Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween demagoguery on sex-offenders in full swing this year

Media demagoguery surrounding sex offenders at Halloween has become a sort of annual tradition for law enforcement and their media enablers, and 2013 has been no exception. Here are just a few Texas examples I found with a quick Google News search:
Pathetic. Only one story I found even hinted at the obvious counter-narrative. The Dallas News had a story yesterday titled, "Experts say Halloween laws against sex offenders are a scare tactic." In it, reporter Marissa Budzynski acknowledged that:
many experts say there is no evidence to suggest sex offenders attack children more on Oct. 31 than any other day and the restrictive laws amount to nothing more than a scare tactic.

In fact, Dallas police say they have not witnessed an increase in crime, sexual or otherwise, on the spookiest day of the year. Halloween crime rates in the city dropped 12 percent from 2011 to 2012, said Maj. Robert Sherwin of the crimes against persons division.

Dallas police say there is no need for further restrictions beyond state laws, which require sex offenders who are on probation to keep their porch lights off during trick-or-treating hours. They also cannot answer their door to candy-seekers and are not allowed to decorate their homes.

Jill Levenson, an associate professor at Lynn University, said that the greatest risk to trick-or-treaters is getting hit by a car. Researchers at the Florida school determined that there was no change in sexual assaults during Halloween, or even in the weeks that followed, in comparison to the rest of the year.

“The laws restricting sex offenders make parents and communities feel safer, but there’s no proof that they reduce the risk of sexual abuse,” Levenson said. “Law enforcement should be directing their efforts towards crimes that are more commonly seen on Halloween, like vandalism.”
Long-time readers know Grits has been highly critical of such fear-mongering demagoguery for many years. Law enforcement pushes these phony memes and the media gobble them up like a six-year old gorging on candy corn. In reality, though, kids are more likely to be struck by lightning while trick or treating than abducted by a registered sex offender.

Drunk drivers are a far greater threat to child safety on Halloween than sex-offenders, but you don't see probation departments rounding up DWI probationers during the time kids are out walking the streets (though at least that would be responding to a legitimate risk).

On the bright side, I ran across one article giving hope that somebody, somewhere in government may be considering a more rational approach. The Beaumont Enterprise had a story titled, "Recently passed sex-offender law in Nederland on hold." Among other things, the ordinance would have "required sex offenders to post 'no candy' signs, maintained and issued by Nederland police, in front of their homes for Halloween on Oct. 30 and Oct. 31 from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m." The paper reported that, "City Manager Chris Duque said the city's attorney advised suspending the rule for 180 days to allow time to examine pending and recently resolved court cases in other cities that apply to sex offender residency restrictions."

Members of the media hyping these bogus threats should be ashamed of themselves.


Gadfly said...

I take my local sex offenders to the hospital in my Halloween candy bag and have them X-rayed for hidden gluten so I don't trigger my allergies.

VIcki Henry said...

We are excited to announce the re-launch of the service previously known as the SOSEN Support Hotline.

Effective at 12:01 AM November 1st, 2013 Women Against Registry will begin managing the system used by registrants and families needing help in dealing with their registration issues. This program is supported by Reform Sex Offender Laws (RSOL), Sex Offender Solutions & Education Network (SOSEN) and Women Against Registry (W.A.R.) and we are here to listen, offer resources as they become available to us, refer to other agencies as needed but overall we want registrants and families to know you are not alone.

Please distribute this announcement to any group or individual that you are affiliated with who would benefit from this program. Please make note of our “live hours” and be assured we will be available or will reply to your phone call or email within 6 hours. Also, please respect and abide by our disclaimer below.

The Support Line is not a substitute for professional counseling, treatment or consultation with an attorney. Any actions or lack of actions by the recipient after contacting the Support Line is the sole responsibility of the recipient. RSOL, SOSEN nor Women Against Registry will be held responsible or liable in any regard. The Support Line DOES NOT support nor can we provide service to any person who is engaging in illegal activities and ask those calls be directed to: Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453).

Registrants & Families Support Line and Email


Live Hours:

Sunday - 10 AM – 4 PM
Monday - 10 AM – 6 PM
Tuesday - 10 AM – 8 PM
Wednesday - 8 AM – 2 PM
Thursday - 4 PM - 10 PM
Friday - 6 PM - 12 Midnight
Saturday – 8 AM - 10 AM and 4 PM – 12 AM
Vicki Henry,Director
Women Against Registry

Unknown said...

Funny a commenter should mention a hospital--a hospital or doctor's office is where a kid is most likely to encounter a sex offender, in the person of a doctor, although most doctors who commit sex offenses are never required to register.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Any data to back that up at all, charles? Sounds like a smear without a source.

Anonymous said...

Was thinking about this last night as I watched local coverage just like what you listed. No wonder Halloween and everything else involving kids just trying to have fun (yes, everything!), has just been ruined by this obsession with sex offenders.

So it's not enough they were being told they have to worry about non-existent razor blades--the first thing they hear now is they are going to be raped by a guy giving them candy.

Wow! Can't wait to get my costume so I can go get murdered!

Talk about the bloom off the rose.

RSO wife said...

It's my belief that the "boogeyman" threat is perpetuated by law enforcement and politicians and fueled by the media. It's all to further their own agenda. Anything or anybody that can cause fear will work to get attention - and votes. If it wasn't sex offenders, it would be something or somebody else. Sex offenders are the current witch hunt.

Through the years it's been everything from hunting witches in Salem to Sen McCarthy's hunt for Communists, and black listed actors who were thought to be Communists. The fear mongering never ends. The Boogeyman is out there waiting for a new face and a new name.

We have become a nation of "sheeple". The media has to give us our opinions. We've become so engrossed in mass hysteria over something for which we have no actual facts that we can't think or act for ourselves. And the dumbing down of American continues.

Anonymous said...

Politicians have used the sex offender issue as a legislation bill writing tool to gain notoriety for their political gain for years. The Lame Stream News Media uses it for same only for Headlines.

Want I do not understand. Why are the officials not more worried about Drunk Drivers, Drug Dealers and Muggers on this night.

ckikerintulia said...

Kids are more in danger from a sugar high from candy treats than from a sex offender on Halloween.

Anonymous said...

I would say that officials are not giving drunk drivers the same attention as registered sex offenders is that so many of them are guilty of that offense.

Yes, legislators use sex offender hysteria to further their campaigns and look like "good guys."

Law enforcement is thrilled to work on Halloween. Think of the overtime pay... for nothing!

Anonymous said...

The only night of the year that we are programed to ignore screams as simply kids being scared by strangers.

The only night of the year that parents contradict themselves by taking kids to strangers houses and asking for treats.

Damn, I can see them now, creating a bill to outlaw knowingly & willingly making kids scream and run from strangers.

I can see the parents trying to tell the cops that lil mary pissed herself and their going to sue due to the bad man in the brown house or was it the brown man in the bad house that tricked instead of treating.

Anonymous said...

This last paragraph of yours describes the American society exactly. Believe it or not other people around the world see this, and this is why this culture is considered the worst one to belong to.

Anonymous said...

There are a lot of last paragraphs, care to to point out which one?