The Huffington Post recently ran a piece about the plight of a federal prisoner. Written by Christopher Zoukis, the piece recounts the plight of Christopher James Swicegood, who wants to undergo gender transition (to “female presentation”), including a legal name change to Aileta Jane IIata.
According to Zoukis, Swicegood is being denied due process at every turn by both the state of Virginia and the federal Bureau of Prisons. The state, according to Zoukis, has run roughshod over Swicegood’s attempts to present his case and the Bureau is assisting by denying him any access to materials he needs to make that case. If what Zoukis writes is true, then he has presented an issue that is worthy of consideration — not because transgenderism is implicated but because a denial of due process is always a bad thing in any society that wants to call itself civilized.
Instead of presenting a straightforward case on the due process question, however, Huffington Post decided to deceive its readers as to both Swicegood and Zoukis.
Regarding Swicegood, HuffPo permitted the piece to remain silent on the crimes for which he is serving time. All we are told is that Swicegood is housed with men in a medium security, federal prison, where he’ll stay for the next ten years. Left unsaid:
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children examined the material found on Swicegood’s media and identified 230 image files from 57 known child pornography series, and 30 videos from 14 separate child pornography series. Each series represents a different minor victim or group of minor victims being sexually abused. These victims come from a variety of states of the United States and many foreign countries.
Even worse, as part of his plea agreement, “Swicegood admitted sexual interactions, including sexual touching, with at least three different minor children.”
When the subject of an article or opinion piece is a convicted criminal, a careful analysis of the crime’s relevance must be undertaken to avoid undue prejudice against the subject. In Swicegood’s case, the relevance analysis isn’t even a close call. Throughout the Zoukis piece, Swicegood is portrayed as a victim who claims to have always “felt as though I was a girl” who “lacked the financial and professional support to start my transition.” Suppressing Swicegood’s crimes is, thus, essential to the narrative and, moreover, lets Zoukis evade the hard task of discussing the transgenderism and child predation that simultaneously exist in the same person.
Then there’s Zoukis, the author. Here’s the blurb HuffPo provides about him:
Christopher Zoukis is the author of College for Convicts: The Case for Higher Education in American Prisons (McFarland & Co., 2014) and Prison Education Guide (Prison Legal News Publishing, 2016). He can be found online at www.ChristopherZoukis.com, PrisonEducation.com and PrisonLawBlog.com
HuffPo readers aren’t told that Zoukis can also be found in prison. Like Swicegood, Zoukis is serving time for possession of child pornography in addition to the sentence he received for what he calls “indecent liberties with a minor.” His personal website reveals his penchant for spinning conspiratorial yarns, like the one he describes on Swicegood’s behalf:
The U.S. Department of Justice chose to hold the charges until the final day of my state sentence, and, as such, then having a “prior” state conviction, I was sentenced under recidivist statutes and given 151 months in federal prison.
(Never mind that the conviction was a condition precedent to the sentence, something a self-described prisoner advocate ought to know.)
The personal website also reveals Zoukis as a man who blames everyone but himself for his criminal convictions. In addition to the predictable claims that the girl lied and that he couldn’t have known that she was only 13, Zoukis claims that his sentence doesn’t actually mean that his offense was serious and, remarkably, he blames his possession of child pornography on the technology he used to download files. In the combined backstories of Zoukis and Swicegold, there isn’t a word of compassion for the real victims, all of whom were children.
Huffington Post should be called to account for its role in the deception printed on its pages. It helped suppress important facts about Swicegood and it actively deceived readers about one of its authors. It participated in the current trend of molly coddling anyone and everyone associated with gender identity politics, which, ultimately, benefits no one. Exhibit A is Swicegood, whose claim that he has been wronged becomes harder to believe once the deceptions surrounding the story are brought to light.
No matter the subject, the public has a right to the facts, including those that are inconvenient to the subject, the author, or the publisher. This is an essential, long-standing rule that applies across the entire spectrum of news and opinion. Correlatively, there is nothing wrong with having a bias or posting an essay that seeks to persuade rather than simply to inform. All that’s required as a matter of ethics is to be honest about it.