Politicians Pile On the Pokemon Predator Panic

 

“Parents, please go out of your minds with fear about an extremely remote danger we are exploiting to get your love and votes.”

Ah, if only politicians were that plainspoken. Instead, we have a pileup of New York state senators and now the Governor himself, Andrew Cuomo, stumbling over themselves to create new legislation that will keep kids safe from…sex offenders playing Pokemon Go.

Talk about bold leadership.

The legislation proposed by the governor today would prevent sex offenders on parole from playing the game in which animated creatures appear on your phone screen you walk around.  The legislation proposed Friday by Sen. Jeff Klein (D., Bronx) and Diane Savino (D., SI) also calls upon the game’s creators to eliminate any Pokemon within 100 feet of a registered sex offender’s home.

These might sound like ideas that will keep children out of the clutches of dangerous criminals. But in fact, they are based on two discredited ideas. One is “stranger danger” itself. The other is the notion that knowing where sex offenders live (and avoiding those places) actually makes kids safer.

Stranger danger is the mistaken belief that strangers are the people most likely to hurt our children, leaping out from behind bushes to snatch them off the street. While this fear resonates for many people — and especially politicians — the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has labeled stranger danger as an idea it is time to “retire.” This is the group that put the missing kids’ pictures on the milk cartons, so it’s not like some bleeding heart organization soft on crime.

The people there simply understand that the vast majority of crimes against children — somewhere over 90% — occur at the hands of someone in the child’s life, usually a trusted family member or family friend.

Meantime, actual registered sex offenders have a recidivism rate that is, contrary to popular belief, shockingly low. In fact, it’s lower than any other group of criminals other than murderers.

So even if children pass right by a sex offender’s home, they are no more likely to be molested or raped than if they pass by any other home. A study in The Journal of Law and Economics compared the sex crime rates on blocks in Washington D.C. with and without sex offenders on them. There was no difference in the number of sex crimes committed.

This means that when Gov. Cuomo declares that his actions will keep kids safer, he is making this claim up out of thin air. It appears to be based on nothing more than fear without research. Similarly, when Sen. Jeffrey Klein in says that “We know that pedophiles always seek new ways to learn victims,” we must wonder if he read the most recent study by the Dept. of Justice, which studied crime stats from 2011 and found only one instance of a child kidnapping victim lured to the crime online.

The idea that any new technology automatically spells danger  is as old as the fear that telegraph lines would change the world’s weather patterns — and just as misguided.

In fact, the technology behind Pokemon Go is getting kids to actually leave the couch and enjoy the summer. Some politicians seem to be so unsettled by that idea — kids! outside! playing! — that their imaginations are on overdrive.

Or maybe they just know a popular, pointless vote-generator when they see it. Call it…Fear-Pokemongering.

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I'm coming to get your sweet, precious...votes!

I’m coming to get your sweet, precious…votes!

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34 Responses to Politicians Pile On the Pokemon Predator Panic

  1. C. S. P. Schofield August 1, 2016 at 1:23 pm #

    “The legislation proposed by the governor today would prevent sex offenders on parole from playing the game in which animated creatures appear on your phone screen you walk around. The legislation proposed Friday by Sen. Jeff Klein (D., Bronx) and Diane Savino (D., SI) also calls upon the game’s creators to eliminate any Pokemon within 100 feet of a registered sex offender’s home.”

    I wish I were in a position to ask the proposer of any such legislation “Would you are to explain how any part of this could be enforced without violating the first amendment?”

  2. BL August 1, 2016 at 1:28 pm #

    @C. S. P. Schofield
    ‘I wish I were in a position to ask the proposer of any such legislation “Would you are to explain how any part of this could be enforced without violating the first amendment?”’

    To which the proposer would reply “And your point is …?”

  3. Jess August 1, 2016 at 1:36 pm #

    This makes me sad on so many levels.

  4. AmyO August 1, 2016 at 3:05 pm #

    What an absolute waste of time, and something that could be extremely difficult to even enforce.

    In some communities there are so many sex offenders that it would make it almost impossible for there to be any Pokemon there at all. Maybe if that happens, the public will push back on having so many people on the list, once they realize how bad it’s gotten…?

  5. Katie August 1, 2016 at 3:16 pm #

    Stupid I agree. Banning people from playing while driving makes sense and should be what politicians should be focusing on. This doesn’t make any sense.

  6. Beth August 1, 2016 at 3:25 pm #

    There are already laws against inattentive driving. We don’t an extra law that says the very same thing.

  7. elizabeth August 1, 2016 at 3:54 pm #

    On the driving, my app TELLS me to avoid playing while driving.

  8. Tim August 1, 2016 at 3:59 pm #

    Not to mention that being labeled a sex offender and being a pedophile are two different things. They are so smug about what a wonderful job they are doing when in fact they are doing nothing but damage.

    From the article: “The state will also be sending guidance to the counties around the state that supervise another 5,000 lower level convicted sex offenders urging them to adopt the new policy.” What is the reason for that? Because it’s easy?

    It’s because once someone is labeled a sex offender, they are open game to be harassed and persecuted indefinitely to further one’s career.

  9. Theresa August 1, 2016 at 5:57 pm #

    The thing I hate about the list is that everyone from horny teens to actual predators end up on it. It be easier if we kept the predators lock up but for some reason I can’t figure out we keep letting them go and for some reason we can’t tell the difference between horny teens and real predators so everyone got to pay. You should be a little cautious around a stranger but not so much that you never know them.

  10. Donald Christensen August 1, 2016 at 7:14 pm #

    We need a Political Grandstanding Registry. Any politician that’s guilty of this should have their name posted on the PGR. The PGR should be available for all to see so that we can be protected from the dangers of grandstanding. Grandstanders should be limited to where they are allowed to live and shouldn’t be allowed within 100 feet of a microphone.

  11. Theresa August 1, 2016 at 8:44 pm #

    How are they going stop anyone from playing this game? It not like you can control what apps people get. And I think the makers are more interested in having lots of people loving the game then much else.

  12. David (Dhewco) August 1, 2016 at 9:51 pm #

    You could always deny SO the right to use smartphones altogether. In fact, I thought that was usually the rules. You can’t have access to the net on any device. I have heard of that before and thought it was common for SO who get out to be denied internet access…surely that must count smartphones.

  13. G4Change August 2, 2016 at 3:06 am #

    Politicians and diapers should be changed often for the same reason!!!

  14. SteveS August 2, 2016 at 9:13 am #

    I wish I were in a position to ask the proposer of any such legislation “Would you are to explain how any part of this could be enforced without violating the first amendment?”

    I honestly don’t think very many people in the legislature really think the Constitution is barrier to laws if they believe it is for a good reason. What is even more sad is that many voters are either supportive or indifferent when this happens.

  15. Jim Collins August 2, 2016 at 9:48 am #

    Several years ago there was a rumor that homosexual men were meeting up and having sex on the trails at a State Park. The State Police formed a “task force” to patrol the trails. They never caught any men having sex, but, they did catch several fishermen urinating behind trees, all of whom were put on the sex offenders list.

    This is a problem that government entities have. They have to justify their existence. The State Police ‘task force” couldn’t find anybody committing the crime that they were formed for, so to justify their existence, they started arresting people for other things. The sex offenders registry does the same thing. When they started these registries, they were surprised at how few people met the criteria to be on them, so they expanded the criteria.

    These politicians are not stupid. They know how lame this legislation is, but “its for the children”. They get some publicity and votes for being hard on “pedophiles” and if any of their opponents calls them on it, they get to hit them over the head with the “you don’t care about our children” chair.

  16. MichaelF August 2, 2016 at 10:29 am #

    “We need a Political Grandstanding Registry. Any politician that’s guilty of this should have their name posted on the PGR. The PGR should be available for all to see so that we can be protected from the dangers of grandstanding. Grandstanders should be limited to where they are allowed to live and shouldn’t be allowed within 100 feet of a microphone.”

    THIS!!! OH YES!!!

  17. Suze August 2, 2016 at 1:09 pm #

    My niece who is a Daycare teacher said that she had some of her small charges at a park playing which just happened to be a Pokemon Go hot spot. These ‘players’ were approaching the kids in her care to show her the game and characters on their phones. She was nervous about that claiming it wasn’t alright to just do that and also she was afraid of the ‘stranger danger’ notion that these people could be taking pictures or video of these kids. There is no telling someone like this that she is paranoid about the stranger danger issue and I very highly doubt any of these folks were taking video or pictures of the kids. Now, what I did agree with is it’s just stupid to approach little ones like that; they are pre-school age and probably don’t even know or care what the game is.

  18. NY Mom August 2, 2016 at 2:26 pm #

    Do not vote for fools who stir up unnecessary panic.
    Spread the word!

  19. Sally August 2, 2016 at 2:39 pm #

    How can they stop people from playing?
    http://time.com/4434196/pokemon-go-new-york-state-bans-sex-offenders/

    They will check their devices to make sure they didn’t download it. They will ask the company to remove users who match the state registry.
    Um, so once convicted of a crime they now have a right to search and seizure, a violation of the 4th amendment? If they find anything else, is that now evidence as they found it without probable cause?
    All because someone peed in public. Or were 18 in high school with a girlfriend who was 17.
    I am for common sense laws. Have different levels of “offenders” so we don’t confuse urination with actual pedophilia and make the laws based on that.

  20. NY Mom August 2, 2016 at 2:51 pm #

    Some research says that the target group members are rarely home in the daytime and mostly are at their domicils to sleep.
    Where is the danger?
    Their is no danger 100 feet from a person who is sound asleep.
    This is histrionics and grandstanding on the part of a NY State Governor who should be removed from office for the crime of frightening people in exchange for votes.
    The research is clear. The recidivism rate is 3% to 5%.
    The state of Minnesota her a legal system based on risk, and paranoia is so much less. What is it worth to be free of fear of everyone who is not exactly like yourself?
    Priceless!

  21. NY Mom August 2, 2016 at 2:53 pm #

    Oops!
    “has”

  22. Dean Whinery August 2, 2016 at 3:26 pm #

    Yeah, we need lots of new laws, right?
    Will they outlaw Snipe Hunting too (ask your son about this sport)?

  23. Emily August 2, 2016 at 4:21 pm #

    >>These politicians are not stupid. They know how lame this legislation is, but “its for the children”. They get some publicity and votes for being hard on “pedophiles” and if any of their opponents calls them on it, they get to hit them over the head with the “you don’t care about our children.”

    Meanwhile, “the children” have gotten bored with “playing doctor,” and gone off to play tag, or draw pictures, or swing on the swings, because they don’t see “playing doctor” as being inappropriate, any more than tag, drawing, or swings are. Meanwhile, the group of summer camp kids who accidentally caught sight of a man peeing on a tree during their hike in the forest, have long since forgotten the incident, after an afternoon of tie-dye, swimming, and singing the Great Big Moose song. Meanwhile, Miss Fourteen and Mr. Seventeen are enjoying an innocent date at the movies, because they like each other for who they are, figure age is just a number, and it won’t matter when they’re say, 20 and 23. Only time will tell if they’re still together then, but their relationship works well now, so it shouldn’t be any business of the government……and yet, the child who suggested playing doctor, the man who had the misfortune of being seen in the forest, and the older half of the teenage couple, are all branded as “sex offenders” when they didn’t actually offend anyone, sexually or otherwise. On the flip side, meanwhile, a child is getting sexually abused by a parent, a pre-teen girl can’t go to school without having her bra strap repeatedly snapped by boys “because they like her,” and a college student is getting raped on campus, and an infinite number of girls and women are afraid to walk alone at night, but nobody’s doing a damn thing about it, because it’s easier to turn a blind eye and/or blame the victims.

  24. Bob August 2, 2016 at 5:50 pm #

    I honestly don’t think very many people in the legislature really think the Constitution is barrier to laws if they believe it is for a good reason. What is even more sad is that many voters are either supportive or indifferent when this happens.” How many voters do you think actually realize what the sex offender registry has turned into? I can tell you that I didn’t until I started reading this website.

  25. Warren August 2, 2016 at 8:55 pm #

    Cuomo is the same idiot that preaches how crime is out of control and also in favor of the biggest idiot Trump.

  26. bmj2k August 2, 2016 at 10:36 pm #

    There is no bandwagon too small for a politician to jump on.

  27. sexhysteria August 3, 2016 at 4:21 am #

    Clever distraction from the really urgent problems facing government!

  28. Sam August 3, 2016 at 10:23 am #

    To contact Gov. Cuomo with your thoughts (especially if you are from NY State):
    https://www.governor.ny.gov/content/governor-contact-form

  29. James Pollock August 3, 2016 at 12:55 pm #

    “To contact Gov. Cuomo with your thoughts (especially if you are from NY State):”

    If you are not from NY, expect to be completely ignored. If you ARE from NY, expect to be ignored politely.

  30. Kimberly August 4, 2016 at 3:31 pm #

    I would be more impressed if these legislators actually played the game or took the time to understand how the game works before they start opening their mouth.

    There is zero interaction between players within the game. There is no way to look at the game on your phone and tell where other players are located. Sure, you can see gyms, Poke Stops, and Poke Hot Spots, but you can’t see who is at that location, nor can you see if there are even any other players there, period. Hell, you don’t even need to leave your house to play the game (it just takes longer is all).

    Now, it’s true that people will group together. Word has it that Central Park is practically a giant Pokemon party right now. There is a park by my house that attracts players (though not on the level that Central Park does, apparently). However, one doesn’t need to have the game on their phone to know where these spots are. Nor do they need the game on their phone to go to these locations.

  31. Emily August 4, 2016 at 6:05 pm #

    >>There is no bandwagon too small for a politician to jump on.<<

    Nope. Pokémon starts with P, which rhymes with T, and that stands for Trouble, right here in River City.

  32. James Pollock August 4, 2016 at 9:40 pm #

    “>>There is no bandwagon too small for a politician to jump on.<<
    Nope. Pokémon starts with P, which rhymes with T, and that stands for Trouble, right here in River City."

    There DOES seem to be a bandwagon that starts with "T" that has some of his party's politicians reluctant to jump on.

  33. Claudia August 5, 2016 at 5:42 pm #

    Relating to the whole ‘sex offender’ thing, I was viewing a local consultation on a small apartment block proposed to be built in the corner of a local park where there is currently an empty park keeper’s house. Multiple objections cited among their issues that the apartments would overlook the children’s playground – yes, you can’t have anyone seeing children in a playground, what if they’re a pervert?! Notwithstanding the row of houses that have stood opposite that play area for over 100 years.

    I do suspect that not a lot of the people saying it *really* believe it, just someone came up with it as a potential objection and others copied it, but by doing so they all add to the hysteria and this idea that someone children shouldn’t be seen by *anyone*

  34. Derek W Logue of OnceFallen.com August 7, 2016 at 2:15 am #

    If you haven’t captured a wild ‘Tardmander, Pidgidiot, or Clefucktard, then hop on over to the NY legislature, since they seem to be concentrated there.

    Kimberly said, “I would be more impressed if these legislators actually played the game or took the time to understand how the game works before they start opening their mouth.” Sadly, they actually spent time playing the game just to capture Pokemon at the houses of registrants. Your tax dollars paid for Savino’s and Klein’s Arcanine report.

    We seriously need to eRATICATE all this fearmongering.

    Gotta Vote Them Out!