Thursday, August 16, 2007

Pedophilia and the Law

Jack McClellan is one of the most notorious people in the land, and he's certainly done more than his share to make himself so by maintaining well-publicized websites extolling his sexual and emotional obsession with prepubescent girls and by openly appearing before the media for interviews that have turned him into a household name and virtually burned his visage into the memory cells of every concerned parent in America if not beyond. But there's one not-so-little catch. He's never been so much as suspected, much less convicted, of molesting any children. He is a self-admitted pedophile, to be sure, but there's not a scintilla of evidence that he's ever acted out his aberrant desire, and, indeed, he maintains that his openness about his desires is "the best therapeutic thing" for him to do in order to avoid molesting children.

Yet, Jack McClellan now sits in a Los Angeles County jail for violating a temporary restraining order forbidding him from coming within ten yards of any child. Police deemed him to have committed this violation when he showed up on the UCLA campus for a TV interview after being cited hours earlier and warned not to return for appearing near the campus' Infant Development Program building with a camera in his possession. McClellan contends that he didn't believe that he was violating his restraining order by stepping foot on a college campus for a public interview where few if any children would likely be present.

I think he's right. Furthermore, I think that those legal scholars are right who say that the restraining order against McClellan unconstitutionally violates his right to free expression, and I hope that a court quickly makes this determination and sets him free.

Yet, there's more to consider here than just the extraordinary case of Jack McClellan. I believe that applying this "ten-yard" law even to those convicted of molesting children is wrong and should be found unconstitutional because of how impossible it is for virtually anyone except a hermit in the woods to obey it and how severely it curtails one's right to survive much less pursue ANY kind of happiness. How can one buy food at the grocery store, eat out at a restaurant, shop for clothes or other necessities, go to a movie, browse or acquire books at a bookstore or library, attend school, use public transportation to get to work, or be hired for any job that places one in contact with the public under this law?

The way I see it, if we need laws against convicted child molesters being around children, these laws should forbid deliberately associating or interacting with children or being alone with them; they should NOT prohibit simply being in the vicinity of children in a public place. And if there are firm grounds for believing that this level of restraint isn't enough to protect our children, then we need to PERMANENTLY incarcerate those convicted of child molestation.

Actually, I believe that "quarantine" is a better term for it, because I believe that pedophilia is a sickness of the mind and not a moral choice deserving hatred and vindictive punishment. Thus, if we find it necessary to isolate all convicted child molesters from the public in order to protect our children or, in some cases, to protect the convicted from vigilante "justice," then I believe that these individuals should be confined to humane institutions or areas of institutions set aside only for convicted child molesters so that their lives won't be imperiled by exposure to general prison populations.

As for the case of Jack McClellan, the supreme irony is that his extreme notoriety probably renders him one of the safest of ALL adults to be in the company of a child in public. For how could he, OF ALL PEOPLE, dare to approach a child in a public place for purposes of having sex with her?

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