nuanced forms of incest
Thursday, April 15 2004
I continue to work on the pair of devices that will simulate a phone line using a wireless FM radio link. Part of getting this project right involves understanding how exactly telephones work. Do you ever consider what it would take to connect two telephones together to make an intercom system? I have to be able to do that, but simulate it wirelessly. Today I found a website detailing phone system basics and it's chock-full of useful information. Did you know, for example, that the extent to which you hear your own voice in the earpiece when you talk is proportional to imperfections in the full-duplex hybrid circuitry of your phone? Of course you didn't!
I'm especially willing to bet that George W. Bush didn't know that. I was one of the few Bush-haters willing to contemplate the theory that George W. Bush's idiocy is just an act to make him seem like one of the people, but the nonsense that has him testifying before the 9/11 Commission alongside Dick Cheney confirms that he really is an idiot. The political damage of appearing to need Cheney by his side is just too high for it to be an act. The guy is schtupid, he's not just simulating it. And he really did earn that C grade point average at Yale.
This evening Gretchen and I watched Capturing the Friedmans on DVD. As portrayals of admitted pedophiles go, it was sympathetic enough, I suppose. But I was still curious: what led the post office to open his mail and discover that he was receiving child pornography? I'm uncomfortable living in a country licensed to discover the fantasy life of its inhabitants.
Capturing the Friedmans wouldn't have been much without all the home video it includes. You have to salute the documentative spirit of this family. It wasn't just that they shot lots of video; it's also that they were able to be themselves in front of a camera.
Gretchen was creeped-out by the evangelical faith the sons had for their pedophillic father. It looked a lot like denial to her. She had to believe the father had molested them when they were young; hell, he admitted to molesting his own younger brother. But perhaps this molestation had solidified their familial bond; the fact that our mores insist that incest, under all circumstances, is wrong doesn't mean it really is. I'm sure there are perfectly reasonable models of society in which nuanced forms of incest contribute to familial stability. Witness the Bonobos.
As for the claims made by the supposed "witnesses" against the Friedmans, they seemed extreme and absurd, not much different from claims extracted from children in waves of hysteria dating back at least as far as the Salem Witch Trials. What can be done about prosecutors and investigators who cajole witnesses into saying "something, anything" against an accused child molester? Justice in the face of hysteria seems to be the greatest weakness in our judicial process. Everyone seems to be willing to make excuses for prosecutorial and investigative excess when hysteria sweeps the land. What might an effective check for this pressure look like? I guess we'll never know, since there is no political hay to be made in finding one. I recognize that child molestation is a problem in this country, but there's no excuse for making up evidence where none exists. Have pity on the child molestor: his sexual preference, an immutable and powerful part of his essence, is illegal to pursue. If you're missing your right arm but you aren't attracted to pre-pubescent children, thank your lucky stars. If you don't have a canker sore in your mouth, thank them again. Also be sure to thank God and his second begotten son, George W. Bush.
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