Sex-Offender T-Shirts

Check this Reuters story: Man ordered to wear “sex offender” T-shirt [Link repaired Nov ’08]

A Delaware judge on Friday ordered a man who twice exposed himself to a 10-year-old girl at his workplace to wear a T-shirt with the words: “I am a registered sex offender” in bold letters, a prosecutor said.
Russell Teeter, 69, who pleaded guilty to two counts of indecent exposure, also was sentenced to 60 days in jail by Superior Court Judge Jan Jurden in Wilmington.
Deputy Attorney General Donald Roberts said he requested the unusual T-shirt punishment because he was concerned about Teeter exposing himself to children at the gardening business he runs with his wife.

Possible problem: wearing a t-shrit that says “I’m a sex offender” is only meaningful if there aren’t non-sex-offenders wearing similar t-shirts. Trouble is, T-shirts are now selling with all kinds of previously socially-unacceptable labels on them. Go to any North American shopping mall, and you’ll see teen girls wearing “Porn Star” t-shirts, and boys wearing shirts proudly proclaiming “Pimp.” So, I guessed — rightly, as it turns out — that someone out there would be selling sex-offender t-shirts.
See for yourself:
Lots of websites sell them, as I’m sure do lots of other retailers.
I guess the judge in this case never imagined that there’d be people out there wearing such t-shirts without being forced to. And I guess you can’t really say that t-shirt makers should have foreseen this judge’s rather innovative sentence. Still, you have to wonder about the net effect of products that seem designed to numb the general public to a range of important normative categories.

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