SO YOU WANT TO BE AN ACTIVIST? HOW TO PREPARE FOR COMBAT
By: Derek W. Logue of OnceFallen.com
Written 6 August 2010, Updated 13 December 2022
Are you tired of waking up every morning afraid of the next legislation targeting you? Are you tired of harassment by neighbors, police, and self-styled vigilante groups and websites? Many people are tired of the uncertainty in their lives and wish to fight back, but they do not. There are many reasons why most people impacted by sex offense laws. Many of us fear retaliation. Others simply feel like they are alone in wanting to fight, and many others sit and wait for someone else to fight for them. Others do just enough for themselves and quit when their personal circumstances improve. We are at times our own worst enemies.
There are 900,000+ names on America’s public sex offense registry. Out of those 900,000+ registrants are a small but growing number of dedicated activists fighting to reform current sex offense legislation. Over the years, we have accomplished great things with the few that have chosen to stand up, but the more dedicated warriors, the greater the chances we can overcome this adversity once and for all.
You are not alone in this so-called “war on sex offenders.”
If you wish to become more active in the fight against over broad, ineffective, and counterproductive laws, there are many ways you can help. Below are just a few ways to fight back.
ANTI-REGISTRY ACTIVISM: WHAT IT IS AND WHAT IT IS NOT
Even the smallest movements can be easily misunderstood, so it is important to clarify what is meant by “anti-registry activism.” The term “Anti-Registry Movement” was created in 2014 as a catch-all term (much like more well-known movements like “BLM” or “#MeToo”) for the efforts to oppose sex offense registration laws. Not every group who is a part of these efforts declare themselves anti-registry activists. Indeed, not everyone agrees on goals and the methods to achieve them since people on the registry are not homogeneous.
What ARM does NOT advocate for:
- ARM is NOT “pro-pedophile” and NOT working to abolish “age of consent laws” nor do we even address these issues. In popular culture, “pedophile” and “sex offender” are often erroneously used interchangeably, something I have addressed in detail elsewhere on this website.
- ARM is NOT advocating against punishment for sexual offenses. We do, however, advocate for reforms to punitive systems that ignore humane treatment and emphasizes perpetual harm to those convicted and sentenced for criminal offenses.
What we DO advocate for:
- ARM advocates for the ethical and evidence-based treatment for those who have committed sexual offenses. Using the laws as a punitive measure is simply wrong.
- ARM opposes harmful, fear-based and hate-driven public policies that stymie reintegration efforts of returning citizens forced to register on the sex offense registry. Registries, residency and employment restrictions, community notification, long-term use of GPS, and treatment that relies on junk science (polygraphs, PPGs, Abel Tests, static risk assessments, etc.) and/or on abusing Registered Persons are all opposed by ARM.
TIP #1: “ENLIST” (Join an Anti_registry Activism/support/Education website)
I cannot stress enough the importance of joining a website of supportive individuals who are also seeking reform of current sex offense legislation. Even the most resilient activists struggle at times to deal with the personal impact of these laws, and having a support network helps us to share our burdens, discuss strategies, and gain encouragement to continue the fight. We need more than an “army of one” here!
For a full list of activist sites, including state-level sites that you can join and support, see my LINKS PAGE BY CLICKING HERE.
TIP #2: “TAKE UP ARMS” (Educate yourself to become an effective activist)
Perhaps the scariest part of activism is the prospect of being interviewed by the media without knowledge of a subject. Every activist had to start somewhere, even me. My introduction into sex offender activism came through an old forum and through the eAdvocate website. Thankfully, there is a wealth of research available on a variety of sex offender issues, and activist sites including Once Fallen offer this education free of charge. There are also a number of suggested websites on my LINKS PAGE for more info.
If you just beginning to learn the ABC’s of apologetics, then I highly recommend the Once Fallen “Mythbusters” page to familiarize yourself with the common myths. Once Fallen also has a guide on media interviews. The other organizations I mentioned also have tools available to help you train for future activism projects.
Our movement to reform sex offense registry laws lacks a formal training program. That is why I highly recommend ordering a copy of “Anti-Registry Activist Manual : A Guide to Effective Advocacy” by Jonathan Grund (2022) for those interested in becoming an activist upon release, available at Amazon for $13.50 plus S/T (no free PDF is available at this time).
CLICK HERE to order a copy of “The Anti-Registry Activist Manual.
The Anti-Registry Activist Manual is a collaborative effort with many activists, including Derek W. Logue of OnceFallen.com. The Anti-Registry Activist Manual covers an overview of sex offense laws and myths, tips for addressing legislators and the media, how to reach out to others, and even how to start your own activist group. At the end of the book are exercises for practicing the tips discussed in the book, whether as a group or self-study.
TIP #3: “KNOW YOUR ENEMY” (Stay informed of new developments)
If you do not keep up with the latest news, then there is a good chance you will miss something important. Remember, the Adam Walsh Act sat stagnant in Congress for about a year before it was steam-rolled through Congress like a freight train.
Some activist websites like Florida Action Committee (FAC) contain a newsreel for the latest important stories. If you are not “on paper” and can access social media, OnceFallen.com and the aforementioned groups have Twitter and Facebook pages that function as news feeds.
In addition, search engines have “News Search” functions to help you find the latest sex offender headlines. For example, using Google, I can search any “sex offender” news story within the past hour, which can be expanded to the last day, last week, or last month. If you see a local news article of interest, you can share it with us. Much of our news comes from networking and sharing of info.
TIP #4: “BASIC TRAINING” (Find your role within the Anti-Registry Movement)
Playing a sport is a lot like fighting a war. The goal is to win, of course, but a win involves cooperation between everyone on the team. Everyone has a role. Not every player is on the front lines taking the shots, but every position is important. You have your field generals, your rank and file, your backups, your support, your supply chain, etc. EVERY position is important.
The point is you don’t have to have to be the leader of a group or a front-line activist. The waterboy is just as instrumental to a sports team because even the best players cannot play if they are not properly hydrated. And, a superior team or army can be beaten with the right strategy, and that takes people who are good at creating and implementing strategies.
As previous noted, I highly suggest ordering “Anti-Registry Activist Manual : A Guide to Effective Advocacy” by Jonathan Grund (2022). Then, you need to determine your role in this fight. What can you being to the table? There are numerous roles needing to be filled, including, but not limited to:
- Legal: Litigation and legal research, analysis of relevant court cases
- Legislative: Opposing bad legislation, letter writing, speaking with legislators
- Media: Letters to the editor, on-air commentary, social media, even commenting on news articles
- Educators: Speaking venues, research reports
- Street level Activism: Public awareness campaigns, protests, literature distribution
- Supportive roles: Advisors, assisting activists and those in need of support, fundaisers
There are numerous small, everyday actions you can do to promote the cause. For example, you can print out SOSEN brochures or pages from this website, and leave one at the registry office (or other random locations).
TIP #5: “FRONT LINE INFANTRY” (Direct Contact with Lawmakers, the Media, and other Influential People)
To kill a snake, you cut off the head and not the tail. Killing a law is far easier if it never gets passed in the first place. Therefore, it is important we keep up with legislation that targets our very existence and fight back at the source.
Many politicians and media members do not stop to consider the impact of many of the laws they pass. Many blindly pass it because it generates votes, others because they do not have the time or expertise in the field, and others do so out of fear or apathy. It is easier to sign a law when they do not have to deal with opposition. Each of us have a story to tell. Emotional stories are needed as much as the facts. Your legislator needs to know how you’ve lost your home/ job/ wife, etc.
I understand that speaking publicly is scary. I’ve been doing it for years and my voice still shakes at times. I understand your fear but at the same time, many worst fears have never been realized. I’ve never been beat up or had my house firebombed for telling an on-air personality that he or she is uneducated on the topic. Many media outlets are willing to protect your anonymity. If you are willing to use your real name and face, I find that to be superior, as our adversaries believe we hide our faces so we can reoffend. We need to put human faces on this movement, as it is easier to pass bad legislation on nameless and faceless people.
This nation is starving for a better solution to dealing with sexual offending in the country. The laws are failing. We must emphasize healing for both victim and offender, treatment to compliment punishment for the offenders, and the option of reconciliation and atonement to those they offended, rehabilitation and successful reintegration upon release from prison, and sensible education and prevention programs, such as the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center & Stop It Now!
TIP #6: “BUY WAR BONDS” (Financially supporting the Anti-Registry Movement)
It seems the moment money is mentioned anywhere on a website, eyes glaze over and people get fidgety. After all, Persons Forced to Register are very likely to be poor, unemployed/ on welfare, and/or taxed heavily by such obligations as registration fees and fines. Even a small contribution (a few bucks or even a few stamps) to this site or one of the activist sites goes a long way to helping spread the word. Many sites are funded by equally poor activists (I am on SSI/ Disability myself and spend roughly 3/4 of my monthly income for unsubsidized rent and utilities).
There are many ways, however, to contribute to the war effort besides financially. Many of the actions I mentioned in the “get your hands dirty” tip apply here as well. Word of mouth is a great advertiser. Activist sites have to compete with sex offense registries, websites that advocate for stricter “sex offender” laws, vigilante websites, news articles, and various personal blogs for attention. A person seeking support or legal advice is most likely to find a site like Family Watchdog than one of the activist sites, so we’re dependent on word of mouth. Word of mouth is better than any advertising we could do.
VISIT MY CONTACT ME page to donate to this website. OnceFallen.com is engaged in numerous activism projects like prison outreach and street level public awareness campaigns, so even small donations help. This same principle applies to the other existing organizations Even small donations of a few dollars are welcome and desperately needed.
These are merely my own suggestions for fighting back. We currently have less than 1% actively fighting back. If we even had the 1%, we’d have over seven thousand warriors in the fight. If we’ve done this much with a couple hundred warriors, imagine what a couple of thousand can do!