“AN OPEN LETTER TO THE FAMILY AND FRIENDS OF RYAN LOSKARN” by Tony Casson

“God blesses those who mourn,
For they will be comforted.”
  Matthew 5:4 NLT

“I dreamt the past was never past redeeming
But whether this was fact or honest dreaming
I beg death’s pardon now. And mourn the dead.”
Richard Wilbur – “THE PARDON”

To all who knew, loved, and will miss Ryan Loskarn;

Most of the world will quickly forget about Ryan Loskarn and move on to other things. You, his family and friends, will not. He will always be with you, and you will always remember him. It is my heartfelt prayer that each one of you remembers what it was about Ryan that touched those soft spots in your hearts. Remember him when he was helping someone; remember him when he was kind, caring, considerate, and compassionate; remember Ryan as a good person because I believe he was, indeed, a good person.

Since I have never met Ryan, how can I possibly know he was a good person? Through prayer, and God’s love.

I have prayed for Ryan, and for all of you, since I first learned of his arrest. While the volume of my tears upon hearing of Ryan’s death, and the intensity with which they were cried, can in no way compare with the tears of all of you, particularly Ryan’s parents, the tears did flow. They still flow when I think about the words he wrote in the letter he left before he pronounced a death sentence upon himself. It was a death sentence I understand all too well, as I pronounced one upon myself when the FBI came to arrest me for similar reasons. Through the grace of God, I survived that brutal assault upon myself, sparing my children and other family members and friends what you are all going through now.

In the words Ryan left behind lie the ability for anyone who has a heart filled with God’s love to see the goodness that was Ryan Loskarn. It should be easy for anyone to discern from those words that they were written by a kind, loving, sensitive individual. It should be as equally easy to picture a man who was ashamed, embarrassed, lost, and confused; not some monster trying to escape the penalty society was about to impose upon him. I believe Ryan was trying to escape himself. He couldn’t have liked that part of him which evil had seduced. He didn’t love himself, so he was unable to see the love others had for him. He couldn’t see the love God had for him. The evil which had seduced him blinded him to the fact that those who truly loved him would have continued to do so. It also blinded him to the fact that his life was not over; it was going to change drastically, but it was not over. The evil that seduced him blinded him to all of that, plus the knowledge that God loved him and could have saved him.

Ryan could only see that his immediate future was in the arena where those who committed the sins he committed are regularly thrown to the lions with little or no regard to who they really are as people, or how they had become so completely and utterly lost. There is no thought given to fixing a problem which drags this nation farther and farther into the sewer on a daily basis, wreaking havoc and scorching the earth behind it. There is nothing resembling intelligent dialogue to address a problem which destroys lives; the lives of those seduced by the evils society allows to enter into our homes unimpeded, as well as the lives of those whose only ‘crime’ was to love them. I am not forgetting those children Ryan so powerfully and emotionally apologized to in his letter. But for the moment, this is not their story because their lives are not the only ones affected in all of this. They deserve better than they are getting from those who claim to be ‘protecting’ them, but more on that later.

Irony sometimes delivers tragic consequences, as evidenced by the fact Ryan’s political savvy likely played a role in his decision to end his life. He knew only too well that the political stages used by many of those seeking public office are built upon a foundation consisting of lives destroyed unnecessarily and with increasing frequency resulting from our policy of pursuit and prosecution rather than prevention. In far too many cases this policy creates the opportunity for evil to seduce those they will later destroy and use as part of the stage upon which they will stand and boldly state “I am protecting America’s children!” Hard to vote against someone who is doing that. But in his heart, Ryan MUST have known all of that was nothing more than political grandstanding; his knowledge of politics and those who played that brutal game assured his awareness of the fact it was all pompous, political puffery designed to garner votes; he suddenly found himself face to face with the fact he had inadvertently contributed to the out-of-control machine which would now label him as a monster. But Ryan Loskarn was a good person, and he knew it. He KNEW the problem was NOT that he was a monster. In his heart, Ryan knew that these same individuals who were clamoring for photo-ops on the backs of tragically destroyed individuals and their families were the ones who allowed the REAL monster into our homes in the first place.

Ryan’s death was preventable and this is what cause MY tears to flow the hardest. If our elected public servants (how many of them actually realize they are there to serve us?) had been serving the needs of America and acting in a truly responsible manner in the PAST, Ryan Loskarn would still have a FUTURE. If the peer-to-peer programs which Ryan mentioned, which deliver so much filth into our nation’s homes, were held responsible for their content or removed from the internet altogether; if Congress was more concerned with saving the lives of this nation’s citizens rather than incarcerating them under the ridiculously and irresponsibly offensive and vulgar banner they fly of “Protecting Our Children”; if America’s citizens would demand that its representatives do their jobs rather than simply do what will get them re-elected, Ryan Loskarn and many, many others would still be alive.

Would Ryan still have problems dues to the abuse he suffered as a child? Of course, but if we can all try to understand that the issues plaguing Ryan were not unique to him; if we can bring ourselves to realize we live in an environment where our government and judicial system regularly stand UP for the rights of those who wish to flood our senses with filth and stand ON the rights of those who wish to promote decency, morality, and -are you ready?- GOD; if we can look at things with solutions in mind and God’s love in our hearts, perhaps we can prevent more families from suffering the loss of someone else’s ‘Ryan’ in such a heartbreakingly tragic and totally unnecessary manner.

God often provides us with opportunities wrapped up in tragedy, sadness, and loss. I know all of you loved Ryan for who he WAS, and could have, and would have, helped him make it through what he DID. Perhaps the tragedy of his death, the loss of his smile in your lives and the sadness of the utter senselessness of the whole situation regarding the events leading up to a young man finding it necessary to take his own life can provide us all with an opportunity to demand an explanation from those who offer nothing but the destruction of American families as a solution to a problem that reaches into more homes in this country than any of them would ever dare to admit. And THAT sad situation exists because Congress will not do what it CAN do to prevent it.

Nothing can bring Ryan back, and I know this. I pray for all of you who loved him and I ask God to help light the way to find the opportunities Ryan’s death can provide which might prevent other parents, friends, and family members from experiencing the pain you are all feeling now.

Ryan Loskarn, may God welcome you home and use you as a beacon of hope for all those similarly afflicted and feeling similar pain. May He show us all more mercy than we deserve, and help this country’s leaders understand the complete and utter futility of doing only that which is politically  expedient as opposed to that which can actually help those they are elected to serve.

“THE ‘SOMETHING’ I DIDN’T DO” by Tony Casson

“So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making His appeal through us.
We speak for Christ when we plead, ‘Come back to God!'”

2 Corinthians 5:20 NLT

“I am only one. But still, I am one. I cannot do everything. But still, I can
do something. I will not refuse to do the something I CAN do!” Helen Keller

I have used the words of Helen Keller a couple of times during the last few years in these Chronicles and in “TODAY IS….A Gift From God”. I do not believe that the words are simply words that look good on paper. I believe they provide a good reminder of what our obligation is to those around us, and to ourselves. They are a profound statement of how we should live our lives. Contained within those few, well-used words are instructions on how to help ourselves, for it is only by helping others that we can accomplish that. Found therein as well is encouragement that little things can make big differences and it is a reminder to never refuse to do the little things we are capable of doing. We are all more powerful than we think. We can all do SOMETHING.

I thought my relationship with God, which grows stronger each day, would help me to always DO the ‘something’ that I could do. I suffer no delusions of grandeur that include the notion these “Chronicles” have a wide-ranging audience and wield enormous influence that contributes mightily toward the betterment of the world in which we live. At the same time, I am aware that at least some of the words printed here over the last 3 1/2 years have done something positive; have changed the way some people think; have helped someone in some small way. I always remembered the story of the little girl throwing the starfish back into the sea, saving them, one by one. She couldn’t save them all, but she saved the ones she could. She did SOMETHING.

Unfortunately, I recently failed to do the ‘something’ I could do to reach out to another human being, and now that ‘something’ cannot be done as originally intended, because the individual in question committed suicide. While I certainly did not cause him to do what he did, I failed to do ‘something’ that possibly could have made a difference. It would be argued by some that the chances of my ‘something’ changing the outcome were slim, but when we do nothing, there is NO chance of change or affecting the outcome of ANY situation.

Ryan Loskarn was a long-time, dedicated employee for a well-known United States Senator. In fact, Ryan was Senator Lamar Alexander’s chief-of-staff when he was arrested in December for possession and distribution of child pornography. Of course, he was fired immediately upon being arrested and it is a relative certainty many of the people in Ryan’s address book quickly put as much distance as possible between themselves and Ryan. Ryan had been staying with his parents in Maryland awaiting resolution of his case when he apparently decided that taking his own life was the best way to resolve his situation.

The ‘something’ I was going to do was post an article here titled “FALLEN” which contained open letters for both Senator Alexander and for Ryan. Most of what was going to be printed had been written. All that needed was for things to be ‘tidied up’ and for it to be typed and posted. I dragged my feet. I felt there was time. I was involved in other things. I was focused on me. The lesson of doing the one thing I COULD do was temporarily lost or forgotten.

I feel as if I have let Ryan down and, in turn, his family. As one who was very nearly successful in taking his own life, I ask the public to try to understand his pain, and to join me in prayer for Ryan and his family. I would also ask everyone to read carefully all that follows. Perhaps the words intended for Ryan can reach someone else, and perhaps those intended for Senator Alexander can help to prevent anyone else from getting into a situation where they feel Ryan’s solution is the only one open to them.

I am sorry, Ryan. May God have mercy on your soul and may He watch over your family as they struggle to make sense of something that is senseless in so very many ways.

Here, then, is the ‘something’ I could have done. May God help me to never fail to do it again, and may He help another individual in need of these words find them. In finding them, may they make a difference, even if it is a very small one:

“FALLEN” by Tony Casson

“For everything that is hidden will eventually be brought into the open,
and every secret will be brought to light.”
  (Mark 4:22 NLT)

“Fallen, fallen, fallen, fallen,

Fallen from his high estate,

And welt’ring in his blood;

Deserted, at his utmost need

By those his former bounty fed,

On the bare earth expos’d he lies,

With not a friend to close his eyes.”

John Dryden  “Alexander’s Feast”

As I move through my day-to-day existence in prison, everywhere I look my eyes gaze upon men who have fallen. The greatest in number probably did not have very far to fall, but have fallen nonetheless. Others have tumbled from slightly loftier positions in life while still others have fallen from great heights.

All the men around me, as evidenced by their presence with me here in Oakdale FCI, have all been convicted of, or plead guilty to, their crimes. This is not the case regarding the subject of this article. This particular individual has only been arrested to this point, but he has already fallen a great distance.

His name is Ryan Loskarn, and until recently Ryan was the chief-of-staff for United States Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee. At his home in Washington, D.C. early in December, Ryan began his fall when he was arrested for possession and distribution of child pornography.

Unfortunately, and much to the shame of this great nation, this is not an isolated or unusual event. Men and women across the United States are arrested daily in ever-increasing numbers for similar crimes involving internet child pornography. Another arrest is, sadly, unnecessarily routine in this country today.

However, given the high profile person for whom Ryan worked, his arrest naturally garnered national attention. My friend Richard Roy and I discussed the significance of this particular arrest during one of our daily ‘world-problem-solving-walks’ around the track that encompasses the recreation yard. During the course of that conversation, I made a comment which sparked something in Richard who then said something that sparked something in me.

With all of those sparks flying, it was inevitable that we would start a fire. That fire is presented here in the form of two ‘open letters’. The first one is intended for Senator Alexander and was written by Richard. The second was written for Ryan Loskarn and was penned by yours truly.

Our intent in writing each of them, as is the case in all we do, is to try to change the destructive course America is on and to find better ways of protecting America, America’s citizens and – of paramount importance – America’s children.

“AN OPEN LETTER TO SENATOR LAMAR ALEXANDER”
by Richard Roy

Dear Senator Alexander,

Reading an article in “The Houston Chronicle” concerning the recent arrest of Ryan Loskarn, your Chief Of Staff, for possession and distribution of child pornography, I came across a quote attributed to you which said, in part, that you were ‘stunned, surprised, and disappointed” when you were informed.

Frankly, Senator Alexander, I find the use of those terms to be quite disingenuous in light of the fact you are such a prominent figure in our nation’s capitol. Certainly it has not escaped your attention that the halls of Congress are a place where immorality, indecency, sex, greed, corruption and excess proliferate unabated. You, of all people, should never be stunned – or even surprised – when, in such an atmosphere, those around you succumb to the siren song of sin. Even men steeped in the Word of God – Jimmy Swaggert, Ted Haggard, to name just a couple – have demonstrated the fallibility of men. We are all, simply human – even men of God, as well as those who are public figures.

While you most likely expected Mr. Loskarn to be above reproach in his behavior, to say that you are ‘stunned’, or ‘surprised’ is to place anyone, including yourself, above the capacity to fail. ‘Disappointed’ is an appropriate and perfectly acceptable descriptive phrase to use, but that disappointment should not create the need to distance yourself from him. This need is a perfect example of where this country, and the men and women who lead it, demonstrate a definite lack of character. Our need to disassociate ourselves when someone we are close to in a personal or professional relationship exhibits less-than-desirable behavior portrays a less-than-desirable understanding of what Jesus Christ said when he instructed us to love one another. He most assuredly did NOT mean to love them only when it is comfortable, convenient, and politically advantageous to do so.

Mr. Loskarn would undoubtedly not have held the position he did with you unless his abilities, talents, and personality added value to YOUR ability to serve your country. What is different about this man today than yesterday? What has changed? Did the organizational skills that are required of someone in that demanding position suddenly vaporize? Are his personality and confident manner no longer of consequence? The day before he was arrested, would you have stood up with Ryan, put your arm around him and stated publicly that you were proud to know him? Do you think he is really a different person than the one you thought you knew? Have you asked him if this is so?

Right now, Mr. Loskarn needs the public support of those in his familial, social, and professional networks. Instead of distancing yourself from the situation, close ranks around him, encourage him, hold him up, and let him know that he is not facing this ordeal alone. Ryan possesses the same qualities that endeared him to all who knew him prior to his arrest. The only difference is you are now aware of his fallibility – his humanity. Ryan Loskarn has a flaw. This should NOT come as a surprise.

Perhaps it is the nature of Ryan’s flaw. Possibly you find it to be particularly offensive, and that certainly would be understandable. Without question, it is a SERIOUS flaw. That it is morally repugnant cannot be denied. The charges against Ryan make decent men and women uncomfortable in the extreme.

All of that notwithstanding, it must also be emphatically stated that the crack in Ryan’s character is something that can be repaired, despite what an emotionally-incensed American public has been led to believe.

In fact, the fall from grace of a heretofore dedicated and loyal long-term employee of a well-respected public servant with a long history of service to this country presents us with a unique opportunity. Quite possibly, the closeness of the situation to an individual such as yourself who is at the very center of this nation’s ruling body can cause a closer look to be taken at the entirety of internet child pornography, the havoc it is creating, and the destruction it is leaving in its wake. This destruction encompasses not only those who have violated the very basic tenets of human decency, but includes innocent victims such as the families of these individuals. The ensuing requirement to register as sex offenders further hobbles the return to any semblance of ‘normalcy’ for these individuals and their families and is a part of the overall problem that needs to be addressed in ways that are more constructive and effective than simply passing stricter laws with increased punishments and doing it all under the pathetically self-serving political banner of ‘protecting the children’. Protect the children we MUST, but the time has come to face the fact that the current approach does not accomplish that at all. In fact, this government’s refusal to NOT take the simple steps that are immediately available to it to severely slow the proliferation of these vile images on the Internet actually CONTRIBUTES to the further victimization of those already severely damaged by those who committed the abuse portrayed in the images themselves.

(Editor’s Note: In the pages of these Chronicles over the years, several articles have been published outlining steps that can be taken with very little effort or expense that would positively contribute to achieving that end. Articles such as: “A Necessary Intrusion – Part 4” (7/31/12); “A Child Protection Act That Doesn’t” (8/29/12); “Unnecessary Harm And Confusion – Fast And Furious, The Sequel” (10/5/12); “A Call To Action – A Demand For An Explanation” (3/1/13); “In Knowledge Lies Potential For Change” (5/15/13; “Warning Labels” (6/21/13) In your position Senator, there is MUCH that you can do!)

As for your disgraced former chief-of-staff; Mr. Loskarn will never be the same. Whether this is for the better depends in large part on the strength of those around him and the support he receives. It is possible – desirable, even – to hate the sin and still show love, compassion and hope to the sinner. The most effective demonstration of this principle must be public, not private. Jesus’ public ministry was to the sick, weak, outcast, and those tangled in sexual promiscuity and perversion. He transformed many such lives. You have an opportunity to take Emerson’s ‘road less traveled’ in supporting Ryan publically; promising support and encouragement if he is willing to admit he has a problem that needs to be dealt with; and publicly acknowledging that change IS possible. No one is more miserable or more critical of Ryan Loskarn at this moment than Ryan Loskarn himself. He needs no help putting himself down. He is deserving of your help to lift him up and demonstrate the ability of human beings to correct their mistakes, even the immoral ones. To do less is to state simply that people are incapable of redemption and restoration and if that is the case, then those of you who sit in the center of power might simply say, “When you make a mistake, you go to prison for life.” That, sir, would be ridiculous in the extreme, and totally contrary to the reality which comprises human nature. People can, and do, change. They need help to accomplish that, and Ryan needs YOUR help. So does this country, Senator.

Respectfully,
Richard Roy

“A Postscript To Senator Lamar Alexander’s Letter”
by Tony Casson

Senator Alexander,

As you are well aware, this letter is too late to do Ryan Loskarn any good, and that is my fault. Richard did his part in the days immediately following Ryan’s arrest by writing the letter and getting it to me. I dragged my feet doing my part, so it is too late for anyone to rally around Ryan, but it is not too late for you to look into the articles that have been posted here which contain positive, practical, and promising suggestions to address this plague upon our country in ways that might prevent more lost souls, such as Ryan, from ending what could be productive lives. In many cases, we are not dealing with career criminal types, or everybody’s definition of a ‘monster’. In many, many instances we are simply locking up misguided, confused, often socially inept individuals who possibly could have been prevented from straying from the path of behavior that, if not moral, was at least legal. In the process, much of the damage caused to an often unsuspecting world from images that have captured the sexual abuse of children might be prevented. Surely this would be preferred over allowing this material to infest our country’s homes in the hopes of catching people doing something that will destroy their lives, their families, and, in some very sad and unnecessary cases, cost some individuals their lives.

Ryan eliminated the need for you to stand up and support him publicly, as you should have. However, his tragic and senseless death does not eliminate the need for you to stand up and protect this country. It fact, his death CRIES for you to do just that!

Sincerely,
Tony Casson

Following is the letter that was intended for Ryan. Perhaps it contains some words that can still do someone, somewhere, some good. Perhaps what was intended for his heart can find its way into someone else’s:

“An Open Letter To Ryan Loskarn” by Tony Casson

Dear Ryan,

My name is Tony Casson. We do not know each other, nor is it likely that we will ever physically meet. Despite that relative certainty, I would like to try to help you.

At this moment in time, your life is undoubtedly feeling rather surreal. More than likely you are numb with the shock and the shame that I have come to learn – as have tens of thousands of others – quite naturally accompanies the discovery of secrets that somehow did not seem anywhere near as deplorable while still veiled with the cover of darkness as they do now the veil has been lifted and the light of decency is shining upon them. Such is the nature of secrets.

With the light now shining brightly on YOUR secrets, Ryan, you are quite probably filled with trepidation at what the future holds for you. The public veneer which you carefully crafted over the years, and has obviously served you well – at least in the framework of how you lived your PUBLIC life – has developed a ‘crack’ in it that may, at least for the moment, appear to be irreparable and about to deliver catastrophic consequences.

It is true that this ‘crack’ is not merely a minor surface imperfection, like a scratch marring an automobile’s paint job which can be rubbed out, smoothed over, and restored to its original appearance. This imperfection, this flaw, has its origins well below the surface and has just now risen to where it is visible and on display for the world to see. It is evidence of an underlying situation or condition that cries out to be addressed. The ‘crack’ does not, in and of itself, carry with it consequences that cannot be overcome, but they cannot be avoided and they MUST be faced.

Ryan, I encourage you to take comfort when I tell you this can all be dealt with to a positive outcome. Let there be no mistake, though: You will NOT be restored to the same “Ryan” you were before, but you CAN quickly learn the “Ryan” you have been is not the “Ryan” God intended you to be when you were born. Dealing with all of this will not be easy. In fact, it will require a lot of support from family and friends, and it will require you to lean heavily upon God.

I encounter men on a daily basis whom I believe are decent at the core but, like me, allowed themselves to be seduced by evil and found themselves consumed with behavior that shocked and repulsed them, as well as their friends and family, when that behavior was finally forced into the light.

There is a rule that must be adopted by individuals who find themselves in this situation, Ryan: DON’T WASTE YOUR MISTAKES. Of the men I encounter in prison, so many lament their situation and spend their days pointing the finger of blame everywhere but at themselves. Turning this ‘curse’ into a blessing is something far too few men I meet choose to do. It is easier to harbor resentment for being in prison than it is to address WHY we are here, HOW we can fix it, and WHAT we will do to make positive use of a very negative experience.

Prison is most likely in your future, but prison certainly does not have to BE your future. When you make a conscious and determined decision to walk through those gates with God, you have immediately begun to prepare yourself for the day when you will walk back out those same gates with your head held high. You will not be proud of what you have done, but you will be proud of the person God has helped you to become.

In no way am I saying that life will be easy while you are in prison, or after you are released, but with God always at the center of your thoughts, you will face both with the confidence that comes from God’s assurance that He will be with you each and every step of the way.

How do I know this? Because I hated the person I had allowed myself to become, Ryan. I hated that person so much I made a violent attempt on my own life when the FBI came to arrest me. God saved me from dying that day because I cried out to Him for help when there was very little time left, and He stepped in and caused me to be saved. Since that day, I have looked to Him for strength to guide me through the entire pretrial, sentencing, and surrendering process; He was with me when I walked onto the compound; and He has been with me daily to light the way and help me to understand who I am and why I am here. I am utterly amazed at the person I have become over the last 4 years, and I am prepared for life – and eager to be an active participant in it – in a way I have never been. I have been a willing student, but all of the credit; all of the glory, goes to God. Proverbs 21:31 says, “We are the horses, prepared for battle, but the victory belongs to the Lord!”

I am prepared for whatever I may face when I walk out those doors because I know that God will settle for nothing short of victory for me, Ryan, and I want this for you. Why? Because I know GOD does, and I know He is waiting to help you. All you have to do is ask Him, and be willing to hand over all of your burdens to Him.

I pray for the very best for you and your family, Ryan. God has a plan for you. Let Him reveal it to you.

With my fervent prayers for YOUR future and YOUR hope,
Tony Casson

“An Afterword”

It is impossible to describe the way I felt as I finished typing the words I WANTED Ryan to read. Another young man is dead. Ryan is far from the first to have ended their life needlessly after their secrets have come to light. Sadly, in this Godless, intolerant, judgmental and hypocritical society of ours, I am certain there were people who applauded his death; people who celebrated his decision to end his life; people who wish more of those of us who have fallen would follow suit.

It is my hope that God will find a way to take these words intended for Ryan and bring them to the attention of someone else who is in need of reading them. The message is the same for anyone who finds themselves seduced by evil and is now going through court proceedings and facing prison or jail time as a result of their inability to resist the ‘siren song of sin’, as Richard Roy so aptly put it.

God CAN help us even when we think we are beyond help. These are not just idle words. This is the Truth as God has said it, and as He has proven it through His restoration and renewal of this man typing these words. Ask Him to help YOU.

DON’T WASTE YOUR MISTAKES!

And please, do NOT waste another life.

Thank you all for your time, and may God bless you all.

“A Child Protection Act That Doesn’t”

“I am writing these things to warn you about those who want to lead you astray.”           – 1 John 2:26 NLT

“Mr. Kremlin himself was distinguished for ignorance, for he had only one idea – and that was wrong.”   – Benjamin Disraeli

      On June 29, 2012, Texas Congressman Lamar Smith introduced H.R. 6063, a bill which, on its surface, is as noble and well-intentioned as a piece of legislation can possibly be.  Titled “The Child Protection Act of 2012,” it would be difficult for anyone to find fault with its lofty purported goal – to protect children.

      While I cannot find fault with the goal, the bill itself is a misguided, misinformed,  and useless piece of pompous political puffery and does little if anything at all to protect any child from anything. In fact, it diverts still more funds and attention away from any sincere effort to provide protection for those identified in its inappropriately named title.  H.R. 6063 is shameless political grandstanding at its lowest which actually exploits the very children it claims to protect for purely political gain.

      Too harsh? Probably not harsh enough since Mr. Smith and his staff demonstrate surprising insensitivity  and a true lack of understanding of the very problem for which H.R. 6063 claims to offer a solution – how to protect the children of America. This lack of understanding borders on incompetence at its best and blatant exploitation at its worst. In either scenario, a case could be made against Mr. Smith’s fitness to  serve the public.

      Let’s review some of the statements he made while introducing this bill. First, he states that the bill “increases penalties for the possession of child pornography.” According to nationally published data, 76% of the nation’s federal judges feel the guidelines and enhancements for possession of child pornography are too high already, resulting in many thousands of individuals spending much more time in federal prison for looking at pictures than many of the individuals who perform the acts depicted in the pictures themselves.

      Second, Rep. Smith claims that H.R. 6063 “helps prevent more victims by raising the penalties for those who hurt our children.”  Again, he is attacking the problem on the back end, after the damage has been done. The root cause of harm to children in this country is never addressed.

      Third, he further states, “Internet child pornography may be the fastest growing crime in America, increasing on average of 150% each year.” The reality is, if the personnel and prison space were available, prosecutions could increase by ten times 150% per year because the number of computers that contain some form or d fragment of child pornography on them is estimated at 75% or higher by some sources. The answer to the child pornography issue lies in preventing it from being produced.

      Fourth, Mr. Smith states, “Every day these online criminals prey on our children with virtual anonymity.” Our movements, actions and interests are all known by our Internet Service  Providers (ISPs). There is no real anonymity. If there is an increase in the availability of child pornography online, then the ISPs as well as the Justice Department should be held liable for civil and criminal damages since it is within their ability to detect, filter and eliminate it at the source or, at the very least, severely limit its  dissemination.

      The bald truth is that H.R. 6063 offers little more than an attention-getting banner to be waved by Mr. Smith as he campaigns for reelection. It offers precious little in the way of honest attempts to address the very real horrors of sexual abuse that hundreds of thousands of American children face every day. For Mr. Smith to attempt to capitalize on their pain and loss of innocence for political gain is shameful in the extreme.

      For the most part, all Mr. Smith does address is child pornography and this he discusses with a  statement that demonstrates how off-target he and his staff (like so many lawmakers) are. It is difficult to get the real problem addressed because they are too fixed on riding the vote-garnering wave of the easy problem.  The real problem, the root of this evil mess, is the child sexual abuse that enables child pornography to exist in the first place.

       Mr. Smith flaunted his ignorance regarding the root cause of the problem when he said, “Trafficking of child pornography images was almost completely eradicated in America by the mid-1980s. Purchasing or trading these images was risky and almost impossible to do anonymously. But the advent of the Internet reversed this accomplishment”. Mr. Smith spoke as though child pornography was the problem. Child pornography was a separate problem created as a result of the root problem of the sexual abuse of children. At no time does Mr.-Smith give any indication that he understands this.

      The approach of Mr. Smith and many other legislators is tantamount to implying that the drug addict is the problem rather than the result of the real problem – the production and distribution of drugs. The more accurate statement is, if there wel:e no drugs, we would have no drug addicts. Similarly, if child sexual abuse did not exist~, there would be no child pornography, since every single instance of child pornography is a visual record of child sexual abuse.

      This nation’s lawmakers have proven to be woefully inadequate and ineffective in the war on drugs. Do we really want to repeat the litany of mistakes made in that ill-conceived effort? Why not focus on the real problem and work toward a meaningful solution rather than being subjected to a tiresome parade of cheap political smokescreens such as that advanced by Rep. Smith. As for his specious claim that the goal of protecting our children was almost attained in the 1980s, nothing could be further from the  truth.

      Just ask anyone of the hundreds of thousands of individuals who were sexually abused as children during that time. Just because there may not have been an availability of the images recording these children’s pain does not mean there was no pain to record. Because there was a scarcity of video does not mean there was a lack of inexcusable, horrific acts to film.

      A tree falling in the forest when there is no one around to hear it fall still makes a sound and children still cried out as a result of the violation of their innocence and dignity, even if people like Mr. Smith truly believe that the problem was almost solved simply because there appeared to be an absence of photographic evidence.

      The sad and. simple truth is that children have always been at risk. But they have never been at greater risk than they are when in the “safety” of their own homes. It is a very well documented and unfortunate fact of life that fathers, stepfathers, brothers, uncles and family friends – even mothers – account for the overwhelming majority of all sexual abuse of children and some professionals estimate that as many as one in three females has suffered sexual abuse as a child.

      Consider the following information from the book “Perverted Justice” by Charles Patrick Ewing (Oxford University Press, 2011):

According to a report written in 2000 by Howard N. Snyder from the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics entitled “Sexual Assault of Young Children as Reported to Law Enforcement: Victim, Incident and Offender Characteristics,” “Children were very unlikely to be sexually victimized by people they did not know.” In fact, the report gave the following statistics for different age groups of girls who were sexually abused:

– Girls ages 0-5;          51.1% family; 45.9% acquaintances; 3% strangers

– Ages 6-11;                43.8% family;  51.4% acquaintances;  4.8% strangers

– Ages 12-17;              24.3% family; 65.7% acquaintances; 10% strangers

      Since the primary objective is to effectively protect the children, we must first define the things we must endeavor to protect them from:

1) Children have a right to be protected from child sexual abuse and the furt erance of that abuse through the production of photographic images which record it.

2) Children have a right to be protected from the intentional and unintentional viewing of that recorded abuse by individuals unknown to the victims. These individuals help to perpetuate the emotional victimization of the children when they are aware that their abuse is being viewed by strangers.

      So I ask you, Mr. Smith: How does “The Child Protection Act of 2012” protect the children of this country from sexual abuse?   The clear answer is that it does not.

      There are far too many empty promises on the law books already, Mr. Smith. Another one, regardless of how nobly it is titled, is not needed. There is no room, nor is there any time to waste, on any more “professional poisoning of the public mind,” to borrow a phrase from Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter.

      In a previous article, I said we must “lock the door on child pornography,” and this we must do, but we must also throw open the door of truth and examine the ugliness that lies beyond 1t and has created millions of broken-hearted and broken-spirited people in this country. It is time to do something that will create positive change in fragile lives and not just enhance political careers.

      I tear nothing down without offering a possible solution or, at least, constructive positive suggestions with which to replace that which I criticize. With that said, I now submit the following steps for addressing the aforementioned concerns and ensuring the rights of America’s children to grow up as safely as possible:

      The language of any constructive bill should clearly and emphatically require all Internet Service Providers to utilize all available technology to stem the flow of child pornography and prevent the images of horror that their filters have captured from further damaging the lives of those victimized in them. A more detailed essay on this point is contained in “A Necessary Intrusion: Perhaps the Wrong People Are Behind Bars,” an earlier posting on this blog.

      To address the root problem, that of the sexual abuse itself, I will first point out that every state has a child protective services agency that is underutilized, understaffed, underfunded and overworked. To combat child sexual abuse in America, I propose the following five items:

1) Priority funding for child protective services should be provided to allow reorganization, rededication of purpose, staff increases and restructuring to include higher standards of performance and increased levels of training specifically to recognize and deal with sexual abuse. Increased staffing levels, lower caseloads and greater  accountability will prove invaluable in any sincere effort to protect children and enhance their safety. These agencies should be a priority in every state and federal guidelines for performance goals and funding to help meet those goals should be provided.

2) Priority funding for top-level psychological assistance for discovered victims, including faith-based counseling if it is desired.

3) Make educational awareness a priority at all levels up to and including high school. Make trained counselors available and set up local and national hotlines for those too timid to come forward, ensuring that they are manned with trained, compassionate and sincere personnel – perhaps even survivors of sexual abuse.  Make certain all available education and information reaches low income, ethnic and foreign language areas in the community.

4) Interact with national child sexual abuse organizations such as “Stop the Silence” to help devise ways to reach out to victims of all ages using rallies in auditoriums and gymnasiums featuring survivors of sexual abuse as speakers to encourage victims to come forward and get help to stop the abuse.

5) Priority funding for a national ad campaign in multiple languages with radio, television, print and  billboard coverage to eliminate the silence on this subject and get victims to seek counseling assistance. These efforts should include print ads and television public service announcements detailing the existing penalties concerning illegal images; the very sentences Rep. Smith proposes to increase. A broad spectrum of the public should be made aware that the viewing, downloading, possession and trading of child pornography will result in a sentence of from five to twenty years in a federal prison and the creation and production of those images will net the offender a sentence ranging from twenty years to life.

      This list, Mr. Smith, is in no way as complete as it can be but it should serve as a solid base from which to put together a plan that will begin to affect change.

      I challenge you, and your fellow lawmakers, to get to work doing the right thing for America’s children. You just might get reelected in the process for doing something worthwhile.

      At the very least, you will be able to say you really did act to protect the children of America.