WN: It was my longstanding friend and colleague Hugh Kirkegaard (currently (2018) and for some years Director of Chaplaincy, Correctional Services Canada) who inspired and co-authored this paper; and had worked closely in Toronto with Bobby Oatway. He arranged for CSC funding for us to attend the COV&R (Colloquium on Violence and Religion) Conference at Emory University, Atlanta in 1999, where we presented on what was turned into the paper below.
It has been translated, published in anthologies, and referenced numerous times since, thanks to the power of René Girard’s insights on scapegoating. The original paper is still on the Emory University COV&R ’99 website here.
This attempted expulsion, which led ultimately to Bobby Oatway requesting to be returned to the prison he was released from, to serve the remainder of his sentence, is reminiscent of other expulsions and other victims. The broken taboos that sexual offending, particularly those offences against children, represent, create a kind of “holy fear”. But this alone does not explain the visceral and violent response which demonizes individuals like Bobby Oatway, rendering them less than human and the most heinous of offenders. There are other impulses that prompt such responses, that legitimize the violence that is an all too common response to them. Viewed through the lens of mimetic theory these realities beg the question, ‘Is it possible that sex offenders have become scapegoats among us?’
Please click on: The Sex Offender as Scapegoat