On the comment thread of yesterday’s post about Nicole Kidman and privacy laws, someone raised this question:
How would you treat situations like [the] pedophile expulson in Murgon yesterday?
It’s a question that merits a separate post. I think convicted pedophiles who have served their time in prison are also entitled to privacy protection, albeit balanced against the community’s right to protection of children in case their predatory predilection re-emerges. The image of that poor old bastard in Queensland being hunted from town to town, because self-serving politicians and media keep disclosing his address and sooling the local halfwits onto him, is a disturbing one. The bloke has to live somewhere. I certainly agree with the maintenance of a national child sex offenders register, and an efficient system to ensure that:
(a) local police are notified when a pedophile moves into their area, so they can keep an eye on him; and
(b) a foolproof system for vetting applicants for jobs working with children, to ensure convicted (or known) pedophiles aren’t employed in high risk areas;
is long overdue. Criminological research shows that pedophiles have a much higher risk of recidivism than most other crime categories, so community concern and vigilance is entirely justified.
But I DON’T believe that the general community (including politicians and media) has a right to disclosure of pedophiles’ addresses. It simply encourages the sort of mindless, distasteful, pointless vigilante activity we’ve seen in Queensland over the last few days. As with any such question, it’s a matter of balancing competing legitimate rights and interests, and there’s room for discussion on exactly where the optimal balance lies