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Published: Thursday, 5/26/2005

Abuse of common sense

IT DOES not diminish our disgust with sexual abuse to note the absurdity of a new policy at Six Flags Great America amusement parks to print what amounts to a warning on admission tickets that abusers aren t welcome.

No doubt the folks at Six Flags feel the same way about terrorists entering their parks incognito. But neither terrorists nor sex offenders are likely to reveal themselves while strolling through the turnstiles.

Six Flags has reason to be concerned. Three children were molested during a visit to one of their parks and the company naturally wants to minimize the risk of that happening again.

Unfortunately, they can t run a background check on every adult who buys a ticket. So Six Flags opted for the scarecrow approach by issuing a meaningless warning.

The irony is that the abuse at Six Flags was committed by someone who never bought a ticket at all. Five years ago, a 19-year-old worker at Great America in Gurnee, Ill., was sentenced to four years for molesting the girls while strapping them into a river boat ride. A civil lawsuit later resulted in $1.4 million being paid to two victims.

That s not to say that park officials shouldn t keep an eye on patrons who act suspiciously. Amusement parks have the right to turn away potential visitors, and they can eject customers already inside if their conduct is not in line with acceptable behavior.

But when Six Flags officials argue that the ticket statement provides an extra level of protection, we really don t see how.

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