I really hate being put in the position of defending these people, but I have to admit: I'm beginning to be a little bit disturbed by the way we're treating sex offenders.
Various places have passed or are preparing to pass ordinances forbidding registered sex offenders from residing within 2500 feet of a school, park or child-care facility. Only some of these ordinances appear to be restricted to offenders who committed crimes against children, despite the fact that I'm not aware of any evidence that those whose victims were adults are likely to attack children as well.
Ohio wants to make them display pink license plates. If that will make our children safer, why not go one step further: Make them sew some sort of symbol on their clothes. After all, the license plates would only allow us to
Part of the problem here is that not every jurisdiction distinguishes between, say, a man convicted of repeatedly buggering six-year-olds, and an 18-year-old convicted of having sex with his 16-year-old girlfriend. In some places, both of those people are "registered sex offenders". Also, as I said, someone who raped an adult, while clearly evil, is not necessarily a particular threat to children. But people lately seem to be using the term "sex offender" as if it were synonymous with "child molester" (unfortunately, I can't find the article I read the other day where that was really obvious).
But the problem I have is even more fundamental than that: We're starting to act as if people who commit sex crimes, specifically, have no civil liberties. Whether some crimes are worse than others, or whether we're even defining "sex offense" too broadly, is beside the point. I'm not comfortable with the idea that there is an entire class of crimes, the commission of which means that the offender has forfeited all of his natural rights for the rest of his life. If we can do that to these people, however creepy and nasty they may be, how long before the government begins to treat, say, drug dealers the same way? How about "hate crimes"? Or DUI?
This was kind of the point of the Larry Flynt case: If freedom of speech is to mean anything, then it must especially protect unpopular speech, because that is precisely the speech most likely to be censored by the majority. Likewise, if civil liberties and natural rights are to mean anything, then they must especially protect the most unpopular and reviled people in all society, because they are precisely the people most likely to be abused by the majority.
Yes, it's fun to fantasize about punishing sex criminals by castrating them with piano wire, but back in the real world, you don't really want to live under a government that would actually do something that barbaric, do you?
Incidentally, I suppose one could say very much the same thing about terrorists and those accused of supporting them...