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Love thy Neighbor
January 7, 2008 9:07 PM   Subscribe

Love thy Neighbor Photographer and author Steven Hirsh has photographed the homes of registered New York State sex offenders. A wonderful writer and photographer, this work is chilling, alarming, beautiful. I get that Quentin Tarantino feeling of beauty and disgust. Look at me, nooooo look away. The series of 24 images are on Hirsch's website.
posted by doug3505 (41 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Sorry one typo, name spelled, Steven Hirsch.
posted by doug3505 at 9:09 PM on January 7, 2008


"Pretty boxes..."
posted by hermitosis at 9:16 PM on January 7, 2008


They look like real estate ads to me. And having kids standing in front of that first one? Totally lame.
posted by dobbs at 9:21 PM on January 7, 2008


I'm slightly curious about the descriptions of the victims: "known 12 year old" -- does that mean the perpetrator knew the girl was that age before he committed his crime?

The photo set? Meh. Warning kids: Perverts live everywhere and look just like normal folks. Fear everyone!

(Also, one of the offenders was born in 1929. I was kinda hoping that by the time I'm in my late 70's a good book sounds more interesting than a good shagging, let alone depravity.)
posted by maxwelton at 9:28 PM on January 7, 2008


Male • DOB April 5, 1966 • Actual sexual contact with a known 8 year old female • Convicted December 22, 2005 • Sentenced to 6 years probation

Is "Actual sexual conduct" a legal term?
posted by thehmsbeagle at 9:29 PM on January 7, 2008


Quentin Tarantino? What?

The idea behind this collection of photos is just a ripoff of the Mozhukin Experiment:

Photographer: Take a look at these photos!

Viewer: They seem pretty innocuous.

P: What if I tell you that...registered sex offenders live in these houses?

V: Ooh, creepy!
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:31 PM on January 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


Male • DOB September 28, 1928 • Used a weapon then unlawfully imprisoned and raped a 26 year old female

Oh, if only he had lawfully imprisoned and raped her. Then it would have been a totally different story.

Also, some of this is astounding :

Male • DOB March 12, 1959 • Actual sexual contact more than once with a 4 year old female • Convicted February 5, 1998 • Sentenced to 1 year in jail

Male • DOB April 5, 1966 • Actual sexual contact with a known 8 year old female • Convicted December 22, 2005 • Sentenced to 6 years probation

Female • DOB February 10, 1958 • Raped in the 2nd. degree an 11 year old male that was a non stranger • Convicted October 22, 2004 • Sentenced to 1 day to 6 months in jail and 10 years probation


1 year for fucking a 4 year old? Really? Last I checked, you can get 5-10 in a federal penetentiary for selling a kilo of coke. Good thing our lawmakers have their priorities straight.
posted by Afroblanco at 9:34 PM on January 7, 2008 [3 favorites]


Also, while this post may deserve the "new" and "western" tags, I don't believe that the "love" tag is appropriate.
posted by Afroblanco at 9:35 PM on January 7, 2008


Just wait until Nancy Grace takes a look at this!
posted by munchingzombie at 9:37 PM on January 7, 2008


er.. I think "Actual sexual contact" may not actually mean the same think as "fucking". It could mean all manner of things so, perhaps... just perhaps the sentencing is not completely out of line.
posted by edgeways at 9:43 PM on January 7, 2008


I think all lawbreakers should have their crimes and addresses broadcast to the known world until the end of time. Because 'paid your debt to society' is really just pretty words.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:47 PM on January 7, 2008 [3 favorites]


These are all just pictures of pretty normal suburban houses.
posted by fuq at 9:51 PM on January 7, 2008


"They look like real estate ads to me." -dobbs

Indeed they do, and that may be being charitable.

Honestly, I think Hirsch is creepy.

For the record, I agree with Afroblanco.
posted by -t at 10:09 PM on January 7, 2008


Isn't it the unknown sex offenders we need to worry about?
posted by doctor_negative at 10:16 PM on January 7, 2008


this work is chilling, alarming, beautiful.

More like boring, trite and exploitive.
posted by Skygazer at 10:46 PM on January 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


er.. I think "Actual sexual contact" may not actually mean the same think as "fucking". It could mean all manner of things so, perhaps... just perhaps the sentencing is not completely out of line.

What's that whooshing sound that I hear? Kinda sounds like one thing missing another thing?

Oh, yeah. That's you missing my point.
posted by Afroblanco at 11:08 PM on January 7, 2008


Uhm. Yeah. The mind boggles at what manner of thing would stride a gray area along the lines of, "it was child molestation, but not very bad child molestation." And if such a thing could be imagined, (which it can't, but let's play along) I'd suspect that it's be so freaking rare that I wouldn't have been flabbergasted by almost every fourth or fifth entry in these databases. The only thing I can think of is if a jury convicted but a judge gave a light sentence because they believed the jury was was wrong or that the DA pursued the wrong kind of charge? Or, "but he saved 50,000,000 kittens from trees once." Does it work any of these ways? In any event something is very, very fucked up here.
posted by Skwirl at 11:40 PM on January 7, 2008


wow shitty photos with text under them.

Maybe I should take a blurry snap of a duplex with my cameraphone and write underneath "OMG HITLER LIVES HERE!!!1!!!!!ONE!1!!" Then I'll be a brilliant edgy artist too?

yes I get that these are the homes of real sex offenders, (at least according to a witchhunting vigilante moron who knows how to make a website.) that doesn't make it any less moronic.

posted by drjimmy11 at 12:03 AM on January 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


Convicted October 26, 1976 • Sentenced to 414 months to 69 years in state prison

This is a picture of a house in which a sex offender hasn't lived for over 31 years. In autumn 1976 the VHS video recorder, which revolutionized home pornography, was introduced. The sex offender in this home had only magazines and 8mm movies to help make his penis erect.
posted by TimTypeZed at 12:53 AM on January 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


better post about the same topic
posted by cubby at 1:00 AM on January 8, 2008


I see ranchers, colonials and Victorians. I see sedans, American flags and chain-link fences. I see recently mowed lawns. I see little boxes, on a hillside, and they all look just the same. Suburbia is creepy, and Hirsch's photographs do a fine job of capturing the air of ineffable menace exuded by this scourge to our society.

The fact that these houses may, or may not, be occupied by "sex offenders" doesn't change a thing.
posted by Faint of Butt at 3:37 AM on January 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


Wow, sexual offenders live in houses! I thought they just lurked in back alleys...
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:46 AM on January 8, 2008


Why does this smell like a vigilante hit list masquerading as "art"?
He probably couldn't get away with posting pictures of the actual offenders (ala those websites that feature the faces of abortion doctors), so you post photos showing where they live.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:33 AM on January 8, 2008


It looks like most registered sex offenders live in shitty, low-income suburbs.

Is there anything else I was supposed to learn from this?
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 6:14 AM on January 8, 2008


They're still just boring pictures of houses, no matter who once lived in them.
posted by rocket88 at 7:08 AM on January 8, 2008


These images seem pretty cowardly to me. Taking pictures out of the car window and labeling them as a sex offenders house sheds no light on this subject.
posted by trbrts at 8:04 AM on January 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


They look like real estate ads to me.

They probably will be when the neighbors find out.
posted by Challahtronix at 8:30 AM on January 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


If you're working in a visual medium and your art isn't compelling until the context is explained, is it any good?
posted by JaredSeth at 8:44 AM on January 8, 2008


Is there anything else I was supposed to learn from this?

They, for the most part, drive bad cars.
posted by probablysteve at 8:45 AM on January 8, 2008


If you're working in a visual medium and your art isn't compelling until the context is explained, is it any good?

I'm sure that some people would argue that the context is inseparable from many pieces of successful visual art.

I'm not sure how successful this is, though, but for other reasons.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:05 AM on January 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


#14 sure has a big-ass boat.
posted by delmoi at 9:38 AM on January 8, 2008


This is a picture of a house in which a sex offender hasn't lived for over 31 years. In autumn 1976 the VHS video recorder, which revolutionized home pornography, was introduced. The sex offender in this home had only magazines and 8mm movies to help make his penis erect.

Or is it possible he served 30 years in jail, then got released? Seeing as 30 years > 414 months?

He probably couldn't get away with posting pictures of the actual offenders (ala those websites that feature the faces of abortion doctors), so you post photos showing where they live.

Believe it or not, may sex offender registries include the names and photographs of sex offenders. I actually read an article about a middle school kid who touched his sister inappropriately when he was a few years younger, and ended up on sex offender list himself, complete with a contemporary picture. Pretty fucked up.

Apparently some states are putting juvenile sex offenders in regular sex offender registries, because sometimes teenage sex offenders go out and do the same thing as adults (or something)
posted by delmoi at 9:47 AM on January 8, 2008


Wow, sexual offenders live in houses! I thought they just lurked in back alleys...

Unless they all live in one house together. Or unless local laws prevent them from living within X distance from a school, park, anywhere children gather, thus preventing them from living anywhere (legally) except...an alley!
posted by rtha at 9:58 AM on January 8, 2008


I actually read an article about a middle school kid who touched his sister inappropriately when he was a few years younger, and ended up on sex offender list himself, complete with a contemporary picture. Pretty fucked up.

The witch hunt mentality that surrounds this shit is frightening. What good does it do to ruin a kids life, who gets caught playing doctor or being curious or inappropriate? A lot more good would be done by someone sitting that kid down and in a gentle understanding counsel that kid straight and not shame and mark them for life.
posted by Skygazer at 10:36 AM on January 8, 2008


gentle and understanding manner

hit post by accident
posted by Skygazer at 10:37 AM on January 8, 2008


Don't forget that you can get on that sex offender's list by being caught having sex in your car. Something almost never used against heterosexual couples, but often against homosexuals.
posted by asavage at 11:10 AM on January 8, 2008


thus preventing them from living anywhere (legally) except...an alley!

Hey, there's plenty of bridges on the edge of town for them to lurk under!
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 11:14 AM on January 8, 2008


Hmmm 19... subtle.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 11:18 AM on January 8, 2008


Huh. I kinda thought it was interesting, and I kinda think most of you are missing the point. Like most of you, I didn't really think any given photo was that interesting, as a photo. But put the whole thing togethert and you get something that has some artistic validity.

One of the points of the collection might be that, as people have said above, the houses ARE utterly unremarkable. However, that point is a bit trite, but still sorta, maybe a little interesting.

But the bigger, more interesting point, at least to me, is the whole existence of this photo-set. With easily accessible information, the photographer was able to walk (or drive) up to 24 houses scattered around the neighborhood, and know (and publish) the particular deviant crimes of the inhabitants. In my opinion, that's interesting, that's kinda new and it may even be seen as an indictment of the whole publicizing of sex-offenders. (rather than being exploitive of the same, as someone commented above). Of course, if he is making a comment indicting that lack of privacy, he wouldn't be the first photographer to be against something, but still benefit from exploiting it.
posted by Ziggurat at 2:46 PM on January 8, 2008


These pictures are dull and badly shot.

For those saying 'run down suburb neighborhoods' - it's funny how socioeconomic class changes perceptions because the only thing i was struck with was that for a good 75% of them they all seem better than the houses i grew up living in (and most i've lived in since then) .

For those complaining about the shortness of sentences...the sentence is for the rest of their lives as long as they chose to live in the US. They will always have to wonder when some jackass trying to make art is going to creep by, or some group of teenagers are going to egg their house, or when some vigilante father is going to misread a website and murder them.

I am all for harsher penalties but only if they come with common sense. For instance, we have to stop treating 40 year olds who seduce 14 year olds as a matter of course the same as an 19 year old that knocks up their 16 year old girlfriend and then marries her. The entire way we treat criminals needs to be overhauled and I think the sex offender registry is one of the grossest examples as to how the US judicial system has failed to figure out the balance between punishment and rehabilitation.
posted by nadawi at 7:37 PM on January 8, 2008


delmoi: Or is it possible he served 30 years in jail, then got released? Seeing as 30 years > 414 months?

ummm... 414 / 12 = 34.5 years...
posted by russm at 6:29 PM on January 9, 2008


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