It helps to read things through before reacting.
For most of the country, this topic isn’t even on the radar. As usual, California’s out beyond the normalcy curve. And yet, even much of California (and most of the rest of us) lack the context to follow what’s going on. So, to help understand both the law and the backlash, here’s a bit of background:
It is alleged, both by those in the tinfoil hat crowd and by some reasonably sane people more or less in the mainstream, that there exists a massive conspiracy to normalize pedophilia among the wealthy, particularly politicians and Hollywood elites. Adherents to this position contend, among other things, that Epstein was murdered to keep him from naming names, and that part of the motivation is the Islamicization of American laws. SB-145 is considered one aspect of this agenda.
To be clear: The Not Fake News has no formal position on most of these allegations, though our tentative conclusion has been that Epstein’s death was in fact an “accidental suicide“. With respect to the normalization of pedophilia agenda, it appears not unreasonable that adherents would prefer normalization to vilification; beyond that, we enter the realm of speculation.
The text of SB-145, like many other proposed laws and statutes, is somewhat impenetrable legalese. (We took notes and cross-referenced as we went along.) The impact is specifically limited to the California implementation of the Sex Offender Registry and no other aspect of law or statute. By itself, this is enough to make the leading sentence of the meme incorrect. Moreover, further research indicates that, rather than 11, except in certain very restricted circumstances the changes to law impact mainly offenses involving people aged 15-17 and others less than ten years older.
The specific action of the change is to expand judicial discretion in sentencing rather than relying on automatic mechanisms that a judge would be compelled to rubber-stamp. Additionally, it changes wordings that, before now, differentiated between types of voluntary sex acts on the non-unreasonable premise that the government ought to stay out of our bedrooms. Without getting into too much detail, we’re not talking about decriminalizing rape, just certain positions.
As such, whether the law advances any purported pro-pedophilia agenda is irrelevant; neither the text nor the consequences will in any way alter statutes and punishment beyond the Registry proper. Instead, it does no more than bring California law into compliance with the Equal Protection Clause in the first section of the Fourteenth Amendment (see below).
Therefore, we judge this meme and those like it “Fake News”.
So why pass this law?
In general, judicial discretion is to be preferred over statutory sentencing mandates. Mandatory minimums and “Three Strikes” laws have been shown to do exactly one thing: expand prison populations without reducing crimes.
The classic example is the college kid facing his first federal charge for possession of marijuana. A judge will look at the circumstances of the arrest, and then consider the impact on the life of the accused. Due to mandatory minimum sentencing, if convicted he’ll never be able to hold most professional jobs, run for office, and so on; his life will be effectively over before it’s fairly begun. As a result, rather than imposing a slap on the wrist for a juvenile crime — community service or drug counseling, for example — a judge will often feel compelled to avoid conviction entirely on even the thinnest of pretexts.
With specific respect to SB-145: 50% of the approximately one million working American prostitutes at any given time are below 18. Prosecuting their customers, particularly those with no reason to know better, would given a statutory conviction put them automatically on the pedophile lists, ruining their lives henceforth. The classic judge’s alternative, failing to prosecute them (and letting go of the subsequent prosecutorial leverage over a potential witness) means a lack of convictions for the underage prostitutes. If these can’t be convicted, they can’t be removed from their pimps and/or houses by police.
Of course, in an ideal society, we’d have a complete solution to prostitution, particularly as practiced by underage runaways and the like. We do not; we’re not even close. Our society can’t even agree on broad strokes of right versus wrong, saving only that we generally agree kids shouldn’t be working the streets. We can’t even come together on the proper terminology.
But unless we legalize prostitution and regulate it, there’s no practical way to keep kids from working the streets alongside those who are of an age to lawfully grant consent.
Some LGBT activists are praising and promoting the law as a victory for their cause, and they’re not wrong; that’s the “positions” mentioned above. There exist people who wish to outlaw homosexuality; without considering the validity of doing so in a free society, it must be admitted that opposing this bill would be a strange place to start — and, arguably, intellectually dishonest.
Thus, from a practical standpoint, this is a hemi-demi-semi half-measure by a society that can’t agree to take practical steps about issues of morality. With this in mind, The Not Fake News endorses, with certain caveats, judicial discretion in this area.