Surviving at the Whim of Madmen
To those who say I knew what I was getting into by marrying a man with a sex crime in his past, consider this: We married five years before the first law that affected us was passed, and nearly ten years before the current crop became law. Ten years ago, no reasonable person would have predicted that, absent any wrongdoing in that time, we'd suddenly be violating the law to live in a home we own, to drive down certain city streets, to take a vacation without notifying law enforcement, to buy or rent a new home or hold a job without updating the public--all because of a decades-old conviction. All these penalties came to pass after our marriage, and after the birth of our child.
There is no way to appeal it. There is no escaping it. No matter what we do--no matter how well or how long we abide by the laws--we lose more and more rights and freedoms every day. And that loss is based upon pure hysteria and statistical manipulation. The testimony of mental health experts is ignored by politicians and the mainstream media. True recidivism rates are under-reported, or are not reported at all. Even victim advocacy groups and prosecuting attorneys are disregarded when they speak against these punishments. And discussing the consequences of the laws is, apparently, taboo in the public forum.
Some will say it would be shameful to repeal laws intended to protect children. I tell you the recklessness with which hundreds of thousands of innocent American citizens have been triumphantly stripped of their privacy, family, and safety is shameful indeed. Politicians and advocates tell us that such "civil" abuse heaped upon sex offenders is worthy if it saves a single child. By default, they name the pain and loss and endangerment inflicted on other children worthy as well. Shameful indeed.
I don't ask that you welcome us with open arms. We ask for something far more simple: to be left alone, just as we were all those years in which we did nothing wrong under the law. However, if you demand that every offender be eternally punished for his or her past, then show the moral courage to hold yourself accountable for the present.
When you demand offenders be pushed out of your community, say out loud, "and their children should be hounded out of their home, too."
When you demand longer and broader notifications, state bravely, "and I want their children to be shamed whenever they leave their home, to live in terror of vigilante violence forever."
When you demand offenders be banned from schools, proclaim as well, "and I want their children to be mocked and beaten by their classmates, to never have a friend."
When you demand the government step in to 'protect the children,' say to the offender's child, "But you I will purposefully endanger. Your family I will destroy, and claim its destruction as my victory."
When you demand an offender be again punished for a decades-old crime, at least have the decency to say you're willing to inflict certain damage on thousands of children in exchange for the many-times disproved promise of better security for yours.
Don't like the way that sounds? Neither do we. But you have the option of turning away, of ignoring it, of justifying it with sound bites. We don't. We live according to the whims of civil madmen every day.
Ilah June 06 www.sohopeful.org