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Old 03-17-2008, 01:59 PM   #1
ChrisMoses
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Exclamation Very Disturbing news about Clint George

I've been waiting for this story to hit the forums for about a week now but haven't seen anything. I hesitate to even bring it up, but I've been critical in the past of people in the Aikido community seemingly sweeping serious problems under the rug. I suppose if I'm going to hold myself to that standard, this is something I have to do.

You can read the article here.

I don't know Clint very well, but I've had a number of very good conversations with him over the years and while I don't know if he would have remembered me by name, I will always remember him. He was a wealth of knowledge about Aikido, and was one of the few Westerners to spend a long period of time studying in Shingu with Hikitsuchi Sensei.

For those of you who didn't skip ahead and read the article, it may be confusing that I'm speaking in the past tense. The article is not an obituary, but it is likely the end of his influence in the Aikido world.

This is very sad and very disappointing. My heart goes out to him, his family, the victim and also all of his students who must be going through hell right now. I hope that there are leaders in his dojo's community that can rise to the occasion and lead them forward to heal and move on.

Clint was one of the few mainstream Aikido teachers who I made an effort to go see at seminars and talk to individually. He really was a wealth of very special knowledge. I was very happy that he had become such a regular influence at my former Aikido dojo.

I've already had a number of very good (online and face to face) conversations with folks about this, but thought it needed to be out in the general community knowledge.

If you hadn't heard, I'm sorry to be the bearer of such terrible news, but like I said, I try to hold myself to my own standards.

Chris Moses
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Old 03-17-2008, 02:08 PM   #2
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Very Disturbing news about Clint George

I honestly don't know what to say. If almost anyone else had posted this, I likely wouldn't have believed it.

Two things though:

1) let's be careful until conviction

2) Apparently, it is very easy for any of us to be seduced by positions of authority (either as perpetrator or victim). Let's keep that in mind should we ever be in authority. These things stink. It's bad for the victim, the perp, and aikido.

Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
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Old 03-17-2008, 02:15 PM   #3
akiy
 
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Re: Very Disturbing news about Clint George

Hi folks,

As before, please let's keep the discussion regarding this news item respectful and civil. Thank you.

-- Jun

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Old 03-17-2008, 02:28 PM   #4
Keith Larman
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Re: Very Disturbing news about Clint George

Ouch. I hadn't seen that. I had heard only good things over the years.

The article indicated that there was an acknowledgement of behavior by Mr. George to the police. But of course news sources can be misleading or incorrect so we should tread softly until there is some sort of conclusion to this.

That said, I'll say this in a general sense, both as an aikido instructor of teenage girls *and* as a dad of a little girl myself... There just is no excuse for when those things happen. Our role is to demonstrate the behavior we expect from them. Always. In the dojo they are our responsibility and that carries even more weight. Which makes things like this, when they happen, particularly bad.

Frankly any adult should simply know better. Especially when you add in the environment of authority and all the complex issues authority brings to the equation. Dojo "romances" among consenting adults is tough enough as it is. But this sort of thing with a minor is just wrong (again, speaking generally).

I've spent a lot of time dealing with the fallout of inappropriate sexual behavior with a minor. A person very close to me was a victim of that behavior over 25 years ago and it still affects her life. Daily. And as one of the few people she confided in I know how deeply it has harmed her over the long term.

And it has happened before in the Aikido community (as it does in schools, churches, etc.). But Chris is right -- it seems to be a topic that is rarely discussed or even acknowledged. And that IMHO is a major travesty. We need to be able to acknowledge when these things happen. And deal with the fallout properly, above board and with integrity. We must make sure it bloody well doesn't happen again...

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Old 03-17-2008, 04:42 PM   #5
Cephallus
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Re: Very Disturbing news about Clint George

I guess I'm a little surprised that a google news search doesn't pull up any other references besides this one article.

I'm a father of a child this age, and I'm also a certified level-3 youth hockey coach. The level-1 training program must have been written by USA Hockey's risk management department, because they kept hammering home several key points: don't ever be alone with a child, don't touch a child inappropriately, don't use bad language around a child, don't ever be alone with a child, don't make jokes with sexual connotations around a child, don't tell a child that you love him/her, and most importantly, don't ever be alone with a child.

The fact is, it doesn't matter to your reputation if allegations of sexual misconduct are true or false. If a child's family perceives that there has been misconduct, be prepared to have your life ruined. Expect someone to call your boss, your pastor, your children's day-care facility, etc. Expect the local newspapers to run articles about you as a sexual predator with your picture. Expect a feature on your local news station.

I was lucky to have the support I did when entering youth sports. USA Hockey does a great job preparing you for being safe with kids, both for their sake and yours. Whether the allegations against this aikido instructor are true or not (and of course, I hope not!), there's a lesson for any of us who work with kids here:

Hold yourself to the highest possible standard when working with children, all the time.

And, did I mention, never, ever, ever, never, ever ever be alone with someone else's child?
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Old 03-17-2008, 05:50 PM   #6
Lyle Bogin
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Re: Very Disturbing news about Clint George

I remember when Brian Gray, who was a fairly successful kung fu stylist (iron palm), was accused of something similar. After months of people shooting off their mouths about his horrible conduct, it turned out that the entire thing was fabricated by an angry ex-boyfriend.

Being a PE teacher I am all to aware of the difficulties in dealing with OPK (other people's kids). There are so few men willing to work with kids because of the dangers of false accusations, and it leaves young boys and girls with few male role models in their lives.

If he did it, then he should pay the price. But until then, leave it to the jury. His life is already ruined whether it is true or not.
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Old 03-17-2008, 06:34 PM   #7
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Re: Very Disturbing news about Clint George

Thank you, Aaron. It always helps to be reminded of how to lessen the chances that you get yourself in a position that your intentions can be questioned especially when dealing with youngsters.

I didn't find any other articles pertaining to this incident either, which I find highly suspect. The way the article is written also leaves me with many questions. Apparently, they quoted Mr. George as saying to police that "the relationship with his student of two years started with hugging and 'petting' and had progressed in the last three months". however the only word in the entire paragraph in quotation marks is "petting". I have no doubt that the word petting was included in his interview with investigators, but none of us could possibly have the slightest clue as to the context of the word's usage from the content, or should I say, lack of content contained in this article.

Unfortunately, there are people in our society who we probably have had contact with who are capable of things such as this. I certainly wouldn't try to fool myself into thinking that these people are not human or some kind of monsters that slipped in under the radar and lurk in our midst undetected until something of this nature happens. No. They are just people. Just like you and me. Just like Ms. Angela Brandt. We all have different motivations and make vastly different choices. If Mr. George did indeed do what he is suspected of doing, I believe he should be appropriately punished for his actions. If he did not I hope to God he is exonerated and his life returns to better than it was before. But most importantly I will not judge him based on Ms. Brandt's article. Come to think of it, I won't judge him anyway. My thoughts are with everyone involved in this truly unfortunate matter.

Jason
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Old 03-17-2008, 09:20 PM   #8
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Re: Very Disturbing news about Clint George

Quote:
Aaron Finney wrote: View Post
I guess I'm a little surprised that a google news search doesn't pull up any other references besides this one article.
Why is that surprising at all? Helena, Montana isn't exactly a large metropolitan area with multiple large media outlets. Things like this happen virtually daily in small towns across the country and world. Few get reported beyond local papers, police blotters, etc. And only major cases that "catch the eye" of the major news orgs make it into the larger news feeds.

Just read through any smaller local newspaper and you'll see story after story of abuse, assaults, robberies, etc. Heck, I get the local paper here in Pasadena (the Star News) and the vastly larger Los Angeles Times. The Star News will list stories of local crimes and stories of local interest. Most of those never even make it to the LA Times even though it also covers the area. So many stories (including some just like this one) never make it beyond even the local paper. And just because it is of interest to us as Aikido practitioners doesn't mean it is of any news "significance" on any larger scale. Unfortunately stories like these are a dime a dozen.

No, we shouldn't assume guilt. We shouldn't assume anything. That includes the motivations of the reporters. These are serious charges. Very serious charges. And apparently sufficient evidence existed to obtain a search warrant. Beyond that obviously none of us know any more.

I hope it turns out to be totally false for everyone involved.

These things *do* happen. And they happen too often. And many times they continue to happen precisely because people won't talk about it. Avoiding the uncomfortable discussion only serves to allow it to grow.

We are adults. We can discuss things. Innocence before being proven guilty is a marvelous legal construct which is invaluable in context of our legal system. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't be talking about it and making sure we're doing whatever we can in our own realm of influence to make sure we don't create an environment that allows it to exist.

Yes, let's be circumspect in this case as there is little known. But the fact that we're talking about it all over again (and it occurs in other arts as well) should be a wake up call.

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Old 03-17-2008, 10:49 PM   #9
crbateman
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Re: Very Disturbing news about Clint George

It's a shame. It's a reminder that those in authoritative positions must be ever responsible and professional, because there will be high expectations, and equally ominous consequences. Regardless of guilt or innocence, as this has not yet been formally determined, I hope all parties involved can move forward.
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Old 03-17-2008, 11:46 PM   #10
Ellis Amdur
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Re: Very Disturbing news about Clint George

I absolutely agree that one should not make decisions at a distant remove, not knowing details and circumstances. However, I do want to comment on some of the comments.

Ron writes:
Quote:
Apparently, it is very easy for any of us to be seduced by positions of authority (either as perpetrator or victim). Let's keep that in mind should we ever be in authority. These things stink. It's bad for the victim, the perp, and aikido.
Ron, I absolutely disagree with this. It is easy for people to abuse authority when they want to - decide to - abuse authority. But further, such cases are not an "abuse of authority." They are an abuse of a human being. And quite honestly, having been in such positions of authority with vulnerable human beings, I cannot - internally - conceive of such a desire. I can understand it, because part of my profession is assessing such individuals. But it is NOT easy to be seduced if you are a person of integrity. If you are not a person of integrity, well then. And that it's "bad for the perp," I have not the slightest degree of compassion for someone who decides - willfully - to violate anyone else.

Jason writes:
Quote:
I certainly wouldn't try to fool myself into thinking that these people are not human or some kind of monsters that slipped in under the radar and lurk in our midst undetected until something of this nature happens. No. They are just people. Just like you and me.
Once again with the caveat that I'm not referring to Clint's situation, because I don't know it - yes, those who molest children are not "monsters." But they are not like me. I do not intend to be petty when I say that whether they are like you is something you would know, not me. But this kind of "we are all alike under the skin" is contradicted by a simple fact. I have never had - and I bet most of those reading this thread have never had - the slightest temptation to violate a minor child sexually. Not only because it is morally wrong - but because those who are sexually drawn to physically and emotionally immature individuals are NOT like you (hopefully) and me (definitely).

Rob writes:
Quote:
Even if you manage to teach such things well, how do you go about evaluating damaged psyches?
I'm not quite sure what you intend to mean by this statement. But - if I do understand the intent of your statement, it is dangerously facile, comforting though it may seem, to call molestors, ill or having damaged psyche's. But what does this mean? When one consciously and deliberately chooses to put one's own desires over the well being of a child, be it because one delights in the power or sadistic control, or because one is so selfish that one convinces oneself that the child wants it too - or will, when one is finished with the child - this is not "sick." It is evil. Why is it so difficult to state a simple fact, that the choice to inflict pain and damage is evil?

George writes:
Quote:
I don't think that . . . should be lumped in with those folks unless there is a lot more that comes out that would justify it.
Cutting the name to make it a general discussion - yes, some actions and some people are more evil than others. Some are evil to the core. Some willfully embrace and rationalize a hurtful act while choosing to view themselves as somehow not responsible or culpable (Eliot Spitzer?). The problem with this type of statement is that it attempts to comfort or molify. John Lamont was not Ted Bundy. Having listened to a tape recording of Lamont, I agree with that, but he is a scary man (if you fit his victim profile after he went through his "interview") and the fact that he is not like Ted Bundy does not make what he is any less. So a person who seduces and "pets" a thirteen year old after several years of grooming, for example, is not the same as . . .whoever you like. But such a person is doing evil.

George also writes:
Quote:
. . . may have gotten unwisely involved in something he shouldn't, it probably reflects a need for some serious help,
This is another truism that people say, but should further think through. "Unwisely?" I unwisely write down a few extra deductions on my income tax. I unwisely call my boss a waterhead when he is standing outside my cubicle. I unwisely eat all the fat around my rib steak and wash it down with seven shots of Gosling's Black Seal Bermuda Black Rum. But one does not unwisely fondle, seduce, groom or otherwise invade the sexuality of a child. Furthermore, it has NEVER been established that treatment for sexual abusers works, so what is "help?" Think of this - the average sexual predator of children successfully preys on several tens of children, even a hundred before being caught. that is a VERY skilled criminal. And what is treatment. Being placed in a group with, say, ten other individuals with similar histories, and treatment consist, in part, of discussing in detail one's acts to ascertain one's "triggers" (this, as if it is the same as an "addiction"). I'm not so good at math, but ten people with an average of, let us say, thirty crimes, comparing them together, is a high powered seminar on how to not get caught next time. So recidivism is lower after treatment? Why is that?
"Help?" No, sequesteration, for as long as is possible. I did not say punishment, because it doesn't help. I simply mean that because we have no means of making things better, keep such individuals far away from our society for as long as is possible.
In sum, I find decent people, particularly in the world of aikido, try so hard to see both or all sides that they can loose sight of the fact that there are moral absolutes.
Best

Last edited by Ellis Amdur : 03-17-2008 at 11:49 PM.

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Old 03-18-2008, 12:51 AM   #11
Josh Reyer
 
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Re: Very Disturbing news about Clint George

Quote:
Ellis Amdur wrote: View Post
It is easy for people to abuse authority when they want to - decide to - abuse authority. But further, such cases are not an "abuse of authority." They are an abuse of a human being. And quite honestly, having been in such positions of authority with vulnerable human beings, I cannot - internally - conceive of such a desire.
Lord Acton of course famously said, "Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely." But the Anglo-Saxons had a slightly different take, expressed in the maxim: Man de■ swa he by■ ■onne he mot swa he wile. "A man does as he is, when he may do as he wills."

Josh Reyer

The lyf so short, the crafte so longe to lerne,
Th'assay so harde, so sharpe the conquerynge...
- Chaucer
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Old 03-18-2008, 06:39 AM   #12
rob_liberti
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Re: Very Disturbing news about Clint George

I didn't think it was a stretch to assume anyone who abuses power must have a damaged psyche. It is certainly not my field. But the intention of my message was how can we as aikido teachers detect students who would abuse their superior power before we help give them more power?

I see exmaples of people with more power than compassion all the time in aikido. I have to admit it is one of the MANY factors that drives me to practice harder. (I won't go into specifics in email/posting. But if I see you in person doing something like this all bets are off.)

For examples:

I don't like it when some aikido teacher requires a specific attack and then nails the uke. If you want a fair fight, finish your class, and challenge them in the parking lot where they get to do any attack they want. No one is impressed in any positive way by such abuses of power - and I suspect we've all seen or at least know of such things.

I don't even like it when sempai force kohai to do things that are not necessarily so much better for the training experience - they just want things to be a certain way and there is no one ranked high enough to tell them to go sh*t in their hat.

I don't like it when a sensei uses his position of power to break up a couple - who are their students - to "take" their wife or girlfriend or whatever.

Sometimes a junior asks a senior student to work out, and they get worked beyond their ability to take it. It's going to hapen once and a while for sure, but when it is a constant pattern with that senior - I don't like it. You are supposed to be able to sense how much your junior can take, and bring it right up to that point and not go beyond it and not back down much - so they can work through their body fears.

I suppose that's the main issue here for me. You go to aikido to GROW and being abused just works against that promised experience.

Rob
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Old 03-18-2008, 06:51 AM   #13
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Very Disturbing news about Clint George

You know much more about this field than I do Ellis. I haven't had that type of desire either. But I have seen what power does to some people...maybe they were that way all along, I have no clue. But I do have a clue about authority and power and how they seem (to me at least) to corrupt MANY people.

I take your word for your thoughts and sentiments...as I said you are much better equiped in this area.

Best,
Ron (what a horrible mess...but Keith is correct, we do need to openly discuss)

Ron Tisdale
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Old 03-18-2008, 07:01 AM   #14
Marc Abrams
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Re: Very Disturbing news about Clint George

If you go through graduate training in a mental health/therapy field, you must go through a course in ethics. One of the main topics centers around dealing with aspects of an intimate, inequitable-power relationship. Issues related to this are continued to be dealt with in practicum, externship, internship, and fellowship positions. Despite this emphasis, the number one reason for psychologists to lose their licenses, and be censured by the national association continues to be having inappropriate (almost always of a sexual nature) relationships.

Did anyone of us have specific, in-depth training in handling the inequitable-power relationship of teacher-student before we opened our schools (or were asked to teach within our schools)? In the last couple of months, two Aikido instructors have been arrested and accused of these types of abuses. Maybe it is time that we use this forum to go in-depth and explore the nature of these types of relationships in order to help us become better and safer teachers?

People fantasize about all types of things. People get in trouble when they act-out on fantasies that they know violate societal, moral, and ethical boundaries. An inequitable-power relationship is a ripe field in which these problems can surface. The person in the weaker power role loves the attention from the powerful person. The person in the higher power role loves the adoration and idealization from the weaker power person.

Maybe we could use some type of confidential mentoring/buddy system in which we all can be open to privately discuss anything. It takes a lot of courage to acknowledge our areas of fantasies, weaknesses, .... We need to be able to acknowledge those parts of our existence that we would like to never acknowledge in public. Making peace within us takes a lot of personal acceptance. The wisdom of those ahead of us in the road of life, can help us to live a life that maintains a high degree of integrity, morals, and ethics.

We function on a daily basis in having these types of power-inequity relationships. We need to strengthen our own community in order to help us do so in a manner that reflects the highest ideals of integrity, morals, and ethics. In the mental health field, there are plenty of venues in which this type of support can be found. I think that we need to find some way to implement that as well. The last thing that we need is a government agency trying to mandate and dictate how things are done, because of a pattern of abuses within our community.

I only hope that we can use the events of the last couple of months to make our community stronger, rather than weakened by taking positions without all of the facts, based upon our preconceived notions.

Marc Abrams
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Old 03-18-2008, 07:30 AM   #15
edshockley
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Re: Very Disturbing news about Clint George

The issue of appropriate behavior is discussed at our dojo. It was addressed informally for many years because all of the adolescents who joined the adults managed to be there in the company of a practicing parent. Recently that situation changed and questions of propriety came up. Should an eager adolescent be allowed to travel to winter camp in New York, for example?. Our decision has been to adopt a policy modelled after the school board. It seems better to error on the side of caution and avoid having to assess the character of each instructor and student(i.e. you can travel with person A but not instructor B). The specifics of our policy;
1) No over night trips without parent chaperon
2) Parental permission for day trips
3) Youth must be accompanied by two adults
4) If there is any misgiving, alert the senior instructor (this is not meant as an accusation, simply "let's be vigilant.")

Someone mentioned earlier in this thread the impact of abuse 25 years later. It seems better to have an eager youth wait a few years to enjoy the instruction of seminars rather than create any potential opportunity for abusive behavior.
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Old 03-18-2008, 08:09 AM   #16
Keith Larman
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Re: Very Disturbing news about Clint George

Quote:
Ellis Amdur wrote: View Post
Why is it so difficult to state a simple fact, that the choice to inflict pain and damage is evil?

In sum, I find decent people, particularly in the world of aikido, try so hard to see both or all sides that they can loose sight of the fact that there are moral absolutes.
Thank you for posting that -- I thought those two points needed repeating together.

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Old 03-18-2008, 08:11 AM   #17
Keith Larman
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Re: Very Disturbing news about Clint George

Quote:
Joshua Reyer wrote: View Post
"A man does as he is, when he may do as he wills."
Great quote and quite appropos. I'd never heard that one before.

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Old 03-18-2008, 08:23 AM   #18
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Very Disturbing news about Clint George

Just a follow up...

I do not find Ellis's statement of fact difficult.

I do find it hard to assume that I, or anyone, in a position of power will not abuse it. I think making such an assumption is the beginning of the problem.

In a word, VIGILENCE. Without it, integrity cannot last.

Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
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Old 03-18-2008, 08:36 AM   #19
Ellis Amdur
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Re: Very Disturbing news about Clint George

Particularly for those who are responsible for the care and protection of children (all of us), I recommend this book. Predators: Pedophiles, Rapists, and Other Sex Offenders : Who They Are, How They Operate, and How We Can Protect Ourselves and Our Children by Anna Salter

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Old 03-18-2008, 08:47 AM   #20
Keith Larman
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Re: Very Disturbing news about Clint George

Quote:
Ellis Amdur wrote: View Post
Particularly for those who are responsible for the care and protection of children (all of us), I recommend this book. Predators: Pedophiles, Rapists, and Other Sex Offenders : Who They Are, How They Operate, and How We Can Protect Ourselves and Our Children by Anna Salter
Thank you, I just ordered a copy.

Link here for Amazon:

Sex Offenders book on Amazon

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Old 03-18-2008, 09:12 AM   #21
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Re: Very Disturbing news about Clint George

Ellis,
Agreed. Perhaps I should have been more clear. The point of my statement was to simply discourage prejudice especially given the highly emotional nature of the subject of child abuse. I was leaning toward the "just like you and me" in a he has a mom and dad too kind of way. I would also like to add that I am in no way an expert in the field of psychology. Its just that it is easier for me to understand why people do the things they do and "put myself in their shoes" as the saying goes, by aligning myself mentally with our similarities rather than our differences.

On another note, I have heard alot of good stuff about you Mr. Amdur. I look forward to meeting you.
Regards,
Jason
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Old 03-18-2008, 09:16 AM   #22
Jim Sorrentino
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Re: Very Disturbing news about Clint George

Greetings All,

While there are examples from every discipline, profession, and religion, here is one that I remember:
Quote:
Nobel Prize winner Daniel Carleton Gajdusek, a pediatrician and researcher, was jailed in 1997 for molesting a 16-year-old boy, one of 56 Micronesian children he molested. Gajdusek was the chief of the Laboratory for Central Nervous System Studies at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke in Bethesda, Maryland. Washington Post, Under Plea Deal, Former NIH Scientist Will Spend Up to a Year in Jail, February 19, 1997 p. A1.
Aikido is no different than any other human activity in this respect: years of study will not turn evil into good.

Jim Sorrentino
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Old 03-18-2008, 09:38 AM   #23
rob_liberti
Dojo: Shobu Aikido of Connecticut
Location: East Haven, CT
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Re: Very Disturbing news about Clint George

I'm certainly against power abuse and I really don't understand the topic well enough but "evil" _seems_ wrong or at least a bit absolute. I really need to read that book that Ellis recommended. (Jun should get some benefit for a bunch of folks buying a book that was recommended on this site.)

For now, all I have to go on is my own very limited experience. For instance, I remember being very attracted to a 15 year old girl when I was 14 myself. Now, I'm not attracted to 15 year old girls and I really have no idea what changed in me for that to be the case. I just guess that whatever "that" is got broken in some people. Is it genetic predisposition, epigentics, and/or current the social value systems in place.

Wasn't this sort of thing considered "normal" in ancient Rome or Greece? In more modern times didn't like 30 year old men marry teenage wifes?

Note there was a lot of things done in the past that at least *I* don't do today or approve of in any way. But were all of these people in the past "evil" or was something (or somethings) just broken.

Rob
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Old 03-18-2008, 09:49 AM   #24
Marc Abrams
Dojo: Aikido Arts of Shin Budo Kai/ Bedford Hills, New York
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Re: Very Disturbing news about Clint George

The book that Ellis mentioned is a good book with the caveat that research in this area is not that good (compared to other areas). Besides identifying potential abusers, it is equally as important for us to help ourselves live up to the standards that people demand from us when we teach children, teens, and adults. What if this happened to an adult, female student? The boundaries broken are still a problem. Jim accurately pointed out that people, even famous people, are capable of serious errors in judgment. Instead of turning this into a moral saga of good vs. evil, I personally think that it would be more helpful if we can turn this into how we can help teachers and students maintain appropriate boundaries.

To err is human, to not err as a result of fantasies enacted, takes a high degree of personal integrity and vigilance. That takes hard work, a honest assessment of ourselves, and healthy support systems in place.

Marc Abrams
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Old 03-18-2008, 09:52 AM   #25
Demetrio Cereijo
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Re: Very Disturbing news about Clint George

Sad story.

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