smason edit.jpg (23187 bytes)Look 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 people. 


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 foreplay.


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.

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