Reader unhappy with article on sex offenders

Map shows location of registered sex offenders in Niagara Falls.

Map shows location of registered sex offenders in Niagara Falls.

 

A reader wrote in response to Mike Hudson’s article “Sex offenders drive down property values quality of life’.

Dear Editor:

I read the article you recently published and was struck by its inflammatory language, poor word choice, inaccurate assessments, and its overall fear-mongering tone.

You ought to be ashamed of yourself for allowing such a piece of pandering misinformation to be published.  Don’t bother to write back if your intent is to defend this tabloid journalism.  Our society needs greater understanding based on the fact that not all sex offenders are the same, not all are predators, not all are perverts.  Your article does nothing but promote fear, misunderstanding and marginalization.

Do not pander to fear.  Educate!  Do not make your fellow citizens fearful, teach them the facts.  Your approach in this article does neither, and it promotes divisions based on myth and misinformation.

Jim Brennan

 

I wrote back as follows:

Hello Jim

I would be happy to publish a rebuttal op-ed if you care to write one – with, specifically, what is the attitude society should have toward convicted sex offenders. I’m sure there is another side – and we would like to consider it – and present your view.

 —–

Mr. Brennan wrote back:

(A) newspaper ought to be a place that seeks to tell the truth and to debunk irrational fears, rather than take the easy way out by strengthening visceral fears.

There is a great deal of material one could easily find on this topic if one were so motivated.  Recidivism rates, the effect of creating the ostracized other of the sex offender, whether society is truly protected by the fear engendered of the sex offender, and perhaps most importantly: is there no place for logic and scientific longitudinal information when crafting societies’ response to this type of offense?

At this moment, we respond with fear and loathing to all who bear the label sex offender, and the attempts to differentiate between types and levels of offense are blunt and ham handed.  And the nuances of those legal distinctions are not important to the general public.  Making them important is, in part, your job.

Please don’t read this as a defense of sex offenses.  I don’t mean to imply justification.  Rather I wish folks like yourself would do your homework in researching the topic, try to understand what social science has to say on the issue, and avoid the wide, easy path of scaring people.  That does nothing to make us a better people, a more thoughtful people.

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