Wednesday, June 12, 2013

"Eeek, put me down! I'd rather burn to death than be rescued by a sex offender!"

This blog entry titled, “Support legislation to prevent sex offenders from becoming volunteer firefighters,” appeared today at It makes a short but urgent appeal for readers to contact their assemblypersons in order to voice support for the bill, now currently stalled in the New York State Assembly.

I left a comment and emailed the opinion editor asking for a rationale behind the legislation.

Have there been incidences of former offenders-now-volunteer firefighters sexually molesting someone before carrying him or her from a burning building? Or while carrying him or her from a burning building? Or after carrying him or her from a burning building?

Have there been complaints as to the behavior of registrant firefighters during the commission of their duties?

Have constituents voiced concerns to legislators or to the Firefighters' Association that such a thing could happen?

That such legislation could even exist is repulsive. This attempt to thwart the efforts of law abiding, civic-minded citizens to serve their communities is terrifying. That such legislation was actually written plays into every myth and stereotype about those who are, for a myriad of reasons, required to register.

This flies in the face of the concept of rehabilitation, the cornerstone on which our judicial system is said to rest. Every state's statement of the purpose and aim of punishment leads to a desire to return the penitent criminal to his community with an increased sense of connectedness that will deter future criminal activity. Did the legislator or legislators who crafted this bill miss those lessons in legislator school?

The bogeyman sex offender, complete with trench coat, made infamous by the long-debunked “Stranger Danger” campaign, has been updated. He no longer lurks around parks and schools, hiding behind the bushes waiting for an innocent child to appear. He now wears a firefighter’s uniform and hat and scales a ladder to enter a burning building and hunt for victims among the smoke and flame.

Citizen, beware; call the fire department at your own risk.

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