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Perverted Justice & Dateline NBC: Repsonsbile for Conradt's death? Yea/Nay/Otherwise.
February 10, 2007 7:09 PM   Subscribe

The Shame Game. Perverted Justice (prev.) and Dateline NBC's series of To Catch A Predator specials are of questionable-at-best morality and have received much flak, particularly on the part of the former party. At the Columbia Journalism review, Douglas McCollum shares the case of Louis Conradt Jr., who killed himself upon being pounced upon by police and Dateline's cameras. McCollum also takes issue with NBC's paying of Perverted Justice for their services. And, for the other side, PJ's rebuttal.
posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me (163 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Yes, it is sad when pedophiles are exposed on national television.
posted by docpops at 7:16 PM on February 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


So you are coming out against -- catching and embarrassing pedophiles, Rev? Well! As I once read somewhere here, your balls are so big they are sitting in my lap.
posted by Methylviolet at 7:21 PM on February 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


Won't someone think of the child predators?
posted by bob sarabia at 7:25 PM on February 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


And if all pedophiles killed themselves for being embarrassed sick monkeys we would all be...... just fine.
posted by MapGuy at 7:25 PM on February 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


"To date, by the show’s own count, it has netted 238 would-be predators, thirty-six of whom have either pleaded guilty or been convicted."

And the other 202...?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 7:30 PM on February 10, 2007


Crash - Chris Hanson [sp?] was interviewed on Adam Corolla's show one morning. I was pretty surprised by how measured and reasonable he came across, esp. after seeing him on TV. He commented that most of these guys, if it's a first offense, get probation and possibly a sex-offender registry mandate. But quite a number of them also have priors, hence the convictions.
posted by docpops at 7:35 PM on February 10, 2007


According to their site, they're up to 145 convictions.
posted by tkolar at 7:35 PM on February 10, 2007


How is "To Catch a Predator" any different than the public hangings that we enjoyed back before the 1800s? Why ban one and not the other?

Heck, to be completely consistent here, perhaps we should televise the death penalty; or better yet, watch murderers get sodomized in jail. Heck, I'd love to see rapists get gang raped in prison on HBO. That'd be fucking fantastic.

Which is to say, the commodification of catching and publicly humiliating would-be criminals is in it of itself disgusting. It's barbaric, and shows how low our culture has begun to sink in terms of values. We are deriving pleasure from the torture of would-be criminals, and that's what is truly pathetic.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 7:37 PM on February 10, 2007 [14 favorites]


from the rebuttal The idea that Conradt Jr. should have been arrested the next day is likewise spurious as local media was running reports of the sting operation the same night.

talk about spurious - how did the local media find out about it? ... it couldn't have anything to do with the fact that their town was crawling with camera crews, could it?

how disingenuous ...

the only reason why the guy wasn't arrested at his workplace was that it wouldn't have made good tv

Yes, it is sad when pedophiles are exposed on national television.

if pedophiles, why not drug dealers? ... why not "terrorism suspects?" ... why not shoplifters?

they're all lawbreakers ... and the very same justifications can be made for public televised shaming of them ...

And if all pedophiles killed themselves for being embarrassed sick monkeys we would all be...... just fine.

or for public executions of them
posted by pyramid termite at 7:39 PM on February 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


Leave it to metafilter to come to the defense of pedophiles.
posted by bob sarabia at 7:43 PM on February 10, 2007


Let's see. What was the last conviction count for Perverted Justice? 1106 accused, 42 convicted? Using very quick rudimentary math that's what, less than one half of a percent? (reference.)


Also, does the word "witchhunt" mean anything any more or is the whole fucking country going crazy? Aren't the vast majority of child sex abuse cases perpetrated by family members, friends of family and trusted authority figures with access to the victim? I guess going after that is just not good TV.


It's terribly ineffective, overly dramatic television that directly prays upon the trainwreck of American Puritanism and its slimy, betentacled titillations.
posted by loquacious at 7:43 PM on February 10, 2007 [5 favorites]


These are still human beings with rights. Even when they have been accused of child molesting, or murder, or terrorism.
posted by empath at 7:44 PM on February 10, 2007 [3 favorites]


Wow, I hadn't heard about this. Crazy stuff. It was only a matter of time before perverted-justice led to something like this, though. He hadn't even been charged with anything... they were just executing a warrant to seize his computer. With, uh, a TV crew. Vigilante justice at its worst.

I'd like to take this opportunity to remind everyone of free programs like TrueCrypt to protect your data.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:47 PM on February 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's terribly ineffective, overly dramatic television that directly prays upon the trainwreck of American Puritanism and its slimy, betentacled titillations.

I would agree, right up to the point where you implicate American Puritanism for the show's popularity. If you genuinely believe that, then I really need to know what your threshold is for legal sexual conduct when it involves minors.
posted by docpops at 7:47 PM on February 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


What loquacious, empath and pyramid termite said. It's a shameful witchhunt; "pedophile" is today's "Commie sympathizer."
posted by davy at 7:52 PM on February 10, 2007


I really need to know what your threshold is for legal sexual conduct when it involves minors.

But the story is about adults paid to pretend that they are minors.
posted by peeedro at 7:52 PM on February 10, 2007


And mr_crash_davis also.
posted by davy at 7:53 PM on February 10, 2007


"pedophile" is today's "Commie sympathizer."

Holy shit.
posted by docpops at 7:54 PM on February 10, 2007


Excellent read. I love CJR.

I always thought there was something particularly skeezy about PJ beyond the sleaze bags who show up to the houses. I recognized immediately upon my first and last viewing that Dateline had crossed the line. Creating the news is probably the biggest journalism no-no there is. What they're doing is akin to setting a house on fire to spice up a slow news day.

I'm not a fan of "sexual predators" (to use the term losely, since, according to transcripts, the PJ decoys seem to steer the conversation towards the naughty) but creating the news offends my sensibilities far more than some 20-something creep getting excited about a 15-year-old.
posted by TheGoldenOne at 7:55 PM on February 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


"But the story is about adults paid to pretend that they are minors."

And behave with entrapping seductiveness to vulnerable men. That sounds more like a kinky role-playing game than anything else, with a dumptruckful of self-righteousness thrown in. "That evil man LOOKS when I wiggle my virtual bare poontang in his face! Quick, a stake and some matches!"
posted by davy at 7:57 PM on February 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


loquacious writes...
(reference.)

That's not a reference, that's a blatant smear campaign.

Which isn't to say that perverted-justice is all sugar and puppies -- it's just that the site you pointed to rings so hollow it's worth nothing at all.
posted by tkolar at 7:57 PM on February 10, 2007



And behave with entrapping seductiveness to vulnerable men.


Oh please.

Although I'm just thrilled that you got another thread to defend pedophiles in, davy. Have at it.
posted by tkolar at 8:00 PM on February 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


I would agree, right up to the point where you implicate American Puritanism for the show's popularity. If you genuinely believe that, then I really need to know what your threshold is for legal sexual conduct when it involves minors.

Well, it gets a little complicated since the age of consent is usually less then 18.

The other problem is that these "kids" are basically seducing people. I mean being capable of being actively and intentionally seduced by someone under age is not the same thing as being a pedophile who would run around molesting children. They're basically ruining of the lives of "weak" and maybe sad people who couldn't live up to a moral standard, in order to make money. That seems incredibly fucked up.
posted by delmoi at 8:05 PM on February 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


But the story is about adults paid to pretend that they are minors.

that's my other problem with this ... if they're not actually minors, then this is sheer dishonesty and corruption in our police departments

and if they are actually minors, what the hell are their parents thinking?
posted by pyramid termite at 8:05 PM on February 10, 2007


There are witch-hunts, true. Not everyone accused of child molestation is guilty, and some of these patently ridiculous convictions from the 80s are really sad. But.

Have you who are crying hysteria read the chat-logs on Perverted Justice? Have you read the exceedingly careful way they avoid entrapment and mistaken identity? If those guys catch someone -- yeeeah... everyone is entitled to due process, but... PJ amasses some seriously damning evidence before it ever involves law enforcement.
posted by Methylviolet at 8:10 PM on February 10, 2007


PJ volunteers are not paid.
Consult the FAQ.
posted by Methylviolet at 8:12 PM on February 10, 2007


if they're not actually minors, then this is sheer dishonesty and corruption in our police departments

Doesn't most police work depend, in many instances, on deceit? I'm thinking of drug stings, mainly, but also cases where murder-for-hire is thwarted. Ask yourself how an adult can be 'entrapped' into entering a chatroom, deliberately seeking out a minor child (thirteen - not anything close to a being with reasoning capabilities), writing at length about their plans to sodomize them, driving miles to their house, etc...

If you really believe this is seduction or entrapment, then it says a lot about how weak you believe the average person's free-will is.
posted by docpops at 8:13 PM on February 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


How is "To Catch a Predator" any different than the public hangings that we enjoyed back before the 1800s?

Well, they're not actually hanging people.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:14 PM on February 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


tkolar, that's uncalled for.

It's not like anybody stands up for the rights of accused pedophiles to score easy points from the peanut gallery.

These are people ACCUSED of a crime. They deserve to be treated with some sense of fairness and decency until they're convicted. Police departments working with major media to ruin these peoples lives for ratings before they've even been indicted is just nasty business that I don't think government should be involved in.
posted by empath at 8:14 PM on February 10, 2007 [3 favorites]


that's my other problem with this ... if they're not actually minors, then this is sheer dishonesty and corruption in our police departments

Huh? Sting operations have a long and honorable history in law enforcement.

How many times have you read about someone being arrested for hiring an undercover cop to kill their spouse? It happens all the time.
posted by tkolar at 8:17 PM on February 10, 2007


I would agree, right up to the point where you implicate American Puritanism for the show's popularity. If you genuinely believe that, then I really need to know what your threshold is for legal sexual conduct when it involves minors.

Please. Would you listen to yourself? You sound like the Anti-Sex League. Thoughtcrime! Thoughtcrime!!

This shit makes compelling television strictly because it provides drama, titillation and shock. Parents are shocked, dirty old men are titillated and it's a smugly statisfying smorgasboard of mock-justice for the small-minded all around. It provides very little real public service or value. And it may very well step outside the bounds of due process, dabbling in entrapment and ad-hoc "crime creation".

This kind of unredeemable shit is a terrible turn in fabric of our culture. It makes COPS look like Mr. Rogers' Neigborhood in the realm of Civil Liberties and a functioning, dispassionate justice system.

I'm just waiting for the kerosene-tanked firetrucks to come burn my books, the anti-riot soma aerosol sprayers and some killer robot dog to hunt me down and kill me on live "News" television.
posted by loquacious at 8:17 PM on February 10, 2007 [3 favorites]


PJ volunteers are not paid.

Okay, I take part of that back: The story is about adults paid to pretend[ing] that they are minors.
posted by peeedro at 8:18 PM on February 10, 2007


Indeed, the more serious the crime, the more cautious we need to be in regards to how we treat someone who's only a suspect, and has never been convicted.

If you disagree with this, please say so.
posted by Jimbob at 8:20 PM on February 10, 2007


empath, that's a great point. What I was struck by the one time I caught some of the Dateline show was how incredibly, insanely, rampant this stuff seems to be. I suppose we're witnessing a phenomenon that is getting started by sheer virtue of the sudden availability of technology. I just can't see conventional law enforcement making a dent in this at present.

Loquacious - you are really out of your fucking mind. Please tell me how being repelled by a forty-year-old man attempting to ass-fuck a thirteen-year-old girl makes someone a Puritan?
posted by docpops at 8:20 PM on February 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


Who are these idiots who haven't figured out that every flirty 13 year-old on the internet is a cop or some crazy fundamentalist in a basement somewhere?
posted by Mid at 8:27 PM on February 10, 2007


empath writes...
tkolar, that's uncalled for.

It's not like anybody stands up for the rights of accused pedophiles to score easy points from the peanut gallery.


Of course not. But, davy does it because he's a troll.
posted by tkolar at 8:28 PM on February 10, 2007 [2 favorites]


It's not like anybody stands up for the rights of accused pedophiles to score easy points from the peanut gallery.

You mean not on MetaFilter, right?
posted by Mid at 8:29 PM on February 10, 2007


jinx
posted by Mid at 8:29 PM on February 10, 2007


Doesn't most police work depend, in many instances, on deceit?

yes, in the case of drug stings, it does ... which, by the way, is another argument against our ridiculous drug laws

Ask yourself how an adult can be 'entrapped' into entering a chatroom, deliberately seeking out a minor child

and finding a fictional person instead ... if they find a real minor child, that is indeed a nasty thing

how does one violate the rights or the innocence of a fictional person? ... (and it's part of my philosophy that a real person's rights HAVE to be violated for a criminal prosecution to be morally justified)

seduction or entrapment aren't the issue ... the issue is whether lies corrupt government agents and whether people should be prosecuted for what they "do" against fictional people

How many times have you read about someone being arrested for hiring an undercover cop to kill their spouse?

quite a few ... but in those cases, they're trying to kill a real person
posted by pyramid termite at 8:31 PM on February 10, 2007


Oh, how amusing this thread would be if it were To Catch a Terrorist.
posted by dhartung at 8:32 PM on February 10, 2007


How many times have you read about someone being arrested for hiring an undercover cop to kill their spouse? It happens all the time.

I was going to say you were full of it, until I saw that you had a point. Do you propose a television news show where volunteers pose on the internet as hitmen to earn killer ratings while catching these murderous plots and raising awareness to this societal blight? Or should we just let the police handle it?
posted by peeedro at 8:32 PM on February 10, 2007


peeedro, it would only be good tv if they actually got to murder the people on tv first

wow ... think of the ratings ... scuse me, i have a call to l a to make ...
posted by pyramid termite at 8:36 PM on February 10, 2007


the more serious the crime, the more cautious we need to be in regards to how we treat someone who's only a suspect

Right on.
posted by Wolof at 8:36 PM on February 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


Who are these idiots who haven't figured out that every flirty 13 year-old on the internet is a cop or some crazy fundamentalist in a basement somewhere?

Or anything else in between.
posted by peeedro at 8:37 PM on February 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


how does one violate the rights or the innocence of a fictional person? ... (and it's part of my philosophy that a real person's rights HAVE to be violated for a criminal prosecution to be morally justified)

PT - That's a really interesting stance. I'm too hopped up on flu medicine to really think about it, but it does make one pause and think. I would welcome a legal take on your position, as I'm sure, in some instances, it is a guiding construct. I suppose in these cases the crime is not one of violating the fake "victim", but rather the intent. No different than handgun possession, drug possession, murder-for-hire, or carrying around the blueprints to the State Capitol with two tons of ammonium nitrate and a pocketful of blasting caps. And some bitchin' weed.
posted by docpops at 8:40 PM on February 10, 2007


Do you propose a television news show where volunteers pose on the internet as hitmen to earn killer ratings while catching these murderous plots and raising awareness to this societal blight? Or should we just let the police handle it?

Wow, we could make a ton of money doing that. Halfsies?

I'm not terribly thrilled with the Dateline show myself. I believe that filming and distributing video of the busts crosses the line into cruel and unusual punishment.

The business of running chatroom sting operations and presenting the evidence to the police sits fine with me, though.

Posting the evidence and personal details to their website sits in a grey area.
posted by tkolar at 8:43 PM on February 10, 2007


I would welcome a legal take on your position, as I'm sure, in some instances, it is a guiding construct.

i must be clear ... it's not a legal argument, but a philosophical one ... our current system of government does not agree with me on this

No different than handgun possession, drug possession, murder-for-hire, or carrying around the blueprints to the State Capitol with two tons of ammonium nitrate and a pocketful of blasting caps.

in the first two instances, there's no express intent to harm anyone real ... in the last two, one can argue there is
posted by pyramid termite at 8:46 PM on February 10, 2007


The court of public opinion or constitutionally guaranteed due process: you decide.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 8:48 PM on February 10, 2007


tkolar: Wow, we could make a ton of money doing that. Halfsies?

Me and my fat mouth. I think Pyramid Termite has already cashed in on this.
posted by peeedro at 8:48 PM on February 10, 2007


First time I saw this show, I wondered whether anyone would do this shit just to get on TV, like happens on Springer.

Second (and last) time I saw it, there was a guy who claimed to have just been testing the show's procedure. I believe he claimed, since he knew how the sting worked, that he knew the "child" was actually 18, even though she said she was 14.

Seems like a stupid way to get on TV, but doesn't that right there sound like reasonable doubt? There are idiots all over who'll do anything to get on TV. Couldn't even a real pedophile use that line of reasoning to get a not guilty verdict?

Believe me, I would kill a pedophile with my bare hands if I had a time machine, but it seems like the publicity of Dateline NBC is working at cross purposes with law enforcement in this case.
posted by breezeway at 8:48 PM on February 10, 2007


Please tell me how being repelled by a forty-year-old man attempting to ass-fuck a thirteen-year-old girl makes someone a Puritan?

How is a TV show dedicated and based on that repellentness healthy?
posted by loquacious at 8:50 PM on February 10, 2007


pyramid termite writes...
(and it's part of my philosophy that a real person's rights HAVE to be violated for a criminal prosecution to be morally justified)

Well, obviously the US Justice System disagrees with you.

I'm not sure if I do or not.

For example, can I threaten to kill a member of metafilter? Does it depend on if they're being their "real" self here, or playing out some sort of alter-ego?
posted by tkolar at 8:53 PM on February 10, 2007


Sergeant, drop that knife or by the splendor of God, I'll blow a hole in your chest.
posted by breezeway at 8:57 PM on February 10, 2007


I think it has something to do with intent -- these guys intended to enter a chat room, find an underage person, solicit them for sex, and then follow through. Doesn't matter matter if you're talking to an Eliza-like bot or a 65 year old man.

Slightly on topic: I went to college with Del Harvey. But she didn't go by that name at that time.
posted by Medieval Maven at 9:02 PM on February 10, 2007


The explicit premise to pedophilia laws is the lack of consent of one party. Since it is hard, nearly impossible, to determine when someone is able to give consent society has decided that the age coincides with sexual maturity -- even with full knowledge that sexual maturity and age can be highly variables. While this is sensible public policy (a few will have to wait until they can have legal sex, those harmed from pedophilia suffer incredible harm), Perverted Justice violates the very tenets of what the law is based on.

To me, the age is largely irrelevant, it is the lack of consent that makes such crimes disgusting (and so traumatic to the victim). While I would argue that the ability to consent at, say age 15 or whatever the median age they use, is very rare -- it is not impossible. The way they conduct the investigations seems to entice those who would avoid sex with those below the age of consent laws (assuming rather rationally those under the age of consent cannot give consent). Perverted Justice provides all the hallmarks for consent (going to adult chartrooms, seducing and asking a person over to have casual sex would to me at least be characteristics of an individual who can give consent).

So then the question invariably becomes, what is Perverted Justice doing? They're stopping people who would have sex with someone under 18 who has the ability to find sex chat rooms, plan a time when they're parents aren't home, engage in sexual chat online and invite said person to come over for sex (usually asking for beer or something else, clearly indicating that they know their power in the relationship).

Make no mistake I think it is wrong and somewhat unstable for someone to want to have sex with a person who is clearly of such a large age discrepancy, I do not think it is tantamount to stalking and raping a child we commonly associate pedophilia with. What Perverted Justice amounts to is basically a test, and I believe it is a test of less than perfect accuracy in catching those of the latter category. Trying to predict human behavior on a broad test like this is dangerous at best.
posted by geoff. at 9:07 PM on February 10, 2007 [6 favorites]


Uh, pedophiles are terrible people, but the absolutism that surrounds them is disturbing. Perhaps we shouldn't ignore our own legal and moral standards when dealing with pedophiles? Response: You support pedophiles (add some personal insults here)! Shouldn't there at least be some room for thought here?
posted by tmcw at 9:14 PM on February 10, 2007 [5 favorites]


For example, can I threaten to kill a member of metafilter? Does it depend on if they're being their "real" self here, or playing out some sort of alter-ego?

that would depend on whether you're "killing" their net.identity as some kind of virtual online effigy or announcing an intention to find the real person behind the net.identity and kill them in real life

the first would be silly, the last would be a threat and should be prosecuted

(and before you say it, it's not illegal to screw the real people behind the net.identities of these 13 year old virtual correspondents, because they're adults)
posted by pyramid termite at 9:19 PM on February 10, 2007


It stuns me that whenever anyone on the internet brings up pedophilia, you'll always get some dudes saying that there's really nothing all that wrong with an adult male trying to bang a fifteen-year-old girl, and should we really be judging them, and then some other dudes agreeing with him.

Of course, maybe I, having actually been a fifteen-year-old girl, lack the apparently required intellectual distance to this issue to be all cool and right-thinking and shit.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 9:32 PM on February 10, 2007 [2 favorites]


These people aren't technically 'pedophiles', btw. All of these non-existent 'victims' are post-pubescent.
posted by empath at 9:32 PM on February 10, 2007 [2 favorites]


these guys intended to enter a chat room, find an underage person, solicit them for sex, and then follow through

I'd say that the guy should actually have to show up for the "date" in order to prove his intent to commit a criminal sexual act (as opposed to his intent to type about committing that act). This is the thing that really bothers me about these cases -- we really are well into thoughtcrime territory when we arrest people for acts they never made a material effort to go through with, especially when the evidence is nothing but overtures made online, where the line between reality and fantasy is pretty well blurred to begin with. You can solicit sex online without ever intending to do so in the real world (i.e. as a role-play or fantasy), so how can chatlogs like this be enough to prove criminal intent? If someone "solicits" sex in a chat room, and then never does so in person, I don't see how that's arrestworthy, since nothing actually happened to anyone. We may as well arrest somebody whose elf cast Charm Person on his little sister's halfling in DnD.

In short, I don't really think it's worth our time as a society to be arresting people for chat sex, no matter how disgusting we may find it. If there's really an epidemic of guys showing up to kids' houses, then arrest them when it happens, but this snitching entrapment bullshit has to stop. I'm sick and tired of the cowardly little narc-state America is turning into.
posted by vorfeed at 9:33 PM on February 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


Uh, pedophiles are terrible people, but the absolutism that surrounds them is disturbing.

Pedophilia is one of the few crimes where there really are no extenuating circumstances. With murder and robbery and the like there is always some question: Did they really intend to murder? Were they desperate for money? Are there circumstance where *I* would commit the crime?

Pedophilia is one of the only crimes for which the answer is a clear cut no. There are no circumstances that could occur that would cause me to arrive at a minor's house a hundred miles from my own carrying condoms and sex toys.

People who argue that there are extenuating circumstances scare me, frankly, as they seem to be saying "well, you know, if this and that happened, then really my driving for hours to have sex with a minor was inevitable". If they believe that, then as far as I'm concerned they are potential predators.

With regards to the legal arguments, I dispute your notion that people are being called out as supporting pedophiles for saying that rule of law should apply evenly and that guilty until proven innocent is more important than TV ratings. That simply hasn't been happening.

On the other hand the people saying "Well, you know, the 13 year old kid was being all seductive" are getting slammed, and for very good reason.
posted by tkolar at 9:37 PM on February 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


"non-existent victims"? Give me a fucking break, man. These men enter chat rooms, show intent to solicit a minor for sexual acts, and then follow through on it. When P-J catches them, these guys are at what they believe to be the minor's residence (usually), and they are there with the intention of having sex with a minor.

I don't know, maybe having been a stupid prepubescent female I can identify a little better, but for crissakes, I think there is generally something wrong with willingly soliciting a minor. And I honestly don't see a huge difference here between a female cop impersonating a hooker and this.
posted by Medieval Maven at 9:38 PM on February 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


empath wrote...
These people aren't technically 'pedophiles', btw. All of these non-existent 'victims' are post-pubescent.

WTF? That has got to be the lamest thing said in this thread so far.


pedophile, n. An adult who is sexually attracted to a child or children.
posted by tkolar at 9:39 PM on February 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


I... reiterate everything I said? Rape is a crime, like murder. It's a terrible, despicable thing. But does that give us the right to do anything to rapists? Murder? Torture? It's surprising how many people will calmly endorse torturing pedophiles. But, remember, we are supposed to be moral, and sort of, sometimes, rational people. The anger that rape and pedophilia provokes is real, and completely justified, but it is not an excuse to twist people's arguments and indemnify your own. So, stop accusing people of supporting pedophiles when they are just trying to support moderation in written law.
posted by tmcw at 9:46 PM on February 10, 2007 [3 favorites]


Just for future reference, tkolar.
posted by Jimbob at 9:46 PM on February 10, 2007


Ephebophilia. The term is ephebophilia.
posted by kosher_jenny at 9:50 PM on February 10, 2007


Well, that's what I get for not hitting preview.
posted by kosher_jenny at 9:51 PM on February 10, 2007


And I honestly don't see a huge difference here between a female cop impersonating a hooker and this.

neither do i ... but i think prostitution should be legal, as it's none of the state's business whether one pays for sex with adults ... and again, it's interesting that to enforce such laws that the state has to stoop to dishonest tactics to do so

the fact is, there was no minor victim who was going to be violated ... period ... there is NO victim ... it's a virtual victim, a virtual crime and yet it's being punished with real jail etc

i have a problem with that
posted by pyramid termite at 9:52 PM on February 10, 2007


I seriously wonder what the fuck is wrong with some of you people. I imagine some of you are the people perverted justice is looking for. Say hi to Chris Hanson for me.
posted by bob sarabia at 9:57 PM on February 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


One of the main problems is that the bait "minors" are luring the guys in, and in many cases initiating contact and bringing up sex, all in an adult chat room.

RTFA. down near the bottom. you can do it. click the goddamn link.
posted by blasdelf at 10:02 PM on February 10, 2007


I imagine some of you are the people perverted justice is looking for.

Do you mean the viewers of this salacious show?
posted by peeedro at 10:08 PM on February 10, 2007


tkolar: If you're using the strict psychological definition of the term, you're only talking about prebuscent children. Being attracted to teenagers is, I think, fairly normal, particularly given how much pop-culture sexualizes teen pop-stars etc.

I think there's just a big difference between what most of these guys are accused of doing and the people that commit the vast majority of life-destroying rape and abuse against family members or young kids they're entrusted with.

These guys may be creeps and assholes, but I don't think they're in the same league as priests that rape altar boys.
posted by empath at 10:08 PM on February 10, 2007


(which is not to say they shouldn't be arrested and charged with a crime, because they're definitely dangers to the community, regardless of what you want to call what they're doing)
posted by empath at 10:10 PM on February 10, 2007


Oh, my. Well, yes, I'm going to be pedantic. With the stinger playing a "pretend" age of thirteen or more, these guys are hebeophiles, not pedophiles. And throughout most of human history, women at the age of thirteen to fifteen were regularly married and having sex, just as many of them are having sex now.

PJ is scraping the absolute bottom of the barrel for pandering. And yes, I believe in lowering the age of consent, and protective age ranges for sexual consent, and Romeo and Juliet laws. I believe in prosecuting child molesters - with the knowledge that the vast majority of molestation occurs within families, not over the frickin' Intarweb.

This cult of the innocent teen - indeed, the concept of adolescence itself, which is getting longer and more drawn-out with every generation - has to be re-considered. It's unrealistic, irrational, and damaging.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 10:15 PM on February 10, 2007 [6 favorites]


It stuns me that whenever anyone on the internet brings up pedophilia, you'll always get some dudes saying that there's really nothing all that wrong with an adult male trying to bang a fifteen-year-old girl, and should we really be judging them, and then some other dudes agreeing with him.

*scans the thread* Hmm... nope, don't see anyone saying that. Sorry, try again.

I seriously wonder what the fuck is wrong with some of you people. I imagine some of you are the people perverted justice is looking for. Say hi to Chris Hanson for me.

Classy.

I seriously wonder how so many people can apparently type grammatical sentences in the English language yet are incapable of reading someone else's sentences.
posted by papakwanz at 10:30 PM on February 10, 2007 [2 favorites]


How many of us here have ancestors 5, 8, 12 generations back who married and had children when the woman was well under 16?

In other words, how many of us here are descendants of pedophiles?
posted by gottabefunky at 10:32 PM on February 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


(thirteen - not anything close to a being with reasoning capabilities) -- docpops

Well, I'm not a woman, but I remember doing a lot of reasoning at age 13.

pedophile, n. An adult who is sexually attracted to a child or children. -- tkolar
A child is identified, according to the US Children's Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 (COPPA) is someone under the age of thirteen (13).
I seriously wonder what the fuck is wrong with some of you people. I imagine some of you are the people perverted justice is looking for. Say hi to Chris Hanson for me. --bob sarabia

Right, because anyone who could dare to even think about these issues is obviously dying to bone 8 year olds!

The idea of a skeezy 42 year old having sex with a 15 year old girl is Gross, and so is the idea of that skeezy 42 year old guy having sex with an 18 year old girl. So is the idea of this show. Patrolling the internet for people who genuinely try to hit on younger people is a good idea, but turning it into entertainment is depraved.
posted by delmoi at 10:40 PM on February 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


Does anyone remember that scene in THX-1138 where THX watches the TV channel that consists of a robot policeman beating a worker, played on an endless loop?
posted by stammer at 10:45 PM on February 10, 2007 [2 favorites]


I'd say that the guy should actually have to show up for the "date" in order to prove his intent to commit a criminal sexual act

Obviously none of you have ever watched the Dateline show. They only arrest people after they show up at the "13-year olds" house, occasionally bringing along sex toys and lube. They only film the inside of their staged house.

These people show up at a house they believe to be solely occupied by a minor willing to have sex. Comparing this to prosecuting "thought crime" is ridiculous.
posted by null terminated at 11:22 PM on February 10, 2007


All three posts by bob sarabia in this thread in their entirety:

Won't someone think of the child predators?
posted by bob sarabia at 7:25 PM PST on February 10 [+]

Leave it to metafilter to come to the defense of pedophiles.
posted by bob sarabia at 7:43 PM PST on February 10 [+]

I seriously wonder what the fuck is wrong with some of you people. I imagine some of you are the people perverted justice is looking for. Say hi to Chris Hanson for me.
posted by bob sarabia at 9:57 PM PST on February 10 [+]


I think someone mentioned the word troll in this thread. Odd that it wasn't directed at bob...
posted by the other side at 12:04 AM on February 11, 2007


At least Bob didn't register mere moments ago for the express purpose of posting in this thread.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 12:08 AM on February 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


Pedophiles, Murderers, Journalists and Politicians are people too - and should have their rights protected as well.

Embarrassing pedophiles makes maybe goof american style reality TV?! But maybe some of that airtime should be better used to educate kids and most of all parents to get into the act.

Public defamation has never stopped people from doing terrible stuff, like the death penality never stopped people from killing others.

And the public's lust for blood and perverse stories can never be satisfied either ...
posted by homodigitalis at 12:25 AM on February 11, 2007


At least Bob didn't register mere moments ago for the express purpose of posting in this thread.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 12:08 AM PST on February 11 [+]


Oh noes! Not the "NOOB" insult!
Seriously though, I'm just not getting where bob's finding all of this pedophilia love. I definitely see this as a case of "where is the line?" and "is it being crossed?" in terms of how justice is served. As others have said, making a show out of catching *accused* sex offenders seems to be a little on the iffy side.

Also, themsbeagle, I truly apologize for posting in a thread "mere moments" after registering. I'm sorry you were so bothered by it.
posted by the other side at 12:35 AM on February 11, 2007


It stuns me that whenever anyone on the internet brings up pedophilia, you'll always get some dudes saying that there's really nothing all that wrong with an adult male trying to bang a fifteen-year-old girl, and should we really be judging them, and then some other dudes agreeing with him.

You people are just SICK and you are all STUPID I mean WHAT'S WRONG with you you SICK STUPID people can't you see it's SICK? OMG I wAS 15 and now I'm 18 and having sex with an OLD DUDE is fucking GROSS. If UR like 30 or more, STAY AWAY from me you SICKO you all should DIE.

There. Fixed that for you.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 12:38 AM on February 11, 2007


These people show up at a house they believe to be solely occupied by a minor willing to have sex. Comparing this to prosecuting "thought crime" is ridiculous.

The problem part of that statement is "they believe". Arresting someone because "they believe" this-and-that is the very definition of thoughtcrime. You can never prove that somebody else believes anything -- this is why drug stings include exchanging real money for actual drugs, murder-for-hire stings typically go until money changes hands, undercover vice cops wait until the john gives over some money and asks for a sex act, etc. Showing up to the house with sex toys is not enough, because our hypothetical guy could be expecting to find an adult there. Until he actually asks an obvious child for sex, in person, I don't see how you can bust him for asking a child for sex, because he didn't actually do so. Hell, this clip online has an 18 YEAR OLD GIRL "posing" as 13... who, of course, never mentions the whole 13 thing during the face-to-face meeting, and also never comes close to anything even resembling sex. But we're supposed to believe that every guy who shows up to the house is getting off on the fact that she's a little kid? With this set-up, if Dudley Do-Right himself showed up in order to tell her not to talk to strangers online, he'd be up for $30,000 bond half an hour later.

Besides, this show involves entrapping people, emotionally torturing them on television, and then arresting them. It has zero redeeming value. Watching the clips made me want to vomit, and not because of pedophilia. Fuck this sick, sick, stupid, voyeuristic crap.
posted by vorfeed at 12:43 AM on February 11, 2007


I'm 30.

I was sexually assaulted by men I wasn't related to when I was 14, men who were adults and who had constructed a system of justification of their behavior toward a minor child; very much, I would imagine, like many of the men who are referenced in this thread do.

Does that inform my point of view on issues like this? Am I more... touchy about this subject than many people in this thread appear to be? I'm sure. Like everyone else, I'm the sum total of my experience.

I have learned, over the years, that it's quite difficult for people who have felt the fear of a sexual attack, whether actual or possible, and people who have never felt that fear, to have conversations about things like this. You think we're paranoid bitches: we think you're almost astoundingly insensitive. I don't think either group actually means to be as polarizing as we often are. It's tough: my experience says one thing, your experience says something completely different.

I should, I guess, know better than to read threads like this. They only serve to make me sad, which makes me an idiot for clicking on them.

However, I don't think I can agree with you that anything I said boiled down, in either tone or content, to: You people are just SICK and you are all STUPID I mean WHAT'S WRONG with you you SICK STUPID people can't you see it's SICK? OMG I wAS 15 and now I'm 18 and having sex with an OLD DUDE is fucking GROSS. If UR like 30 or more, STAY AWAY from me you SICKO you all should DIE. and, frankly, I don't think much of that as a response.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 1:02 AM on February 11, 2007 [6 favorites]


vorfeed: I have no problem believing that every person who talks to someone he thinks is underage about sex and orchestrates a time to meet when she is alone and then shows up at the house, wants to have sex.

You're saying that even though they make these plans after talking for hours online, they know she's underage, they take care to ensure she's alone, and after all that, "our hypothetical guy could be expecting to find an adult there"? If you seriously believe that, you're deluded.

These people are charged with "Soliciting a Minor with a Computer for Unlawful Sexual Purposes." That's exactly what they're doing. Using your logic, no arrests would be made until actual penetration takes place. (and before you quibble, many states say "minor or is believed by that person to be a minor.")
posted by null terminated at 1:16 AM on February 11, 2007


However, I don't think I can agree with you that anything I said boiled down, in either tone or content, to [quote]

Here's a refresher. Your spontaneous response to words and ideas that were never even mentioned in this thread reminded me of the knee-jerk, no-thinking, just-spit-out-my-invective-because-I-know-what-I'm-talking-about attitude of an adolescent.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 1:20 AM on February 11, 2007


From the PJ rebuttal:
The only suicide even related to TCAP in any fashion is Conradt Jr. who shot himself not because he was on camera (He never was on camera) but due to the fact that police were trying to arrest him.

Reminds me of the old joke about Pierre, Pierre the Cocksucker: "But I have only ever sucked one cock!"
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:29 AM on February 11, 2007


Allow me to look at this from a legal perspective. IANAL, so forgive my layman's understanding of the law. Also, I shall use completely made-up terminology so as to avoid the incendiary reaction that is generally caused by discussions of pedophilia.

Mr. Smith wants to forfendoof a schlotzky. According to the laws of the land, forfendoofing a schlotzky is illegal. However, also according to the laws of the land, any individual who has committed a crime of any sort is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Now, Mr. Smith has just met online a whippenstal pretending to be a schlotzky, and agreed over the internet to forfendoof with the individual typing (whom he believes is a schlotzky). He shows up to the residence of the whippenstal where video cameras from a popular tv show are shoved in his face for maximum humiliation.

Here's the problem: Mr. Smith has commited no crime. Mr. Smith is innocent until the moment the jury announces its verdict, and exposing him as a schlotzky-forfendoofer before this occurs is not only disingenuous, it is incorrect. However unlikely, there is always the possibility that Mr. Smith actually isn't a schlotzky-forfendoofer. It must be proven in a court of law before any penalties can be brought upon Mr. Smith.
posted by Ndwright at 2:06 AM on February 11, 2007


thehmsbeagle, it tears me up inside to hear what happened to you. It sickens me. Perhaps I can share a story that brings the perspective of the astoundingly insensitive among us into sharper focus.

A couple years ago, while I was a reporter for a newspaper in Central California, the front page of my newspaper one morning bore an above-the-fold headline screaming that a convicted sex offender had been discovered volunteering at a local elementary school. The article went on to name the woman, and note that her past had been uncovered by another parent at the school, who found her through the Megan's Law Database.

The reaction from the community was immediate and dramatic. The woman was immediately banned from school premises. Outraged parents stormed the school, demanding that the administration be called to account for having failed to protect their children. All this was great fodder for my colleagues. For the next two weeks, my paper continued to print front-page, above-the-fold stories naming the volunteer and never failing to identify her as a convicted sex offender.

Two weeks after the first front-page story, when the woman finally got her say in the local media, the facts of the case (later corroborated by halfway-responsible journalists who didn't work for my paper) were these:

Twenty years prior, when she was 23, the volunteer had engaged in a brief, consensual sexual relationship instigated by a 17-year-old boy. She was found guilty of a misdemeanor by the court. I believe she served no jail time. There are no indications she ever came close to repeating the offense. Had she been aware of her placement in CA's Megan's Law Database, she would have been entitled by law to have her name removed from it.

Before she ever began volunteering at the school, she had informed administrators of the incident. They did not think it significant enough to merit prohibiting her from volunteering at the school. By all accounts, she was a good parent of five children, whose daughter was attending the school when the uproar occurred. Every day after classes ended, the mother/volunteer was forced to wait for her child several hundred feet from the school as furious parents threatened furious things against her.

The day after all these niggling details were revealed on the local news, my newspaper ran a small story, on the very bottom front of the B-section, mostly containing bits of a statement the volunteer had submitted to local media. Many of the details I'm telling you now were not in that report. To my knowledge, there were no follow-up stories. My newspaper loudly ruined the life of this woman and the peace of her children, then quietly retreated after the wrecking ball had swung. I'm no longer working at that newspaper.

That is hysteria. That is a witchhunt. It tore me up inside to hear what happened to that woman and her family. It sickened me. And when you hear people who sound overly cautious of the prospect of treading on the lives and rights of people who've done horrible things, I suspect it's because of stories like this.
posted by grrarrgh00 at 2:07 AM on February 11, 2007 [5 favorites]


I find it hard to feel even slightly sorry for someone who commits suicide over getting busted in a Dateline/Perverted Justice sting operation. I mean, there's something really lame about a man who has the balls to show up to have intercourse with a thirteen year old he's never met before, but doesn't have the balls to sit there and take his medicine when he's busted. He wants to have sex with a child, but God forbid the world finds out about it. If he decides he can't live with that bad publicity, who are we to object to his decision?
posted by jayder at 2:12 AM on February 11, 2007 [2 favorites]


My newspaper loudly ruined the life of this woman and the peace of her children ...

The woman's life was ruined because she was no longer allowed to volunteer at an elementary school?
posted by jayder at 2:17 AM on February 11, 2007


Here's the problem: Mr. Smith has commited no crime. Mr. Smith is innocent until the moment the jury announces its verdict, and exposing him as a schlotzky-forfendoofer before this occurs is not only disingenuous, it is incorrect. However unlikely, there is always the possibility that Mr. Smith actually isn't a schlotzky-forfendoofer. It must be proven in a court of law before any penalties can be brought upon Mr. Smith.

Ndwright, you're wrong. There's a difference between being innocent, and being entitled to a legal presumption of innocence. This is a point often misunderstood by laypeople. Assume a person commits a homicide which satisfies the legal definition of first-degree murder. Someone who commits murder is guilty of murder, at the very moment his victim dies. Yes, he is entitled to a legal presumption of innocence, but that does not mean he is actually innocent. The significance of the legal presumption of innocence is that the state carries the burden of proving that the defendant has committed murder. But because the defendant has committed murder, he is not innocent. But if the state fails to carry its burden of proof, the presumption of innocence will prevail, and the defendant will be acquitted.
posted by jayder at 2:25 AM on February 11, 2007


Just in case the link went unclicked:

When Attorney General Alberto Gonzales gave a speech about a major initiative to combat the “growing problem” of Internet predators, he cited a statistic that 50,000 such would-be pedophiles were prowling the Net at any given moment and attributed it to Dateline. Jason McLure, a reporter at Legal Times in Washington, D.C., (where I was formerly an editor), asked the show about the number. Dateline told him that it had gotten it from a retired FBI agent who consulted with the show. When the agent was contacted he wasn’t sure where the number had come from, terming it a “Goldilocks” figure — “Not small and not large.” He added that it was the same figure that was used by the media to describe the number of people killed annually by Satanic cults in the 1980s, and before that was cited as the number of children abducted by strangers each year in the 1970s. Dateline has now disowned the number, saying solid statistics about Internet predators are hard to find, but that the problem seems to be getting worse, a sentiment echoed by lawmakers in Congress.

But actually there isn’t much evidence that it is getting worse. For example, many news reports have cited a Justice Department study as saying that one in five children is approached online by a sexual predator. But as Radford Benjamin of The Skeptical Inquirer pointed out, what that 2001 study actually said was that 19 percent had received a “sexual solicitation” online, about half of which came from other teens and none of which led to a sexual assault. According to the study, the number of teens aggressively solicited by adults online was about 3 percent. A more recent study by the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire found that the number of kids getting unwanted sexual advances on the Internet was in fact declining. In general, according to data compiled by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, more than 70 percent of sexual abuse of children is perpetrated by family members or family friends.

Douglas McCollam, "The Shame Game", Columbia Journalism Review
posted by mer2113 at 4:13 AM on February 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


"I'm sick and tired of the cowardly little narc-state America is turning into."

QFT

(I'm staying out of the rest of this trainwreck)
posted by bashos_frog at 4:16 AM on February 11, 2007


Seriously, the CJR article is excellent reporting, and it makes a lot of salient points that the "ZOMG PEDOPHILES" crowd - both here and in society in general - don't think about:

1. "To Catch a Predator," despite semantic dancing around the point, is about turning the media into an arm of the police. And that, in and of itself, is unconscionable. The media should strive to be independent, and what the people at Dateline are doing is nothing short of corrosive to journalism. The media needs to be free to criticize the state, rather than being a wing of the state.

2. Further tainting its journalistic standards, "To Catch a Predator" is creating the news rather than reporting it. Even "Reality" TV is 50% game show and 50% fantasy; "Predator" is going out and creating news that wouldn't be there otherwise.

3. The issue that "Predator" tackles is not a national crisis. As mer2113 points out, the actual threat is significantly exaggerated by the media for salacious monetary purposes. While I do not think that points 1 and 2 would be redeemed if there was an "epidemic" of Internet predators out there, what NBC is doing - and what the media and politicians have been doing for some time with the hue and cry over Internet sexual predators - is to shamelessly exploit the fears of parents over a relatively small and rare threat to their children for pure monetary gain (note the fact that "Predator" is a major ratings winner for NBC).

As for what "Perverted Justice" is doing, I think that its own name describes it quite well.
posted by graymouser at 4:49 AM on February 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


There's a difference between being innocent, and being entitled to a legal presumption of innocence.

unfortunately, you missed a great deal of ndwright's point ... the penalties being are visited on him by the media, not a state

The woman's life was ruined because she was no longer allowed to volunteer at an elementary school?

no, ruined because she was publically accused of being a pervert

missed the point there, too
posted by pyramid termite at 6:04 AM on February 11, 2007


This has been an interesting read. But because there are a few hot button issues (pedophilia in a general sense; vigilante net entrapments; television ratings-driven crime prevention tactics and all the sordid addons that that entails; and sexual consent ages) there was a little bit of talking past each other.

I don't support public shaming of people (whether convicted or not) and I can never really reconcile soliciting crimes by deception. People have this kind of stock of outrage they feel entitled to righteously funnel into whatever particular crime or grievance gets their goat and justify it by saying their pet grievance isn't being adequately addressed by regular laws and courts. That's how we get mob justice, lynching etc.

I actually thought there was more spittle on the lips of the rabidly PEDOPHILIA IS ABOMINABLE!! people in this thread than there was any tinge of guilt by association for those who were examining the grey areas (and yes, there actually are) of the consent/age issue. So yeah, thanks. Some thought provoking stuff.
posted by peacay at 7:13 AM on February 11, 2007


"But because the defendant has committed murder, he is not innocent."

He may not be innocent in reality, but he is innocent legally, and thus must be treated as such from henceforth (unless new evidence shows up, in which case the whole thing gets really messy).

But, like Pyramid Termite said in response to my post, the real problem in this situation is that serious social penalties are being enacted upon an individual who possesses total presumed legal innocence and has yet to set foot in a courtroom. The police tactics in this situation may be debatable, but the media tactics aren't.
posted by Ndwright at 7:33 AM on February 11, 2007


I'm with Bob the Troll on this one, despite the "spittle on his lips". He seems to have noticed that, were it left to the metafilter population, there would be more raping of children.

Isn't that really the central moral point? These programs create an environment in which fewer children are raped. I would rather have some good people wrongfully shamed, if that shaming spared some good children rape. A few suicides precipitated is indeed a few suicides (of innocents) prevented.

Anyone bringing up the "grey area" of the "consent/age issue", in this context, isn't going to be babysitting my 12 or 13 year old anytime soon. I commend you all on your high-minded principles of consistent, by-the-book, even-handed justice; still, I'd rather protect the children than the principles. /spittle
posted by Legerdemain at 8:17 AM on February 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


I wonder what would happen if a 13 year old boy posing as an adult showed up at the house? Could Perverted Justice be charged with child abuse or gross sexual misconduct with a minor?
posted by YoBananaBoy at 8:25 AM on February 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


were it left to the metafilter population, there would be more raping of children.

Did I really just read all of those article and comments and then read that? Was that a comment left in a wrong thread or something?

It seems to me folks are arguing about civil rights, sexual deviancy, personal experience, and the "Scarlet Letter" effect.

Especially that this f-ing circus is not really for our entertainment or to better society. It is to keep our eyes glued to the screen to show us commercials so we can spend our money on the next great paper towel.
posted by YoBananaBoy at 8:31 AM on February 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


This may be a metafilter first -- we've had 100+ posts regarding a television show, and nary a snarky post from someone bragging about not watching television. Thus, regardless of your thoughts on Dateline's To Catch A Predator series, I think we can all agree it has produced something good.

Inchoate crimes always present thorny legal issues, and I don't believe that all states handle them in the same way. I can't help but wonder if Dateline specifically chooses to locate their "investigations" in jurisdictions where inchoate offenses are prosecuted more aggressively. After all, the show would be lame if, after catching the guy in the house the cops do not arrest the man because in their jurisdiction a crime has yet to occur.

One thing that interests me in this show is its larger subtext; namely, one medium's war against another. Before movies understood how to profit from television filmmakers consicously depicted television in a poor light. After all, if viewers were home watching television they weren't at the movies. Similarly, if members of households are spending more time on the Internet they're likley spending less time watching television. Television's response? Present the competing medium in as unflattering light as possible.
posted by herc at 8:43 AM on February 11, 2007 [4 favorites]


These programs create an environment in which fewer children are raped.

they also create an environment in which self-righteousness and thoughtless vengeance are indulged for the interests of mass entertainment and mammon ... thereby corrupting our government and the people at large

that's a greater danger

I would rather have some good people wrongfully shamed, if that shaming spared some good children rape.

then you're just being thoughtless ... ring a bell, watch a dog salivate ... say "pedophile", watch bob and legerdemain cry for the children and call for blood

you've been as well trained as pavlov's dogs
posted by pyramid termite at 8:47 AM on February 11, 2007


I think we can all agree it has produced something good.

I agree that catching baddies is good. And that has certainly happened because of this show. I have no problem with the stings. They are useful tools in catching criminals.

It is the "we can make a bundle off of this" that makes me feel threatened as a citizen. I just recognize that principles shift when the primary object (catching baddies) becomes muddled by the new objective (catching s-load of cash).
posted by YoBananaBoy at 8:49 AM on February 11, 2007


It must be nice to be one of the few critical thinkers on Metafilter.

it's not nice to accuse people of defending pedophilia and wanting more child-rape in society ... they're emoting, not thinking ... and they're also telling lies about us

if you think i'm being mean to them, look what andywolf just said
posted by pyramid termite at 9:05 AM on February 11, 2007


"Get the bad guy and making him pay" is a TV staple nowadays (CSI, Law & Order, Cold Case, Numbers, etc..).

Americans. Love. Retribution.

NBC/Universal are not stupid. This IS about ratings ($).

I work in TV news. This is ONLY about getting and hooking viewers.

And you cannot arrest someone for a wicked thought-- like it or not.

Remember "like it or not"? That's what your parents used to say to you.

As in "like it or not", a woman should have the right to choose. End of argument.

The world is not fair. Why should this be any different.
posted by wfc123 at 9:06 AM on February 11, 2007


When torture first enters the American criminal justice system, it will be as a means of extracting confessions from accused child molesters.
posted by EarBucket at 9:07 AM on February 11, 2007 [2 favorites]


Instead of all this arguing, can't we all just agree that baiting can be really hilarious? (Naughty, naughty words)
posted by Bookhouse at 9:12 AM on February 11, 2007


PJ was doing this before Dateline got involved. Do I agree with the public shaming portion of it? The airing of these guys on TV? I don't know. I don't know how different that is than including their names, faces, and google-mapped locations in state databases. I'm not so sure I see the fine line there. I would suppose, although I do not claim to know, that the footage is not shown until after these guys have been tried and convicted. I would imagine that showing it beforehand might make Dateline liable for slander or some other personal injury-type infraction.

The issue of those who are legally able to consent preying upon those who are not legally able to consent is tough. In my state, I believe that there is a five year rule - I think it's called a "close in age exception" - so that when your 15 year old daughter is dating a guy she met in highschool who is now in college, he can't be prosecuted for child molestation because there is less than five years between them, even though she is under the age of consent (assuming the age of consent is 16).

The problem arises when someone who is unquestionably considered an adult preys upon someone with whom there is a societally assumed (and usually real) power differential -- say a 45 year old and a 13 year old. The 45 year old is using his/her power as an authority figure to do harm to the 13 year old. Society says that such power should be used to protect a minor, not harm the minor, and society finds this behavior to be deviant and wrong in the extreme. Hey presto, social shaming. It's as old as time.
posted by Medieval Maven at 9:13 AM on February 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


Agreed, and flagged (aw's commment). But it's not Pavlovian to feel, after considering the obvious commercial, prurient, and legal ramifications of a show like Dateline, that the end result moves the issue of child molestation forward, or at least to a level of awareness that it was not at before. I expect that person's like bobsarabia, etc., like me, understand that a show like this is illustrative of a a potentially horrendous turn in society, which is hardly new. I simply don't find any room, as you do, for pity, or concern for the larger legal contexts, in these cases. There's more than enough judicial misconduct on a daily basis that occurs out of sight for us to wring our hands over without wasting rhetoric on people that willfully go to great lengths to satisfy their sexual urges with person's who haven't developed the maturity to understand the consequences of their behavior. And if you really, truly believe that a thirteen, or twelve, or fifteen year-old boy or girl really has a clue what will come of their decision to enter into a sexual relationship with a stranger two or three or more decades their senior, then you really, really haven't spent any time talking to adolescents. And it sure as hell is not enough to use your own youth as a metric.
posted by docpops at 9:19 AM on February 11, 2007



The truth, however, is that most child rape is done not by strangers met online-- but by family members or family friends, and this show does nothing to address that at all.

Nor does it catch the most dangerous predators-- the ones who prey on the prepubescent.

And, at the same time, it creates an alliance between the press and the police which is dangerous to press independence.

I don't think there's evidence at all that this serves a preventive function-- most of the men arrested are so stupid that you actually see one guy get caught *twice*.
posted by Maias at 9:33 AM on February 11, 2007


I would rather have some good people wrongfully shamed, if that shaming spared some good children rape.

You, and not the pedophiles, are the very rot of civilized society. I fear for any children attending the schools you attended that they may bring up more senseless fools like yourself.

There's a fitting quote that I'll refrain from issuing, because frankly it just makes me sad.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:36 AM on February 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


I simply don't find any room, as you do, for pity, or concern for the larger legal contexts, in these cases.

except that my concerns are not just legal ones, they're social ones ... in spite of what people are led to believe, we are not suffering some kind of sudden epidemic of pedophilia, so there is no "horrendous turn", just bad situations that need to be corrected by the legal system

again, if you can justify televising of this kind of thing, you can justify it for drug dealers, shoplifters, and any criminal ... you can argue that they should be shown in jail ... you can argue that their executions should be televised

do we really want our justice system to be a branch of the entertainment industry? ... it's not just a question of "oh, that poor criminal on tv" ... it's a question of our society becoming decadent and corrupt

and medieval maven - i think it's fair to point out that in the past, social shaming was done in a small, defined community of people, not anyone in the country who happens to turn a tv on
posted by pyramid termite at 9:37 AM on February 11, 2007


doc, once again - this is not child molestation. These are adults pretending to be teens and inviting sexual intercourse in adult chat rooms.
...who haven't developed the maturity to understand the consequences of their behavior...
In fact most research has shown the opposite. On the whole, teens do consider the consequences of their actions. More so than adults, in some cases. When it comes to seeking the acknowledgement of their peers, however, they tend to disregard their reasoning and go for what they believe will positively influence their social standing.

I don't see many teens running out to fuck a 40 year old in order to improve their place in the social pecking order. In other words, we are making a crusade where little need for one exists. And, as was noted earlier, use of entrapment to enforce a law usually indicates that your law is flawed.

There is no "potentially horrendous turn" in society. If you'd read the linked articles, you'd have noted that the victim numbers that PJ uses are the same statistics that were bandied about in the 80's as the number of victims of satanic cults. They were the same numbers as those used for sexual abuse in schools.

In others words, the rationale for these actions is made up out of whole cloth.

Further, at 13 most girls have started to menstruate. If they, and their partners, don't understand the consequences of that, then that is society's fault. Seeking to infantalise your teenagers is not a healthy trend.

I am for fully informed consent. I am against use of power or coercion (although I recognise that power dynamics will play a part in every relationship). But this kind of salacious public spectacle is only a few steps short of gladiatorial games.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 9:57 AM on February 11, 2007


You know what we should do?

We should put all these pedophiles on a gameshow where they have to battle against highly trained, pro-wrestling style gladiators with cool costumes and big weapons. If they manage to escape, we send them to Hawaii!

I mean, seriously, if we're going to combine "justice" with "entertainment," why not go all the way? Air the public flogging of all criminals. Let's be honest with ourselves, that's what we want. Let's not stop at pedophiles, let's put ALL criminals on TV for our humiliation and entertainment. No need to pretend we're a civilization that has respect for humanity anymore, I want to see something good for Sweeps Week.
posted by papakwanz at 10:05 AM on February 11, 2007


[removed a few "fuck you no FUCK YOU" comments - take it to metatalk if the email machine won't work for you]
posted by jessamyn at 10:09 AM on February 11, 2007


You have no idea how infuriating it is seeing these people being defended by you is.

I don't doubt that it can be infuriating, but here's the thing: who are "these people"? You're basically accusing a bunch of people of sympathizing with pedophiles (when, from what I see, the larger concern is that of the societal implications of these sorts of media tactics and the conflation of justice and entertainment). You've also strongly implied that "these people" are pedophiles themselves. If you believe these things to be the case, I would rather see arguments in the thread as to why they are true.
posted by the other side at 10:12 AM on February 11, 2007


I saw the link to Doug Stanhope's baitings. He also made contributions at this site.
posted by bastionofsanity at 10:18 AM on February 11, 2007


OK seriously I'm worse for society than a pedo? Because you disagree with me?

No seriously, I'd like to hear it more straightforwardly. Is the consensus here that it is better for a couple of 13-year olds to be raped, than for this show to exist?

Because I can't get past the fact that this show has definitely, definitely prevented rape. Maybe I'm just some mindless rotten Pavlovian dog, who is cross-eyed and ugly and probably smells bad too, but I can't choose to permit 1 child rape in the interest of shutting down the show. Can you, or have I misunderstood?
posted by Legerdemain at 10:33 AM on February 11, 2007


Because I can't get past the fact that this show has definitely, definitely prevented rape.

except that you don't know that ... for every person who is arrested on screen, there may be 5 people who are inspired by the program to try it

ever hear of copycat crimes?
posted by pyramid termite at 10:40 AM on February 11, 2007


"One of the main problems is that the bait "minors" are luring the guys in, and in many cases initiating contact and bringing up sex, all in an adult chat room."

Also in a few of those cases, the guy was 19 and the "girl" was supposed to be 16. That's a far cry from Chester the 48 year old Janitor going after Jane the 14 year old schoolgirl.

The solution is easy. Ban children from the internet. No internet access until you're 18, because obviously it's just too dangerous for them out there. Since we can't seem to decide if a 17 year old girl is an adult or a "child" (legally? child/minor/whatever) then fuck it. Kick them all off the net.

Hey, aren't age restrictions great?
posted by drstein at 10:44 AM on February 11, 2007


Legerdemain:

"Because I can't get past the fact that this show has definitely, definitely prevented rape."

It's a fact? Oh, then this should be easy. Prove it.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 10:51 AM on February 11, 2007


If you summarily executed all 18-21 year old males, you would definitely reduce crime, too.
posted by empath at 10:57 AM on February 11, 2007 [2 favorites]


I was thinking of the guy with KY jelly and prior convictions showing up for the 13-year old on the Dateline show.

Honestly I'd prefer to source that for you more formally... I could actually be wrong about that, but I seem to recall that.
posted by Legerdemain at 10:57 AM on February 11, 2007


Empath has it.
posted by Methylviolet at 11:15 AM on February 11, 2007


Your society manufactures paedophiles. All the 14-year olds are dressing up to look 18, and all the 21-year-olds are doing their best to look 15. All of sex and seduction has become a surrogate for the massive glut of 13- and 14-year-old-to-adult marriages that happened less than 100 years ago.
posted by tehloki at 11:49 AM on February 11, 2007


The arrests aren't being made for molestation, they're being made for "solicitation of a minor (or someone believed to be a minor) for sex". You can argue about the merits of the law, but I don't think you can argue that these people who show up have solicited a minor (or someone they believed to be a minor) for sex.
posted by null terminated at 11:50 AM on February 11, 2007


I was thinking of the guy with KY jelly and prior convictions showing up for the 13-year old on the Dateline show.

How does this establish that the program has prevented a rape? I suppose the suggestion is: if this pervert isn't chatting with a decoy he'd be doing the same thing only with a real child. However, the flaw in this is that, I suspect, there is no analog in the real teen online chat scene to those conducted by Perverted Justice. Having read some of those chat logs the supposed "children" seem pretty forward. I suspect most 13 year-olds don't invite 40 year-olds over to their homes to have sex in hot tubs; those P.J. chats cut right to the chase.

Further, if you do find the "this show is preventing rape" line of reasoning to be persuasive, then I suppose it is also reasonable to argue that this operation could foster rape. Imagine the online preditor who is so sexually charged after an intense P.J. chat session that he seeks immediate release. Or the online preditor who drives 150+ miles to visit the house where the suspected soon-to-be-molested child is thought to be home alone, only to get lost or to have his "spidey sense" tingle as he pulls into the driveway and decide to bail at the last moment; now your town has a sexually charged adult male who posses the intent to have sex with an underage kid. It only takes one of these guys to make a very bad decision for this show to have created a situation that gravely impacts a third-party.

Imagine if NBC/Universal was inviting sex offenders into your neighborhood, how would you feel?

(slightly off topic) I wonder if the family/estate of guy who killed himself after getting caught in a Dateline sting could bring a civil action against NBC/Universal for being the proximate cause of his wrongful death?
posted by herc at 11:50 AM on February 11, 2007


I think that's a big part of my difficulty with it (that and the complete lack of journalistic ethics involved)--how many of those men, if they'd shown up and found an actual 13 year old would have gone through with it. Finding teenagers attractive isn't that unusual (witness the Britney countdown or the Mary Kate and Ashley countdown) nor is it illegal. Actually having sex with them would be, but of course, they can't get that far in these stories. So they arrest them just for showing up, but I can't honestly believe that all of those men would have gone through with it, which means some of them are having their lives ruined for what amounts to thought crime.

I understand the 'preventing rape' argument that some people are putting forth, but I'm not sure that's what's happening here. These seems like "crimes" of opportunity, and that if they hadn't been presented with this opportunity, a lot of these guys wouldn't have sought them out. How many adult lives do you get to ruin in the pursuit of possibly preventing a possible crime against a theoretical child before it becomes too many?

It's all icky and gross, and I'd rather not think about it all, but if I have to think about it, then I'd rather leave the knee-jerk 'OMG Pedophile! Won't someone think of the children!' reactions behind.
posted by jacquilynne at 11:57 AM on February 11, 2007 [3 favorites]


jacquilynne: ...So they arrest them just for showing up...

They arrest them for soliciting sex with a minor (or someone they believe to be a minor). These aren't kneejerk reactions, they're people who are violating the law--a law designed to protect children.

Again, we can argue about the merits of the law, but they are being arrested for an actual violation, not for their intent to molest. Equating showing up at a house after solicitation for sex, often with condoms and lubes with a thought crime is ridiculous.
posted by null terminated at 12:03 PM on February 11, 2007


If the law allows someone to be arrested for soliciting a minor for sex without a minor actually being involved, or the adult ever meeting a minor in connection with the crime, then, yeah, I suppose I'm arguing against the merits of the law.
posted by jacquilynne at 12:10 PM on February 11, 2007


Wouldn't it be better to just silently spy on chats with real minors, then follow them and bust them at the same point? (Well, how are you going to do that, then?)
Problem is this: it seems to be very easy for these bait-minors to get dates. Does that mean there are bajillions of predators out there, or are there just a few (relatively) that try over and over again until they hit the bait, who then sucks them in? They're still scumbags, but it would be interesting to know that real kids are wise to that scam, and no more likely to fall for it than to buy viagra from a spammer. (however often that happens, which I don't know.)
Yes, the pedos deserve to be caught, but I'm not convinced it's some imminent world-ending danger to MY KIDS RIGHT NOW!!!1
(not that I have any.) Are real kids really inviting real people they don't know over to their houses (in significant numbers?). I have a problem with the "this could be your kid" hysteria. No it couldn't, because even if my kid wanted to screw an old guy, she would be smart enough to do it a lot more safely than inviting some random internet stranger to her home when she was alone. Anyone have examples to address this?
posted by ctmf at 12:16 PM on February 11, 2007


"I simply don't find any room, as you do, for pity, or concern for the larger legal contexts, in these cases."

Then please move to a totalitarian country where people have no legal rights, until then your arguments amount to hypocrisy. If you already live in a country with a totalitarian government, forgive my presumption, in America we can't arbitrarily deny rights to any group of suspects no matter how heinous or vile the crimes they are suspected of. To repeat myself, it is unethical and disingenuous to publicly shame people as commiters of crimes while they still retain legal innocence.
posted by Ndwright at 12:19 PM on February 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


I guess my issue is that it's too many levels of abstraction. If the terrible thing in question is that an adult person could have sex with a minor, then an adult person having sex with someone he thinks is a minor is also a pretty terrible thing. And an adult person asking a minor to have sex is also a pretty terrible thing. But an adult person asking a person they think is a minor to have sex seems rather farther removed from the original terrible thing. It's not that these men aren't skeevy and gross, and that some of them wouldn't really actually have sex with minors given the opportunity. It's that I can imagine an appreciable number of them really being on the other side of the line when it comes right down to actually having sex with a minor--and these exposes, on television, for the world to watch, don't distinguish between the two.
posted by jacquilynne at 12:22 PM on February 11, 2007


One half of Perverted Justice's name is a perfectly apt description. The other half is pretty damn far from the truth.
posted by oaf at 12:24 PM on February 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


Does COPS have to get suspects to sign a release form before their videotapes are shown on television?

I think so, and so that seems like a directly analogous situation: a preconvicted car thief, hit-and-runner, drunk, whatever, is protected against public viewing of the video.

I'm all for locking up the pedophiles.

But let's do it legally and sanely. We have a justice system in place, and should use it.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:48 PM on February 11, 2007


Yes, he is entitled to a legal presumption of innocence, but that does not mean he is actually innocent. The significance of the legal presumption of innocence is that the state carries the burden of proving that the defendant has committed murder. But because the defendant has committed murder, he is not innocent. But if the state fails to carry its burden of proof, the presumption of innocence will prevail, and the defendant will be acquitted.

But these cases never got that far before these people's lives are ruined. Their names and faces are splashed all over the news media, and given that the ratings on this are pretty damn high, a lot of people, some of whom may have homicidal intentions, will know who they are and approximately where they live. This will happen whether they are convicted or not.

It's tripe like this that makes me favor complete Canadian-style publication bans on accusations like this unless and until there's a conviction.

The woman's life was ruined because she was no longer allowed to volunteer at an elementary school?

Well, if you'd read the whole comment, you'd know that she was banned from actually setting foot on school ground to pick up her daughter, and had to deal with front-page headlines painting her as a child molester, and presumably had other parents hurling undeserved invective at her. So, yeah, it's just about volunteering at an elementary school.

Anyone bringing up the "grey area" of the "consent/age issue", in this context, isn't going to be babysitting my 12 or 13 year old anytime soon.

Well, there is actually a grey area. And since your 12/13-year-old is far more likely to be molested by a family member than a stranger from the Internet, you're not really protecting anything. (And you're also missing the big obvious truth that admitting there's a gray area doesn't mean that one is attracted to sixth-graders.)

I'd rather protect the children than the principles.

It's attitudes like this that allow the government to ignore the constraints placed upon it by the Constitution, and that's abhorrent.

Your society manufactures paedophiles.

It's your society too.
posted by oaf at 12:49 PM on February 11, 2007


Isn't that really the central moral point? These programs create an environment in which fewer children are raped.

If one were to cut off the penis of every man, fewer children would be raped. So that would be a good thing, right? Or suppose we simply didn't allow men to work with children other then their own at all. That would also reduce instances of child rape. So all of these things are good things then, right?

I think most people would disagree. Things can both reduce child rape over all, and yet still be immoral or a bad idea. I don't have any problem with police doing things like this, but this program is just depraved. And the addition of cameras, making a big show out of the whole thing could tip moron pedophiles off to police tactics, making them more difficult to catch. It's not obviously that the program does anything useful, beyond providing titillation and the euphoria of unbridled, self-righteous outrage to those addicted too it.
posted by delmoi at 12:59 PM on February 11, 2007


Ndwright, you say, in response to my comment about the legal presumption of innocence:

He may not be innocent in reality, but he is innocent legally, and thus must be treated as such from henceforth (unless new evidence shows up, in which case the whole thing gets really messy).

This is absurd, preposterous, ridiculous reasoning. If I am hanging out with a friend, and someone walks up, pulls out a gun, and put a bullet in the head of my friend with no apparent justification, then it is perfectly reasonable for me to treat the killer as a cold-blooded murderer. Yes, the murderer is entitled to a legal presumption of innocence, and he may make his million-dollar bond and be free pending his trial, but I am perfectly justified in writing articles calling him a murderer, making TV shows saying he is a murderer, etc. (Which is exactly what Dateline does.)

Your line of reasoning seems to be that, since there is a legal presumption of innocence, everyone (even people who witnessed the crime) is obligated to treat that person as actually innocent ... which is not what the legal presumption of innocence is all about. The legal presumption of innocence is simply a formal rule concerning who bears the burden of proof, in a criminal prosecution. The presumption does not, and was never meant to, extend to the opinions of people in the community about whether someone is guilty or not.
posted by jayder at 1:00 PM on February 11, 2007


More Doug Stanhope (from the baiting link above), who is just pretty good at making pedophilla funny (IMO, YMMV, extremely NSFW audio youtube link).
posted by Bookhouse at 1:03 PM on February 11, 2007


If I am hanging out with a friend, and someone walks up, pulls out a gun, and put a bullet in the head of my friend with no apparent justification, then it is perfectly reasonable for me to treat the killer as a cold-blooded murderer.

Is that correct? Yes.

Does it apply to this situation? Not at all.
posted by oaf at 1:06 PM on February 11, 2007


It seems that Dee Snider really could see the future.
posted by papakwanz at 1:34 PM on February 11, 2007


If the law allows someone to be arrested for soliciting a minor for sex without a minor actually being involved, or the adult ever meeting a minor in connection with the crime, then, yeah, I suppose I'm arguing against the merits of the law.

Yep. Pretty-much.

They do it all the time with guys soliciting sex from prostitutes that are actually undercover cops. Same situation: no actual prostitution going on, no sex, no money exchanges hands. Yet they can arrest people because they asked someone to break the law with them.

I imagine the same thing happens with drug busts with undercovers. Just expressing the desire to commit a crime is enough to get you thrown behind bars, regardless of whether or not you would actually go through with it.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 2:01 PM on February 11, 2007


They arrest them for soliciting sex with a minor (or someone they believe to be a minor). These aren't kneejerk reactions, they're people who are violating the law--a law designed to protect children.

Again, I don't see how chatlogs on the internet are solid enough proof for the "they believe to be a minor" part of this. First the "13 year old" mentions her age once or twice and then comes on in a highly adult fashion to a guy in a chatroom. She goes so far as to invite him over for sex. Then, when he shows up, she's actually an 18 year old, one who doesn't mention the underage thing again. Given how incredibly common lying about age/sex/location is on the internet, it's not hard to imagine that at least some of these guys do not actually believe the whole "I'm 13" story.

And, of course, Dateline does not give them any time to talk to the girl before moving in for the kill... probably because some of their dramatic busts would be ruined when the guy asks, "hey, come on, you're not really 13" and then backs up quick when she says she is. If Dateline were truly interested in catching predators (as opposed to ratings), there's no reason why they couldn't have the girl mention, in person and on camera, that she is "almost 14" or whatever. They could then wait for the guy to ask for sex or make a move, thus proving that the guys involved really are soliciting someone they believe to be a minor for sex. But hey, so long as just showing up to the house counts as soliciting, why bother? It's not as if anybody's lives are ruined or anything.

To me, this whole thing falls apart when I think about how easy it is to fake or alter video or chatlog evidence. It would take me about an hour and a half to get an "OMG pedos!" chatlog out of an adult chatroom -- it starts with some private messages saying, "hey, I'm a sophomore at Local U, here's my pic! (insert picture of a sexy 18 year old here) my fantasy is adultery, u wanna be my big daddy? I gotta go to class now, but I'll be back in an hour". Then, about an hour later, all that's needed for proof that the guy believes she's underage is filming the "I'm 13 and you're my daddy" fantasy chat session. Then set up a meeting between the 18 year old in the photo and this lonely guy, and viola, one less "predator" on the streets.

As for the whole "would you rather 2 children be raped than have this show on the air" straw-man, I think that living in a society that's increasingly riddled with lies, mistrust, entrapment, and informants is much more harmful to children as a group than the relatively rare incidence of internet predation. And when I think of the lessons that kids are learning from watching shows like this (If I am sexy then I have power over older men, if I trust anyone with sexual secrets they will betray me) they're certainly nothing that's going to prevent child rape...
posted by vorfeed at 2:58 PM on February 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


vorfeed: Take a look at some of the chat logs on PJ. They talk about age all the time and often are given instructions to lie to family members or police.

Look, I'm a libertarian. I would rather nine guilty men go free than one innocent man be jailed and all that. But these people are only on the show after breaking a law and I'm amazed at the extent people here will go to come up with outrageous excuses. "They didn't believe she was really underage!" (So they believed she was home alone, wanted sex, etc, etc, but not her age? Take a look at the chat logs). "They wouldn't have gone through with it!" (So we shouldn't arrest someone driving into NYC with bombs because he might have balked at the last minute?) "The chat logs are faked!" (I doubt PJ would do this). "Your society manufactures pedophiles." (...)

Suppose I put a video camera in my house and then posted anonymously online saying that there was a huge diamond collection in my house. Why couldn't I show the people who broke in on TV? It's the exact same situation. In both cases, an actual law is being broken. They don't go into people's houses who read fantasy books, they don't arrest people who say they want to do such and such in theory. They arrest people who have broken the law by soliciting minors for sex. It's very simple.
posted by null terminated at 3:59 PM on February 11, 2007


I just wonder about the attitude of the person pretending to be the minor - whereas a teenage girl may say `ewww, ur OLD', the person taking on that role might play it differently.

Still, turning up with condoms at the house of someone who you believe to be 14 is just.. ugh...

I've chatted to younger people online - I'm in my early 30's, and I have an MSN account which, for some reason, gets a LOT of school age people randomly adding me as friends. I've talked to some of them, and I can't imagine trying to take it on a sexual level. I was chatting to a person who turned out to be 13, and was completely and pleasantly surprised to be talking to someone born in the 90's.

We talked about music, differences between our countries, made some jokes, but I couldn't even imagine asking if she had a boyfriend. Trying to get sexual with someone around that age actually makes my stomach turn. It's just creepy, wrong and wildly inappropriate.
posted by tomble at 4:09 PM on February 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


Also, I wonder about people's opinions of chatting to younger people?

Above I mentioned I have chatted with people in their early teens - kids who have added me and started a conversation. I tend to chat and answer their questions, but I don't initiate chats or go looking for them, or work to keep the chats going.

I personally don't see any real issue with this, but what's the prevailing mood?
posted by tomble at 4:14 PM on February 11, 2007


It's the exact same situation.

Well, no it's not, really. With the second situation ("there be diamonds here!") the crime is breaking and entering. The moment someone steps into your diamond-house, they've broken the law. In the first case, however, they are invited in. That's not against the law.

The connection you're trying to make between the two crimes isn't very solidly analogous. At what point is the pedophile breaking the law? Is it when they asked to meet up with these supposed kids online (that would actually be the point where the law is broken for the crime of solicitation).

But how does the concept of fantasy and role-playing factor into it? For instance, it might be a crime for a police officer to force a motorist to perform sexual services (or not), but it's not a crime for a cop to pretend the very same thing with a willing participant off-duty. It may be illegal to have sex with your sister, yet I'm sure plenty of people calling phone-sex operators are asking them to pretend just that.

I would guess that a reasonable judge would determine that the crime had been perpetrated the moment the offender decided to actually act on the solicitation—bringing the fantasy into reality, if you will. But I'd also be willing to bet that the vast, vast majority of online liaisons never come to fruition in meat-space. Did Conradt ever actually try and meet up with the "child" he talked to? According to the article:
"Conradt had never shown up at the Dateline house"
So what's the crime, again?

Ah, I know. The crime is that he's got a mental illness that's so socially deviant and unpopular that it doesn't matter if he actually breaks the law or not.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:27 PM on February 11, 2007 [2 favorites]


but what's the prevailing mood?

i don't do chat, but i do have a blog on xanga, which is a heavy teen zone ... i find that frustrating as the great majority of them really don't have anything to say that holds my interest ... and so i don't communicate with them

if there was a person of that age who i wanted to talk to, i would be very cautious about what i said ... and meeting in real life would be absolutely out of the question
posted by pyramid termite at 4:29 PM on February 11, 2007


vorfeed: Take a look at some of the chat logs on PJ. They talk about age all the time and often are given instructions to lie to family members or police.

Again, these are CHAT LOGS. Anybody who has been online more than about 10 minutes knows how much chatlogs resemble reality. You can't claim that chatlogs are proof when it comes to belief of age, but not when it comes to being a supermodel, or a weightlifter, or a Special Ops soldier, or any one of the million common chatroom lies. Chatting, especially sexual chat, is 90% fantasy -- it is entirely possible for these guys to carry on an endless, graphic chat about meeting a sexy 13 year old for a fuck, and still never actually believe that the person on the other end of the chat is 13. Like I said, there's a reason why Dateline hires an older girl to play the part of the kid, and why they deliberately do not give these guys any time to talk to her in person.

Anyway, I'm not saying that these guys can never be busted for soliciting, I'm saying that we ought to wait until they actually hear the girl's age and solicit, in person. Online evidence provides only a flimsy suggestion of belief.

I would rather nine guilty men go free than one innocent man be jailed and all that.

Sure. That's why you're so into entrapment as a method of law enforcement -- because you'd rather the innocent not be jailed? Come on. If this is such a massive problem, then we should be able to find and arrest people who are doing it without being purposefully lured. And if it's not a massive problem, then this kind of entrapment is not necessary in the first place.

Suppose I put a video camera in my house and then posted anonymously online saying that there was a huge diamond collection in my house. Why couldn't I show the people who broke in on TV? It's the exact same situation.

No, it's not. Breaking and entering is a crime in-and-of-itself. Showing up to somebody's house and saying hello is not an intrinsic crime, yet that's the only thing I see these guys doing on the videos. If you put a video camera in your house, chatted to people about your huge diamond, and then arrested whoever dared to walk past the boundary of your yard before they even tried to break in, then it might be the exact same situation. And either way, I don't think that chatlogs in which people typed about wanting to see your huuuuuge diamond omgroflolol should be considered valid evidence in court!
posted by vorfeed at 4:32 PM on February 11, 2007


We are deriving pleasure from the torture of would-be criminals, and that's what is truly pathetic.

Dear me, let's not forget the glee-posing-as-humour about 'pound-me-in-the-ass prison', or the quickly forgotten Abu Ghraib and its ilk, or even the popularity of Fear Factor and other fake-reality programs designed to let us enjoy the discomfort of others. It's a continuous spectrum of unpleasantness.

But it is interesting to watch the sun set on the empire.

As far as child-fuckers go, well, they've always been with us and they always will, I guess. Terrible, yes. Deserving of punishment, certainly. Difficult to discuss reasonably, definitely.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:36 PM on February 11, 2007


"...suppose we simply didn't allow men to work with children other then their own at all. That would also reduce instances of child rape."

Negligibly, to be fair, since most child molestation is committed by relatives.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 5:07 PM on February 11, 2007


It's difficult for me to understand the society I find myself in that so many want to remind me is a "Christian nation".

I'm a parent of two young children. I'd of course do anything in the world necessary to protect them from those who are mentally ill.

And that's the crux of it -- these are people who are mentally ill. The number one priority of course is to keep children from the tremendous harm that these people can cause them. But I don't make nor feel the need to make the leap from that to hating these people. My desire to protect my children has nothing to do with a feeling of glee at seeing mentally ill people humiliated or anally raped.

I feel pity and sadness for them, and for this many apparently consider me a monster. I want pedophiles to be rehabilitated when possible; in the case that this is impossible, I want them to be isolated from causing damage. But I don't want them tortured, and frankly I'm deeply disgusted at the lack of civility that's tolerated -- no, expected! -- on this topic. As this thread shows, simply not joining in the two minute hate causes one to be labeled a pedophile or, if you're lucky, just a pedophile empowerer.
posted by BaxterG4 at 5:10 PM on February 11, 2007 [3 favorites]


Quoted from The National Center for Victims of Crime:

Children who are abused or neglected are more likely to become criminal offenders as adults. A National Institute of Justice study found "that childhood abuse increased the odds of future delinquency and adult criminality overall by 40 percent" (Widom, 1992). Child sexual abuse victims are also at risk of becoming ensnared in this cycle of violence. One expert estimates that forty percent of sexual abusers were sexually abused as children (Vanderbilt, 1992). In addition, victims of child sexual abuse are 27.7 times more likely to be arrested for prostitution as adults than non-victims. (Widom, 1995). Some victims become sexual abusers or prostitutes because they have a difficult time relating to others except on sexual terms.

Consider this the next time you pride yourself on your joyful reaction to or encouragement of the abuse of child molesters.

There is a strong possibility that the human being you're excited to see physically or psychologically tortured is someone who was themselves once an innocent child, a child who was vilely physically and psychologically abused by an adult, instigating the abnormality that now manifests itself in their abuse of other innocents.

Thus, compassion for the victims of childhood sexual abuse and compassion for those who abuse is often one and the same.
posted by BaxterG4 at 5:49 PM on February 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


One of the members of Mutaytor was recently busted on PervertedJustice. Now members of Mutaytor and Mutaytor's tribe.net group are being propositioned and harassed by volunteers from PervertedJustice.
posted by fandango_matt at 9:09 PM on February 11, 2007


"If I am hanging out with a friend, and someone walks up, pulls out a gun, and put a bullet in the head of my friend with no apparent justification, then it is perfectly reasonable for me to treat the killer as a cold-blooded murderer."

I agree completely. I've not once called into question the legality of Dateline's actions, they have first amendment rights too. I'm calling into question the ethicality of their actions as a media organization shaming and humiliating an individual with presumed legal innocence for the sake of making money (ratings).

This example you give differs markedly , you were affected by the crime personally, and being a witness, are expected to have something to say about it. Dateline is a disinterested third party manipulating law enforcement for the sake of profit.
posted by Ndwright at 1:42 AM on February 12, 2007


There's also a real question as to whether or not a crime has even been committed, at least in the instance of the topic at hand. If someone goes online and gets their rocks off at thinking the person on the other end is a minor, is that illegal? In Conradt's case, he never tried to meet up with the supposed minor. Obviously, seeing a big catch like a DA slip through their fingers, Dateline decided to go through with the character assassination even though they had nothing on him. I don't understand how they aren't complicit in a wrongful death suit.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:18 AM on February 12, 2007


Dateline is a disinterested third party manipulating law enforcement for the sake of profit.

That is the truly scary aspect of all this: the corporatization of the justice system.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:41 AM on February 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


No matter how much I (or anybody else) might condemn child abuse, I can't figure out why disliking Dateline's show constitutes support for pedophilia. Such a position seems to partake too much of thinking discarded for imagined security gained.

On the other hand, the whinging about "there aren't really any minors involved" savors of too fine a brush.
posted by OmieWise at 12:49 PM on February 12, 2007


No matter how much I (or anybody else) might condemn child abuse, I can't figure out why disliking Dateline's show constitutes support for pedophilia.

Nor can I figure out how support for Perverted-Justice's on-line activities constitutes support for the Dateline show.

But there you go.
posted by tkolar at 12:56 PM on February 12, 2007


Color us both perplexed.
posted by OmieWise at 1:11 PM on February 12, 2007


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