Friday, May 20, 2005

What struck me about today’s SJ-R article on Six Flags’ new policy to protect against sex offenders was that it didn’t seem to be driven by an announcement by Six Flags, but rather the protestations of a convicted sex offender. The article quotes a man whose daughter became upset upon reading the policy on the back of a ticket because she thought her father would no longer be able to take her to the family fun park. It isn’t mentioned if the man is an advocate for sex offender rights so it's curious as to why he chose to go public with his gripe.

There have been many stories recently about men, who as teenagers had consensual sex with their under-the-age-of-consent girlfriends, being permanently labeled a sex offender along with rapists and pedophiles. But that isn’t the case here. This guy was 16 at the time of his crime and the victim was an eight year-old relative. Given the deviant nature of his act, why would this guy want to go public and embarrass his poor daughter. Granted anyone can go to the state police’s Web site and find his name on a list of sex offenders, but people, including his daughter’s classmates, are more likely to see it in the newspaper.

And then there’s this. Six Flags isn’t screening for sex offenders as they enter the park. They will only check a person’s background for this information if they become unruly or in some other way require security to detain them. So unless this guy didn’t think he could spend the day with his daughter at an amusement park without raising a ruckus, there is really nothing for him to worry about.

I don’t want to judge the guy. Maybe he was wrongly convicted. Maybe he’s a terrific father. But for god’s sake man don’t splay yourself across the public square and scream until the tank changes course to run you over. (It occurs to me that this isn't an apt analogy, but I'm tired so it will have to stand for now.)

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