Your commentary is cogent, articulate and refreshingly honest for topics of this nature. I can and do admire you for these things. The McMartin Preschool debacle, however, was not, I think, as unique as you suggest.
I've personally encountered several other individuals, or have at least been exposed to their "stories," who, though not experiencing the level of notoriety the McMartin case did, were still irrevocably damaged by false accusations (not all were of a sexual nature, mind). My point is that "innocent until proven guilty" is not a legalistic phrase confined to the courtroom or judicial process. The phrase is a basic tenant that you and I, as Americans, enjoy because we had the good sense to either be born here, or to become naturalized citizens. With few exceptions (the United Kingdom, some Europeans states -- and a handful of others, to be sure), this world is a place where "guilty until proven innocent" is the rule. "Freedom," in such places, is only a word.
For generations men and women have served and died to insure that this, one among many of our truest and most important "inalienable" rights, would stand. The rumored action of another (magician, in our instance) and his or her right to peace and privacy hang in a very delicate balance. Since the events of September 2001, the Fourth Amendment of our country's Constitution has all but evaporated.
Those who really know me would probably regard the foregoing as unusually "liberal" in the context of my normal stance on issues of morality and politics. I simply don't want us to lose our focus as regards, once again, our basic "rights," such as they are.
I, too, have children (though they've reached adulthood at this date), and may have grandchildren some day. I worked with a man, oddly, at a local sheriff's department, who turned out to be a serial molester of children. He fit the classic profile, too, as he took a "part-time" job which provided him ready access to children. He was a school bus driver, and all of his victims (ias far as we were able to determine) were children he drove to and from a local school. Said school was, in fact, in the same district as those my own children attended, but his route took him to different neighborhoods, and different schools.
Would I have preferred to have been informed of this individual's sexual proclivities? Absolutely. As you were, I believe, completely forthright in your post, I'll try to be the same by telling you that (at the time) If I'd been aware of this man's devious and heinous actions, and more specifically, had they involved one of my children, I might now quite conceivably be enjoying meals and lodging at the expense of the state, and he might never have seen the inside of a courtroom. As it is, I thankfully wasn't involved at that level, and he's committed to 79 "life sentences," to be served consecutively. Eventually, I'm guessing he'll be buried at state expense.
I don't mind telling you, either, that (though I became a professional mentalist and hypnotist later), at the time of our acquaintance, Steven (the molester) paid for my services as a magician for a nearby Scout Troop, where he, not surprisingly, was the "assistant Scout Master." After his trial and conviction, I wondered that I hadn't recognized his behavior before, and did some serious soul searching with regard to what I might have prevented, had the former been the case.
While I was never sexually abused, when I was five years old, a teenage boy and his mates (his father and mine worked together) one summer evening found it entertaining to tie me to a chair, then leave me in a shed surrounded by woods. My parents and his, at the time, were playing cards inside his home. I don't think I exaggerate when I tell you that I remember the occasion quite vividly, especially when this kid and his buddies ran away, laughing, leaving me to my plight. I hadn't heard of Houdini at the time, as I'm being entirely honest, but I did manage to escape after a while, and report the incident. This, after a time spent wondering if anyone would ever come to look for me.
I share the latter stories to emphasize the fact that I really do have reason to despise those who victimize children. Yes, we are, as human beings, wont to stand around the proverbial water cooler and share "juicy" information (true or not) about others, especially those of our acquaintance. This behavior is part of our nature, and is, I honestly believe, programmed within our collective psyche as much as a defense mechanism as it is a function of entertainment.
Still, the internationally recognized stage and television illusionist I mentioned in my previous post now enjoys (in a very negative context) a reputation he did not deserve. I feel very comfortable in believing that there are very likely those reading this who (whether they would publicly admit it or not) believe that he "bought off" someone, or thoughts to that effect. Had the woman making allegations of sexual assault not later been found to have repeatedly engaged in being a professional "victim," an even higher number would believe the scenario just proffered.
Sexual offenders, no matter the age of their chosen victims, who would not (and very often DO not) offend again upon release from incarceration, are extremely rare. It is my belief that such individuals should absolutely never, without exception, be permitted to reenter society at large. Sadly, though, many who sexually abuse children do so, in no small part, because they were themselves abused as children. We do not hesitate, even with this knowledge, to call them monsters, because monsters they are.
When addressing the attitudes Dodd and Richard have taken as "journalists," even given the extremely small size of their audience, I commended (and still commend) them for taking the stance they did because of the reasons I've listed above, and because of their responsibility to their own families, advertisers or investors, and ultimately, the potentially injured party in a false allegation.
Once again, the likelihood that most people will regard a previously held belief as false, erasing it from their minds, is on par with the likelihood that the average sexual offender can be rehabilitated.
We can muse over the importance of individual rights versus the "right to know" forever, and never achieve a common ground, I suppose. In the final analysis (I hope you'll pardon the trite expression), I'll ask everyone reading these words to very seriously try to imagine that they, or possibly, one of their children were falsely accused of something as heinous as child molestation. I hope we can agree that they (or their child, in the instance given) would never be free of the taint such an accusation would bring. It is for this reason that we owe one another the right and expectation of a life lived in real freedom, void of hurtful stains, hate and (though I can't agree with most of what Jonathan wrote above), "fear mongering."
As for the DSM cited at length in previous posts, I'll remind you who know (and inform those who didn't) that the same manual, until quite recently, actually, regarded homosexuality as an official form of mental illness. Is it? We all have our own opinions, but clearly, many among us wouldn't consider the publication's record a perfect one.
In hopes we will always reside in an environment where we can enjoy a free exchange of differing opinions, I thank you for reading mine and appreciate you sharing your own.
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