Saturday, May 29, 2010

Oh. My Bad

A pair of men, one of whom had been sexually abused by an uncle as a child, beat to death an elderly man in an episode of vigilante justice against a sex offender.

Only one problem (outside, of course, of the fact that vigilante murders are illegal): "Although [Hugh] Edwards had a similar name and age as a registered sex offender, sheriff's officials said Edwards had absolutely no criminal record and was not a registered sex offender."

Now, I'd heard about this story (before it came out that the attackers killed the wrong man), but with the Gulf of Mexico becoming an open-air oil well, it didn't rise to the top. Which is a shame, as our collective hysteria around the sexual abuse of children is starting to have (hopefully) unintended consequences. In this case, even if the story had made the big time, I think that the fact that at least one of the killers already has a criminal record with some violent crimes on it would have allowed us to shift all of the blame onto the perpetrators, rather than deal with our own attitudes about this.

And that means, sooner or later, there's going to be another tragic misunderstanding.

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