By Steven Thomas
Friday, while enjoying the Crimson, I flipped from the editorial section back to the front page and became appalled as I read "Sex Offenders Move to Green Springs?" Not once did the article refer to these people as anything but "offenders" and "inmates." The students interviewed, the writer and the public safety officer interviewed succeed in dehumanizing these men - and women - treating them as if they were vermin.
These men and women are not vermin; they are not rats; they are not pests to be grouped into ghettos, as this article seems to be implying? Yes, these men and women broke the law? Many of them did horrible things, unspeakable things; I do not deny this?
Many sex offenders, however, did not commit horrible crimes-they just made mistakes? Visiting a prostitute outside of the isolated places where it is legal is considered a sex offense in many states? Is prostitution wrong? Most would say yes, but is a "John" a dangerous sex offender? Hardly.
Public indecency is even considered a sex offense? Yes, that means if I am in a traffic jam and walk to the bushes and am seen and accosted by a police officer, I have to register as an offender that we do not want "to live anywhere near?" Under this definition, nearly every male citizen should be labeled as a sex offender.
These registries, and our reaction to them, create fear and animosity toward nonviolent offenders who are not dangerous? Furthermore, this treatment of sex offenders who did commit awful crimes ignores any hope for rehabilitation and redemption? Sex offenders are still people, and even these men and women deserve a second chance.
I know that we must protect ourselves and our children? But do pubic registries really protect? All they tell us is that there are sex offenders in our community, and where they live? Sex offenders live in every community, and it will always be that way! Telling us where these men and women live will not offer us protection - that sort of knowledge only leads to the fear and hatred so well illustrated by last week's article.
As a Christian, I object to the inhumane treatment of these men and women? This blanket dehumanization of sex offenders by the article and those it quoted flies in the face of the example set by the Messiah, a "friend of tax collectors and sinners." We must embrace sex offenders and treat them as human beings, loving them as Christ loved us.
Public Safety Chief Mike Coppage was quoted in the conclusion of this piece as saying, "No one wants to live in the same neighborhood as a registered sex offender."
Mr. Coppage, you are wrong? I want to live in the same neighborhood of sex offenders, and I still believe in redemption, and I know there are others who will join me in accepting these men and women despite the evil deeds they may have committed. They are still people - living, breathing, human beings whom we should treat with love and respect.
We must not react to these people with hatred; instead, let us listen to the words of the great American bard, Walt Whitman:
"I pick out some low person for my dearest friend, He shall be lawless, rude, illiterate, he shall be one condemn'd by others for deeds done, I will play a part no longer, why should I exile myself from my companions? O you shunn'd persons, I at least do not shun you."
"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin