Tuesday, April 24, 2012

At Ground Zero for the war on sex offenders

In the shadow of Ground Zero, with the new construction of the "Freedom Tower" in the background,
the media frenzy over the possible Ground Zero for the war on sex offenders was bustling with activity.
This photo (c) 2012 Derek Logue of www.oncefallen.com, not to be reused w/o permission.
"In many ways, it was the end of an era of innocence. And parents suddenly became much more protective and much more hovering over their children." -- Ernie Allen, NCMEC

"We want kids to walk around smart and not scared," -- Alison Feigh, Jacob Wetterling Resource Center

"I said to him, 'If you got a sense from us that the world is a scary place, it came from Etan Patz. That's where it came from. And I'm sorry if we did do that. Because it's not a good thing to imbue in a child." -- Cass Collins, wife of the father of a child in Etan's playgroup, to her son

"Though I realize that the likelihood of any one of my own three children being abducted is likely less than them being struck by lightning, that doesn't mean that it's not a real, albeit slightly irrational, fear."-- Jodi Halkin, of Palm Beach, Fla., who grew up around the corner from Adam Walsh. Halkin won't even write her children's names on their T-shirts or backpacks out of fear that a stranger might be able to call one of them by name.

All above quotes came from the Christian Science Monitor article, "Etan Patz: His disappearance started the era of parental anxiety," by Meghan Barr, April 23, 2012

This past weekend I went to New York City to be on the Paula Gloria Show. As I was sitting at the station awaiting my transport, the Etan Patz case was all over the CNN channel, which was playing in the lobby. Who is Etan Patz? He was a young boy who went missing on May 25th 1979, and his disappearance was the catalyst for the current era of parental anxiety, and ultimately the war on sex offenders.

The Etan Patz disappearance was among the first disappearance to trigger a massive search for a single missing child in the modern era, and while overshadowed by the death of Adam Walsh and the activism by his John Walsh (who helped begin the NCMEC and the milk carton campaigns), the Patz case is still Ground Zero for what would ultimately become the "war on sex offenders." Patz was the first child features on a milk carton, according to AMNY, a free local newspaper handed to me by a local.

A local TV reporter tries waving off a fan while reporting on the Etan Patz search.
This picture (c) 2012 Derek W. Logue of www.oncefallen.com. Do not reuse w/o permission
It seemed no mere coincidence this 33-year-old case would make national news as I began my trip to the Big Apple. With my copy of the AMNY in hand, I made my way to the corner of Prince and Wooster. In the distance, the Freedom Tower, the new World Trade tower replacing the Twin Towers destroyed on 9/11, loomed in the background barely a mile from the other "ground Zero." The narrow streets were packed with media vans lined up around the block, and dozens of portable metal fences separated the crowds of people from the media and the investigators searching a basement in an effort to find the missing child. The media swarmed around a short, balding man in a way reserved only for Hollywood stars surrounded at the Red Carpet by the Paparazzi.

The short balding guy in the beige clothes is swallowed by the media frenzy.
Behind the media antenna to the right stands Freedom Tower.
This picture (c) 2012 Derek W. Logue of www.oncefallen.com, do not use w/o permission.
As I took my own shots of the media frenzy, people began asking me what was going on. Many never heard of Etan Patz. I can understand. After all, it is a case older than my ex-wife, 33 years old. Without knowing much about the latest developments, I mused doubt they would even find anything more than mere speculation. The speculation was based upon a maintenance man who worked in the area around the time of the disappearance and was spotted with the child the day before.

The FBI and NYPD cordoned an entire block for nearly 5 days in a futile search.
This pic (c) 2012 Derek W Logue of www.oncefallen.com. Do not use w/o permission
The next day, I was on the Paula Gloria show, with the site of both ground zeroes still on my mind. I was only two years old when Patz disappeared. The site reminded me why the war on sex offenders was as poorly fought as the wars of the past, including the ongoing "war on terror." Media frenzies, misinformation, and knee-jerk reactions helped create this costly and ineffective war. It became a point I could use to resonate with those locals tuned in to the local access channel and help them understand the faulty logic behind the war on sex offenders.

Etan Patz's parents left a note outside their apartment asking to be left alone
As I unpacked my bags at home, I turned my computer on and read the search had yielded nothing and was called off despite digging up tons of earth believing the boy to be buried under some newer concrete. I'm not surprised. To me, it merely validated my feelings about the war on sex offenders. We have reached a point in our society where we spare no expense in finding a lost child no matter how vague the clue may be. We did the same with the Adam Walsh case recently, announcing vague new evidence which turned out to be no evidence. Police went by the nose of a cadaver dog, which might have sniffed a dead animal or even the blood of a human who cut his hand while working. We'll never know.

Whatever the case may be, if indeed the "era of innocence" was lost, so has the age of common sense. one look at the frenzy over this case is all it takes to see how far we have gone in exalting missing child cases in this country. For the war on sex offenders, as in the equally misguided war on terror, the war began in downtown New York City.


  1. Well said and well written.


  2. Very eloquent! I loved the analogies that you used to portray our war!

  3. Very well written, great insights. Hope your interview on the show went well

  4. I included a Youtube review of the show on this blog.