FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

When Will This Witch-hunt be Slowed?

The sex offender hysteria in America has now been widely exposed for what it is – a panic and a witchhunt. Yet it continues and grows every day, with politicians of all stripes and parties still climbing on the scapegoating bandwagon.

This great American injustice involves the public shaming of at least 600,000 Americans, most of whom are non-violent offenders, and about 50,000 of whom are juveniles.  The Human Rights Watch Report issued last fall, No Easy Answers, by Sarah Tofte, described the U.S. sex offender registry and related laws as vindictive, punitive and ineffective.  Debbie Nathan in CounterPunch, Dorothy Rabinowitz in the Wall Street Journal, and a whole range of journalists writing in major newspapers as well as alternative and online media, have clearly shown the damage done by wrong-headed sex offender registries in every state, including online public humiliation and ridiculous residency restrictions in most states, and by life-time civil commitment laws in many states.  As a Supreme Court Justice in Maine pointed out, these laws have taken America back to the days of pillories and stocks in colonial Salem, undermining some of the most basic American Constitutional protections, including the right to habeas corpus and the restriction against ex post facto laws.

Perhaps worst of all, it is clear that such laws do not protect children or anyone from sexual abuse. Everyone, including children, is harmed by these repressive laws that erode basic U.S. civil liberties and human rights.

It has been eight months since we announced in CounterPunch a major effort  to campaign for the reform of these unjust laws, RSOL – reformsexoffenderlaws.org. That effort has grown from an initial thirty signatories to more than 250 today.

It is important to show the breadth of this effort: in addition to prominent Americans like Howard Zinn and Dr. Richard Pillard and others on the original list, more and more important signatories have been added.  These include Dr. Jerome Miller of the National Center for Alternative Institutions; internationally acclaimed health educator David Werner; anti-war activists Sid and Louise Peck; native American leader, David ¨Tally¨ Plume; psychiatry professor, Dr. Martin Kafka; sex offender treatment specialists Geoffrey Prentky, Phillip Taylor, Roy A. Dudley and Ronald Feintech; film-maker David Kennerly; gay activist and librarian Daniel Tsang and gay journalist Doug Ireland; physicians Dr. Clyde Hapgood, Jr., and Dr. Andrew S. Nicholson; sexual and gender studies academics Tom Waugh and Martha Vicinus; social workers Donna DiMarino, David Collesano and Roswitha Winsor; prominent lawyers Michael Steven Smith, Kathy Manley, Debra Beard-Baden, John Swomley, William T. Habern, Michelle Fox, Ernest Winsor, Helen Johnson, Ivan Liborio, Learni Levy  and Rebecca Young; nurses & health educators Joellen W. Hawkins, Nancy Stanton, Linda Broadley, Donna Johnson and Madeline Kockler; pastors and other spiritual leaders including Dr. Aaron Peters, Rev. Dr. C. David Hess, Rev. Joseph Daily, Rev. Larry Burton and Rev. Marian Tetor;  retired policeman, Tom Poxson; an array of university and other educators including Dr. David Pratt, Dr. Geoffrey D. Birky, Dr. Jack Tobin, and Dr. John V. Walsh; and other writers including Dr. Susan Weissman, Frederick Baumgarten, Alyce Wenger, Brian Rothery, Thomas W. Robinson, Roger Wonderly and David Peterson.  Additionally, scores of  Americans in various walks of life from group home counsellors and bakers to secretaries and construction workers, have braved public scorn to sign the statement

RSOL now has supporters in virtually every state. RSOL and sex offender rights groups (SoClear, SOSEN, Voicesofthegulag and others) have fostered a wide range of actions around the country, including dramatic protests by sex offenders held for life at the Coalinga State Hospital in California, a rally at the statehouse in Columbus, Ohio, and lobby efforts in Massachusetts, New Hampsire, Texas and Virginia.  In one case, a small victory was won when RSOL participants helped block absurd and cruel residency requirements for sex offenders in Nashua, New Hampshire.

Here and there, state courts have thrown up red flags of warning.  Indiana and Ohio courts have warned that retroactive re-classification of sex offenders violates the ex post facto laws.  Georgia`s Supreme Court finally demanded the release of a black teenager already jailed for years for consensual sex with another teen – calling his sentence cruel and unusual punishment.

Yet the sex offender panic continues to grow, not recede. The Federal courts mostly stoke the bonfires.  The U.S. Supreme Court will decide this spring the fate of a man on death row in Louisiana in a non-lethal child sex case, and most observers fear a reversal of the 1970s decision that capital punishment can only be used for certain heinous murders. Ever more repressive laws are added in state after state.  Some states have  announced that sex offenders of all levels will not be allowed to travel. Residency restrictions just get more and more impossible and absurd – Florida is no longer unique in forcing its sex offenders to ¨live under a bridge.¨  Politicians of every stripe try to outdo one another in venom sex offenders.

RSOL receives regularly emails from people who agree that these laws are wrong, but who are scared to death to be associated with any movement to oppose them.

Writing recently in the online version of the newspaper, the Oregonian, Merilee Karr said, ¨America has a long tradition of witchhunts.  The witchhunters will always be well-meaning, like the FBI agent running down grandfathers, pastors and teachers.  Reasonable people will always unite to stop the witchhunts.  But never, in American history, until after great damage is done.  How long will we wait this time?”

We at RSOL appeal to decent Americans – especially to the readers of CounterPunch –  DO SOMETHING! Don`t let the suicides and vigilante actions continue without protest. Don´t let the damage just keep piling up. Join us!  Start a movement for reform in your community, lobby your legislators and Federal Congresspersons to amend or repeal these unjust laws.  Dare to speak out for civil liberties and against the witchhunt.   For starters, visit our website and sign our statement, and urge others to do so. www.reformsexoffenderlaws.org. Don´t let these  crimes against liberty and the rights of all people, including children,  go unopposed!

Alex Marbury and Paul Shannon (The writers are organizers and contact persons for RSOL.  Paul Shannon  is a well known peace educator in New England.  You may contact Alex at alexm60@fastmail.fm and Paul at pshannon@afsc.org or call 617-497-5273.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 24, 2018
Carl Boggs
Russia and the War Party
William A. Cohn
Carnage Unleashed: the Pentagon and the AUMF
Nathan Kalman-Lamb
The Racist Culture of Canadian Hockey
María Julia Bertomeu
On Angers, Disgusts and Nauseas
Nick Pemberton
How To Buy A Seat In Congress 101
Ron Jacobs
Resisting the Military-Now More Than Ever
Sonali Kolhatkar
The Left, Syria and Fake News
Manuel E. Yepe
The Confirmation of Democracy in Cuba
Peter Montgomery
Christian Nationalism: Good for Politicians, Bad for America and the World
Ted Rall
Bad Drones
Jill Richardson
The Latest Attack on Food Stamps
Andrew Stewart
What Kind of Unionism is This?
Ellen Brown
Fox in the Hen House: Why Interest Rates Are Rising
April 23, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
In Middle East Wars It Pays to be Skeptical
Thomas Knapp
Just When You Thought “Russiagate” Couldn’t Get Any Sillier …
Gregory Barrett
The Moral Mask
Robert Hunziker
Chemical Madness!
David Swanson
Senator Tim Kaine’s Brief Run-In With the Law
Dave Lindorff
Starbucks Has a Racism Problem
Uri Avnery
The Great Day
Nyla Ali Khan
Girls Reduced to Being Repositories of Communal and Religious Identities in Kashmir
Ted Rall
Stop Letting Trump Distract You From Your Wants and Needs
Steve Klinger
The Cautionary Tale of Donald J. Trump
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
Conflict Over the Future of the Planet
Cesar Chelala
Gideon Levy: A Voice of Sanity from Israel
Weekend Edition
April 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Ruling Class Operatives Say the Darndest Things: On Devils Known and Not
Conn Hallinan
The Great Game Comes to Syria
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Mother of War
Andrew Levine
“How Come?” Questions
Doug Noble
A Tale of Two Atrocities: Douma and Gaza
Kenneth Surin
The Blight of Ukania
Howard Lisnoff
How James Comey Became the Strange New Hero of the Liberals
William Blum
Anti-Empire Report: Unseen Persons
Lawrence Davidson
Missiles Over Damascus
Patrick Cockburn
The Plight of the Yazidi of Afrin
Pete Dolack
Fooled Again? Trump Trade Policy Elevates Corporate Power
Stan Cox
For Climate Mobilization, Look to 1960s Vietnam Before Turning to 1940s America
William Hawes
Global Weirding
Dan Glazebrook
World War is Still in the Cards
Nick Pemberton
In Defense of Cardi B: Beyond Bourgeois PC Culture
Ishmael Reed
Hollywood’s Last Days?
Peter Certo
There Was Nothing Humanitarian About Our Strikes on Syria
Dean Baker
China’s “Currency Devaluation Game”
Ann Garrison
Why Don’t We All Vote to Commit International Crimes?
LEJ Rachell
The Baddest Black Power Artist You Never Heard Of
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail