~ kusala
[ ku-sa-la: Pali term meaning wholesome, skillful, good, meritorious. ]
[ Action characterized by this quality (kusala-kamma) is bound to result (eventually) in happiness and a favorable outcome. ]


2006-04-19 - 2:00 p.m.

Big Brother: Ensuring Your Safety

This is the kind of news that disturbs me regarding the sex-offender mania that has been sweeping the country in recent years. (See full story here.)

The Maine Department of Public Safety restored its Web-based sex offender registry Monday, following the Easter-weekend slayings of two convicted sex offenders and the suicide of the alleged killer.

The site, which receives 200,000 visits per month, had been temporarily dismantled after the fatal shootings in Maine on Sunday morning of William Elliott, 24, and Joseph Gray, 57.

The suspected killer, Stephen A. Marshall, shot himself to death Sunday night in Boston after police confronted him on a bus. Marshall was a 20-year-old restaurant dishwasher from the Canadian town of North Sydney, on Nova Scotia's Cape Breton.

Authorities said Marshall had researched nearly three dozen names on Maine's electronic sex offender registry among them, Elliott's and Gray's. Maine public safety spokesman Stephen A. McCausland said Tuesday that investigators knew Marshall had visited the site because he typed his name in to receive more information, including addresses.

Marshall had a laptop computer with him when he shot himself, as well as two loaded handguns, Boston police said.
Elliott was 19 when he was convicted in 2002 of having sex with a girlfriend who was about to turn 16. Gray's name was added to the Maine website after he moved from Massachusetts, where he had been convicted of sexually assaulting a child under 14, Maine officials said. The two men lived in small towns about 25 miles apart.

Marshall had been visiting his father in Maine. The father, Ralph Marshall, told Maine officials that he did not believe his son was ever sexually molested.

So was this a vigilante psycho just fishing for nearby "perverts" to knock off while on Easter holiday visiting dad?

I don't know all the legal implications, and I'm fairly sure that the U.S. Supreme Court (or a Circuit Court) has ruled on the side of municipalities and states that offender websites and registries do not impose undue or unusual punishment on sex offenders who have ostensibly already served their time and made restitution for their crimes. However, the existence of offender websites that track and publicize someone's photo and address -- sometimes for perpetuity -- has always seemed to me like truly excessive punishment. Um, kind of like Hester Prynne's scarlet 'A', which seems like a hallmark of a positively benighted system, at least to me.

What really seems disturbing is the fact that the crime of one of these victims was having sex, when he was 19, with his girlfriend who was about to turn 16 (Maine's age of consent is 16). I realize that technically, that was a crime. However, I also realize that some psycho probably just randomly picked this guy off of a website and decided that he needed to die.

So some guy was killed for having sex with his girlfriend and then being branded with the Scarlet Letter of our time.

Viva Vigilantism!

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