04/15/2008 (6:07 am)
“They’ll throw you in jail in that town for looking at someone funny” used to be an outlandish exaggeration to describe a particularly mean town. Today, it’s the law in Maine. Read Dr. Helen Smith’s examination of a new Maine law against “visual sexual aggression.”
The idea came about because the police noticed a man who appeared to be watching kids moving in and out of a community bathroom. All they could do was tell him to “move along, now.” The policed talked it over with the legislature, and now it’s a class D felony if the child you’re staring at is younger than 12, and a class C felony if he or she is between 12 and 14, whether in public or in private.
Unbelievable. Professional photographers had better watch out. God help you if you forget your glasses at the beach and you’re trying to spot your daughter. See some young kids who look like they’re trying to break into the school gymnasium after hours? Better not stare too long at them. How do they intend to tell which stares are sexual, which are curious, and which are self-protective? I wonder if the wife in a hostile divorce can get her husband arrested for visual sexual aggression against his own kids?
I know I’m stepping on dangerous territory here, but the hysteria about child predators has gone too far. Yes, there are dangerous people out there; that doesn’t make it sane to criminalize staring.
2 Comments »
Comment by Chris
In less nuanced days, the police would have told him to move along a little less politely, and the residents would have paid him an informal visit to “discuss” his odd behavior.
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[...] few days ago I wrote briefly about a new Maine law that made looking at kids funny a crime. Now the source of that story is saying that it’s not [...]