Thursday, April 26, 2007

OFFENDED BY GOD


Let me make something clear: It has never been my intention to flog the same subject. And my first interest has always been the war and Our relation to the government. But that’s exactly how I got interested in this ongoing sex-offense mania: In trying to figure out how the hell We could have gotten bamboozled not only into Bush but into this war – and how many of Us even came to feel it was a Good Thing, I was profoundly rattled when I noticed that the same bamboozlement had been thoroughly field-tested in the sex-offense mania of a decade or so before. And, it appears, is still going on – so that the same capacity for (self-)bamboozlement that was first exercised in the sex-offense mania is still going strong, even as the war-mania which is its offspring starts to pass (which is not at all to say that the consequences of our binge while in the war-manic mode are going to pass).

It’s hard to get one’s heart around: since the fall of the USSR in 1991, sixteen years following the Moment when a massive surviving chunk of the awfulness of the 20th century suddenly melted into thin air, presenting a world-wide opportunity of almost miraculous proportions, and the United States allowed itself to become consumed in the assorted Outrageous Emergencies of the various Identities, not only thereby missing the chance to exercise a truly nation-mature role in the reformulation of the planet’s political and social being, but also so deeply deforming its own ethos and praxis that when at last a belated U.S. effort to engage the new world situation was made, it was – almost prophetically – monstrously deformed into a violent, invasive, military thrusting that even in its death throes destroys the lives and souls of all who come into any contact with it.

Meanwhile, the planet – true to History’s dynamic nature – has refused to simply play the backdrop either to the assorted Advocacies’ set-piece melodramas or to the military’s set-piece warfare. The planet’s ecology is starting to tank, and that danger is so stupendously awefull that even the warning signs of a fading U.S. economic hegemony (or even security) must accept second-place in the claim for Our attentions.

So why keep coming back to this sex-offense thing? Because it was here that Our debauchery was set in place. And almost any of Us who can read were sentient during the past 10 or so years that this thing has metastasized, AND probably thought that the sex-offense thing was a Good Thing even as We enjoyed the brief giddy thrill as matters – like a roller-coaster car starting the down-phase – began to gather speed in their race to the bottom. And perhaps, like the proverbial schmuck falling off a tall building – We won’t feel anything but exhilaration until the very last couple of stories. ‘So far, so good!’.

In which case, the last stories coming up pretty quickly in all of the various stories in which We now play a part, then a more than cursory consideration of this sex-offense stuff might help Us understand how We were debauched, are debauched, and have helped to debauch Ourselves. Thus soberly fortified, We might better take such corrective action as are still open to Us.

So, to today’s article in Salon “Churches slam doors on sex offenders” by Eilene Zimmerman (http://www.salon.com/mwt/feature/2007/04/26/sexoffenders_church/), and it’s a very useful piece of reporting indeed. I’ll just tick off points as I go through.

One preacher reports that he gets calls “every day now about this”, the ‘this’ being so-called Christian congregations greatly put out by the presence of sex-offenders who want to worship. This particular preacher runs “Keeping Kids Safe Ministries” in Tennessee. And I think that’s part of the problem. First, there is only one Christian ‘Ministry’, and that is the Ministry to proclaim and live-out the Gospel. All good things flow from that or they won’t flow at all. This tendency, seen more on the Protestant rather than the Catholic side of the aisle, is a not-unnatural result of the Protestant tendency – untrellised and unfenced by strong, thick doctrinal and sacramental wood – to grow like kudzu in all sorts of directions. Which, in the American setting means ‘marketing’ of ‘services’, and ‘marketing’ means offering stuff relevant to whatever is the rage, craze, or preference of the moment.

Second, there is a queasy theological problem evinced in the thing: The Christian’s job is to be faithful to the Gospel, and then God is trusted to work things out in history – and if those results are not to the faithful’s liking, then faith still requires them to accept His will. Now this is not an either-or sort of thing: Faith does not preclude Works or actions. But it’s ever an American weakness to emphasize the Works/Actions over the Faith and to market either as effectively as possible.

The preacher goes on to say that “we train about 50 churches a week”. Something of an overstatement, surely – as is so much related to sex-offense stuff. Unless mailing out a couple-three brochures and pamphlets qualifies as ‘training’, then this ministry must be more complex than the Department of Defense. Or maybe a tad of ‘sharing’ or ‘venting’ or ‘testimony’ counts as such ‘training’. In any case, the self-attributed ‘train’ is too generous, and more than a tad misleading.

A rabbi defends his sending a legal letter to a convicted and released child molester refusing the man (as always) permission to worship: congregants had come to him, “in pain” and what else could he do? The trumpery of “pain” – the expectation and the demand that one’s feelings take precedence over any other considerations, rational or legal or moral or spiritual – is a development of recent decades that has created havoc with the very foundations of our society and culture and the very foundations of Law and Justice. Nor have any of the moral, spiritual, political, or legal guardians stood against it. Indeed, there are schools of ethical, spiritual, political and even legal thought that think ‘feelings’ should trump. Yah. We felt so bad after 9-11; naturally, we felt it was OK to launch a pre-emptive invasive war based on falsehoods. Our ‘pain’ was so great; surely the world would understand; surely nobody would have the insensitivity to complain. Surely.

“A congregation is a very big family”, the rabbi goes on. Well, no it isn’t. A family is a family. A congregation is a bunch of people – individuals come together, called together by God, on their journey through Time, in order to deepen and share their Faith and their faithfulness. Once again, the American myopia is to Flatten matters into the realm of Action and Appearance, of the Familiar: thus the congregation is a ‘family’ and the preacher/rabbi/priest is ‘Daddy’ (or – feel free – ‘Mommy’). No. If people have come into a worshipping community expecting to find a ‘family’ or having been led to believe that ‘being a family’ is the great, beating heart of Faith then the horses have already come out the wrong end of the gate. ‘Family’ is a genetic bond that unites its members on levels far far deeper than our poor power to fully comprehend; consequently it is naturally and by definition ‘exclusive’. This is not quite the case with a worshipping community that has come together because of God’s call, and not because of any secondary or tertiary or quarternary considerations: I had a bad family life myself and want to make up for it, we all drive expensive cars and have nice houses, I like the glass windows in this church.

A professor of Islamic Studies at Duke University (you remember Duke) “says that the ingtegration of sex offenders is simply not discussed in mosque communities”, but if it were he “says it’s likely it would be difficult to allay the fears of parents”. Once again, the loose and dangerously inaccurate use of terminology: a ‘sex offender’ – legally – could have committed or not-committed a vast range of acts, of which acts against children are only one possible subset. But, as noted elsewhere on this site, I think that this conflation indicates far more than sloppy mental discipline; it also reflects the awesomely unsettling fact that the sex-offender mania has fed off the same poisoned roots as the old soviet ideological lust for erecting a class of “objective enemies”, any one of whom can be made to ‘stand in for’ all the rest as an object of the ‘anger of the masses’.

Another preacher, trying to get his congregation to agree to accept a repentant and time-served “convicted sex offender”, is surprised “that so many members of his congregation had been sexually abused as children”. Hmmm. How would he know? He proposes an unconventional plan, and suddenly scads of folks raise their hands and say they had been abused … nor will any of them expect to have to prove that assertion. Is that wise? To accept these claims at face value in a situation where the sudden-revealer has something to gain? And as ever, what constitutes the ‘abuse’? Not only is the definition monstrously elastic but the diagnostic criteria in the extant self-diagnosis, self-help books are so broad – not to say universal – that almost anybody would qualify. Are you uncomfortable in the presence of hot coffee and you don’t know why? … Well, it’s because you were abused (Daddys drink coffee … See? It’s science!).

But the preacher then goes from being a victim to being part of the problem: he “estimates” that a quarter of his female congregants and a tenth of his male congregants were sexually abused as children. These sex-offense numbers always raise more questions than they purport to answer. How does one ‘estimate’? If the definition of one of the prime variables (‘sexual abuse’) is so elastic and variable itself, how can you do any extrapolation?

Of course, if this preacher were to ask any of the foregoing questions – either as to proof of or even the nature of any individual claimant’s “abuse”, or if the preacher were to put up a blackboard and start trying to crunch some numbers, that preacher would be instantly cut off as being ‘inappropriate’ and ‘insensitive’; lawsuits might well follow.

Just where the soul-searing demands of the Gospel end and congregants’ far less spiritual motivations take over, is a question crying out for answer. The inability of nominally Christian faithful to extend forgiveness to a sex-offender indicates both a besotment with soviet scape-goating and a less-than-deep appreciation for and commitment to the Gospel of Christ. Now when you think on this, you get an inkling of why some – and not a few – folks thought that Jesus being killed might not be such a bad thing. (No, I don’t mean because the crowds are Jewish; the Gospel crowds are ‘Everyman’ (or woman … to borrow a phrase.)

And, as the article wonderfully points out, the chances are excellent that the congregation already harbors numerous sex-offenders in its midst (just about equal to the number of men in the congregation, some feminists would insist); it’s just that most of the sex-offenders haven’t been caught yet (another assertion with which feminist wisdom would entirely agree). After all, even on their own report, the purportedly victimized congregants must be sharing a lot of space and time with such offenders if so large a proportion of them have been abused/molested. Either that or their town is fuller of wandering zombiefied Strangers than a 1950s sci-fi horror flick. But of course, it is always Politically Incorrect to do the math, even of the victims’ or advocacies’ own claims. When Hitler claimed that he was invading Poland because a couple-three ‘Polish soldiers’ had invaded Germany and tried to take over a radio station, no Good German was expected to pull out a map and ask how such purported Poles got there. And can We wonder how We all got diddled by the run-up to the Iraq war?

One preacher, struggling to persuade his congregation to let in a registered sex-offender, claims “After all, he’s human just like everyone else”. The shocking thing about this comment is that it needs to be made at all; are there congregants who think that he isn’t? But of course. And we can thank demonization and the soviet class-objectification for that. Such strategies, rooted in primal human darknesses, have succeeded monstrously well among Us.

And finally, as one congregant and mother of an 8-year-old girl gasps: “Evil has already touched our lives”. This declaimed upon her discovery that “this individual had been worshipping among us and we had been unaware of it”. Surely the gentleman would not leap upon somebody in the middle of a hymn? Where is the actual danger here? Or is it rather the primal pleasure in defining oneself as being not-Evil?

If so, then who among Us, especially today, can stand at that Latter Day? Or even next Sunday?

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9 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, most parents would NOT consider the rights of sex offenders to live in their neighborhoods. That is why we need a Sex Offender Colonization amendment to the US Constitution.

It is obvious. Nobody wants sex offenders to live in their neighborhoods, or even their cities. I'm a parent, and I would fight tooth and nail to prevent sex offenders from living anywhere that children may live, even if their victims were people they knew. It means NOTHING to me; what means EVERYTHING to me is they committed an atrocious crime against children. That's enough for me.

Unfortunately, these sex offenders have rights. If they are not in prison, they will probably get the ACLU to sue the city and we will have to spend thousands of dollars defending the restrictions.

The ONLY thing, therefore, is to create an amendment to the US Constitution, creating sex offender colonies to restrict where these convicted sex offenders live in the first place. How to do this?

The first thing that needs to be done is to create an outline of such an amendment. I looked at the process for how an amendment is created. Here is the process:

Under Article V, there are two ways to propose amendments to the Constitution and two ways to ratify them.

To propose an amendment

1. Two-thirds of both houses of Congress vote to propose an amendment, or
2. Two-thirds of the state legislatures ask Congress to call a national convention to propose amendments.

To ratify an amendment

1. Three-fourths of the state legislatures approve it, or
2. Ratifying conventions in three-fourths of the states approve it.

I would submit that the state legislature route would probably be more effective, but the congressional method can be tried first. It can effectively be used as a litmus test for voting, i.e., if someone doesn't want to vote for proposing the amendment in congress, their 2008 opponent can have a field day in saying that the incumbent protects sex offenders at the expense of children's safety, etc.

Such an amendment would solve many problems. First of all, the registry would not exist in its current form. Parents don't have to worry where the sex offenders live, as they all would, by law, have to live in the colony. This also eliminates the need for GPS, as the sex offenders would be restricted to the colony in the first place. No worries about convicted child molesters stalking your children's school or favorite park, or trolling on the Internet.

Next, registrants would constitutionally have to be subjected to non-court ordered search of their premises within the zone. In addition, all their mail and phone calls would constitutionally be authorized to be monitored for illicit activities. Internet usage would also be strictly regulated, with all file storage for every computer actually done at the server-level. In addition, emails would be assigned by the administration, no Instant messaging or accessing MySpace or other children sites allowed, and all keystrokes and sites visited will be recorded 100%. All costs for such usage would be borne out by the offender, incidentally.

All registrants would be required to work, with their paychecks being handled by the administrators. Deductions for medical, rent, all services, and everything else would be done automatically, and any credit the registrant have be used for discretionary income ONLY from the colony store. Also, EVERY registrant will be required to go through treatment appropriate to his crime, and be certified as cured; otherwise, he can be subject to a felony charge and returned to prison.

Now, please keep in mind one thing: The sex offender colony is NOT...repeat...NOT a replacement for tough, appropriately long, non-paroleable sentencing guidelines in the first place! THAT IS PARAMOUNT. The colony would exist because society cannot handle the large amounts of offenders in their neighborhoods, with the inherent terror parents have with the knowledge that offenders are around their children. Therefore, the colony is SPECIFICALLY for offenders to spend their entire registration periods in a constitutionally-approved manner, eliminating the need for registries as they exist now.

Keep in mind, many offenders also are able to leave the registry for certain crimes after a specified amount of time has passed. Therefore, once a registrant's time period has expired, he can petition the administration to be relieved of the duty to register and live in the SORERA zone. A panel of professionals, law enforcement individuals, and the offender's victim representatives, will go over the request. If they feel the offender is ready to join society, then he can leave the zone and live anywhere he wants, although he will have to permanently register with law enforcement wherever he goes for the rest of his life. Bear in mind, also, that any registrant who has to register for life will NEVER get the opportunity to leave the zone. Only the most benign of the registrants will ever be allowed to leave.

So there you have it. With a constitutional amendment, we can control where they live, where they work, and how they communicate, with confidence that they won't have a "relapse" when our own children are in striking distance.

8:08 AM  
Blogger publion said...

Well, coupla things.

First, the matter of terms: is the Comment concerned with “sex offenders” in general or with those specifically who have committed sex-offenses against children? Nor can the assertion be accepted from sex-offense ‘experts’ and ‘science’ that it’s all the same because there is a sliding-scale and somebody who is an exposer will eventually graduate to serial kidnapping, rape and murder of children. Nor – most surely – that someone who prefers sex with, say, horses (there is a movie review about a documentary on the subject in today’s Salon online) will eventually ‘graduate’ to serial kidnapping, rape and murder of children. I am not making light of matters when I say this – such failures to keep things clear result in awefull confusions. As evidenced by the expensive American satellite that was launched and went kaput because some technician made measurements in metric and his figures were read as being in inches and feet. Or by, say, the Iraq war.

Second, as world-weary, knowledgable and cosmopolitan as that “unfortunately” sounds in the matter of sex-offender rights, it is deeply to be feared. The Framers – just ask the feminists! – knew damned well back then that some folks wanted to have sex with children (nor do I for a moment condone such sex) and animals and yet they didn’t put a ‘sex-offenders excepted’ clause anywhere in the Constitution. Why? Because ‘sex offenders’ were only invented as a monster-class about 1990? Interesting, but I think less important than the fact that the Framers were primarily concerned with the arbitrary and inaccurate deployment of the vast police power of the government – and nothing whatsoever at all would be allowed to take precedence over that concern.

I won’t say that a ho-hum-alas attitude to another citizen’s rights is un-American, but I will say clearly that it is hell-and-gone from the spirit of the Framers and of the Constitution. And I will gently point out again on this site that Lincoln did not remove General Sherman from command simply because he began to act rather oddly in the presence of little girls.

So then, the disquisition on how a sex-offender amendment to the Constitution might be achieved is – for all its seeming educated objectivity – something else altogether. The vastly more serious threat to the Republic here is the fact that in these enlightened times a class of people and crime can suddenly be raised up and adults old enough to know better can fall right in with the Script. Had an adult in any year prior to about 1990 started talking about ‘sex offenders’ not a single soul would know what s/he was talking about. An adult wanting to force government Registration, tagging, bagging, civilly confining, and colonizing them – in any year before about 1990 – would be considered in serious need of a civics lesson, at the very least.

And a parent who invites the government in to keep the children safe, only to consign those same children a few years later to the Long War that may stick with Us even after We have decided We don’t want to play anymore … might want to think things through a bit deeper.

Lastly, I’d remind Us all of Martin Niemoller’s rueful realization: he didn’t speak out when this and that group was taken away; and by the time ‘They’ came for him, there was nobody left to speak out. If We are living in a country where such stampedes can be started so quickly and sustained for so long, then We are all in a heepa trubble. Because next year it might be some other group or act that is suddenly raised up … and it will never end until everybody is on some sort of government registry list.

Does it seem impossible? Imagine asking any adult in 1950 or 1960 or 1970 or 1980 if s/he would predict that the U.S. government would be given many of the same powers granted to the Gestapo and the Cheka simply to deal with people brought up on ‘a morals charge’. No. there were already laws against that – were we going to make this country like a communist state?

And have we forgotten that – if the Bible is to be believed – each of our names is already on an eternal Registry because of things we’ve done, and that simply getting out of town via hearse isn’t going to allow any of us to escape what we are and what we have done in our time. We will be judged by the same measure by which we judge.

To neglect that reality indicates a very Short and Flat conception of what is really going on in life and in history. What-is-really-going-on isn’t a bad question to explore; but if we stop at offenses of sex, we most surely are going to remain most profoundly in the dark.

10:25 AM  
Blogger publion said...

Let me add one more thought to my previous Comment. Just from the reported figures the government itself says that two-thirds of sex-offenders are known to the victim.

That means that a hefty chunk of that two-thirds are themselves parents and step-parents. So the self-serving flattery - shrewdly stoked by the Advocacies- that there is a black&white melodramatic struggle between heroic parents and slavering, leering, whackjob Stranger-sex offenders is itself an illusion fostered to lure more citizens into supporting this engorgement of the police power of the government.

Do you see how unstoppably corrosive this whole dynamic can be? Why stop at the distinction between 'parents' and 'sex offenders'? What is to be done with sex-offenders hiding behind their parenthood? What to do, therefore, with - can we say? - 'traitor parents' among us? Shouldn't we start testing all parents to see if they are already hiding their own sex-offenses? Perhaps we can accept the testimony of their own children, who can denounce them to a 'responsive' police authority?

This is the dynamic that caused the French and Russian revolutions to turn on their own citizens and devour them.

It is happening here.

10:38 AM  
Blogger David said...

A lot of ground covered in post and comments. The ecclesial issues are interesting and go back to the Reformation. Many Protestants believe in the efficacy of a once-and-for-all metanoia experience which 'confirms' the believer as a member of an elect-which-can-sin-no-more.

They want intimacy in their one-stop, all purpose megachurch congregations because of the isolated, barren lives they live in ex-urbia in those panic-stricken gated communities which don't even have sidewalks.

A moment's honest grappling with one's real motives which bubble-up from our limbic system in protean disguises - whether or not this occurs on an analyst's couch - gives the lie to the preposterous doctrine of predestination.

Christianists' refusal to accept 'sinners' into their congregation is a measure of both their lack of faith in predestination when the chips are down and their hypocrisy.

'Anonymous' sounds like a morally upright totalitarian who would approve the PRC's early solution to serious problems of drug addiction and prostitution in pre-revolutionary China. Those firing squads sure took care of a large lumpenproletariat in one fell swoop.

No doubt he would approve as well of Fidel's concentration camps for victims of AIDS. There is no AIDS problem in the general population of Cuba - although there are plenty of prostitutes and gays who 'disappear' as soon as they sicken.

We are to the point now where the only way to define a christian is to ask whom they hate besides Katliks and see if they've checked enough of the other canonical boxes.

Oddly, most christianists would agree with the same list of morally deviate non-persons as might be drawn up by any village mullah of the Al Qaeda persuasion. These 'values voters' agree on both the targets and the final solution for the elimination of same. Sequestration in the name of the Lord would be just the first step.

"Our way of life" deserves every enemy it has but these automata are at the head of the line when it comes to the usual suspects for utilization of car bombs or violent fantasies of the Second Coming to feed their hatred.

2:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for your feedback. I have to admit you are highly learned and have submitted valid points. But there are several misconceptions that you still are promoting that I wish to address.

First of all, I want to point out that I do NOT advocate violence of ANY kind perpetrated by a government or organization. The people you refer to have essentially committed victimless crimes. In addition, I DO believe in the concept of "paying one's debt to society", then "moving on with one's life" by adhering to the laws of society once one has left incarceration. That goes without saying.

However, we have reached a point where society cannot handle the presence of sex offenders in the community. For instance, we laud individuals such as bank robbers and gang members who, after serving their time, work their way back into the fold of society, and champion rehabilitative programs that help such individuals achieve some level of normalcy. Most people don't have feelings of angst when they hear their neighbor has committed such crimes in the past, but are now on the straight and narrow.

But... the complete opposite is true for sex offenders. Why? Obviously, it's related to the nature of humans to be completely protective of its young, and ANY threat strikes a nerve that cannot allow for rational discourse.

In short, while we can, and certainly should, fight any feelings of hate for people of different colors, religious backgrounds, and other factors, most humans will never be able to rationalize individuals who commit crimes against children. No matter how court decisions are rendered regarding the rights of offenders, people will ALWAYS demand that offenders are as restricted as much as possible, and eliminated as a threat in their communities, one way or another.

Therefore, the Sex Offender colonies (actually, zones, as colonies would nto necessarily be enclosed with a barrier such as a prison) are the logical evolution of the laws that regulate the registered sex offender population in the first place. That is why there is no turning back. No matter how unfair it may be to offenders, one cannot fight or rationalize the very emotion that keeps humanity evolving: the protection of children.

Yes, I agree that there are many myths regarding sex offenders, particular those of recidivism statistics, etc., but in my opinion, the United States has reached a point where it cannot go back and must end up with some form or sex offender colonies. It is incumbent upon rational people, therefore, to come up with the best plan to make it so.

By the way, I cannot get a Google account without a Gmail address for some reason, so I have to post as Anonymous. My email is man4theages@hotmail.com to show I'm not someone who posts nonsense.

8:13 AM  
Blogger publion said...

The violence I am concerned about at this point is not physical; it is the conceptual violence done to the integrity of Our vision of the Constitution and of what sort of a People and a nation We are and We want to become. Among the Framers no crime whatsoever was considered to be ‘sooo bad’ that the police power of the government could break down the walls of Constitutional protections (including justicial and evidentiary) in order to get at them. By letting the genie of free-swinging government police power out of the bottle that the Framers corked it in, manias like this current sex-offense one liberate an awful and a dangerous force that will never fully be able to be re-corked. And when that force and that power is finished with so-called ‘sex offenders’ then it will turn on some other group. And when I say ‘finished’ I don’t mean that all sex-offenders are eradicated (however that might be defined) but rather that the public mania subsides – folks get ‘bored’ with it as a ‘cause’ and an ‘outrage’ – and their passions have to be re-ignited by coming up with a new ‘outrage’, a new ‘monster’, a new target. And the whole thing will start over again. But the fabric of Constitutional government will be that much more weakened as the fresh round of spiraling descent begins.

The term ‘sex offender’ as it is currently used (it is not a psychological or medical term; it is a media and law-enforcement term) includes people who have committed ‘victimless crimes’. The stated ‘scientific’ reason for this is that any sort of sexual or possibly sexual action can ‘escalate’ over time (although very little mainstream science supports this hypothesis) and so it’s best to cast a wide net. The political reason is probably that there just aren’t that many violent, murderous ‘sex offenders’ out there so the numbers have to be fattened up by a) including all sorts of hugely lesser actions and b) keeping the definition of ‘sex-offense’ elastic so that it can always be expanded to cover more actions and corral more people (men, almost always) and c) so that it will be easier for the public to fall into the bad habit of using the term ‘sex offender’ when referring to a case of child molestation or great sexual violence and therefore assuming that any ‘sex offender’ must have done t-h-a-t sort of thing. Even the scientific-sounding “Levels’ that are assigned by the sex-offense Registries are vastly too vague to be of any use: Level III is for anyone at ‘high’ risk of committing … a violent (or not) act; Level II is for anyone who poses a ‘moderate’ risk (however that is defined), and Level I is for persons who pose no risk. It is unclear whether there is one axis of measurement (level of risk) or two (level of risk plus seriousness of the act committed); it is also admitted even by such professional science and medical folk as have gotten involved that very little is ‘known’ about the dynamics of ‘sex offending’ in individuals. So Level III is for the immediately dangerous and the ‘monsters’, Level I is for folks who were peeing in the woods, and Level II is for everybody else. But what if you have a Level I with a high-risk of offending? Does that make him a Level III? These strange outcomes are not the result of inadequate science; they are the result of there not being any underlying rationale, corresponding to reality, in all this stuff. So you don’t have to take too many steps along the path before you run into all sorts of whacky outcomes.

The phrase “society cannot handle the presence of sex offenders in the community” literally makes no sense. By that I mean that the phrases, while grammatical English, do not correspond to any workable scenario or dynamics when you actually try to examine what they mean. “Society cannot handle”: a) Define ‘society’ – individuals, a majority of individuals, the media, the PR flaks, the public comments of this or that player in the game? b) Identify some examples (Detroit?) where a ‘society’ has stated so; c) define ‘handle’ – what does this mean? Cannot even tolerate their mere material presence? Can no longer put up with the ‘pain’ of this or that particular crime? d) Clarify and justify the choice of ‘cannot’ rather than ‘will not’? I’m not playing word games here. Words represent thoughts and thought processes, and if the words don’t make sense then you have to start suspecting that the thoughts behind them don’t either. Also, while a certain looseness in wording is typical in day to day life, yet when the awesome power of the criminal-law is being deployed, it is Constitutionally required to be very precise, so that irreparable mistakes are not made by the government and so that the integrity of the Constitutional vision and of the People’s own security from arbitrary government intrusion is not corrupted. What passes for ‘conversation’ or ‘opinion’ around a dinner table or at a bar does not always qualify immediately as Constitutionally valid policy.

There is a moral element to ‘precision’. Just the way folks expect police officers not to fire randomly or excitedly into a crowd in order to stop a possible fleeing suspect, it is equally essential that folks don’t fire random, imprecise thoughts into the public forum simply because they feel like it. When such irresponsible imprecision reaches a critical mass, when the media figure it’ll make them money to go along, when the police power figures it’s like fishing in a barrel, when the politicians don’t have anything else to show that they’re doing their job … then the walls of legality collapse along with the walls of morality. Which is now what appears to have happened in Iraq from the get-go … so it starts to become clear how one thing does indeed lead to another in this world. And dangerously so.

And once again, the term ‘sex offenders’ is conflated and confused with those how have been convicted of some crime against the ‘young’. Do we then ‘colonize’ only those who have committed sex-crimes against children (and what age parameters would be used)? How do we deal with the fact that even the Department of Justice admits that sex-offenders (so-called) have lower recidivism rates than almost all other conviction-groups? Or do we simply say that the anxiety of the parents – whether it is well-grounded or not – should be able to trump other citizen’s rights? And would it be less shocking if a released bank-robber shot the child – even accidentally – while committing a fresh robbery? And are we going to insist that even if the Framers knew about such bad things as adults sexually engaging children and didn’t make a Constitutional exception, the anxieties of present-day parents should override the gravest considerations of the Framers?

Or does that last question actually raise the possibility that folks that anxious will start to stop and think through exactly what is going on with their anxiety and its effect on the Constitutional ethos of the whole American project?

And if there are so many “myths” out there, and if the actual reasons given for justifying this thing don’t seem to hold up under examination, then what is going on here?

Just a few short decades ago it was considered absolutely true and obvious down South that we can tolerate any sort of crime, but we can’t tolerate ‘black people’ or fill-in-the-blank (it was ‘Indians’ out West). Just a few short decades ago we could put up with any sort of crime but we could not put up with ‘Commies’ in our midst, or even professors who in their youth had been members of the American Communist Party for even a few months. So while this “In short” paragraph sounds nice, yet to anyone who has been on the planet more than a couple-two decades, it is not at all accurate. And as I have said in earlier Posts, this whole sex-offender thing didn’t exist before 1990 or so, maybe even 1996. And this fact should be a bright and big warning flag that something whacky is going on in American society in this ‘sex offender’ stuff.

The “logical evolution of the laws that regulate the registered sex offender in the first place” is a hugely cogent point: and I say that in this un-American and anti-Constitutional ‘colonization’ we are now seeing the continuation of the illogic that started the Registration laws in the first place. If one type of crime can be registered now, what’s to prevent another crime from being registered later? The Germans began to experience that right off the bat when Hitler began ‘registering’ dissidents and then homosexuals and on and on. The Soviets registered everybody right off the bat, and had residency and travel restrictions built in from the get-go. Just because ‘sex offenses’ are what some folks are worked up about today, what happens when some other crime becomes what they’re worked up about tomorrow? And what is the practical use of Registering persons who have the lowest recidivism rates? Because some folks ‘feel’ that Registration is what they want to see happen? Upon such grounds the watertight integrity of the Constitution’s protections is to be formally compromised?

“There is no turning back”? If good answers cannot be given to the foregoing questions, then obviously the sex-offense ‘train’ was on the wrong track from Day One and most surely it needs to be turned back. Why can’t there be any turning back? It certainly looks like the whole plan was screwy and chock full of holes to being with. What intelligent adult would n-o-t turn back if so many problems were discovered? We are now in Iraq upon premises that are the first cousin to the sex-offense ‘justifications’ and we are losing over there because of that, and would it be wise to insist that even so there will be no turning back? Is it now to be accepted that a plan that was unjustifiable to begin with has to be accepted because of its own flawed logic? And who says we can’t turn back? The phrase itself is a rhetorical flourish that doesn’t correspond to anything except some feelings that some folks have that they haven’t examined, cannot explain, and would prefer simply to have satisfied without further ado. A family can’t be run on those terms, let alone a country. Or a war.

And what of the former-‘children’ who are coming home in body-bags and coffins daily? Are they better off because they weren’t ‘molested’? Or might the definition of ‘sex abuse’ be expanded to include ‘sending young folks off to get shot on the basis of utter lies’? Or might We start considering that while so much time and energy was being spent on this hugely unsupportable ‘sex offender’ craze, a war was started and a pre-emptive invasion was made of another country (and its children) in Our name on false pretenses, with an unconsidered and inadequate strategy, and has gone south … all while some folks here apparently go to bed at night thinking that tweaking their sex-offender plans is a good day’s work.

I most certainly think not.

7:41 AM  
Blogger publion said...

And again I mention the problem: given that even by the government's own assessment the majority of sex-ffenders against children are themselves parents, step-parents, and relatives, then if 'sex offenders' are sent to colonies, who is going to take care of all the blessedly rescued children?

The solution to this humongous problem so far has been almost evilly shrewd: the focus has been kept on the much less numerous 'stranger' sex-offenders and on the even rarer kidnapper-molester-murderer offenders. The 'parent' sex-offenders (who, by the by, can vote and can often afford lawyers) are not at all so much the subject of the manic searches and purges.

3:01 AM  
Blogger David said...

I'm not so hopeful that the mark of Cain can be effaced so easily from scapegoated groups. Once they have been identified and set apart, their fortunes seem to rise and fall in function of national levels of public anxiety about personal security - whether it is economic, social, political or even physical.

Jews are the parade example. When the tensions in any society begin to rise for whatever reason, resident Jews, citizens or not, know they must batten down the hatches.

Scholars have made the connection between anxiety about indian attacks and persecution of witches in 17th century New England.

New groups may be added to the list of usual suspects (Gypsies, homosexuals, uppity blacks and indigenous peoples etc.). Their loyalty to prevailing group interests and mores is suspect. Once listed, it is very hard to remove them - especially if they have permanent markers and not just membership in a permeable category like 'Kulak'. The struggles of people so marked goes back not decades but centuries.

The only instance of restoration to full human status I've noted is in the the field of international relations where (sometimes almost overnight as in WWII) formerly demonized enemies are restored to the status of human and, indeed, ally.

When the demonization-eligible groups reside within the geographic boundaries of a society, the prognosis for removal of the mark of Cain is less hopeful.

All that can be hoped for is long periods of national security and prosperity when need for a scapegoat is not felt except at the margins among the lumpenproletariat whose lot in life is to be perennially and violently dissatisfied with the status quo.

A couple of notes on your timeline for the emergency: The male-headed household began to disintegrate for economic reasons in the early Sixties.

Anxieties about the 'state of the American family' found expression in concerns about (white) drop-out or runaway children who fled suburban conformity either to cities or rural communes.

By the early seventies Father Bruce Ritter was raising millions to save 'throwaway child' prostitutes in Times Square from the fate of membership in the Manson 'family'.

The first 'child predators' were inner city black pimps with their stables of fresh-scrubbed blonde minors just off the bus from the heartland and eager for experiments with the highlife of drugs and commercial sex on 'Minnesota strips' found in every urban landscape.

Concerns about child abuse first physical then sexual then, later, emotional followed close behind when family units reacted often violently to economic stressors as parental roles mutated to fit the needs of corporate capital.

It is no surprise that allegedly devil worshipping sex predators made their first appearance in newly necessary daycare centers as religious and social scapegoats for marital chaos caused by revisioning of the female role, no-fault divorce, contraception and introduction of women into the white collar workforce.

In some measure, the child predator crisis was a reaction against professional 'caregivers' - both religious and secular who failed to meet the bottomless needs of decaying family systems.

6:32 AM  
Blogger publion said...

Yes and yes. And your last sentence is a humdinger of insight and succinctness, I would say.

It will be awfully difficult, as you infer, to try and undo this sex-offense mania scape-goating. If church-communities find it difficult to deal with returned (let alone redeemed!) sex-offenders, it will be even harder for the government (and even the media) that has committed so much credibility to the demonization stampede.

Even now the usually rights-and-liberty oriented Massachusetts is having a hard time coming to grips with at least two of its cases still remaining from the early stampede-days: the staffers of the Middlesex Fells pre-school (the ones that haven't already died in prison) still can't get fully cleared (while the rest of that cohort of dragons-and-giraffes pre-school abuse-cases around the country have been quietly reversed or the convictions vacated) and a guy who's done 18 years following a clearly dubious trial has only just come up for a fresh look.

For a government to admit it has done wrong is rarely a good bet, especially when its feasance has caused death or the loss of years of liberty.

But I imagine a time will come when the enablers and abettors will be, like the Iraq invasion masterminds, loudly explaining why they shouldn't be blamed. Not that it will repair what has been done to Us and the commonweal.

8:17 AM  

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