Lies of Michelle Yezerski
September 17th, 1997. I was driving to work and listening to the Diane Rehm show, which is broadcast from American University over National Public Radio.
The guest in the last hour of the show was John Walsh, who is the host of America's Most Wanted. I don't watch the show, but Mr. Walsh was an utterly captivating and powerful speaker. For the first half-hour of the broadcast I was listening with rapt attention as he painfully recounted the abduction and murder of his young son Adam, sixteen years ago.
Mr. Walsh's show has resulted in the capture of hundreds of wanted criminals -- criminals who have beaten, robbed, kidnapped, raped, and murdered hundreds of people. Four hundred and eighty-three, he repeatedly said: 483 violent felons have been brought to justice through his efforts. I applaud his efforts to try to turn the tide of violence in this country, and I believe he's doing fine work.
But when one of the show's callers turned out to be from Medina, Ohio, I listened with growing surprise. By the end of the call, I was aghast that the bloody garments of brutalized children were being draped around the internet, by an organization intent on demonizing the net and particularly libraries that allow access to it without filtering software.
The caller was Michelle Yezerski, director of Citizens for the Protection of Children. The best I can say for her is that she began her call honestly, saying: "I've got a slightly different topic to talk about."
Here's the text of what she said:
Shortly after hearing this nonsense, most of which bears little resemblance to reality, I ordered the tape. I then contacted Bob Smith, the director of the Medina library system, shared with him what I knew, and asked him if he could talk with me briefly so I could write an informed essay on the subject.
I did get from him that Michelle's claims about pedophiles in the library were a distortion of what really happened, but I didn't hear many details. Mr. Smith never got back to me, as I'm afraid he was too busy fending off lawsuits to worry about my one little transcript. Recently, he resigned from the Medina library system, after twelve years.
Of course there are not hundreds of thousands of sites on how to mutilate children. There is not even one site on how to mutilate children. There are probably several webpages on the subject, yes; more likely, Usenet postings archived at Deja News. They are works of fiction, not instruction manuals. And the problem Ms. Yezerski is principally concerned with -- installing censorware on the library computers -- has nothing to do with the ejection and/or prosecution of a man who spies on children in the library bathroom, nor with the other criminal acts she describes and implies.
For the record, I don't blame Mr. Walsh in the slightest for going along with what he was told. His comments on the subject touched briefly on how child abusers and child pornographers used the internet to communicate, presumably using email and chat and similar technologies, but these are things people do from their own homes. Such communications are unrelated to material put on public websites, and unrelated to library access policies.
The person I do blame is Michelle Yezerski. It is clear that her call to the Diane Rehm show was not an attempt to educate.
It was an attempt to spread false propaganda about how frightful and evil the internet was. She tried to turn an issue of free speech, and (at worst) children viewing obscenity, into an issue of child abuse, child abduction, child molestation, child exploitation.
Under normal circumstances, this would be reprehensible.
For her to tell lies about made-up crimes, to a man who lost his son to real criminals, and to use that man's good name as a springboard for those lies, is utterly unforgiveable.
Last modified: June 11, 1998