“Mark Of The Beast?”
Sex Offender laws may be a sign of darker days to come
Derek W. Logue, Dec. 11, 2007, last update Nov. 22, 2009
(Addendum section updated May 7, 2021)
“Then I saw another beast come up out of the earth; it had two horns like a lamb’s but spoke like a dragon. It wielded all the authority of the first beast in its sight and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound had been healed… It forced all the people, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to be given a stamped a stamped image on their right hands or their foreheads, so that no one could buy or sell except one who had the stamped image of the beast’s name or the number that stood for its name.” (Revelations 13: 11-12, 16-17, New American Bible, © 1986 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine)
Over the past decade, sex offender laws have increased in both overwhelming popularity and severity. Sex offenders are placed on public registries, restricted as to where they live or work, and subject to a number of unique restrictions on their lives. Such laws have been passed on a wave of emotion, backed by public tragedies and charismatic advocates, with little or no thought or objection. However, in the past few years there have been a number of concerns over these laws. In his speech at the Silent No More Rally, pastor Dr. Davidson referred to the various sex offender programs as a “beta system” for the mark of the lawless government (DavidSon 2007). Eric S. Janus refers to the sex offender laws as a “harbinger of a preventive state” (Janus 2006, p. 4). Whether secular or religious, the conclusion is essentially the same; namely, a severe form of unparalleled governmental control comparable to conditions in Nazi Germany or the Cold War.
Degradation of Rights
Janus asserts that the Civil Rights era “all but eliminated the legitimate targeting of outsider groups,” (Janus 2005, p. 2) while establishing “constitutional bulwarks against excessive erosions of our liberty in the name of prevention” (Janus 2006, p. 94). However, sex offender laws have reversed this trend, reintroducing the concept of the “degraded other,” a suspect class of people which rationalizes “a diminished system of justice in which the normal protections of the Constitution do not apply” (ibid.). Through a series of emotional high-profile cases, sex offenders as a whole have been targeted for a series of novel laws designed to degrade the offenders’ status in society or the sake of public safety.
There are a number of events in recent history which mirror this sentiment. The most recent event is the American reaction to the terrorists attacks we call “9-11.” Following 9-11, a number of laws passed in the name of “public safety,” such as the “Patriot Act,” wiretapping, email tapping, and search engine tapping have been utilized to keep tabs on suspected terrorists (Janus 2005, p. 95-96). In post WW1 Germany, fear over the influx of homosexuals in Berlin led to the infamous changes to Paragraph 175 in the German Penal code. Hitler would later utilize this technique in exterminating other “asocials,” such as Jews (Logue 2006). Fear over the Cold War would lead to spying and wiretapping suspected spies on both sides of the war. The essential element is fear. Janus further asserts such laws “created an alternate system of degraded justice in which the outsider group’s rights were reduced in order to prevent some (imagined) future harm to the larger society” (Janus 2006, p. 97).
Only a small number of individuals would dare question their own government, especially during a time of crisis. In 1930s Germany, the Great Depression and the threat of communism gave Hitler the opportunity to rise to prominence. By instituting programs not unlike those of Roosevelt’s “New Deal,” Hitler gained popularity denied him in earlier elections (Hornberger 2007). The role of propaganda was to unite the people for the good of the country; he declares, “to win the masses for a national resurrection, no social sacrifice is too great” (Hitler 1943, p. 336). Essentially Hitler united the people in a common cause. Racial purity was for the good of the children, “the most precious treasure of the people” (ibid, p. 403). In the case of exterminating Jews, there was a worldwide anti-Semitic sentiment, even in the US; thus, many turned a blind eye to the genocide either out of this belief of being for the greater good or out of fear (Hornberger 2007). Also, in the eyes of the Germans, they were the defenders, not the aggressors, in the second World War (ibid.)
Evolution of the Laws
Sex Offender laws are essentially a reaction to a perceived fear, further propagated by mass media and politicians. A prime example of the attitude regarding sex offenders in our society can be found in the following press release:
“According to a US Department of Justice report 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 7 boys are molested by age 18. Of the released sex offenders who are charged with another sex crime, the Bureau of Justice Statistics report that 40% perpetrate the new offense within one year or less of their prison discharge. The country has agonized with the parents of kidnapped children, and found, all too often, that the person who abused and murdered them had already demonstrated their lack over grotesque, and fatal,
impulses.” (Ohio Attorney General 2005)
Such statements fuel the fear and loathing of the sex offender in our society. This patchwork statement gives the reader the impression that 2 of 5 sex offenders will rape and kill a child within one year of release. It leaves little wonder why sex offender laws are so popular.
Since the inception of the first public registry of sex offenders, a patterned has developed and repeated itself in our society. The path to the creation of the new law tends to follow the same path:
- High-profile “stereotypical kidnapping,” usually ending in murder
- Public outrage
- Push for novel law by celebrity advocate, named after victim, based on the “if only…” concept
- Law passes with little reservation with promise it will prevent sex crimes
The key argument in this evolution of the sex offender law has been the “If Only” argument. Each high profile crime has led to the belief that “if only” this law is passed, then the crime would have occurred. The law passes, a new high profile sex crime is committed soon after, and the cycle begins again. The cycle is plainly illustrated in the “Adam Walsh Act (AWA),” Section 102, which lists 17 high profile victims; the AWA is filled with acts named for many of these victims.
From the first law to the passage of the AWA, each law has been either the inception of a new law or an increased penalty of an existing law. Registry laws are the example of the latter. The original registry law, the Jacob Wetterling Act, was intended as a resource for law enforcement and others in direct contact with children; Megan’s law made the registry public; under the AWA Section 120, the “Dru Sodjin National Sex Offender Public Website” allows a woman from Fairbanks to find sex offenders in Key West. Since the original Jacob Wetterling Act, a number of new laws were created: residency and proximity/ loitering laws, civil commitment, chemical castration, even the death penalty. There is, however, a new direction in the trend, intruding closer and closer on the actual person.
The purpose of registries was to identify those who were convicted of sex crimes so people “knew” which individuals were a potential threat to our well-being. However, problems exist with the registries, most particularly its size. The desire to identify offenders on the move has led to a series of increasingly intrusive proposals. GPS tracking is the most noticeable and accepted intrusive tracking of sex offenders, either proposed or passed in 20 states (Nat’l Conf. of State Legislatures, June 2006). GPS has a number of limitations; they can be easily removed and suffer from geographical interference. Perhaps taking the classic Hawthorne novel literally, Alabama
passed a law which placed the words “Sex Offender” in bold red letters (AP 2006). At least three states have proposed laws to add fluorescent green tags on the vehicles of sex offenders, including Ohio, where it is dubbed “Kristen’s Law;” the mother said if this law had existed her daughter would not have died (Jones 2007). Each of the aforementioned laws place an identifying mark on the person, yet it is not enough in the eyes of many. A couple of proposals bring that “identifying mark” closer to reality. One proposal was later revealed as a hoax, while one has been declared by the media “only a matter of time” before it becomes a real aspect of our lives.
A proposal (later discovered to be a hoax) that made its way over the internet was the “No More Victims Act of 2007.” It generated a great deal of controversy because it proposed testing every American citizen for certain characteristics believed to be common in with pedophiles. Surprisingly, a number of individuals actually believed the proposal to be a good idea; one web blog heralded the law as “ ‘the be all and end all’ for sex crimes (nomorevictimsact.blogspot.com 2007). The act called for everyone 18 or over, especially those who work directly with children, to undergo a plethysmograph (a.k.a. the “peter reader”), a polygraph, and an empirical risk assessment; those who fail the test or refuse to take the test is classified as high-risk and placed on a special registry similar to the current sex offender registry (ibid.). Despite being a blatant hoax, the mere fact the proposal generated a great deal of interest serves as a gauge to the extent individuals would be willing to endure in the name of public safety.
A more realistic form of “the mark,” though quite controversial in its own right, is the proposal to implant microchips in humans. As far back as 2004, the US government has given approval to the use of microchips in humans, noting their use in livestock and pets. The FDA approved the use of embedded microchips the size of a grain of rice which contains an individual’s entire medical records. The news brought mixed feelings; proponents view the proposal as convenient and useful for purposes such as tracking missing children, while opponents cite a number of privacy issues (Coughlin 2004).
CityWatcher.com, a Cincinnati surveillance company, had become the first known company to implant microchips in some of their employees. The move sparked immediate outrage; within days, civil libertarians and conservative Christians denounced the act. Some critics referred to the biblical “mark of the beast,” citing concerns the government may tell us to “take a chip or starve;” others felt akin to the “Big Brother” society on Orwell’s classic novel “1984.” The primary concern with many critics is that chip implanting would progress from Alzheimer’s patients and soldiers, convicts, sex offenders and so forth, until every citizen will be implanted with the microchips (AP 2007). Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, calls the chips “a form of electronic leases, a form of digital control.”
However, all concerns and protests seemingly disappear when it comes to sex offenders. Logue (2006) has previously stated “Hitler did not go straight into persecuting Jews, he took the path of least resistance then eased into further persecutions. In the same way, America has started the campaign to deprive human rights by depriving the rights of sex offenders who completed their sentences.” Hitler understood the power of having a common enemy and a common cause; he wrote of a “ruthless and fanatically one-sided” toward a “positive struggle for our own aims” to unite the souls of the people (Hitler 1943, p. 337-338).
One Ohio state senator is already proposing a system utilizing microchip technology, called “Offendar,” short for “offender radar.” Offendar would alert customers when a sex offender wearing a GPS or microchip is within a certain distance. The company promoting the new technology stated, “The public wants more than after-the-fact tracking of sex offenders. Many people want to know when a threat is in the vicinity so they can take steps to protect themselves and their children before something happens” (Fields 2007). The current state of sex offender legislation should certainly be a cause of concern for individuals opposed to embedding microchips in
humans. John Walsh, outspoken host of “America’s Most Wanted,” has at least hinted support of a similar proposal by suggesting putting exploding chip implants in the rectums of sex offenders [he later said he was joking (“with that not really look in his eyes“), while agreeing that ankle bracelets are not enough (de Moraes 2006).
The freedoms America has taken for granted is now in jeopardy. History has shown us how truly fragile our hard fought freedoms truly are. With a little fear and a promise of a safer or better society, many people gladly forfeit their freedom without question. Sadly, as history has shown us, forfeiting our freedom comes with great risk. Both the secular setting of Orwell’s “Big Brother” society and “The Beast” from the Bible warn us of the dangers of degrading the equal rights of any socially unpopular group; by allowing the rights of one group to be taken away, you open the door for those same rights to be taken away from other groups, and eventually you as well.
On a final note, consider the following: the United States Supreme Court has never formally declared two American atrocities, the “Eugenics” (sterilization) movement and the Japanese internment camps of WW2, as unconstitutional (Janus 2006, p. 98-100).
- Associated Press, “New law requires mark on sex offender IDs.” Decatur Daily, Sept. 2, 2006
- Associated Press, “Microchips in Humans: High Tech helpers or Big Brother Surveillance?” cnn.com, Aug. 1, 2007.
- CBC News. “Microchip Implants in Humans on the Market.“ Nov. 2, 2002
- Coughlin, Sean. “Security under the skin.” BBC News, Oct. 15, 2004
- DavidSon, Steven. “Dr. Davison Speech” You Tube video, Silent No More Rally, Dec. 1, 2007.
- De Moraes, Lisa. “Summer Press Tour, Day 16: An Explosive Interview.” Washington Post, July 26, 2006
- Fields, Reginald. “Warning sex offenders, ‘Offendar’ may find you.” The Plain Dealer Politics blog, www.cleveland.com, Dec. 4, 2007.
- Hitler, Adolph. “Mein Kampf.” Translated by Ralph Manheim, Houghton Mifflin, New York, 1943.
- Hornberger, Jacob G. “Why Germans Supported Hitler.” LewRockwell.com, July 19, 2007
- Janus, Eric S. “Failure To Protect: America’s Sexual Predator Laws and the Rise of the Preventive State.” Cornell University Press, 2006.
- Janus, Eric S. “The Preventive State, Terrorists and Sexual Predators: Countering the Threat of a New Outsider Jurisprudence.” William Mitchell College of Law Legal Studies Research Paper Series, May 2005.
- Jones, Ben. “States may require sex offenders to use special license plates.” USA Today, May 1, 2007
- Logue, Derek. “The Fourth Reich.” www.https://oncefallen.com/NaziSOLaws, 2006
- Ohio Attorney General, “Statement on Substitute House Bill 227- Proponent Testimony,” www.ag.state.oh.us, June 14, 2005
In the years following this original commentary, there were a number of novel ideas to use technology to track Registered Persons using various physical devices.
Offendar: Offender Radar”
Warning sex offenders; ‘Offendar’ may find you
Posted by Reginald Fields December 04, 2007 11:45AM (CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER BLOG PAGE)
“State Sen. Tim Grendell of Chester Township, a vocal supporter of various measures aimed at getting tougher on crime, says he is excited about a Geauga County company’s proposal “to take real-time monitoring of sex offenders to a new level.”
He has invited the company to make a presentation Wednesday to a Senate subcommittee on a device it is developing and seeking to patent called “Offendar,” short for offender radar. Offendar LLC is marketing it as a “personal threat detection system featuring a key-fob sized electronic device.” The device would give the person carrying it “a vibrating, auditory or visual alarm when a sex offender or other person wearing a court-ordered electronic ankle bracelet is in the immediate vicinity.”
Why is the company proposing it? “The public wants more than after-the-fact tracking of sex offenders. Many people want to know when a threat is in the vicinity so they can take steps to protect themselves and their children before something happens,” according to the company’s presentation.
The idea is sure to be provocative, especially among those who think efforts targeting sex offenders have gone too far. [You don’t say?!?]
Grendell seems to have no reservations about the company’s proposal. “In seeing their idea and understanding how it can enhance what Ohio is already doing, I was very impressed,” he said in a memo Monday to fellow lawmakers and the media.”
Washington State’s Proposed Microchip Implant Program
Washington attempted to pass legislation in 2009 which would have led to the use of RFID (microchip) implants on Registered Persons. Thankfully, the bill did not pass and was never revived, but made headlines when it was proposed:
HOUSE BILL 1142
State of Washington 61st Legislature 2009 Regular Session
By Representatives O’Brien, Sells, Chase, Hurst, Springer, McCune, Kelley, Simpson, and Maxwell
Read first time 01/14/09. Referred to Committee on Public Safety & Emergency Preparedness.
1 AN ACT Relating to electronic monitoring of sex offenders; and 2 creating a new section.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF WASHINGTON: NEW SECTION.
Sec. 1. (1) The Washington association of sheriffs and police chiefs shall conduct a study using radio frequency identification or other similar technology to electronically monitor sex offenders.
(2) The study must include: (a) An evaluation of the current state of radio frequency identification technology, including the capabilities and limitations of subcutaneous radio frequency identification tags;
(b) An identification of the ways in which current subcutaneous radio frequency identification technology may be used to electronically monitor sex offenders, including an evaluation of the costs and benefits of using the technology compared to the costs and benefits of methods currently being used to monitor sex offenders;
(c) An evaluation of developing subcutaneous radio frequency identification technologies, such as linking subcutaneous radio frequency identification tags with global positioning systems, and an estimate of the time frame in which the developing technologies will be available; and
(d) An identification of the ways in which developing radio frequency identification technologies may be used in the future to electronically monitor sex offenders, including an evaluation of the costs and benefits of using the technology compared to the costs and benefits of methods currently being used to monitor sex offenders.
(3) The Washington association of sheriffs and police chiefs shall report its findings to the legislature by December 31, 2009
Thankfully, it seems the US is reluctant to utilize microchips out of religious fears or the types of fears synonymous with conspiacy theories:
Fact check: Americans won’t have microchips implanted by end of 2020
Camille Caldera, USA TODAY, Aug. 1, 2020
“There’s also already been pushback against chipping in the United States.
Indiana, Nevada, Arkansas, Missouri, and Montana prohibit employers from requiring chip implants, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, as reported in State Net Capitol Journal. Laws passed in California, Maryland, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Wisconsin and Utah prohibit the required implantation of a microchip in any person, not just employees…
This is not the first time misinformation about microchips and RFID has proliferated online in the past few months — from claims that the federal government, Bill Gates, and schools will use a vaccine for COVID-19 as a vehicle for microchips, to fears about the presence of RFID chips in bras and tires…
Fear of tracking is also common, though unfounded, when it comes to RFID.
“It’s a long-standing trope that people think they’re being spied on, followed, traced,” Joseph Uscinski, a political science professor at the University of Miami who studies conspiracy theories, told USA TODAY.
Most microchips are also not constantly transmitting information and do not perform real-time “tracking.”
Take the example of the bras that contain microchips on their tags or care labels, which viral posts claimed were linked to sex trafficking…”
The Freemasons and their “CHIP” program
The MasoniCHIP was a program billed as a child safety program that collects Dental Impressions, DNA, Dog Scents, Color Photos, Fingerprints, and Recorded Interviews in the event of a rare abduction. (Despite the name, the CHIP program does not actualy include microchips, as was commonly believed.)
However, the thought of collecting a large amount of information of individuals still raised realistic privacy concerns among the general public.
“Why Are the Freemasons Collecting Our Children’s DNA?”
Amy MacPherson, HoffPost Canada, Nov. 6, 2012. https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/amy-macpherson/freemason_b_1906521.html
“Parents are asked to trust an intriguing, private fraternity; to ensure that quality standards are met and family privacy is legally respected without any kind of oversight. Because Freemasons fund 100 per cent of the initiative, there is no opportunity to discuss issues regarding data ownership or how they feel about those technicalities in the privacy of their meetings…
When it comes to the little people we’d do anything to protect them, but perhaps their families might give sober second thought to what exactly they’re signing in a contract with Freemasons. This DNA collection program is planned to be extended to the disabled community and seniors, but who benefits when it’s inadmissible to a certified registry of any sort?
And why is the face of government through public schools or police through public events, being placed on an effort from private organizations to mislead parents? Sharing one’s fingerprints and biometrics is a serious decision. For public safety we must insist that brokers of such events become transparent and regulated.”
Facial Recognition Technology
Another recent development concerns facial recognition technology. Typical concerns against the use of facial recognirion include:
- Misuse of Biometrics and Facial Recognition Data: Could be misused in many ways, such as mass surveillance programs
- Security breaches: data from survellance agencies have been stolen many times in recent years.
- Improper Data Storage and Sharing: Surveillance devices can be easily hacked.
One last concern is false identification using this imperfect technology:
“Surprising results after activists test facial recognition technology on Denver City Council”
Jessica Porter, Jan 13, 2020, Denver 7 News. https://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/local-news/surprising-results-after-activists-test-facial-recognition-technology-on-denver-city-council
“A test done by a grassroots campaign to ban facial recognition technology in Denver found it falsely matched Denver City Council members to people in the sex offender registry.
The people behind 5280 Not 1984, an initiative to ban facial recognition surveillance in Denver, said they believe the technology isn’t ready for law enforcement.
‘A big concern that our group has is the proliferation of false positive responses that this technology puts out there,’ said 5280 Not 1984 committee member Connors Swatling.
Swatling ran a test with Amazon’s Rekognition software. He compared the photos of Denver City Council members to about 2,000 photos from the Denver County Sex Offender Registry. It took him three days to run the data.
‘The results we got back were pretty astounding,” Swatling said. “In some cases, as many as four false positives from a pool of 2,000 images, which is a very small pool.'”
Still, that has not stopped companies from trying to exploit Predator Panic to promote this dubious technology:
New Google Glass App Can Recognize Up to 450,000 Sex Offenders so You Know When to Run
BY J. DUAINE HAHN | DEC 20, 2013 | 1:27 PM
“Though Google has banned facial recognition from Google Glass, one company is throwing that to the wind and is doing their own, anyway—and it’s specializing in sex offenders.
NameTag, the Nevada-based company, has developed a Glass app that can recognize up to 450,000 sex offenders, and pulls its data from FacialNetwork.com. “I believe that this will make online dating and offline social interactions much safer and give us a far better understanding of the people around us,” said NameTag’s founder Kevin Tussy. “It’s much easier to meet interesting new people when we can simply look at someone, see their Facebook, review their LinkedIn page or maybe even see their dating site profile.”
For all of you sex offenders out there that would rather your information not be made available on the app, there is a way around it. “People will soon be able to login to http://www.NameTag.ws and choose whether or not they want their name and information displayed to others,” Tussy says, “It’s not about invading anyone’s privacy; it’s about connecting people that want to be connected. We will even allow users to have one profile that is seen during business hours and another that is only seen in social situations. NameTag can make the big, anonymous world we live in as friendly as a small town.”
If you’re wondering how NameTag will be available on Glass though Google has banned facial recognition, it’s because users can still jailbreak the device to do so, and Google has released instructions on how to do it…”
Electronic Monitoring/GPS Devices
Finally, I have an entire article on the use of GPS/Electronic Monitoring on Registered Persons: