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Ohio’s Totalitarian Nostalgia
License Plates for Sex Offenders

Police-state colors in Ohio

It’s one of those trends that perfectly illustrated the mob mentality in the United States—the quick fix through dumb, visual punishment and a form of banishment everyone can enjoy as long as you’re not the person being banished. A few years ago an Ohio state senator had the warped idea to stick hot-pink license plates on any convicted drunk drivers. I can’t find any records indicating whether the state legislature succeeded in making that a law. Virginia also tried and failed, Florida tried and failed, Arkansas is trying now (third-time convicted offenders would have to have hot-pink plates that begin with DWI). Ohio is trying to do them all one better. It’s pushing for a sick-green, fluorescent license plate that convicted sexual predators and offenders would have to have. “It is something no other state has tried, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures,” MSNBC reports, “though some require a designation to appear on sex offenders’ driver’s licenses. An earlier Ohio proposal to require pink plates for sex offenders was unsuccessful.” The fact that the tag wouldn’t make a distinction between predators and offenders is important: we’re not just talking about child rapists here (not that it would matter regarding the tags), but anyone convicted under the nutty sex-offender laws that include such things as conviction when, say, a 21-year-old has sex with a 17-year-old, or a high school senior has sex with a high school sophomore, or the local priest is caught with pictures of Traci Lords in her underage phase on his sanctuary computer. The license-plate requirement would also punish those who drive a borrowed car without the license plate (five-year mandatory prison term), and punish the lenders (the law calls that “wrongful entrustment of a motor vehicle”). The only exceptions apply when the sex offender is driving a company-owned vehicle at work, when he’s registered out of state, or when he’s just bought a new car. The license plate would naturally belong to sexual offenders who’ve already served their time. Some may still be on parole. Some not. All are in most states required to follow the old East German and Czechoslovakian police-state rules of registering their home address once a year at their local police station, registering any change of address within the year, and, in some cases, informing police when they travel. Again, after having served their time. This in free and fair America. How the fluorescent green license plate will improve the situation, how they’ll prevent sex crimes, how they’ll prevent others from doing violence or property damage to people forced to carry the green license plate, is anybody’s guess. The aim of these laws in any case is never to improve the situation. It’s to further the punishment, find new ways to publicly humiliate and shame, and most of all to send the (deceptive and counter-productive) message to the citizenry that the state is doing something about the problem. Yes: it’s making it worse, and adding to America’s growing reputation as the former land of the free.

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