Friday, September 29, 2006
Thursday, September 28, 2006
Granted, this is a 24 year old case. It occured to me, however, that this is only one of numerous examples of how the United States as a country is sorely lacking in the sense of moral outrage which has shaped our nation from the very beginning. Perhaps it's hard to be angered at injustice when engulfed in the ongoing state of fear we've lived under since September 11th, 2001.
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Today's Pitcairn population is about 50, with many more scattered throughout the world.
After a scandal a couple of years ago which involved a brand of sexual abuse of minors that perhaps can be partically blamed on the island's isolation (visits each year are infrequent), the British government, which many years ago accepted Pitcairn under its jurisdiction, has begun to help the island achieve a more robust ability to develop a small economy and, perhaps, even a tiny tourism industry (by necessity - Pitcairn is just a few square miles).
Before I heard of the scandal, and the extended trial that resulted, I had tried to order one of Pitcairn's few exports - honey, bred by tropical bees (and thus particulary good). For obvious reasons (the entire workforce was on trial), it was never charged to my credit card, and it never arrived.
I tried again this August, and now, judging by a charge which just showed up on my credit card, I might soon be seeing my uniquely exotic souvenir.
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
There are two files - one is the video the kids produced. The other combines that with a four and a half minute mini-documentary about the making of the video, and includes personal greetings to the kids they'll be working with here in America.
You can find the videos in a page off of my website. Just look for the "See India Video" link just under the group portrait of the kids and teachers at the center of the page.
Monday, September 25, 2006
Important information - especially in an apartment complex with plenty of children. Obviously this isn't the kind of person anyone would want to live down the hall from.
My only concern would be that this doesn't degenerate into any sort of vigilante (i.e. violent) activity. We'd save the kids from one kind of horror, and inflict another.
Thursday, September 21, 2006
It's becoming harder and harder to determine where wild speculation and true evidence begin and end. This story, a major headline story when Gosch disappeared in 1982, is virtually ignored today. There's been very little attention paid to this story by the media - it's old, it's disturbing, and, as I'm discovering, Americans are just too overwhlemed with fear to care about a 24 year-old crime- even if it involved horrendous crimes.
This is one story, however, where media attention could do some good, and force the truth, whatever it may be, out into the open.
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
India is a society that's both heading headlong into the 21st century, and retains a feel for its long and complicated past. I felt at times that the streets of Delhi, at least from my western point of view, seemed to be a chaotic mixture of several centuries of tradition and technology. Masses of people along with animals, bicycle pedicabs, motorized pedicabs, and modern vehicles (not to mention wild animals in the form of cows, yaks and assorted smaller creatures) form a constantly moving tapestry regardless of painted traffic lanes or any attempt at organizaiton. The roads are chaotic, but new flyover roads are being built to rise above the chaos. The wildly divergent architecture also ranged from the ancient to slick, futuristic office buildings. Malls are rising to serve the rapidly expanding middle class. I suspect that by mid-century the streets of Delhi could be largely unrecognizeable.
I think of the kids we worked with - next to indendence, this has to be the most exciting, promising time in their country's history - what a great time in which to grow up!
Friday, September 15, 2006
There was a time, I thought, when there was general agreement among Americans that torture was beyond the pale. But when people are frightened enough, nothing is beyond the pale. And we're in an ara in which the highest leaders in the land stoke - rather than attempt to allay - the fears of ordinary citizens. Islamic terrorists are quated with Nazi Germany. We're told that we're in a clash of civilizations.
If, as President Bush says, we're engaged in 'the decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century,' why isn't the entire nation moblizing to meet that dire threat?"
Herbert goes on to conclude:
The character of the U.S. has changed. We're in danger of being completely ruled by fear. Most Americans have not shared the burden of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Very few Americans
are aware, as the Center for Constitutional Rights tells us, that of the hundreds of men held by the U.S. in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, many "have never been charged and will never be charged because there is no evidence justifying their detention."
Even fewer care.
We could benefit from looking in a mirror, and absorbing the shock of not recognizing what we're become.
Thursday, September 14, 2006
The primary photograph in question, a black and white image which supposedly shows Johnny Gosch tied and gagged with some kind of a brand on his arm, appears on the linked site in color, and there is no such brand. It also seems to have been posted in April, a full four months before it was delivered to his mother's house. This was the photo that his mother swore was her son.
I have to wonder why law enforcement, particularly those involved in cases like this, didn't discover this link earlier. And, once again, where is the media on this?
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
If these photos are proven to be unconnected to the Gosch case, this would only be the latest turn in a case that has been surrounded by false rumors, wild accusations, unsubstantiated stories and little or no solid evidence of Johnny Gosch's fate. As with the other kids of his time that also remain missing, justice remains elusive.
Monday, September 11, 2006
Here's a scene from my 1990's documentary, "Simple Things: Letters From Juvenile Hall," featuring a glimpse at the story (but by no means the whole story) of "Small Fry," whose story I'll be updating in an upcoming documentary.
Sunday, September 10, 2006
The single greatest lesson of 9/11 is reinforcing the adege that "the price of liberty is eternal vigilence." The single most damaging impact is the varied ways in which that same adege has been interpreted and used for personal and political gain. True visionary leadership on the federal level is lacking everywhere in our polical system. The terrorist threats we now face will not be solved either by retreat or by arms alone. The United States, for all its power, doesn't seem to know what kind of world it wants, or what kind of standard it wants to set. We live, then, in overwhlelming fear and uncertainty about the future.
The great tragedy is the lack of outrage for social injustices within our own country. We're no longer trying to improve our country and move it forward - we're trying desperately to hold on to what we have.
For me, an accident of timing has aligned the Gosch story (see previous post) with the 9/11 anniversary. I don't doubt for a moment that while we struggle to understand the external threats we face, a collective exhaustion dooms the inheritors of Johnny Gosch's fate.
Saturday, September 09, 2006
Ten years ago, his mother claimed that her son came to visit her briefly, claiming that he had been kidnapped and brought into a huge pedophile network, and was now afraid for his life. He left after a couple of hours, and she never heard from him again. Her story was doubted by some, and no evidence existed to prove it had happened.
In late August a couple of weeks ago, Johnny Gosch's mother found a package at her front door. Inside, she found two old photographs showing her son bound and gagged, one by himself, and one with two other still-unidentified boys, also bound and gagged. Where these pictures came from, why they're being revealed now, and who they actually mean is still unknown.
It's curious to me that such a horrific story, in today's post-9/11 climate of constant crisis, is just another news story...immediately disappearing from the front page - if it was ever there at all. I hope that the relevant authorities can find the time in their domestic spying programs to find justice for Johnny Gosch and the boys who suffered with him.
Sunday, September 03, 2006
It looks like we'll be heading back to India well within the year. India, it seems, is one of those places that takes a lot out of you, but gives you so much more. I'll be looking forward to returning.
Saturday, September 02, 2006
Day Six began early , as we headed to the kids' school so that we could work with them to finish their film - we were scheduled to present the film at a special lunch mid-day, so the project had to get done. Final touches including naming the film ("Back to the Roots") and re-recording some audio that wasn't clear on the original video. We also had to create a DVD for presentation after the luncheon. Working together, the kids made the deadline, and we all headed across the street to celebrate with officials from the school and the Trust that has been hosting us here in India. Both kids and adults were treated to a first-class lunch (we've been having many, many traditional Indian foods). They've been aware of our every comment, so when one of our party commented a couple of days ago that she was taking a little break from Indian food, they were extra careful to ask us repeatedly if the food was okay - was it too spicy, do we want a sandwhich, etc.
After the lunch, we went to the principal's office to present to the same crowd the story of our program, and present the finished video. We then asked the kids to come in, so that we could present them with certificates celebrating the success of the workshop. By now, we've gotten to know most of the kids, so we were each able to add a bit of a personal comment about each kid. The audience there responded very well to the video, and to the concept of bringing young filmmaking to the poor of India. These kids, who are more priveliged, will now be teaching what they have learned with us to poor children.
Finally, it was time to leave the school, and our young friends. They shook our hands, took pictures and finally hugged us goodbye. It's quite possible that we might return in a few months, so the sadness in parting was tempered in part by the promise of the future.
On the way back to the hotel, we stopped off at a little cyber cafe in the Indian version of a strip mall, where we need to prepare for a press conference the next day. This is, unfortunately, also where I lost a cap I bought at the Twin Towers in Kuala Lubpur. Easy come, easy go....
Day Seven featured the press conference, where we explained what we had been doing with the kids, the concept of the program, and presented the video. A few of the kids were also there to demonstrate for the press how the camera and software worked and tell them of their experience with our workshop - and also, yet again, shake our hands and hug us goodbye.
We've been fortunate to be working with such a great group of kids, and to have hosts that have made our stay an exciting experience in every way. I told the kids as we presented them certificates that I will always see their faces whenever I think of India.
Tomorrow, Sunday, is our final day in India - late that night we take off for the long journey home....