The Scarlet "S"
Social castration: This is a brief version of my full rant--I'm supposed to be working--but I just want to thank you so much for publishing this article and giving solid examples of how the current system harms individuals while failing to give adequate information to parents and communities ("Jailbait," by Paul Kix, May 26). I have two children under 10, one male and one female, and I have the same drive to protect them as any parent. I am also a sexual assault survivor--as well as one of those 16-year-olds who dated 20-year-olds (long before the assault). I have had discussions with other parents about the sex offender registries and how "scary" it is to know that "they" live only a few blocks away; but I've maintained, as this article points out, that "sex crime" is an eerily nondescriptive term and that we really have NO information about the nature of their offenses. Having followed the development of these laws since my assault in 1987, I find the overreach you mention downright appalling, bordering on unconstitutional. Not that I want to repeal the sentencing and probation guidelines that would have kept my offender from walking free, but a lifetime of public humiliation is a ridiculous and unreasonable punishment to bestow, especially without a trial by a jury of one's peers. My further point in these discussions is that since only 15 percent of assaults are even reported, just imagine how many unregistered offenders there are, living anywhere they want to! Gee, seems like the only way to protect your children is to be watchful and educate them--not picketing some poor guy who's already done his time. I recognize the danger some of these persons pose, but unqualified social castration of all possible offenders is tantamount to a witch hunt, not a real application of jurisprudence. I strongly support the efforts to fine-tune the system. Giving the public more information, applying the law more fairly and at the same time providing law enforcement with better tools and a method of targeting real threats? It's about time!
Dallas Lege, grow a spine: Thank you for exposing this terrible injustice. Many lives are being destroyed because of consensual relationships that label a young man a sex offender for life. While no one wants to be easy on someone who has any kind of sexual contact with a child, there is a big difference when it is a consensual relationship between two young people between the ages of 14 and 21. Our Legislature seems to be so insecure that they think we would not know the difference and would not approve of laws that changed this injustice. Changing the laws that affect these consensual relationships would not be equal to being soft on true sex offenders. In Florida, where the laws are also tough, it is not even a crime unless the offender is 21 or 24, depending on the victim's age. Texas is wasting valuable resources protecting us from so-called threats that are not threats at all. Maybe the next session in two years will make some wiser decisions. We can hope and pray they do.
No tears: Re: the "William" in your "Jailbait" story. Why should your readers shed very many tears for this young man? Even if we get past his original mistake of having out-of-wedlock sex with a teenage girl he does not know--taking only her word for her age, because no doubt he never told a lie and therefore would be shocked to learn others do--how do we justify the rest of his crimes and mistakes? According to the article, he: 1. stole money from a renter; 2. had not one, but two children brought into poor circumstances to continue the cycle of poverty; 3. had numerous and varied parole violations; 4. drank and took drugs (very likely in front of the kids); 6. likely had taxpayer support for welfare (not mentioned); and 5. got tossed back in jail.
Any real sympathy I can work up is for the two daughters, who will shortly be asking themselves, "Who made this mess we're in?"
Just the facts: Stories like this are something I've often wondered about myself--how many of these "sex offenders" are actual sexual predators, and how many of them are the victims of overprotective and angry parents? Having been a friend to a girl who was involved in such an incident, I've made a point for more than 10-plus years to stay objective concerning such allegations.
Truthful, Not Savage
Gracious Liner: I have just read Alexandra Bonifield's letter (May 19) regarding Elaine Liner's review of Den of Thieves ("Mat Finish," May 12), and I must respond. I am a local actor, and I have been in several productions that Ms. Liner has reviewed. The reviews have run the gamut from wonderful to terrible, but no matter what the outcome, I am always happy to see that at least one critic in town is willing to state their opinion, however harsh that opinion may be.
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As for the statements that Ms. Liner does not like or understand farce, Ms. Bonifield should go back in the archives and read past reviews. She does tend to like farce, but only if it is done well.
I also need to respond to the comments regarding her behavior at the show. I have been in the audience several times when Ms. Liner was in attendance. I have never seen her acting rudely toward anybody or making anybody uncomfortable. From what I have seen, she is never anything but gracious and professional.