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Sex Offender, Registrant or Registered Citizen: Does Society Care About The Label?

[ – 6/28/18]

First I struggled with the label “sex offender”. The words sit in the mouth like a heavy after-taste.

Then “registrant” became the catch-all phrase. It sounded less ominous, not quite as frightening but few outside our circle even knew what it referred to.

Now I’m informed that the latest, I guess one could call it “politically correct” term being bandied about is “registered citizen”.

I struggled with this term.

I don’t know who the originator of the term is, someone said it’s been around for a quite a while. Recently I heard that it was mentioned at the ACSOL conference with respect to “reframing our message and changing our narrative.” A stab at changing the public’s perception through verbiage I suppose.

Is it a better label than plain old “registrant”? It’s still a label, no matter how you look at it.

My struggle with the phrase “registered citizen” is two-fold.

First, do registrants care if they are labeled “registrant or registered citizen”? Those registrants that I’ve spoken to don’t want any labels at all and they’re not interested in wasting time trying to make their offense sound more “palatable” to the public. They want to see changes in laws that are unconstitutional, not spend time and energy trying to put the preverbial “lipstick on a pig” in the hopes that society will then view them through rose-colored glasses.

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Perception is key, but it also has somewhat to do with legality. For instance, most individuals who have been convicted and are now back in the community are referred to as “former offenders” or “former convicts.” They may be known as “felons” in some legal circles but by and large the word “former” is prominent in their vernacular. “Registered Sex Offender” has always been a legal term with no embellishment. Whether by design or through evolution, the tragic result is that MOST people see no difference between active, unpunished sex offenders with registered, non-active sex offenders. This is where the… Read more »

This is the comment that I posted at the source article: I think some label/phrase is quite important. It is about branding and perception. And for practicality we must be able to refer to the group of listed people in some convenient way. “$EX offender” is obviously unacceptable to Americans. I have been in this war for over a couple of decades. I have written and done a LOT, mostly anonymously, but plenty of it not (including legal proceedings). I knew very early on, probably at least by 1992, that the phrase “$EX offender” was a weapon of war and… Read more »

How about instead of worrying about labels that society puts on you, just say, “these scheming people who created an unconstitutional registry based on lies can all go f* themselves”. Now doesn’t that feel far more liberating than agreeing to what moron politicians have decided to label you as? 🙂

I think the terms “registrant” or “registered citizen” are better than “sex offender” because they avoid defining the person in terms of a criminal behavior, as though sexual offending is an ongoing part of their nature, desire, and activity.

They are somewhat general terms that aren’t always obvious in meaning, and often have to be explained to people. But that affords an educational opportunity, so it’s not really a bad thing.

I don’t like SO because it focuses on a past state. I am no longer offending, so stop calling me an offender. I am, however, still stuck on a registry, and am thus either a RC or a Registrant.

I don’t give two hoots about the optics of it to the public or anyone else. I simply use a term that properly fits my state of being. I’m open to other possibilities, but SO absolutely is not one of them.

Frankly, labels and branding suck and always have sucked, but for as long as man has been around with any sort of intelligence (or lack of at times), you define people by labels for whatever purpose works, whether it is liked or not. It is not like you can start saying you are nothing, e.g. the non-binary way of being genderless, because you are something. IMO, those who are on this forum and others like it, may be Rs, RCs, RSOs, or SOs by the law, but are people in general in my eyes, no more or less. I have… Read more »

I’ve always been a proponent of the term “registrant” as it is less tedious to say/use amd thus doesn’t feel so alienating when trying to implore others to use it. All through the 90s and into today, many demographics have tried to coerce society to using terms that are less offensive, and while I understand and supper those efforts, the public at large has grown frustrated and lethargic in regards to walking this particular line of politcal correctness. So to make it easier for people to adapt a new phrase that is less provocative, I always try to use the… Read more »

When I ended up in prison for a sex crime, I joined a class called “behavior modification”; it was only for people in prison for a sex crime. During the 1st or 2nd class, I was asked to sit at the front of the class of 10 or 12 participants and tell my story. Somehow the term “sex offender” came up and I stated that I am NOT a “sex offender”; I committed one crime and that the term “sex offender” implies present tense. The counselor was aghast that I said that. To this day, 18+ years later than that… Read more »

I use the term “Former Registrant” for myself, even though I am still forced to register AND (unconstitutionally) receive the ongoing punishment that goes with.

There’s no way to effectively ameliorate the word “sex offender.” It’s a guilt by association label with no nuance or varying degree of severity. LEOs don’t want to make a distinction between those on the list and will always encourage the public to consider ALL sex offenders an imminent threat to public safety.

The world “citizen” becomes a misnomer as we’re no longer considered one, much less treated like one.

This discussion has made me consider society’s and the law’s descriptors. If one is in a domestic relationship and hits the other person, it is referred to as “domestic violence”, broadening the terminology beyond the precise action itself (i.e., physical violence) to incorporate a description of the relationship (i.e., domestic). So if two people are in an affection-based relationship (e.g., a Romeo/Juliet relationship), why isn’t any prohibited sexual activity that occurs referred to equally broadly as an “affection-based offense”? Is it merely that the wordsmithing is intended to focus attention – “domestic” suggesting tranquil and pleasant, juxtaposed with “violence”? Similarly,… Read more »

I prefer the term registrant because it acknowledges the fact that the government is requiring citizens to register, a violation of our constitutional rights. It also recalls registration of Jews and other minorities during WWII. To me, “registrant” holds more negative connotations for the government rather than the individual. I do believe we need some method to identify ourselves and recognize our common dilemma, otherwise it will be impossible for us to have any community to push for civil rights. The term sex offender is meaningless for many reasons. Some have noted the tense it’s used in, but also just… Read more »

Jews were also considered registered citizens in nazi germany

I’ve personally found it to be extremely destructive. I’ve had people know my for 10 years or more and suddenly someone refers them to the sex offender page and that changes their whole outlook on me. It seems crazy to me that you can be around someone for that long and form a good relationship with them and once they find out about something in your past over 30 years ago and your become poison to them.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x