Honolulu Lite
Charles Memminger

Thursday, May 19, 2005

‘Count the Perverts’
new online fad

'Have you tried it yet?" a friend asked me enthusiastically. "It's good fun."

I don't know if "fun" is the right word for the latest online fad in Hawaii, which I call "Count the Perverts."

Ever since the state's Sex Offender Registry reopened on the Internet, the site (sexoffenders.hawaii.gov) has received hundreds of thousands of "hits" from people wanting to see how many perverts live in their neighborhoods. I'm sure many just want to make sure the weirdo next door is just an ordinary weirdo and not a convicted weirdo. But others are checking the site for the sheer bizarre entertainment of learning how many sexual criminals are out there and how they are scattered across the islands.

All this is possible because of laws that require sex offenders to tell the state where they are living, and a recent constitutional amendment that allows their names, photos and addresses to be splashed over the Internet.

I admit that even as an old court reporter, I found the number of convicted sexual predators to be an eye-popper: More than 1,100 statewide. By typing in your ZIP code, you can find out how many convicted perverts are living in your part of the island. I learned that I share Kaneohe with 47 sex offenders. I was happy, from a selfish point of view, to learn that none of them lived on my street.

Then I wanted to know how my neighborhood stacked up against others as a stomping ground for convicted deviates. Nearby Kailua has 24 registered sex offenders, and Haleiwa only four. (I apologize, "only" isn't a good word to describe the number of people living amongst you who have shown a willingness to rape or sexually assault innocent people.)

Some communities suffer a seeming legion of sex offenders: Waipahu has 62, Hilo 52 and Waianae an astonishing 86.

It would be wrong to make any correlation between the number of sex offenders in certain areas and living standards. It isn't necessarily that certain locales "produce" sex offenders but that sex offenders likely gravitate to places where they feel the least conspicuous.

And that raises the issue of some bleeding hearts that say convicted sex offenders have a right to remain inconspicuous and that posting their names and addresses on the Internet isn't fair.

Excuse me, but when you have been convicted of a something as evil as a sexual crime against a fellow human being -- many times, against a child -- you not only give up your right to be inconspicuous, you give up your "right" to any special consideration by the general public.

Not only do I think publishing the names of sex perverts on the Internet is worthwhile, I wonder why it hasn't been expanded to include other criminals.

I'd like to see the names and address of criminal predators posted. Two weeks ago, a 39-year-old man was arrested for holding his estranged wife hostage and assaulting her. It turned out he had 81 previous arrests, 34 of them convictions.

Think about that. Eighty-one arrests. You'd think that after, I don't know, 40 or 50 arrests and 10 or 20 convictions, this guy would be locked up for good.

It wasn't long ago police busted a 61-year-old man, his son, 33, and his daughter, 41, on drug and gun charges. They had combined history of 124 arrests! Ah, good ol' family values!

These are the people I want to be able to find on the Internet. I want to know if they are living on my street so I don't accidentally run over their dog or make eye contact.

We can engage in "Count the Perverts" online now. How about "Spot the predators" next?

Charles Memminger, the National Society of Newspaper Columnists' 2004 First Place Award winner for humor writing, appears Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. E-mail cmemminger@starbulletin.com

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