Friday, July 01, 2005

Another Reason Why Sex Offender Registries Are A Bad Idea

Sure, sex offender registries seem like a good idea. Were I to be a parent, I would certainly like to know when someone who committed a sex offense moved into my neighborhood. But when cases like this get caught up in the dragnet, you have to wonder about how wise it is to brand with a scarlet letter all those charged with a certain crime. Rape, I'll give you. Child porn, yeah. Unlawful restraint of a minor? That could be anything. Why should someone like this be hit with the same stigma as a rapist?

4 comments:

Mike said...

I have admittedly been torn about this issue. I can see arguments on both sides, mostly against the idea of registries but a few in favor.

Regardless, this particular case is ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

While I'm also torn on the issue of registries as a whole, this isn't really an argument against them; it's an argument against overly-broad definitions of a "sex offense".

Specifically, I can't understand the logic that restraint of a minor is a sex crime "'because of the proclivity of offenders who restrain children to also commit sex acts or other crimes against them.'"

It seems to follow the same fallacious "outlaw the correlary" logic that legislators love to apply to media. "Oh, peer-to-peer networks can be used to efficiently pirate songs? Well clearly it should also be a crime to operate a peer-to-peer network... and you say that circumventing the encryption of e-books could lead to people illegally redistributing those works? Then obviously it should be illegal to attempt to circumvent that encryption in the first place, even for research purposes, even if the company asked them to do it." (yes, in all fairness the SDMI competition nonsense never manifested itself as a real lawsuit against Felten, but the fact that the issue came up at all was a result of the shitwitted logic of the DMCA).

It's bad enough that the average person doesn't know the difference between correlation and causation... sadly, it appears our laws are being constructed and interpreted with the same error.

- pierce

Barzelay said...

I also don't think child porn should necessarily be included. I think there is a huge difference between production and consumption of child porn. Consumption is a victimless crime and probably functions as a safe outlet for millions of people that prevents them from going out and doing things that actually would hurt children.

Obviously the trouble is that consumption drives production, and then that potentially leads to children being exploited and endangered. This is a problem and so I don't support the legalization of child porn... but I also don't think those who merely consume child porn should be demonized. For one thing, they may in fact be consuming child porn because they know it is a way to prevent themselves from doing worse things, and that effort is to be respected.

I think attraction to criminally-aged people is a much, much more common thing than is generally supposed. Everyone kind of suspects it, and knows it, but when talking about the issue, no one dares admit the extent of it. How many guys would be attracted to a busty seventeen year-old? Almost all of them. How many of us have looked at pictures of girls (or guys) under eighteen without even knowing it? Probably most of us.

In some sense, I think that it is almost an ideal state of affairs here for child porn to be illegal, and hard to get, but no one actually get convicted for consuming it. The people who need to will seek it out and find it, but a comparatively small number of children will be exploited and photographed in order for that large number of seekers to get their fix.

Right now, I get the sense that the problem is mostly dumped on poor and developing countries, which export a lot of child porn that gets consumed in the rich nations. As the world globalizes more, this will no longer be acceptable to us. Consider what would happen if all those pictures were of young Americans. So right now, we're mostly ignoring the supply chain because it doesn't affect us, but that won't last. We need to confront the issue, and I don't we're mature enough to do so. Why are consumers of child porn so demonized?

Pingveno said...

The link to the news article is broken; the Sun Times only keeps their articles for a limited period of time. After that, there is an archive that requires paying.