Apr 262009
 
Authors: Kevin Hollinshead, Erik Anderson

ACLU makes good case

By Erik Anderson

Maybe you’ve been in this situation. You’re down 10 cups to one in beer pong and house rules are that if you get shut out, you have to run naked around the block.

You’re one cup away from being a sex offender according to Colorado law.

Ridiculous? You bet.

The sex offender registry is an important tool to warn families with young children, young women and others who could be a previous offender’s next victim that they should be cautious. Including every college streaker and drunk idiot urinating in the street in the registry not only makes the sex offender registry less meaningful, it is unfair to those who aren’t actually sex offenders.

A sexual offense is an appalling and deplorable crime in which the victim is often scarred irreparably.

Sex offenders are highly stigmatized in society. Being listed on the registry will affect the rest of your life. Every time you move into a neighborhood or interview for a job you’ll have to explain the house rules of beer pong back in college. It’s a frightening prospect.

The American Civil Liberties Union is right to challenge this absurd law to protect the safety of society and to be fair to anybody whose only crime was peeing on his (or her) lawn at 2 a.m. on a Friday night.

There are other ways to deal with public indecency besides equating them with rapists and molesters.

ACLU going too far

By Kevin Hollinshead

I will qualify this by stating I agree with the ACLU that a streaker or person urinating in public should not be registered as a sex offender. I do not believe, however, that nudity should be constitutionally protected.

This would create as many problems as it solves. A streaker causing a nuisance by disrupting a sporting event would argue he is constitutionally protected, even though he is technically trespassing. A man taking a whiz on a building could sue the state if charged with a crime, wasting taxpayer dollars on a petty offense.

A family walking down the street would be subjected to the legality of a 300-pound man jogging nude. Many parents would not view this as sexual misconduct, but rather as a gross annoyance.

This proposed change would further blur distinctions between free speech and obscenity. Stories of criminal charges cited by the ACLU revolve around public urination and other forms of indecency. These people are charged for their actions, not because they’re nude.

In addition, this may present a health issue, as more public places would be contaminated with bodily fluids and waste. A much more strict health code would be necessary, and would be fairly difficult to enforce.

I unequivocally support a change in law that ends instances of non-sexual public indecency resulting in registering as a sex offender. Streakers and public urinators are harmless and often hilarious. Constitutionally protected nudity, however, is too broad in scope, and creates too many legal gray areas.

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