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"Pro- America" Fox Nation Smearing Civil Liberties Again

Reported by Ellen - May 10, 2009 -

Guest blogged by Julie

Despite its stated purpose, "The Fox Nation was created for people who believe in the United States of America and its ideals, as expressed in the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Emancipation Proclamation," Fox Nation and Fox News rarely miss an opportunity to attack the American Civil Liberties Union - you know, the organization dedicated to sticking up for the Bill of Rights? The latest sally is an attempt to smear them as promoting child molestation.

The headline on the homepage of Fox Nation blares: Guess Who Wants Sex Offenders Living Closer to Schools? (Screen grab below)

The headline links to an article by Vermont's WCAX-TV news. But a closer look at the actual story reveals that the ACLU is litigating the legality of a Vermont town essentially making laws about who can live within its borders.

The litigation involves 29-year-old Chris Hagan, who in 2001 was accused of sexual assault as a result of sex with a 15-year-old (Hagan was 18 at the time of the alleged offense). He pled guilty to a lesser crime, served time in prison, and completed sex offender treatment. Hagan isn't on parole or probation, and is classified “low risk” to re-offend. The ACLU reports that when he got out of prison, Hagan went to community college, started a contracting business, and got married. When he, his wife, and their two children moved to Barre he wasn't aware of any residency restrictions. For the record, the Hagans don't live in public housing – they rent an apartment.

As reported by the ACLU, Hagan was “targeted by the city” because his criminal background involves a sex offense. Vermont's ACLU sued in Washington Superior Court, on the basis that “the city has no authority to enact ordinances that restrict where people may live.” Despite being a law-abiding citizen in Barre, Hagan was notified by the city on April 23 that he had to move out of the apartment or face hefty daily fines.

The ACLU attorney representing Hagan, Dan Barrett, said, “Vermont municipalities can only enact ordinances on a narrow range of topics.” For example, Vermont towns can't issue driver's licenses, regulate banks or develop their own criminal codes.

“Chris Hagan is standing up for the principle that municipalities cannot dictate who gets to live within their borders,” said ACLU of Vermont Executive Director Allen Gilbert. “A man who has paid his debt to society, is working hard to get his life back together, and is not bothering his neighbors should not be treated this way.”

The ACLU and the city have agreed to a stay of enforcement for up to 60 days while the lawsuit against the city is pending.

I'd like to mention that the list of Republican sex offenders – including charges involving sex with minors as young as 5 years old – is long and illustrious. While Fox Nation is being so diligent about its reporting on sex offenders (without mentioning, of course, these offenders' attendant civil rights), its bloggers might want to make sure all of those offending Republicans are living far away from any children or schools.