“Tell me no secrets; tell me no lies.” As the song lyrics say, I have always assumed that people don’t want to be lied to, that they want the truth from others. I have a friend, however, who says this is not true, and he makes a good case.
The latest topic to be subjected to scrutiny is that children are at constant risk of being kidnapped and molested by strangers and are often sold into sexual slavery. This ties in with the generally accepted belief that we are living in times of greater overall danger and increased crime.
None of this is true, but you would never know it by the ledes of everything that passes for news. I assumed that the media is deliberately creating a false narrative and withholding the truth that we would actually prefer, their objective being increased clicks and revenue, and that they are successfully accomplishing this by making us feel that we and our children are in constant danger.
My friend agrees the media does this but maintains that rather than deluding the public, it is giving the public what they want – fiction rather than truth – and that the consumers of news are equally responsible and co-conspirators with the purveyors of news in this mass delusion.
It’s all part and parcel of our fascination with the macabre, the tragic, the terrifying, he says; we love to be scared, and we love to believe the worst, and considering the popularity of horror and torture films and the viciousness with which we treat each other in real life, I have to concede that he is right.
We don’t want to know the facts about “missing children” and “sex trafficking” and “stranger danger,” the facts presented by Dr. Marty Klein and Lenore Skenazy and Elizabeth Nolan Brown at Reason on the prevalence of stranger-kidnappings and again on sex trafficking.
We prefer to believe that bands of predators follow families through furniture stores looking for an opportunity to kidnap toddlers. I mean, why wouldn’t we believe it? After all, thousands of children just disappear every year in America, never to be seen again — don’t they? We prefer to believe these and even more outlandish stories circulated on Facebook than the statistics disseminated by the FBI and the BJS.
We prefer to believe that everyone who has ever been convicted of any type of sexual offense is forever an imminent threat if he comes within 1,000 feet of a child or any place where a child can be found even though studies show that very few registered citizens living in the community commit another sexual crime.
We prefer to believe that a public sex offender registry actually makes us safe and that residency restrictions prevent re-offense in spite of years of valid, legitimate research telling us that neither of those is true.
What we believe determines how we act. And as long as we believe what isn’t true, our actions that are intended to solve serious problems are doomed to failure.
Sandy, a NARSOL board member, is communications director for NARSOL, editor-in-chief of the Digest, and a writer for the Digest and the NARSOL website. Additionally, she participates in updating and managing the website and assisting with a variety of organizational tasks.
6 Thoughts to “You lied to me — LIED to me!”
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I fully agree with this article and I am happy you are speaking out! I have believe that a majority of so called sex offenders are not predators. I know because my son was lied to or set up! Some day the truth will be revealed.
It is over ten years and his life is on hold, imprisoned in his own home as well as society.
Sandy you nailed it. 24 hour news cycle and social media continues to spread so-pho.
Short for “sex-Offender Phobias” unfounded and the public is hoodwinked. Sometimes, in fact most times it seems like an uphill battle. We must remain vigilant and continue to carry the message. AA didn’t make it the first attempts until the American medical association finally deemed alcoholism a disease. I relate our cause to the early days of recovery from alcoholism. Lets lock up the drunks who have no self control and are pariah’s of society… then the AMA ruled it a sickness and voila the hearts and minds of the public started to change.
Think our cause will not be so easy but trudge on we must. Great read! Thanks
Thank you for addressing the travesty of sex offender laws that last a lifetime & ruin hundreds of thousands of lives (including family members on the list).
For people to deem registrants that are forever a threat to society and children because of what they done in the past no matter how long ago it was and how minor it was and labeling them evil and incurable is the worst kind of hypocrisy ever.
The government wants us to be afraid; since they’ve gotten into the practice of running our lives (or ruining them), they need us (society) to feel a need for their continuous involvement. If you’re not afraid of SO’s, then let it be global warming. If it’s not global warming, let it be terrorist, etc. They need these fears in order to justify their involvement by making new laws and regulations – not to mention their manufacturing of “criminals”.
As to the people that buy into all the hype, they typically do not want to read more than a click-bait article. No time to research on their own or to discuss the topic with someone who may have better information than the click-bait they just read on Facebook. It’s very sad that there are so many who will rely on cheap entertainment, but they do exist. Then there are the ones who feel included on the potential victim lists. Of course, they feel the need to draw the attention to themselves by claiming to be “protecting” the children or any other reason they can muster as justification, but they love the limelight and their soap box.
You friend is, essentially, correct. Although there is a legitimate “chicken-and-egg” issue here, i.e. “did the media create the demand for salacious fantasies or do they merely service the public’s pre-existing appetite?”, there is no doubt in my mind that there is, indeed, a formidable appetite for drama for all things kids and sex. It’s titillating and exciting to the public and for all of the reasons one can imagine. It’s entertainment, pure and simple.