KTTH OPINION

Rantz: Democrats change name ‘sex offender’ to protect rapists’ feelings

Jan 21, 2024, 5:45 PM | Updated: Jan 22, 2024, 11:14 am

(Photo: TVW)...

(Photo: TVW)

(Photo: TVW)

Democrats prioritized a new bill that demands “person-first” language to address how violent sex offenders are labeled. The intent is to stop defining a sex offender by his or her crime, so they can destigmatize them. It may not even be the most offensive piece of the legislation.

Among the prescribed reforms, HB 2177 changes the name of the Sex Offender Policy Board (SOPB). If passed, it will now be called the Sex Offense Policy Board. It gives the dubious impression that the board reviews focuses on sex offenses, and not the criminals who commit them. HB 2177 also adds a convicted sex offender to the SOPB, with proponents arguing the felon’s “lived experiences” is “invaluable.” It does not restrict the membership to level 1 sex offenders, those who are least likely to recommit a sex offense. The bill allows the most dangerous felons, Level 3 sex offenders, to join. The sex offender will serve alongside another new representative to the board: victims of sex crimes.

The SOPB was intended to offer sex offender management to keep the community safe. But it’s strayed far from its intent, instead focused on how to advocate for sex offenders.

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Fighting for sex offenders ‘people who have committed a sex offense’

The SOPB legislation is spearheaded by State Rep. Tarra Simmons, a Democrat who served time for three felony convictions for possession of controlled substances and retail theft in 2011. She pushed to have a sex offender serve alongside sex offense victims and their advocates on the board.

“I think that we all do better when we have a diverse legislature. That’s why I’m here,” Simmons said at a House Community Safety, Justice, & Reentry hearing for the bill. “And I’m proud to be here. I think I bring some lived experience that was missing from here. And while some people may have a stigma for people who have committed a sex offense, I think they have invaluable information to share that can really guide this board.”

Brad Meryhew, who leads the SOPB, testified in favor of the move.

“And I think it brings to the board, that sort of reality check that we always need in public policy. And I welcome the opportunity to have those voices at the table and to do everything I can to facilitate their active participation in our process,” he said.

Republican State Rep. Dan Griffey was not supportive, arguing he doesn’t understand why the board would “advocate” for a sex offender. It’s also unclear how comfortable a victim would feel serving on a board that includes a convicted sex offender. And you’re not even supposed to use that term. Instead, a sex offender on the board is labeled a “representative with lived experience with incarceration for a sex offense.” It’s part of a “person-first” approach that is even extended to the board’s title.

Sanitizing the sex offender

During public testimony at the committee hearing, advocates like Whitney Hunt, a staff member who for the SOPB, defended the legislation. She effectively argued that the change in how sex offenders are discussed treats them equally to their victims. We’re supposed to want that?

“This bill incorporates recommendations the board has previously indicated its support, for regarding the use of person-first language,” she said. “This change aligns with best practices and research, and encompasses all the individuals involved and impacted by the sex offense management system, including victims.”

Traditionally, “person-first language” has been used to described the disabled so they’re not being defined by a disability. The National Institutes of Health says it’s about being more “respectful” of people. But it has grown to become a wordy self-parody. For example, instead of saying addict, it’s recommended you say, “Person who is in recovery from a substance use disorder.”

If it’s not a parody of wokeness, person-first language, in the context of sex offenders, has been used to downplay or whitewash crimes. The Radical Left tried to normalize the phrase “Minor-Attracted Persons” as a replacement for child molester or pedophile.

An article in Psychology Today best notes the intent of using person-first language for sex offenders. Dr. Elizabeth Letourneau says the language is so you’re not defining sex offenders “by a single attribute” and labeling “them based on the worst thing they’ve ever done.” The author says the person-first language allows us to “communicate more clearly and respectfully,” but not dismiss their crimes. It simply allows the public “to more accurately describe characteristics or behaviors while first recognizing these individuals as people.”

Democrats care an awful lot about sex offenders

Washington Democrats are pushing a campaign to destigmatize sex offenders who deserve stigma. They’re even trying to release dangerous pedophiles into the community.

The long-term plan is to depopulate prisons and McNeil Island with a Less Restrictive Alternative (LRA), an outpatient treatment program in a community setting. In 2021, Democrats passed legislation to more easily distribute conditionally-released sexually violent predators across the state. It even encourages predators to pursue LRAs. At the time, the prime sponsor, State Sen. Christine Rolfes (D-Bainbridge Island), said it’s in part about “people who are potentially dangerous, but not necessarily dangerous, back into communities where they can live safely and with their constitutional liberties protected.” The state now refers to sex offenders on McNeil Island as “residents.” It’s person-first language.

Last year, Democrats were caught trying to place a child rapist in an unsecured house near a spot where children congregate in the small city of Tenino. Only after pressure did the state relent. But the work is done with the assistance of the SOPB. In 2022, the SOPB recommended the state end a rule prohibiting LRAs from being placed within 500 feet of a childcare facility. It said that “There is no particular increase in risk associated with proximity to the location where individuals who have committed sexual offenses are housed.”

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show on weekday afternoons from 3-6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here. Follow Jason on X, formerly known as TwitterInstagram and Facebook.

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Rantz: Democrats change name ‘sex offender’ to protect rapists’ feelings