Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Pedobears, bus surfers, and Lone Guys on Park Benches! Oh, My!

Do we need any more proof that America is getting too paranoid about sex offenders? It seems that our fear of sex offenders has not yet reached its peak.

Below are some of the most recent stories:


The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Department is warning parents about a disturbing new phenomenon made popular by pedophiles and sexual deviants. The Pedo Bear began as an online Japanese cartoon character, and is known for his "lecherous nature" towards prepubescent children. Recently, pedophiles have adopted the bear as a mascot. Although there have been no reported sightings of the image on the Central Coast, individuals dressed in the bear costume and car decals have been seen in Southern California. Local law enforcement cautions parents to be aware of the image, particularly at public events. For concerns about the image, contact the Sexual Assault Felony Enforcement division of the sheriff's department at 805-781-4550.

For those of you who have never heard of "Pedobear," Pedobear is a character created on a popular website called 4chan that was used to call out someone who makes a comment that sounds sexually inappropriate, or calls to attention something that oversexualizes children or minors. Pedobear eventually became used outside the 4chan site, of course. But many do not understand what it means because it is a 4chan inside joke. Apparently, neither did the San Luis Obispo Sheriff's Office. They saw a person dressed as Pedobear at the comic book convention and they sound the alarm. It may be a joke in bad taste, but it is not necessarily a criminal, either.

The San Lius Obispo Sheriff's Office is not the only one creating panic. John Walsh of AMW, the leader in fear promoting for almost 30 years, has created a new panic: Watch out for "bus surfing pedophiles:"


"The front lines against a disturbing reality. John Walsh calls it "bus surfing" -- pedophiles who follow buses and prey on children at bus stops."

Of course, the problem is not just that he creates a new fear, he finds a few people willing to back him up on his latest campaign of fear:

The bus drivers here say they're aware this goes on. And they say John's presence here serves as inspiration to constantly be on the watch and report any suspicions. They know their neighborhood routes well, so they say they look out for cars who linger behind buses or people who seem out of place. And they say they're not afraid to report suspicious activity to the police.

Oh yeah, if you are lost or new to the neighborhood, be prepared to be a suspect.

The last featured article is relevant in light of recent trends that ban sex offenders or even people without children from parks.


The Monster of Meridian Park

This post originally appeared on Wallyhood, the Wallingford, Seattle neighborhood blog. Visit us for more Wallingford news.

(By Margaret)
Imagine, if you will, an idyllic park setting where sounds of children's laughter and shrieks of delight fill the air. You shade your eyes from the sun and catch a glimpse of someone sitting on a nearby bench. Looking around, you discover that this person is at the park alone, which you find strange. "Something's not quite right," you think, as you watch him wander through the playground. Your instincts tell you that this person shouldn't be anywhere near children.

Back home, you log onto your computer and check the database of registered sex offenders, during which you find that there are 12 offenders within a mile radius of your address. Your pulse quickens as you look through the database. You suddenly see a picture of someone that stops your heart cold, and you ask yourself, "Is it him? Is this the man who was at the park"? You're horrified. That man is a Level 2 sex offender, and what's more, he's NON-COMPLIANT. Your hunch was right. He has no business being anywhere near children.

So you share the news in the public forum of your community's neighborhood blog because people need to know, and parents with children who visit the park need to be aware that this dangerous man could return to the park at any time and possibly re-offend. Before long, people are asking, "Why is this guy allowed to be in the park?" People then report that they've seen this man everywhere: at the supermarket, the library, and a bus stop. What's worse is that someone else calls the Seattle Police Department to report "the incident," and dispatcher tells the caller that since the man is not on probation, there is nothing stopping him from being around children.

Meanwhile, fliers emblazoned with "HAVE YOU SEEN THIS MAN?" and the man's photo are distributed to parents in the park. One parent Google's the man's name, only to find out that he was thrown in jail last year for keeping pornographic files of children on his computer. "Why the HELL," she asks, "isn't this man still in jail?"

But then, someone else does a bit more digging. Finds that the man in question is actually not the same man in the database. That man has been behind bars for the past year, and he will remain so for 11 more. That man should have been taken off of the Sex Offender database last year.
It's an honest mistake, to be sure, but one that has raised a lot of fears. The intention was admirable, but the cascade of events that followed was not.

We are incredibly lucky to be living in the digital age--where infinite information is delivered to us effortlessly. We are more informed, more aware, and as such, more proactive about delivering information that can be helpful to our neighbors. But sometimes, a little information can be very dangerous. Without checking facts or digging deeper, we stand a chance to instill unnecessary fear and widespread panic.

And there you have it. How do you think this innocent man must have felt because some idiot thought he was a pedophile? His only "crime" was sitting in a park. Men are increasingly cast as potential sexual predators in this country.

Sexual predators are EVERYWHERE! HIDE THE KIDS! Watch the video below, and you'll see how far this has gone.


ADDENDUM: There is one more panic out there. Now CNN is reporting an alleged "Pedophile Manifesto," and promotes the fear by getting Ed Smart, Robin Sax, and Mark Klaas, complete with faulty stats. Joy Behar should've stayed on The View. The irony is that most of the child advocacy place put info out there on how molesters work. That is about the same thing, in my opinion.


ADDENDUM 2: The Pedobear scare spreads!

Tulsa's Fox 23 News claims the guy under the mask was a Registered Sex Offender, yet there is no actual report of that, the man would have been arrested on the spot and would have been in the earlier report.


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