“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.

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.

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!

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.


And please, do NOT waste another life.

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

“WARNING LABELS” by Tony Casson

“For I have five brothers, and I want to warn them so they don’t end up in this place of torment.”  Luke 16:28 NLT

“Forewarned forearmed”    Cervantes – “Don Quixote”

In articles titled “A Necessary Intrusion – Part IV”, posted in July of 2012, and “A Call To Action – A Demand For An Explanation”, posted in March of this year, I outlined simple steps that could be taken immediately by Internet Service Providers to drastically reduce the proliferation of child pornography on the internet, as well as the subsequent destruction of lives and families that proliferation is leaving in its wake. The intent of those articles was to convey the message that ‘prevention’ should be the first course of action, rather than ‘pursuit, prosecution, and punishment’ which seems to be the preferred course of action currently employed by the United States Dept. Of Justice.

Taking the concept of ‘prevention’ one step farther, in an article written by Steve Marshall and posted here on May 5, 2013 titled “In knowledge Lies The Potential For Change”, Public Service Announcements (PSA’s) about child pornography were proposed and outlined. Education and enlightenment geared towards prevention was the article’s intent, and Mr. Marshall did an excellent job of writing a proposed “script” for just such an announcement.

These steps, used together, can go a long way in raising awareness and PREVENTING harm rather than simply waiting and watching for harm to be done before responding. We are awaiting action to be taken on these suggestions, and expect that sooner or later those who are responsible to this nation’s citizens will do the right thing and implement them.

But there are other disturbing issues and trends that have troubled me recently and, after considering the matter carefully, I have come up with additional suggestions which can not only further contribute in a POSITIVE manner in the fight against child pornography, but will also take steps to battle a new and extremely frightening trend that is developing in America: The utterly tragic suicide of teens and other young men and women following the public internet posting of recorded sexual activity, some “consensual”, and some not. There is also the matter of the destruction of the lives of those individuals who insensitively, recklessly, foolishly, and ignorantly participate in the public humiliation of the victims, as well as the damage done to the families of ALL involved.

In the not-too-distant past, in California, a 15 year old girl went to a party where she became intoxicated and passed out. While she was unconscious, three 16 year old boys, who were supposed to be her ‘best friends’, undressed her, sexually molested and assaulted her, and used a cell phone to record the assault. Those pictures were then posted where they were viewed by many others. Eight days later, the girl took her own young life when she hung herself because her ‘life was over’. Her parents were not aware of the pictures and the assault until after their daughter was dead.

A mother and father lost a beautiful young daughter whose entire life was stretched out before her because of insensitivity, ignorance, a lack of awareness, and this county’s unwillingness to teach our children the proper way to live their lives and respect the lives of other people.

In addition to the life of the young girl being lost, the lives of the three boys, who were all arrested, have all been unalterably changed for the worse. Their parents, as well, will suffer now as a result of the actions of these unthinking individuals.

Many of us are also familiar with the story of the college student who leaped to his death from a bridge following an ‘innocent practical joke’ in which his sexual encounter with another male was secretly recorded and publicly viewed via the internet by many others. Those responsible were arrested as well, but the worst punishment they will face will be the permanent knowledge that their insensitivity and thoughtlessness led to the death of another human being.

These are just a couple examples of the preventable deaths connected to the shame and humiliation that comes as a result of the misuse of technology in the hands of immature and irresponsible individuals. They are just a couple examples of many that have occurred, and they will not be the last ones unless reasonable steps are taken to raise awareness amongst the young ABUSERS of cell phones, computers, and the internet in this country.

Most cases of the abuse of technology do not result in death, but the very sad reality is that these types of incidents are occurring with alarming frequency and regularity.

In a very recent incident which occurred in a city not far from this institution, a 16 year old boy went to a party where there was alcohol. There is no evidence that the boy was drinking, but the 15 year old girl that he met WAS. They went upstairs together and went into a bedroom of the house and engaged in what he later claimed was “consensual” sex. At some point, someone opened the door to the room without their knowledge and took photographs which were later posted on the internet and viewed by many before they were brought to the attention of the girl’s father, who happened to be a member of the Baton Rouge police department. He confronted his daughter who claimed she had passed out from drinking and had no recollection of the incident which resulted in the boy being arrested for rape and, at last report, was being charged as an adult.

No matter the outcome, there will be NO “winners” in this incident, in any of the others in the past, or in those yet to unfold. One thing is almost guaranteed: After each and every incident of a nature similar to these, newer, tougher laws and restrictions on ‘sex offenders’ will be proposed and passed. Let us look, instead, to what we can do IMMEDIATELY to PREVENT further incidents from occurring in the first place.

To address the growing trend towards the inappropriate use and ABUSE of cell phones, computers, and the internet, I suggest a multi-pronged approach that involves the use of ‘warning labels’, computer tutorials, PSA’s, and public school classroom instruction or seminars. None of it is complicated, all of it is quite easily, inexpensively, and readily doable, and every single step has the potential to save lives or prevent them from being irreparably damaged.

WARNING LABELS – I propose that a law be passed (ironic that I actually WANT a law passed, I know, but read on) requiring the presence of ‘warning labels’ on all packaging and in the instruction manuals for all new cell phones, computers, tablets, or any other device that can record, store, download, or transmit via the internet, digital images or videos. These messages should make the purchaser/user aware that the recording, transmitting, sharing, downloading, or possessing of pornographic images of anyone under the age of 18 is a federal crime and is punishable by (insert current penalty information) years in prison. In addition, the recording of sexual activity without someone’s knowledge or permission, as well as the recording of the sexual ABUSE of someone who is incapacitated in any way REGARDLESS OF THEIR AGE is a violation of state or federal law and is punishable by imprisonment in a state or federal prison. Convictions for any of these crimes also requires the individual to register as a sex offender for periods up to, and including, LIFE! These messages should carry the seal of the FBI or US Dept. Of Justice with the emphasis on using technology LEGALLY and RESPONSIBLY.

COMPUTER TUTORIALS –  All new computers, laptops, tablets, and any other device that has internet capabilities and can be used to produce, store, download, or transmit digital photographs or videos should be required to have a noncancelable tutorial that displays the same information as the ‘warning label’ upon initial start-up. This tutorial, like the Terms Of Service, must be electronically ‘signed’, and cannot be ignored.

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENTS –  A variety of PSA’s featuring the parents of children who have committed suicide as a result of the abuse of the devices listed previously would lend powerful testimony to the dangers of insensitive and irresponsible use of these devices. The parents could be shown standing next to a poster-sized photo of their child and could relate the story of their death and the reason for it. These PSA’s would be extremely effective when aired on popular youth-oriented TV stations such as MTV, VH-1, etc.

MANDATORY ANNUAL CLASSROOM INSTRUCTION – All schools receiving public funds should be required to have a once-a-year mandatory ‘Electronic Device Awareness’ class for grades 6-12. these classes would involve a combination of audio-visual material utilizing PSA’s, the information found on ‘warning labels’ and in computer tutorials to introduce, reinforce, and remind students of the responsibilities of using all of the previously mentioned electronic devices in a safe, sensitive, and LEGAL manner. The classes should be no more than 30 minutes long and be required once each year for the grades mentioned.

Well, folks, there you have it. Are these miracle cures for a disease that is eating the moral core of our society? No. That lies with God. But these are simple, sensible, and inexpensive ideas that, when combined with the ones proposed previously by Steve Marshall and myself, could go a long, long way in contributing POSITIVELY to a safer, saner, more responsible Internet and technology environment for this nation’s children, and anyone else who utilizes the vast array of devices available to us today.

Please join me in encouraging the leaders of our nation to give ALL of the ideas presented here the serious consideration they deserve.

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

“When I Get Out of Prison, I’m Going Straight”

By Tony Casson & Steve Marshall

    Nah, I’m not talking about “going straight,” as in “no more criminal activity for me,” although Lord knows, that’s the truth because I am never coming back here again. But I am talking about… well, let me just tell you:

When I get out of prison, I’m going straight to the first bathroom I see that doesn’t have bunk beds or other people in it and I’m going to close the door without hanging a towel over the window. I’m going to sit there without fear of a man with a big keychain flinging the door open to see if I am actually doing my business or am I having sex with another inmate, smoking dope, masturbating or killing myself. I would just like to sit there, relax, read the paper and use the toilet.

When I get out of prison, I am going straight to the nearest refrigerator and stand with the door wide open, bathed in the light and the coolness and think back to the days when my mother’s voice would interrupt my reverie with “Anthony Edward, close that door!”

When I get out of prison, I’m going straight to the nearest mall and walk… just walk. I’m going to stop and look in the windows of the stores that interest me with no one yelling at me to “Move along!” and no one calling me to one side and running their hands over my body to see what I may or may not be carrying.

And speaking of walking… when I get out of prison, I’m going straight to a place where I can walk for miles and miles, walking aimlessly, taking in the sights and smells and sounds. No more left-hand turn walks around a distorted circle that made me feel like a NASCAR driver with no car; and when I call my sister and tell her I walked four miles and she asks, “Really? Where did you go?” I will tell her of my adventures instead of reminding her that I was in prison and walked around in a circle.

When I get out of prison, I’m going straight to the supermarket and I am going to walk right past the Ramen noodles and the rice and beans and I am going to head right to the meat department where I will pick up packages of steaks and thick pork chops and whole chickens and hold them close to me and kiss them – although probably just those I am buying, and I will try to make sure no one is around. And when I get home with my purchases, I am going to cook a big pile of meat and then I am going straight to the utensil drawer to get a real knife and fork with which to eat my big pile of meat. Metal ones. A sharp knife. Whoa… givin’ me chills here!

When I get out of prison, I am going straight to a big, soft comfortable bed that doesn’t sit four feet away from a toilet, doesn’t make my bones ache and doesn’t require me to climb up on a chair, then a table to access it. It also won’t have an overweight old(er) man snoring with a disturbing wetness in the bunk below me because there will be no bunk below me and if there is another person around, it will definitely not be another male. (“Not that there is anything wrong with that!” J. Seinfeld)

When I get out of prison, I’m going straight to the closet, where I will hang my clothes and then to the kitchen, where I will put away my food. My clothes and my food will miss each other, but that is too bad. They will get reacquainted with their own kind and will never share the same space again.

When I get out of prison, I’m going straight to the refrigerator – again! I just love the refrigerator. I will open the drawer with the vegetables and gaze lovingly upon the tomatoes and cucumbers; the zucchini and the mushrooms; the onions and fresh corn; I will pass on the carrots and cabbage for quite some time, however.

When I get out of prison, I’m going straight to my front window and gaze outside, watching the passing parade of people, pets and automobiles. And when I feel the time is right, I will open the front door and step outside myself without having to wait for the aforementioned gentleman with the keys to show up and decide when he would like to let me out.

When I get out of prison, I am going straight to the television and I am going to turn it on – and turn it off – turn it on and off again. I may even just stand there with the remote, changing channels and I will do it without someone beating me for touching it in the first place. And when I do find something I want to watch, I will do so without ear buds in my ears and a radio tuned to the proper frequency.

Yes, let me tell you, when I get out of prison, I am going straight!

I’m also going to stay out of trouble.


By Tony Casson

“What sorrow awaits the world because it tempts people to sin. Temptations are inevitable, but what sorrow awaits the person who does the tempting.” Matthew 18:27 NLT

“He who does not prevent a crime when he can, encourages it.” Seneca

Many of you are familiar with a series of fast-car movies, the first of which was “Fast And Furious”. Those words also signify a disturbing willingness on the part of certain government officials to be as complicit in criminal activity as those they are trying to bring to justice.

“Fast And Furious” was also the code name given to a ‘gun-walking’ operation conducted by some members of the Department Of Justice in Arizona. Thousands of weapons were allowed to be sold illegally with the intention of tracking them to those who purchased them. It seems that “Fast And Furious” was the appropriate code name, for the weapons disappeared ‘fast’ and now the citizens of this country should be ‘furious’.

It was a misguided effort that has resulted in terminations, reassignments, and even a contempt of Congress citation for the Attorney General of the United States.

One of the weapons that was allowed to be sold turned up at the location where a U.S. Border Patrol agent was murdered.

Putting weapons into the hands of dangerous criminals who are known to have a proven willingness to use them should be treated as a criminal offense, NOT as a misguided attempt at ferreting out criminals in a search for ‘justice’. The responsibility of law enforcement is to enforce and uphold the law, not break it. It is the responsibility of law enforcement to apprehend those who have committed a crime, NOT to create opportunities for crimes to be committed.

Succumbing to temptation does not relieve an individual of the consequences of their actions, but it could be argued that if it were not for the temptation the action itself might not have occurred in the first place. A person who commits a crime of convenience – or opportunity – is guilty, as is the one who planned it before hand, but if the opportunity can be denied; if the temptation can be removed; if the criminal act can be PREVENTED in the first place, should that not be the overwhelmingly preferred method of dealing with crime?

Preventative medicine is practiced and promoted as being more prudent, responsible, and economical than waiting for illness and disease to occur. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, as they say. And a doctor does not make people sick in order to create business for himself… that would be unethical, irresponsible, and illegal. The same should hold true for criminal activity. Crime PREVENTION should be the first order of business for those who make, enforce, and adjudicate our laws.

A bank does not leave its money sitting on the counter in the hope that no one will take it. It locks it securely in a vault.

A teacher does not leave the answer key to a test sitting on an unattended desk, hoping no one will cheat. They are locked away.

Nor does a jewelry store display all of its wares on open shelves and counters trusting all who enter their place of business to remain honest. They are kept under lock and key and removed as required.

We are all aware that banks are held up, test answers are stolen and sold, and jewelry stores are robbed. These crimes occur, but reasonable, responsible steps are taken to prevent them from happening in the first place. If any of these items were left out accidentally and they were stolen, the person leaving them out would be guilty of negligence, but not necessarily guilty of a crime.

But what if the item that is ‘left out’ is an item that is illegal to transport, distribute, or possess in the first place? If that item could be locked up to prevent anyone from picking it up, but is intentionally left out to see who comes along and picks it up, is the one who leaves it out guilty of negligence, a crime, or both? Is it RIGHT to intentionally tempt someone with something illegal just to see if they will succumb to the temptation? If the item itself is against the law to possess and possession of that item is PREVENTABLE, should it not be prevented?

Child pornography is just such an item. With available technology, the overwhelming majority of it can be prevented from ever reaching the computers in our homes in the first place. The technology also exists to first send a warning to the user that a transmission containing possible images of child pornography has been detected trying to reach their computer, giving them the opportunity to refuse the material.

Neither of these things is being done and as a result, the spread of child pornography and the exploitation of innocent children is being perpetuated in another ‘fast and furious’ attempt at luring individuals to crime through the use of acts that are, themselves, criminal. As a result of this irresponsibility, I submit that any corporation – such as an Internet Service Provider (ISP) – or government agency, or individuals belonging to any corporation or government agency that allows illegal material to reach its destination without attempting to prevent it or warn of its transmission is complicit in the commission of an illegal act and is guilty of violating 18 U.S.C. 2252 (A), distribution of child pornography. These same individuals and entities, because they have continued their illegal acts for years and have distributed to millions of individuals are also guilty of violation of 18 U.S.C 2252 (A) (g), which is operating a child exploitation enterprise.

In addition, civil suits have been filed by attorneys for many of the victims of sexual abuse who have been identified. Restitution in the millions of dollars has been awarded and those found guilty of possessing their images have been deemed liable for damages as a proximate cause of the emotional distress and trauma these victims have suffered. It only follows that a more direct contributor to the trauma of these children would be the very entities who can PREVENT most of these images from being viewed in the first place. That said, ISP’s and the U.S. Government should be held liable for civil damages as well.

Possession of illegal drugs is a crime. PROVIDING those drugs is a more serious crime. I see no difference here. Internet Service Providers and the U.S. Department of Justice are providing child pornography to MILLIONS of people resulting in the ongoing exploitation of innocent children. Anyone involved in these misguided attempts to create criminals rather than prevent crime is involved in behavior that is irresponsible, immoral, and illegal. Those who have the power to stop this horror and don’t should share bed space in the prisons to which they send the criminals they have created.

Let us examine the following scenario:

An armored truck is traveling on the interstate when its rear doors pop open accidentally. Several bags of money fall out onto the highway, spilling their contents. Hundreds of motorists stop and begin stuffing handfuls of money into their pockets, caught up in the moment. A police officer happens upon the scene and begins to arrest people as they try to leave. Of course he manages to detain some, but he only stops a fraction of those who took advantage of the opportunity. The damage has been done. They are guilty of a crime, but the crime obviously was one of opportunity. Had the doors not popped open, their crimes would have gone uncommitted. Since they popped open accidentally, no crime was committed by anyone inside the truck, although there certainly was negligence. But what if they had been opened intentionally?

The ‘doors’ to child pornography have been intentionally left open in order to catch as many of those as possible who succumb to temptation. This is wrong. But can the ‘door’ really be closed? What do we need to do to close and lock them? I am not a very technologically savvy individual, but a couple of news stories I have read make it very obvious that there IS a way, the way is known, and it is purposely NOT being used to prevent the exploitation of innocent children and the ruination of tens of thousands of lives.

First, let’s look at something that happened in south Florida earlier this year. The Southern District Director for Immigration And Customs Enforcement (ICE) was arrested for possession of child pornography. What I found fascinating was HOW he was caught. AOL was his provider and they run software that apparently all ISP’s do that scans all images transmitted through it servers looking for child pornography. The software reads the ‘digital fingerprint’ of the data and can tell which images contain child pornography. What a great idea! This means they stop it before it ever gets in our homes, right? Wrong. They simply allow it to proceed and then notify the FBI. In other words, they opened the door of the armored car intentionally.

The first point in my argument is that if these images passed through servers that belonged to AOL and were identified, then they were allowed to pass through the control of AOL. If AOL’s servers detected child pornography, which is illegal – we are not talking about a freedom of speech issue here – and yet they did nothing to stop it, then from that point onward, AOL DISTRIBUTED child pornography. They had identified it for what it was, they had it in their control, they could have prevented it from going any further and they did nothing. This would also make them responsible for any of the trauma endured by the victims in those images through their negligence in not preventing the commission of a crime that they were aware of.

Another story I read more recently was regarding services Google provides to its users in China. It seems that searching for certain words or phrases in China can lead to the government cutting the user’s connection. As a service to their users, Google now has warning ‘flags’ that drop down and inform their user of the possibility of the loss of connection when they type certain words into the search field. It should be a very simple thing to provide the same type of warning ‘flag’ when certain phrases used to search for images of child pornography are typed in. Something to the effect of:

          WARNING: The use of certain search terms could result in
the intentional or accidental downloading or viewing of child
pornography, which is a serious crime. Penalties for these
crimes could result in imprisonment for terms of TEN YEARS
or more.

In the case of the transmission in progress, if the material isn’t going to be blocked completely, at the very least a warning ‘flag’ should pop up prior to the completion of the transmission. Something to the effect of:

         WARNING: Your Internet Service Provider’s software has detected
images that may contain child pornography being sent to your computer.
The possession of child pornography is a serious crime punishable by up
to 10 years in prison or MORE.
                                            DO YOU WISH TO CONTINUE?
                                                          YES                  NO 
If you click ‘YES’, your name will be forwarded to the FBI.

Obviously, such a warning should give pause to all but the most determined individuals. Perhaps the very ones in need of the most help or posing the most threat to society.

These things can be done. The images can be stopped completely, or at least a warning can be given. A last chance to come to your senses and return to decency. Proceeding can destroy peoples’ lives. We require a warning on cigarettes for goodness sake. How many lives can warnings such as these save?

In speaking with men around me, I asked if such a ‘flag’ would have provided some sort of wake up call. All answered without hesitation that a warning would have woken them up. Our individual morality and character can be debated all day long, but if these things are not implemented to help those who seek, or stumble, into immorality and a road that leads to ruin, we should consider those who OUGHT to be the primary focus here. Above all else, the protection of innocent children should be the objective.

Using every tool that is available, the victims of child sexual abuse whose images circulate on the Internet should be protected from further victimization and exploitation. The technology exists to stop, or at least severely limit, the spread of these pictures that myself – and many, many like me – wish had never crossed our computer screens. Protection of the innocent should be our first consideration. This is what everyone always claims, and yet the technology to do these things I suggest has existed for years. Those in charge have decided it is best to allow this filth to spread in the pursuit of justice. This time, they are wrong. They are exploiting the children of this country. How would you feel if the children they were NOT protecting were YOURS?

We can never control the thoughts that may run through people’s minds, nor should we try. But if we can control what they see, when what we are controlling is illegal, immoral, and destructive to all involved, then we have no choice BUT to do it. To do anything less, no matter what the justification may be, is not only wrong, it is simply illegal no matter what anyone may think.

Tell Internet Service Providers and the United States Government that it is time for a NECESSARY INTRUSION into our lives to prevent the spread of this epidemic that is killing our families and placing our children at risk. Tell them that it is time to LOCK THE DOOR ON CHILD PORNOGRAPHY.

There are, of course, UNnecessary intrusions into our lives. The sex offender registry, in the manner it is now being used, is such an unnecessary intrusion that, again, puts YOUR children at great risk. I will try to explain what I mean in a future article.

I thank you for your time.


By Tony Casson

“By smooth and glowing words they deceive innocent people.”
Romans 16:18b NLT

“A word is not a crystal – transparent and unchanged; it is the skin of a living thought and may vary greatly in color and content according to the circumstances and the time in which it is used.” Oliver Wendell Holmes

If you ever thought that you made your own choices and exercised control over your own life, consider the following:

“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate the unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country…. We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes are formed on ideas suggested largely by men we have never heard of.”

These disturbing words were published in a book written by a man who has been called “The Father Of Spin”. Edward Bernays wrote the above words in a book entitled “Propaganda”, which was published in 1928. Bernays’s methods, his philosophy and his theories helped him to become a leader in the art and business of public relations – or ‘spin’, as it is commonly referred to today. Other titles authored by Bernays speak loudly as to their content and INtent, and are still widely read today. They include: “The Business Of Propaganda”, “Crystallizing Public Opinion”, “The Engineering Of Consent”, and “Manipulating Public Opinion”.

Those titles are as disturbing as are some of his “achievements” in his field. Among them are the following few examples:

  • In 1917, President Woodrow Wilson formed the “Counsel On Public Relations”. Bernays was a prominent member of this group whose responsibility it was to influence public opinion toward supporting American participation in World War I.
  • In 1929, Bernays was hired by the American Tobacco Company to find a way to increase cigarette smoking among women. Women smoked, but were hesitant to do so publicly, so Bernays hired attractive models to march in a New York City parade. He had arranged for the press to be there to photograph them as they lit their ‘torches of freedom’, as they were called. (They were, of course, Lucky Strikes, an American Tobacco Company brand.) Encouraged, women around the country participated in ‘smoke outs’ to break the taboo.
  • Bernays also manipulated the CIA, the American Government, and public opinion to win support to overthrow the democratically elected president of Guatemala, Jacobo Arblenz. Bernays had been hired by the United Fruit Company which had found itself unable to maintain its low cost of doing business there when Arblenz’s government took over. During the first half of the 1900’s, United Fruit Company wielded tremendous influence with the United States government and Bernays capitalized on it, painting Arblenz as a communist and securing his forcible removal from office by revolutionary forces led by the CIA. As an interesting side note, one of the CIA’s top operatives selected to orchestrate Arblenz’s removal was E. Howard Hunt, who went on to gain notoriety in Nixon’s Watergate debacle.

In 1933, a foreign news correspondent with the Hearst Corporation told Bernays that his book “Crystallizing Public Opinion” was a favorite tool of Joseph Goebbels. The correspondent told Bernays that Goebbels used the book as a basis for his destructive campaign against the Jews.

While many American politicians and businessmen paid top dollar for Bernays’s skill at manipulation, many others criticized his methods, motives and character. Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter referred to Bernays and others of his ilk as ‘professional poisoners of the public mind’. “Editor And Publisher” portrayed him as ‘the young Machiavelli of our time’.

Bernays’s uncle was Sigmund Freud and Bernays revolutionized public relations by combining the traditional functions of a press agent with the methods used by psychologists and sociologists to create what one writer labeled as ‘The Science Of Ballyhoo’, or what we now know as ‘spin’. Edward Bernays died in 1995 at age 103, but the ‘Science Of Ballyhoo’ lives on and the ‘professional poisoners of the public mind’ still ply their trade. Utilized extensively by politicians and large corporations, their value today is greater than ever before as everyone searches for an idea to sell or a cause to spin that will deliver the desired results of election to office, or financial profits, or both. And let there be no mistake about it: Nothing gets done, no law is passed, no action is taken until it has been packaged and processed for public consumption resulting in one of two things: it must advance someone’s career or increase their electability, or it must be profitable to them or someone they know.

Wars on poverty, crime and drugs were all wars that were declared first by these people we can’t see, with the voices we can’t hear. Long before anyone recognizable in face or name stood before the American people to cry out for the need to man the battle stations and confront those plagues on society, consultations were held with those who knew Bernays’s craft and could advise those who hired them on what to say, how to say it, and when in order to galvanize public opinion in support of their cause.

Hundreds of billions of dollars have been spent on these societal problems that have been ‘spun’ into attacks on us and our families that we are then convinced must be beaten back at all costs. We have been made to believe that spending the futures of our children, of their children, and THEIR children is the only way to counteract the different evils that we have been manipulated into believing affect each and every one of us. Through obfuscation and misdirection, we have been convinced that spending to create prisons and then filling them to overflowing is the way to security, safety and well-being for this nation. But as those who build the prisons and supply their needs rake in billions and billions of dollars and destroy millions and millions of lives, the real issues of education, real economic growth, retirement security, and others that DO affect the lives of ALL Americans remain on the back burner because the public’s eye has been drawn elsewhere.

In the wars on crime and drugs, the most egregious criminal act is the wholesale incarceration of hundreds of thousands of men and women for unconscionably long periods of time which accomplishes nothing other than putting money in the pockets of those promoting the wars and writing the laws in the first place.

Our prison system is overflowing with no end in sight as a result of all of this. Billions of dollars worth of business requires prison populations to remain constant or – better yet – to increase. But is the American public as exposed to danger as the well-orchestrated histrionics of our politicians and the media would have us believe? Or is it conceivable that laws are intentionally created and designed for the sole purpose of maximizing incarceration levels to benefit private and corporate profits? I submit that the latter is closer to the truth.

Consider the following facts taken from the 2011 edition of “The World Almanac”: In 2009, Florida’s population was 18,537,969. The state of New York’s population in the same year was 19, 541, 453, or slightly over one million MORE than Florida. At the same time, Florida’s prison system held 103,423 inmates while New York had 59,778 incarcerated individuals. With slightly more than one million FEWER residents, Florida incarcerated enough people to fill New York’s prisons almost TWICE. The racial make-up of the 2 states is fairly equal, so that is not an issue. What, then, could cause such a radical difference in the number of people in prison? It is impossible to examine that situation without taking the following facts into consideration:

  • Florida is home to GEO, the second largest private prison company in the world. Headquartered in Boca Raton, GEO contributes significant amounts to the political coffers in Florida and highly paid lobbyists work diligently to increase the already significant business presence of GEO in the state. Correction Corporation of America (CCA), which is the LARGEST private prison company in the world also has a significant presence in the state and contributes significant amounts to political campaigns as well.
  • Conversely, in New York state, private prisons are AGAINST THE LAW.

There are people… many people… working daily across this country to find the next occupant of a 7X11 cell and they are now focused on everyone who owns a computer because some estimates indicate that 75% or more of ALL computers have some form of child pornography on them.

So another war has been declared, this one ostensibly to protect the young and defenseless. On the surface, this is the most noble of causes. But it is a war that simply does not need to be fought at the level it is being fought.

As I have said repeatedly, in one form or another, I simply cannot put a ‘spin’ on child pornography that makes it anything other than the horribly permanent record of child sexual abuse that it is. Nor will I ever try. At the same time, a trusting public is being enraged and incensed against a segment of the population that is growing at a frightening rate and, while the public has the right level of moral outrage directed at the images themselves, they are being mislead as to the dangers presented by those foolish enough, curious enough, or misguided enough to think that it is an innocent thing to view images of innocence stolen. It is far from innocent behavior, but it can, and should, be dealt with differently.

Instead, those trained in the Machiavellian ways of Edward Bernays are now FURTHER exploiting the very children who have been so tragically exploited. As difficult as that may be to believe, there is an enormous amount of empirical data to substantially refute the claim of danger that is presented by those who view child pornography. This in NO WAY indemnifies those who view it or possess it, but it does need to be taken into consideration when addressing the problem as a whole.

Moreover, the problem itself need not exist to the extent that it does. With technology that has been around for YEARS, much of the child pornography that circulates on the internet does not even have to reach the computers in America’s homes.

Next time, I will explain why an intrusion by the U.S. government is necessary. In fact, I will show why the American public should DEMAND this intrusion and I will tell you why failure to intrude to the level of current technological capabilities should result in criminal and civil action being taken against those who fail to do so.


More to follow tomorrow…


By Tony Casson

“They preach with selfish ambition, not sincerely, intending to make my chains more painful to me.” Philippians 1:17b NLT

“All ambitions are lawful except those which climb upwards on the miseries or credulities of mankind.” Joseph Conrad

History has taught us that just because our government embraces a particular course of action doesn’t mean it will always prove to be the most prudent one to take. Many mistakes have been made in this country’s relatively short lifetime that could have been avoided with better information, more thought, less emotion and a greater concern for humanity. Personal ambition and desire for financial gain have also factored into these decisions. Lives have been destroyed; lives have been lost; homes and possessions of many innocent people have been forfeited and immeasurable pain and suffering have been inflicted. And all because someone was quick to paint a target on a particular group or cause and was able to point the emotion of this nation at that target. It was then easy to let loose our considerable resources with the single-minded objective of destroying it. This objective was usually met, although often with unpleasant, embarrassing or disastrous consequences later on.

Examples can be found going back to the earliest footsteps of our forefathers upon the soil in which are now anchored the flagpoles that proudly fly the greatest symbol of freedom and fairness the world has ever known. However, it was soil that was taken from a native people whose home it had been long before the first “civilized” steps were walked on it.

From the original oppression of Native Americans to slavery, from segregation to the Japanese-American internment camps of World War II and the national embarrassment of McCarthyism in the 1950’s, targets have been selected and groups singled out to be relegated to a class of people who are to be feared and reviled.

Far too many of those in power use the fear, ignorance and complacency of those they “serve” to carve paths to their own personal summits, climbing over or walking around the bodies of those they destroy on that path to the top. Our short history is too full of examples of the new lows to which people will descend in their efforts to reach new highs in personal recognition, power and financial gain.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the “war on crime” that was begun in the 1970s and still rages to this day. Millions of lives have been ruined and countless families have been sentenced to something less than the “American Dream” because we have allowed those who profit from other people’s pain to create the “American Nightmare.”

A prison industrial behemoth has been created in this country. It has put untold billions of dollars into the pockets of individuals and corporations wily enough to take advantage of the very windfalls they themselves helped to create. The American public blessed this beast as necessary to calm their fears; fears that are sustained by media that surrounds us and inundates our daily lives with shocking stories of murder, mayhem and man’s inhumanity to man. Highly paid and practiced individuals put a “spin on sin” that sends Americans running into their homes and locking their doors in the sure knowledge that rape, robbery or death await them on the other side.

The simple truth is that the average American lives a life untouched by crime from unknown sources. The closest most people ever get to criminal or unlawful activity is through their own actions or those of a family member. Speeding, running a stop sign, drinking and driving, and abusing prescription medications are just a few examples. Much of the crime reported in this country is domestic in nature. This does not mean that a person beating their spouse is not criminal. This does not mean that a person sexually abusing a member of their family is not a criminal. This does not mean that a person shaking a child who won’t stop crying is not breaking the law.

All it means is that we are more likely to face dangers or be exposed to criminal behavior by a person known to us than by a stranger.

Unfortunately, because we are so influenced by the internet, television, radio and newspapers, the criminal behavior that we are deluged with around the clock has us convinced that the monster is lurking just outside the doors.

Our prisons are full or people incarcerated for drug-related offenses. Many of their offenses occur in the poverty-stricken areas of our cities. The average American never gets near those areas so there is little to fear. If you do visit those areas to feed your own bad habits, then locking your door at home will not keep you out of harm’s way. Billions are being spent on a war that no one wants to win, although many jobs and many fortunes are dependent upon keeping Americans convinced otherwise. Legislators on the state and national level have wasted billions upon billions of dollars fighting the combined wars on crime and drugs. Prosecutors and juries have aggressively backed them up by sending those taken prisoner in those wars to institutions throughout this country. In 1980, the population of the U.S. was roughly 226.5 million people. In 2010, census figures placed the number at roughly 308.5 million for an increase of 82 million citizens, or roughly 36%. In the same timeframe, the prison population has grown from approximately 350,000 to over 2.1 million. That’s an astonishing increase of 600%.

These figures should sound a warning to sensible Americans everywhere. There is an explanation for this massive growth, but it is not the one that those who put the “spin on sin” would have us believe. The explanation is no more complicated than “summit fever closer to sea level,” as thousands of individuals seek financial profit, career advancement or both, locking up the prisoners of those wars that no one wants to win.

It is true that criminal behavior needs to be dealt with and there are many honest, hard-working diligent individuals who do their part to capture and punish those who step outside the boundaries of decency that society establishes. That said, it is also true that far too many profit or advance their careers from the incarceration of the very individuals they capture and prosecute.

The wars have been expanded now to include a crime that any decent moral person would find detestable and indefensible. I include myself among those who find it thus, even as I serve my sentence for being guilty of it. I speak, of course, about the possession of child pornography.

This crime affects us all, not just those who have been caught and labeled as “monsters.” Just like a California wildfire fanned by the Santa Ana winds jumps across a road or ravine, it jumps across all levels of our society. Just as any virus experienced by mankind, it spreads with the same lack of concern for who it infects. In fact, its spread has reached “epidemic” proportions as one federal prosecutor puts it.

Those whose job it is to put a “spin on sin” will tell you that this “epidemic” is being fought aggressively by the United States government. In actuality, in their efforts to catch the guilty, the United States government is actually perpetuating the spread of both the vile, disgusting images themselves as well as the destruction their possession wreaks not just upon the guilty, but upon the innocent as well – including the very victims of child sexual abuse who are the subject matter in those images.

I will explain how this could possibly be when I begin “Unwinding the Spin on Sin.”

More to follow tomorrow…


By Tony Casson

“God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied.”     Matthew 5:6 NLT

“Few consider how much we are indebted to government, because few can represent how wretched mankind would be without it.”     Joseph Addison

Jus-tice (jus’ tis) n. 1. Moral rightness; equity 2. Fairness.

“Buried in the Sky” is a book written by Peter Zuckerman and Amanda Padoan. The cover of the book says it is “The Extraordinary Story of the Sherpa Climbers on K2’s Deadliest Day.” It most assuredly lives up to its billing and is well worth anyone’s time spent reading it.

For those not familiar with K2, it is the tallest peak in the Karakorum range of mountains. It rises from the earth 28,251 feet on the border of Pakistan and China. K2 is second only to Mt. Everest, which lies 882 miles to the southeast. Although the summit of K2 is “over seven” hundred feet lower than Everest, K2 has proven over time to be a much deadlier mountain and has claimed a significantly higher percentage of the lives of those who have attempted to reach its summit than those who have attempted Everest.

The book centers on the Sherpa climbers who guide individuals and teams from all over the world as they pursue their single-minded objective of standing where so few have stood before. While the book describes the events that surrounded the loss of 11 lives in early August of 2008, it is full of vivid background on the history of the two mountains, the regions in which they lie and especially the people who inhabit those areas and risk – and give – their lives as porters and guides on those expeditions to the top of the world.

I am certainly not a mountaineer but I purchased the book to learn a little more about an activity that my beloved son has expressed an interest in. If his interest grows to the point that he attempts to climb the likes of Everest and K2, all I can say is, “I will kill you if you die up there.”

In my quest for knowledge as a father who loves his child and wants to learn about the things that interest him, I was stunned and exhilarated and sobered by the lives – and deaths – of the people who risk it all for that moment when the summit is reached and their eyes behold the view that so few can claim to have seen.

In the process, I encountered a story which made me think that perhaps some of the pursuers of those lofty goals are so fixated on their own personal pursuit that their obligation to other human beings is forgotten. This particular story is told about an incident that took place on the “other” mountain – Everest – in 2006.

A 34-year-old man had summited Mt. Everest and experienced his moment looking down at the rest of the world. As mountaineers say when they reach the summit, “You’re only halfway.” Now you have to go back down and while it surely must be easier, it is safe to say it is not easy.

When this man was still about 800 feet above the closest camp, he collapsed with exhaustion. Still attached to the fixed line, he was in need of assistance or he would surely die.

Mt. Everest is extremely popular among climbers. In a recent television news report, two hundred were lined up to make their way to the summit, so it is a fairly well-traveled route as mountains go. According to the story in the book, as many as forty individuals walked past this man on the day he lay there in need of assistance. None were willing to stop and help him back down to camp because it would have put an end to the pursuit of their own moment standing on the highest point on this planet. The window to reach the summit is open only for short periods of time and the cost is an enormous one: from $30,000 to $120,000 per individual. Some have saved – others have corporate sponsors whose reward is a picture of the climber wearing, or displaying, their product on the top of the world. Surely some of them thought, “Someone else will take care of him. It is not my responsibility.” There was a lot at stake to risk it on any display of humanity.

By the time the first party had summited and returned to where the man had collapsed, he was dead. Surely he was aware that people had died before him, even on the way down. More have died since. He was doing something dangerous and he died doing it. But he died because all those who passed  him ignored his needs as a result of their own “summit fever.” Their own need to reach the pinnacle of mountain climbing success was greater than saving another human being. After all, he did it to himself, didn’t he?

They all later claimed not to have seen him at all or to have thought he was just resting. Possibly true in a few cases. Probably not in all. But it was “just” a life lost. It was also easy to not consider the man’s family. They were not there and the pain and emptiness, the loss, will not be seen by those who clamored to reach the top.

Those ambitious men and women unknowingly made a statement from high above the rest of the earth. That statement said simply, “My goal, on my terms, at any cost.”

And so it is, back down here where the majority of us live and die. People closer to sea level also set lofty goals and are ambitious and, for many of them, the statement is the same. “My goal, on my terms, at any cost.” If the cost is the destruction of human lives, even when the cause is “honorable,” if the destruction is preventable and is not prevented, then the victims may as well be high up on the side of a mountain because the ones ignoring them are in the throes of their own brand of “summit fever.”

The primary responsibility of any government should be the protection of its citizens. First and foremost should be protection from foreign powers and influences trying to do harm. Secondly, there is a responsibility to keep us safe from groups or individuals within this country who endanger the safety and welfare of the general population. Thirdly is the government’s responsibility to protect its citizens from themselves, where possible, when doing so clearly benefits the greater good.

There are those who speak out against some of these laws and regulations. But sometimes these intrusions are necessary for the greater benefit of all and ultimately save lives, families and – of course – money. These intrusions include seatbelt laws, helmet laws for both motorcycles and bicycles, speed limits, drinking ages, and on and on. Intrusions that are irritating to some, perhaps, but are generally seen as necessary intrusions that benefit the greater good.

So finally, after taking you on a journey up the two highest mountains on earth and back down again, I am ready to tell you about a different kind of “summit fever” right down here where most of us live – and die – and why it is time for “A NECESSARY INTRUSION.”

More to follow tomorrow…