We Have A Choice

Every election cycle may see the creation of a legislative bill aimed directly at people on the sex offender registry. Regardless of what the bill is titled, there will always be an argument without supporting facts or evidence the bill “will keep children safe”. 

It has been only a month into a new political cycle. We are once again witnessing a national legislative agenda filled with residency restrictions, senior assisted living, exclusionary benefit schemes, parental rights, and other bills directly aimed at people on the sex offender registry. 

However, only a few short months ago, we heard manifestos of politicians exclaim criminal justice reforms and a return to compassion for human life. However, the same elected people that we count on to make that change and live up to their word are often the very people that alienate their agenda, returning to fear-laced propaganda and divorcing rational thought. 

If you were to take any of the current sex offense bills and remove the title “sex offender” and replace it with African-American, Jewish, Gay or Lesbian, or Latino, there would certainly be an outcry of discrimination. But that is what politicians do when creating law. The United States has been down that road before with Jim Crow-styled laws and loud politicized rhetoric that always seems to mention protections without any supporting facts or evidence. The truth is that historically once such laws if and when have been rescinded, there are years of apologies, compensation programs, and reeducation policies to heal all the decades of wrongdoing to ordinary human beings. 

It is all a more incredible lesson of what Nazi soldiers said after the war about witnessing atrocities and the rounding up of human beings they were told to treat as criminals. In their defense, Nazi soldiers would say, “I had no choice” or “it was my duty”. Nazi leaders would tout, “this is the protection of the fatherland”. Similar arguments are continually argued about the U.S. Civil War reconstruction era, the Hopewell Native American treaty, the Civil Rights Selma to Montgomery marches, to the Stonewall riots. However, the lesson learned moments are striking similarities that lawmakers and people haven’t learned much from history and continue to spew rhetoric to incite fear without data or evidence citing it is for America’s safety. 

As Americans, we ought to be striving for opportunities to educate and facilitate best practices towards confronting our worst fears by creating a fair policy for all. Instead, we continue to live in a world guided by Jim Crow laws with a McCarthy-styled methodology that everyone could be an offender or sympathizer. We shouldn’t want to live in a nation where fear drives us? 

Our leaders have a moral obligation to do the right thing for all people. While politicians lay claim to following a spiritual path, they too often stray, leaving behind moral thought and embracing corruption by saying, “I had no choice”. Thus history ultimately repeats itself, causing morality to be stuck in the mud. 

Perhaps the best medicine for our history is to become stewards of what is right and fair for all. But such action requires people to become active voices in pushing back. Never assume that others are doing the work for you. While people sat idly by and witnessed Nazi atrocities, civil, gay, or Muslim rights being egregiously violated, what are you doing to back up the voices that represent your concerns? Pick up the phone and call your legislative representative to voice your opposition to a bill. Invest in memberships to organizations that support your cause. Show up in person to your legislature, allowing your lawmakers to see advocacy no longer afraid. 

Dr. Judith Levine researched in 2016, African Americans account for 22 percent of publicly listed registered sex offenders nationally; they make up just 13 percent of the U.S. population. However, that number is staggeringly growing by the day. During this period of Black History Month, we ought to take a moment to reflect on how far we may have come but how far we have to go. We have a moral duty to get things right moving forward.

The Biggot In Us All

Many people may have a deep prejudice for anyone listed on a sex offender registry. The stigma of registrants went from a simple listing of constant identifiable threats to a list whereas anyone with an infraction of the word sex is a listable offense. That’s right! Offenses regardless of how significant or insignificant, have always been an integral and meshed part of the sex offender registry. It is no longer a listing of the habitual offender. Today the streakers, nudists, flashers, urinators, and sometimes masturbates in public settings are the midway point as the sex registry grows and expands.

There will always be heated debates as to what is a sex crime, which should be listed, and how that listing is to be used. But one thing is crystal clear; there is no easy solution as to what is the most credible threat of a sex offender these days thanks in part to the convoluted sex registry.

At some point, you or someone you may know has been convicted of something. Rather a traffic infraction or a serious crime, there has been some conviction that has been publically shared or encountered. However, thinking of that particular situation of, for instance, drunk driving, assault, or theft. Does that one black mark insist that the individual should be labeled for the rest of his/her life? Could you imagine a society where one drunk driving conviction would take away your driving privileges for the rest of your life? Better yet, what if there was a special license plate on a vehicle identifying the driver was convicted of a drunken driving encounter? How would you react or feel by that stigma? Better yet, does that conviction demonstrate a need that the punishment should continue for a lifetime? Well, welcome to how society has created the modern day sex offender registry. Of the one million US registrants, mostly all are first time convictions.

Mississippi is considering a DUi license plate. Ohio, Georgia and Minnesota issue DUI plates.


Additionally, most convictions are plea deals similar to those that receive plea deals for drunken driving or other criminal convictions. Before tossing out a narrative that drunk driving is far different than a sex offense; think again. Sex offender registries all across the nation have become a catalyst in adding arson, drug, homicide, and other crimes unrelated to sex crimes as a registerable public offense. Some states are currently in legislative processes to create a pet abuse registry. Sure, all these lists sound as if they serve a more significant cause of public safety. However, quite the opposite effect is taking place. These registries are not only the stigma of shaming efforts but are a threat towards liberty but also a threat to families all across this great nation.

When a state such as Alabama enacts a forced sterilization procedure for convicted sex offenders shouldn’t that alleviate the risk of ever offending again? Why not delist a potential offender from registry requirements if there is forced sterilization? Sounds like a reasonable trade-off? But Tennessee now wants to strip parental rights of registrants from their own families. Without sounding politically motivated, isn’t it the Republican Party and Libertarians that tout where the government should remain out of harm to families and protection of life? Don’t worry; the Democrats aren’t any better. They are the party of transparency, liberty, and human rights but are the first people demanding anyone “suspected” of a sex crime be put on a registry before they have a trial!? Isn’t sterilization or parental right terminations no different than abortion or a violation of the sanctity of family or the protection from divorce? I am sure evangelists will interject some rhetoric, but I warn any religion that “you can’t pick and choose the word of God.” Politics has no business managing families unless the family is in danger and has been assessed by a judge instead of a politician.

However, perhaps history has an eerie part in repeating itself through other means? Wasnt is the Nazi’s that created a list of Jewish people although they were not criminals? However, the Nazi’s deemed Jewish people criminals by enacting confusing and complicated policies. What about the Civil Rights movement? Didn’t policy and bigotry create many Jim Crow laws where African-Americans were quickly arrested for crimes that weren’t crimes? What about World War II and Japanese internment camps? What about the AIDS crisis of the 1980s when there was talk about an AIDS registry? LGBT rights where people were arrested for being gay/lesbian, What about the President of the United States that insisted on a Muslim registry? Do you see where this is going? We haven’t learned any lessons throughout history. We repeat history rebranding it as a clever marketing gimmick in the name of “public safety” and “maintaining higher morals.” There is no higher moral standard if the policy intends to do more harm than good.

Instead, there ought to be a point-blank suggestion pro-registry proponents are perhaps the torch bearers of bigotry. After all, it is demanding a listing of sex offenses without equal representation of other more serious criminal offenses that identify the cusp of prejudice. It is all about the generalization of sex and the disgust pretending to maintain Christian standards of becoming pro-registry citizens on the exterior, but in secret, these Christians prey on the internet to find their ill repute but when caught attempt to shame others claiming “they aren’t like the people on the registry!” It’s bigotry at its most elegant design and society dances around the registry as promoters of bigotry and its prejudicial issues. Prejudice is nothing more than hate filled with hate on top of hate. It doesn’t matter how you attempt to slice hate as a choice. It is still hating if you believe it should happen to others but not to you. If you want to fix something, then you find a solution to sustain help, with programs, and education. Instead, all we have over the past several decades is a hate list that keeps filling up; not because of sex crimes. Its because America wants to keep adding hate so that other people will hate too.