- Publisher: Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Gr
- Date: Jan 2001
From the book
"You Kidding Me?"
Issue 1: Sexual deviants who prey on children
The Opponent: Floyd Abrams, First Amendment attorney
O'Reilly: This doesn't have anything to do with free speech.
Abrams: But of course it does.
O'Reilly: No, this has to do with aiding and abetting, promoting a crime on a website.
If you are thirty-five or older, chances are good that your childhood in America was pretty much like mine, no matter where you grew up. By age six I was out of the house most of the time after school and all during the summer, playing with my tight group of friends. There were limits. For example, if I was late for dinner at six o'clock, there was hell to pay.
Otherwise I was on my own in the great outdoors. My parents seemingly had no fear that I would be harmed by sinister outside forces marauding around my Long Island neighborhood. Sure, I might hurt myself roughhousing, but hey, those were the breaks. My father didn't sound like football announcer John Madden, but he had Madden's mind-set: "Play rough--take your chances."
With my dopey friends, whom you might have met in my last book, The O'Reilly Factor, I made the most of the deep woods three blocks from my house. We climbed thirty feet up into the thick leafy branches to build rickety tree houses. We tunneled underground like moles. We threw rocks at each other. We rolled around in the dirt completely unsupervised by annoying adults.
It never occurred to us that some older guy in an overcoat might drive up and try to hurt us. Yes, my father once said something about never taking a ride with a stranger. But he didn't say why, didn't make an issue out of it, and didn't seem concerned that his eldest son might be taken hostage at some point.
How times have changed. And that's the terrifying subject of this chapter's debate with a distinguished First Amendment lawyer and public figure, who I believe is absolutely wrong in putting the rights of special (read perverted) interests ahead of the safety of American children.
Parents today are rightfully worried about their children being abducted or abused, even in their own neighborhoods. But why is that? Are there more child molesters in the United States now than in my childhood years in the fifties and sixties? Are they bolder for some reason? Is it possible they are being encouraged?
Statistically, it is impossible to know. Officials at the FBI and the Department of Health and Human Services say they do not have accurate statistics for child abuse and abduction before 1990. According to the federal government, more than 100,000 American kids were sexually molested in 1998, or one and a half children per one thousand. In 1999 nearly 32,000 kids were kidnapped--most by relatives. England does a better job of tracking the danger-to-kids trend. Scotland Yard says the number of convictions for gross indecency with a child doubled between 1985 and 1995. So the data suggest that society has become more menacing to children and that more adults are willing to risk imprisonment and social destruction to molest kids. The question is why?
Some believe that widespread, often-hysterical TV coverage has possibly encouraged deviant behavior toward children. Because of television news, crimes against children have been magnified greatly. The heartbreak of any child damaged by an adult is spread from coast to coast immediately and the experts start prattling, some of them sympathetic to the "disease" or "condition" of the victimizer. No one can say for sure, but the notoriety of the crimes may attract pedophiles who are risk takers. We are obviously not talking about rational people...
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