Every once in a while, I like to play devil’s advocate. It allows me to see more than the liberal spoon-fed agenda foisted upon us in the media. The news this evening featured a story about a Houston neighborhood that has the largest concentration of registered sex offenders not serviced by a residential facility. The reporter made the point that the parents of children living in the neighborhood are concerned and want laws that limit how many registered offenders can reside in any given neighborhood. What the reporter did not mention and many (almost every) person fails to consider is that not every registered sex offender is a threat to children. In fact, many on that list are no threat to anyone at all.
Imagine you are a young man just turned 21 and your friends take you out to party. Not everyone indulges their coming of age birthday in this fashion, but it is more common than not. After several drinks (and let’s give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you have a responsible person as a designated driver) you spy an attractive young woman who seems interested. After some slurred small talk, the young lady offers a ride and you accept and the next thing you know, it is the next morning and you think you just had a fantastic night. That is, until you find out that this young woman is actually 16 years old and she thinks you are a couple now. After several days of not calling the girl, she gets upset and tells her mother all the sordid details of your night together. You find yourself being booked for rape and in very short order you are on the sexual offenders’ list.
Imagine you are a devoted father who finds out your wife is cheating on you. You file for divorce and threaten to take the kids. Your estranged wife, desperate to hold on to the children, convinces your young daughter to say that you touched her. The next thing you know you have not only lost custody, you are barred from seeing your kids without court supervision. And you are on the sexual offenders list.
These are not hypothetical situations. These are real cases. Real people finding their lives ruined not just because they were convicted, but even worse, they are constantly judged by everyone they meet. Jobs are lost, credit is denied, and now they cannot even find housing. The penal system is supposed to allow those found guilty of crimes against society to make amends and re-enter society once their punishment is complete, yet we hold these “predators” to a different standard. We continually punish them even after they have completed their sentence.
Now, the flip side is that there are many individuals who are a continuing threat to our society. These sick individuals will continue to prey on victims no matter what punishment is doled out to them. The problem comes from our need to categorize and label everything we encounter. All those who are convicted of crimes that are related in some way to sex are considered predators. The man who stalks and rapes brunettes between the ages of 16 and 22 who remind him of his mother, the man who rapes and murders every girl who turned him down in high school, the pervert who only finds stimulation with prepubescent children, these are the individuals for which the registry is designed. The list is not enough for these perverts; castration perhaps or even execution would be more suitable. Hell should have a special place for these guys and if it does, it isn’t bad enough.
Every name on the list is not a threat to your children’s safety. Remember that not all of those people are criminals that need to be permanently segregated. Some are victims of the system, some are victims of their own stupidity, and some committed a premeditated crime for which they have paid the price and would never do it again. Yet we lump them in with the serial rapists and pedophiles and force them to live with the same stigma as those who are truly evil dangers in our midst. This is the real danger: the media driving us to lump all people into the same categories regardless of the situation.
The media finds it easy to generate ratings by teasing stories with leads that mention the predators list. People clamor for more information and the media laps it up. They tell us all the potential danger of having a predator among us without mentioning the specific threat. Telling us that a divorcee who lost his children in a custody case because his daughter accused him is not the kind of story that generates public outcry. So they abridge it to say that a registered sex offender is near and we tune in every time.
Look beyond the media’s stories. Look for the truth and in doing so protect yourself from the real danger. Do your own research. Find out the specifics of those who live near you, not just the fact that their name is on a list. Everyone’s situation is unique and just because they have a conviction on their record doesn’t necessarily make them a threat. Making assumptions based solely on what the media says is what we should fear.