Friday, August 22, 2008

Police officer humiliates girl in scare campaign.

There are sexual predators in the world. No one questions that. But, contrary to the hysterical clamor over the issue, the rate of such offenses has been declining for years. Even at its height the chances of being a victim to such a predator was relatively low. This, of course, doesn’t stop police officers from fanning the flames of fear. It is in their interests to do so. It’s good for the budgets and a wonderful way to convince politicians (who don’t need much convincing) to give them even more extreme powers.

One of these professional fear mongers is Police Officer John Gay of the Cheyenne (WY) police department. His tactic is to go into schools and humiliate, intimidate and embarrass young girls. Maybe it’s just me, but he sounds like something of a sexual predator himself -- one who gets off on humiliating women.

Recently Officer Gay went to the high school in nearby Windsor. His purpose was to stoke the fears of using the internet and promoting the idea that students using the internet were increasing their risks of being attacked by a predator. In truth, such a risk is so low as to be inconsequential. But some of the worst sort of state interventions have been built on such inconsequentials.

Office Gay does his job by ridiculing girls from the school. He snoops around, checking out the various web pages the students had on different social networks. Any photo that he thought proved his point was downloaded. This sounds like a stalker; he thinks it was police work.

Shaylay Nordic was one of Officer Gay’s victims. He trolled through her MySpace page and downloaded a photo of her. She was in a t-shirt and shorts and was bending over to point to pair of new shoes. On two different occasions at her school he blasted that picture across a screen for all the students in the assemblies to see.

Officer Gay told the students that this photo would entice sexual predators --- perhaps, it certainly got his attention. He ridiculed Ms. Nordic and implied that she was inviting a rapist. That’s how the young woman saw it. Her father was furious and said, “He took a pretty innocent picture and made it look sleazy.” He said the police officer “belittled, embarrassed and humiliated” his daughter.

Worse, Officer Gay continued this treatment until the young girl ran from the school assembly in tears. He then moved on to doing the same to other young women at the school. During this humiliating experience school officials never tried to step in and stop it.

Office Gay repeated this treatment on six students. A Denver station reports that: “One female student [Nordic] was told by Gay that he shared her online personal info with a state inmate who said he gratified himself with her photo and would ‘tear her apart.’” This is shocking. If I read that correctly the police officer downloaded a girl’s photo, gave it it a criminal to masturbate over and then told the girl about this to scare her. If he did such a thing he is disgusting. If he didn’t do it, but only claimed he did, that is just a disgusting a thing to do to this girl.

A police officer should not be allowed to humiliate a young girl the way that Officer Gay did. Whether he should be in the schools inventing imaginary monsters, to terrify students, is questionable by itself. But even if his monsters were a real threat, his actions were not justified. Certainly when the consequences of his harassment are weighed against the minuscule risks the students faced I think it safe to say that the only predator these students need fear was this police officer. What Officer Gay did was sexual harassment and ought to be treated as such. It is one of the worst cases of sexual harassment I have heard about as he did it in front of hundreds of people with the intent of humiliating the girl. 

This sort of harassment, from another student, would bring about an immediate reaction. In this case, not only was the harassment sanctioned by the school. But the harasser was a police officer using his authority in an unacceptable manner.

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