There can be few issues in our society which whip people to the same level of frenzy as paedophilia. We're reminded of this every time Dennis Ferguson does anything at all.
Okay, Ferguson is a horrible sort. He's been convicted of ghastly crimes.
However, the issue now is that it's come out that Ferguson, freed after serving his prison terms, has been living in Ryde, in north west Sydney, for the past few weeks. The residents are not happy, and as continually happens with Ferguson, they've vowed not to rest until he leaves their suburb. As usual, all rational thought has gone, long before Ferguson will.
One resident has described the neighbourhood as being "like a candy shop", for Ferguson. It's as if paedophilia was some sort of virus; merely having a paedophile nearby is enough to infect all the local children. Even Hetty Johnson, head of child sexual abuse support group Bravehearts, has come out saying paedophiles just don't work that way: "This man has only been dangerous to families that he befriends, so just don't befriend him and don't let your children befriend him, and you'll be as safe as you can be I guess".
Where the hell is Ferguson supposed to go? There's much made of the fact that his new flat is near a primary school. Most people in built up areas would live within a kilometre of a primary school. Ryde has been described as a "family neighbourhood" - how many neighbourhoods have no children living or visitng? I think what people really want here is revealed in this comment by local resident "Sean" - "He doesn't deserve to live in society - he deserves to be outcast for the rest of his life. His relaxation as an elderly gentleman is over - he needs to start serving the community in the right way and that's by disappearing". Or, as another young woman living nearby put it, "I'm sixteen years old and I'm terrified" she said (of what?!?). "I just want him to die".
Well at least someone came out and said it. They don't want Ferguson anywhere - they just want him to commit suicide.
Everyone who wants Ferguson gone, as usual in these situations, is a pains to emphasise that they have children (usually of the "small" variety). A TV news reporter actually said that "none of Ferguson's supporters actually has children", as though having children made you an expert on the behaviour of paedophiles. DF and I plan to have children in the next few years. How would I feel if Ferguson moved in to our street? Not really comfortable, but knowing that I wouldn't be leaving my children alone with strangers anyway - especially since the chances are we'd be living near child sex offenders wherever we were.
Meanwhile, it looks like the NSW government, for all it's bluster, can't actually legally move Ferguson. Residents in Ryde say they may have been more understanding if they'd been told in advance Ferguson was coming. But as long as the media whips up these ridiculous moral panics, that was never going to happen.