Vigilantes can now supplement their free subscription to the registry of people who have ever violated a sex law, with motivational merchandise. Inspirational t-shirts and car decals are all the rage thanks to Q anon. They can be purchased from places such as Etsy, Amazon and Ebay, where you can get a “Shoot your local pedophile” bumper sticker to go next to your “I’d rather be fishing” decal.
If you find this kind of language threatening, insane, intimidating, or harassing, not to worry; a local law enforcement officer assured me that this rhetoric is protected speech. He compared the feelings of shock and fear a target of this hate might feel to those of an atheist reacting to a “Jesus Saves” sign. He even suggested that “no one likes pedophiles except other pedophiles”.
Then I told him I was married to a person who is forced to register for life.
He reminded me that “these people” are not a protected class. Of course they aren’t, I acknowledged, but isn’t it reasonable for someone who has already paid their debt to society to prefer not to see a “Wanted: DEAD” poster outside of their local Walmart?
Why should this material be illegal? The answer lies in the way registrants are regarded by both society and by law enforcement. Registrants and their spouses and children, by way of association, are treated as if our lives have little value which makes it really easy to justify acts of violence against us. For the first time in my life, I have become a Boogeyperson.
As far as local law enforcement goes, if you are telling other people in the community what you told me, that makes you a part of the problem.
When he was first under DOC supervision (where we moved from), both me and my husband were terrorized and psychologically abused, and our personal information shared illegally between government departments. We were subjected to the most obscene invasions of our privacy (imagine having to report to the government when you are intimate with your spouse), told where we could and couldn’t live and were the subjects of retaliation at gunpoint for reporting these abuses. Imagine walking away from a so-called therapist feeling as if you’ve been raped.
The registry might have been well-intentioned but two decades of observation have shown it doesn’t protect children, is expensive and leads to registrants and their family members being harassed, assaulted and even killed by vigilantes. A teenager who is on the list because of a slight difference in age from his girlfriend is not clearly differentiated from the guy who drugged and raped his grandchild.
But a person with any past conviction for violating any sex law is a “sex offender” to most of the public and why would a vigilante split hairs? Qannon conspiracy theories thrive in an environment like this where there is a vacuum of knowledge.
Free speech is protected in the United States subject to the Incitement or Brandenburg test as follows:
“the government may prohibit speech advocating the use of force or crime if the speech satisfies both elements of the two-part test:
1. The speech is “directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action,” AND
2. The speech is “likely to incite or produce such action.”
(Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/brandenburg_test).
Now people with serious judgment issues are buying and selling these vulgar products and plastering them all over their vehicles for all the world to see which includes any kid who happens by. Hypocrites.
Like the symbols for man and woman on bathroom doors at airports, these calls to action display the international symbol for an execution-style murder: a handcuffed person kneeling, with a man standing behind them, pointing a gun at their head.
No way, in this political climate is a sign like this going to inspire someone to act – right?
I find it ironic that the people who insist on sharing their violent “opinions” with the world (and, most likely, experience uncomfortable thoughts they can’t get out of their heads when they dream) – are the so-called righteous.
If you’re one of the people who “no one likes”, however, you go to bed at night with the knowledge you are alone emotionally and legally. I now know where my local authorities stand.
After seeing one of these signs in real life and experiencing a fear you’ve never felt before…
After being brushed aside — no — insulted, by someone who has pledged to protect you without bias…
After feeling the helpless rage at the astounding hypocrisy of a horrific and broken system only someone who has been subjected to it to can understand…
You get up, sit down at the computer, and begin to write – and hope to God someone listens.