A leading news story this week is following the happenings at Penn State University where long time assistant football coach Joe Sandusky has been arrested for multiple counts of sexually abusing children — allegedly. These allegations have already ended the careers of two other former Penn State officials and are threatening to bring down several more, not the least of whom is 84 year-old head coach Joe “JoePa” Paterno who has become the winningest coach in FBS (Division I) history in his 46 year tenure at the helm of the Nitanny Lions.
What catches my attention is the nature of the alleged crimes. Sandusky is accused of sexual abuse. Of all the crimes a person can commit in the 21st century in America, NONE causes more nausea and media hype than sexual abuse of minors. Even if the abuse is alleged and not proven. I don’t know the intimate details of this case and Sandusky may very well be the worst sexual predator since Richard “the Night Stalker” Ramirez terrorized Southern California. He may, however, be an innocent man and that is the problem.
Sexual abuse and sex crimes in general are the witchcraft accusations of our day and age. In medieval times, to accuse someone of witchcraft was the fastest way possible to legally assassinate that person’s character — if not his or her physical body. Accusations of sex crimes accomplish the same insidious results today.
Let me go on record right here that I have no sympathy or softness for criminals of any stripe be they murderers, rapists, or politicians. I think anyone who forces himself upon a woman or child sexually should not be tried but taken out and shot. Luckily for many people, I don’t make the laws.
I have no problem with laws against sexual abuse. What I have a serious problem with is hypocrisy and no part of our legal system in the USA is more hypocritical than crimes and allegations dealing with sexual abuse. To accuse a person of sexual abuse is to end his career and smear his character beyond all hope of redemption. Proof is handy, but not necessary. All that is needed is the allegations. THAT is what I have a problem with.
Back in the middle ’90s when I first started teaching, the news featured a middle school teacher in New Jersey who was released from prison after serving five years for sexual misconduct with two of his female students. It took years of trials and FIVE YEARS of prison before one of the girls cracked and tearfully admitted the entire encounter had been made up by her and the other girl because the teacher spurned their advances. That was in MIDDLE SCHOOL. The worst part of the whole affair is the teacher, even after being released, has YET to clear his name because too many people seem to think along the lines of “even if those girls made up that story, he must be guilty of something else for them to think of doing that to him.”
Don’t laugh and please don’t dismiss me. This stuff happens.
Let me say again that I have no truck with sexual abuse or sexual misconduct — if it is proven. I just want the hypocrisy and the witch-hunting to end. To me nothing is more hypocritical than the various state and national Sex Offender Registries. Just about every person convicted of a sex crime of any nature is required to have his or her name placed on the SOR for THE REST OF HIS OR HER LIFE. The nature of the sex crime is immaterial.
This is hypocrisy at best and blatantly unConstitutional at worst.
A violent serial rapist is placed on the same SOR with a young man who didn’t know and didn’t think to ask if the girl he took home from the frat party was over some arbitrary age of consent. This is wrong on both counts. The youngster has no business having his future ruined by a mistaken ID check and the violent serial rapist has no business being out of prison.
I have a buddy right now who is on the SC SOR for the rest of his life because when he was a 17 year old high school senior, he had sex — CONSENSUAL sex, mind you — with his 14 year old freshman girlfriend on prom night. Her daddy found out what the rest of us had known for a good while — namely his little Snow White had drifted. He had my friend arrested for statutory rape. My bud plead guilty (after all, he DID do it) to avoid prison, but he had to register on the sex offender list. He lost his college scholarships, had his college acceptance revoked, and to this day, he’s still on the SOR and it is nearly impossible for him to get a job.
A person commits a crime and is sentenced to X number of years to pay for that crime. If the crime is robbery, once the sentence is completed, the person is completely free. Even MURDER is the same way. We don’t have a National Murderer Registry. Let a person commit some sort of sex crime, however, and even after the person pays his debt to society in full, he still has a life sentence on a completely publicly accessible registry. In most states this means he will have a devil of a time finding a place to live legally, a job, or even a place to EAT.
Can someone PLEASE explain to me how this is not a violation of the Double Jeopardy Clause of the US Constitution?
One last time, let me say IF A PERSON IS A VIOLENT SEXUAL PREDATOR, he or — rarely — she should HANG. Pedophiles should be locked away forever, not put on a registry. Their crimes are too heinous to describe and study after study has shown they are incapable of being rehabilitated.
But what about the Humbert Humberts? Why should they be punished for a lapse of judgement with Lolita?
I think the most hypocritical part of the sexual attitude of the country in general and the SOR in particular is the egregious double standards found everywhere sex is concerned. “Children” in middle school sing along to their favorite songs like “My Milkshake brings all the boys to the yard” and “I wanna lick you like a lollipop” but when they ACT on those sexual overtones, THEY are not punished but woe betide anyone a little too old who falls under their spell.
The world has changed. I don’t like it. In fact, I pretty much despise it. For one thing, I want to know where all these “girls” were when I was in middle school. Most girls I went to school with couldn’t wear freaking LIP GLOSS until they were 15. I remember going to high school and seeing all the freshmen girls who were finally allowed to wear makeup trying to learn how. Poor things ended up somewhere between Mona Lisa and Tammy Faye Bakker.
It’s different now, though. Adolescents have always been curious about sex but now they are subtly ENCOURAGED by the media and the entertainment industry to ACT rather than just be curious. Then, when they do, it’s the “adults” who are punished. This is wrong and a miscarriage of justice on too many levels.
Back to Coach Sandusky. Maybe he did and maybe he didn’t. At the moment, the state’s strongest piece of evidence is the testimony of ONE janitor with perfect recall of an even that happened in 2002. I barely remember breakfast yesterday and this janitor remembers all the details of a fleeting event over 9 years ago.
Like I said, maybe he did and maybe he didn’t. It doesn’t really matter now though because in the minds of the public, a once lauded and supposedly conscientious man will forever be “a predator.” If he is guilty, he should bear the full weight of punishment . . . but can’t we wait until he is tried before we hang him?
Some people — allegedly — think that might be a good idea. I happen to be one of them.