Is ignorance bliss?

Ferguson

No one wanted to live next door to Dennis Ferguson.

There is nothing quite like going to the shops with your kids and seeing one of the local pedophiles. And then the pedophile gives you a friendly smile and wave because he recognises you from the police station. Maybe your face just looks familiar to him or maybe he remembers your full name and registered number. Either way, how do you react? Aside from grabbing your children by the hand and pulling them closer. Do you ignore him and keep walking? Do you give him the evil eye? Do you point and yell “pedophile!”? Do you walk up to him, maintaining eye contact and tell him in a soft dangerous voice to take a good look at these children because if he ever touches them, you will rip off his testicles and feed them to him? Is it better to know who the evil menaces in your neighbourhood are, or to move through your community in blissful ignorance? Because – regardless of where you live – there are predators in your town. And due to privacy laws, no one can tell you who they are. Is it better to not know and give your children some freedom? Or will the knowledge drive you to become an over-protective helicopter parent?

It’s not just the peds. In my division I also know – who is most likely to sell your son drugs at high school, who will try and talk your teenage daughter into bed, who might try and king-hit your husband in the pub. In every community, there are people like them. Police officers deal with these types on a regular basis and although it may seem to us that the place is crawling with them, there are really not that many. They won’t touch the lives of most regular citizens. The chances of you or your loved ones being offended against by them are low. Your kids are more likely to be involved in a car accident or an act of self-inflicted stupidity. But criminals are out there. Do you want to know?

The case of pedophile Dennis Ferguson made the news on several occasions. Upon being released from jail after doing time for heinous crimes against the most vulnerable, he was the target of several vigilante mobs. Every time he moved somewhere, he was recognised and run out of town. This was eventually resolved by his death. I think part of the problem was the way he looked – once you’d seen him twitching and licking his lips on the news, you couldn’t forget him. He seemed instantly recognisable and completely repulsive. Was it fair though? He’d done his time. He has to live somewhere. Doesn’t he? Just not in my neighbourhood.

Rolf Harris offended for decades with impunity. There are people who don’t believe he is guilty (try googling ‘Rolf Harris innocent’), who believe he is a victim of a malicious witch hunt. These are people whose lives have been touched by the smiling entertainer rather than the calculating predator. How many people knew what he was up to? How many people guessed it but ignored it, not wanting to believe it was true because then it tainted every bright happy thing he had ever done?

I only have questions for you. No answers. I don’t believe there are any definitive solutions, only opinions. So what’s yours? Is ignorance easier?

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10 thoughts on “Is ignorance bliss?

    • I was talking with a colleague about this today, especially in regards to criminals living nearby. He doesn’t want to know. Reckons the chances of his family being affected is so small, he’d rather stay ignorant. Thanks for your comment.

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  1. Great questions here, I’m torn. The rational side of me knows it wouldn’t make much of a difference if I knew or didn’t know. So therefore why put yourself through the torment of knowing, and then having to constantly face the notion. Then again, when it comes to our kids, we are not always that rational!

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  2. It’s a tough one. In the case of sex offenders I think I would rather know, but other crimes, I’m not so sure. I was charged and convicted with a (in legal terms) violent crime. While I talk about it openly on my blog, would I like someone to be able to look up a register and see that charge next to my name? No I wouldn’t because it gives nothing about the story that led to that moment in my life. Sure I can understand for the purpose of jobs, but not for the general public.

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    • Good point. There is always a range of seriousness and circumstances with any offences. For instance, the child rapist is a sex offender, the same as the 17yo who has consensual sex with his 15yo girlfriend. Thanks for your comments, Tegan.

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