Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Bogeyman

This is for those idiots who think every sex offender is the bogeyman, and deserving of identical punishment - that is to say, the full force of the law.

Hypothetical. Let's assume that a man gets drunk, stumbles out of a bar, and begins to urinate on the sidewalk. I would certainly not condone this behavior; I would even support a fine or some other small punishment to discourage such behavior in the future. And if the man makes a regular habit of getting drunk and engaging in such behavior, then further measures would be justified.

Now let's assume that this one time that this man urinates on the sidewalk, he happens to do it in front of a woman and her kid. He didn't do it in front of them intentionally - he didn't even realize they were there. He wasn't really paying attention to his surroundings, you see, as he was very drunk.

Let's say, just for the sake of argument, that the kid this man urinated in front of was a boy, so that he wouldn't be particularly shocked, at least, by the fact of a man relieving himself in that way. Yet, still, the woman - the boy's mother - goes and complains to the police about this man who "exposed himself" in front of her child.

Bam! Just like that, the drunkard becomes a sex offender. Now, as I said, I don't condone his behavior. But firstly, what he committed was not, linguistically speaking, a sex offense, so it's simply inaccurate (and dishonest) to classify him as such. But of course, the law doesn't work that way.

Now, even though this man's behavior was problematic, does he deserve the full brunt of the punitive sex offender registry? Because he "chose" (obviously, he's responsible for his acts, but it's not like he made a conscious decision) - because he chose to "commit a sex offense", he gives up all of his civil rights?

What is it, anyway, with this idea that when a man commits a crime, he "gives up his rights", and that if he feels like complaining, then he "shouldn't have committed a crime in the first place"? Criminals are punished for a reason, in very specific ways that relate to the nature of their crime.

The point is not to turn anyone who engages in even a minor breach of the law (or just sex offender laws - because sex offenses are treated different, worse than murder even) into an inhuman slave of the state, beyond any retribution or sympathy. To be punished for the rest of his life, even beyond prison. With no consideration to the fact that sometimes people make mistakes in life, that in hindsight, they regret. I could understand extreme vitriol for criminals who commit heinous crimes like violent rape and murder, but does someone who peed on the sidewalk deserve the same level of hatred?

Sure, he deserves criticism, but to have his civil rights suspended? To lose his internet privacy, as California's atrocious new Prop 35 commands? Why is every sex offender akin to the worst among them - the child rapist? It's like, if you get labeled with the term "sex offender" you're not you anymore, you're this faceless predator, and if your crime happened to be poor judgment of where to urinate, then somehow you're at high risk for seeking out children to kidnap via the internet? That's insane.

I wish I could let the facts speak for themselves and just leave it at that, but this world doesn't work that way. Our brains don't work that way. People are frighteningly susceptible to persuasion by seductive lies - although, I don't know why anyone would want to believe that every year, tens of thousands of children are abducted into highly lucrative (yet suspiciously evasive) sex slavery rings in this country alone...

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