By Brian Campbell
I have read newspapers my entire life. It's a hazardous occupation, with the negative and the stupid and the tragic far outweighing the uplifting elements of society. But I have never felt like this – sick to my stomach and full of anger. Jurisprudence in this country has died with this decision.
In Somerset County, two young boys became branded as lifelong sex offenders for, well, being boys. As fourteen year olds, they roughhoused and in a disgusting act, sat on the face of a fell student with their bare buttocks. As my grandmother once said, it is boys being boys, an unexplainable phenomenon left over from the cavemen days. I certainly do not condone it. I have never done it myself nor had it done to me. Among friends it is known to be a funny, but disgusting form of horseplay. Among those that are not friends, it is the most vile and embarrassing form of bullying and should be punished with significant amounts of suspension, community service, and counseling.
But branding them as perverts, child molesters and rapists? And for the rest of their lives? Today, their neighbors are fretting about the devaluation of the neighborhood, because a sex offender living in a section of town ruins that section of town. When they are eighteen and they go to apply for college, they will be sex offenders. God knows I wouldn't want my freshman in college sharing a room with a sex offender or even being in the same dorm as a sex offender. When they are in their twenties and start to seriously date, they are sex offenders. God knows I wouldn't want my daughter dating a sex offender, or worse yet, marrying one. At least my daughter could easily find out that he is a sex offender, so she could break off the relationship. When they head out to the job world, they are sex offenders. How often do companies hire sex offenders? When they go and buy a house, you guessed it. Never mind bringing over apple pie; the new neighbors will be protesting up and down the sidewalks. A child molester has moved in next door. If they get through all of this, and are fortunate to have a family, their children will find out that daddy is a branded sex offender.
All because they bullied another boy, did something they shouldn't have done for attention and laughter – something done by countless boys over many generations. Terrible? Yes. Bullying? Yes. Vile? Yes. A life sentence as a sexual predator? Lord help us.
I wondered when the extreme nature of Megan's Law would begin to destroy quasi-innocent people, a law where there is no rehabilitation, no flexibility, no timeline, and no way out. I could be wrong, but a young boy who sits on another young boy for schoolroom giggles is not the same as the man that assaulted and murdered Megan Kanka.
- Um, it's already ruining innocent lives, all one has to do is read the news, or this blog. Also, we are talking about sex offenders here, and not all sex offenders assaulted and murdered Megan Kanka.
It is torture we have instituted, particularly those branded sex offenders who are not, nor never have been, true sex offenders. I got an idea: let's cut the arms off of children that shoplift.
Shame on the Somerset Appellate Court, and the judges that passed down such a decision. Shame on the trial court judge who found the boys guilty of criminal sexual conduct. Shame on the prosecutors for making a name for themselves with this nonsense. An absentee protest by one or many of them would have been heroic. But instead, collectively, they have ruined the lives of these two young boys. They did the cutting.
Shame on the makers and supporters of this law, for leaving such loopholes in place. Hopefully, the Supreme Court takes this case and changes the extreme aspects of Megan's Law to ensure this doesn't happen again. Hopefully, the decision is reversed and the boys get the boyhood punishment they deserve, not the lifelong sentence they have received.