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Fearmongering Article Falsely Claims 'Halloween Is Christmas for Sex Offenders'

"Pushing for new laws aimed at keeping kids ‘safe’ from ‘sex offenders’ on Halloween is nonsense."

CostumeRawpixelimages | Dreamstime.comA Boston Herald article is calling for a new Massachusetts law to stop registered sex offenders from participating in Halloween. Such a law would violate the rights of sex offenders, for no public benefit whatsoever.

The piece—as random as a piece can be, in that it is not tied to any actual news, crime, or person of note—quotes an attorney named Wendy Murphy, who states, "Halloween is like Christmas for sex offenders." That's a catchy phrase, but she never explains exactly what she means. Do sex offenders get gifts on Halloween? Gifts of children?

"They know they'll have lots of access to kids and that they can't get in trouble even though they're required to stay away from children," Murphy says.

That is simply not true. Murphy is repeating an urban myth that sex offenders snatch trick or treaters. No evidence of such a phenomenon exists.

"There is not a single recorded case of a child being abducted or harmed by someone on the sex offender registry during trick-or-treat or other Halloween activities," says Sandy Rozek, communications director of NARSOL, an organization that advocates for saner sex offender laws. "And valid, reliable research shows no increase in sex crimes at all on Halloween."

The temptation on Halloween isn't to kidnap candy seekers, it's to use the image of innocent, endangered children to create new fears and restrictions. Consider my post from Monday about the counties in Virginia that have made it a crime for kids over the age of 12 to trick or treat at all.

We have a really hard time distinguishing between actual Halloween dangers—being hit by a car—and non-existent but creepily thrilling ones, like being stalked by demonic child rapists when the moon is full and the wolves are howling. And so, The Herald notes:

Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee and Texas all have "no candy" laws that ban sex offenders from handing out treats on Halloween.

In Florida, sex offenders out on parole cannot hand out candy or wear costumes on Halloween night.

Both California and New York have similar laws that allow police to perform unannounced visits to sex offenders' homes on Halloween night, Oct. 31.

Some states also ban offenders from corn mazes and haunted houses.

These laws are based on a mashup of fear, prejudice, and horror movies.

"Pushing for new laws aimed at keeping kids 'safe' from 'sex offenders' on Halloween is nonsense," says Emily Horowitz, a professor of sociology at St. Francis College and author of two books on sex offender laws. "There's no evidence any kid was ever harmed by someone with a past sex offense on Halloween, and almost all child sex offenses involve 1) non-strangers or 2) those not on sex offense registries. Those with prior sex offense convictions are always subject to more post-conviction laws and regulations than any other type of ex-offender, yet they have the lowest recidivism rates of almost any other type of offender."

Instead of keeping kids safer, articles like one in The Herald create kids who are fearful, fragile, and anxious because they are growing up in a world that treats them as constantly endangered.

"Parents read these articles and keep kids inside and sheltered and helicopter them because they fear something that literally has never happened—and articles like this have appeared in local and national media for years and years," says Horowitz. "The data is totally clear and conclusive: there are more than enough laws that punish those convicted of sex offenses (and all crimes!). What kids need is less anxiety, and the opportunity to have fun on the one night of the year when they can actually meet and engage with their neighbors."

Photo Credit: Rawpixelimages | Dreamstime.com

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  • Shirley Knott||

    But if the people aren't afraid, how can we sell them protection?

  • Juice||

    Fear is big business.

  • The Laissez-Ferret||

    Exactly! The razor blade filled apples myth isn't tracking with this generation since most of their parents don't eat fruit so they go right for "child rapists out for the kiddos like it's Purge Night".

  • Trigger Warning||

    I hand out bags of Big League Chew, and candy cigarettes. Always a hit.

  • Jerryskids||

    I hand out bags of Vicodin, used hypodermic needles and gummy-bear shaped rat poison. About a 50/50 hit.

  • Rich||

    I knew a guy who threw burnt-out Christmas-tree lights into the loot bags.

    Halloween *was* sort of like Christmas for him.

  • Brandybuck||

    I throw in old marketing swag from Linux conventions.

  • Mongo||

    I do some sort of spaz response and then roundhouse kick the fake witch or fake princess.

  • Rockabilly||

    You know what's frightening?

    Look into her eyes ... if you dare....

    http://thefederalist.com/2018/.....qus_thread

  • Rockabilly||

    I will never be the same...

    http://thefederalist.com/2018/.....-congress/

  • Eddy||

    Political brawlers on both sides keep saying "OK, we've been too friendly and conciliatory to the other side, not more Mr. Nice Guy (or gal)!"

    This is laughable in every case, but particularly on the part of the Dems after what they did.

    Any defeat, no matter how nasty they were during the fight, is due to their being Too Nice.

  • OpenBordersLiberal-tarian||

    I'm proud that my first ever vote for President was for Hillary Clinton, the most qualified candidate in history. She won the election by 3 million votes despite the entire process being rigged against her (Russian hacking, media bias, Comey letter, etc.).

    #StillWithHer

  • Rockabilly||

    That's so beautiful OpenBordersLiberal-tarian

    What color pants suit (or whatever they're called) does Hillary look her best?

    Do you know anyone who was brainwashed by a Russian robot on the FaceBook ?

  • Johnimo||

    Imagine if you "first ever vote for President" had been for Hillary Clinton. OMG ... now that is a scary Halloween thought. We can only hope she runs again. OpenBorrders, you'll have a chance to cure yourself.

  • vek||

    Jesus Christ, what a horrible scenario! My first vote for president was for Michael Badnarik! Beat the hell out of voting for Bush or Kerry anyway...

    I also voted for GayJay twice, so that may tarnish my voting record a bit... LOL

  • I am the 0.000000013%||

    I have an unbroken record of never having voted for a winning candidate in 10 presidential elections, and I suspect that I'll go to my grave with my record unsullied.

  • vek||

    LOL

    I haven't been voting that long yet... But I'm tempted to vote for Trump in 2020 just out of spite or something. My state (Washington) will go Democrat anyway, so I've always just voted Libertarian. Since my vote doesn't matter, at least I could say I voted for the greatest internet troll of all time after 2020!

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    They still make meds for your condition. Maybe if you go trick-or-treating this year you'll luck out and get some from your friendly local wise man.

  • Alcibiades||

    Meanwhile in other news, sociopath, mass murderer and beloved lefty icon Che Guevara was executed this day in 1967 by Bolivian Armed Forces.

    Great shooting boys and burn in hell Che.

  • Anomalous||

    Hear, hear!

  • vek||

    Speaking of Christmas, all I ever seem to want anymore is to be able to shoot Communists... Can't this pesky impending civil war just kick off already??? I'm a law abiding citizen, so I would never dare do it but in self defense of course... But it sure would be a good time defending myself!

  • I am the 0.000000013%||

    We have to kick it off before all the drooling classes have access to killer drones.

    My joystick skills are non-existent at this point, and part timers that think that the answer to their problem is communism have all the time in the world to hone theirs.

    I suppose we can defend ourselves by shouting out non-safe-space phrases then take them out while they have their hands over their ears.

  • Number 2||

    "Some states also ban offenders from corn mazes and haunted houses." Really?

    Here's my guess about these laws: a state legislator realizes that his term is running out, that he needs to run for re-election, and that he needs to be able to point to a legislative "accomplishment." The three "accomplishments" of choice are: cracking down on underage drinking, cracking down on drugs, and cracking down on child abusers. He chose option number 3.

  • A Thinking Mind||

    And if you're running for office, you need to accuse your political opponent of failing to stop sex offenders. Here's what we've had in Georgia, in the governor's race:

    "Brian Kemp gave massage licenses to serial sexual abusers."

    "Stacey Abrams voted to let sex offenders live next door to schools and take pictures of your kids."

    "Brian Kemp pointed a gun at a teenager on television."

  • vek||

    Come on now, everybody knows they have more options than just those 3! They can always push for a straw ban!

  • Number 2||

    Only in blue states. The three options I cited are of universal application.

  • Hugh Akston||

    "Halloween is like Christmas for sex offenders."

    Finally a definitive answer for when to watch The Nightmare Before Christmas.

  • General_Tso||

    Wendy Murphy is like our own local version of Gloria Allred.

  • Brandybuck||

    Just like Bigfoot and UFOs, no matter how many times this story gets debunked, it keep popping up again.

    It's like parents have posters with razor blades in apples with the Mulder quote "I want to believe".

  • vek||

    I almost wish somebody would actually just do the razor blade thing, so that it was founded in reality at least a little bit. I hate these made up scare tactics. It's one thing to blow a real problem somewhat out of proportion, but it's a whole new level of crazy to COMPLETELY make up a problem, and then pretend it's the biggest issue facing the country since WWII or whatever!

  • James Pollock||

    "I almost wish somebody would actually just do the razor blade thing, so that it was founded in reality at least a little bit."

    Lazy goober. If you want something done, go out and do it. Quit waiting for someone else to do it for you.

  • Rich||

    Wendy Murphy, who states, "Halloween is like Christmas for sex offenders." That's a catchy phrase, but she never explains exactly what she means.

    It means she's afraid to state "Halloween is like Hannukah for sex offenders" or "Halloween is like Ramadan for sex offenders."

  • Brandybuck||

    It's like Festivus for sex offenders!

  • Anomalous||

    AND the rest of us.

  • sharmota4zeb||

    That's it. I'm giving everyone socks for Halloween this year!

  • ||

    Do sex offenders get gifts on Halloween? Gifts of children?

    Yes?

    (NSFW, except for the hilariously apt in context 'Victorian Era Child School Girl Costume')

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    "Halloween is like Christmas for sex offenders." That's a catchy phrase, but she never explains exactly what she means.

    IT MEANS HE GETS RESULTS, YOU STUPID CHIEF!

    Also, little known fact, October 31 was Jared Fogle's birthday.

  • Uncle Jay||

    All these kids would be safe if we put them, and their parents, into the local gulag for re-education through socialist work projects.
    Did anyone ever think about that?

  • Marshal||

    Wendy Murphy has a long history of fabulism including from the Duke Lacrosse case.

    https://durhamwonderland.blogspot.com/ 2012/02/poynter-serial-fabricator.html

    [Space added to satisfy HnR dorkiness.]

  • Naaman Brown||

    You can use html tags delimited by the lesser and greater keys to create links and work around the 50 char word limit for weblinks. I am putting spaces around the delimiter so they display as lesser and greater:

    < a href="weblink" > author, title < /a >, pub, date.

    KC Johnson, "The Wendy Murphy File", Durham-In-Wonderland, 31 Dec 2018.

  • Truthteller1||

    Protect our precious children.

  • Echospinner||

    Scare them and fill them with sugar treats.

    Or they will miss all the fun.

  • sharmota4zeb||

    Instead of keeping kids safer, articles like one in The Herald create kids who are fearful, fragile, and anxious because they are growing up in a world that treats them as constantly endangered.

    Don't worry, there's an FDA approved pill for that.

  • James Pollock||

    The thing is, people who are already afraid of Halloween will just use this sort of thing to back up the decision that they've already made, and people who aren't pay it no mind.

    Big days for sex offenders (real ones) include pretty much any day where people drink excessively. Halloween does qualify.

  • JrJr||

    The article quotes an attorney.....
    https://twitter.com/wmurphylaw?lang=en

    WTF, this asshole lady is crazy. Rambling about all kinds of stuff...
    Basically men, society & the constitution are the problem..blah blah blah
    I bet she's a 'socialist democrat' as well.
    She needs to get laid.

  • IceTrey||

    Virginia banned trick or treating by anyone over 12.

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    Website: https://quickbookspayrollssupport.com/

  • vek||

    I always liked Halloween... I really need to quit being such a killjoy and actually get a crappy pumpkin or something to toss on the porch and leave my lights on this year. I usually keep some candy kicking it around, and the porch light on, but don't make a point to look like I'm doling candy out by having decorations or anything. As a result I usually get all of one or two ambitious kids every year who are probably hitting EVERY SINGLE HOUSE. I always feel bad for not giving kids candy, since the giant stash of candy is friggin' awesome as a kid.

  • Naaman Brown||

    I still recall a one-shot magazine I saw at age 13 at the newstand: "Menace of the Sex Deviate" out about the time the film "Psycho" was in release. I Googled and found it 1961.

    According to my memory, "Menace of the Sex Deviate" was not big on child molesters taking advantage of trick'r'treaters on Halloween. The big menace was transvestite killers scrawling "Stop me before I kill again" in lipstick on bathroom mirrors at truck stops.

    "Menace ..." used the same over blown rhetoric I heard used by Dry Forces to impose prohibition of alcohol, by the Kefauver Subcommittee to ban comic books to end seduction of innocents into juvenile delinquency, by gun control advocates later in the 1960s, by the Satanic Ritual Abuse Panickers, ad nauseam.

    The great American tradition of the Salem Witchhunt. Manufacture a threat, mount that self-righteous hobby horse, demonize a symbol, shame any questioners, and ride boldly ride to joust that windmill giant. Usually diverting funds and resources from policies that might work to those that are non-solutions to fabrications.

    The real threat on Halloween is last year's candy recycled either stale or with ripped wrapping. I had a gallon ziplock bag in the cabinet full of 3 Musketeers, M & Ms and Skittles from Oct 2017. The wrappings were all intact and the candy was all edible. Now I have to buy new candy for this year.

  • Necron 99||

    In Florida, sex offenders out on parole cannot hand out candy or wear costumes on Halloween night.

    So dress up on Halloween night or get the crap beat out of you for being a sex offender.

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