Sunday, October 13, 2013

why suicide?

This is not okay.
A city councilman in central Iowa killed himself only hours after detectives found child pornography on his home computer, a Story County sheriff’s official said Saturday.
This is what comes of the demonization of sex offenders: pointless suicides. Let's not let this one be pointless; let us learn from it.
Investigators also questioned [the councilman] that day about several images of nude boys found on the computer. Most images came from the Internet, but some may have been from local victims, Thomas said. [My emphasis.]
Of course they may have been from local victims! Were they? 

Sheriff's Captain Barry Thomas should be ashamed of himself for smearing the dead man's reputation with an accusation that has not even been made. If local victims turn up, deal with it then. In the meantime, we should remember that Sheriff's Captain Barry Thomas may have been molesting children himself just before he said that.

Why did this man think suicide was the only way out? I don't know. 

Maybe because he has heard the jokes about sex offenders. Why do we test on animals when the prisons are full of pedophiles? That's a real knee-slapper, almost as hysterical as the evergreen Don't drop the soap. 

Prison for sex offenders is more dangerous than for other criminals. Some people celebrate that fact. The irony? 

Inmates who are most threatening to sex offenders--because they think sex offenses are just that unforgivable--are themselves many times more likely to end up back in prison than the sex offenders. The jokes and threats about how sex offenders might be attacked in prison come from people who are more likely to be the victim of a robbery than to be the victim of a sex offender.

Maybe he committed suicide because he has heard people threaten to maim or kill sex offenders and he knows that he will probably be vilified as well. Maybe because he knows that sex offenders have been killed by vigilantes. 

Maybe because he knows that no matter how many years he might spend in prison, the truth is that being added to the sex offender registry is effectively a life sentence.

Perhaps this man committed suicide because he was ashamed of looking at child porn. People who want to stop looking at child porn have no safe way to ask for help; therapists and counselors are mandated to report them to law enforcement.

Put yourself in his shoes. Think of the absolute worst fantasy you've ever had about sex--the dirtiest. You're not the type to do that? Okay, think about even your cleanest fantasy. Now imagine it in a headline. Football coach fantasizes about wearing silky undergarments. Banker fantasizes about meeting the teller in a hotel room over lunch. College professor fantasizes about a steamy afternoon in her office with the student who wears sweater vests. How many of us would find life very difficult if our fantasies were in the headlines?

If this man had known that his suicide was not going to save his family and friends from knowing his humiliation and shame, perhaps he would have gutted it out. Perhaps he would have learned that a life made difficult by others is still a life worth living. 

Perhaps he would have become a better man. Evidence shows, in an article from a less sensational, more respectful article, that this was a good man. The worst thing we know about him--the worst thing we think we know about him--cannot wipe away the good he has done, the good man that he was.

(Updated to add link in final paragraph.)

Updated: Shelly Stow at With Justice for All has related thoughts about another case of suicide.


Tom said...

YES, why does it have to end in suicide? The same thing happened right here in our community. A 49 year old father of five was being investigated for allegedly having some child porn on his cell phone.

The police returned to his home the next day to continue their investigation and immediately heard a gun shot. One bullet to the head and the man was dead. He took his own life and why? Because somehow we have made looking at child pornography the worse possible crime anyone could be involved in. I am all for hanging the guy who makes little kids do horrible things so he can take their pictures. But once it is done they are out there for the whole world to look at. So someone who might set in the privacy of his own home and simply look at something that is found anywhere on the internet is labeled the scum of the earth. You could stand in the middle of main street USA, kill someone and not be looked at as horrible as someone who probably never hurt anyone, but simply looked at, or downloaded some inappropriate pictures. Sure it is wrong, but is it wrong enough that someone should be made to feel so horrible that they will kill themselves over it. Or be killed by a stalker who got your name from a sex registry. Or horribly beat to death in a prison because of your sex offender label. As I was channel surfing last night that story popped up. And I am sure the cops who heard the gun shot and found the man dead here in our community probably said "so much for this scum bag, now on to the next one". It is nothing but a witch hunt. A multi billion dollar industry. Investigating, apprehending, prosecuting, and incarcerating someone who probably never has, and never will, hurt anyone, but simply looks at pictures, readily available on the internet for the whole world to view. And the fact that "we the people" allow this to go on makes me so angry I just want to scream. I am not saying viewing or possessing child pornography is right, but treat it for what it really is, a minor infraction of the law, not the worse possible crime anyone could ever commit.

Danielle said...

Viewing or possessing child pornography is a "minor infraction of the law"?
You've got to be kidding me, Tom.
You don't think that looking at "inappropriate pictures", as you call them, is hurtful?
Doth protest too much.
I wonder why?

Marie said...

And methinks you don't read very well, Danielle. Tom didn't have images of toddlers; he had pictures of a friend who was older than the age of consent. Old enough to have sex but the pictures are still considered child porn. Do you think that makes sense?

Child pornography does include images that are merely "inappropriate." The fact that someone has been arrested for child porn doesn't always mean what you think it means...or what you want it to mean.