America’s game: Eternal recrimination and shame

By Sandy….part 2 of a 3-part series….

In a recent book club discussion group, as a preface to our next assigned selection, the leader read Zechariah 9:16 and opened a discussion about how every human life has value and is seen by its creator as a precious jewel and a treasure. The discussion continued as he challenged us to think of how we tended to view the homeless begging on street corners or a man lying drunk in a doorway. He reminded us that even those lives have value and are not to be despised.

Even those who do not appreciate the Biblical reference will have no trouble relating this to the recent comment made in an op-ed written by John Canzano about Luke Heimlich, the standout college baseball pitcher recently “outed” as being on the sex offender registry. In his diatribe against Heimlich, Canzano opens with reminding us of the victim and says that she matters and, in fact, matters more than Luke.

This is the elitist view that has led us to a set of assumptions used to justify the harshest of treatments against those we find morally inferior to ourselves. It is the view that makes it difficult to see the life of a homeless beggar being as valuable as your own. It is the view that has led us to make assumptions about victims that are destructive to their recovery.

“She is ruined forever.” “Her life will never be the same.” “She will never get over this.” Therapists and legitimate victim service providers know this is the opposite of what victims need to hear, but the all-knowing public persists in that belief. Once that belief is accepted, it logically follows that the person who caused the destruction of that life must have his own destroyed. Therefore, nothing that can be done to bring him grief and shame and ostracism is too extreme.

And thus we have a registry that says to the world that those on it have ruined the lives of others and deserve to have their own ruined, and no punishment, consequence, or restriction heaped on the perpetrator is enough to repay the victim for what she has lost.

This works well for revenge. It doesn’t work at all for the well being of society.

With the proper help and sometime with no help but their own inner strength, victims can and do move past their pain, just as we all move past pain and excruciating loss and horrific tragedy.

Those who caused the pain can and do move past what motivated them to act as they did. If society is to benefit, it must do all it can to expedite this. The registry and its subsequent restrictions do the opposite. They keep former offenders from moving past where they were and going forward.

Because Luke was a juvenile when he committed his crime, and because the state he was registered in does not make public the offenders like Luke who are assessed as a very low risk to re-offend, he was doing what benefits society. He was moving forward. He was earning his place in a society that was giving him a second chance.

Now that all hangs in the balance, and, as Mr. Canzano correctly says, public opinion is divided. The outcome and Luke’s future are unsure, but one thing is sure.

The young victim, by all accounts, was moving past her pain to the future, but that has been derailed as well with this dredging up of her past. It is difficult to see how she is being well served.

There is no evidence whatsoever that Luke was doing anything but living a law-abiding, productive life with a bright future. There is no reason whatsoever to believe he would ever re-offend. It is very difficult to see how this revelation will benefit anything or anyone.

Yes, victims matter. Those who commit crimes matter. And encouraging and enabling both to be the best they can be matters. Why do we do the opposite?





Sandy Rozek

Written by 

Sandy, a NARSOL board member, is communications director for NARSOL, editor-in-chief of the Digest, and a writer for the Digest and the NARSOL website. Additionally, she participates in updating and managing the website and assisting with a variety of organizational tasks.

21 Thoughts to “America’s game: Eternal recrimination and shame”

  1. AvatarMaestro


    One of the reasons I come down on the good people in these comment sections for quoting bible verses is because;

    A) The general public who claim to be so religious and forgiving are not forgiving at all. It kinda goes to show that the scriptures are just stories and in the backs of all our minds we truly AREN’T certain of the existence of a god or Jesus. But the stories were written to attempt to form some type of morals in people of the time period. Although the book is full of immoral acts, even by “God”.

    B) The general public of “holy rollers” will ALWAYS find some lame excuse to say that god/Jesus forgives everyone …. but NOT YOU SEX OFFENDERS! Read the Old Testament and you’ll find plenty of sexual offenses which “god ” condoned.
    And don’t anyone try that “well that was the old way” nonsense with me when you know damn well you’ll always also say “god’s word is everlasting and never changes”.

    But….I’ll gladly jump on the fence between religion and my atheism and say this; If you’re going to throw bible verses around, do it at the legislature meetings. I’ll gladly take full advantage of throwing the populace’s beliefs in their faces.

    Oh, and this final thought; On the topic of lives that matter, imagine having a BLM member get into your face and scream at you “DO YOU THINK BLACK LIVES MATTER!!!??” And you reply “All lives matter”
    And the next thing you know, you’re picking yourself up off the ground after being slugged in the face.
    That’s essentially what’s happening with these “victims’ lives matter” promoters. How DARE anyone say the perpetrators’ lives matter, too. How dare you!

    1. AvatarJonny everymam

      Stick to one thought you are all over the place. You aren’t Christian, that’s fine but no need to get so offended at those who are. You come across as paranoid and irrational

    2. AvatarMaestro

      No sir, you should probably read the definition of “paranoid”. Then read the definition of “frustrated” and you’ll see the difference.

      And so what if I’m “all over the place”? This sex offender topic unfortunately spreads itself “all over the place”. Thank you.

    3. AvatarJonny everyman

      Not a good comparison. When you commit a crime against a person they are the victim not you.

      Your victim didn’t get you on the registry. Our society which instituted the registry did.

  2. AvatarMike

    Please don’t confuse the “Love/Concern” of God with the “Us 4 no more” country club mentality of the modern day, so called Christian’s.

    If the world would act as God has told us to, or if the world would live their lives as Jesus taught us, there would be no hate for people at all.

    I do agree, that the registry and the push to punish is spear headed by the church going believers, but they don’t have God’s mind set. They only want to punish/hurt.

    This was not God’s design, and even the churchy people will have to give an account of their actions one day.

    1. AvatarJeremy Heady

      Funny you mention that, Mike. As a non-Christian, I have noticed this quite a lot myself where the church is leading the charge against us. As someone who grew up in a Christian home though, I find it interesting that very few of what they call “sex offenses” are even considered sins in the bible. It seems they have no backing whatsoever. Heck, lying is on the list of the ten commandments, yet nothing sexual is other than coveting a neighbor’s wife (not his daughter though!)

      Don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating or endorsing any of these crimes as legitimate. I am merely pointing out that the Christian bible does not condemn them, yet we are considered the biggest sinners of the world.

    2. rwvnralrwvnral

      As a fairly bad Catholic, I am at least familiar with the Church’s teachings regarding the sins of the flesh. Historically, sins of the flesh have not been considered as severe as sins such as avarice, calumny, and pride….with pride ranking as perhaps the worst sin of all. This is not meant to be understood as permission to commit sins of the flesh, but it provides a perspective on the traditional Christian approach. This may also explain why the Church has been widely condemned for its slow response to the so-called “priestly scandal.” The Church was following its own guidance on the matter and was totally unprepared for the onslaught prompted by what appeared to be the wide-spread abuse of minors by ordained priests. In reality, the actual rates of abuse by Church leaders have proven to be no greater or less than any other institutionalized form of custodianship (public and private schools, YMCAs, summer youth camps, etc.) over the same period of time (mostly the late 50s through the early 90s). Where proximity to children has occurred, there has been abuse….and at a pretty consistent rate across the spectrum of organized life. The idea that assaults on the body (physical) are assaults on the soul (spiritual) is a post-modern precept. The Church would reject this paradigm outright as an affront to the redeeming power of Christ’s sacrifice….and a form of animism that regards the corporeal world as superior–or at least identical to–the spiritual world.

  3. Avatardave

    “Ruined forever” This is a long time indeed. A Ruined life do we really want to create one every time one is made? It is my opinion that the ruined life argument is BS, and as someone who did not escape childhood unscathed I can say it is a lie. Maybe cases of the very worst painful abuse imaginable sure you can cry out my life is ruined if you like. Something is done to someone that a majority of people want to stop. There are fanatics on both sides. Untrue statistics and statements are made on both sides to justify their position. Definitions to words are changed to make a new reality. What we are left with is fake and contrived and It harms us all. The truth is the only thing that can make things right again. It must be discovered and broadcast so loud that it cannot be ignored. It must be absolute as to avoid degradation to the credibility of the source. Real science has to be used to overthrow the false statistics and lies. Males and females must be punished equally for a crime. Not all members of our society are interested in justice because it does not effect them. This is how fair and just laws are created.

  4. AvatarJim

    Sandy, your articles about Luke are very well written, and certainly expose the inexcusable decision by the Oregonian to publish their needless and cruel article about this young man. One of my own posts regarding the first article you wrote alluded to my position as being merely politically correct nonsense, and I regret that, for that was not at all intended. My aim was to point out that we cannot simply jettison the victims of sex crimes when stating our case against the current sex offender registry laws, no matter how absurd these laws are. I don’t know if this young lady involved with Luke was emotionally damaged or not, but I am relatively sure it is not a “life-long” issue for her. That is an exaggeration by those who see such skewed facts as a means to keep the general public inflamed about sex offenses and offenders. One of the real problems in the area where I live is registered citizens who refuse to own up to the guilt of their actions, and just always complain of being treated unfairly for no reason. This is NOT the message to present to the public. It only adds fuel to the fire. The current laws are a disgrace and terribly unjust. No reasonable person can argue that point. The Oregonian has ruined Luke’s immediate future, and perhaps his remaining future. There is no justice in that. But, we will make little progress if we try to portray always the “angry victim” mentality. Thanks for your articles, Sandy. Thanks for your efforts on our behalf. God help us to be diligent in seeking change, but may we also exhibit mercy towards those who have indeed been victims.

    1. AvatarJeremy Heady

      Jim, I tend to agree with you to an extent. I don’t think most of us that follow NARSOL are trying to take away anything from the victims that we and those in our class of citizens have hurt (although many can argue quite convincingly that nobody was hurt in their individual crime, such as internet sting operations). There are a lot of resources and organizations out there that remind us of this almost on a daily basis.

      I would also say that offenders playing the victim does not bode well with the general public either. The most effective way to battle the problem of the registry is to continue to point out how it is demonstrably MORE dangerous for potential victims by putting offenders in higher risk situations. This is why most therapists and experts are against the registry. That point needs to be brought home more often.

      The only reason the effect of the registry on the registrants should ever be brought up is when showing how past societies have used unfavorable populations to relax human rights standards before they go after larger populations.

    2. AvatarJim


      Your point was well stated. I will say that the majority of posters on this site have both enlightened and encouraged me. I am, like virtually every rso, just trying to work my way through the madness of registry laws. Most on here seem to be very thoughtful and we’ll spoken, and do not, I am sure, just discount the victims. We certainly don’t have to live with guilt of our past behaviors and actions, and all of us deserve the opportunity to establish ourselves as productive citizens. I would never aim a negative statement at anyone posting here, so I would certainly hope none of my comments would be received that way.

    3. AvatarMaestro

      Did it ever occur to you the the offenders who play the “victim” card have simply had enough of the public’s and the legislature’s b.s.? Did …that…ever….cross your mind?

      We don’t give the same punishment to those who sell drugs to our kids. I was addicted to cocaine for the better of my teenage years and the drug dealers who were all ADULTS didn’t care how old I was so long as I was giving them money.

    4. AvatarJim

      There is no disease nor addiction that cripples one as much as bitterness of heart does. Situations, circumstances, or other people are never the cause of bitterness, because it springs forth from the heart. The root of bitterness infects everyone and everything it touches. Registered citizens have more than enough detractors and accusers. Perhaps we ought to be more diligent in offering encouragement to one another. Who else will do that if we neglect to do it ourselves?

    5. AvatarJonny everyman

      Maestro while you have every right to be disenchanted your bitterness is why some people to this day refuse any kind of registration reform.

      Many of your comments question how much damage is done to the victims of sex crimes. One of the stereotypes according to psychologist is immaturity and a lack of empathy.

  5. AvatarRegistry Rage

    Megan’s Law (community notification in any iteration) is nothing but weaponized hatred and retaliatory vengeance masquerading as a “public safety tool.”

    I’m so sick of hearing the collective self-serving, “I only care about the victims” from the public. Stop trivializing my safety while glamorizing the safety, health and welfare of children!! It’s cringe-inducting!

  6. Because the only thing better than 1 “destroyed” life is TWO destroyed lives… perfectly logical.

  7. AvatarThe ripple effect goes even wider...

    The Story Keeps on growing:

    One Strike and You’re Out: Is Redemption Possible for Luke Heimlich?

    (Nice comment in there Sandy)

    {Derek Logue gives a nice comment too here that seems to pull the curtain back a bit}

    Oregonian’s John Canzano and Danny Moran Complete Luke Heimlich Hit Piece

    A look at some issues involving Luke Heimlich

    Oregonian Editor section with plenty of thoughts (arrogently):

    1. AvatarScroll down on Oregonian Editor page

      You have to scroll down on the Oregonian Editor section to see the editorials

  8. AvatarCraig

    Is Redemption Possible, no not for a RC no matter how many years it has been and how you have changed your life for the good. Work hard, live a good life, be kind, be respectful and take care of your family. The public will not forget or forgive, this kids life is probably ruined, which is sad. Being off the registry in your state really is no help, your records are there for all to see and if you attempt to relocate to another state you are back on theirs in many cases. The whole registry needs to be dismantled but it will not be. Do not let who you are now be determined by some BS Registry. In the end we only have one life, stop wasting it on A hope and a dream, the lawmakers are never going to do the right thing until they are really forced to do it. By the numbers of RCs that do nothing this game is going to take 1000 years. I know what I did was wrong, I paid my debt and I refuse to kneel for the rest of my life to any of these people any longer. I have found freedom in my heart, I have forgiven myself, I only hope that this young man and the rest of you can do the same. For over 12 years I have donated to different groups, gave my time and energy to them and helped 100s of men and women with the same problem in my area and state, only to watch many slip into depression because of jobs, family and the stigma that comes with being a RC, Yet few so called Christian’s would stand up with them. If there is a God he is sitting this one out.This young mans family should have been fighting a long time ago, bet they will now.

    1. AvatarMike

      That because being on the PUBLIC REGISTRY is punishment……

    2. AvatarCraig

      Yes Mike it is Punishment and that is the way they attended it to be all along. every man and woman that did a crime, was punished for it whether it was prison, probation, paid for their crime in full when they finished their sentence. But unlike some a RC keeps on being punished with more laws, more restrictions no matter how long it has been, hell we all know this. The Key is to know you did wrong, Know you have changed and attempt to move on with your life even as you understand the punishment may never end. Most of us have our life destroyed over and over just as Luke Heimlich has had, a promising start to maybe a good life has ended as of now. You would think that the system would want productive citizens out there instead of people with little or no hope but that seems not to be the case. There is life after this, but it is a hell of a lot harder.

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