Let'(s) talk Sex Offenders!

A Xerox of a crudely hand-written note appeared in front of my door* the other night, along with the doors of every other house on my block. It reads:

ATENTION
SEX OFFENDER
##-A ##### ST.
1st FLOOR

(Spelling is as on the original.) Currently, all states are required to maintain a registry of sex offenders, which is in many cases publicly available (sometimes with some effort). So I can’t really fault anyone for wanting to notify the neighborhood that there’s a registered offender in the area (e.g. talk to your kids about it), but the way this was publicized is just plain brain-dead on a number of levels, starting with flagging the exact door to form the lynch mob at. Now, without sounding like more of a socioeconomist/racist/statistician than necessary**, this is a zip code where you don’t want people going around inciting lynch mobs, because they might be easy to incite. Medford’s registry only discloses the name and address of a "level 3" offender, i.e. deemed a high risk of offending again. At the time of this writing, it lists 45 "level two" offenders and one "level three" (not nearby).

I haven’t filed the paperwork to find out if there is actually a sex offender at ##-A (or this is someone propagating a rumor they heard somewhere, or pissed about a parking space, etc.), and of what severity. Although some Googling around reveals hundreds of web sites ready and waiting to scrape your state’s Registry and redisplay the output to you (along with a heaping helping of adverts), nothing I could find actually makes the effort to say what a sex offender actually is. Obviously, rape and molestation fit the bill, but I’d like to know the other ways a person might end up on this list. From what I can gather, these ways could include pissing in an alley after a long night at the pub (public exposure / exhibition), two consenting teenagers having sex before their 18th birthdays (even Clinton sex)***, or quite possibly telling one’s secretary she has a hot ass one time too many. Without this information, I (nor anyone else on the block) have no idea how seriously to take this. (Personally, I’m going to say "not very" until I see some proof of actual nastiness, the spectre of gross Coors Lite pee puddles notwithstanding.)

On a side note, I’m not entirely sure why these public registry laws apply specifically to sex criminals, and not, say, murderers, or violent (non-sexual) repeat abusers**** who have sent innocent people to the hospital. Hell, if there were a serial armed robber living next door, I’m sure there are people who might like to know that too…

* when I first saw it, it was folded up and only the SEX OFFENDER part was showing… for a brief moment my heart jumped into my throat, thinking maybe I’d not closed my bedroom window/blinds completely enough to some neighbor’s satisfaction during a night of sexy fun, and they were fixing to have some words over it.

** statisticians are the best type of racist.

*** or for that matter, flashing each other on a Webcam, literally hundreds of miles from actual physical contact. Also known as possession and distribution of child pornography. (As you all know, humans come with a Raging Hormones switch that gets switched on as part of an 18th birthday party ceremony.)

**** although, where you have a domestic abuser next door and the houses are close together, you probably know.

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