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Tuesday, 22 September 2015


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Sometimes it seems like the main useful purpose of the internet is to call out and shame people in power for doing insane/stupid/greedy/cruel/small-minded things, so I'm happy to see you do your part.

Any of the mush-brained adults involved in prosecuting this boy should probably be similarly prosecuted for having viewed said child pornography. Zero tolerance being zero tolerance and all that... fair is fair, right?

It seems there is an inexhaustible number of ways in which the world can make you sad.

While I think the whole case is ridiculous, I completely object to your injection of race into this. As a native of North Carolina, this constant assumption that all southerners are all racists is getting really old. Spend some time here before you launch into unfounded accusations.

[Sorry Joseph. I didn't mean to specifically slam North Carolina on that count. Anywhere in America, that particular kid persecuted in that particular way would be black in my opinion. Just the way it is with us. --Mike]

This is crazy. How did we get here?

Sometimes, when I hear stories like this, I just feel really disappointed in those we've entrusted to protect us, and in where a large part of popular sympathy seems to have moved in the last 30 years. I wonder how much of taxpayer money went into this "investigation" and "prosecution."

"We are charging you as an adult for having explicit photos of a minor - yourself". Somewhere Joseph Heller is laughing.

While attending college in NC a friend would parody the state license plate motto from "First in Flight" to "First in Flight, Last in Civilization".

Seems like another example of "zero tolerance" madness. Kid has an aspirin at school...suspend him for drugs. Kid bites his pop tart into the shape of a pistol...expel his butt. Kid shows his teacher a clock he built...haul him away in handcuffs. Kid acts like a kid (heaven forbid!)...off with his head.

These days I wonder who shows the most maturity, the kids or the adults in charge.

One more point--most of this zero tolerance nonsense has nothing to do with race. It's just lazy authority figures who don't have the backbone or intellect to make a judgement call.

It's not unusual for public defenders to spend a total of... 7 minutes with their clients, the vast majority of which are urged to simply cop a plea. Guilt or innocence never figures into it:


And people wonder why everything on my cellphone is encrypted and protected by a complex password! Jeez!

Similar case in the UK recently. Hammer to crack a walnut.

Luckily he's not a Muslim or he'd have been in real trouble.

Sorry state of affairs in this country of ours.

The authorities in this case ought to be charged with malicious prosecution in my opinion

Charge themselves ?

That would make more sense than anything they've done so far.

Rest assured Mike, incompetence is color-blind... the prosecutor, judge, and a third of the sheriff's office are persons of color.

Funny how some selective media outlets left that out and played the race card right off the bat... rather like the recent "inventor" who placed a Radio Shack radio into a briefcase.

Well said.

Are you sure this wasn't a story made up by Larry David?

Good grief. Paranoia and stupidity rules in this case. I have a couple of teenage nephews, albeit here in England, and I worry about things like this happening to them.

Last one out, please turn out the lights. We might as well return to the sea.

I just read an article about how innocent poor (mostly black) people are forced to accept plea deals just to avoid lengthy prison sentences. Many are jailed for minor misdemeanors simply because they cannot afford bail. When I saw "plea deal," first thing I thought of was skin color; his family probably couldn't afford a decent lawyer either.

What's next? Will they treat suicides as murders, and confiscate the killer's assets? Oh I shouldn't be giving them ideas.

Its symptomatic of the dumbing down of America.

A misguided group of fully grown human beings (let us not call them adults) is trying desperately to bootstrap a complete lack of common sense into an abrupt thought of some consequence. Why don't "they" deal with the real problems around us/them? I don't think any new problems need to be invented.

That's why we call it the Excited States of America. It's the same absurd jump in logic that declares a shooter who shots at more than one person a "terrorist". Yup your story is right up there with the idiots who charged the nerdy kid with building a digital clock and bringing it to school. Whatever happened to good old fashioned level headed logical reasoning?

This is edgy! I like......

Thank you very much for that, Mike. I think. I moved away from the States some time ago, and sometimes I get reports, like this one from North Carolina, that make the whole place seem like a madhouse driving itself ever madder, and not in a nice way. But then you, too, are a voice from the madhouse (if you'll pardon the compliment), so I relax a little: at least some of us have more brains than god gave a goose, as my mom used to say.

I hear ya Mike. I'd read about that before. Apparently reason and logic aren't taught in NC schools.

One becomes speechless.

You mean they were colored photos?

I am often particularly filled with ire when I frequently see the meme "if you haven't done anything wrong you have no need to worry" on social media in relation to recent loses of civil rights in western countries and rights to privacy. No one should ever have seen his private photos on his pone nor had the right to see them never mind prosecute him in this Kafkaesque manner for a non crime. I'll be quoting this story in future as an example of why your rights matter next time somebody quotes that meaningless nonsense to me. I've alway told them that the it's one of those things – you'll never know why they're so important until it's too late.

No Country For Old Men.

I don't believe this. It's a joke right? Your diversions into the characters of said officials hardly even scratched the surface of the moronic, irrational, mindless, ludicrous, brainless stupidity of it all. I'm still not convinced this isn't a joke. It has to be ...

That is the most ridiculous story I have ever read on TOP. You made this up to entertain us, now didn't you?

There's a certain party (guess which one) that wants government to closely monitor private sexual and reproductive choices. Environmental destruction, workplace safety, firearms--not so much.

Well, since you made a point of it I suspect the race is Negro.
As if it made a difference. Here in NC many strange things occur. :) You might find you're your own grandpa.

We're not the only state with stupid laws, and idiotic police and prosecutors. If we included zero tolerance to stupidity, we'd all be in jail. LOL

From Free Range Kids

A Grandma Reflects on Sex Offender Laws: “My Husband Would Have Gone to Jail”

I was just 16 when I met my husband of 21. Today, he would be considered a sex offender. I wonder what would have become of us if we had these laws back then. We have been successful, happily married for well over 40 years with children and grand-children. My grandfather is in a Hall of Fame, yet he married my grandmother while she was just 15, he being 20! People say, “Well that was different back then”. Really? I don’t believe that human behavior changes just because we are in a different century.


From March, 2010 "Inconsistent Pleadings: Town of Sexting Teens Not Also Hotbed of Kiddie Porn" http://www.theawl.com/2010/03/inconsistent-pleadings-town-of-sexting-teens-not-also-hotbed-of-kiddie-porn

Are we turning our kids into criminals? We just may be, thanks to the laws equating “sexting” photos with child pornography." http://www.freerangekids.com/sext-or-kiddie-porn-who-decides/

I live in North Carolina,and we can be a bit backwards, but this kind of child abuse done by the police and prosecutors is just malicious. It could happen in any state, though. The role of the police, and sadly the role of government in general has shifted from serving the public to finding ways to harass and punish the public. The extent to which you are harassed and punished is inversely proportional to your net worth and your degrees of separation from being Caucasian.

Things like this are more common in the south because our elected officials are more likely to be religious and therefore are more likely to adopt zero tolerance policies against behavior that they themselves have zero tolerance for, even when that behavior is ubiquitous and "normal."

The educational and experiential level of citizens in the USA has been declining for years and everyone from police to elected officials is less educated and has less common sense.

We live in an increasingly unforgiving and uncaring society where we are all supposed to worry only about ourselves.

The officials that dealt with this situation should be locked up themselves for a long time. They should all be stripped of whatever power they have. They should all lose their jobs. But, none of that will happen. In a nation where we can't agree that torture is wrong and where the architects of torture go unpunished, can we really expect consequences for the likes of these officials?

For those who are not white and rich, we can expect more of this kind of thing.

I brought this story to Mike's attention because it involved photography, and seemed really stupid. But I was a newspaper reporter for 20 years and it's not nearly the weirdest thing that I've seen come out of the courts. Well, okay, it's probably in the top 10, but still...

I once did a long story about a guy who went to a biker bar with a friend, and got in a fight there, in which his friend shot and killed another biker. The prosecutor charged him with first degree murder (as an accomplice of the shooter) in an effort to get him to testify against his friend, and say that his friend had planned to go there and shoot this other guy. He refused, because he testified that that wasn't the truth, but he was convicted and given a life sentence. The guy who did the actual shooting pled self defense, and was acquitted of the murder charge. So the guy who didn't do the shooting served a full life term (which at the time in Minnesota, was 17 2/3 years with time off for good behavior) and the killer did no time at all. Makes you proud.

would the last one out turn on the lights......

Wow. I thought USA was part of the free world? Seems more like a story from North Korea to me.

It is the manifestation of "anarcho-tyranny"; an expression coined by Samuel T.Frances.

Criminals are condemned already to live on the fringes of society, and paradoxically it becomes therefore quite difficult to catch and punish them properly, by stark contrast ordinary citizens trying to lead good and quiet lives are easy prey to a state apparatus designed to instill obedience and submission. Being able to punish people for doing nothing wrong is the key feature of totalitarian regimes.

A manifestation of the inexorable creep of the tyranny of the state as it crashes against a constitution designed to protect the citizens.

As you rightly point out it has an additional nasty little twist in that it is frequently a symptom too of the simmering race war in the USA.

This broader anarcho-tyranny is a situation most strongly manifest by far in the USA, but likely to spread eventually to us all.

For those of us on the outside it's like driving past a road accident, horrible but fascinating.

It's an insult to western values of reason and enlightenment.

So we really do live in Wonko the Sane's asylum.

As a European, I just fell of my chair while reading this!
Is this modern North America?
This looks like Early Mediaval Rural Primitive Wasteland, where people were burned for keeping a black cat...

Over here, people are more and more doubting the earnestness of the concept of the 'American Way Of Life' and the idea of America being the 'Promissed Land'...

Of course, all people and each country are entitled to their own opinions and morals...

I am not surprised by this, unfortunately. I live in a nearly neighboring state where an elected government official, who has had four marriages and a few kids in between some of those legally sanctioned unions, has become infamous by selectively refusing to issue and or sign marriage licenses that provide a pair of people certain legal rights to participate in the very institution that person has made a mockery of through her personal behavior.

She can do this, she says, because she has been "washed clean of her sins." Maybe she meant her "senses."

As police forces (globally) are given more powers, to you know, stop terrorism, those same laws are being misused as fishing expeditions to intimidate the general public. I have no idea where it will end, just that police states don't seem to last.

The Puritanism that plagues some states of the US seems to update itself, as time goes by, reaching this absurd. Unbelievable.

Like I said before, High Noon in America. It's these kinds of things, one after another, that keep tugging at your sleeve, saying, "Pull your head out of the sand."

Just one more utterly absurd case that indicates, yet again, what an increasingly authoritarian society ours is becoming, and incipient totalitarianism. Even Kafka is shaking his head at this one. I mean, I hate to sound alarmist, but, uh . . . .

I do hope those kids can find some legal relief somewhere. The shame is not theirs, it's ours.

I had to read several accounts of this story to find out how the photographs were discovered in the first place. Apparently the cops were investigating a rape (or sexting) and decided to seize and search every kids' phone, without a warrant, of course.
Sounds like the fruit of the poisoned tree and the prosecution of a victimless non-crime raises some serious questions about local law enforcement and prosecutors and whether there was some other motive.
Without effective defense, this kid's case was cooked from the start.
(Sorry, I have to get back to downloading child-porn into my noisy neighbor's computer via WiFi before I call the cops.)

What is with the USA and all this paranoia about sex? It's ok to let wackos buy automatic weapons in case, you know, the guvmint infringes on your rights or some such, but sex, no way, not allowed.

What are they putting in the water?

Some of my countrymen (Canadians) are extra extra careful about buying travel insurance when traveling to the US, for fear that the insurance company will try to get out of medical payments given the least excuse. But I'm equally worried about being caught up in some legal nightmare. Like having all my cash confiscated by the police, the way a street gang would do it.

Remember when we used to make fun of corruption in the so-called third world.

I guess it's too late for my daughter who has posted pictures of my 2 year old granddaughter in the bath tub. I'll miss her. Oh boy, I better delete them from my phone too.

One of the many things I would do if I had the resources necessary, is to fund a legal team to address this sort of idiocy. It would be so much fun to repay the "grown-ups" in this story for their bravery and due diligence.

Thank you, Frank, for this clarification:
"the prosecutor, judge, and a third of the sheriff's office are persons of color"

And you, Mike, knowing what "assume" makes of us, are usually more careful in both vetting and commenting on what you choose to report.

A sad commentary on the politically correct paranoia that saturates many local governments. As well as the utter lack of intelligent evaluation or decision making. I have only one issue with it - the use of "cray". There has been a computer company named Cray since at least the '70s. They build what are called "supercomputers", the extremely fast, high performance machines needed for many tasks today. The least of which is more intelligent than the folk in NC who did this-even without the benefit of AI software. The company's name shouldn't be inadvertently associated with this stupidity.

Well, as Charles Dickens said, " The law is an ass." And as Rosemary Leary (Tim's daughter) said, "The law sucks."

Whoa Mike! We don't know for sure the prosecutors were/are football players. Let's not start saying things like that until we check our facts.

Links to stories by legitimate news organizations or I'm calling Humbug on this one.

And I'm someone who is always trying to get people to notice how the levers of power are crushing people.

N.C. just prosecuted a teenage couple for making child porn — of themselves

Or from the local paper:Lawmaker: Child porn law misused against sexting teens, but tools needed to fight predators.

From the local paper's coverage:


October 2014

Sheriff’s Office investigates allegations of statutory rape involving a 14-year-old girl and a group of teen boys.

Late fall 2014

Investigators examine the phone of Cormega Copening, then age 16. They are looking for photos or video of the alleged sexual activity with the 14-year-old. Copening is not suspected of participating in the incident, but investigators thought someone might have sent him these images.

Instead of finding evidence of the alleged statutory rape, investigators find sexually explicit photos Copening made of himself and a sexually explicit image of his girlfriend, 16-year-old Brianna Denson.

Investigators examine Denson’s phone. They find the picture of her that was also on Copening’s phone.

February 2015

Copening arrested on five felony charges of sexual exploitation of a minor: four charges based on two photos he made of himself, one charge for the photo of Denson on his phone.

Denson arrested on two felony charges of sexual exploitation of a minor: one for making the photo for herself and one for having her photo in her possession.

July 21, 2015

In a plea bargain, Denson is sentenced to a year of probation on a misdemeanor charge of disseminating harmful material to minors. The final adjudication of the case is postponed a year.

Sept. 4, 2015

In a plea-bargain, Copening is sentenced to a year of probation on two misdemeanor charges of disseminating harmful material to minors. The final adjudication of the case is postponed a year.

July 21, 2016 and Sept. 2, 2016

Denson and Copening’s next court dates, respectively. If they comply with the terms of their probation, the misdemeanor charges will be dismissed. They will have no criminal convictions from this incident.

Then they can ask the state to expunge from the public court records the files of their arrests and charges.

Sources: Court records and the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office

Wonder where I would have ended up as teenager if people in power had been so stupid then. As any normal kid, I was fascinated with anything that went bang and at a very young age was making explosives. All the ingredients for gunpowder were available then even in my small town. Myself and a few likeminded buddy's from 7th grade thought aspirin bottle bombs were a lot of fun and blowing up anthills even more so. Our whole gang of twelve year olds would probably hauled off as terrorists now.

States within the US are democracies aren't they? If these laws are what they want at the ballot box, then who are we to say that they are dim-witted pc-centric morons? It may be true (or not), but that is what the voters want apparently.

I assume that they charged his phone, too.

I wanted to comment, but then I thought, this is already absurd, so I won't. Da-Da.

@ Craig Arnold: "Being able to punish people for doing nothing wrong is the key feature of totalitarian regimes."

Like me, Craig lives in England. The government here is frequently trying to introduce laws to let them look at everybody's communications. They say that this is to fight terrorism. Defenders of their efforts often say that if you've done nothing wrong, you have nothing to be afraid of.

Craig's phrase above is the answer to this reasoning. Though thinking about it, the defenders either cannot or will not accept this answer.

Then there's this."(A) dying culture invariably exhibits personal rudeness. Bad manners. Lack of consideration for others in minor matters. A loss of politeness, of gentle manners, is more significant than is a riot." Robert A. Heinlein.

Heinlein wrote a future history of mankind, one period of which was 'The Crazy Years' to which this refers. Science fiction is not meant to be prediction, but he happened to be right this time. I'm not just pointing the finger at the USA; it's here as well.


Reminds me a bit of this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k3jt5ibfRzw.

Except it's not funny, wholly real, and an indication of the pathetic poor standards of many in public life.

School District Bans Tag for Reasons of 'Emotional Safety'
The Mercer Island School District outside of Seattle has banned tag because it is too emotionally and physically dangerous for kids.

In fact, it has banned all games in which kids do not "keep their hands to themselves."


Dear McD,

And where did Mike say they weren't? He ain't the one making assumptions.

And, not so by the way, you can have rampant institutional racism even when you have people of color in positions of authority.

Not an assumption, a sadly well-established fact.

pax / Ctein

It's disappointing that you somehow connect invisible dots to imply that this episode was driven by race. The reality is, you don't have any factual information to support that implication, it's purely based on assumption. Racial grievance is very much in vogue today... sorry to see that you've jumped on that bandwagon.


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