Tanner’s Annunciation

Today is the 153rd birthday of Henry Ossawa Tanner, the great American artist who painted my favorite depiction of the annunciation:

Mary is depicted as a young, humble Jewish girl encountering the Holy Spirit as light. Her expression is a mixture of fear, wisdom, understanding, and resignation. I don’t see joy in Tanner’s Mary: I see girl understanding that the gift she is about to accept comes with a terrible price. She knows that, indeed, a sword shall piece her heart, and she accepts anyway. That’s the moment Tanner captures here, and that’s the power of our Mother: that even in her youth, even knowing what lay ahead, she said yes. The acceptance of a gift this is also a burden–a cross, if you will–is what defines the Christian story, and it has its birth in this very moment.

Facebook Status: Married, Single, or Pervert

Beginning on August 1st (unless it’s challenged by the ACLU) (and it will be challenged by the ACLU), registered sex offenders in Louisiana will have to declare their criminal status on Facebook or any other social networking sites.

The law essentially expands existing registration and notification requirements to social networks, except … Facebook already bars registered sex offenders. So what’s the point?

“I don’t want to leave in the hands of social network or Facebook administrators, ‘Gee, I hope someone is telling the truth,'” [State Rep. Jeff] Thompson said Tuesday. “This is another tool for prosecutors.

“The new law, signed by Gov. Bobby Jindal earlier this month, builds upon existing sex offender registration laws, in which the offender must notify immediate neighbors and a school district of his or her residency near them, Thompson said.

The law states that sex offenders and child predators “shall includes in his profile for the networking website an indication that he is a sex offender or child predator and shall include notice of the crime for which he was convicted, the jurisdiction of conviction, a description of his physical characteristics… and his residential address.”

Several states now require sex offenders and child predators to register with authorities their e-mail accounts, Internet addresses or profile names to social network and other web sites, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. A few states such as Illinois and Texas even outright prohibit sex offenders, as a condition of parole, from accessing social networking websites, the group said.

The Louisiana law is the latest addition to statutes requiring public notice and registrations by sex offenders, Thompson said.

“It provides the same notice to persons in whose home you are injecting yourself via the Internet,” Thompson said. “I challenge you today to walk down the street to see how many people and children are checking Pinterest, Instagram and other social networking sites. If you look at how common it is, that’s 24 hour a day, seven days a week for somebody to interact with your children and your grandchildren.”

Facebook applauded the new Louisiana law, even though it “will have no direct” effect on its service, the company said in a statement to CNN.

Illinois and Texas seem to have the more sensible approach: ban registered offenders from social networks altogether. Most sexual predators use their computers, cell phones, and email account in the course of committing their crimes. Internet access isn’t a civil right, last time I checked. Convicted felons can’t have guns, and convicted child molesters shouldn’t have computers with internet access. They lose that particular luxury when they say to themselves “I’m going to ruin the life of a child so I can have a few seconds of sexual gratification.”