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New York Wants to Ban Sex Offenders from Playing Pokemon Go

Call it Fear-Pokemongering.

PikachuScreenshot via Pokemon / YoutubeNew York state officials think PokemonGo might be a great tool for sex offenders to kidnap children—gotta catch 'em all!—and now the governor himself, Andrew Cuomo, is calling for legislation. He might as well have said, Parents, please go out of your minds with fear about an extremely remote danger we are exploiting to get your love and votes.

The legislation proposed by the governor today would prevent sex offenders on parole from playing the game in which animated creatures—from Nintendo's Pokemon universe—appear on your phone screen while you walk around. The legislation proposed Friday by Sen. Jeff Klein (D) and Diane Savino (D) also calls upon the game's creators to eliminate any Pokemon within 100 feet of a registered sex offender's home.

These might sound like ideas that will keep children out of the clutches of dangerous criminals. But in fact, they are based on two discredited ideas. One is "stranger danger" itself. The other is the notion that knowing where sex offenders live (and avoiding those places) actually makes kids safer.

Stranger danger is the mistaken belief that strangers are the people most likely to hurt our children, leaping out from behind bushes to snatch them off the street. While this fear resonates for many people—including and especially politicians—the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has labeled stranger danger an idea it is time to "retire." This is the group that put the missing kids' pictures on the milk cartons, so it's not like some bleeding heart soft-on-crime organization.

The organization simply understands that the vast majority of crimes against children—more than 90 percent—occurs at the hands of someone in the child's life, usually a trusted family member or family friend.

Meanwhile, actual registered sex offenders have a recidivism rate that is, contrary to popular belief, shockingly low. In fact, there's less recidivism among sex offenders than any other group of criminals (other than murderers).

So even if children pass right by a sex offender's home, they aren't really more likely to be molested or raped than if they pass by any other home. A study in The Journal of Law and Economics compared the sex crime rates on blocks in Washington D.C. with and without sex offenders on them. There was no difference in the number of sex crimes committed.

This means that when Cuomo declares that his actions will keep kids safer, he is inventing this claim out of thin air. It appears to be based on nothing more than fear without research. Similarly, when Klein says, "We know that pedophiles always seek new ways to lure victims," we must wonder if he read the most recent study by the Deparment of Justice, which studied crime stats from 2011 and found only one instance of a child-kidnapping victim who was lured to the scene of the crime via technological means.

The idea that any new technology automatically spells danger is as old as the fear that telegraph lines would change the world's weather patterns—and just as misguided.

In fact, the technology behind Pokemon Go is getting kids to actually leave the couch and enjoy the summer. Some politicians seem to be so unsettled by that idea—kids! outside! playing!—that their brains are working overtime to imagine new child-safety concerns.

Call it Fear-Pokemongering.

Related: Pokemon Go Is Already Making Authority Figures Freak Out About Danger

Photo Credit: Pokemon

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  • waffles||

    Not like it's going to matter, interest in the game is dwindling. That surge of popularity was due to nostalgia. Absent that, it's a lousy game that is nothing but a tedious grind. This is pathetic legislation. Late to the party politicians will do anything to feel relevant.

  • BigT||

    Interest is dwindling. I went to my fav local P-GO site yesterday. Instead of dozens of teens and preteens hanging around staring at their phones, there were only 3 geeky kids.

  • gah87||

    And the governor of NY, playing Pokémon Go with Anthony Wiener.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Didn't someone here openly claim they used Pokemon go as a precursor to chase around teenagers in a park, and lure them into their Econoline PokeVan?

  • ||

    A Pokevan?

    I used to have one of those. Seriously, I did.

  • waffles||

  • The Fusionist||

    Would this law apply retroactively? That sounds like it might raise some ex post facto law problems.

    Oh, wait, I forgot about the sex offender exception to the constitution. Never mind.

  • The Fusionist||

    I mean would it apply to future sex crimes or would it increase the sentences of people who committed their crimes before the passage of the law?

    But I forgot that slapping restrictions on sex offenders is "regulatory" and totally isn't a criminal punishment.

  • ||

    Let me pose this question. Will common sense gun control apply to gun owners who previously legally owned a weapon, but now can't because whatever? I'm going to say yes, and also yes that this law would apply to anyone, ex post facto be damned. They've figured out a way around that and all other things constitutional. IOW, the Constitution no longer exists in any meaningful way.

  • sarcasmic||

    Wasn't there an article the other day about how some state had to pass a law in order to force the police to follow the law?

    We're at a point where enumerated powers are a joke. Rights are enumerated. Powers are unlimited.

  • ||

    You always have to pass a new law, even if 20 other laws exist that do basically the exact same thing. Otherwise, how do you load up the bill with pork and cronyism, if there's no new bills? What would Congress do? The government will get so small it will go down a bathtub drain.

  • sarcasmic||

    Lawmakers make laws. They don't repeal them. I mean, if they started repealing laws, then future legislators might repeal their laws. Can't have that. So in the name of professional courtesy, no laws shall be repealed.

    One-way ratchets only go one way.

  • BigT||

    Maybe we should have a 3rd chamber of Congress filled with law-repealers whose only function is to repeal laws.

  • sarcasmic||

    Maybe we should have a 3rd chamber of Congress filled with law-repealers whose only function is to repeal laws.

    Why a third? Just two houses, one of passers and one of repealers would be sufficient.

    And I agree, totally. With people running for office based upon what they will undo, not what they will do, there could be some meaningful change.

    But it will never happen. People seek power in order to increase their power. Power is the end, not the means.

  • gah87||

    Sylvester McMonkey McBean will take care of THAT legislative machine!

  • Agammamon||

    I don't see how it would apply *retroactively*. They're want to criminalize it going forward.

    I could see a 5th amendment *takings issue* - these guys may have made in-app purchases that will be rendered worthless if this were to become law. Who's going to reimburse them for that?

  • Clint Eastwoodchipper||

    […] and now the governor himself, Andrew Cuomo, is calling for legislation.

    Say it with me now: DO SOMETHING!!!!

    Assuming, as usual, that something "must"/"needs to" be done about Random Problem X.

    What's next? Politicians demand that Pokémon Go remove Diglett, Onix, and Cloyster from the game?

  • The Fusionist||

    You are suspiciously knowledgeable about this game...

  • Clint Eastwoodchipper||

    Haven't even played it. Nostalgia has kept me knowledgeable about Pokémon. For better or worse.

  • The Fusionist||

    I have an old Trivial Pursuit game where the correct answers include "West Berlin" and "the Soviet Union."

    And a Dungeon Master's Guide from 1979.

  • The Fusionist||

    I also keep having this nightmare where I go into the bathroom at night, turn the light on, and there's an old fat guy staring at me through the mirror.

  • KerryW||

    Two possible solutions:

    1. Don't turn on the light (surely you are familiar enough with your house that you can maneuver without the light on),

    or,

    2. Lose some weight!

  • Rhywun||

    Yeah, our toys were a lot cooler than millenials'.

  • Flawgic||

    And Moops.

  • DrZaius||

    I believe that's called the good version.

  • Tom Bombadil||

    I still use my Brady Bunch lunchbox.

  • You Sound Like a Prog (MJG)||

    Cradle the Pokeballs...

  • Rasilio||

    Damn man, last night I weedled my girls jigglypuff so hard she squirtled all over my diglet , there was so much that I could a sworn she caterpee'd

  • ||

    Poke-a-mons GO!: The Rasilio Arc.

    It's hilarious that given the 90+% of Japanese media that make American knockoff porn look innovative and dedicated they choose to go after Pokémon.

  • Hugh Akston||

    This law is extra retarded because the game doesn't actually tell you where the Pokemon are, much less other players, so it's not like some kind of Pedobear tracking device. If NY pearl-clutchers wanted to keep the kiddies safe, they would ban children from playing it so they wouldn't leave the house. That would have added bonus of leaving the good Pokemon for the rest of us.

  • Agammamon||

    But if you find one - it will still be there and others can find it.

    Its how those dudes set up the robberies, the found rare pokemon in some out of the way place and hung out while people came by. Then robbed anyone who was vulnerable.

  • Akira||

    "Then robbed anyone who was vulnerable."

    From a criminal standpoint, that's just smart thinking. This public fountain area along my jogging route has apparently been turned into a "gym", so there are several people hanging out there all day with their eyes glued to their phones. Sometimes, very late at night, there are only one or two people doing this. A swift runner could easily grab the phone right out of their hands and take off before the victim's eyes could get adjusted back to the darkness.

  • SusanM||

    I'm reminded of something Yahtzee Crowshaw said about Streetpass " I did check and it is extremely possible to make a Mii who has what looks like a cock for a face. It's equally possible to name him Senor Koquonfaes and make him your Streetpass ambassador who greets every 3DS owner in the vicinity with the phrase "I'M WATCHING YOU" in block capitals."

    As to the article, if this happens almost every furry will be gone and the game will collapse.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    It's Pokemon not Pokekid, perverts.

  • pan fried wylie||

    Jamaicans hardest hit.

  • ||

    I thought they are reputed to toke, not Poke.

  • pan fried wylie||

    Tokemon?

  • GamerFromJump||

    Wrong series.

  • NealAppeal||

    I can prove it.
    Pokemon GO is the most libertarian game ever made.
    All libertarians are male.
    All males are rapists.
    All rapists should be on the sex offender registry.
    Only sex offenders play Pokemon GO.
    So easy to prove.

  • Get To Da Chippah||

    In fact, the technology behind Pokemon Go is getting kids to actually leave the couch and enjoy the summer. Some politicians seem to be so unsettled by that idea—kids! outside! playing!—that their brains are working overtime to imagine new child-safety concerns.

    Call it Fear-Pokemongering.

    Po C'mon, man!

  • Uncle Jay||

    RE: New York Wants to Ban Sex Offenders from Playing Pokemon Go

    What a brilliant idea in the battle against sex offenders.
    I would've never thought it was that damned game, Pokeman Go that creates such dysfunction in the brain cells that causes grown man to engage such evil and vile sexual crimes. We should all get on our knees and thank God that we have such wise and prudent civil servants who work diligently and carry on thousands of hours of unquestionable research to end all of society's ills. Soon, these politicians will find a cure for cancer, blindness, bald spots and double parking.
    Is there anything our wise and benevolent elitist turds enslaving us all can't do?

  • AlmightyJB||

    Seems like it would be easier just to kill them

  • ||

    If we kill them all then how can politicians save us from them? It would be like killing all the terrorists. Then how can we save anyone from the terrorists? You obviously hate the children and want terrorists to win.

  • sarcasmic||

    You criticized the first black president! Racist!

  • ||

    You forgot 'Xenophobe'... I mean 'Islamaphobe'. Nothing is worse than that.

  • sarcasmic||

    Probably a Christian too. Nothing more intolerant than treating others how you would be treated.

  • Hugh Akston||

    So you're saying that Christians expect/want to be treated with sanctimony and intolerance the way they treat others?

  • sarcasmic||

    That is a minority of Christians. A vocal minority, but a minority nonetheless. By the same token I do judge all Muslims based upon the actions of a few terrorists.

  • sarcasmic||

    do *not*

  • sarcasmic||

    Can't let stupid facts get in the way of government getting things done!

    It's all about the feelz!

  • some guy||

    And this from the !Party of Science!

  • sarcasmic||

    All the experts who agree with them say that it's true, and that's all that matters.

  • pan fried wylie||

    I love the rhetorical device on southpark where cartman asks butters to support one of his claims, which butters does by referring a previous instance of cartman making the claim.

  • pan fried wylie||

    100ft from an offender's home. why stop there, go full WoD with it, 1000ft from any school, daycare, park, grocery store, post office, courthouse, electric pole, and blade of grass.

  • sarcasmic||

    As the person who has to wash my kid's clothes, I concur about the grass.

  • pan fried wylie||

    Have you tried paddling them, I hear it works wonders.

  • sarcasmic||

    It's the stains, dude.

  • GamerFromJump||

    'I say, if your knees aren't green by the end of the day, you ought to seriously re-examine your life.' - Bill Watterson

  • Glide||

    Hey, if there was a law keeping kids a quarter mile away from my house at all times that might actually be worth hopping on that sex offender list. It's a lot easier way to avoid people than my long-term "get rich and buy the entire state of Wyoming for myself" plan for avoiding people.

  • Uncle Jay||

    RE: New York Wants to Ban Sex Offenders from Playing Pokemon Go
    Call it Fear-Pokemongering.

    This just in.
    The New York legislature is putting a bill in front of the Governor to make the games of Monopoly, chess, checkers and backgammon illegal. A conclusion from years of studying these nefarious "games" have shown they are played in jailhouses and prisons. The only logical action, as stated by the obvious betters ruling New York State was to ban these foul instruments of criminal conspiracies. Not only will they be banned in county jails and state prisons, the ruling elitists have determined to ban them altogether in the state of New York. This way no more crime will occur, and the little people of New York will never again have to worry about being robbed, shot, being swindled, etc. However, the wise and prudent legislators of New York State has exempted themselves and all New York State employees. This way, game control will be for only the ruling class elites and their merry minions.
    Next up, a ban on reading.

  • Number 2||

    Next up: Don't Drink and Pokemon!

  • BigT||

    Those sex offenders all want to get...

    ...wait for it...

    a Pikachu!

  • __Warren__||

    When will we be able to play Pokemon GoT?

  • The Fusionist||

    Or Pokemon GTA?

  • Rasilio||

    In the game of pokeballs you either win or you get knocked out

  • DenverJ||

    Sigh. Yup, it's true: we will never reach peak Derp.

  • Haha, charade you are||

    I always thought Mr. Mime seemed a little suspicious.

  • ||

    It's gotta be gratifying to the Japanese to find that millions of Americans have gone mad for Pokemon.
    I wonder how this is playing in Asian countries.

  • Tom Bombadil||

    People in asian countries are retarded too.

  • GamerFromJump||

    Meanwhile, actual registered sex offenders have a recidivism rate that is, contrary to popular belief, shockingly low.

    Has this statement been normalized by offense? Because of legal lunacy, "sex offenders" are everything from violent pedophile rapists to a guy who got drunk and peed in an alley one time. Not to mention those who were merely accused, but had no way to sufficiently prove their innocence and got told to "take the deal".

    Lies, damned lies, and statistics.

  • ROBIN TEXAS||

    What a bunch of BS.. There is SO MUCH wrong with this ruling...

    FIRST.... There are literally 100s of studies that CLEARLY and EMPIRICALLY support that people who commit a sex crime are the least likely to re-offend. PERIOD. Lowest recidivism rate of any crime. (Excludes murder, where perpetrator is generally locked away for life.)

    SECOND .. Study after study clearly identifies that greater than 90% of crimes against children are committed by a person in a position of authority and known to the victim. (Teachers, Coaches, Cops, Priests, Pastors, Youth Pastors, Uncles, Brothers, Stepfathers, ETC.) NOT STRANGERS.

    Did you read about the couple who left their kid in a locked car, 97 degrees outside, windows up, so THEY could play ??

    Unreal. Cuomo, you're an uninformed, grandstanding, idiot.

    JR

  • ||

    They need to add Ingress, also. The two games share the same database of landmarks. And there are web sites that show the locations of Pokestops without having any account. Knowing that the criteria include fountains, statues, post offices, public art, etc... You don't even need an electronic device. We need to outlaw fountains instead.

  • hguhf fkhj||

    Thank you very much for your efforts and the wonderful efforts benefited greatly
    hguf
    friv1

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