Thanks to Scott Greenfield, I am ashamed to say that I have knowledge of the new Suffolk County, New York animal cruelty registry. This is a new, public list in Suffolk County that denotes anyone convicted of an animal cruelty violation. He began posting about it here and continued with an update here.
Scott’s disgust for this law is immediately apparent early in his opening salvo.
It’s not enough to prosecute anyone engaged in abuse, convict them and sentence them. We need to add the scarlet letter, yet even that isn’t enough. We need to make them pay for their own branding. No, if they fail to pay their $50 annual fee, they aren’t punished by having their name removed from the list. Those who fail to register and pay face a $1000 “charge” or jail. Not criminal, of course, for that would be an unlawful sentence. You know, civil jail and a civil “charge.”
Of course, a law such as this in a accessible and densely populated area such as Suffolk County can’t help but garner a lot of attention. Much of it was positive. Consider the remarks by Elie Mystal (a Harvard undergrad and law alum), as discovered by Scott during his research:
Parents don’t want their kids hanging out at the sex offender’s house next door, and they really shouldn’t want their kids hanging out with the neighbor who mistreats and harms defenseless animals as well. People who prey on weak animals will soon prey on weak people.
It’s an exciting time to be a fan of animal rights. Awareness is high, and hopefully it won’t be long before all animal abusers can expect to suffer truly severe criminal penalties for their depraved actions.
Yep, this law has some enthusiastic and emotionally charged support. We are reminded of the billboards showing Fluffy and Max’s sad eyes looking at us, begging to just be treated with dignity and respect.
Right now, I’m hanging-out in Missouri where they are currently pending a vote on a proposition which would give the state greater power to regulate puppy mills and other mass-animal-cruelty enterprises. After all, Missouri wants to keep up with the more debonair and cosmopolitan jurisdictions–like Kansas. Here in Missouri, emotional supporters from both sides are warring over this proposition, and it will only get worse in the coming weeks.
But, really, this is about registries. We are all familiar with the various sex offender registries. These exist specifically to identify individuals convicted of sex-related offenses in order to give a heightened awareness to the communities in which they live. Largely, these grew from the reports of various scientists and professionals who stated that, with sex offenses, there is a 100% recidivism rate (a chance that they will commit/attempt to commit these offenses again). Now, the studies and science is highly debatable, especially with newer studies and analysis (a topic for another post on another day). However, let’s accept the fact that sex offender registries are here to stay. After all, who wants to be the legislator to sponsor a bill that kills them.
Those registries have morphed over time. Whereas they originally targeted individuals who molested children and raped, now they are expanding to include anything halfway related to the human crotch. For instance, in the Armed Forces, a young man might be accused of smacking a female on the buttocks in a public place. There are many witnesses to this event, so he is charged with Wrongful Sexual Contact under Article 120 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. If convicted of this, he must register as a sex offender. Now, he likely isn’t some creepy, pathological offender preying on children or females. Instead, he is the typical 20-year-old hormonal male jerk (we’ve all worn that title at some point). Now, in addition to being a hormonal jerk, his photo, address, and offenses are posted on the World Wide Registry.
So, is this an appropriate mark for this young man, or is it government sanctioned cyber bullying? The slippery slope is coated in teflon and baby oil.
Now, Suffolk County expands the mark of registration to include folks who, in some manner, harm animals. The highly scientific, peer-reviewed, and tested reason given? Just ask an expert:
Roy Gross, who heads the Suffolk County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said his group, which deals with over 2,000 animal abuse cases in the county per year, believes the animal abuse registry will help to save animals.
“Most serial killers began as animal abusers,” he said. “It’s a known fact: people who hurt animals hurt people too.”
Wow, I don’t want a serial killer in my backyard. No way. Next time I see a malnourished dog chained to a tree, I’m calling the police to investigate for mysterious barrels in the backyard (I thought I smelled a funky odor) or a human skin prom dress. Scott weighs-in on this one as well.
Ironically, a substantial number of the animal abuse cases that arise aren’t a result of sick people who hate animals, but sick people who love them too much. You know, the person who takes in 100 feral cats, which she can’t afford to feed. Then animals do what nature compels of them, and we hear of the travesty of a suburban home smelling so badly of urine and feces that men in hazmat suits are called in. Are these our future serial killers?
Indeed, Scott, she is a future serial killer. Just ask Roy Gross. She’ll hurt someone, its only a matter of time. “It’s a known fact…”
Scott continues by asking a rhetorical question about the teflon slippery slope I mentioned earlier.
I abhor people who abuse animals. And that includes police officers, by the way. But disgust at an evil act is a reason to prohibit it and punish it, not continue downstream to compound the damage of sex offenders registries by pursuing new registries. How long will it be before there’s a registry for each of us? You know that we all do something that someone else thinks is wrong.
Fear not, I have some ideas.
Note: For those of you who read this and take everything very, very seriously, please stop reading. The statements below are called “satire.” For that matter, much of what I said above was satire too, but not as blatantly so.
Mensa Registry: Many serial killers have IQs that register as brilliant by psychological standards. Lets ID these folks early and often. Nobody wants a potential serial killer in their backyard. This will eventually expand to include Trekkies, Gifted Children, Dungeons and Dragons fans, and guys who work in basement cubicles.
Not-So-Fine-and-Dandy Registry: Did you realize that the vast majority of individuals who hurt other human beings are not feeling fine and dandy at the time? It’s true. Let’s expose these people for who they are.
The Acquitted/Charges Dropped/Charges Not Filed Registry: Sure, they were never found guilty of anything, but everyone knows they did it. Luckily, we had a test-run on a guy named OJ.
The Horny Teenager/Young Adult Male Registry: You know what’s going to happen. It’s inevitable. Start with a catalog of all athletes, Boy Scouts, and Future Farmers of America. Don’t worry about the chess club, we’ll nab them with the Mensa thingie.
The Mustache Registry: Yep, I went there. Sorry to all of my fine friends with the ‘stache. Eventually, this will broaden to include mullets.
Gay/Lesbian/Transgendered/Bisexual Registry (AKA the Fred Phelps Registry): After all, every act of evil upon this earth begins and ends with these folks, doesn’t it? I’ll have to check my notes from Sunday School, but I think it’s an accurate summation.
The Live Birth Registry: (Note: For now, all non-live births are in the clear, but they should not be complacent.) Did you realize that every serial killer and criminal was once a child who was born? Yeah, it’s news to me too. Let’s ID these folks immediately. Then, we will force them to live in government-built homes with a television in each room that will be used to spy on them through a built-in camera while simultaneously projecting messages that are state-approved, sanitized, and designed to modify the population into a docile, no-crime group. Hey, that sounds like a great concept for a novel. I hope nobody already ran with the idea.