Reader "Baldur" sends along this story in Counterpunch, "Scapegoats and Shunning," by "Pariah" (not his real name). Pariah writes:
There is a class of people in America today, numbering two million or more, who have been utterly scapegoated, ostracized, demonized and shunned….They are regularly vilified with the most vicious and hate-filled language–language previously reserved for classes now protected: Jews, Blacks, homosexuals….About 600,000 of them have been rounded up and forced to register–many soon to be monitored for life with electronic bracelets and global positioning devices. Nearly 4000 have been locked up for life, not on criminal charges, but by civil commitment, and those numbers are growing by the day.
He writes, of course, of sex offenders and, without ignoring the "criminals who have caused extreme harm," argues that the entire category is both of relatively recent vintage and the result of a long-playing social panic in the United States. He also challenges the belief that sex offenders are particularly likely to re-offend. It's worth reading and is online here.
Though it does fail to address the question at the heart of a Detroit Free Press story sent along by reader Scott Ross: Should sheep fuckers be on sexual-offender registries? Jeffrey S. Haynes of Michigan has admitted having sex with the sheep of a neighbor but is fighting his inclusion on the sort of registry that Pariah notes have become increasingly ubiquitous in the past 15 years:
At sentencing, Haynes accepted "full responsibility" and said he was sorry, the Battle Creek Enquirer wrote. But he added, "I should not be treated as a child molester." He appealed the registry order.
That story here.
Reason Contributing Editor Thomas Szasz wrote about the Catholic Church child-molesting scandals here. Reason Web Editor Tim Cavanaugh noted that the most infamous of the convicted priests, Paul Shanley, was convicted solely on repressed-memory testimony here (and so did Reason contributor Jonathan Rauch here). And Reason Senior Editor Jacob Sullum underscored the troubling constitutional issues in "civil commitment," used to lock sex offenders up to prevent future crimes, here.