Saturday, May 27, 2006

What about transwomen? II

I'm not the only one who thought it worth commenting on the sentencing of a 5' 1" sex offender to probation because he was thought to be too short to survive prison. A lot more people have chimed in. The various interest groups responded as one would expect: a group fighting sexual assaults said it showed more concern for the criminal than for the victim. The Secretary of the National Organization of Short Statured Adults thought it was good that "somebody [was] looking out for someone who is a short person," but the organization has disavowed those comments (and has dismissed the guy who made them). The state ACLU director however, pointed out that there was no constitutional protection on the basis of height, and said no one had ever complained to them about height discrimination.

Very predictably, the prison authorities disputed that the defendant would be in danger, pointing out that there are shorter male inmates in their general population. I kind of doubt they were convicted of having sex with a 12-year old, though--child molesters don't fare very well in prisons, regardless of height. The prison spokesman also pointed out there were protections for inmates who feel threatened. What that generally means is voluntary solitary confinement--not a very attractive alternative to someone facing 10 years.

I think the larger question is whether our criminal justice system is incarcerating too many people to begin with. The U.S. prison population is soaring, especially with drug offenders--people who frequently get no help in combatting their addictions while incarcerated. They come out of jail in worse shape than when they went in, and frequently return to their old habits, and get caught again, to serve even longer prison terms. The prisons are packed, and there is no hope of protecting the weaker inmates, other than by solitary confinement.

My feeling in this case is that the judge did the right thing. Her strict terms of probation (together with the sex offender registration laws) have a decent chance to keep the defendant from repeating his crime. We need more judges who can figure out ways to keep the prison population down, while still protecting the public. And I firmly believe that potential lengthy prison terms do almost nothing to deter these crimes. We are not talking about people who sit down and rationally consider the risk/reward ratio of satisfying their desire to have sex with a child. To be blunt, they are thinking with their pricks, not their brains.

As for legally male transwomen, I think they should be kept separate from the general male prison population--and probably from the general female one, also. I have heard the New York State prison system has a unit for such people. But the New York City system recently closed down its unit for gay and trans male inmates. They said they could protect these people in the general population. I'm very skeptical. The Sylvia Rivera Law Project has protested the closure.

Shocking websearch

actress bianca leigh dies reached this blog earlier today. I was horrified. Sure enough, the Internet Movie DataBase (IMDB) lists her date of death as January 7, 2006 on its entry for her. Bianca, whom I've heard sing many times, who was such a surprise to my watching Transamerica, who serves me drinks as the Monday night bartender at Lips, was dead? And I hadn't heard anything?

But then I said to myself, "Wait a minute." I've seen Bianca since January. I searched my blog and found a post indicating I had seen her in March. IMDB must be wrong.

Googling further, I see she is going to be performing on Fire Island this summer. I also found reviews of two plays she did since January, here and here.

I have sent off a correction to IMDB. I hope they fix their site soon. This is very disturbing.

UPDATE: IMDB has removed the date of death from its entry for Bianca.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Plat du jour (which really was on the menu at the restaurant last night)

UPDATE: Maybe it's not indecipherable. It appears to be an operator in Visual Basic--at least in Turkish.

New blog link

I have added a link to Victoria Marinelli's wonderful blog, Running With Symbols. Read it. Learn something. Be amused. Victoria rocks.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

What about transwomen?

Judge: Man Is Too Short for Prison
A 5'1" Nebraska man convicted of sexually assaulting a child was sentenced to 10 years probation because the judge thought he was too small to survive in prison. I wonder if the judge would have done the same for a transwoman who still would be sent to a men's prison because she hadn't had complete genital surgery? Her chances for safety in prison would be no better than his. Maybe less.

I also wonder what the exact height limit is.

Plat du jour: guest submission

My friend J., who writes the Midwestern Transport blog, found this one. It was on a big SUV in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Her comment: "i guess connecticut artists are doing much better than us folk in nyc."

At the Port Authority Bus Terminal

Your party wants to say good-bye.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Weird websearch of the day (yesterday, actually)

Somebody was looking for oxford suspenders electrician and found my blog. As far as I know, neither the British nor the American meaning of "suspenders" involves electricity, so what this person was really looking for I have absolutely no idea.

Plats du jour: grad tags?

Me? I was WIS 70.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Websearch of the day

pictures of edie falco's legs found my blog.

Sorry, but I don't have any pictures of her legs. Or any other part of her.

Plat du jour

Yes, Kim should get some tender loving care.

Another '60s rock 'n' roller dies

Freddie Garrity, of Freddie and the Dreamers, has died--another one of the rock 'n' rollers of my teen years.

It makes me feel old.

My name for them: freeloaders

There's a story in today's New York Times, No View, No Garden, Just a Wall (registration required), about two neighboring upper east side Manhattan families who are feuding over one family's building of an extension to their home that blocks the view of the other family--a view of the first family's garden, which goes behind both properties. Both sides have gone to court over the matter.

I'm no expert in the New York City Building Code, and I wouldn't care to hazard a guess as to whether this particular extension is legal, but I'm pretty sure of this: They are probably entitled to build something on their land. The second family is not entitled to a view of the first family's garden. They didn't pay for it.

One can buy these rights. They're called easements, and they can entitle one to traverse a neighbor's property, or merely to have the view (an easement for light and air). But they have to bought from the owner of the property in question. Here, the complaining family, and the previous owners of their property, never did so.

Thus, all this time they've been getting a gift, a free view. Now they're unhappy it has ended. I'm not surprised--I've heard this kind of complaint before here in New York a number of times. People think they are entitled to views just because they've always had them. But they're not. One side of my apartment is on the lot line, overlooking a walkway to the rear of the next building. I know that the building could be extended right up to my windows--not that it's very likely. But if it did happen, I know I'd have no legal standing to complain.

And the second family here is not complaining about that, at least not in court--they are claiming the extension is illegal on other grounds. But what they're really unhappy about is the loss of their view. Well too bad. Their free view is no more. They should be happy they had it as long as they did.

Sunday, May 21, 2006