Immoral Majority: How NC Law Allows Sex Registrants to Vote; But Not Vote.

States have disenfranchised felons and now include sex offenders. The number of convicted in the US creates a concern for politicians that their vote that may be a vote against them. People are demanding reforms, but politicians fear losing power to those that have voting rights restored. But it gets more complicated as lawmakers create unnecessary hurdles to vote.

There has always been an assumption in America that voting is a right and privilege of its citizens. While the spirit of that argument may be meaningful, it’s not entirely accurate. The United States Constitution, when it was initially drafted and ratified, didn’t define who was eligible to vote. It left that decision up to states. On April 19, 1792, Kentucky was the first state to ban voting for anyone convicted of bribery, perjury, forgery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors. Soon after many states followed suit by prohibiting voting rights for those with conviction creating a term commonly known as “criminal disenfranchisement.” As the centuries passed and more Americans were becoming casualties of the prison system, the disenfranchised and advocates pushed to reform voting rights. Those affected by states refusing to allow voting of those convicted was gaining momentum in part by allowing a voice of the repressed. On June 24, 1974, The US Supreme Court ruled in the case Richardson v. Ramirez that disenfranchising convicted felons does not violate the Equal Protection Clause of the US Constitution. On April 16, 1985, the US Supreme Court ruled that criminal disenfranchisement Is legal in the case of Hunter v. Underwood.  The courts say voting standards are the responsibility of each state as long they do not discriminate against race, sex and those that reach the age of 18 on the day of voting. The state can rid of the homeless from voting if it chooses because they have no address to report. It is just how the law sometimes works without much sympathy for how it may impact the disenfranchised. 

Today justice reforms and voting rights have been hot topics of controversy delivered with undertones of mysterious voter fraud and gerrymandering redistricting planning that suggests disenfranchisement.  Election boards are often tasked to identify and disqualify those with felony criminal records. It is up to the voter to prove their rights have been restored if the state allows such a request. But what if voting rights are restored allowing those not confined to prisons or jails to vote freely? That would surely indicate the freedom to arrive on election day to cast your vote at your assigned polling place.  Absolutely not!  In North Carolina, all you have to be is on the sex offender registry, and the act of voting could mean spending five years in prison.  Why? Nearly all of the polling locations in North Carolina are at schools or places where registrants are prohibited. The 1000-foot rule ban for registrants applies to public or private schools. Registrants are forbidden to live, work, or loiter in these invisibly marked far-reaching areas protected by unforgiving and harsh penalties. The loosely written 300-foot law was added later preventing registrants anywhere a daycare operates (private home or business) and where minors “frequently congregate.”  A minor by state law is 18 years of age. Examples of restricted locations include, but not limited to libraries, arcades, amusement parks, recreation parks, swimming pools, museums, shopping malls, and fairs. The law also suggests that restaurants, businesses, and places of worship with play spaces or care services specifically intended or scheduled for minors are off limits and subject to immediate arrest. (G.S. 14-208.18) Basically, forget trying to eat at a McDonald’s without fear of someone reporting a sighting of a sex offender sitting at a table far from the play area. Therefore, don’t stop to eat at McDonald’s, then drive to the library to pick up the newest book available on your way to vote in the next election before treking home. That registrant perhaps just added 20 years of prison time for all those offenses.

However, there is a workaround allowing registrants access to voting in person. First, a registrant with voting privileges must contact his/her County Board of Elections. Usually, there is a form to request an absentee ballot. Once the form is submitted and approved a ballot will be mailed weeks before an election. It is that moment an individual can vote in the privacy of their own home. However, that person will need two required signatures from relatives or acquaintances as proof that they are who they claim to be. If registrants have no family support or available friends,  the voter must locate and pay for a Public Notary to officially stamp and certify the ballot. Lastly, the absentee voter, once again, has to pay for postage to mail the excessively large envelope back before the voting deadline. It is safe to say registrants must pay $6 each time they vote

If you are that rare and daring registrant that chooses to vote in person on election day, then you may test your luck. There is an unusual step, according to law, that loosely allows voting registrants to appear in person. First, the registrant must call the school where the voting takes place. Second, speak with the principal of the school and disclose the full name of the registered sex offender assigned to that location to vote. Third, if the principal agrees, then they must contact the County School Board of its decision to allow and escort at all times an offender on the property. Fourth, the School Board office contacts the Sheriff for guidance. Fifth, the offender is eligible to vote with police and school staff shooing families away until the registrant casts a ballot and leaves. But this tested method in practice never really works. Voters and principals don’t coordinate well with polling stations filled by long lines and the ill-timing of when registrants can arrive to vote.  Early voting has its limitations too. Many satellite polling stations are at community colleges, public libraries, and YMCA locations. All of these places are off-limits or have a policy that forbids registrants.

People often ask, “why not just sneak in and out to vote?” One, it is unlawful and a public record that a vote took place in person. Two, deputies and police often patrol school grounds as resource officers keeping the schools safe in addition to voter security during high voter turnout. If an officer recognizes a registrant, then they are subject to immediate arrest for being on or near school property.  A person can exclaim the principle has been notified in advance, and no children are present. It doesn’t matter because registry compliance laws are all felonies. There are limited protections within the law that allowing voting rights to registrants. However, officers typically say, “tell it to a judge.” It will always be the discretion of an officer should they choose to arrest or not. Cases in North Carolina Sex Offender Arrests for compliance violations usually say somewhere in police reports “loitering around an area minors frequent.” If minors are not present, it doesn’t matter if an arrested individual is sitting in jail only to have the case dismissed. The arrest and waste of taxpayer time, resources, in addition to crafting a charge that isn’t true but indirect significantly shakes the core of “letter and spirit of the law” of those affected. The state is the body of government that decided to use schools for polling locations but perhaps deliberately did so to keep a sex offender from voting? Nearly twenty-thousand registrants are intimidated, discouraged, and effectively banishes from reasonably accessible voting, educational, public, and right to purchase property in North Carolina. 

When California introduced its version of a state sex offender registration program, its primary target was to criminalize and shame homosexuality. By the mid-’80s, the registry grew to other states targeting the worst possible repeat sex offenders. It also somewhat targeted homosexuals entangled in sexual acts with boys or consensual adult sex in public restrooms. If caught police would put into action a shaming campaign to large print media agencies and publicly mentioning them by name in community awareness meetings. Officers would describe in graph detail laced with description what transpired at the scene facilitating a sensation for others to change the story to uncontrollable measures. During that period there were no restrictions, no websites, no laws interfering with registrants. Instead, it was a carefully coordinated effort to identify and isolate a group found undesirable and highly promiscuous – as portrayed by police. Naturally, the stories police, politicians, and in the name of religion were a continual targets to purge gay life.

A couple of years later California fundamentalists and a powerful lobby group known as the Moral Majority began a campaign to insert a highly charged conservative agenda to change what were perceived by the group to be threats to society. Ronald Reagan was not elected President just yet.  The mission of the Moral Majority was to mobilize a conservative political force for judgeships, Congress, and ultimately making Reagan the 40th President of the United States. It succeeded to do just that. It’s behind the scenes mission was to influence its agenda to the presidency, media, politics, businesses, and grass-roots communities.  A part of that agenda was to mobilize others to support traditional family values, condemning homosexuality and the responsibility for the AIDS crisis, and sexual perversion.  As the AIDS epidemic became a nightly news controversy, the Moral Majority would take to the airwaves, congregations, and radio stations across America suggesting that those with HIV or AIDS be listed on a registry. Public panic directed fear of homosexuals because they may be infected with HIV. There were awful slurs uttered that being gay also meant they are pedophile tendencies and have an agenda to infect children. It’s not uncommon to hear today that gay men are attracted to boys. It is an irrational charge that not only perpetuates lies and innuendo but extends to other groups, mainly registered offenders.  The footprint of the now-defunct Moral Majority continues to linger with fundamentalist rhetoric. It continues to lay claim that “we must tighten and purge any forms of deviant sexual behaviors because there is no cure for this sickness.” As the fundamentalist’s voices become louder, so will the influence and persuasive theme that “if you say it enough, people will believe it.

Today the registry is far incredibly beyond the visions of the Jacob Wetterling Act of 1994, Megan’s Law of 1996 and the Adam Walsh Act of 2006.  The registry has become a state’s rights shaming tool adding anything in any way it sees fit. The registry has evolved into this societal human data dumpster where anyone can be listed for life and unable to do anything to stop it. Three major federal acts working in concert with individual states, municipal, and town ordinance makes the registry a conundrum nearly impossible to absolve in our lifetime. Law enforcement, politicians, and fundamentalists sell and absorb it to distribute to the masses. It is when politicians create laws that restrict any form of a consistent voice is where the war on sex offender reform must begin. That discussion must include false labels, hysteria, sensationalism, lack of facts, and it’s compulsive-obsessive must-have access without any idea what to do with the information provided. At some point, the registry will become so massive that it will not only surpass jail and prison populations but will trickle into travel, insurance, health, and financial agencies as forms of approval creating black market services that will allow other criminal networks to flourish.

When North Carolina passed its comprehensive child congregation law, it made it impossible for registrants to visit his/her elected official in the state legislature. Because school groups, children, and other youth programs take place on legislative property, it disallows registrants being on the property. If representatives from NARSOL were to request a city demonstration permit to protest at the N.C. Legislative Building, it perhaps would be approved. However, all of the participants on the registry would be arrested. Merely engaging in legal, civic, and public space creates unreasonable and unconstitutional methods. If the state proceeds with plans to kick registrants off the internet, then it will add to the impossibilities to email an elected official to protest current or future legislation. The right to demonstrate, right to use libraries, pools, public parks, churches, access to voting, loitering, damaging mischaracterizations, banning registrants from use of the internet to contact his/her elected officials are “nails in the coffin.” The intent of the registry today is to uplift disenfranchisement to an insurmountable level where reforms and rehabilitation will never be allowed to have a voice. 

Assessing LGBT issues in contrast to registered sex offenders is essential. While many may disagree with similarities, the laws that once restricted and intruded upon gay life, suspicion, and rumor are strikingly similar to that of registrants. Gays were fired from jobs for suspecting to be gay. Accesses to lawmakers was always a closed door to gay advocates. Pools didn’t want gay people fearing that AIDS would infect the water. Street gangs would beat up gays on the way to polling to intimidate and frighten. Churches didn’t want gays and if they did insist, they attend conversion therapy (similar to sex offender treatment). Gays were often subject to arrests just for being gay. Thanks to the Stonewall Riots in New York, the intimidation suddenly stopped. I’m not suggesting registrants’ riot or commit acts of violence. But all of these acts didn’t require being on a registry. LGBT citizens have been erroneously mislabeled, arrested for protesting, arrested for consensual actions, wrongly accused of misconduct, and the list is nearly identical for registrants.  What the gay community did to change that was come together and unify, much like NARSOL and other organizations. It is safe to say that the message often isn’t unified or in agreement. That is completely okay.  But it is ultimately crucial that a message from all walks of life, backgrounds, genders, religious affiliation, identity, political influencers, age, race, and disabilities become a louder and amplified voice for how legislation, restrictions, and promotion of the culture of fear standard hurt families, commerce and a create a pathway towards socialism. Being told where to live, where to work, what’s off limits, no accesses to God or religion, told where and when to shop, to ask permission to attend school, standing in food bank lines to get a loaf of bread and report to the police periodically when requested. It has the smell of communism but branded as socialism.  

This very moment, registrants are the newly rebranded “Immoral Majority“. Its mission to engage with media such as radio, print, or television. Contact politicians, support businesses that hire registrants or formerly incarcerated, actively vote, and speak about how family values have been disruptive and an impact to self and others because of the registry. Be persistent, professional, to the point, thankful for the opportunity to be heard, and unafraid of constant rejection. Lastly, pray for self and others. The message to lawmakers is that “voting rights of a million registrants and growing aren’t disenfranchised anymore.”  As American citizens, there must be equal access under the law and spirit of independence without fearing our neighbor. The silence attempt by legislation is clearly an attack on democracy, freedom, and justice.  The registry is an un-American tactical product disguised as an act of safety but delivered as a Ponzi scheme. Registrants may be the swing vote to turn the next election? 

Unique Double Entendre

Sometimes in life, we may experience an event or circumstance where we are accused of something that didn’t happen, or we were not responsible for but cannot seem to shrug the allegation. All too many times we hastily read a splash headline where someone is charged with something and naturally our perception and sensation rush to judge just because there is something reportable. Either way we are either consumed by noise or the noise consumes us.

What we fail to realize is that partaking the sensationalistic and judgemental journey is no different than a sidelined lynch mob forming judge, jury, and executioner well before any established facts are assimilated. Regardless of narrative we either enjoy watching power being used in hopes for good or are overpowered in an attempt to recover the good from within ourselves. Often when we discover that truths are twisted or false allegations are discovered an immediate reaction is to become angry for a swift moment at the accusor but briefly feel remorse for the accused adding “I bet he/she learned a lesson.” But we as the observers learned absollytely nothing only to put unnecceary energy into the next upcoming news allegation.

The recent highlighting of sexual assault or sexual allegations has become so weaponized that despite all the warnings from high profiled cases as the Duke Lacrosse scandal didn’t teach or instill any valuable lessons learned that people, in fact, lie or misrepresent circumstances. Today, truth, reality, evidence, and motive have been significantly replaced by dishonesty, fabrication, concealment, and agenda. Why would people lie is perhaps that first plausible argument? A supporting fact is selling and technique. A salesperson may bend, adulterate, or skew the truth about something to convince and persuade others to rid of a problem or product. After all, corporatism is an integral part of our American DNA. While ethos, value or other attributes may be instilled upon all of us, we do have a nasty habit of cutting ethical corners where lies, deception, and opportunity become opportune weapons tucked away in our arsenal despite how insignificant it may appear to self or others. A common mantra for some is “just don’t get caught!” That alone can be a double edged sword or a unique double entendre.

A majority of individuals on sex offender registries or incarcerated are there because of plea deals created and expedited by a legal system with its own politicized agenda. This is not to imply that every person on the registry or incarcerated is innocent. What it does suggest is based on two stages. The first is the state possibly reduced a criminal charge for convenience to a judicial system without actually reflecting the merits of the crime. If it is convenience to the legal system then why not allow prayer for judgements as an alternative? Perhaps a reason is the legal system doesn’t make money from dismissals or set aside cases. Second, most sexually based offender crimes are either technologically related or he said-she said disagreement with a developmental phase towards the creation of violative standards. What that means, is interpretation instead of facts are introduced with the baggage of emotion, tissues of lies, and a hunch of what occurred. Examples could be where people arrested for possession of child pornography are deemed equal or similar to those that create and promote it. It brings to mind drug dealers versus drug users. Both are treated in the eyes of justice as criminals yet we rarely witness the prosecution or pursuit of drug lords or manufacturers. Why? Because of our clinging to the corporatism model that we disrupt one business opportunity to shift towards a newer and vastly improved business model much harder to pursue and capture. Therefore, law enforcement will continue to seek the little man because it creates an opportunity to rush judgment to hopefully develop a credible case and argument. 

Ten Million Registrants?

Recently the Attorney General for the State of Michigan, Dana Nessel presented an argument to the federal court that the sex offender registry is so burdensome and fail to distinguish between dangerous offenders and those who are not a threat to the community. However, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals previously ruled, that Michigan’s registry is punishment and cannot be applied retroactively.

Before we pop the Champaign corks and begin to celebrate that those affected by the registry and its advocates observe various rulings only to have them become ignored or administratively adjusted. It is somewhat similar to when we hear that a person is “free to go”. But there seems to be paperwork or other administrative details before the individual is actually free. We do live in a nation where statue mandates “fast and speedy trail” but there is no clear rule or policy to mandate the efficiency and workflow of civil procedures.

While I am exited about the Michigan case and its merit lets not forget that a federal court made a previous ruling that hasnt propelled the required traction for immedete enforcement. If the Attorney General wants to gain trust to those affected by the sex registry then the next step of good faith is to stop enforcing a requirement that Michigan registrants to pay an annual sex offender fee. While this sounds like an extreme format towards legislative battles between executive and legislative branches of government, the validation lies with how sincere Dana Nessel intends to pursue how to fix the registry or abolish it, should that be a future project? Perhaps Dana should reach out to current registrants and families affected by the registry for a comprehensive evalution of options?

Let’s face facts that a sex registry is an entertainment tool in the eyes of the general public than an educational tool. To date, there are at least a million registrants. But the bigger picture is undisclosed of those connected to the sex registry. There are parents, grandparents, siblings spouses, and children connected to the daily lives of registered sex offenders. This implies that the sex registry could potentially affect not just one million registrants, but over five to ten million citizens. If registrants are not allowed to be a part of a child’s developmental and parental programs, then that facilitates others such as grandparents, siblings, or friends to remedy that a child has equal access to programs. But if one parent is excluded because of public policy or law then the registry itself is an accomplice portion that devides families, communities, and facilitates potential homelessness issues for Americans. Perhaps this is why Attorney Generals are quickly discovering the sex registry has outgrown its usefulness and should be dissolved.

I am confident that the sex registry will eventually come to an end. The only people clinging on to the notion of registry requirements are those that seek enterprising methods to create a fear-based business model usually siding with law enforcement programs instead of social community programming. These models are facilitated without any facts, any data, any proof, or any rational support that lists work. Instead, there is a culture laced hobgoblin atmosphere that communities are laced with sexual predators creating unnecessary anxieties. Groups of law enforcement unions additionally lay claim to the high effective rate of registry requirements are directly power grabbing. If the registry is so successful as a deterrent, then why has the registry more than tripled in the decade? The answer is somewhat simplified that children are the newest growing members to the registry. With lifetime commitments naturally, the registry will continue to manifest and absorb more people discarding that the registry is, in fact, has deterrent features.

Again, it is essential to remain optimistic that leaders like Dana Nessel do bring value to the sex offender registry argument. However, as the states leading law enforcement agent, she has much more to prove by actions instead of appearing in a courtroom. Registrants and families are watching to witness the outcomes.

Age of Consent and Homosexuality

Today I was listening to a rather heated conversation about alt-right speaker Milo Yiannopoulos. Apparently, he was alleged to have spoken with an online broadcast about his sexual relationships at an early age with older men. The conversation went over the top, so to speak, and became a cross over the line where Yiannopoulos eludes to himself and his priest engaged in a sort of sexual circumstance when he was a pre-teen. Naturally, this is a profoundly disturbing revelation, but Milo does raise an interesting perspective and disturbing information about consent in America, the definition of classical pedophilia, and how homosexuality is labeled.

 

I am in no way defending pedophilia or Milo Yiannopoulos’s extreme rhetoric. However, he began this taboo conversation with some nearly correct facts. He was correct that pedophilia is listed for a child that is under the age of thirteen years old. The age of consent in America significantly differs state to state and is widely misunderstood. But most conservative Americans tend to create this false impression that homosexuality is linked to pedophilia. Because of what Yiannopoulos said I am confident that the religious right will once again begin to label the LGBT community as a precursor to pedophilia. Milo said, “if I were 15 and experimented with another boy a year older than I then we are freaks. But when a straight couple the same age does the same thing they are coming of age.”  He is correct there is a division of standards between the straight and homosexual community.

 

Let’s face facts. Milo knows how to cleverly troll the internet and media to begin a conversation – even if it’s the wrong way to start a discussion. But I chose to listen beyond the filth and shock to the story of many talking points of the LGBT community. Honestly, there is a divide in our nation with the LGBT age of consent standards. For example, in New Hampshire, West Virginia, and many other states the age of consent between a straight couple is 16 years of age. But the law in these states and others makes it illegal for a gay or lesbian couple to consent until age 18. North Carolina and other states have similar laws. Naturally, there will be either LGBT members remain in the closet until they are adults or the sex offender registry will continue to demonstrate a disproportionate amount of LGBT members because of outdated laws. So basically to combat the age of consent law many states raised the legal consent age to 18 making the slightest form of sexual contact a felonious crime. Maybe we can learn a lesson from our neighbors in France, United Kingdom and Germany where the age of consent is 16 regardless of the other individual’s age. But of course, they teach sex ed in schools where we are nearly forbidden to do so. Instead, you read your taboo sex discussions on internet boards. So much for America setting the standard.

 

Homosexuality in America will continue to become labeled with misinformation and slander as long as constructive sexual discussions remain hidden from view. Dr. Ruth was once a household name on television. She discussed many sexual behaviors but eventually was taken off the air mainly in part by conservatives that felt her educational comments and suggestions shouldn’t be heard during peak broadcast hours. Ruth was eventually moved to cable during the late 1990’s losing the critical audience she should have been talking to all along. I fear that Milo’s comments will hurt the gay & lesbian communities. Some people only hear what they want to hear and that may be “a gay man talked about his pedophilia experience” or something out of context but similar. That trolling moment is what scares me and how it can become similar to the debunked Hillary Clinton Pizzagate conspiracy.

Word Extremism

In recent weeks we have heard about “fake news” or “alternative facts.” Let’s be honest with ourselves. Blown out of proportion headlines and misleading information has dominated our televisions, mailboxes, homes, and workplace for decades. While all cameras and microphones turn towards Donald Trump, perhaps we should reflect a moment and ask ourselves if we have ever had a Trump moment in our lives.

When I read headlines of “serial spree” or “massive demonstrations” or other colorful and perhaps misleading rhetoric, then I sometimes think that sort of talk is similar to what Trump says on a daily basis. People tend to exaggerate the facts and replace them with almost folklore comment to raise the quality or excitement level. Another problem is that our news and daily conversation does not seem balanced or centered. In fact, our language is emotional in nature to persuade our listeners. It is similar to those that claim “I am swamped with work overflowing on my desk” when in fact the desk is clean but the data to be entered in the computer is backlogged a bit.

Another issue is how we take our daily language as if we are skilled attorneys. When I hear sexual assault, breaking and entering, or violent activity then I quickly assume that the crime is a horrible event. However, if you drill down and take a closer look you may be amazed to learn that the sexual assault was a slap on the butt and the breaking and entering was someone opened what was intended to be a locked door. There is nothing at all violent, but we are presented information to believe it was. Another reason our court system is clogged with minor situations deemed as crimes but in hopes that the accused will take a plea deal. Again, this is where fake news becomes lubricated.

In essence, we are all a bit like Trump. We use words we do not mean to get our point across; perhaps not as excessive as he does. However, as a capitalistic society, we do attempt to push our agenda ahead of others with sometimes false data and misleading words. Our sets of beliefs are under scrutiny today because we are not using the correct words, timeline, and events to tell an accurate story. We love pizzazz and entertainment value. After all, that is Trump. What I’m afraid of is that we will eventually become a little like Trump if we fail to become a bit more realistic and tone down the word extremism.

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