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The Constitutional Right of Sex Offenders to Stalk Children on Halloween?

Posted on October 20 2010 9:00 am
Rob Taylor has a Master of Arts degree from Wesleyan University. He blogs at Greenville Dragnet.
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Do sex offenders have a constitutional right to lure your children to their houses every Halloween? Salon’s Tracy Clark-Flory is among a growing chorus that makes that very argument.

A small California community has created an ordinance that stops registered sex offenders from decorating their houses on Halloween and, more importantly, participating in trick-or-treating.  In response, Flory echoes Public Defender Michael Sheltzer’s contention that this “attack” on registered sex offenders is not just unnecessary, but contrary to the First Amendment.

Flory asks whether it is “fair” that sex offenders who have “served their time” are being stopped from making their houses attractive to children and participating in a celebration designed to build community and thus earn the trust of parents and children.

The answer is that of course it’s fair to restrict the rights of convicted criminals. Felons aren’t allowed to buy guns and I doubt Flory, Sheltzer, and the dozens of anonymous commenters supporting them in various places would challenge that. Felons’ Second Amendment Rights being curtailed interferes with their ability to participate in a variety of community celebrations, from turkey shoots to target shooting competitions, and that fact doesn’t make Flory uneasy.

But keeping rapists, child molesters, and other sexual criminals away from children does?

There is a knee-jerk reaction among many socially liberal Americans, who always assume that the big, bad State is pressing its jack boot into the necks of the little guy. They claim a person who has “done his time” should move on with his life and we should all simply forget about whatever horrible crimes they have committed. But this is madness.

If you know a person has a history of drug addiction you don’t send them to pick up your pain medication, even if they are clean. If a man has beaten his wife we demand the state issue an order of protection to keep him from traveling as freely as you and me. We don’t let murderers who “served their time” buy brand new hunting rifles.

And in Tulare County, California, sex offenders aren’t allowed to give candy to strange children. I expected this to be to the dismay of many of the offenders who looked forward to an endless stream of tween belly dancers and six-year-old Lady Gagas arriving at their doors. But I am shocked that others like Flory and Sheltzer care.

No person who has broken the social contract has a constitutional right to not be shunned by a community. I can assure Michael Sheltzer the First Amendment doesn’t guarantee every American the right to be invited to public celebrations or attend festivals. The Constitution does not stop communities from setting commonsense standards for who can join in community events. The influence of leftism can be seen in the widespread belief that criminals are oppressed and the consequence of that belief is this movement to paint sex offenders as victims.

The irony is that if we as a society really cared about victims most counties would enact similar laws.

Rob Taylor blogs at Greenville Dragnet.

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