I am not a pedophile, Sam I Am

Dr. Omar Amin, a 73-year old researcher in infectious diseases and resident of Scottsdale, Arizona, was browsing the children’s section of his local Barnes and Noble bookstore looking for gifts for his grandchildren when a store employee arrived and asked him to leave immediately.

Why? Apparently another patron had seen him and reported him to a store employee because his presence made her ‘uneasy’. According to Jonathan Turley, a store employee said that men who are alone in that section are viewed as potential child abusers. Initially, upper executives of the company defended the employee’s action but then did an abrupt reversal and denounced it and apologized to Dr. Amin.

This is the latest in a long string of events where some people are harassed because paranoid people complain to authorities about them because they make them frightened for no reason other than that they fit some demonized profile. The usual problem is ‘traveling on a plane while looking Muslim’ but this case is breaking new ground.

Dr, Amin’s name suggests that he might be a Muslim and/or Arab and I wonder if that didn’t add to the suspicions about him. After all, you cannot be too careful when it comes to Muslim pedophile bombers prowling in bookstores.


  1. Zinc Avenger says

    He was in the bookstore! He must be literate! Why, I bet he might be a liberal!

  2. says

    It’s sad, isn’t it? I often experience the same kind of suspicion. I just did a brief post about it.

    As I grew older, I began to realise that people saw me as unfriendly, dangerous or a threat for two reasons: firstly because I was male, and secondly because I had dark skin…

    Sitting with my dog in the park, in a quiet corner, we watch the parents and children playing. My dog and I both love meeting new people. And we like children. But because I’m a man, I’m always conscious of the danger of being mistaken for a paedophile. I sit quite far from the kids and try not to look at them. I catch a few brief glimpses of their childish innocence, but I never stare for too long. Interest can so easily be mistaken for predatory lust.

    Most of the parents are white, the rest Korean or Chinese. They all regard me with suspicion: a dark young man with a friendly little dog. Who can blame them? If I had a child, I would be wary of strangers too. But again it made me angry that I have to second guess myself everywhere I go. Every time I go out, just to take my dog for a walk and sit in the warm sunshine, I have to remember that I’m a potential predator and act in non-threatening ways so as not to frighten people.

  3. furtivezoog says

    As an adult male (and kinda scruffy looking), I always worry about these suspicions any time I am anywhere there are children around or when in “children’s” areas.

    One really unfortunate consequence is that I generally do not even acknowledge children; I think they must think that I am particularly unfriendly, when my actual tendency is to want to be very friendly and outgoing, especially to children. The minor exceptions are when I am with my wife or I am actually wearing my own infant son, both of which make me feel less threatening enough to at least be polite.

    At the risk of being “tl;dr”, a little story I tell about something that happened to me that could have gone horribly wrong. I was house-sitting for my brother and family and taking care of his dog. This dog, a retriever, lived to play fetch, and so I was out in the street/cul-de-sac throwing the ball for him. A neighbor girl (perhaps about 5 years old) comes out of her house and asks who I am and what I am doing. I think before I answer, but judge that it is OK to say something–I am just out in the street, in broad daylight, playing with my brother’s dog–and so I explain who I am, etc. Then, the dog is thirsty and so we trot around to the back of the house. There, I look back and notice the girl has followed us. OK, a little panic. I say that she shouldn’t have followed me and shouldn’t talk to strangers, and she says, “Don’t worry, I won’t tell.” I couldn’t think of a worse thing for her to say, imagining how that would sound to her parents–“I promised the nice man I wouldn’t say…” In complete panic, I led her right back to her parents and babbled something incoherent about the whole situation.

  4. Mr Ed says

    My Lions club was making sauce for a pasta dinner at the local k-8 school. My son asked to go out and play so I took him to the playscape. When we got there there was a boy, maybe 8 years old, stuck in one of the pieces of equipment. Now all I had to do was lift him up and he would be free. I stop, asked if he could wiggle out and then considered going back to the school to get my wife to lift him. I finally decided that the correct thing to do was aid a child in distress and damn paranoid over reactors.

    Unfortunately just being accused of doing something wrong with a child is like being accused of being a witch or a communist in the past.

  5. Mano Singham says

    I know exactly how you feel. We have some new neighbors next door who have two small children. When they see through the fence that I am in the back yard with my dog, they want to come over to play with him. I ask them to ask their father first and they do and he always says ok but I am still uncomfortable. I am thinking about going to the front yard with my dog if they ask in the future.

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