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Journalists, you’ve got to love em, they mean well, well, most of them.
Journalist’s Amy Iverson’s article “Should Sex Offenders Be Banned From Facebook?”/Deseret News/Utah was probably well-meant. The piece, written after the recent oral arguments to the North Carolina Packingham case regarding registrants access to social networking sites starts out fairly well, providing facts about the case. But then the article goes quickly downhill when she refers to registrants as “that group of people” and “sex offenders” and later seems to use the term sex offender interchangeably with the term sexual predator.
Ms. Iverson asks the question whether sex offenders using social media websites such as Twitter pose the same danger as a sex offender walking into an elementary school? And, she answers her own question, “it definitely could”.
Ms. Iverson, you were doing so well stating “facts” at the beginning of your article. What happened?
Do you have some “facts” on sex offenders walking into elementary schools that we don’t know about? Seems lately it’s regular people not registrants walking into elementary schools with loaded guns that make the news. I haven’t heard of those “sex offenders” of which you speak!
Ms. Iverson then comes to her senses again and states another fact, there is a wide variation in offenses for those on the sex offender registry, she even says that it matters to her whether someone is on the list for public urination or rape of a child. I had a good laugh when she stated she would have no problem in having the public urinator on Facebook (although she probably wouldn’t befriend that person), but she’d think twice about the rapist being on Facebook.
I wonder if any of the men in Ms. Iverson’s life have ever needed to “use the facilities” when there were none, and instead, peed behind a tree. It happens, men do it all the time. (Just a heads up for those of you that do, you will not be one of Ms. Iverson’s friends on Facebook.)
The article asks the other question that the law is looking at, what constitutes a social media website? If the purpose of a website is to facilitate the social introduction between people for the purpose of friendship or informational exchanges, well, then any website that one can comment on would be considered a social media website and that’s practically every website.
Ms. Iverson reflects that the whole Packingham case goes back to a debate over what rights people should lose after they commit certain crimes. I on the other hand question why, if you commit a crime, are punished and serve your sentence, should you lose any rights? Isn’t prison supposed to be all about punishment, rehabilitation and reintegration?
The end of her article reminds parents that they should monitor their children’s online activities. I agree with Ms. Iverson 100% on that. Anyone can be online, there are people online looking to do harm, that aren’t registrants. Everyone should take responsibility for themselves and for their children when using social media, that’s how you stay safe.
Taking away the First Amendment Rights of registrants (take notice Ms. Iverson, we don’t refer to them as “that group of people”, “sex offenders” or “sexual predators” ) doesn’t make anyone safer, instead it jeopardizes the First Amendment Rights of all of us.