RETHINK THE REGISTRY
DEAR EDITOR: As a victim of violent rape, I was glad to see The Stranger take on the difficult issue of sex offenders ["The Offender," March 29]. While Mr. Mart's two victims were obviously and understandably frightened by his unwanted advances, he did not physically harm them. Like most women, I have experienced many unwanted advances in my life, including inappropriate touching and men entering my room and climbing into bed with me when I was asleep. While obnoxious, these acts are not, in my mind, criminal. Obviously Mr. Mart's victims felt otherwise. I am sorry for them. But there is a vast gulf between physical violation and fright. And if we cannot find forgiveness even for stupidity and obnoxiousness, how can we ever hope to find peace in the world?
The real problem with how we treat sex offenders is that it violates several provisions of the Bill of Rights. Court-ordered sex-offender "treatment" programs require offenders to disclose their complete sexual histories, which are then available to the justice system—a direct violation of a defendant's right under the Fifth Amendment not to testify against himself. Sex-offender registration amounts to a new, ongoing punishment after the offender has endured a jail or prison sentence—a violation of the double-jeopardy clause. The Sex Offender Registry can be considered cruel and unusual punishment, a violation of the Eighth Amendment, since it subjects those registered to ongoing humiliation, loss of income and housing, and vulnerability to attack because their names and addresses are publicized. The Constitution is why the ACLU is fighting against the Sex Offender Registry in all 50 states.
The irony in the extreme reaction of the public, lawmakers, and courts is that most sex offenses are committed by family, friends, or acquaintances of the victims, not by strangers lurking in the bushes. A further irony is that the laws are primarily meant to protect children—so all sex offenders are treated as child molesters, even when their crimes were never against children.
The Sex Offender Registry is not only creating lifelong tragedies for men like Mr. Mart, but it ignores the parental abuse—usually generations of it—that leads to sex offense in the first place.
E. L. Taylor
DEAR STRANGER: I needed this. Thank you, Trisha Ready, for "Half Rack" [April 5]. My friend has kidney cancer, which has spread to her liver, lungs, and into her bloodstream. We all know what that means. My mom had breast cancer five years ago; she's still around today, knock wood, but it's not the same; she'll never regain the full use of her left arm. They never tell you that in cancer school. Or what to do—other than stand around like a dildo—when your best friend is told there is no treatment and she will die in two months, and she waits until the tactless dickhead oncologist leaves the hospital room before freaking out. And she never freaks out.
We don't need feel-good stories preaching the quiet heroism of "life goes on." We need the reality of what this is really like and how it sucks bull cock. Trisha Ready came close.
Carol Banks Weber
TOO BRIGHT FOR GOD
CHARLES MUDEDE: As an architect and native Seattleite who once worked for Steven Holl, I found your assessment of the Chapel of St. Ignatius spot-on ["Not Conducive to God," April 5]. While I've always admired the architectural inventiveness and play of light in the chapel, it strikes me as too finicky a space, with too many gadgets and geometries competing with the contemplative experience. On some level, the space is always too bright for God.
Contrast that with Corbusier's Ronchamp, which I visited alone on a snowy day. I was the only person on the hill and, coming in from a whiteout, the darkness and muted light of the chamber struck me as a primeval moment: I somehow felt like this was how early Christians might have worshipped, in a cave, with flickering light. The space is not clean or conditioned; it is cold and raw and dark and brutal.
The problem with architecture these days is that it all seems to be about acrobatics. With a few exceptions, the contemplative and phenomenological is missing from architecture. Holl touts himself as the world's foremost practitioner of an architecture of phenomena, yet I feel that his work is often a sensory sledgehammer—too many competing motifs and plays of light and spatial moves. In the Chapel, he throws everything in, rather than taking things out.
Thank you for this intelligent, honest assessment of a piece of architecture. I hope you write more on the topic. You're good at it.
DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS: In a story about this year's city council races ["And They're Off," April 5], attorney Bruce Harrell's name was mistakenly left out of a list of "serious contenders" for council position 3. The Stranger regrets the error.