Dear Members and Advocates:
It’s Halloween week. The time of year persons required to register dread because news reports and vigilantes are focused on them. Some literally have signs posted at their homes! It’s an unnecessary shaming ritual that repeats itself annually. This year, two sister organizations, NARSOL and ACSOL, will be hosting a Halloween Marathon. It’s an opportunity to listen, learn, ask questions and ride out the holiday with others who are going through the same thing as you are. To access the call on the night of Halloween, dial 605-313-5169, followed by 957605# or you can also access it online by going to https://www.freeconferencecallhd.com/dialer and following the on-screen directions using the same code.
Another thing you can do to counter the Halloween week shaming is to comment on news stories that perpetuate the Halloween myths. One of the most effective ways to educate the public is by introducing facts into the discussion. There are no shortage of these scare stories this time of year and therefore there are no shortage of opportunities to present the facts. A good source for the FACTS is ATSA’s Statement. This Halloween, stay safe, stay vigilant and remember that this week will pass.
On the topic of opportunities to open dialogue; this past week we had two interesting examples. The first example was our post about a Pastor in New York who “pulled the plug” on a couple’s wedding that was supposed to take place in his Church because the groom had been convicted of a sexual offense. We posted the story because of this article in the local paper that said the Pastor originally was going to allow the wedding, “in light of the fact he hadn’t been convicted … But after he was sentenced, [the Pastor] said it was decided the church would not allow the ceremony.” In response to our post, many members reached out to the pastor and got a very different story from him (which he also posted on the comments to our story). Whether the local paper was responsible for the misinformation or the pastor back-tracked (let’s give him the benefit of the doubt), our members mobilized and we forced some introspection. Hopefully the congregation will be there to offer support and healing to all involved.
The second opportunity to open dialogue came from an obnoxious comment on our site. Occasionally we will get a vigilante or someone posting something ignorant. If it’s vulgar we’ll delete it. If it’s a direct threat to an identified person, naturally we would call the police. But if it’s general stupidity or ignorance, we will sometimes let it through because it’s an opportunity to open a dialogue with someone who obviously doesn’t agree with our position.
In this case, the person wrote “all sex offenders should be taken out back and shot”. One member suggested he would leave FAC because we allowed the comment. Really?!? Why? Why not just reply to the comment with “how about the thousands of children who are on the registry?” or “what about an 18 year old with his 15 year old girlfriend, or sexting teens, should they be shot too?” A well crafted rebuttal might just force the vigilante to think. If FAC’s website were only open to members, we’d all be “preaching to the choir”. By encouraging opposing points of view, even sometimes the obnoxious, we give ourselves the opportunity to change minds.
The Florida Action Committee
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SOME HEADLINES FROM THE WEEK
Fox News reports that testing in Florida’s Palm Beach County of 1,500 backlogged rape kits has led to the arrest of a registered sex offender for a 1992 rape. This story is shared for a couple reasons. First; for years there was a backlog of untested rape kits. Rather…
A 17-year-old boy who realized he was at the same convenience store as a man whose picture had appeared on a mailed sex-offender notice followed the man away from the shop and beat him up, New Orleans police said this week. Now, besides facing a count of misdemeanor…
The following came from a Fox affiliate in Atlanta (https://www.fox5atlanta.com/) MACON, Ga. – In a hearing that lasted more than three hours, a federal judge heard testimony and arguments Thursday in a lawsuit by sex offenders against a middle Georgia sheriff’s…
PA Appeals Court Rules Online Dissemination of Sex Offender’s Information is Punitive and Violates Federal Ex Post Facto
A Pennsylvania Appeals Court has found that the dissemination of persons who have been convicted of sexual offenses’ information on the internet (Megan’s Law) violates the ex post facto clause of the Constitution for individuals whose offenses pre-date the ordinance….