Take a look at these faces. These young boys are convicted U.S. sex offenders. That tells you a lot about our country, about how we view sex, about how we fetishize law-enforcement "solutions," doesn't it?
I'll never play down actual sexual violence, including rape, by teenage boys. But of course, most adolescent sex offenders are guilty of nothing of the sort. Most of them haven't truly victimized anyone. They are guilty, if you can call it that, of being curious, and horny, and possibly confused, as befits their age.
At 13 or 14 or 15, they are trying to figure out what it means to have developing bodies and a case of raging hormones, and sometimes the tentative fumblings that result run afoul of laws that politicians and prosecutors are grimly applying to ever-greater numbers of people, kids included, because American voters love the binary clarity of good versus evil, pure versus perverted, young Becky's innocence versus young Robert's budding immorality.
So this is, more often than not, how teenage sex offenders are made:
A girl in school has oral sex with a boy in school. She becomes a sex offender for the rest of her life. Streaking a school event, as a practical joke, becomes a sex crime in the new America. Two kids “moon” a passerby and are incarcerated in jail as sex offenders, where they may well learn a lesson or two about rape. A teenager, who takes a sexy of photo of him, or herself, is paraded around the community as a “child pornographer” for the rest of his or her life. Two kids in the back seat of a car have fumbling sex. The law says one is an offender because the other is a “victim.” One week later, a birthday passes, and it is no longer a crime. One week’s difference and a life is ruined. In other cases an act that is legal on Monday is illegal on Tuesday because the older of the two turned one year older. That becomes enough to qualify him, or her, as an offender.
So again, there are these mugshots, and they speak volumes. Absolute heartbreaking volumes. But louder still speaks this graph, below, and the accompanying realization worded succinctly by the blog Classically Liberal:
Here is one such case: Here's another (hat tip: the Agitator), of a young man who took nude photos of his then-17-year-old girlfriend. They later married, but because he was an adult at the time the pictures were taken, he was branded a sex offender anyway. When he failed to report his new address, as he was by law required to do, the U.S. justice system decided to put him away for three to six years.
Take one last look at those photos on the top. Those kids, I assure you, are no more wicked than you or me. Most of them, and most of their fellow young offenders, pose zero danger to anyone.
They are not the perverts here. We are, as a society, for tolerating — no, demanding — the willful destruction of children's lives while telling ourselves it's really all about protecting kids.