First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
I hope you have at least some awareness of this quote. If it hasn’t struck a nerve within you, then shame on you. It’s one of my favorite reflections on the dangers of apathy. I urge you to re-read it, only this time, substitute “Registered Sex Offender” for “Socialist”, “Trade Unionist”, or “Jew”. It’s not the same thing, you say.
I say to you, “Bullshit”.
Governments lead through fear and what better way to permeate fear upon its citizens than by concocting vilifying labels and then applying them to anyone they deem “dangerous” to society. The masses accept these labels as truths and look upon their branded citizens with loathing, disdain, and, yes, fear.
Why don’t you dare look beyond the label? There are now over 810,000 of us “Registered Sex Offenders” living in this country (a surprisingly large number, isn’t it?) and it continues to grow. Do you really think we’re all dangerous? Are you convinced that we are out to rape your young daughters or molest your young sons? First of all, in those cases that actually involved any victim, the vast majority involved victims over the age of 17. Then we can look at the substantial number of cases where there was NO VICTIM at all (I fall into this category). Not only has the Government felt a need to label me as a “Registered Sex Offender” but they also felt the need to identify me as a “Predator”. Mystifying, since even the presiding judge agreed that there wasn’t any victim.)
That leaves a minority of cases that involved victims under the age of 17. Most of these are either so-called “Romeo and Juliet” cases or children sexually assaulted NOT by strangers, but by someone known to the victim, a family member, a trusted friend of the family, teachers, priests or ministers. Most studies have found that over 97% of victims under the age of 17 were assaulted by someone known by them. In other words, children are much more likely to be abused and assaulted by someone NOT on the registry.
Granted, there are dangerous people out there and no doubt, some of them are on the Registry, but how can you tell them apart? Pure and simple…you can’t. So who is the Registry protecting? Absolutely nobody. It’s nothing but a false sense of security that is doing far more harm than good. We are not free to live where we choose. It is near impossible to find gainful employment. Those areas where we are restricted from walking or even driving through, continues to expand. More and more we are forced to abide under stricter regulations with a real threat of incarceration. All this despite the fact that those of us convicted of crimes that fall under the “sex offender” label have the lowest rate (by far) of recidivism for all felons.
At the rate the registry’s population is growing, it won’t be long until everyone knows someone directly affected by it. Will it be too late? It’s already too late for Christian Adamek. He was a 15-year-old high school student threatened to be prosecuted under Alabama’s sex offender laws. His crime? As a prank, he streaked across the field during his school’s football game. In the end, Christian avoided prosecution. How you ask? Quite simply, he found the only way out. He committed suicide.
There are thousands of similar stories created by the Registry. Perhaps not as drastic as Christian’s but countless stories of lives ruined. Too high of a price to pay for mistakes made. We served our sentences, paid our fines and yet we are condemned forever to a life of scorn under the Registry. The Supreme Court ruled that the Registry is not a form of punishment, but rather only a “regulation”. Tell that to Christian Adamek or his family.
How do we allow this to happen? Because, our apathy allows it to. We sit on our hands and trust our Government to do the right thing. Just as eight decades ago, the people of Germany trusted their leaders to do the right thing, but then it was too late.
Please, do not wait until it is too late. Do not sit and be silent. Do whatever you can to stand up and end the madness now.
An American Registered Citizen