At It This Way
by Steve Mason
We make some of our greatest gains
When we see old things
In new ways
Sex Offenders R Us
What would you do? Just 10 minutes ago, you dropped your
three kids off at the resort’s pool and now you return to find your youngest
lying face down on a lounge chair nude but for his swim suit dangling from
one leg with a strange man draped across his little body. You run up to
confront the miscreant, but he merely stands and after the briefest of
moments, and without so much as a word, walks off. I was that man.
My wife and I had just checked out and I went to sit by the
pool for a few minutes while she went to the lobby to give her e-mails a
final check before we left. It was at that point that this lady deposited
her brood and took off…telling the older boy and girl (both around 10) to
watch their younger brother who was perhaps five. So naturally the little
squirt jumps into the deep end and goes right to the bottom. Who didn't see
that one coming?
At this point I should say that although I've spent lots of
time on the water and am certified in SCUBA, I’m not an especially good
swimmer and the last thing I ever want to do is play Life Guard. The kid
came up once just long enough to sputter and then went down again. RATS!
Not a soul in sight except for the other two tykes standing saucer-eyed and
paralyzed and, of course, me.
To the rescue! I was shocked at how much like a wet towel
the kid felt when I fetched his inert body up from 10 feet, threw him down
onto the lounge and jumped on top…using enough force to start him chocking
up water. He was just about breathing normally and the two other kids were
just about regaining control of their bodies when the battle axe returns to
the scene and confronts ME…who should be on the local news getting a key to
the city! I was about to give her what-for when I saw the faces of the
kids. All three united in stony silence. Who was this man who suddenly
jumped their little brother - their little brother who was behaving like a
saint whilst being watched over by his older siblings? I got my wife and,
still soaking wet, jumped into the car and took off.
I could have stuck around and explained my side of the story
to the police but what of the three kids who surely would feign ignorance of
my life-saving heroics? In this current climate, combine a few “Expert”
witnesses and a jury of assorted “Survivors” and I'd soon be basking in the
rosy glow of the Concern Citizens crosses burning on my lawn. No…the odds
didn't look good.
And when I say “current climate,” keep in mind that almost
30,000 readers (so far) have hit on my “Hi…I’m Your Sex Offender Neighbor”
column. Why? It’s certainly not a terrific piece of writing. All I did
was copy a couple of letters and stand back. So one wonders what drew the
mob? I did a very quick skim of almost 70 comments and tried to get a feel
for the group. Approximately 59 percent thought the Sex Offender laws
should be changed while 34 percent felt they were just fine as they stood.
That left 7 percent I couldn’t figure out. For example: something like “You
people make me want to wash my hands” never identified the offending
But exactly why this nation should be so hooked on kiddy sex
makes one wonder. Was it ever such a cause celebre in other times and other
places? The Kinsey Institute reports it’s actually a fairly common
occurrence with a quarter of the U.S. population having intercourse by age
15 and almost half by age 17…and this says nothing about various forms of
Look At It This Way
My concern is that, unlike all other
Innocent-Until-Proven-Guilty situations, the only thing needed here to
really ruin someone’s life – perhaps yours – is the charge. It’s why I
called this column “Sex Offenders R Us” as in you and I. Once a Witch Trial
gets started, nobody is safe. And if at this point, some of you are saying:
No Way Not Me! OK…why not you? I'm sure readers would be interested in why
you think it could never happen to you? It could oh so easily have happened
to me back at that pool.