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I See Naked People
Are children actually damaged by seeing images of naked people? Or do people just leap to that conclusion? Here's an image from the Italian daily newspaper, Corriere Della Sera:

ItalianNudeAd.jpg

I looked outside, and no Italian children seemed to be rioting or having orgies in the street as a result of the ad's publication. But, here in America, where they're sounding the alarm about children supposedly teabagging on the playground, a substitute teacher's classroom computer started flashing nudie pop-ups and the headline in the Norwich Bulletin is "Teacher guilty in Norwich porn case." Greg Smith writes:

State Prosecutor David Smith said he wondered why Julie Amero didn't just pull the plug on her classroom computer.

The six-person jury Friday may have been wondering the same thing when they convicted Amero, 40, of Windham of four counts of risk of injury to a minor, or impairing the morals of a child. It took them less than two hours to decide the verdict. She faces a sentence of up to 40 years in prison.

Oct. 19, 2004, while substituting for a seventh-grade language class at Kelly Middle School, Amero claimed she could not control the graphic images appearing in an endless cycle on her computer.

"The pop-ups never went away," Amero testified. "They were continuous."

The Web sites, which police proved were accessed while Amero was in the classroom, were seen by as many as 10 minor students. Several of the students testified during the three-day trial in Norwich Superior Court to seeing images of naked men and women.

Computer expert W. Herbert Horner, testifying in Amero's defense, said he found spyware on the computer and an innocent hair styling Web site "that led to this pornographic loop that was out of control."

"If you try to get out of it, you're trapped," Horner said.

But Smith countered Horner's testimony with that of Norwich Police Detective Mark Lounsbury, a computer crimes investigator. On a projected image of the list of Web sites visited while Amero was working, Lounsbury pointed out several highlighted links.

"You have to physically click on it to get to those sites," Smith said. "I think the evidence is overwhelming that she did intend to access those Web sites."

Among the sites Amero visited were meetlovers.com and femalesexual.com, along with others with more graphic names.

Sounds damning, huh? Well, on Network Performance Daily, there's a little more detail, from Herb Horner, a computer forensic examiner who was called as a defense expert witness in the case:

On October 19, 2004, around 8:00 A.M., Mr. Napp, the class' regular teacher logged on to the PC because Julie Amero being a substitute teacher did not have her own id and password. It makes sense that Mr. Napp told Julie not to logoff or shut the computer off, for if she did she and the students would not have access to the computer. The initial user continued use of the PC and accessed Tickle.com, cookie.monster.com, addynamics.com, and adrevolver.com all between 8:06:14 - 8:08:03 AM. During the next few moments Julie retrieved her email through AOL.

http://www.hair-styles.org was accessed at 8:14:24 A.M., based upon the hair style images uploaded to the PC we were led to believe that there were students using the computer to search out hair styles. The user went to http://www.crayola.com at 8:35:27 A.M. The user continued accessing the original hair site and was directed to http://new-hair-styles.com. This site had pornographic links, pop-ups were then initiated by http://pagead2.googlesyndication.com. There were additional pop-ups by realmedia.com, cnentrport.net, and by 9:20:00 A.M., several java, aspx's and html scripts were uploaded. A click on the curlyhairstyles.htm icon on the http://www.new-hair-styles.com site led to the execution of the curlyhairstyle script along with others that contained pornographic links and pop-ups. Once the aforementioned started, it would be very difficult even for an experienced user to extricate themselves from this situation of porn pop-ups and loops.

All of the jpg's that we looked at in the internet cache folders were of the 5, 6 and 15 kB size, very small images indeed. Normally, when a person goes to a pornographic website they are interested in the larger pictures of greater resolution and those jpgs would be at least 35 kB and larger. We found no evidence of where this kind of surfing was exercised on October 19, 2004.

Horner's conclusion:

This was one of the most frustrating experiences of my career, knowing full well that the person is innocent and not being allowed to provide logical proof.

If there is an appeal and the defense is allowed to show the entire results of the forensic examination in front of experienced computer people, including a computer literate judge and prosecutor, Julie Amero will walk out the court room as a free person.

Let this experience stand as a warning to all that use computers in an environment where minors are present. The aforementioned situation can happen to anyone without fail and without notice if there is not adequate firewall, antispyware, antiadware and antivirus protection. That was not provided by the school administration where Julie Amero taught.

Posted by aalkon at March 6, 2007 12:41 PM

Comments

Like the Duke rape case, it's not about guilt and innocence. It's about the prosecutor, and possibly the judge wanting another notch in their belts.

"Teacher jailed for sex crimes - re-elect me now!".

Why the public puts up with this is another question. Blinding ignorance?

Posted by: Brad Richards at March 6, 2007 12:20 AM

It's like laws against pot. No lawmaker has the guts to come out for common sense and common decency.

Reason public puts up with it? Blinding apathy?

Posted by: Amy Alkon at March 6, 2007 4:05 AM

Simple solution - take the internet out of the schools. Then the precious little children can't be exposed to the big bad porn.

Remember, children are too fragile to handle sexual images, so let's start teaching them how to use a condom when they're 13 and jail them for statutory rape when they're 14 and try to apply their new knowledge.

Meanwhile, politicians are falling over each other to ban video games by claiming that they influence children and incidence violent crimes involving children is dropping.

Politicians are certainly the lowest form of life.

Amy - the public puts up with it because this country has a child fetish. Too many parents are perpetually frightened of what their precious will do if exposed to reality, and so they expect government to keep them protected from reality at all times.

Posted by: brian at March 6, 2007 4:31 AM

Oh, and the shame of it? That case happened in my own very liberal state of Connecticut.

I think I'm one of only three conservatives left in the Northeast.

Posted by: brian at March 6, 2007 4:32 AM

Meanwhile, that which is banned, kids get their hands on anyway. I wasn't allowed to read Helter Skelter. Ellen Goldsmith, who was a little older than I was, provided me with her copy as soon as she heard.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at March 6, 2007 4:33 AM

I was reading today's paper - doesn't matter which one - and it was bemoaning the dropping moral standards. The funny thing is, I don't remember ever reading a paper or hearing a radio or TV report that said there were rising moral standards. Anywhere. Isn't that strange? Has anyone else seen such a thing?

Posted by: Norman at March 6, 2007 5:45 AM

Moral standards are to often and automatically related to sexuality. Sex isn't immoral, and the prohibitions against premarital sex from ages past mainly had to do with the fact that if girlie got knocked up before getting passed off on some guy, her daddy was going to have to pay to raise the baby.

NEWSFLASH: Carl Djerassi invented the pill in 1951 (it became available much later). We have reliable birth control these days! Have sex and use it! Forget the guilt.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at March 6, 2007 6:05 AM

-->"children supposedly teabagging on the playground"

DAMN, Amy!

(Now that I have the heebie-jeebies out of the way)...

The evidence in the case as copy/pasted seems a bit thin. Anybody who has been on the internet KNOWS how easy it is to inadvertently get annoying pop-ups with everything from porn to what-have-you. Just because she (allegedly) clicked on a link, does not mean that the link did not say "20% off hair care products".

On the kids seeing nekkid people:

This is one of those issues where I am a bit torn. On one hand, I think that we Americans are a bit too uptight (publicly, that is - in private we consume internet porn like our lives depend upon it), however I also prefer not to have my six-year old boy exposed to nekkid people if I can avoid it. There *is* a big difference between the newspaper ad that Amy posted at the top of this item and 'net porn.

Posted by: André-Tascha at March 6, 2007 6:29 AM

Brian... I think 13 is a little late to be introducing boys to condoms. They should be educated about them before they're able to reproduce. I gave my own son a pack of condoms at 12 and told him to never put his penis anywhere but his hand without a raincoat. He's 27 and still has no children (or STD's).

What about all the parents who take kids to see Rated R movies with graphic sex scenes in them? How different is that than seeing a picture on the web?

I've been stuck in porn loops by clicking on seemingly innocent links. It's frustrating and I've had to take my laptop to a pro to get it straightened out. This woman is probably innocent.

Posted by: GirlAtheist at March 6, 2007 6:39 AM

Hey Brian - I'm in Mass, and I'll take the place as number two of three non-libs in the north east.

While teachers do have the obligation to not expose minors to obscene pornographic material, this teacher should not have been found guilty.

1) if the school is going to provide internet access for students they must take the proper precautions as far as anti spyware and internet controls to prevent obscene things from popping up in the first place. 2) I only skimmed the article - but what probably happened was that some kids were on the computer and unknowingly got into a porn loop. The teacher came over and panicked. I'm sure the whole thing only took a minute or so and then the kids tattled. Again, just presumptions.

The whole issue of the U.S's narrow-minded approach to sex is another argument...whether our attitudes are "good" or "bad" towards sex shouldn't obscure the facts of this case. Even with the most anti-sex of attitudes it should be obvious that this woman wasn't intentionally attempting to expose the children and I'm sure that she shoo-ed them away from the computer after realizing she couldn't x-out of the windows. Sure, she could have unplugged it, I would have just pressed the power button - but her not specifically doing that doesn't mean she is guilty.

Now...as far as our general need to loosen up ...

Posted by: Gretchen at March 6, 2007 6:51 AM

That paranoia has been around for quite a while. About 10 years ago, I worked for a bank. My manager's policy regarding internet useage was that you could use the internet for personal use, during your lunch hour, and before and after your shift. As I lived with roommates at the time that thought that spending money on pot and beer was better than paying utility bills, this was the only time I had for personal e-mail, or for web browsing. Being a lonely computer geek, I spent some time amongst personal ad sites (such as yahoo's). What I didn't know at the time was that Yahoo had a serious issue with fake ads, that looked normal, sounded normal, and had a normal looking "homepage" URL on their profile, but click it, and porn-city (they fixed that later). I clicked on those on two separate occasions, at which point I'd immediately kill Internet Explorer to prevent popups. This resulted in my getting fired a few months later, when they told me I'm fired for looking at porn, "no we don't want to hear your explanation", and escorted me out of the building. These were people that were looking for an easy excuse to can me, and not people that had any clue about how these things technically worked. They knew I was unhappy with recent changes to my job duties, and used it as an excuse to fire me...but were still seriously freaked about it. After I left, I heard from a co-worker that the rumors flew that I was a porn-addict and spent all of my work-time on porn. Which is rather funny, because it took them over a year to find someone that did half of the work I did...and I was apparently browsing porn all day while doing it (my talent knows no bounds! bwahaha!). Had a job within a week, and have been gainfully employed (by managers WITH brains in their heads) since...so no big.

Posted by: Jamie at March 6, 2007 6:53 AM

Sure, she could have unplugged it, I would have just pressed the power button - but her not specifically doing that doesn't mean she is guilty.

Pure speculation here, but when non-computer-savvy friends deal with a situtation like whirling pop-ups they tend to panic, and have no idea what to do.

Jamie, pretty horrible -- and they're lucky you didn't sue their ass.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at March 6, 2007 6:57 AM

Being a software/web developer, my household is certainly not one that is lacking in computer-saviness (is that a word? guess it is now).

Nonetheless, my wife comes to me every once in a while when she gets caught in a porn loop or when she ends up with malware on her machine.

From my cursory examination, it is a similar case to that teenager that was busted for child porn (Colorado? Arizona?) because he had malware that got on his machine that was serving the crap for the creepy folks. The oh-so-perfect experts from the prosecutor's office/law enforcement said such was not possible, despite their being ample evidence to the contrary. the prosecutor had to drop the charges way down, and now the teenager is a registered sex offender because he showed his fellow teenage boys a bloody copy of Playboy...

Posted by: André-Tascha at March 6, 2007 7:05 AM

I read about that. It's horrible. The kid's life is ruined to a degree by this. I was just looking at a site a friend sent -- familywatchdog.us -- that shows all the sex offenders and such in your neighborhood. People who look at sites like that are generally not going to know the details of his case.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at March 6, 2007 7:10 AM

"He's 27 and still has no children (or STD's)." Like he's going to tell his mother.

The important part is all in the last paragraph. Add to it, that they probably use IE for a browser, which is the sure sign of invincible ignorance. She's got one hell of a civil suit in the making.

Posted by: Casca at March 6, 2007 7:10 AM

I hope she gets good counsel and expert witnesses and goes after them.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at March 6, 2007 7:11 AM

Hey Amy...that is a good resource.

Amen Casca - MSIE is awful. Since I started utilizing Firefox as my primary browser, the incidents of drive-by installs of crap have dropped dramatically.

Posted by: André-Tascha at March 6, 2007 7:15 AM

Are children actually damaged by seeing images of naked people?

Depends on the naked people. For example, I would not take a child to see Borat.

Posted by: Jim Treacher at March 6, 2007 7:22 AM

Jim: d'accord...

Posted by: André-Tascha at March 6, 2007 7:25 AM

Schools are the home of zero tolerance inanity. I must confess a certain sense of Schadenfreude...

Posted by: MarkD at March 6, 2007 7:53 AM

I wouldn't take *anybody* to see "Borat."

Not just for the wince-making nude brawl, either. Can't get amused by practical jokes. Even the old "Candid Camera," which never showed ugly nekkid bodies, struck me as mean.

But show me a little good-natured nudity, and man, I'm all for that.

Posted by: Axman at March 6, 2007 9:14 AM

yeah...Borat is just plain WRONG (on so many levels).

Posted by: André-Tascha at March 6, 2007 9:31 AM

zero tolerance inanity

Damn straight, MarkD. Zero-tolerance policies are totally stupid. It makes no sense to me why we make policies to take discretion out of the hands of people ostensibly hired primarily BECAUSE of their good judgment (i.e., prinicpals, judges, prosecutors, etc.). Most of these people care, do a good job and make good decisions, but all of them get their hands tied because of people overreact to the (relatively few) screw-ups.

Posted by: justin case at March 6, 2007 9:32 AM

And another thing: if our newspapers had ads like the one in the post, would circulation rates be dropping so precipitously?

Posted by: justin case at March 6, 2007 9:33 AM

At the moment, I can't even write "screwed" in my column when it runs in the damn dailies. (Have to give a substitution for them.)

Posted by: Amy Alkon at March 6, 2007 9:48 AM

"And another thing: if our newspapers had ads like the one in the post, would circulation rates be dropping so precipitously?"

Wow!

Do US newspaper readers still really yearn to be titillated by naked breasts with their daily headlines? (This has been a ho-hum feature of the UK's tabloid press for years).

Not sure it's got anything to do with crap prosecutions of teachers, though.

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at March 6, 2007 9:56 AM

What about "nailed"?

Posted by: André-Tascha at March 6, 2007 9:56 AM

This from AP article on MSNBC on teacher:

"She says she tried to click the images off, but they kept returning, and she was under strict orders not to shut the computer off.

“I did everything I possibly could to keep them from seeing anything,” she says.

Several students testified that they saw pictures of naked men and women, including at least one image a couple having oral sex.

So, her state of panic, which I assumed in an earlier post and Amy both reiterated (as non-savvy computer users might not be used to dealing with this situation) was compounded by the fact that she was told not to turn it off...

She knew she needed to get rid of the images but also feared some sort of repercussions if she turned the computer off. Instead of thinking "if I turn it off, I can't log back in," (which would be merely a pain in the ass) it was most likely the thought that the real teacher gave her actual orders not to shut it down. Perhaps she thought there would be a separate issue, aside from not having a log-in name/password, that would arise if she shut it down.

I am sure this whole thing happened b/c the kids went home, told their parents their teacher "showed" them naked people on the computer and then the parents flipped out. Irrationally. If my kid came home and said that I would take it seriously and investigate but I would bear in mind that kids, MANY TIMES, misinterpret things they see and hear. While many kids are great resources for data collection due to their mostly honest nature, they still view the world through the eyes of inexperienced children.

Apparently - and this is bullshit, guys:
"“What is extraordinary is the prosecution admitted there was no search made for spyware — an incredible blunder akin to not checking for fingerprints at a crime scene,” Alex Eckelberry, president of a Florida software company, wrote recently in the local newspaper. “When a pop-up occurs on a computer, it will get shown as a visited Web site, and no ‘physical click’ is necessary.”

**GET READY FOR IT***
...Principal Scott Fain said the computer lacked the latest firewall protection because a vendor’s bill had gone unpaid. “I was shocked to see what made it through,” he said."

THE SCHOOL IS MORE AT FAULT FOR FAILURE TO PROVIDE PROPER FIREWALL PROTECTION!!!

When I was in middle school I remember the "cool guys" typing in things like "blowjob" only to be blocked. At an old job w/ a major corporation I was barred from online email access and from checking my horoscope. When I tried to check it, the web page would default and read "Access denied: Unconventional lifestyle and witchcraft."

I couldn't read my Pisces horoscope b/c it's apparently a form of witchcraft - but a school doesn't have protection against spyware?

Posted by: Gretchen at March 6, 2007 9:59 AM

...protection against spyware and oral sex pop ups...

I can't get over how STUPID people can be.

Posted by: Gretchen at March 6, 2007 10:03 AM

Why is it morally acceptable to use sex to sell things, but immoral to actually have sex?

Posted by: Chris at March 6, 2007 10:28 AM

Jody,

It has to do with the 'gateway' philosophy that is the undercurrent of American Puritanism.

If you expose children to the smallest glimpse of nudity... it will be a gateway to perversity or being a victim of perversity. Its the same way with drugs. The whole MJ is a gateway to other harder drugs. Are there examples of this happening to people. Yes, but its not the vast majority.

Now you combine the abstract of the public good, social legislation and ambitious politicians-prosecutors and you have a toxic mix that many innocent people will find themselves as targets.

Posted by: Joe at March 6, 2007 10:29 AM

"It has to do with the 'gateway' philosophy that is the undercurrent of American Puritanism."

Oh, I mainly agree, Joe.

(To be fair, the Brits aren't better adjusted. They just have a more saucy sense of humor about bosoms and bottoms.)

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at March 6, 2007 11:10 AM

Amy, you're right, they are lucky. Just like my last job was lucky when they made us sit through a sermon AT WORK a couple days after 9/11, where they gave us hymns, and the Swaggart/Robertson line that it's all because we're godless people (or just don't give them enough $). I did quietly walk out of the "sermon" (and was the only one that did), but since they didn't come after me for that, I let it be. I'm just not a very litigious person. If I can't resolve it person-to-person, I usually just move on.



Gretchen: Companies definitely go through a lot more trouble to monitor/block employees use of the internet, and have far more tech-savvy people doing it, than what schools tend to have. My step-daughter's school finally got around to blocking MySpace and Runescape (online game). I am not a cersorship kinda guy, but there really isn't any reason for kids to use school property/time for online games and social networking sites. Even then, most of the kids just go to other similar sites, because the blocking isn't very thorough. As opposed to my last job, where there was a full-time employee whose only job was to read employee's e-mail, web traffic, and do searches on Monster and Careerbuilder to make sure employees hadn't posted their resumes (on their own time from home).

Posted by: Jamie at March 6, 2007 11:18 AM

I agree Jody. What is the British Airway's policy of adult men sitting next to kids on flights?

Puritanism can mean Nanny-State, Big Brother, Big Sister, Institionalized Motherhood/Fatherhood, and it takes a village to raise a brat mentality.

Posted by: Joe at March 6, 2007 11:35 AM

institutionalized

Posted by: Joe at March 6, 2007 11:41 AM

You know that whole "gateway" thing and the "slippery slope" method of arguing really cracks me up.

My favorite thing I learned in Stats class. To do the study that proclaimed MJ was a gateway drug, they asked a bunch of heroin addicts if they'd ever smoked pot. To quote a good friend "That's like asking an alchoholic if he's ever drunk water."

But nudity is not bad for kids, we have several peices nude art in parents house. Ever since I was little I have been exposed to it. Though it isn't pornography, it is paintings of a naked woman. Some people are really shocked when they come over though, you can see it in their face, but they don't say anything because it is "art." But I turned out perfectly normal... er.. well.. as normal as I expected to be.

Perhaps if people made less of a big deal about sex it wouldn't be such a problem. Maybe then we wouldn't have the billion dollar porn industry complete with unwanted pop ups costing innocent people their jobs and credibility.

Posted by: Shinobi at March 6, 2007 11:46 AM

Do US newspaper readers still really yearn to be titillated by naked breasts with their daily headlines?

This is a rhetorical question, right?

Posted by: justin case at March 6, 2007 11:47 AM

www.wthr.com/Global/story.asp?S=6180780&nav=9Tai?203

Posted by: Hasan at March 6, 2007 12:09 PM

Thanks for the link, Hasan (I think)...

Posted by: André-Tascha at March 6, 2007 12:14 PM

Doesn't this whole thing come from a compulsion to control others?

The real Puritans tended to spend so much time worrying about other people doing anything "fun", that it became it's own entertainment. They get to have the "enjoyment" of gloating over how much holier-than-thou than "sinner-so-and-so," while the whole thing may well be motivated by spending nights stressing about how much more fun those sinners are having.

I guess it's easier to be "moral" when no one else is "immoral" from your point of view. Which I think leads to a lot of idiotic proselytizing. "I can't be right in my beliefs unless I can convince everyone else of it's rightness"...there's another rationalization.

Posted by: Jamie at March 6, 2007 1:33 PM

"Puritanism. The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy." H. L. Mencken.

Posted by: Shinobi at March 6, 2007 2:00 PM

Regarding the Brits vs. Americans regarding nudity: Daniel Radcliff, aka Harry Potter, is now doing live nude scenes in Equus in London. Mr Radcliff is only 17 years old. (Jesus, he was born when I was in college! I'm old.)

In America, were it presented here, I am pretty sure you could be arrested for just attending this event.

Posted by: eric at March 6, 2007 3:17 PM

You've got the Puritans exactly right. The big myth is that they came to America for religious freedom, but they already had that living in Amsterdam. What really pissed them off was that everyone else was free to do whatever they wanted too (and they were enjoying life) so they took off.

Daniel is legal (as in, has attained the age of consent), so I don't see what the big deal is. In America, any nude show would get the Puritans up in arms-look at what one nude tittie did during the SuperBowl.

Posted by: Chris at March 6, 2007 4:17 PM

"Politicians are certainly the lowest form of life."

What does that make voters?

Posted by: winston at March 6, 2007 7:44 PM

Gullible.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at March 6, 2007 7:58 PM

For what it's worth, there's a defense fund set up for Julie Amero here:

julieamer.blogspot.com/2007/02/contribute-to-julie.html

Posted by: Randee at March 6, 2007 8:51 PM

"What does that make voters?"

"Gullible."

People like to pile on politicians but look at it from their point of view. Every few years they have to reinterview for their job. Who do they reinterview with?

The voters... ignorant, petty, jingoistic, and fickle, with short memories and even shorter attention spans.

We get the politicians we deserve.

Posted by: winston at March 6, 2007 9:45 PM

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