The person in question came out - not as in came out that they were homosexual or transsexual -disclosing that they were a registered sex offender. I went to read that person's post about it to see what they had to say about it. If you're in the WoW community then you would know who I am referring to, but I don't see the need to publicise it further with specific references because this post is about my thoughts on the subject.
The complaint was registered with regards to a child so I was surprised that the offense wasn't listed as a child sex offense which has even GREATER social backlash. In Australia there has been a lot of clamouring for sex offenders to be listed online so that the public can be made aware of the "dangers" of having a known offender living close to you or working at your local store. The government of Western Australia has a Community Protection website where "Dangerous and High Risk Offenders" can be searched by the public. Queensland has recently rejected a sex offenders register, and it is a very polarising topic within the public.
I have not been a supporter of a public register because I know that witch-hunts will ensue once those people are revealed. They are trying to protect their families, is their claim, which I understand. However, I don't ever think it's right to infringe on someone else's freedom because of your worry about the danger they pose. There are other ways to take those steps to protect yourself and your own, and I tend to believe if people were truly dangerous, our justice system would have dealt with it. I am sure many people will say that is not the case.
Making this a public register opens all sorts of doors for "other" public safety concerns. For example, as a medical professional, some patients have the belief they have the right to know if their treating doctors have HIV or Hepatitis. Of course, I disagree with this. We have Universal precautions in place that protect the patient from infection - and those same precautions protect US from patients who have those diseases. I treat patients all patients with the same precautions and assume that anyone could have those diseases. And then what's next - all HIV patients should be some sort of public register so people know who not to have unprotected sex or share needles with them? You shouldn't be doing that anyway!
What about armed robbery? Assault? Murder? Does the public need to know these too? Where does it end?
I went and googled US registry of sex offenders and entered the details of my friend to have a look at what crimes were committed before I made my judgement. There were no offenses or convictions listed - which corroborated their story. This is different from Australia where you actually have to be convicted of a serious or dangerous crime to be on the public register.
I won't deny that when I first heard it, I thought of all my interactions with that person to see if they had done anything that would indicated they were dangerous or predatory. I couldn't think of anything - in fact, that person was rather reserved and I am the boisterous one! I read their story and immediately thought I could see how the misunderstanding or mistake could come about, and after checking it out to the best of my ability I found that their story seemed to be as it was. Some would say that if I was a true friend I should have believed them at face value, but I don't think there is anything wrong with checking all sides of a story.
There are women out there who cry rape or assault falsely to use as a weapon, but these are few and far between. There are many more real victims than these malicious ones. But the ones who are accused are forever tarnished. It's a blight that never goes away. And unfortunately for my friend, for the rest of their life, they will live with the tarnish, even if no wrongdoing was committed. And these Americans have made it public, and you can search for it via your area to see what "offenders" are around you. Ugh, talk about no privacy at all.
If you think back to Christie Golden's WoW fiction, War Crimes, rehabilitation and being given the chance to change, be given a second chance, and be a better person were a big part of that story. This is a little different - my friend has been labelled as having made a mistake and is now paying the consequences of that. But even if there was significant crime, I think that one should judge from their present and not their past. Be aware of it yes, but don't let it colour all your interactions, and judge on their current behaviour and attitudes. Though my voice matters little in the big picture, I let my friend know that the disclosure changed nothing between us. I just hope everyone does the same - and I think for the most part, they have. Those who didn't - well, I respect their choices but maybe you wouldn't want to have friends like that anyway.