Reply To: The sex offender registry: an invitation for vigilantism

Kurt Martin

Sex offender registries have both a legitimate purpose (warn women and parents of children that there’s a person with a history of sex crimes living or working nearby) and two unlawful purposes: 1: public shaming, as an ex-post-facto punishment that was not part of any court-ordered sentence, and 2: an invitation to private harassment, discrimination, and victimization by assault, terroristic threats, and other crimes.

The danger of exposing registrants to hate crimes by serving up their personal information on a platter for stalkers and vigilantes and domestic terrorists to use is obvious in light of how hated sex offenders are. People who normally have a reasoned and balanced view of criminal justice and punishment lose their freakin’ minds when the subject of sex offenders comes up. Bubba, who just moved in to that rental house down the street, is a former armed robber who just got released from probation and moved-out of a state halfway house? “Well, the State says he’s rehabilitated and has paid his debt to society, and they’re in a position to know, so who am I to argue?”

But if Bubba is a sex offender who exposed himself to a child, did some time in jail, went to counseling and therapy, and has completed his term of probation successfully, the men in the community say: “F’kin liberal judges let another pervert loose to prey on our children. I’ll bet Bubba is walking around our houses at night peeping in our windows looking for his next victim. No, I’ve never seen him, or anybody else, behaving that way, but it doesn’t matter. I know how it is with those people. That’s how they are. They never stop. Somebody ought to just put a couple bullets in his head and dump him in the swamp for the ‘gators to eat.”

THAT kind of thinking is the “new normal” for at least most conservative Americans, and possibly all Americans.
THAT’s why sex offender registries are especially dangerous to the registrants.
Normal American citizens don’t openly talk about murdering other kinds of ex-felons (or misdemeanor offenders for any other kind of crime). But they love to brag about how they’d like to see sex offenders tortured and killed.

Due process? Cruel and Unusual punishment? Nah, that stuff is for real American citizens. Sex offenders aren’t even human, much less Americans. They don’t deserve any of the protections in the Bill of Rights.