Sunday, February 24, 2008

Fear and Outrage

"Hard cases make bad law." Criminal Justice truism.
Ben turned me on to a story about the fight over compliance with a federal sex offender law in California.

The federal "Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006," would require states to submit information on adolescents as young as 14 deemed delinquent in juvenile court of aggravated sexual abuse to a national public registry, and it provides penalties for non-compliance - the Attorney General can reduce the federal Byrne funds allocated to the state for law enforcement resources. (The article mentions a 10% reduction, but I don't know what the actual cut might be. For that matter, I don't know what "Byrne funds" are.) One thing that I'm curious about is the definition of "aggravated sexual abuse." According to the article: "If a 14-year-old touches an 11-year-old’s penis, the 14-year-old would be eligible for the public registry." THAT'S "aggravated sexual abuse?" Really?

The fear of sexual abuse of children by strangers, fueled by the (very) occasional high-profile child abduction, rape and murder has got people falling over each other to seek tougher and tougher sanctions, to show everyone that they're doing something about this intolerable scourge. And it's made me realize something. The very next time someone brings up the War on Terror, or the fact that people throughout the world are starving, and asks: "Where is the outrage?" I'm going to answer: "At sex offenders." Politicians may be conniving bastards, but they aren't stupid. You can't get any momentum up for impeachment proceedings against President Bush*, but you can get new sex offender laws passed on shakier evidence than you have against the Executive Branch. Misguided wars against heathen foreigners don't drive outrage in the Heartland. (Especially if we think they have something we want.) Fear of unapproved sexuality does. That's why President Clinton had to face the music for the Lewinsky affair - which, let's face it, was an absurdly trivial thing.
"Supporters of the law argue the high cost of putting the act into effect is worth the safety of the community."
Is Ricky Really a Sex Offender? - Los Angeles CityBeat
This reminds me of another truism - "Nothing is too expensive to the man who doesn't have to foot the bill himself."

* For my part, I don't think that a charge of intentional deceit would hold up against the Bush Administration, and I don't know that willful ignorance of reality is an impeachable offense. But if banging the interns IS, I don't see why it shouldn't be.


Mary said...

Folks I am Ricky's mom Mary in Hanna Ingber Win article "Is Ricky really a sex offender?" Please print this story and show to everyone you know. Send to your news stations, radio stations, message boards you visit, teach your children, grandchildren, your friends children. Do not let anymore of our sons become sacrificial lambs for our government and these laws. Give folks my email I need letters to help make Oklahoma legislators like Gus Blackwell, Jim wilson, and John Auffet to pass Romeo and Juliet laws here as well as Keith Kreiman of Iowa for that state. We have to warn families this could be there child for consensual sex. Listen to myinterview on Dori Monson show Friday March 7, 2008 show from twelve to one p.m.. go to archives at help me save Rickys life please...a desperate mom fighting to change and fix laws for all our youth

Mary said...

Please search for Hanna Ingber Win article "Is Ricky really a sex offender"? in the L.A. Beat paper and print and post everywhere folks. I am Ricky's mom and its important we eduate our children about what can happen to them for consensual sex across this country...also send Hanna article to radio stations, news stations , anyone you can think of...what happened to my son is a crime and it can as easily happen to yours or someone else' me save young teen lives from our over over zealous government labeling them as predators for consensual sex. write me at with comments or letters to give to my politicians Gus Blackwell, John Auffet, and Jim Wilson here in Oklahoma to pass Romeo and Juliet laws to go back and save Ricky well as Keith Kreiman from Iowa...we must unite America and save our sons please again pass this article everywhere lets get Ricky's story heard and save his life and other like him