Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2019-07-10
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

Confab looks at queers and sex offenders
by Yasmin Nair
2010-06-02

facebook twitter del.icio.us stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email


"What's queer about sex offenders? Are sex offenders the new queers?" That was the provocative title of an all-day conference on sex-offender laws, hosted by the University of Chicago and the Center on Halsted and held at the Center May 27. Speakers included literary theorists, activists, artists, legal scholars and political scientists.

Richard Wright, assistant professor of criminal justice at Bridgewater State College and the editor of the recent book Sex Offender Laws: Failed Policies, New Direction, provided a broad overview of the shifts in sex-offender laws and their effects on the rights of registered sex offenders ( RSOs ) , and argued that the laws had gone too far and needed reform. Over the last many decades, laws punishing and registering sex offenders have so increased in severity that several legal critics now consider them draconian. In early May, federal judge Jack B. Weinstein of the United States District Court in Brooklyn ruled that the electronic monitoring of Peter Polouizzi, a man awaiting retrial on child pornography, was unconstitutional, saying that it violated his procedural due process rights. Currently, depending on the city and state, an RSO may be barred from living in federal housing and may find it impossible to get a job. Many RSOs slide into lives of poverty and despair as basics like housing are put out of their reach.

One major problem with the punishment of RSOs is that the laws are made so that "one size fits all," instead of being calibrated to reflect the severity of the crime. For that reason, someone who looks at child pornography may be punished exactly like someone who rapes a child. According to Wright, these laws are not only burdensome on RSOs but also extremely expensive because state and local agencies have to funnel valuable time and energy into constant monitoring of sex offenders. In addition, he said, "there is no definite empirical evidence that exclusionary zones reduce sex offender recidivism" and, in fact, by banishing RSOs to a few areas, the laws aid "the development of high-risk sex offender enclaves."

But what does any of this have to do with queers? Don Kulick, professor of anthropology at the University of Chicago and a conference organizer, said that until recently, "homosexuality was a sex offense, homosexuals were sex offenders." Joe Fischel, a Ph.D. candidate in political science at the University of Chicago and event organizer, pointed out a historical concurrence: the relatively high level of acceptance and even protection of LGBTs in the past 15 years has coincided with a rise in the punishment and monitoring of RSOs. As he put it, "the sex offender takes up the space now vacated by the homosexual."

Speakers also pointed out that children's sexuality has been erased from culture. Yet, the figure of the queer child and his/her relationship to older cultural and/or sexual mentors has long been a mainstay of queer culture and literature. Kathleen Stockton, professor of English at the University of Utah and author of The Queer Child, looked at key moments in fiction like Radclyffe Hall's The Well of Loneliness, where children possessed a degree of agency and response to their sexuality.

Laurie Jo Reynolds—artist, activist and adjunct professor at the Film and Video Department at Columbia College—holds a 2010 Soros Justice Project Fellowship; her current work considers the impact of sex-offender statutes in Illinois. She presented a series of staged photographs that provided a visual counterpoint to the traditional banishment of RSOs. In one, an RSO is shown returning from prison to the welcoming arms of family and friends. Reynolds said that the point was to ask what would it mean for an RSO to be meaningfully reintegrated back into their community. She noted that activists had to work with the "dead silence" around laws from both RSOs and their families and what we might presume to be their "natural allies" on the left.

A session with Fischel and Rose Corrigan, assistant professor of law and politics at Drexel University, indicated some tension as the two differed on the ways in which sex-offender laws have been unsuccessful. While Fischel felt that punishment and registries were overly punitive, Corrigan, who has worked with survivors of sexual and domestic violence, stated that not enough was done to provide support for victims of rape and abuse. She also posed a question: "Why do prosecutors who hate rape cases [ in that they don't prosecute them enough ] love sex offender cases?" Her answer was that "getting people on the sex-offender registries was an easy way to show they are 'tough on crime' without doing a lot of work."

During question-and-answer sessions, RSOs and their families spoke up and addressed their frustrations at the laws. Craig A., who did not give his last name for reasons of privacy, stated that he had been found guilty of possession of child pornography in Downers Grove in 2006. He was a journalist and a competing newspaper publicized his arrest. According to him, "all the aldermen were suddenly confronted with the fact that a newspaper reporter, who looks 'just like me' is also a sex offender." Craig's point was that there could be no stereotypes of the "typical" sex offender. He added, "we need to be out and loud."

Craig A. told Windy City Times that he liked the conference, saying that "it was freeing to be able to get up in a group of strangers and admit what I've done, and not be condemned for it. This was the first time [ I found ] acceptance and support [ among strangers ] ." Stuart Michaels, undergraduate program chair at the University of Chicago's Center for Gender Studies and an organizer, spoke added, "This tells me that we have to look at some intersectional and difficult questions. It's quite historic to have in the same room sex offenders, academics, activists and artists talking about these issues." The conference ended with a session about the 2007 film Zoo, about zoophiles, which included a conversation with the director Robinson Devor.


facebook twitter del.icio.us stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email




Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

LGBT flags vandalized at Wicker Park church 2019-06-26
Barrington community members show support after hate crime 2019-06-11
Gay teens claim bias by Big Boy Gyros 2019-05-29
NATIONAL Presidential candidates, Truth Awards, Chick-fil-A, hate crimes 2019-03-26
Attorney with hate-group ties now appeals court judge 2019-03-06
DignityUSA responds to Pope Francis' new book, excluding gay people 2018-12-03
Report: 17-percent increase in hate crimes 2018-11-21
Cardinal Cupich removes priest from Resurrection parish who burned rainbow flag 2018-09-22
Chicago priest, parishioners burn Rainbow flag in defiance of Archdiocese orders 2018-09-19
Local priest's planned Rainbow flag burning shut down by Chicago Archdiocese 2018-09-11
Organist taunts Cubs player with gay-friendly songs 2018-09-05
HRC, Partners, Allies United Against Hate One Year After Charlottesville 2018-08-10
Suburban man charged with sending racist, anti-gay hate mail 2018-07-31
If Not US, Who? panel on LGBTQI+ persecution throughout the World Aug. 16 2018-07-17
NATIONAL Calif. hate crimes, trans measure, gay mayor, Stonewall Inn 2018-07-17
HRC's giant projection challenges Trump, Putin on anti-LGBTQ crime in Chechnya 2018-07-16
Travel map shows LGBTQI intolerance worldwide 2018-07-08
SHOWBIZ Frank Ocean, Amandla Stenberg, Kylie Minogue, anti-hate PSA 2018-06-26
Remembering Anita Bryant and 'Orange Tuesday' 2018-06-20
Survivors, Community Rally for Action Two Years After Orlando Attack 2018-06-07
Masterpiece case used by AZ court to reject anti-LGBTQ discrimination 2018-06-07
Gay Catholic Group calls on Pope to Reverse Comments on Gay Applicants to Priesthood 2018-05-29
Pope's Words to Gay Survivor of Sexual Abuse Have Dogma-Transforming Ramifications 2018-05-21
Recent Preemption Bills Undermine Democracy and Threaten LGBT Equality 2018-05-18
Anti-LGBTQ Tony Perkins, Gary Bauer appionted to Commission on Internat'l Religious Freedom 2018-05-16
Local dealership settles anti-gay discrimination suit 2018-05-16
The Shepards keynote hate-crimes summit 2018-05-14
Gay man severely injured in attack/robbery 2018-05-09
Hate-crimes summit at Center on May 10 2018-05-09
Man who threatened Boystown shooting mistakenly released 2018-05-03
HRC series exposes Pence's career of attacks on LGBTQ Americans 2018-04-19
Women's Group on Ouster of Williamson from Atlantic 2018-04-05
GLAAD Report Calls on Journalists to Shift Narrative on Transgender Homicides 2018-03-28
Women's Group Calls for Firing of Extremist Writer from the Atlantic 2018-03-28
Texas man gets ten years prison for hate crime based on sexual orientation 2018-03-01
Lawyers group responds to reports of Fla. shooter's white nationalist ties 2018-02-15
Report: 2017 worst in 20 years for hate-related LGBTQ homicides 2018-01-22
World news: Chile election, Mugabe, UN principles, anti-gay jeweler 2017-11-28
Same-sex prep4love ads targeted by vandals 2017-11-19
THEATER REVIEW Wedding Band: A Love/Hate Story in Black and White 2017-11-15
 



Copyright © 2019 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor


 



About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Submit an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.