Monday, January 26, 2009

Sex Abuse & Zero-Tolerance Bullshit

     At a recent workshop state parole management staff described the challenges of finding housing for sex offenders covered by Megan's Law. The legal requirements suggest that magical thinking is widespread among voters. For one thing, sexual exploitation by strangers is a small minority of all sex abuse, most of which is perpetrated by family and trusted friends.
     CDCR staffers also shared anecdotes about the extremes some people will go to in order to achieve the precision specified - 2000 feet and not an inch less even if they have to hire a surveyor to prove it. Or the insta-park designed expressly to exclude the evils of sex from their sanitary suburb. 
     But there's another problem with zero-tolerance. It's a step on a particularly slippery slope that leads to persecution and facism. It makes people feel like they are doing something without actually having to take the trouble to understand anything.
     And I can't help noticing that strangers can only sexually molest children when the parents aren't there. Late last year I read in the paper about a career couple whose nanny was subcontracting some of the work to a cheaper babysitter. Apparently this had gone on for years before she was found out by accident and NOT because the parents were paying attention or talking to their kid enough to notice.
     So how many people like that voted for Megan's Law because they are actually neglecting their kids and can't admit it? Taking your unconscious guilt out on people who in many cases are nonviolent, passive and pathetic is mean and lame.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Watch Out For the Thought Police!

The only other choice is to figure out our own defenses against bullshit. As defined by Harry G. Frankfurt, bullshit isn't necessarily a lie. It's persuasion by any means necessary. The motive is to achieve a certain effect, and a bullshit artist believes the ends justify the means.