Some people deserve to spend life in a box. But even they have a shot at redemption.
Mood music for this post: “Man in the Box” by Alice in Chains:
As a dad, I have zero tolerance for anyone who hurts a child. So when I discovered someone I’ve known for many years spent a decade behind bars for pedophilia, It was like a knife in the gut. Further complicating matters is that as a recovering addict, I can’t help but feel bad for this guy. But only a little bit.
He’s addicted to sex and that addiction drew him to kids. He certainly got what he deserved: Hard jail time in the midst of hardened criminals who draw the line at crimes against children. People like that wouldn’t think twice about killing a pedophile in their midsts.
So this guy has been back on the streets for a year. He’s homeless, has found it nearly impossible to find a job and is constantly watching his back. He’s required by law to register as a sex offender, and to inform people living around him that he’s a convicted sex offender.
My first instinct was to tell him to fuck off when he contacted me. But after he described his evil instincts as an addiction, I paused. As I’ve said before, when someone is in the grip of addiction, sanity and logic no longer apply. I also know he’s the product of parental failure. I knew his parents. They were always putting him down. It was easier for them to do that than to give him the help he needed as a teenager, when it very well could have made the difference.
I had to hear the guy out.
He understands why people shun him. He doesn’t blame them. He’s been working hard at putting his life back together and curses the day he was born because he hates the side of himself that led to three convictions for assaulting a minor.
In talking to the guy, I found myself thankful as hell that my addiction took the form of binge eating. I think even a heroin addict is more fortunate than someone addicted to sex, pornography and especially pedophilia.
The latter addictions hit a person like any other addiction. You hate that side of you and want to change. But you find it impossible to stop unless you’re lucky enough to find recovery. And recovery is back-breaking, emotionally-draining work.
To have a sex addiction like that has to be sheer terror and hell for someone who isn’t evil at his core.
My Faith also tells me that no person who is sorry is beyond redemption. So you pray for them and hope for the best.
That’s where my sympathy ends.
I once had a debate with my friend Ken White about the death penalty. He’s for it, I’m against it. I argued that it’s hypocritical for the state to take a life. Ken argued back that some people don’t belong in society and have to go. That includes pedophiles. Maybe they’re not evil people, but their actions are evil and if they can’t function in society they shouldn’t be in society.
It was hard to argue back against that logic. Thing is, I tend to agree with him now.
Should this guy on the streets be back behind bars or dead? I’ll let others debate that. All I know is that I’m never, ever going to meet this guy in person or create a situation that lets him anywhere near my kids or anyone else’s.
Walking around with a big scarlet letter on his back must really suck, but it’s for the best. Even he knows that.
In the years following the Manson murders, the four who carried out Manson’s orders turned against him and turned to God. They completely renounced what they did and Charles “Tex” Watson even became a minister behind bars. They sought and received forgiveness from God. But they will never get out of prison.
They may have a right to forgiveness. Everyone does. But they did the crime and have to take the punishment. They gave up their right to live among the rest of us. That’s justice.
The pedophile now on the streets probably deserves a similar fate. But for whatever reason, they let him back out.
But he doesn’t have his freedom. He’ll always be watching his back. That too is justice, I suppose.
Writing about this was not comfortable. I wrestled with myself over whether to even tackle the subject. I decided I had to because I know the evil things addiction will make you do.
I saw this as a necessary tale of caution.
I’ll tell you what: I’m just extremely grateful that my addictions revolved around food and substances. People around me were hurt along the way, but it’s easier to receive forgiveness for those things.
It’s a bitch having to relate to someone who has done far worse than me.