The precipice

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.                                                                                                                                             —Pastor Martin Niemöller

By Sandy . . . We either live in a civilized nation or we don’t. Our legal and judicial system, based on the time-honored premise that one is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law as drawn from the 5th amendment, either means something or it doesn’t. Either our rules of common decency and courtesy are in place to protect the guilty and the unlikable as well as the innocent and the beloved or they protect no one. Our laws and our Constitution either stand for all, or they stand for none.

Once before our country stood balanced on the precipice of injustice becoming the norm, at a time when, in a large portion of the nation, people of color were accorded few if any civil or human rights and were regarded as being, literally, worth less than one of Caucasian ancestry. We managed to draw back from that precipice, but today we stand at yet another, and this one may succeed in destroying us where the other did not.

We have created another monster to fear, another whose life is worth less than any other not in the same classification–the “sex offender.” It is in quotes not to make light of those sexual crimes that cause harm to others but to show that it has become a clearly defined, easily identifiable sub-category of Americans. Violations of civil and human rights visited upon people with historic convictions for any of a vast myriad of reasons are considered “okay” because those people are, after all, “sex offenders.”

Therefore, vigilantes have hunted down registered people, using public registries like roadmaps, and been called “heroes.” Other vigilantes, in tracking down and killing registrants, felt fully justified in also murdering totally innocent persons, in at least two separate incidents, who were present—a friend and a wife.

In March of 2023, a vigilante in Minnesota felt completely justified in violently murdering a man who had previously been on the registry because he “believed” that the former offender would molest his, the murderer’s, daughter and her friends. His actions created a literal storm of defense and praise for his actions, including his being called a “hero” and comments by a former F.B.I. agent that a jury would probably sympathize with him.

Persons simply accused of a sexual offense are vilified and condemned in the press and on social media well in advance of any trial or conviction, often in advance of even an arrest or charges being brought. Men in prison for convictions involving sexual offenses are often considered “fair game” for mistreatment and violence.

Those with past sexual crime convictions are routinely stripped of the rights otherwise their due. They are turned away from emergency shelters during hurricanes or extreme temperature conditions. Even after death the ignominy continues: Some veterans on the registry are denied the right to be buried in veterans’ cemeteries.

In varying parts of our nation, those on a sex offender registry, sometimes with certain offenses, are barred from:

  • Living/working/just being where they wish;
  • Participating in their children’s education and extra-curricular activities;
  • Participating in Halloween (and in Louisiana Christmas and Easter) activities;
  • Enjoying public parks;
  • Living with a minor in the home;
  • Living in long-term-care facilities.

Men have murdered entire families, sometimes their own, and been given a fair trial. Men have murdered heads of state and been accorded their rights under the law. Men have committed the most atrocious of war crimes, annihilating thousands upon thousands, and have been treated with basic decency as they faced their accusers in court.

But none of those men were “sex offenders.” None of those men lived in twenty-first century America bearing a label that marks them as one who is to be accorded no rights, no decency, no fairness, one who even has no right to the claim of innocence until guilt is proven.

The precipice gapes and widens, and its message is this: If our laws do not protect those judged to be the least deserving among us, then they do not protect any of us.

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.

One Thought to “The precipice”

  1. AvatarTim in WI

    The man describes evidence of a collapsing republic. The fate of all historical democracies, and not just the Roman Empire and Third Reich.
    There is nothing more impactful on the dire situation than the advent of the database driven infrastructure which acted as a catalyst to speed up the delta. No doubt there are some banking of the DDI to save America’s moral authority in the eyes of the world. The, of course, was why the Sex offender registration regime was adopted utilizing ” the government database ” as its moral foundation. A moral foundation to begin to justify the unconstitutional use of database properties which resulted in the normalization human involuntary servitude to state property maintenance for life. A point where the value of the machine database outweighs the need for human liberty. California has abandoned the life term notion which is telling of its destructive nature to civil liberty.
    But it is far too late, because the electronic surveillance state is now cemented firmly in our nation and culture.
    A MI YouTube channel Lehtoslaw ran a piece( vlog) titled: This new AI generated Scam is a mind bender. Draw you own conclusions.

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