Mark Palermo

Sex Offender Registries Out of Control

He Was Our S.O.B.
Long Ago Saturday Nights at the Circle 9
The Dark Side of Vaccinations
Wine: Where Ignorance and Pretension Find their Loudest Voice
A 1976 Journey in Search of Self
The Machinery of Mass Dreams
The Outlaw Georgie Bush
Sex Offender Registries Out of Control
Extreme Makeover for Airheads
The Fault Lies not in the Stars, but in Ourselves
Reconsidering George Carlin
If You Think Liberals Are Jerks...
She Couldn't Do Her Chores
Remembering Viktor Frankl
One Day on the Farm-1977
A Fresh Look at Meat
How the Real World Works: A Lesson
30 Bucks for the Human Touch
1929 All Over Again
An Old Man's War, A Young Man's Fight
More Things in Heaven and Earth...
Our Dumbed-down Public Discourse
Bread, But No Roses
Earth's the Right Place for Love
Read This Before Enlisting
Poison Is Good for You: The Fluoridation Scam
Ron Paul:He Makes Too Much Sense
War Is a Racket
Brazil's National Orgasm Day
Calling all Liberals!
Why I Don't Get Flu Shots
What is Community?
Haverhillicus Homocrisicum
If You Wanna Be a Junkie, Why?
Do We Know His Family?
Scam: Youth Sports
A Subsidy for the Human Touch?
How Not to Be Boring
If the Bread and Roses Strike Were NOW
America's Problem with the Body
Columbus Day? or Renaissance Day?
Depleted Uranium Weapons
Mitt Romney: A Clintonian Republican
A Checklist for Conservatives
On Torture and Torturers
Pimp of the Nation
Romney is a Jerk
Hypocrisy and its Champions
The Dumb Society
The Men's Taverns of Yesteryear
On Dittoheads!
Let China Sleep
2004 McDebates
Animal Rights Page
US Wealth Distribution Chart
Public Grief, Private Lives


In America, its not hard to be a sex offender nowadays. By current legal definitions, you might be one yourself. Registerable sex offenses can include such behaviors as urinating in the woods while on the golf course. Having sex in a car. Streaking on campus. Young children playing doctor.  Kids as young as 12 pinching or slapping another kid on the butt...  Mooning.


American culture in the post-industrial age has the curious distinction of being one of the most sexually licentious and- at the same time- one of the most puritanical cultures on earth. Nowhere are these contradictions more evident than in the sex offender laws currently on the books, which amount to sex hysteria and witch hunting manifest through legislation. It’s what Wilhelm Reich once called the emotional plague. Stuff like this is not supposed to happen in America.


There is probably no act as loathsome and degenerate as the sexual abuse of children. Yet, in spite of increased public awareness and efforts by government and law enforcement to deal with the problem, it seems as if the incidence of sexual abuse continues unabated.  Its no wonder therefore, that you hear so many people say that we need to get tough with sex offenders.


We are indeed getting tougher. We are casting the net wider, and catching more people, but efforts designed to mitigate the problem are destroying many innocent lives. There are currently about 500,000 registered sex offenders in the United States, many of whom are dangerous predators who should be locked up or monitored for the rest of their lives. But some are not, and this should concern us as a society. In many cases, these are young people who don’t deserve go through the rest of their lives bearing the scarlet letter of shame as punishment for what, in some cases, amounts to nothing more than foolish or vulgar indiscretions. Here are a few examples from real life. I think you will agree that something is terribly wrong:



A 16-year-old boy had sex with girl who he thought was 15. It turned out she was 13. When the girls parents found out, they reported him to the police. The boy was arrested and charged with an aggravated and violent felony sex offense because of their age difference. There was neither coercion nor violence- the girl was perfectly willing- but the boy was convicted and designated a Level 3 Sex Offender the most serious level. For the rest of his life he must register as a sex offender, just as if he were a serial killer like John Wayne Gacy or rapist-cannibal, Jeffrey Dahmer. The law makes no distinction. And consider this: even terrorists, drug dealers, murderers, gangsters dont have to register after they have done their time.


It gets even weirder. In Texas a 4 year-old boy was suspended from school for inappropriate sexual activity when he hugged a teachers aide.  The principal sent a letter to the boys parents stating that the pre-schooler demonstrated "inappropriate physical behavior interpreted as sexual contact and/or sexual harassment."  While the boy will not have to register as a felony sex offender, it is not clear whether or not the incident will remain a part of his permanent record.


A 22-year-old man is likely to go to prison for child pornography. He admitted downloading from a file sharing site, but claimed that when he discovered some of the files contained child pornography, he immediately deleted them. About a year later, the FBI showed up at his family's home and now he faces 20 years in prison- more prison time than some first degree murderers get -for a one time download. The FBI puts up its own child porn hypertext links, which if clicked, can result in a surprise visit or even a raid, which gives rise to the question- whatever happened to the constitutional right against entrapment?  Moreover, the government or anybody can (remotely) insert a child porn file into your computer’s hard drive that, if it were ‘’discovered’’ by somebody with an axe to grind, could make your life a living hell.


Once you are a sex offender you will have to register for the rest of your life. You cant live with or be near kids, in some cases not even your own younger siblings.  Finding work will be a challenge. If you move, your new neighbors will be advised that a sex offender is living near them. They wont be happy about that, especially if they are parents. If you do jail time, you may be targeted for violence by other inmates.


So the next time somebody says that we have to get tough with sex offenders, you might ask just how they want to get tough. By incarcerating even more people? By redefining sex abuse even more rigidly? Instead of getting tough, we would do better to focus upon truly violent, psychopathic predators. There are certainly enough of them. Instead of a fear-based reactionary approach, we would do better with a pro-active, rational approach to effectively deal with this profoundly disturbing social problem.


April 2010