Monday, May 09, 2011

Maine bans “visual sexual aggression” towards children

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Baby reading newspaper on toilet
If you looked at this, you’re now a child visual sexual aggressor

Harming a child is one of the acts most guaranteed to bring out my wrath, and I’m fairly certain the same is equally true of most other folks on the planet. But Nanny-Statist nonsense like this is equally guaranteed to bring about a reaction of utmost derision and little else. Maine currently has a law, originally sponsored by Rep. Dawn Hill (D), that makes molesting groping enticing looking at a child a crime if you’re caught doing so in a manner that cops thought looked a little too interested:

A bill that passed the House last month aims to strengthen the crime of visual sexual aggression against children, according to state Rep. Dawn Hill, D-York.

Her involvement started when Ogunquit Police Lt. David Alexander was called to a local beach to deal with a man who appeared to be observing children entering the community bathrooms. Because the state statute prevents arrests for visual sexual aggression of a child in a public place, Alexander said he and his fellow officer could only ask the man to move along.

"There was no violation of law that we could enforce. There was nothing we could charge him with," Alexander said.

Nor should there be.

Look, creeps may be unpleasant, but last I heard, creepiness alone is not a moral ill, and nor should it be a legal one. Of course, if said creep were to make the slightest ill act towards any child, then please do swoop in and cart his law-breaking ass off to jail and charge him with any applicable crimes. But there is no such thing as “visual sexual harassment”, no more than looking intently at some fancy jewelry should be considered any actionable evidence that one is about to commit a theft.

As skeevy as child-peerers may be, the basis for any crime, moral or legal, should be actual and verifiable harm. If no child is in any way damaged in their person or rights, then the most the gawker deserves is a sharp rebuke or a disgusted look. End of story. Anything more is not only antithetical to a balanced legal system that upholds people’s rights (including that of looking at people desirously, even if they’re underaged), but is also dangerous, as it establishes a precedent that merely doing something that disturbs other people’s sensibilities, without actually hurting anyone in any way, can be considered a criminal act.

(Note: The source article is dated from April of 2008, when the bill was still only proposed, yet some Googling around has revealed that it was, in fact, enacted into law soon after its introduction. Which is why this is still a relevant post to publish, given the fact that merely looking at a child in a way that a given cop may not appreciate could get Maine residents hauled off to the local precinct under the label of pedophile.)

(via The Agitator)