Saturday, March 29, 2008

First They Came for the Child Sex Offenders, ....

I am not in favor of child molestation or child rape or child pornography. I suspect that too many found guilty of these crimes get off too easily or receive sentences that are too short. (On the other hand, some offenders -- sometimes lured into compromising situations by police posing as minors during online chats -- can sometimes also receive ridiculously harsh sentences (at least here in Texas)).

Having said that, the spreading concept of making sex offenders permanent social lepers makes no sense to me -- either on Constitutional grounds, social grounds, or biblical grounds.

Even more troubling is the concept of the "camel's nose under the tent." The Government is clever: Sex offenders are not very popular and people are quick to embrace measures that make them "pariahs for life."

However, once this practice -- which includes online posting of the individuals' photographs, names, addresses, etc., online, as well as restricting their presence near schools, playgrounds, child care centers, etc. -- becomes seen as acceptable and routine, it will be a very small step for the Government to expand such practices toward other offender groups that it wants to turn into pariahs.

What such groups might that be? I don't know, but I have some ideas -- members of militias, gun-law violators, Christians arrested for evangelizing on public property, for instance, come to mind.

The answer lies -- on the one hand -- in not letting flagrant sex offenders off, or off with too lenient sentences, and -- on the other -- in not making people 'pariahs for life' by laws that will not only make it impossible for them to live normal lives, but also have the unintended consequence of encouraging former sex offenders to relapse, and also open the door to treating other classes of criminals in the same way (pariahs for life).

Let's not be stupid: We don't want to live in a police state.

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