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Commentary

Maxwell Monty: The List

When I was growing up and misbehaving, my grandmother used to say, “Watch it! You’re extremely close to being put on my ‘S&*T List.’” That warning was always enough to curtail my objectionable activity and to keep me from finding my name on my grandmother’s unenviable ledger.  I was not exactly sure what would have happened had my name been inked in my grandmother’s register, but it was clear from her tone that shame, fear, and regret would have been part of the torment.   Her cautioning emphasized that a list punctuating poor conduct was intended to be punitive.

Near the end of Arthur Miller’s play, “The Crucible,” there is a powerful scene between John Proctor, the protagonist who has been accused of practicing witchcraft, and Thomas Danforth, the Chief Magistrate. Proctor has decided to avoid The Rope (hanging) by signing a document that confesses his sin as a witch. Upon learning that Danforth plans on publicly posting his confession to the church door, Proctor refuses to hand over the signed document. When Danforth conveys that the confession will not be valid unless it is nailed upon the church door, Proctor responds with, “I confess to God…God knows how black my sins are. I have confessed myself! Is there no good penitence but it be public…You [Danforth]are the high court, your word is good enough.” And when Danforth continues to insist that Proctor’s name be secured to the church door for proper testimony and wonders aloud why Proctor will not allow for his name to appear in public, Proctor exclaims, “Because it is my name! Because I cannot have another in my life! How may I live without my name? I have given you my soul; leave me my name!” Danforth’s insistence that Proctor’s name be made public spotlights that posting his name was part of the punishment.  The Salem Witch Trials provided insight to the extensive damage that came along with public shaming via lists on church doors: personal lives were devoured; and families were shattered.

Miller was no stranger to being “listed.” During the era of McCarthyism (named after Senator Joe McCarthy) in the 1950’s, Miller refused to name “names” (Communists) during a congressional hearing and was subsequently blacklisted in Hollywood.  Miller’s placement on that ignoble list prompted him to travel to Massachusetts, and research The Salem Witch Trials. Miller later admitted that “The Crucible” was an allegory to McCarthy’s oppressive tactics. McCarthy’s List brought staggering struggles for those that were on it.  Many lost the opportunity to work in any capacity for years. Those on the list had their names and legacies wrecked.

Currently, as the battle against the Registry rages, it is important to point out that the Registry is tantamount to punishment. Recently, in a ludicrous explanation, the 10th Circuit explains, “The statutory text itself explains that ‘it [was] not the general assembly’s intent that the information [contained in the Registry] be used to inflict retribution or additional punishment on any person,’ but rather [the law] was intended to address ‘the public’s need to adequately protect themselves and their children’ from those with prior sexual convictions.” The whole point of incarcerating someone is to punish that person AND protect society from that person.  Once that person has been released from prison, any official attempt to serve notice to the public about that person’s crime is extending retribution.

Lists that include names associated with prohibited behavior are antagonistic and harmful. A “Most Wanted List” is intended to lead to the capture and punishment of those on it; a “Detention List” posted in a classroom is expected to shame and punish those on it; and even Santa Claus has a “Naughty List” that is designed to expose and punish those on it. The creators and supporters of The Registry understand the destructive power it infuses into society. And it is their callous disregard for honorable justice that has led to colossal calamities.  State and Federal Governments can gin up any pomp and circumstance they want regarding the notion that the Registry is only instituted to protect the community; it is unadulterated hogwash. The Registry is punishment. Anyone who believes otherwise is officially on my grandmother’s “S&*T List.”

 

 

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Very well written. Everyone knows the registry is punishment. All judges and DA’s know it. It is one of the greatest fears that someone should be on “The Registry.” Everyone knows it is the scarlet letter, and it may have started out in some other manner, but it has morphed into something very different. Nobody with a Price Club card fears getting assaulted or killed due to their membership, nor do they get denied housing, employment, or access to social interaction. The entire DOJ is continuing with a nod and a wink that the registry is just a manner of… Read more »

Excellent post! People need to understand how the registry is a pointless burden/punishment on registrants and their families.

Being placed on the sexofender registery is definitely punishment u can pick any sexofender liveing in California from middle class to the dirty smelly homeless guy living behind the dumpster and made a documentary on every day life on the list and documented all the horrible and phuct up sh@t one gose through to survive in California it would scare the hell out normal every day people living in society mostly parents with young adult children ages 17 to 20 who’s lives can eazyly be ruined by this sh@t list. With everything going on in America today Law Enforcement has… Read more »

@ Solo1, you make an interesting point about all the police are getting lumped together and judged by the behavior of the few, just like us. It would be nice to ask some police officers how it feels, and then let them know that I am on the registry and it has been that way for me, and even many of the police will judge us that way, and certainly if anyone has been incarcerated pretty much all the corrections officers treat you like trash without knowing anything about you.

This S&*T list from one’s grandmother is correct in many standard & poors areas or does life at times throw us all a curve. Did we always listen to grandmother in her many views or keep an open mind to isses that can crop up in life. In this article of topic it talks about the crucible. Well I was just trying to understand this death of a salesman and what it was all about. Sure Miller was a good playwright and yes their is a lesson in everything if one opens their eyes. I am like many of you… Read more »

I’m going to let everyone here in on a secret which no one in law enforcement, the courts, government, mental health, or any other area of expertise will admit. Not one person anywhere in the world is able to convince anyone else of any viable solutions to the root problems and implement them effectively. Starting with a somewhat simple example: A person is walking in a parking lot to their car. Someone runs up to them and takes off the coat they were wearing revealing themselves to be completely naked. Someone reviewing the details of the incident might believe the… Read more »

I was listening to someone talk about deep thinking. Placing someone in a certain place with “evidence” showing them being in a particular location when in reality they never were there. Now we have technology of your voice that can used to make you say something you never said. When I heard that I thought about the movie Tango N Cash and how much FUBAR society would be at the hands of evil people.

Mask and social distancing should keep you safe. Oh not just from covid but also being falsely accused. Prosecutors have been notoriously desperate these days, so mask up and keep your distance from everyone and everything and get off social media.

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