Justin du Coeur (jducoeur) wrote,
Justin du Coeur

The effects of offender registries

Grr -- hypocritical politics gets under my skin. Today's issue is sex-offender registries, and all the hand-wringing about the way that they can be used for vigilanteeism. In particular, the way that advocates try to make the point that this is a misuse of the system: of course, you're not supposed to use these things for such purposes.

Get real, people: the entire point of these things is vigilanteeism. They are deeply grounded in the assumption that no sex-crime offender can ever be rehabilitated, so they must be monitored forever, and all their neighbors should be kept nervous about them. No, they aren't designed to cause murder -- but they *are* basically designed to make these people social pariahs. The government's message is essentially, "These are Bad People, but our hands are tied so we can't do anything more about them, so it's up to You, The Public." Of course that's going to result in vigilanteeism. The only real surprise is that it's taken this long.

Far too many people scoff at civil liberties as ivory-tower matters, disconnected from the complexities of the real world. What they forget is that most of those liberties were hammered out over centuries of social struggle and debate, and they all have very good real-world reasons for existence. The oversimplification comes when they are cast away too casually, without properly understanding why that social contract is there in the first place...
Tags: politics

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