two months of mating time with a female in order to produce offspring and then they’re either executed or set adrift in a canoe!
Into the middle of this crash lands a civilian bomber ferry crew. There is, of course, rivalry among the females for the four men, a lot of songs, silly vaudeville routines, musical numbers, and the obligatory English male comedian in drag. What’s surprising is the straight forward discussion of gender politics, socio-economic systems, and women’s right to sexual self-determination.
Singin’ In The Rain this aint.
It also ain’t very entertaining. Oh, you have no idea how much I wish I could like this movie, even a little, but it just never ever jells on screen. Individual bits and routines bring an occasional smile (two comics try emulating a bit of Road To… movie business and when it fails moan that it always worked for Hope & Crosby!) but there’s just nobody in the movie to arouse any empathy with, the songs are clever and competent instead of actually entertaining, and the production itself looks rather threadbare (though they got excellent use out of sets left over from The Thief Of Baghdad).
I think it would be stretching things quite a bit to say that Bees In Paradise was an influence on Abbott & Costello Go To Mars or Queen Of Outer Space or even Invasion Of The Bee Girls, but it clearly got there first and did the most with the core idea. To that we tip our sci-fi propeller beanies.
The movie was directed and co-written by Val Guest, who later went on to write and/or direct such B-movie classics as the first Quatermass films, The Day The Earth Caught Fire, and When Dinosaurs Ruled The Earth; he was also part of the delirious, glorious mess that was the first film version of Casino Royale. What interest Bees In Paradise has for film buffs is that it’s a decidedly offbeat take on English morale during the middle of WWII, using a sci-fi setting ala Twilight Zone to examine a more serious issue, in this case the rapid change in gender roles and expectations brought about by the war.
 England restricted the number of foreign films that could be shown in the UK by requiring a certain percentage of home grown product for all films shown. In order to get the more popular Hollywood features, UK distributors often booked cheap, inexpensive British made films to raise the number of allowable imports. These were called “quota quickies” and were the equivalent of American B-movies (double features in the US would have an A feature and a B feature, so called because of their placement on the billing, but revenues for the double feature would be divided evenly between the two; US distributors would run low budget exploitation films along with higher priced major studio fare and receive a kickback from the low budget film maker).
 Pilots and air crew unfit for military service due to disabilities or age often were hired to fly military aircraft from their point of construction to their theater of service, thus freeing military pilots for combat duty.
 Meanwhile, as Guest was churning out this movie in merrie olde Englande, across the channel Marcel Carne was making his epic masterpiece Les Enfants Du Paradis right under the noses of the Nazis.
There’s a special kind of sad associated with carnival games.
For most people, that is.
Anything else at the carnival, you shell out shekels to get something tangible in return:
A ride, a peek at the
naked bearded lady, a corn dog.
…and while it’s not impossible for one to feel the experience wasn’t worth the full price of the ticket, one cannot deny one didn’t receive something in exchange for something else of value.
Not so with the games.
Oh, sure, there are plenty of Marks who realize it’s the equivalent of skipping their coins across a creek while shouting: “Wheeeeeeeeee!” but far far far too many think they’re actually gonna somehow magically come out ahead on the deal.
Sad sad sad pathetic.
Now, it may come as a surprise to you to learn that carny Shills are capable of morals and ethics.
Their own peculiar brand of morals and ethics, to be sure, but morals and ethics nonetheless.
“There is one thing of which I am certain. This man felt he was a victim. Nothing allows people to do evil quite as much as a victim mentality. That needs to be remembered.” – Dennis Prager on September 16, 2013 referring to Aaron Alexis, the gunman in the Washington Navy Yard shootings
I’ve posted memos to various people in the past who opened their yaps to spew forth petty, imbecilic nonsense. I let the Penn Jillette gif do my talking for me; the people in those memos are buffoons trolling for fools to watch their programs and/or support their lifestyles: They are no more worthy of serious consideration than any other camera-whore celebrity currently favored by the same crowd.
Dennis Prager is a different case.
Prager purports to be interested in matters of morality and ethics, and presents himself in a hushed, reasoned, measured tone. Not given to hyperbole, he rarely drops sensational sound bytes.
Which makes what he does say all
the more loathsome and despicable.
I know little-bordering-virtually-nothing on Dennis Prager the man, what he is like in person, how he treats his family and friends and co-workers in private.
But I do know that what he says and publishes
under his name are among the most damaging
utterances delivered against the commonweal.
His quote is as concise an example as one could hope for of what makes his public utterances so arrogant, distasteful, and harmful.
“There is one thing of which I am certain. This man felt he was a victim. Nothing allows people to do evil quite as much as a victim mentality. That needs to be remembered.”
In another context, this would be hilarious: A person who brags openly of his Jewish heritage criticizing others for having a “victim mentality”. Even before the horrors of the holocaust, Jewish people learned to live with rampant anti-semitism (the “polite” modern word to replace the older, more accurate “Jew hatred”). Often employing self-mocking forms of humor, the Jewish people learned the hard way that trust had to be earned, that they would always be a convenient scapegoat, and that if the whole world didn’t have it in for them, certainly a large segment of it did.
“Never again” is not the motto of crybabies, Mr. Prager, nor is it the motto of evil-doers (albeit there doubtlessly are evil-doers who cloak themselves in this righteousness). It is evidence of a victim mentality insofar as the people who say “never again” recognize the reality of their history and the steps they must take to prevent further victimization.
Now, if Mr. Prager had said something along these lines — “This man felt he had been hurt and was entitled to hurt others in return” — then he would have been standing on far more solid moral/ethical grounds.
St. Paul almost got it right, but it’s not the love of money that is the root of all evil but rather the love of self (loving money is merely a means of showering more love on one’s self in the form of various trinkets and pleasures). People who think of themselves first and foremost have a much easier time inflicting harm on those whom they think have slighted them. Unable to project themselves into the POV of another, unable to even partially see how another person may be perceiving a situation, unable to share sympathy and empathy for a person suffering something they themselves would not want to suffer, the lovers of self are at best utterly indifferent to others and a worse view them as playthings to be abused at their whim.
There’s a reason Dennis Prager couldn’t say that:
He has sold out his birthright in humanity for a mess of porridge, in this case the limited degree of fame and fortune he gets shilling for the rich and powerful and privileged.
“Victim mentality” is privilege-speak. It is the expression of a person who enjoys an unearned relatively easier ride than the rest of humanity justifying his acceptance of that privilege by denigrating those who have been short-changed.
It’s the same kind of blame-the-victim mentality found in slut-shaming, when a rape victim is accused of bringing the attack upon themselves when they have the temerity to speak up.
Accusing a person or group of “victim mentality” is an attempt to negate and nullify the experience of the person/s in question, to dismiss their justifiable concerns out of hand, to maintain the status quo in favor of the privileged.
It is invariably ironic, with the person who accuses others of “victim mentality” displaying the very sort of thing they are criticizing in others! Poor, poor pitiful me! My unearned privilege is under assault from people who recognize they have been victimized!
Had Mr. Prager attacked the gunman for being selfish and self-centered he would have also had to criticize the very mindset behind his patrons:
A belief that because of their positions of privilege, power, and wealth they are better and more important than the rest of humanity and as such the rest of humanity should suffer if it means the privileged get to enjoy more.
It is a very Ayn Randian POV. Let us not forget that Ayn Rand gushed like a little school girl over a psychopath of extraordinary cruelty and depravity just because he thought of himself as more special and thus more important than those he victimized.
Rand’s two most famous fiction creations
were also psychopaths who blew up
buildings and civilizations just because
their feelings were hurt.
As of this posting we know very little about the guman or his motives. So far there is nothing to indicate a rational motive.* There is evidence to indicate the man had a history of violent behavior, but whether these killings represent a genuine psychotic break from reality, or whether they are an act of evil masquerading in the gunman’s mind as justifiable is unknown (and perhaps unknowable) at this point.
One thing for certain is this:
Whatever the motivation, it is not an example of “victim mentality” being used to justify evil.
That phantasm exists only in the minds of the privileged who fear losing their unearned perks.
*Political assassination and terrorism, while ethically and morally wrong, have at least some sort of rational risk/cost/benefit reasoning behind them: Killing this person will eliminate an enemy, terrorizing those people will get them to submit to our will. That assassins and terrorists are often wrong in their assessments goes without saying: Look at Japan’s belief that America would negotiate to avoid a long and bloody war in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor; the reasoning behind the attack was sound, the presumptions about it were not.
A few days ago this post by Mrs. Kimberly Hall, Director of Women’s ministry at All Saints PCA in Austin, TX, went flitting about the InterWebs.
It stirred up quite a response.
Many people applauded Mrs. Hall.
Many more voiced responses that ranged in the negative all the way from polite murmurs of disagreement to verbal b-slaps that landed so hard they could be felt halfway across the continent.
This is the kind of post that gives Christians and Christianity a bad rep. To many it reflects the worst kind of judgmentalism & hoity-toity holier-than-thou attitude.
It makes non-Christians want to find a Christian so they can kick his teeth down his throat.
It makes other Christians roll their eyes, and serves like a great big target painted on Mrs. Hall’s posterior for rebuttals.
All Capp’s Kigmy never achieved the same level
of multi-media marketing frenzy as his Shmoo did,
but it was still a popular recurring character
in the Li’l Abner comic strip.
Truth be told, my initial instinct was to load up for mama grizzly bear and let her have it.
…but then I got to thinking about her sons.
They’ve doubtlessly already had to endure a ton of red-assing from friends, classmates, and total strangers on this.
I can imagine what it must be like to be her sons. I have no doubt she loves them and cares for them and wants nothing but the best for them and is trying to guide them to grow up to be just, trustworthy, dependable, compassionate men.
…but you only have to glance at her article to know there’s also gotta be a whole lotta, “Mommmmmmmm!” moments in that family.
So to spare her sons more of that, I’m going to tackle her post as dispassionately and as courteously as possible.
First, props to her and her hubby for maintaining an open line of communication with her sons, and for knowing what they are up to when they’re online.
Far too many parents simply wash their hands of direct involvement with their kids once they hit their teen years.
It is possible to go too far in the other direction, and be a hovering / controlling parent who doesn’t trust their kids one iota, but I don’t think Mrs. Hall falls in that category (tho she may cast the occasional longing glance in that direction).
And I think it’s valid to raise with her children certain questions of discernment:
Does this person seem trustworthy?
Does that person seem like they are craving attention at any cost?
This sort of thing helps her children evaluate not only the actions and motives of others, but their own actions and motives as well.
And she certainly raises a 100% valid point that anything on the InterWebs is there forever. Websites may come, websites may go, galleries and Instagram and Facebook and Flickr and Tumblr and Pintrest accounts may be deleted, but somebody somewhere has downloaded a copy of whatever it is you posted and sooner or later it will come back to visit you.
As I’ve posted on the matter of copyright and piracy, if you want to control dissemination of something you’ve created, don’t make a copy of it. The moment something exists in concrete form you are giving the world tacit approval to share it.
And if it’s in a digital format,
sharing is mandatory.
So to caution teens and tweens (and for that matter, even adults and seniors) to think twice before posting anything is not an invalid exercise.
And if she had made it more of a blanket warning for all teens of all genders & orientations — Don’t reveal things that should be kept private, don’t post pictures of yourself doing things that others may misinterpret and / or twist around against you — then she wouldn’t have stirred up the shitte-storm that followed.
But she didn’t,
and she did,
and that’s why
“I know your family would not be thrilled at the thought of my teenage boys seeing you only in your towel. Did you know that once a male sees you in a state of undress, he can’t quickly un-see it? You don’t want our boys to only think of you in this sexual way, do you?”
This, Mrs. Hall, is what is known as slut-shaming. I’ve seen lots of images of lots of people in their towels. Some may have been trying for a provocative look, but the standard armpit-to-upper-thigh towel wrap is about as sexy as a muu-muu and reveals less than a modest one piece bathing suit.
Not having seen every picture you refer to, but knowing full well teens will be teens and some of them will try to show off, I’ll grant that there were doubtlessly some who were trying to get a =ahem!= rise out of their viewers.
Are you checking all your media for underwear and bathing suit ads? I’ve seen commercials on TV aimed at women that are far more sensual and enticing that some teen shooting an iPhone snap of herself in her messy bathroom; are you taking the time to block those as well?
Now, to be fair, I understand full well why you would not want to run the risk of your teenage sons striking up friendships with teen girls who may not share your views on personal & public boundaries: Nobody wants to become a grandmother while their kids are still in high school.
But I would hope you would express similar concerns over any teen FB friend who posts pictures of themselves flashing gang signs or brandishing weapons recklessly or posting inflammatory memes.
Again, if you had done that,
you wouldn’t have gotten all
the attention you’ve
received so far.
“[W]e are hoping to raise men with a strong moral compass, and men of integrity don’t linger over pictures of scantily clad high-school girls.”
Men of integrity don’t linger over pictures of scantily clad high-school girls? I call shenanigans on that, Mrs. Hall.
“Girls, it’s not too late! If you think you’ve made an on-line mistake (we all do – don’t fret – I’ve made some doozies, even today!), RUN to your accounts and take down the closed-door bedroom selfies that makes it too easy for friends to see you in only one dimension.”
Yeah, I know that would convince any teen girl I’ve ever encountered:
Some anonymous old stick-in-the-mud telling them what to do to make
sacrifices brides for her sons.
“Will you trust me? There are boys out there waiting and hoping for women of character. Some young men are fighting the daily uphill battle to keep their minds pure, and their thoughts praiseworthy – just like you.”
This is where I think you do your own sons a disservice, Mrs. Hall. Like it or not, you have elevated them to a level of purity that few people are able to obtain.
Now, for all I know, maybe one or more of your sons is asexual, and if so, hey, nothing wrong with that, he can have friends of any gender or orientation without having sexual tension complicating matters.
But if your sons are more typical teenage boys, well, that horse is so far out of the barn it’s already been through the glue factory and is now sitting on your desk in the form of a roll of Scotch tape.
You are ladling unnecessary guilt and anxiety on them by taking their (presumably) natural God-given instincts, inclination, and proclivities and making them feel dirty and unclean and sinful and evil for feeling those feelings.
You have, in effect, slut-shamed your own kids. On the one hand, it shows even handedness on your part, tarring teen girls and your teen sons with the same sticky brush. On the other, just as it is not your place to slut-shame the child of another, it really isn’t your place, even as a mom who is Director of Women’s ministry at All Saints PCA in Austin, TX, to slut-shame any kids, especially your own.
In closing, again let me applaud you for devoting the time and energy to being involved in your children’s lives, even the online part, and for openly discussing with them the way anyone’s media postings can be interpreted or misinterpreted, and the importance of not just presenting a good face to the outside world but of actually being a good person so the face they present is never a false one.
P.S. Knowing God’s divine sense of humor, be prepared for at least one of your kids to bring home a heavily tattooed / pierced / transgendered / same-sex mate.
 Indeed, some of us are counting on that very fact.
 Trayvon Martin
 If so, how do you find time to do anything else?
 Tho I gotta admit, suburban white kids trying to play “ghetto” are among the funniest things on the InterWebs.
 And who does anything on the InterWebs except for attention, hmm? I know I don’t.
 I trust this was an accidental by-product, and not a deliberate parenting strategy on your part, because if this was indeed your intended goal, your sons have got far worse problems than FB friends in towels.
run to the hills
hills won’t save you
run to the sea
sea won’t save you
run to the sky
sky won’t save you
run to the deep
deep won’t hide you
run to the rock
rock won’t hide you
run to the grave
grave won’t hide you
can’t run from time
can’t run from fate
can’t run from crimes
can’t run from hate
can’t run from tide
can’t run from dues
can’t run from pride
can’t run from you
run to the slave
slave won’t carry you
run to the priest
priest won’t bury you
run to the whore
whore won’t marry you
run to the bank
bank full of rot
run to your friends
friends already forgot
run to the wedding
door shut in your face
run to the feast
can’t find you a place
run to the fields
what you gonna reap?
run to the shepherd
“did you feed my sheep?”
run to the past
past can’t hide you
run to the now
now can’t abide you
run to your hope
it’s lost in the wind
run to the devil
devil says “come right in”
This version © Buzz Dixon. It is a mash-up of the original African-American spiritual as well as being influenced by versions performed by Les Baxter, Nina Simone, The Weavers, The Wailers, Peter Tosh, Gordon Lightfoot, and others.
King Canute by Peter Jackson
(no, not that Peter Jackson;
the other Peter Jackson)
There are four ways to deal with change: Embrace it, accept it, fight it, deny it.
The people who embrace change do so for obvious and logical reasons: They see change as an improvement. Most people who embrace change are not naïve enough to think change will go smoothly all the time, or that it won’t create a whole new slate of problems, or that it is so permanent and immutable and perfect that it will be impossible for change to occur again in the future.
But change will be an improvement over the way things are,
and if things as they are seem intolerable,
then change is the only logical / viable option.
Those who accept change also do so for logical reasons: It’s going to happen regardless so one might as well accommodate one’s self to the new order. They, too, aren’t naïve enough to believe there won’t be any rough spots; however, they see the rough spots as things that will have to be endured or dealt with and just philosophically prepare themselves for it.
Accepting change doesn’t mean one necessarily likes the change,
or that one thinks the change is a good idea.
It’s just a recognition of facts and an acceptance of reality.
Those who fight change often have obvious and logical reasons for doing so: Anything new is apt to create problems, and entering into unexplored territory promises the devil one doesn’t know over the devil one does. A lot of time the pre-existing order has much to recommend it, and oft times something good and important is lost when all of the old is swept out to make way for the new.
But those obvious and logical reasons can also involve selfish motives, malign motives. The glutton doesn’t want to give up any of his food even though it would only improve his health and save the lives of starving people. The junkie — be she addicted to coke or money — doesn’t care who gets hurt as long as she scores. The privileged howl at others being treated equally because it makes them feel their status has somehow been diminished even though nothing negative has occurred to them.
But the people who fight change do it because they know the stakes involved.
As long as there is a chance for victory, as long as there is a chance
the status quo will be preserved, they will fight for it.
But the moment the game is lost…well, then they become accepters. They may not like it, they may grumble and bitch about it incessantly, but they will accept the reality and deal with it if for no other reason than it would be self-defeating to continue the fight.
The ones who really take a beating are the deniers: The ones who for purely irrational reasons refuse to acknowledge change. Maybe it’s pride, maybe it’s fear, maybe it’s a combination of that and more, but for whatever reason they refuse to acknowledge change when it faces them and — more disastrously — refuse to acknowledge change after it has occurred.
They cling to their cherished preconceptions in the face of change.
They continue acting as if change has not occurred.
They’re like people who park into the middle of a railroad crossing when the gates are down.
Somehow it’s the train’s fault for clobbering them.