I was at work today, cleaning a counter (we have many counters that get very dirty, very often) when I noticed an 8" x 11" piece on paper taped down onto it, with a whole lot of signatures on it. I thought to myself "Oh boy! Petition! Save the whales!" and snatched up the pen, going to write my name down in the little box and hope that Amnesty international was going to stop some country from exploiting scores of children into making Nike socks or chewing tobacco tins for us overprivileged North Americans with all the power and potential to make the best of our resources.

Upon closer inspection of the intent of the petition, I was stricken with mixed feelings. It said, more or less, the following: "As a member of my community, I want our children to live in a safe environment, free of fear and paranoia... to do this, I sign my name and address on the following affirming that I support the following two statements." Statement number one: That sex offenders (especially those related to pedophilia offenses) serve longer sentences and harder judgements than those currently given by our ministry of law & justice. -I admonished most of the people on the list for signing, because I am rather positive that next to none of them (including me) know what sort of going rate Canadian judges are giving sentences out to sex offenders these days- But it was the second statement that made me stop in my signing tracks entirely... It proposed that convicted pedophiles' names, and addresses (upon release from any sentences they served) be released to the public on a free basis to the immediate area that they live in. ... ... ...

I'm not too sure about this. I mean, I'm very wary of sex offenders, it is my personal opinion that rape crimes are among the most heinous of acts a human can commit... but does someone committing any of these heinous crimes rob them of their privacy? Isn't this just begging for some angry mob to spraypaint said ex-convict's house down with slogans like "Die Pervert", "stay away from our neighbourhood" and "get out Pedo Freak?" The fringes of such a policy should be much more examined... repeat offender status, whether or not they have taken counselling (as useful as counselling is, some of them will refuse it at all costs while in prison... I mean, when someone proposes so drastic a measure (And it's not even a preventative measure... only after the damage has already been done)) against so drastic a crime... what are we, the public supposed to do about it? Stand up for human rights, even for the criminal? Or succumb to the fear that we might too become a victim and live behind the barbed wire wall of ostracism?

A good short story on the subject (though with small thematic differences) is Nadine Gordimer's "Once Upon a Time."

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