Registrants Forced to Wear “Imaginary Blinders”
I sure you’ve seen horses wearing blinders. Their purpose is to keep the horse looking straight ahead and focused, keep the horse’s side view blinded so that it doesn’t become distracted by anything in it’s peripheral vision. It prevents the horse from getting spooked. Blinders serve a purpose for horses, not for people.
And yet, registrants are forced to walk about the world with “imaginary blinders” on.
They’re not supposed to look at children, hear children and certainly not interact with children. Period. Look straight ahead,don’t veer to the left or right, don’t make eye contact. See nothing, say nothing.
So what would you have done in this real case scenario ?
By coincidence, a registrant approaches a store entrance at the same time as a woman with a young child. The registrant, having been brought up with good manners, holds open the door allowing the woman and child to enter the store first. The child turns around and says “thank you” to the nice person holding open the door. (She has obviously also been brought up with good manners.) The registrant replies “you’re welcome.” Period. End of story. Both parties go on about their business.
Doesn’t sound like a big deal right? Common everyday exchange of courtesy. Nothing more.
When “the powers that be” were asked about this by a registrant who wanted to be certain that he had handled it in the correct manner, it seems it was a big deal.
The registrant was advised that they should not have responded to the child, they should have “just ignored” the child’s “thank you”.
Blinders. No eye contact, no verbal contact, no physical contact. Blinders.
So not only are registrants labeled with a sex offender label, they apparently should all act like ill-mannered jerks when in public, ignore common courtesy and if a stranger thinks your an ass for your poor manners, why should you care, you don’t know them .
We’ve all been there, registrant and non-registrant alike. You hold a door open for someone and they walk right by you and never even utter a “thank you”. You think to yourself, “how rude”! And under your breath you say “You’re Welcome”, maybe just loud enough for them to hear and get the hint, they were being discourteous.
What has this world come to when a registrant can’t say “you’re welcome’?
Out of fear of reprisal, registrants are forced to act rude, ill-mannered and appear discourteous when they are out and about. I’m certain this will just make them all the more endearing to those who already see “all” registrants as terrible, horrible child predators.
Registrants are advised that this “visual and auditory distance” from interactions with the general public, of which children are part of, is all “for the registrant’s own safety”. “If you see nothing and say nothing then you can’t be tempted or accused of something.” Of course the erroneous assumption here seems to be that if every registrant walking out in the free world were to remove their “imaginary blinders” they would immediately be compelled to re-offend.
I challenged myself to go out and about and view the world wearing the same “imaginary blinders” that a registrant must wear.
It was not easy. In fact, it was horrible. How do you “not see or react” to the world around you? Someone smiles at you and you’re fearful of smiling back, you fear making eye contact, you find yourself walking with your head down just to avoid any possible look of impropriety.
Our senses naturally cause us to react to everyday sights and sounds. Normal reactions are for people to look in the direction of action and noise, people talking, children laughing, horns honking. It’s normal to want to see what’s going on. But a registrant isn’t supposed to do that. Somehow, a glance, a turn of the head, a kind word or common courtesy by a registrant will be “misconstrued”.
Why is it that those same glances and kind words by John Q. Public are never “misconstrued”? Only those by registrants. Isn’t John Q. Public really just a “Registrant in Waiting”? Someone who hasn’t offended, yet?
Walking through life and not being able to fully notice what’s around you, to actively take part in societal “norms” like holding open a door or exchanging common courtesies is just another punishment for registrants. Not only are they labeled “sex offenders” but now they will be labeled “ill-mannered” as well.
Maybe lawmakers should be forced to walk a mile in a “free” registrant’s shoes. If they want to write new laws “talk the talk” then they should understand the real consequences those laws have on registrants lives, “walk the walk”.
But first, remember to put on those “imaginary blinders”, they are, after all, for your own safety !
3 thoughts on “Registrants Forced to Wear “Imaginary Blinders””
“Maybe lawmakers should be forced to walk a mile in a “free” registrant’s shoes. If they want to write new laws “talk the talk” then they should understand the real consequences those laws have on registrants lives, “walk the walk”.”
How about a year? You know, cops have to be tased before cleared to carry a taser. So they can build empathy for anyone they may tase. The idea being that they will then only tase someone if they feel an immense need.
Well, then shouldn’t judges and prosecutors FULLY register for one year or so? No Halloween. No schools. No parks. FULLY appearing as a registered offender, even if it’s a fake name, idc. The fake name would have the same experience. Shouldn’t they build empathy to the person they’re putting through an extreme, to make sure they only use the extreme if they find it immensely necessary?
Here’s a real story for you:
I had been reprimanded for similar incidental contact as the article mentioned. Some time later, one afternoon, I came up to a traffic light and noticed the hood open on the truck to my left. Concerned enough to let them know, I was about to roll my window down when I noticed the passenger on that side was a child. Painfully aware of the ramifications of initiating contact with a minor, I let them drive off unaware of the potential danger. I felt terrible about it and whispered a prayer for them. The incident left me feeling angry at a system that potentially puts children in danger in the name of protecting them.
In my opinion, the ones with the biggest blinders on are those charged with supervising sex offenders. They have no clue about living in the real world. Instead, they stubbornly cling to their fantasy world – the only place where their regulations make sense.
Thank you for exposing the unspoken truth for those with no voice…a sad reminder of the insanity of current SO management practices. I am grateful to be finally free from those bewildering constraints!
Perhaps if each PO had to go through the same exercise you did as a training aid, positive reforms might result.
In treatment (Missouri sex offender program) we are told by our therapist and our PO not to have any contact with minors. We are not to acknowledge them at all. We are on an the honor system and if we have contact with a minor we are to bring it up in treatment and get told we did wrong and what we should have done. It is then reported to our PO. I hate not being able to just say Hi back to a child. I feel like an idiot. My therapist says that if you have kids talking to you then you are asking them to talk to you. NO! I like to be aware of my surroundings and kids are curious and like to say hi. I just wanted to share this with you.