The Bad Guys Shouldn’t Win

I went to Target today, used the restroom with my 3-year old son, and lived to tell about it.

I don’t know if you’ve checked social media, watched the news or read a paper in the last week, but Target has been pretty prominent in the headlines with a new policy – they now allow transgender employees and customers to choose the restroom and changing room that corresponds with their chosen gender identity.  This announcement has fired up consumers across the nation, even inspiring a boycott of Target stores because of a concern that this new policy will give men carte blanche to enter a women’s restroom and sexually assault women, and/or put our daughters and sons at risk of sexual molestation.

I think perhaps the boycott is a bit of an overreaction.

Frankly, I do not care about this issue.  Target’s bathroom policy doesn’t affect my daily life.  I have plenty of bathroom drama in my house with two little boys, one of whom was potty trained just this month, but the danger of my child being molested in a public bathroom is no more of a concern to me today than it was seven days ago … or maybe I should say it’s just as much a concern as it was seven days ago.  Either statement is accurate.  The bathroom policy neither makes my children less safe nor makes them more safe.  There are laws against sexual molestation, which are designed to keep my little ones as safe as possible, and they are still in place.  I’m pretty sure that if someone hurts my child in any way, they will be in big, big trouble.

Bathroom policies are strange.  I actually violate public bathroom laws daily.  My boys do not have the body parts required to enter the women’s restroom, yet I routinely lug them in there with me, anyway, in an effort to keep them safe.  I triple-dog dare you to question my decision in this regard.  The wrong bathroom is the right bathroom for them right now – so it makes sense to me that there might be someone else out there for whom the right bathroom is the wrong bathroom.

But honestly, this post is not about the bathroom laws.  I don’t care about the bathroom policy.  I care about the panic that prevents us, as a society, from making good decisions because of the fear that someone will violate the law.

For goodness sakes, don’t bad guys hurt us enough?  If they stop us from doing important things, we aren’t winning – they are.

We should not stop doing something right just because someone might do something wrong.  We should not let the fear of someone’s bad behavior keep us from doing something good.

I have heard this type of argument before.  When Colorado Amendment 64 was on the ballot to legalize recreational marijuana, the airways were flooded with irate citizens shouting, “We can’t legalize weed!  There will be STONED drivers on the roads KILLING OUR CHILDREN!”  Never mind the fact that DUI laws already included marijuana on the list of substances that cannot be consumed before driving.

When the Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution guarantees the right to a same-sex marriage, opponents were livid.  I read a lot of opinion articles about all the insurance fraud that would happen.  “What’s to prevent a guy from marrying his male roommate just for the insurance benefits?” people argued.  Insurance fraud is illegal, regardless of the reason behind committing the fraud.  Was the problem insurance fraud, or the distastefulness of same-sex marriage?

I hear this sort of thing virtually any time a social issue is being debated.  “How can we {insert objective of social movement}, when bad people might break an existing law?”

I have a better question.  How can we make positive changes in our community if we are held back by the possibility of bad people doing things they are currently doing and will continue doing regardless of the recommended changes?

I don’t feel we should ever stop from doing a good thing just because bad people will violate laws.  Bad people are going to violate laws.  That’s life, and that’s why we have laws, and that’s why we need to enforce them.  It’s even why rules are made in the first place, right?  (“Rules were made to be broken,” and all that jazz?)  If the laws don’t work, let’s change the laws.  Let’s solve the actual problems.

On this latest bathroom issue, how about instead of spending the time complaining, writing angry posts on social media, signing petitions and boycotting Target, we spend some time trying to figure out how to stop people from molesting children?  I do understand that this boycott has this goal in mind, but what is it concretely doing to prevent sexual molestation?  Not a single thing.

Let’s talk about the actual issue.  I want to keep my children safe from harm.  I do not want them to be sexually molested.  Did you know that 75% of teens that have been sexually assaulted were assaulted by someone they not only knew, but knew well?  These aren’t children in a bathroom with a transgender adult, these are children with people they know and trust.  Let’s talk about that!  Let’s figure out how to stop that from happening!

I understand the underlying fear in the bathroom debacle.  We don’t want to give bad people additional opportunities to commit crimes.  I get that, truly I do.  We don’t know how to keep our kids safe, and we want to do what we can, and this feels like something we can do.  Sadly, it’s really not.  The old bathroom laws don’t currently prevent our kids from being molested, and Target’s new policy won’t either.  When we feel helpless, we want to act, and it feels good to boycott Target and show the world that we won’t stand for our children being victimized!  I get it.  It is just pointless.

Let’s make driving under the influence of any impairing substance a thing of the past.  Let’s eliminate insurance fraud.   Let’s keep our children safe from sexual predators and anyone else that may injure them.  Let’s fight the good fights.  Let’s not get distracted by the peripheral issues that ultimately just waste our time.

Let’s not let small things that might go wrong prevent us from doing big things that make our world better.

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