Sad Bastard of the Week: What do you do with a sex offender?

Posted at 2:12 PM Feb 09, 2010

By Andrea Grimes


Over the past week, two difficult quandaries were sent into two different advice columns, seeking counsel on what to do when you have to deal with sex offenders. And one specifically asks how to deal with that sex offender when that sex offender is oneself.

To be fair, the first letter, which was sent into Savage Love, only deals with a potential sex offender--a man who knows he is attracted to children, but who so far has managed to control his urges and has never committed an actual crime. Dude doesn't even look at kiddie porn, not even the drawn kind.

So what the fuck should I do? Chemical castration? But I haven't DONE anything, and I don't plan to. Am I obliged to tell anyone? Good way to lose friends and get the shit kicked out of me. Can I keep babysitting my friends' kids when they need a hand? After all, if I were into adult women, people wouldn't see anything wrong with leaving me alone with a couple of those. They certainly wouldn't assume I'd molest them. My sex drive was put together wrong, Dan. What the fuck do I do? Live alone and hope Japan starts producing affordable sexbots before I'm too old to care?

My first response was to count my own damned blessings. And Dan's response was, well, to be the thoughtful and controversial columnist we all know and love. He writes back:

My heart is going out to you, too, KIW. As I've written before, we should acknowledge the existence of "good pedophiles," people like you, KIW, who are burdened with a sexual interest in children but who possess the moral sense to resist acting on that interest. It's a lifelong struggle for "good pedophiles," and most manage to succeed without any emotional support--to say nothing of credit--whatsoever.
Now, I'll have to admit that I'm somewhat skeptical. Sex drive is incredibly powerful. Can I really believe that someone with these kinds of desires will absolutely, positively never molest a kid? I'm not sure. But a psychologist Dan consulted seems to have a solution:

"Non-offender pedophiles have told me that chemical castration has given them considerable relief," Cantor adds. "So it's unfortunate that we use the term 'chemical castration,' which evokes all kinds of emotions. When you get right down to it, we are talking only about taking the same medication used by, for example, prostate-cancer patients--some cancers are accelerated by testosterone, so blocking testosterone is part of the treatment."
So there's that. But like Dan, I think the babysitting has got to go: "So no babysitting for you, KIW--to protect the kids, first and foremost, but yourself as well."

The second letter, written by a Texan to the NYT Mag Ethicist, concerns the etiquette of inviting a known sex offender to your party:

I am thinking about organizing a 30th reunion for my elementary-school "graduating" class. One classmate is a registered sex offender whose presence may discourage other people from attending, especially with their kids. Should I invite him? Make the event adults only? Inform others of his offense? Public records show that his misdeed was committed 13 years ago. He received probation, and there's no indication of any subsequent crime. I would regret excluding him or violating his privacy, but I'd feel bad withholding information that other classmates might want. What to do?
Say what you want about us Texans, we are polite folk. But the Ethicist says politeness means inviting the offender:

Do nothing. It's often the best thing. Some parents might be uneasy about this fellow, but to respond to that anxiety would be catering to prejudice, not forestalling danger. There's information about my former classmates I want -- their infidelities, their plastic surgeries, their P.I.N.'s -- but it doesn't follow that I'm ethically entitled to it.

If the classmate constituted a threat to anyone, you might have to act. But data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics indicate that the recidivism rate for sex offenders, contrary to widespread misconceptions, is far lower than for many other criminals.

I don't know--as the organizer, I might still be tempted to skip my own party, particularly if I knew the details of the offense. However, like with every other kind of crime, people can be wrongly convicted of sexual crimes. I mean hey, I've watched enough SVU to know.

What would you do, Dolls?


bobby said:

who would go to a 30th reunion for an elementary school graduating class? and who would take their kids to it?

RachelB said:

And what kind of "sex offender" are we talking about? The Sad Bastard organizing an elementary school reunion (that IS sad) implies that this guy is a pedophile, but being an avid watcher of SVU myself, I think we need to recognize that there are gray areas in the sex offender registry. What if the guy had (consensual) sex with a 16-year-old girl (think "An Education"-type situation)? That's a whole different ball game than the guy fondling 11-year-olds in a public restroom.

Not that having sex with a 16-year-old when you're in your 30s is exactly moral, but lumping it together with true pedophilia isn't exactly accurate in terms of the power dynamic (children by definition are never in control of a situation involving an adult, whereas teenagers have some automony) and the sex act (being attracted to a teenager well into puberty means you're sexually drawn to adults; being attracted to an undeveloped child means you're sexually attracted to children). The writer of the Savage Love letter is clearly attracted to chidren, not pubescent teens. The guy mentioned in the Texas letter--well, we just don't know which way he swings.

That's a scenic-route way of saying that I agree with the advice to the Texas letter-writer who's trapped in the glory days of grad school: just keep your mouth shut and enjoy your elementary school reunion.

Andrea said:

The fact that the subject of this entry can be sung to the tune of "drunken sailor" is totally a coincidence.

Tasha said:

Thanks Andrea, now I've got THAT stuck in my head. (Put him in the scuppers with a hosepipe on him...)

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