Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Sex Offender Laws: Another Sign of Our Own Cowardice

The NYTimes this morning has yet another sterling example of what a nation of irresponsible, hovering cowards we are becoming.

In its story about crackdowns on sex offenders across the nation, we are told that localities are passing "feel good" ordinances that remove citizenship rights from people convicted of crimes as serious as peeing in a park 25 years ago. That is a sex crime by definition ("public exposure"), it never goes away, and our citizens want to throw these pervs in the clank and toss away the key. Since the Constitution won't allow that, we simply forbid them to drop off their kids at school or take them to Little League games, fish from the local pier, go to the library or even work in some communities.

"Sex crime" is a broad term, so broad in fact that it is often misleading and sometimes a bald-assed lie. Localities have acted with a little more sense in stripping the rights from people who have already paid society for their crimes, but others haven't. Those localities equate a love affair between a 17-year-old and a 16-year-old that includes sex (and my guess is a hell of a lot of them do) with raping a three-year-old. "Sex crime." It's not pretty, even when it is.

Love between consenting teenagers is often a highlight of sweet emotion for many of us. But these paranoid parents who want the government to watch their kids, taking the potential blame burden from them, make me ill. If you take your kids to the park or the pool and don't watch them, whose fault is it if something bad happens?

According to investigative reporter Diane Diamond, "The sexual abuse of kids doesn’t usually come from outside their circle and murder is extremely rare ... Most often the perpetrator is a relative, a family friend or a trusted authority figure," and not likely a guy relieving himself on an oak tree in the park after his second beer at a company picnic or a woman who is sunbathing nude in her backyard.

So much of what is provocative and even "porn" is a matter of personal belief. I once had a woman give me a wonderful painting (on an animal skin) of a native Colombian, smoking a pipe and posing bare-breasted--which is how she lived her life--because it was "pornography." The only pornographic element was the attitude of the woman who gave me the painting.  She'd love these new sex crime laws.

Overzealous state legislators introduced more than 1,500 bills dealing with sex offenses during a recent year and 275 were passed. We're not even going into local ordinances here because the numbers aren't available. But they must be huge.

No wonder al-Qaeda laughs at us when all it has to do is threaten in order to send us into a blind, irrational panic and change a nation of eagles into one of chickens.


  1. Wow, it's nice that your are in a rage, but how about offering some suggestions. I agree that not all sex crimes are created equal, but the worst offenders don't deserve a standard citizen's rights. How then would you propose that we go about separating the wheat from the chaff? At what point is it okay to register a sex offender?

    The Al-Qaeda reference is pretty low and doesn't really make sense. They aren't exactly the pinnacle of civil rights, why should I care what they laugh at?

  2. At what point do we register someone who beats a child ?, at what point do we register a drunk who drove home from a bar and struck a mini van carrying a family of 4 and killed them all ?, at what point do we register a murderer ? Now do you feel these people deserve standard citzen rights, oh that's right thers isn't a registry for them. Typical Perfect Society, they just like to sink there claws into people who's information is out there for everyone to see so they can feel better about there secret miserable life's that they hide behind the sheets with. Example, a man on the sor was being harrasted by a neighbor with two daughters across the street for the longest time, suddenly the family disappered, we found out later the guy was sexually abuseing his 8 and 10 year old daughters. UP YOURS PERFECT SOCIETY !!!!!!

  3. Dusty: How about drawing the line when somebody is hurt by the crime? That includes emotional pain. Peeing in the park doesn't equate to raping somebody except in law. The change easy to do if we're willing to take the time to see who's been labeled and whether it's fair. Just spell out what a real sex crime is and don't be absurd. So often, we use blanket definitions that bear no resemblance to reality, but cover every eventuality, including labeling the innocent as guilty. Pedophiles, for example, are sick. Rapists are sick. People who pee in the park just need to go to the bathroom and probably need better manners about it.

    The Al-Qaeda reference simply points up in stark black and white just how terrified we are of damn near everything that moves. Al-Qaeda is no more a threat to the average American than being hit and killed by a baseball at a major league game. Almost any threat Al-Qaeda has become was created by our stupid, overzealous response to it. We do a lot of things like that. Like create "sex offenders" who aren't.

    1. I'm glad you took the time to respond. I understand and respect what your saying. The jump from a park-peeing violation to child-rape is huge. But a teacher who has sex with a student is a sex offender. However, a 18yr old high school student who has sex with a 17yr old high school student is subject to the same law. How do we separate out who gets the Scarlet A and who doesn't? Obviously the teacher is more dangerous than the student, but they are both statutory rapists in Justice's eyes. Which are blindfolded ironically. Your initial suggestion is a good starting point though.

      I see what you are saying about the hysteria of Al-Qaeda. The original reference didn't make that connection quite as clear for me.