One of the more unpleasant side-effects of our crackdown on sex offenders has been the labeling of certain people as sex criminals. For years, urinating in public — especially by men — has been criminalized as “indecent exposure,” meaning that guys who just couldn’t find a port-a-potty or a suitably secluded tree get lumped in with child rapists. And technically, it is true — it is rather awkward for us guys to “go with the flow” without airing out certain bits that most people would rather not see in public.
Well, that may be changing in New Hampshire. A lawmaker is introducing a new law that makes public urination a misdemeanor, but NOT a sex crime.
My natural inclination is to be suspicious of a Democratic lawmaker pushing a new law against something that’s already illegal, but I find myself agreeing with Representative Shurtleff. Speaking as a man, I can attest that “when you gotta go, you gotta go,” and at that point anything sexual is the furthest from one’s mind. I still think it’s disgusting to do so in public (and am ashamed of the times I have done so), and certainly fit to keep illegal, but splitting it off from sex crimes is a good idea.
Here’s hoping Representative Shurtleff’s bill passes, and — if it works out well, as I think it will — other states follow the example.
Sex offenders are among the most dangerous people, and we need to protect ourselves from them. One key step towards that is weeding out the truly dangerous from the merely annoying. This bill does a damned good job at separating the wheat from the chaff.