Friday Miscellany

Good lord, the week goes by fast, and I don't get to comment on 10 percent of what's interesting out there. So here are a few items not to be missed:

  • Jerry Sandusky. Sara Ganim, the amazing young reporter who tracked down and revealed the sordid story at Penn State, reports on the back story behind the investigation and indictment. It's a fascinating article, with between-the-lines suggestions that either someone held the police back or that they were amazingly clueless in investigating the former Penn State coach's serial child molestation, abuse, and assault. She also gives hints to how one victim's mother took the lead in showing police who else might have been molested—by going through Sandusky's creepily titled book Touched. The mother said that the boys had to be subpoenaed before they would testify. The whole piece is worth a read, but here is the opening: 

The investigation of Jerry Sandusky took three years.

And it took Sandusky himself—through the pages of his autobiography, “Touched”—to help police find Victims 3, 4, 5 and 7.

At the end of 2009, police had spent almost a year trying to corroborate claims by a single boy—a 17-year-old Clinton County teen later known as Victim 1 — who had alleged years of sexual abuse by Penn State’s legendary defensive coach. Only one state police investigator had been tasked to handle the case.

Finally, they discovered a campus police report from 1998, in which a boy had said he was forced to take a naked shower with Sandusky in the Penn State locker room and was inappropriately touched. With that, investigators learned the key had been right in front of them.

The 1998 boy was called Victim 6 by the grand jury. After police found him, the man’s mother told them about Sandusky’s autobiography, which was sitting on the shelves of the Penn State bookstore.

  • Happy families are all alike. Even when they have two moms. Over at Mombian, Dana Rudolph reports on the latest publication from the National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study, saying that teens with two moms are just as happy as teens with different-sex parents. (Or, as my wife quipped, just as unhappy.) More to the point, they are just as well-adjusted and psychologically comfortable as the group they're being compared with. The full article is titled in social science speak: "Quality of Life of Adolescents Raised from Birth by Lesbian Mothers: The US National Longitudinal Family Study." The study was launched because earlier studies of children of lesbians were done on children whose mothers had gotten divorced and then came out, which meant that those children weren't psychologically comparable to children of never-divorced families. The parents in this study are a little bit whiter, better-educated, more comfortable having their privacy invaded, and higher-income than the U.S. at large, but at least that's equally true of the lesbian families and the different-sex-headed families, so apples are being compared to apples. 
  • Go to jail, go directly to jail. Women in Mexico are serving prison time for abortions. Kudos to The Nation Investigative Fund for funding Mary Cuddehe's examination of Mexico's two-tier legal system: Well-off women can get abortions at private clinics, but poor women who go to public clinics after taking Misoprostol to induce early labor are reported, arrested, and jailed. And the U.S. Personhood Movement (yes, there is such a thing) admires the fact that 17 Mexican states (more than half the country, Cuddehe reports) have fetal-rights amendments on the books. 
  • Not this bathroom. Meanwhile, in Tennessee, legislators are considering an incredibly important issue: Where do transgender folks go to the bathroom? If someone is transitioning and looks entirely female or male, but has not yet had her or his birth certificate changed, she or he is gonna have a hard time peeing in Tennessee if this just-introduced bill moves forward. As I've noted here before, bathrooms are ground zero in the transgender debates. Transfolks need to pee, just like everyone else, without their genitals and facial hair being scrutinized. Right now, they face violence if they walk into the "wrong" bathroom—one in which the women or men don't perceive them as belonging. In my younger, dykier days (ah, youth!), I was once told emphatically that I was walking into a women's bathroom, young man; for me, it was amusing, because my voice made my sex immediately clear. But for other folks, especially mid-transition, being misread and challenged can be a lot more dangerous. Making it illegal to walk into the bathroom that you look like you belong in would mean that some people will have to risk arrest or violence—or forgo an essential bodily function entirely. 

There's more! But if I don't stop, this will be the Saturday miscellany. Happy MLK weekend, all. Go forth and dream of justice. 

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