A woman called yesterday. She was a stay-at-home mother with two small children. Her husband had a good job. Then he touched a woman on the leg in an airplane. Federal prosecutors and the Federal Bureau of Investigation moved in. The man is a sex offender, they concluded. So he goes to prison next week.
How will she keep her home? What will become of her children and her? Are there any support services for her out there?
I explained as gently as I could that the law is an ass. Hysteria governs law enforcement and the courts. We no longer try to distinguish the predator from the merely disturbed. And we never, ever think about the consequences for an accused's family. A man goes off to prison, and his children are in effect without a father. A home is foreclosed upon. We as a society turn a blind eye to this suffering. It is mere collateral damage.
But this damage can last a lifetime. I know because my wife's father did federal time years ago and briefly for his refusal to swear an oath of loyalty to the United States. Decades later, my wife recalls his absence with sorrow and fear of what the government can do.
I promised the woman who called that I would have some email contacts for her. There are support groups out there. People are beginning to organized to challenge laws too harsh for the common good. She promised me she would send me an email about how to reach her. She never did.
So if you are out there reading and worrying tonight, send me an email or call me again. I have not forgotten you, and I have found people who may be able to help.