Huachuca City, Arizona has approved an ordinance banning registered sex offenders from all public facilities, including schools, parks, libraries, pools, gymnasiums and sports facilities. As discussed in an earlier post, the willingness of municipalities to continue to oppress and stigmatize law-abiding citizens who the justice system has deemed fit to re-enter society is ignorant, cruel, and unconscionable. And it is getting worse.
Mayor Byron Robertson is mouthing the same rationalization that others in his position have: it’s all for the children. “As a town and as a community, we have to protect our children. As a council, we have to make the right calls. Our police chief indicated that we were having a serious problem with some pedophiles that were being a nuisance and we took steps to overcome that.” The “steps” involve forcing innocent American citizens to move out of town, because “some” individuals, who are not necessarily registered sex offenders, are posing problems.This isn’t good for the children, because it isn’t good for children to grow up in a community that engages in cruel and invidious discrimination based on presumed criminal tendencies.
Naturally, no politician will do the right thing and oppose this outrage, since he or she will immediately be portrayed as a friend and ally of child-molesters. Who can stop this unethical trend? The mayor’s logic is thread-bare. The country is also having problems with middle-school and high school teachers who have sex with their students: would the mayor suggest that we ban teachers from schools, just to be on the safe side?
The ordinance, set to take effect this month, creates “child safety zones” where registered sex offenders will not be permitted, and the zones cover all public facilities including schools, parks, libraries, pools, gymnasiums, sports fields and sports facilities. (The authors of the law made exceptions for those who are picking up their children, voting in an election or meeting with someone to discuss their child’s health or education. That was big of them.) First-time offenders will be fined $100. Repeat offenders will be charged with trespassing.
They might as well just shoot them. Maybe that will be next.
This is a challenge for our society, culture, political system and values. Do we have the will and integrity to oppose and stop in its tracks an organized, rapidly-spreading effort to demonize fellow citizens because of their membership in a group, rather than based on their character and conduct? In the Thirties, Germany failed that test, and Americans have asserted ever since that this couldn’t happen here. Well, it’s happening in Huachuca City. Also in many other towns and cities. Robertson said the town attorney modeled the ordinance after bans elsewhere that courts have ruled constitutional.
The fact that isolation, discrimination and persecution may be legal doesn’t make it any less wrong.
“It’s a bold step hopefully many will follow,” Mayor Robertson said.
That’s what we should be afraid of.