The 'Pedophilia Enabling Act'
A claim in a 'Moyers & Company' episode that makes you want to vomit
Plenty of you have probably seen or at least heard of “North Carolina: Battleground State,” the Moyers & Company episode on PBS that dissects the right-wing takeover of N.C. politics, its causes, primary players and implications. The page devoted to the episode on the show’s website is a good resource for some of the best reporting and data about N.C. politics, too.
There’ll be plenty of discussion about the episode in the days to come. But I want to point out one thing from it that’s so jaw-dropping and grotesque, I’m still having trouble processing it.
It’s from a segment on North Carolina’s new Voter ID law. Among the measures the law established to tamp down the vote among minority and young voters was the elimination of preregistration for 16- and 17-year-olds in North Carolina high schools. Students who preregistered could be automatically registered to vote when they turned 18.
The following is the rationale Francis De Luca — longtime Republican activist, former Marine colonel and president of the Civitas Institute, the Pope family-funded conservative policy organization in Raleigh — gave Moyers & Company for the crusade to defeat the menace of preregistration:
One of the changes in the bill was this thing they called preregistration, where they registered 16- and 17 year-olds using the schools to register them. You know, I like to call this the “pedophilia enabling act.” Where in the world can I go on a government website and find a list of 16-year-olds and their home addresses? I can go to the state Board of Elections. If you walked into a school and asked for that list, not only would you not get it, you would probably be arrested. And they would send police to your home and say, “Why do you want a list of all our 16-year-olds in the school?”
Someone please, really, correct me if I’m mistaken on this. I have not been able to unearth evidence of acts of sexual abuse of minors enabled by the perpetrator’s learning the victim’s identity and address via the state Board of Elections website.
I intend to check this morning to learn whether those names and addresses were published before the students turned 18 and were automatically registered; I do not believe they were. Here’s the language from the old statute:
A person who is at least 16 years of age but will not be 18 years of age by the date of the next election and who is otherwise qualified to register may preregister to vote and shall be automatically registered upon reaching the age of eligibility following verification of the person's qualifications and address in accordance with G.S. 163-82.7.
So their identities weren't public record anyway until they were actually registered. So, I think, that removes the concern that child molesters might have a) targeted 16- and 17-year-olds; b) learned their identities via the North Carolina Board of Elections; and c) gone to their homes, presumably posing as Census takers or Amway sales reps, so that they might sexually violate civic-minded teenagers.
Of course, to object on rational grounds is to assume the claim has a rational basis, which it obviously does not. It represents a kind of concern trolling mixed with reverse branding, so that any objection to the Voter ID law and its preregistration measure can be potentially associated with support for pedophilia. Otherwise, why would someone who cares about our children object?
That’s disgusting and underhanded in the extreme but, in its own slimy way, great brand messaging. And hey, De Luca has a nice new platform from which to build brand awareness: In November, he was named to the state Ethics Commission.