Tuesday, September 20, 2005

REACT: The naked law

There has not been a lot of news coverage, but the Nate Kinsella story should be a major story. Or ... it should never have been a news story at all.

Seems like Nate, a 20-something a drummer with a rock band, was playing one of those outdoor concerts off in the suburbs of Bartlesville, Oklahoma. His group was one of the acts for a Christian rock festival.

At any rate, his band was playing in sweltering heart, and like many other performers and religious rockies, the boys in the band shed most of the outer clothing. Nate, however, overwhelmed by the heat of the moment, weather not withstanding, briefly shed his briefs -- providing the Christian revelers with everything the Lord had provided him.

This led to his arrest, even though no complaints were pressed, and his musician colleagues and goodly number of the godly audience, objected to his arrest. Nonetheless, the local constabulary took Nate into custody and charged him with indecent exposure, assault (for wringing his sweaty boxers over the audience) and disturbing a religious meeting. The latter two charges were dropped in a lapse of bad judgment by the police.

Well ... here is the rub (as Shakespeare said). Young Nate is now going to stand trial where his max sentence is up to 10 years in jail and a $20,000 fine. In addition, if convicted, he would forever more be required to register as a sex offender.

Hey! This was a rock concert for god sake ... literally. We show nudity and sex to little kids on prime time television. Our whole culture promotes hedonistic entertainment (not that I am entirely complaining here). We have live stage shows featuring naked choirs, the full monty and simulated sex -- and I am not talking about porn houses. What Nate did was not a sex crime by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, I cannot see where it should have been a crime at all. Well ... ok ... maybe a misdemeanor ... $50 fine.

Not only is this a gross injustice to Nate, it is an injustice to every victim of a serious sexual assault. It trivializes the violent crime. If Nate has to bear ... or bare ... the scarlet letter, then how can we ever trust that some registered as a life long sex offender is anything more than a prankish fraternity guy at a toga party or ... a rocker doing his shtick.

I hope the Bartlesville prosecutors are sane enough to simply drop the charges -- and that the police chief will advise his men and women to focus on real crimes. I am way no softy when it comes to crime ... just that I think there ought to be a crime committed. Just because a law is on the books, does not mean the book as to be thrown at every violator regardless of circumstances. Indecent exposure applied to a 45-year-old pervert flashing kiddies on their way to school is one thing. Nate au natural for a few moments at a rock concert is quite another.

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