Want to get involved? Advocate for registry reform!

By Michael M . . . My decision to become a full-time advocate for criminal justice and registry reform wasn’t an easy one. When I was arrested, the news media took whatever they could find online about me and ran with it, exercising complete disregard for its source or validity. At one point, they published the photos of over a dozen of my professional associates, some of whom I’d never even met, and asserted that they were all members of a sex cult. Anyone unfortunate enough to have been associated with me in business or socially was instantly branded as a probable co-conspirator, cult member, or sex-trafficker.

During my incarceration, my family and friends were targeted with harassment, vandalism, and death threats.   So, given that back-story, you can probably imagine their reaction when I announced that I was about to become a very public advocate for changing how the judicial system and society deal with sex crimes, victims, and offenders.

They freaked out.

But this was something I really needed to do. I’ve never been one to sit back and let life dictate to me how things ought to be.   My stay in federal prison left me desperately needing to feel in charge of my own destiny once again. Because of what I’ve been through, I feel I may be uniquely qualified to contribute to the national discussion in ways that I hope are insightful and based on real experiences rather than conjecture and ideology. The fact that I have extensive previous experience in writing, politics, and public relations is icing on the cake.

I needed to assure my family and friends that I would do everything possible to prevent them from becoming the “collateral damage” in a fight that none of them wanted to have any part of. I gave it a lot of thought, and this is the result of that contemplation.

Ten tips for sex offender registry advocates. I hope you find this useful.

(1)   It isn’t always about you. Despite appearances in the first few paragraphs of this article, I am trying very hard not to make my advocacy all about me. Sure, I truly believe I’ve been screwed by an unfair and uncaring system but, then again, so has pretty much everyone else who’s been touched by our labyrinthine and dysfunctional judicial system. I will let my experience inform and shape my advocacy and infuse my message with some level of credibility, but I won’t let it become a holy crusade to fix my particular problem. You shouldn’t either.

(2) Focus your message on your target market. Your objective shouldn’t be to preach to the converted, but to convince the undecided.   To do that, we must find common ground for discussion and potential agreement with people outside our comfort zone. Picking social media fights with people who are obstinately against you is a terrible waste of your valuable time and resources. That hour you spent in a flame-war with a pin-head who will never see things your way could have been better spent engaging with a handful of people who are willing to see things your way. Focus also means looking for the most efficient expenditures or your energy. Marching up and down the street with a protest sign isn’t very effective or safe. Writing a letter to your congressman? Better. Donating time or money to an organization working on your behalf? Great!

(3) Don’t allow yourself to become indifferent to evil. It’s incredibly easy to fall into the trap of “whataboutism” or relative morality. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn said, “It is in the nature of the human being to seek a justification for his actions.” Some folks unthinkingly justify themselves by accepting or minimizing the immoral or illegal actions of others. Others feel better about themselves if they can condemn and persecute someone whom they consider more despicable than they are.   The world is confusing and complicated enough without all the dissembling. Pointing out that rape is evil, even if you happen to be a sex offender, isn’t hypocrisy. It’s simply stating the truth.

(4) Never get suckered into being portrayed as someone who wants to abolish sex crimes altogether. No one wants that. Those laws exist for a darn good reason – they serve to protect society.   A person attempting to undermine your credibility will often use a “straw man argument” such as: “So, if you had your way, child sex abuse would be legal!” Our position should unequivocally be that sexual crime is indeed a serious problem, but it can’t be solved through mass incarceration, shaming, humiliation, banishment, unemployment, forced homelessness, and vigilantism.

(5) Don’t lower yourself to the same level of vitriol as the haters. Christ was reported to have said, “Converte gladium tuum in locum suum. Omnes enim, qui acceperint gladium, gladio peribunt.” (“Return your sword to its place, for all who will take up the sword, will die by the sword.”)   By using their logic, their tactics, you’re validating their position. If you want to put all false accusers on a registry to be humiliated and persecuted, you’re accepting the notion that registries actually accomplish something. If you think that people pressing for longer terms of incarceration should spend a year in some rat-hole jail cell to “learn what it’s like,” you’re just as bad as they are.

(6) Avoid no-win arguments. Getting into one with someone who is incapable or unwilling to use reason is a losing proposition for all concerned. A person who is spewing hatred and duplicity at you is never going to suddenly smack himself in the forehead and say, “Wow! You know what? You’re right!   I am a fatuous moron! Thanks for setting me straight!” except, perhaps, in your dreams. Far more likely is the possibility that the enraged nitwit will try to track you down and try to make your life miserable in some way. Block and move on to something productive and less emotionally draining.

(7) Keep your privileged information privileged. Abstain from publishing your home address, phone number, employer identification, or other critical information that could be used to identify, harass, or harm you or your family, friends and employer. It’s bad enough that, if you’re a registrant, the government is already publicly publishing this stuff about you, you shouldn’t be making matters even worse. Yes, people may be curious about you, but their curiosity doesn’t give them a right to know personal details that might put your family at risk. Even allies could someday become adversaries. Get used to asking, “Why do you want to know?”

(8) Victims of sexual assault absolutely deserve to be treated with respect. Many registrants were, themselves, victims of childhood sexual assault. A broken judicial system victimizes practically everyone it touches.   Registry reform is not an issue that requires polarization into opposing camps. We all want safer communities, less sexual abuse, better investigative tools, rehabilitated offenders, rational laws and sentencing, and greater respect for everyone’s constitutional rights. Focus on commonalities, not differences. The only way we can accomplish anything is to work together, not against one another.

(9) Don’t just talk the talk; Walk the walk. It’s easy to grouse about how bad things are, but what are you actually doing about the situation? If you think simply “liking” stuff on social media is going to bring about meaningful change in our society, you’re seriously deluding yourself. Change always involves risk, and it’s invariably painful. It’s up to you to decide how much risk is acceptable and where your pain tolerance lies.   If you haven’t volunteered your talents or donated even a small amount of cash to the cause, then you’re as much a part of the problem as the uninformed and apathetic public.

(10) Keep your advocacy focused on the betterment of society as a whole, not just a better world for former sex offenders. We aren’t advocating for constitutional rights for sex offenders. We are advocating for constitutional rights for everyone. Registrants are simply the canary in the coal mine, bringing to light the kinds of legislative and prosecutorial overreach that should be worrisome to anyone who believes in the constitution. We’re not looking for a free pass. We just want a system that is fair and does what it is supposed to do, which is keep our communities safer.

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Michael McKay

Michael McKay is NARSOL's Director of Marketing and a frequent contributor of articles to the NARSOL website. He is the published author of several non-fiction books, contributing editor & board member at LifeTimes Magazine, the executive editor of The Registry Report, and founding host of Registry Report Radio on BlogTalkRadio.

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    • #42983 Reply

      We all have certain qualities and I’m sure we all have days. Yes we can all hang out with this person or that person or get attached to this person of the opposite sex which may or may not be of legal age to consent but there is also that other “gray area” that we all need to explore with this sex offender issue.

      I know Mike’s talked about data and we have all talked about recidivism but who controls the human mind. Is it intrinsic views about these acts or are they perverting there own actions? If they were preventing their own actions they wouldn’t of given a crass opportunity such as this. If nature is going to take its course its going to take its course. Is this internet thing a cheap tactic of government, and yes government has done cheap things. See there is a principal involved in all of this. Just like the mexican’s wanting to come to the USA and all the other stuff which is in a bit of kayos today. Is a lot of this sex offender stuff a bit kayotic when most those on the registry are given plea bargains. Sure thats the data one needs. I would say there is more plea deals than actual ordeals that have their due processin a court of law. Where did they get such a plea deal idea when due process some thing of the past and they offer a plan A or a plan B to these things because they know that they are wrong in giving an opportunity such as this.

      I wonder about these ordeals. Is one’s conscience being invaded by these public moralist. Common man just doesn’t go around raping others or peeking in windows do they? Regardless of man view one still has morals, but to instill something like this via the internet encounter is so different from the basic “Tammy and the Doctor” dilemna. Sure physical rape is not good. Even those law enforcement that present these opportunities are quilty and its all questionable. Even if one wanted to appeal, that was given a plea deal I wonder how they stand up in this “cabbage patch law” that would even make lady liberty turn her back on America today. Does a person give up his or her rights by this uncanny ordeal that government induces with this plea deal thing.

      Someone explain that to me as hearing it from a police agents can tell you anything such as these internet encounters to make one believe or intimidate one. For what its worth have a nice forth of July.

    • #43038 Reply
      Jo Doe

      Found about this organization thru referral.
      Please forgive me for my ignorance and straight forward comments and questions. I find it very discouraging that NARSOL’s section to obtain volunteer information and “”sign-up” to volunteer in the cause for Sexual Laws Reform has a striking albeit, eerie similarities to work application nationwide. This discourages people, in my opinion, from getting involved. Too many question, which most people as you may already know, do not want to be answering yet again on yet another “application”. Emails should not be with an asterisk to fill at all (I get that instructions are provided if one does not have one).

      Emergency contact? (Are people applying for insurance of some sort?)

      “List any health or physical conditions we should know about. *” Why? Isn’t that too personal? What purpose does it serve?

      Education, Certifications & Work Experience I could understand if…getting or requesting a salary in exchange of work which, would not be volunteering would it?

      Employment status & details… Why? What purpose does it serves for someone to volunteer or to be able to? Is NARSOL after an “educated with degrees” group of volunteers? (which somehow makes them better at volunteering than non-educated or degreed folks)

      References…Some people don’t have or choose not to have “friends” or find themselves without friends or family because they have distanced themselves from them.

      Criminal History (honestly this was the most upsetting question to me) …other than NARSOL’s asking directly to protect the organization non-profit status if a person is currently and knowingly (keyword: knowingly) a fugitive or evading law enforcement, I do not see why a Criminal History details are being asked or necessary. Most are here for a…well, sexual offense conviction or someone that did.

      Again I ask forgiveness for my ignorance, but believe these are valid comments and questions.
      Thank you in advance for any logical response though I expect no reply due to the sheer volume of articles and comments on this site.

      • #43048 Reply
        Sandy Rozek
        Sandy Rozek

        You are certainly forgiven. We welcome questions and concerns, and you have asked some legitimate ones.

        I’ll start at the end. You will have noticed that the question about criminal history is not marked with an asterisk and is accompanied by a statement that a criminal history is not a disqualifier. Many of our volunteers are registrants.

        As for it and for all the others, the answer is essentially the same. The application is the only insight that we have into any person who is first volunteering for involvement with NARSOL. The totality of the information leads us to find the best fit for the person within the range of what he or she wants to do. We refer back to it when a person is being considered for a more responsible position.

        We have one volunteer who is virtually indispensable to us. He has a serious hearing impairment, and knowing that allows us to accommodate that situation in his duties and assignments. One’s educational level and previous and current employment are helpful in consideration for some of the positions. It is not uncommon for applicants to check an interest in most of the positions. We want to provide the fullest opportunity possible for a fulfilling volunteer experience. We would not want to place a person in a position where he has no interaction with our supporters or the public if he has experience in public relations and a degree in journalism.

        Again, thank you. Feel free to ask questions about NARSOL. We will always answer serious questions to the best of our ability.

    • #45003 Reply
      Timothy D.A.Lawver

      Once man decided it is appropriate behaviour to force another man subservient to machine, a computer’s database; man extinguished humanity itself in favor of machine. https://www.auburn.edu/~vestmon/robotics.html

      Even if we presume Asimovs’ rules were wrong in practical application, as this piece: Isaac Asimov’s Laws of robots are wrong. By Peter W. Singer, (https://www.brookings.edu/opinions/isaac-asimovs-laws-of-robotics-are-wrong/)
      we nevertheless diminish humanities’ value in favor of machine value.

      Mr.Singer makes his point by utilizing the example describing the use of military drones. He writes:
      “The most important reason why Asomovs’ laws are being applied yet is how robots are being used in the world. You don’t arm a Reaper drone with a Hellfire missile or put a machine gun on a MARRS (Modular Advanced Armed Robot System) not to cause humans to come to harm. That is the very point!”

      Yes! That indeed is precisely Asimovs’ point too in developing the laws in the first place. Singer’s positional piece does not diminish my point; rather he fortifies it.

      Asimovs’ laws prescribe a particular regulatory regime upon man’s uses of a machine. Asimov proceeded so not, “as a plot device to help advance his stories” but to serve as a warning mechanism. He did so out of his sense of morality. I have little doubt that our nation’s war mongers would even bother to consider the immorality of drone use. There is no money in it. From their perspective morality and mortality are mutually exclusive and thereby irrelevant. Given registrants relationship to state’s database, being subservient, I have even less doubt why such notions as Asimov puts forward are being completely ignored in our civil discourse.

      If NARSOL were going to alter their tact to a more effective course I suggest they consider making the machine, and unconscionable uses thereof, their focus. Indeed this a tact ALL HUMANS can empathise with. Man over machine.

    • #46626 Reply
      Timothy, the author

      It needs an exit in “why Asimov’s law aren’t being used” not “are”. Sorry😬

    • #48325 Reply

      After 11 years, I have become bitter towards our courts and legislators. I feel that too often their rulings and laws are personal opinions or ways to get votes. The registry reminds me of the Jews made to wear symbols so everyone knows who they were. The registry should be only for repeat offenders. The laws frequently remind me of Hitler. SO’s must live in certain places, rules on where they can go, jobs they can have, etc. Sex offenders have served their sentences (which are too harsh), and taken sex offender programs. They should have to right to return to society like anyone else coming out of prison. Few half way houses will take them in. They aren’t wanted in nursing homes. I have read of a sheriff who posts a sign when a sex offender moves in. I have read of cities creating little parks everywhere in town to keep sex offenders out of the area. Our laws punish them for the rest of their lives, they are denied liberty and justice. No one bothers to consider what kind of citizen they were till the crime. No one has done research on the recidivism rate for repeat behavior in the majority of ex-offenders. Our news sources feed the hate and fear for headlines. Our lawmakers make no effort to see whether the laws are just, and whether they even work. I feel that our children are capable of lying in order to rid themselves of a strict parent. They are a different breed thanks to allowing sex and murder with movies and tv. Most have lost innocence about life before they are teens. If a teen lies about their age they are guilty of leading others to believe them and if sex results and the other person had no way of knowing true age, they are not guilty of a sex crime. Our courts need to make more effort in finding the truth instead of believing a child without any proof of their allegation. How many laws do we have now because of one child molested and murdered? Some of the things these little victims are subjected to make me sick, but I don’t feel another law is needed for each one. Our government created all this hate and fear, now they need to research and inform the public that they find that many of the laws were made without thought and remove them. Our prosecutors must stop the practice of badgering the defendant and his support into pleading guilty to get a lighter sentence. I have spent hours on the computer reading professionals say sex offenders have a good record of not repeating. I have read of the ways our communities shut them out and persecute them. And I have read the evil a few do. I find much similarity in the sex offender treatment and how the holocaust started. It is wrong.

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