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For what it's worth

Legislature Creates a Law to Protect Society from
A Subclass of individuals They Also Created.

"Sexually Violent Predators"

To this day there is still this excuse affording

20 states to enact this Orwellian legislature.

A slap in the Constitutional Face of America.

       Protecting society from Sexually Violent Preditors sounds fair to this scrivener.  However, first I must question, “What exactly is a Sexual Violent Predator?”  My belief would be, “Well, it’s an individual who hides in the bushes, seeks out, or otherwise stalks victims to satisfy insatiable sexual urges.”  Definitely someone to protect society from.  Then again, that belief is based only on personal perception created from social learning via media and peer edification.  So, let’s see just whom society is really being protected from, at, may I add, hundreds of millions of society tax dollars.

The term, sex offender, generally refers to an individual who commits a crime of a sexual nature.  A predator is defined in most dictionaries as a predatory animal or a plunderer.  Predatory being: of or addicted to plunder or robbery or preying naturally upon others.  

Conjoining these definitions, we get a predatory animal addicted to plundering or preying naturally on others by committing a crime of a sexual nature.  Ok, I can accept this broad definition as I go back to my earlier perception of an animalistic individual with a natural inclination to stalk or prey on others to commit a crime of a sexual nature.  These stalkers are addicted to the sexual plunder.  That is intense!  So certainly if such an animal existed, society would need to be protected from them.

 

However, there are still a few problems with our definition.  First, the dictionaries I referenced (Webster’s and Oxford) tell me this predatory animal preys “naturally” on others.  So I go back to my references to understand “naturally” as being: in a natural manner, by nature, of or dealing with nature; produced or existing in nature; not artificial, innate, not acquired; true to nature; lifelike, normal; free from affectation, at ease; a person or thing sure to be successful.  Those are interesting, but when I delve into the Oxford, I raise my eyebrows with trepidation.  Naturally:  based on the innate moral sense; instinctive, (natural law, justice, virtues); established by nature, natural selection, a process favoring survival of organisms best adaptive to their environment; normal, comfortable to the ordinary course of nature; not exceptional or miraculous or irregular.  The list goes on with; not surprising or to be expected; spontaneous or easy; destined to be such by nature; thing that is by nature suitable.

So now we have an animal – an individual for our cause in law – who “naturally” by inherent impulses determining its actions commits a crime of a sexual character – nature.  Ok, I can still see this as someone (thing) that would be a threat to society.  Cap this all off by making this natural predatory being a Violent Sexual Predator, or as our controversial law calls it, a Sexually Violent Predator, and my imaginations sees some predatory animal (or as the state insists, individual) preying upon victims not just to commit a crime of a sexual nature but to violently commit this sex offense.  I see someone ripped, torn, eaten, murdered – much like the poor victim of the crime for which the Florida law was named, but that perpetrator did not fall prey to this legislature, he was sentenced appropriately by the criminal courts.

I continue to agree with the need for this protection from such a predatory animal, especially now that it is a sexually violent one.  Then I look at the people who are classified for consideration as just such an “animal” and I stand up and shout, “WAIT!  Wait a damn minute!”  These people haven’t ripped, maimed, eaten, or murdered anyone.  Much less is it true to their nature based on an innate moral sense instinctive and suitable to them to do so.  Some sex offenders have done these atrocities, but the Criminal Courts usually succeed in keeping society protected from them with life (or death) sentences.

No, I see mostly men waiting for their day (once again) in court.  (I guess the legislators realize something no one else does – are there no female sexual predators?)  Anyway, I see men sitting, some for years, some for the rest of their lives, after the completion of what the criminal courts determined was punishment enough for their crimes, suitable to satisfy society, to see if a civil (and I don’t want to get into the definition of civil yet) court can declare if they are one of these animals we’ve previously described.

How do they get away with this?  That is easy enough to answer.  Fear and ignorance created by politicians and perpetuated by the media.  The term Sexual Predator is used by mainstream news media and tabloid news organizations to titillate the public with images of lurking fiends waiting to terrorize woman and children, after all, that was my first impression.  These politicians and the media capitalize on the public fascination with sexual violence by spotlighting a collective awareness of this one type of crime.

According to a search of the Nexis News Files conducted by Raquel Blancher that predated 1992, only 302 references of the term sexual predator were revealed.  By contrast, in just the first 6 months of 1997 over 1000 references were found.  Is this a surprise?  No, look at the sensationalism of the dilemma we saw in the media concerning the Catholic priests.

The more highly publicized a crime, the easier it is for politicians to win elections.  For you see, heightened public sensitivity leads to greater interest and community outrage against that type of crime.  The politicians (legislators) and the judiciary respond by being perceived as hard on sex offenders.  This is the climate that created the Sexual Predator jargon and developed new legal rules.  A great example is Florida’s Jimmy Ryce Act, which was certainly a crowd pleasing legislature stemming from a highly publicized crime concerning a 9-year-old boy being lured from his rural bus stop; raped, murdered, and dismembered.

Florida’s Civil Commitment Act, first named for that boy, (eventually renamed after the boy’s parents were disillusioned by the way the law was progressing) was unanimously voted in and within the first month, 202 cases were reviewed for classification as sexually violent predators.  According to Peggy Natale, a West Palm Beach Public Defender who was quoted on polkonline.com March 2, 1999, “It’s all crafted to the government having all the rights and the respondent having none.  And that’s not an exaggeration.”  She went on to advise, “this is punishment, this is not civil treatment.”

According to the National Mental Health Association, “[t]here are two obvious dangers to a system that uses public fear, hatred, and a desire for revenge to erode individual rights by increasing governmental ability to convict, incarcerate, and indefinitely detain individuals who commit certain crimes.  One, is as public opinion changes, law makers will continue to expand the field of individuals considered unworthy of constitutional protections.”  I would note here that just recently the legislature proposed with much acceptance, a new law to “civilly commit” DUI offenders. Don't know what the status of that is at this point but it has begun!  And “Two, the new rules blur the distinctions between punishment of criminals and treatment of the mentally ill.”

It would seem that when the justifications and assumptions used to support acts such as the aforementioned Jimmy Ryce Act and those enacted in the other 19 states, which have similar legislature are examined, we may discover that those assigned to protect society are motivated by public hatred and vindictiveness and financial gain rather than fundamental legal principles or impartiality and reason.

So, what is natural here?  Are there really sexually violent predators being held under this “feel good law?”  Or are our politicians just winning votes at the expense of these men who have served the allotted punishment for their crimes and the expense of the taxpayers who pay millions of dollars for the classification and incarceration of American citizens without a new crime?  Those condemned under these laws are certainly not naturally preying upon others as the definition demands.  Otherwise, they would be in prison for life or have a death sentence. 

I do not believe I need to go further into the dictionaries or other texts to see that what we have here is not what I believed at the beginning.  Yes, it is best to protect society from some animal whose natural predisposition is to prey on others, but the state has not shown me that the individuals who fall “prey” to this commitment act and are locked up indefinitely after their prison sentences, are these animals.  The politicians show me they are locking up anyone and everyone they can who has ever committed a sex offense or a crime the state can declare is ‘sexually motivated’ to show “they are tough on sex crimes” using fear, sensationalism, and the media, to win votes.

I thank God I did not rely on my first impression of who we were locking up as sexually violent predators.  I for one chose not to accept that impression, question what is happening to our constitutional rights, and voice my concerns to those who represent me in government (although that usually falls on deaf ears)!  I hope you will join me.  After all, not only are these men paying for this with their lives but we, (society) are paying for it with monies that could be better utilized to actually protect someone.

In closing, I quote Christopher Dawson from The Judgment of the Nations (1942),

“As soon as men decide that all means are permitted to fight an evil, then their good becomes indistinguishable from the evil that they set out to destroy.”

Always in Spirit and Truth

Ed Note

 

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