There are plenty of good reasons to abhor sex offender registries, not the least of which is their further contribution toward the pathologizing of sex in an already pathological society. Of all the behaviors we’ve seen fit to criminalize—and honestly, what the hell is legal anymore?—we’ve determined sex offenderdom as the singular category upon which we universally agree: it’s a sickness. In our inimitable American style, we then take our convictions about perversion’s innateness and use them not to justify greater leniency and understanding, but harsher, longer, and more rigorous punishment.
Now there’s another reason. The linked Post article gets the money quotation:
"We've spent a great deal of public and private energy demonizing these types of offenders," said William Buckman, a criminal defense attorney in New Jersey who said the house of one of his clients was burned down, while garbage was thrown on the lawn of another. "So it's predictable that they will be the victims of violence and vigilantism.”The article profiles two registered sex offenders killed by some vigilante who found them on Maine’s online, public registry. The older victim sounded like a pretty bad character; he’d abused a 7-year-old child, and that’s far below an age where sexual consent can ever properly be given or withheld.
But the other victim was just a kid himself. Just 24. His crime, the paper reports vaguely, seems to have been sex with his teenaged girlfriend. Consider for a moment the vicious absurdity of making it not only a statutory violation for a person in his early twenties to have sex with a consenting teenager with whom he had a standing relationship, not only an imprisonable offense, but to stipulate that a very young man whose true crime, at worst, was impatience and poor judgment (in a twentysomething, imagine!), should carry the scarlet letter for the rest of his life, registered with and tracked by the state, his entire life and being reduced to “sex offender”, the disease for which there is no cure, the crime for which there is endless punishment.
The wide net catches all manner of fish.