On Wednesday of this week, I attended a meeting near Clinton, Arkansas. The meeting was attended by my good friend Robert and three nice ladies. All of us are connected by a common thread--we are each affected by the sex offender laws.
If you are affected by these laws and haven't had a chance yet to meet anyone else in your situation, then I would highly recommend it. It is very therapeutic to be able to talk openly about the problems you face and brainstorm ideas on how to make it better.
After the meeting I was so tempted to write up letters and mail them to offenders in my area to maybe see about starting up a group here. While Clinton is not THAT far to drive, it certainly is not in my "neck of the woods". I had to really consider the expense in gas making the four and a half hour round trip drive.
Life on the Mountain being what it is and all, I have not had time to compose such letters and even if I did, how many would really be interested? One of the many problems this movement faces is the fact that most registered sex offenders are too embarrassed or too fearful of vigilantism to get out and show their faces and step into the spotlight. And, let's not forget that for many, it is against the law to socialize with other felons. THAT is perhaps the biggest problem of all.
There is no law (as of yet) that forbids ME or other family members from socializing with each other or their sex offenders, so I urge those of you who are collaterally affected by these laws to get out there and meet others in your situation.
One good place to start would be the RSOL (Reform Sex Offender Laws) Conference in St. Louis, MO, August 12th - 14th. Here's a link: https://sites.google.com/site/rsolnationalconference/
Almost all of us from the Clinton meeting are attending and I am greatly looking forward to it. There are going to be some great workshops and I hope to learn many new ways to interract with lawmakers. I have also inquired about doing a book signing--why not?
It is a very inexpensive conference to attend and the hotel accommodations can be split between you and a roommate. Carpool and you'll save even more money! :)
At the meeting, Robert passed out a copy of "If" by Rudyard Kipling that I thought I might share with you all here... Robert said the poem gave him a lot of strength and courage while he was incarcerated:
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;
If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools;
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on";
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!