I know what I’m about to say probably isn’t a very popular sentiment, but I don’t want that to be mistaken for justifying the unjustifiable.
I don’t have a dog in the 31st district Senate race between Sandra Bolden Cunningham and Lou Manzo, but the so-called “sex offender scandal” has gotten way out of control. Sandra Cunningham has a convicted sex offender volunteering on her campaign and PoliticsNJ.com apparently finds this incredibly newsworthy.
PoliticsNJ first wrote about it on May 18, the same day as a Jersey Journal article. Three days later, a piece by Max Pizarro included a captioned photo of Cunningham with the campaign volunteer in an otherwise unrelated post. That same day, Pizarro wrote a short piece about someone having no comment on the situation. Today, their editorial cartoonist Rob Tornoe made this the topic of this week’s cartoon.
It doesn’t need to be said that these crimes are horrific, but our society has judged – rightly or wrongly – that this man has done his time and paid his due to society. He served four years in jail, is now on parole and “as required by the law, has reported to the office every year.” The prosecutor’s office found that he was not a “compulsive sexual offender” and he’s also gone through Jersey City’s “Second Chance Program.”
Other than the one Jersey Journal article, which itself was not newsworthy, the dead tree media has been surprisingly quiet on this. The overreaction has come largely from PoliticsNJ, which is disappointing. They get deep in the weeds of politics, which is great, but I’ve never seen them be this gratuitous about what I think should be a non-issue. But it paid off – today they got their scalp. The volunteer quit.
I really am not justifying this man’s crimes, but doesn’t this set a bad standard about who can and can’t participate in civics and politics? Do we expect everyone with a crime in their past to become hermits or do we accept them back into society once they have paid for their crimes? This is purely a hypothetical, but based on the blurry line that’s been drawn to separate the acceptable from unacceptable, is it reasonable now to expect that someone will investigate Lou Manzo’s campaign to see if any of his volunteers have ever been convicted of a DUI?