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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.
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.
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