Scott Ritter's Fall.
February 22, 2012 2:51 PM   Subscribe

Scott Ritter's Other War SL NYTMagazine
posted by lalochezia (76 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Ritter’s Georgian-born wife, Marina

Patsy!
posted by chavenet at 2:56 PM on February 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


pretty crazy. i still don't see the crime here... masturbating on a webcam in front of someone who claims to be 15 but is really an above-age policeman?

that's worth 1.5-5 years in prison? you gotta be fucking kidding me, New York.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:04 PM on February 22, 2012 [7 favorites]


Pennsylvania...
posted by notyou at 3:11 PM on February 22, 2012


pretty crazy. i still don't see the crime here...

Intent to masturbate on a webcam in front of someone who is 15? Is it a crime only if he thinks she is 15? What if it's his wife and she's on Y! chat and says "OH YEA BABY IM A 15 YEAR OLD!" and it is a consensual act between two adults. Would that make it legal?
posted by basicchannel at 3:15 PM on February 22, 2012


Gee, somebody who contradicted the NYT's run-up to the Iraq War is in legal trouble on an unrelated charge? MAJOR TIMES MAGAZINE ARTICLE!!!

Anybody who opposes the Times' current sabre-rattling over Iran should be warned. Payback is a bitch (named Judith Miller).
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:17 PM on February 22, 2012 [9 favorites]


From the article:
Except that it wasn’t slander, inasmuch as slander is, by definition, untrue. In fact, the police in Colonie, N.Y., encountered Ritter twice in 2001 — and quietly arrested him once — after he contacted cops posing as under-age girls in chat rooms. (Ritter was caught using the unsubtle screen name OnExhibit.) In both cases, Ritter agreed to meet the fictional teenagers in the parking lots of fast-food joints, with the intent of masturbating in front of them, only to be confronted by cops when he got there.

Again no actual teen involved, but, you know, also a lot worse in the 'intent' department. I'm also sort of floored he'd do that *twice*, clearly a pretty messed up guy.
posted by malphigian at 3:18 PM on February 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.
posted by steinsaltz at 3:21 PM on February 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


On a February afternoon in 2009, Ryan Venneman, one of only five full-time police officers in tiny Barrett Township, Pa., decided to spend some time hunting for sexual predators online.

I remember thinking "What a LUCKY break for the Bush administration!" (Yes, the caps were there in the original thought.)
posted by fredludd at 3:33 PM on February 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


“U know ur in a lot of trouble, don’t you,”

Seriously?
posted by ODiV at 3:36 PM on February 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Should have claimed that he interpreted "her" age in hexadecimal?
posted by Jimbob at 3:37 PM on February 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


Maybe he just has a fetish for police officers pretending to be 15 year-old girls.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:39 PM on February 22, 2012 [7 favorites]


police officers pretending to be 15 year-old girls

I'm pretty sure that was an AOL Chatroom name in the 90's.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:41 PM on February 22, 2012 [7 favorites]


Intent to masturbate on a webcam in front of someone who is 15? Is it a crime only if he thinks she is 15? What if it's his wife and she's on Y! chat and says "OH YEA BABY IM A 15 YEAR OLD!"

Given that there are about a thousand people masturbating on chatroulette right now, and the recordings of several million more available free and streaming from websites, explain why it is in the interest of the government to prosecute "intent to masturbate on a webcam in front of someone who is 15" and what you expect the outcome of such prosecutions to be on the rate of 15yos watching people masturbate on webcams.
posted by mek at 3:44 PM on February 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


And we are here as in a parking lot
With a cheap webcamera recording our plight,
Masturbating ignorant of the policeman's sight
posted by Sebmojo at 3:48 PM on February 22, 2012 [7 favorites]


Actually, let's not even try to pretend that this isn't a typical honeypot scheme. Meanwhile, in Wikileaks land....
posted by mek at 3:51 PM on February 22, 2012


Bush's lucky break actually occurred in 2001, not 2009. By 2009, Ritter was an easy and obvious target.
posted by fredludd at 3:53 PM on February 22, 2012


The man was absolutely correct about Iraq and the US Invasion.

The man is a sexual predator who was caught before he did any harm.

BOTH things can be true at once.
posted by Slap*Happy at 3:53 PM on February 22, 2012 [12 favorites]


BOTH things can be true at once.

It's certainly possible, but it's not the simplest or most likely explanation.
posted by mek at 3:55 PM on February 22, 2012


The man is a sexual predator who was caught before he did any harm.

Just like how we took down Saddam before he could fire off those WMDs!
posted by Jimbob at 3:58 PM on February 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


Seriously, still? This ship sailed, folks.
posted by Mblue at 3:58 PM on February 22, 2012


key quote from the article: Ritter maintains that he never engaged with an actual minor online, and there’s no evidence to suggest he did, beyond his interactions with undercover police officers in chat rooms for over-18-year-olds.
posted by mek at 4:00 PM on February 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


It seems like the defense that Ritter himself has chosen to adopt would pretty conclusively preclude any possibility of him being framed:
When prosecutors were successful in moving to unseal his New York files and presented evidence from those arrests too, Ritter steadfastly maintained that he was aware, in both instances­, that he was talking to undercover cops. He knew his online activities needed to be stopped, Ritter said, so he arranged to meet the officers involved, playing along with the notion that they were teenage girls, so that he could get himself arrested and be forced to face his demons. This would have been a more persuasive defense, perhaps, had one of the arresting detectives not testified that Ritter, upon seeing the police lying in wait for him, tried to evade capture by slamming down the gas pedal and jumping a curb, T.J. Hooker-style.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 4:01 PM on February 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


The man was absolutely correct about Iraq and the US Invasion.

The man is a sexual predator who was caught before he did any harm.

BOTH things can be true at once.


There are many many potential sexual predators who get caught before they do any harm.

Is there really much doubt why the NYTMagazine chose to profile this one?
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:01 PM on February 22, 2012


Sorry but in any reality I choose to live in, jerking off on webcam does not make you a sexual predator. It might make the camera a sexual predator, though.
posted by mek at 4:02 PM on February 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


And just to be clear, the judge's ruling determined that he is a violent sexual predator.
posted by mek at 4:05 PM on February 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


Bai seems heavily invested in the narrative frame of pride going before a fall, and only marginally interested in the fact that Ritter was correct about the lack of W.M.D.s in Iraq.

"Even after he was convicted on five felony counts and two misdemeanors last year, Ritter remained, as he always has, self-righteous and inclined toward seeing conspiracies. ... Ritter is an uncommonly articulate man, and when he gets going, the indignation flows in fully formed paragraphs. .... It’s tempting to try to find some deeper connection between Ritter’s public crusade and his most private transgressions. Does he simply crave attention wherever he can get it? Does he need to feel admired? If there is a connection between Ritter the activist and Ritter the accused, though, it probably lies in the uncompromising, even heedless way in which he insists on his version of reality, and how he sees himself always as the victim of a system that is self-evidently corrupt. ... Ritter’s refusal to surrender to the system, to even admit there could be any reasonable interpretation of the facts other than his own, seemed to enrage the prosecutor and the judge in Monroe County. ... But even in his determination to show humility, Ritter couldn’t help flashing defiance."

Vs.

"History will record, though, that Ritter was right, while those who showed him nothing but contempt were flat wrong. While he wasn’t the only one saying that the war’s pretense was false or that its aftermath could be calamitous, Ritter was almost certainly the most determined dissenter and the one with the most on-the-ground intelligence."

What was the purpose of this profile again? To demonstrate that arrogance and intelligence and sheer dumb human weakness and sick urges can co-exist in one man? Or something closer to making a case for punishing arrogant intellect by putting the spotlight on the fact that it has a sleazy side? Never mind the integrity of the dissent or the historical vindication, look at those chat logs...
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:08 PM on February 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


There was never any recognition that Ritter and others were right about the war in Iraq. It's astonishing how we've pretended away a large a vibrant social movement that organized to stop the war. Of course, with massive FBI interference, wiretapping, mass arrests of peaceful protesters, etc, many of those involved were terribly brutalized. That's been forgotten too.

It was incredibly hard to stand against war in 2001 and 2002. It cost friendships and turned people's families against them, even if those individuals didn't get beat up by the cops. Death threats and accusations of supporting terrorists were common. Scott Ritter braved that world as publicly as anyone else and he deserves far better than this article.

But it's the NYT. They probably got half the facts wrong and lied about the rest. Which would be better than their Iraq coverage.
posted by allen.spaulding at 4:20 PM on February 22, 2012 [10 favorites]


Scott Ritter's Other War, or more accurately, Scott Ritter's Other War: an installment in a series of reports cheerleading up to the NYT's Next War.
posted by grounded at 4:21 PM on February 22, 2012


I was the only one who was right about one of the most significant issues in modern American history.

You were right Mr. Ritter, but let's not undersell the amount of intelligence that was ignored in order to get around that fact. Other people realized this too. State's Bureau of Intelligence and Research's dissent got shoved into the footnotes for instance.
posted by Winnemac at 4:21 PM on February 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


mek: “Sorry but in any reality I choose to live in, jerking off on webcam does not make you a sexual predator. It might make the camera a sexual predator, though.”

Just to be clear – does going to meet a child in the hopes of having sex with that child make a person a sexual predator? Mr Ritter may insist that the records of his previous run-ins with the law ought to remain sealed, but that doesn't mean we don't know about them. Do you think meeting children for sex is also harmless, or are you suggesting that you believe Mr Ritter when he says that he knew he was talking to undercover agents, though (as the article notes) his attempt to flee rapidly when he met those agents would seem to put the lie to this claim?
posted by koeselitz at 4:37 PM on February 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


We can't be clear about that because there is no legitimate source for the information, and the article itself notes that "for reasons that aren't entirely clear, the prosecutor dismissed the charges." I could wildly speculate (like this judge apparently did) but that would be irresponsible when lives are affected. Within the facts of the 2009 case, no, he's not a predator, certainly not a violent one, and imprisoning him is a waste of money.
posted by mek at 4:50 PM on February 22, 2012


It's an interesting profile piece; Ritter sounds like a deeply conflicted and troubled person.

Having police stings to catch guys who want to meet up with underaged people (which is what he got caught for twice before, though some kind of deal got cut and the cases were sealed) makes sense to me. Arresting someone for jerking off on camera seems like not the best use of my taxpayer dollars, unless he was giving off hints about wanting to meet.

Mostly I can't figure out how someone could be dumb enough to get caught three times the same way. At some point wouldn't you figure out that the chatrooms were about three quarters undercover police officers? Weird.
posted by Forktine at 4:55 PM on February 22, 2012


Intent to masturbate on a webcam in front of someone who is 15? Is it a crime only if he thinks she is 15? What if it's his wife and she's on Y! chat and says "OH YEA BABY IM A 15 YEAR OLD!" and it is a consensual act between two adults. Would that make it legal?
Yeah, but did he have that intent? Is it a crime to have cybersex with someone you think is 18, and actually is 18, but who you think, correctly, is pretending to be 15? It seems pretty bizarre.

It's especially problematic, IMO that he essentially said "no, I don't want to talk to you" when he found out her "age" and then the "15 year old" pestered him to continue the conversation.

The people who are dangerous are the ones are trying to seduce and manipulate underage people, not the ones who are able be seduced and manipulated by people pretending to be underage.
And just to be clear, the judge's ruling determined that he is a violent sexual predator.
Based on what, exactly?
Mostly I can't figure out how someone could be dumb enough to get caught three times the same way.
Well, like the article said, when he found out the pretend age he said he didn't want to talk to her, but he apparently got roped back in. Maybe he convinced himself that it really was an adult who just wanted to rollplay? In the past he actually tried to meet up with people, but in this case it was just on webcam. He may have thought that so long as he didn't try to meet anyone claiming to be under age it wouldn't be a problem.
posted by delmoi at 5:03 PM on February 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


'“So why u don’t like me,” Venneman typed, mimicking an adolescent’s mangled syntax. '

Why did this line irritate me so much?
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 5:04 PM on February 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


mek: “We can't be clear about that because there is no legitimate source for the information...”

What, court records aren't a "legitimate source for the information"? Records of Ritter's statements and admissions aren't "legitimate"?

“... and the article itself notes that ‘for reasons that aren't entirely clear, the prosecutor dismissed the charges.’”

Yes, it isn't entirely clear, and frankly it's ridiculous that it happened. The facts in the case are absolutely clear – even Ritter doesn't dispute them – so the choice of the prosecutor doesn't seem to make any sense whatsoever. And please note – while I have a strong suspicion the 2007 arrest was indeed intended to take Ritter down, the two 2001 arrests clearly were not 'honeypot' operations. The guy was a vocal supporter of Bush at that time.

“Within the facts of the 2009 case, no, he's not a predator, certainly not a violent one, and imprisoning him is a waste of money.”

I don't really care about the case, and didn't ask about it. The question is whether he is a sexual predator, and whether he has done anything wrong on that line. The answer seems to be a resounding "yes."
posted by koeselitz at 5:04 PM on February 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you don't know why the case was dismissed, you don't know anything at all. You're just making baseless assumptions on a case that was legitimately dismissed for a reason which you do not know. This makes you the opposite of an expert on the matter, so I will take your opinion as the steaming pile that it is.
posted by mek at 5:20 PM on February 22, 2012


Very sad.
posted by kprincehouse at 5:23 PM on February 22, 2012


mek: “If you don't know why the case was dismissed, you don't know anything at all. You're just making baseless assumptions on a case that was legitimately dismissed for a reason which you do not know. This makes you the opposite of an expert on the matter, so I will take your opinion as the steaming pile that it is.”

Look, all I said was this, and it appears to remain the truth: nobody disputes the facts in any of these cases, least of all Scott Ritter. He admits that every iota of it is absolutely true. He only claims that it's okay, because his motives were not what they appeared to be.
posted by koeselitz at 5:25 PM on February 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I never said I was disputing the facts of the cases, either: I disputed the classification of Ritter as a "sexual predator" and later as a "violent sexual predator," as neither of these cases demonstrate that.
posted by mek at 5:26 PM on February 22, 2012


Metafilter: mimicking an adolescent’s mangled syntax.
posted by Danf at 5:41 PM on February 22, 2012


On a February afternoon in 2009, Ryan Venneman, one of only five full-time police officers in tiny Barrett Township, Pa., decided to spend some time hunting for sexual predators online.

well, now i know where i'll go for my next crime spree.
posted by cupcake1337 at 5:54 PM on February 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


As the last American troops left Iraq, it’s fair to say that the war and the debate that surrounded it produced few real heroes; rather, it served as a kind of vortex of destruction that sucked in and defiled nearly everyone associated with it.

Those that were for the war, those who were against the war, hey, they're all the same! Let's not give credit to those who called the Iraq war a mistake from the beginning. Are you fucking kidding me, NYT?
posted by zardoz at 6:10 PM on February 22, 2012 [11 favorites]


Those chatrooms need to be filled with ELIZA-style chatbots, pretending to be 50-year-old men AND 15-year-old girls, until there's so damn much noise that everyone ends up wasting their time.
posted by dunkadunc at 6:38 PM on February 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I never said I was disputing the facts of the cases, either: I disputed the classification of Ritter as a "sexual predator" and later as a "violent sexual predator," as neither of these cases demonstrate that.

I'm with you on the "violent" part. I haven't seen anything to convince me that Ritter had any violent intentions. But getting into your car and driving to a location to meet who you believe is an underage girl so you can masturbate in front of her... that fits neatly into "sexual predator" in my book.
posted by BobbyVan at 6:57 PM on February 22, 2012


Again no actual teen involved, but, you know, also a lot worse in the 'intent' department.

No actual hit man is involved when the police set up a sting for a dude trying to hire somebody to kill his wife either.

The evidence here does not in any way even hint at the idea that this happened to discredit Ritter. Why is it so difficult for some people to accept Slap*Happy's formulation of Ritter being both correct about Iraq and having some quite problematic personal sexual habits?

It's perfectly obvious that's the case here. And no, the story isn't in the NYT just because they are embarrassed to be wrong about Iraq. It's in there because Scott Ritter was a high profile figure during a very important time. Eliot Spitzer made the papers too when he was hiring $600 an hour hookers. Any high profile figure, particularly ones with a connection to NYC or NY state, would make the paper.
posted by Justinian at 7:10 PM on February 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


And Eliot Spitzer is the perfect counterargument to "it's all a coincidence," as well. Anthony Weiner, as well. Did these people do what was alleged? Yes. Were they prosecuted specifically because of their "high profile" by a government interested in destroying their credibility: Probably.

For every Ritter jerking it on camera there are thousands of other incidents which go ignored; for every Weiner sext there are millions upon millions. Society somehow hasn't crumbled into sexual anarchy.
posted by mek at 7:25 PM on February 22, 2012


You would help your case more if you knew basic facts. Neither Weiner nor Spitzer were prosecuted. Try again?
posted by Justinian at 7:29 PM on February 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


>Society somehow hasn't crumbled into sexual anarchy.

Well, we were going to, but then we said fuck it.
posted by Catblack at 7:40 PM on February 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


The Times have been fairly contrite for their role in the run up to Iraq, issuing an apology for its shitty reporting and shitcanning Howell Raines (although to save face, he officially left because of Jayson Blair.)

That doesn't absolve the paper in any way for the reporting it did in that period, but I'm curious if onefellswoop (or someone who actually cites articles, like Trurl) could point to some articles that actually feature this alleged sabre rattling. Judging by this article that appear on the front page of the Times today, the media in general and the Times in particular are once bitten, twice shy about this kind of coverage.

So to end my derail, you really think that this is an attempt to smear a Times critic? Your Occam's razor has gone a little dull. It is a crazy, and losing proposition for a paper to take on all of its critics by smearing them in its pages, unless you want a news outlet that holds the same international critical esteem of a Fox News. Sometimes Julian Assange is just a tantrum throwing, whiny shithead, and sometimes high profile figures who criticize your newspaper get arrested for things completely unrelated to your newspaper or their criticisms. And then you report on them.
posted by to sir with millipedes at 8:42 PM on February 22, 2012


You would help your case more if you knew basic facts. Neither Weiner nor Spitzer were prosecuted.

Neither was Ritter until 2009. And Assange hasn't been prosecuted yet, either. The threat of prosecution is quite sufficient. Even if Assange's case disappears into thin air, as Spitzer's did, it hardly matters now, the damage is done.

NYT isn't actively malicious, they're just incompetent, tone-deaf, and as corrupt as the rest of their contemporaries.
posted by mek at 9:50 PM on February 22, 2012


We are involved here in a far reaching conspiracy to undermine our most basic beliefs and sacred institutions. Whose behind this conspiracy? Once again ask yourself who has the most to gain. People in high places, their names would astound you! People in low places, concealing their activities beneath a cloak of poverty! People of all walks of life, left wing and right wing. Black and white. Students and scholars. A conspiracy of such ominous proportion that we will never, never know the whole story and we'll never be able to reveal all the facts! We are readying mass arrests. I am going to see that you people get every possible break. If there is any information you would like to contribute at this time, it will be held in the strictest confidence....
posted by to sir with millipedes at 10:31 PM on February 22, 2012


Actually, the idea of a chatroom full of old-man-bots and 15-year-old-girl-bots chatting away with each other while a few confused real people try (fruitlessly) to get somewhere sounds really, really funny.
posted by dunkadunc at 1:08 AM on February 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Again, this wasn't all just "virtual" chat-room stuff. Ritter actually got in his car and drove to a fast food restaurant parking lot where he planned to masturbate in front of who he thought was an underage girl. That's some sick sexual predator shit. He doesn't deny that either.

So why not just say, "I agree w/ him on Iraq, but what a shame that personally he's either a scumbag or somebody w/ serious mental issues."
posted by BobbyVan at 5:06 AM on February 23, 2012


Again, this wasn't all just "virtual" chat-room stuff. Ritter actually got in his car and drove to a fast food restaurant parking lot where he planned to masturbate in front of who he thought was an underage girl.

If he had chosen to meet with 'her' in a bar, rather than a burger king, the 'It was Adults-Only 18+ Fantasy Chat, so she was just playing that whole 15-year-old-thing, right?'' spin would have played a whole lot better.
posted by mikelieman at 5:25 AM on February 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Again, this wasn't all just "virtual" chat-room stuff. Ritter actually got in his car and drove to a fast food restaurant parking lot where he planned to masturbate in front of who he thought was an underage girl. That's some sick sexual predator shit. He doesn't deny that either.

Those charges ended up being dropped, for whatever reason (and the records sealed). The charged he was actually convicted on were on were just for the chatroom stuff.
posted by delmoi at 8:12 AM on February 23, 2012


And Eliot Spitzer is the perfect counterargument to "it's all a coincidence," as well. Anthony Weiner, as well. Did these people do what was alleged? Yes. Were they prosecuted specifically because of their "high profile" by a government interested in destroying their credibility: Probably.
Eh, Weiner fuck himself himself. He accidentally tweeted the photo publicly. No doubt Breitbart would have screwed him dishonestly if he could, but he didn't have too.
posted by delmoi at 8:14 AM on February 23, 2012


mek: “And Eliot Spitzer is the perfect counterargument to "it's all a coincidence," as well. Anthony Weiner, as well. Did these people do what was alleged? Yes. Were they prosecuted specifically because of their ‘high profile’ by a government interested in destroying their credibility: Probably. For every Ritter jerking it on camera there are thousands of other incidents which go ignored; for every Weiner sext there are millions upon millions. Society somehow hasn't crumbled into sexual anarchy.”

You know and I know and they know that it is their own damned fault. If I can avoid trying to have sex with children, so can Scott Ritter – and Scott Ritter is (or at least was) in a position to do a hell of a lot more public good than I am. All three of these men failed immeasurably to do their duty for the public good. Why? Because they couldn't keep their goddamned dicks in their pants and have discreet sex – however kinky they may want it – with discreet partners in private and legal circumstances. It is not that hard. And ever single Scott Ritter or Eliot Spitzer or Anthony Weiner who enters the public sphere knows damned well that if they do these things, they'll get knocked from their position. They went in fully aware of the costs of living a public life. I'm not shedding tears because they lacked the moderation and wisdom to act accordingly.
posted by koeselitz at 8:23 AM on February 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


> “U know ur in a lot of trouble, don’t you,”
>
> Seriously? SRSLY??!?
posted by jfuller at 9:14 AM on February 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


If he had chosen to meet with 'her' in a bar, rather than a burger king, the 'It was Adults-Only 18+ Fantasy Chat, so she was just playing that whole 15-year-old-thing, right?'' spin would have played a whole lot better.

"That girl said she was 15, but I swear to God I could tell she was 22!" -Dennis Duffy

Anyway, onefellswoop has it. This is coming out now because the Republicans and the media are trying to drum up support for a war with Iran. It's too bad Ritter's character was so easy to assassinate.
posted by dirigibleman at 9:39 AM on February 23, 2012


Err, oneswellfoop.
posted by dirigibleman at 9:47 AM on February 23, 2012


> The Times have been fairly contrite for their role in the run up to Iraq, issuing an apology for
> its shitty reporting and shitcanning Howell Raines (although to save face, he officially left
> because of Jayson Blair.)

Face-saving! "Sir, your wife, under pretense of keeping a bawdy-house, is a receiver of stolen goods."
posted by jfuller at 11:36 AM on February 23, 2012


“It could have been worse,” he said finally. “We could have won. We could have felt empowered to move on to Syria and Iran, and then we would have been totally screwed.

“But if we’re just going to get into the realm of reality,” Ritter went on, “how much worse do you want it? We’re bankrupt, morally and fiscally, because of this war. The United States is the laughingstock of the world.”


Resonant lines for the past decade.
posted by doctornemo at 11:36 AM on February 23, 2012


(honestly) i don't see a whole lot of difference between what ritter did and something like chatroulette.

someone who you don't see on the internet says they're 15. you never really know, but you could be confident at some level. they could also say they were a dog, and if you were smart enough you could hook up some contraption where you reward a dog for hitting a button that would send that message. so, even something rediculous like someone saying they're a dog *could* be true, and it could very well not be true.

now, compare that to something like chatroulette. you don't really know who can see you, but you could expect that some people would be under-age. you could reasonably assume that a certain percent of people are under-age, or each person with a certain probability is under-age.

in both cases you don't really know the status of someone, but there is *some* probability associated with their status. but that probability would be very hard to estimate.

TL;DR: what counts as "reasonably should have known" someone exposes themself to someone underage on the intertnet.
posted by cupcake1337 at 2:10 PM on February 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Meeting in the real world aside -

Ritter maintains that he never engaged with an actual minor online, and there’s no evidence to suggest he did, beyond his interactions with undercover police officers in chat rooms for over-18-year-olds

I've always seen this as peculiar. If I go into a bar and go home with someone who is drinking in the bar, then I'm under the assumption she's 21. Unless she's been breaking the law by drinking and the bar is on the hook for letting her in and allowing her to drink.

So what's yahoo, or whoever's liability for that?
And too, if I'm a cop and I go into a bar, drink, tell someone I'm 15 and they go home with me, except I'm really over 21, where's the area there?

Of course, it goes without saying that exposing yourself online without verifying the person you're talking to is a bad idea.
But, given he was in a chat room for over 18 year olds - how else does Ritter verify someone's identity independently?
posted by Smedleyman at 3:32 PM on February 23, 2012


By asking them?
posted by koeselitz at 3:39 PM on February 23, 2012


Sorry, that is not intended as a snide comment. I know that it seems like a gray area, this online-chatting thing. And there are some difficulties. But – Ritter asked the person's age, and then ignored what that person said. It just seems as though, if you get two answers as to someone's age – one from the chat-room age limit, and one from them themselves – you should just go with whichever one is lower.(
posted by koeselitz at 3:40 PM on February 23, 2012


But – Ritter asked the person's age, and then ignored what that person said.

Of course it turned out Ritter was right and they were lying about that.

Why? Because they couldn't keep their goddamned dicks in their pants and have discreet sex – however kinky they may want it – with discreet partners in private and legal circumstances.

Nope, sorry. I don't need my political heroes to be prudes, too. Neither Weiner nor Spitzer did anything wrong, they just did something that looked bad when it was exposed by GOP operatives. We're not moving to a world where we all become gentlemen in private, we're moving to a word where nobody has any secrets so we have to cope with the actual reality of human sexual experience. Difficult, I know, but somehow we'll manage.
posted by mek at 4:38 PM on February 23, 2012


mek: “I don't need my political heroes to be prudes, too.”

Me neither. That's why I said emphatically that I don't care what people do in private. And I don't need my political heroes not to be prudes myself. I just need them to not be stupid. Which both Eliot Spitzer and Anthony Weiner were, in spades. Really, really stupid. Mind-numbingly stupid.

“Neither Weiner nor Spitzer did anything wrong, they just did something that looked bad when it was exposed by GOP operatives.”

As delmoi pointed out above, when you post a picture of your penis publicly on Twitter, you can't really blame "GOP operatives" for the "exposure."
posted by koeselitz at 4:44 PM on February 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


If I go into a bar and go home with someone who is drinking in the bar, then I'm under the assumption she's 21. Unless she's been breaking the law by drinking and the bar is on the hook for letting her in and allowing her to drink.

The bar might be on the hook for her underaged drinking, but you'd still be on the hook for the underaged sexing (assuming she was not just under 21, but under the age of consent in your jurisdiction).

But the comparison here would be more like you going up to a woman in a bar and, after she tells you she is 15 and you then invite her out to the parking lot for some sexification, getting upset that she is in fact an undercover cop. Oh, and you got caught doing this twice before.

Really, really stupid. Mind-numbingly stupid.

Assuming that the article got even 10 percent of its facts right, "mind numbingly stupid" (or an equal amount of self-destructiveness) is a perfect descriptor for Ritter.
posted by Forktine at 5:52 PM on February 23, 2012


Neither Weiner nor Spitzer did anything wrong

Also, Spitzer most certainly did something wrong. He engaged in rank hypocrisy by governing over a system which prosecuted people for doing exactly what he was also doing. I don't care that he was paying hookers. I do care that he was paying hookers while running a system that was prosecuting others for exactly the same thing but didn't have the protections offered by his wealth and power.
posted by Justinian at 6:37 PM on February 23, 2012


Also, Spitzer most certainly did something wrong. He engaged in rank hypocrisy by governing over a system which prosecuted people for doing exactly what he was also doing.

You could say the same thing if he smoked pot. Which is fine, it's accurate; it's not particularly interesting or hypocritical, though.
posted by mek at 6:59 PM on February 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is coming out now because the Republicans and the media are trying to drum up support for a war with Iran

1. What does the press have to gain from a war with Iran?
2. Did you read the same article I did?

"Ritter was dismissed and even mocked by much of the media establishment (including writers for this magazine and The New York Times)."

"History will record, though, that Ritter was right, while those who showed him nothing but contempt were flat wrong. While he wasn’t the only one saying that the war’s pretense was false or that its aftermath could be calamitous, Ritter was almost certainly the most determined dissenter and the one with the most on-the-ground intelligence. And if his views on Hussein’s regime careened from one extreme to the other, at least he demonstrated a capacity to evolve in his thinking — something few policy makers or commentators showed themselves able to do at the time."

Seriously. Read the fucking article. Get a little perspective. When did Metafilter become The Free Republic?
posted by to sir with millipedes at 8:20 PM on February 23, 2012


But – Ritter asked the person's age, and then ignored what that person said
&
Of course it turned out Ritter was right and they were lying about that.
Is what I'm saying.

Except it's a LAARP bar. And maybe she tells you she's an elf.
No, you're 1100 years old. No really, I'm only 15.
And this goes on for about an hour.

“So why u don’t like me,” Venneman typed, mimicking an adolescent’s mangled syntax.
“I do, very much. LOL. Just don’t want any trouble.”
After about an hour of this, according to logs later presented in court,"


But the comparison here would be more like you going up to a woman in a bar and, after she tells you she is 15 and you then invite her out to the parking lot for some sexification, getting upset that she is in fact an undercover cop. Oh, and you got caught doing this twice before.
Yeah, that's where it goes off the rails for me.
But seduction has become something other than what it was.

Look, I'm ok with undercover cops. Hell, I cut the NYPD some slack in an earlier thread for pushing it.
But I think we've really changed our social rules, such that, what seems = what is.

And to be fair I think that extends to terrorism.

Kinkypequod: "By Allah, I hate America."
Suicidebyinfidel57:"Really?
Kinkypequod "Yeah. Hey, you're not a cop are you? This is the "Just hate America, thats it." room. We only talk about hating America, not violence. We're not the "No, seriously bomb something" chat room. So if you're in here, you don't want to bomb something.
Suicidebyinfidel57: "LOL, no, I want to bomb something. Jews."

“Aha,” Kinkypequod said again. “My bad.”

“What’s wrong?” Suicidebyinfidel57 asked.

“Didn’t realize you wanted to bomb. . . .”

“So why u don’t like me,” Suicidebyinfidel57 typed, mimicking an adolescent’s mangled syntax.

“I do, very much. LOL. Just don’t want any trouble.”

After about an hour of this, according to logs later presented in court, the man Suicidebyinfidel57 was talking to assembled an acetone peroxide bomb in front of a webcam and announced he was off to take a shower.

“U know ur in a lot of trouble, don’t you,” Suicidebyinfidel57 typed.
“Huh?”
“I’m a undercover police officer. U need to call me A.S.A.P.”
posted by Smedleyman at 10:45 PM on February 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


I thought this was about that guy from Three's Company.
posted by republican at 10:56 AM on February 25, 2012


>> "Neither Weiner nor Spitzer did anything wrong, they just did something that looked bad
>> when it was exposed by GOP operatives."
>
> As delmoi pointed out above, when you post a picture of your penis publicly on Twitter, you
> can't really blame "GOP operatives" for the "exposure."
> posted by koeselitz at 7:44 PM on February 23 [+] [!]

Twitter: GOP operative.
posted by jfuller at 4:50 PM on February 25, 2012


we're moving to a word where nobody has any secrets
yeah let me know how that turns out for you
we're moving to a word where nobody has any secrets so we have to cope with the actual reality of human sexual experience.
hahahaha yeah let me know how that turns out for you
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 4:46 AM on February 27, 2012


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