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.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 17, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Trump & The Big Bad Bugs
Robert Hunziker
Trump Kills Science, Nature Strikes Back
John Grant
The Politics of Cruelty
Kenneth Surin
Calculated Buffoonery: Trump in the UK
Binoy Kampmark
Helsinki Theatrics: Trump Meets Putin
Patrick Bond
BRICS From Above, Seen Critically From Below
Jim Kavanagh
Fighting Fake Stories: The New Yorker, Israel and Obama
Daniel Falcone
Chomsky on the Trump NATO Ruse
W. T. Whitney
Oil Underground in Neuquén, Argentina – and a New US Military Base There
Doug Rawlings
Ken Burns’ “The Vietnam War” was Nominated for an Emmy, Does It Deserve It?
Rajan Menon
The United States of Inequality
Thomas Knapp
Have Mueller and Rosenstein Finally Gone Too Far?
Cesar Chelala
An Insatiable Salesman
Dean Baker
Truth, Trump and the Washington Post
Mel Gurtov
Human Rights Trumped
Binoy Kampmark
Putin’s Football Gambit: How the World Cup Paid Off
July 16, 2018
Sheldon Richman
Trump Turns to Gaza as Middle East Deal of the Century Collapses
Charles Pierson
Kirstjen Nielsen Just Wants to Protect You
Brett Wilkins
The Lydda Death March and the Israeli State of Denial
Patrick Cockburn
Trump Knows That the US Can Exercise More Power in a UK Weakened by Brexit
Robert Fisk
The Fisherman of Sarajevo Told Tales Past Wars and Wars to Come
Gary Leupp
When Did Russia Become an Adversary?
Uri Avnery
“Not Enough!”
Dave Lindorff
Undermining Trump-Putin Summit Means Promoting War
Manuel E. Yepe
World Trade War Has Begun
Binoy Kampmark
Trump Stomps Britain
Wim Laven
The Best Deals are the Deals that Develop Peace
Kary Love
Can We Learn from Heinrich Himmler’s Daughter? Should We?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Franklin Lamb, Requiescat in Pace
Weekend Edition
July 13, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Brian Cloughley
Lessons That Should Have Been Learned From NATO’s Destruction of Libya
Paul Street
Time to Stop Playing “Simon Says” with James Madison and Alexander Hamilton
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: In the Land of Formula and Honey
Aidan O'Brien
Ireland’s Intellectuals Bow to the Queen of Chaos 
Michael Collins
The Affirmative Action Silo
Andrew Levine
Tipping Points
Geoff Dutton
Fair and Balanced Opinion at the New York Times
Ajamu Baraka
Cultural and Ideological Struggle in the US: a Final Comment on Ocasio-Cortez
David Rosen
The New McCarthyism: Is the Electric Chair Next for the Left?
Ken Levy
The McConnell Rule: Nasty, Brutish, and Unconstitutional
George Wuerthner
The Awful Truth About the Hammonds
Robert Fisk
Will Those Killed by NATO 19 Years Ago in Serbia Ever Get Justice?
Robert Hunziker
Three Climatic Monsters with Asteroid Impact
Ramzy Baroud
Europe’s Iron Curtain: The Refugee Crisis is about to Worsen
Nick Pemberton
A Letter For Scarlett JoManDaughter
Marilyn Garson
Netanyahu’s War on Transcendence 
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail