Just the week before Thanksgiving the NFL confirmed that they were hiring the British band the WHO for the February Super Bowl half-time event. While many have received the news with excitement, some child advocacy groups have met it with disbelief. You see, Pete Townshend was listed as a Sex Offender in the UK from 2003 to 2008.
Despite two letters being sent to Roger Goodell and other members of NFL management asking that Pete Townshend be removed from the Super Bowl line-up, no response has been forthcoming. Evin Daly, CEO of the national child advocacy group Child AbuseWatch who wrote the letters isn't surprised. He said, "As has been shown in the past, the phrase 'a stitch in time' does not seem to be considered by some corporate boards of directors, which is odd in a cut and dry - and potentially damaging - case such as Townshend's."
The question that begs to be asked is, "Does the NFL really want someone who has been on the British Sex Offender list for the past five years (2003 - 2008) to play for an American family audience?" The answer it would seem is 'Yes." Are they this dumb? It sure seems so.
One has to ask if any lesson at all was learned by NFL management from the Janet Jackson boob fiasco. In showing off a partial breast the parents of America went nuts as did the FCC and a fine ensued. Townshend on the other hand is a sex offender; put on the UK's ViSOR (Violent and Sexual Offender Registry) for admitting to paying for and viewing images online of child rape. One can only imagine the response from the American family groups once this story hits mainstream media.
A number of Florida-based child advocate groups are rolling out campaigns against what they kindly term as the NFL's 'indiscretion' at choosing Townshend given his offender status. These include Child AbuseWatch and Protect Our Children Inc. [See the link to the Child AbuseWatch file at the end of the article]
Child AbuseWatch revealed that they have received some initial criticism for paying so much attention to Townsend. An British newspaper article from 2003 had observed that Townshend had been 'cleared' of charges. "It's like saying you are sort of pregnant; you either are or aren't" observed Mr. Daly. "Townshend was listed as a sex offender; that makes him an offender; period."
He went on to say that Townshend had received a caution from the British police in response to his admission to viewing the child rape images. He was listed as a sex offender by the British court for five years. He avoided charges because the computers belonging to him at the time of their seizure, and examined by the police, did not contain any child porn images. The London Times reported that the caution earn him a 'lifelong criminal record'. [London Times 050803 - link at end of article]
An essay Townshend put on his blog in 2006 got him in hot water again with the British child advocacy group Stop It Now! as the topic's focus had to do with underage sex. Another paper written by Townshend in 2002 and hosted by the Smoking Gun reveals the following disturbing quote, "Townshend's paper, which he once posted on his official web site, also notes that the "pathway to 'free' pedophilic imagery is--as it were--laid out like a free line of cocaine at a decadent cocktail party: only the strong willed or terminally uncurious can resist."
Both Child AbuseWatch and Protect Our Children state that they are reporting facts, not opinion. Their only opinion, based on the facts, is that Townshend is an unsuitable entertainer for the Super Bowl. Daly remarked that he was surprised that Townshend was given clearance to enter the United States at all given his sex offender status. Daly has contacted Janet Napolitano at the Department of Homeland Security seeking clarification of this.
So what's next?
Protect Our Children President, Kevin Gillick is in the midst of a large petition drive, which is about to go online. His thoughts on Townshend? "If it walks, talks and quacks like a duck, it's a duck," Gillick remarked. Gillick has been an active child advocate for eighteen years. "We're not accusing Townshend of anything; we're reporting the official record of events." He declined to talk about the next phase of Protect Our Children's publicity campaign.
Mr. Daly shares that Child AbuseWatch has written to Florida's Governor Charlie Crist, Miami Mayor Tomas P. Regalado, U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and various national children's rights groups to garner support against the NFL's decision. Daly refused to disclose his group's next moves. If his record is anything to go by NFL sponsors are probably going to be hearing about the Townshend issue from Child AbuseWatch shortly, assuming they don't hear about it on prime-time
Child AbuseWatch Townshend file (Articles and reference material):
Pete Townshend on sex register over child porn ("lifelong criminal record")
London Times May 08, 2003