Posted by Ted Bronson | Filed under Public Servants?
None of these men had actually committed a real live, honest to goodness crime when they got arrested. They were arrested for thought crime. They were arrested for talking dirty to someone on the internet. The were arrested for a made up crime against an imaginary child. IF NO CHILD EXISTED FOR THESE GUYS TO TALK TO, THEY COMMITTED NO CRIME UPON A CHILD.
Ok. Everyone breathe. The Florida prosecutor was talking online to an adult. The trucker in Kansas was talking online to an adult. The guys who are galactically stupid enough to be caught by the tv show were talking online TO AN ADULT.
The nannies are so worried about the new boogieman that they have passed laws that empower police forces across the country to assume the persona of an underage child and lure people to their social (if not actual) dooms.
Wait, wait, wait…I can hear the keystrokes already calling me every foul name in the book. Do not misunderstand me. These people, these beasts, who would prey on those we as human beings are supposed to be programmed genetically to protect, are the worst and most vile among us. The trucker listed third is already convicted of a sex crime. The federal-freaking-prosecutor listed first stated online to the officer that had done this lots of times. (Even though not one person has come forth to say he actually had, it does indeed indicate a pattern of thought. But are we arresting people for thoughts now?) The men arrested on the tv show range throughout the gamut of society, and yes, some of them do indeed have criminal records.
But they didn’t break a law this time. At least not a law that has any business being on the books let alone enforced. If an actual child was in danger from one of these guys and the parents found out someone was coming to their home to play house with their kid, I’m all over the cops being there with guns drawn waiting for the goblin to show his face.
Blam blam blam “Show me your hands and step out of the car or I’ll shoot!
“Deputy, you did that in the wrong order, again. You only get fifty or sixty more chances to get that right or it will reflect on your performance review.”
I understand that bureaucracies move glacially slowly and that new crimes are being committed, if not invented, on the Web. I understand the need to protect our children from the goblins. I even understand that many times humans are moved by the need to ACT even if they don’t have all the possibilities and variables worked out yet. But to invent a crime where no actual victim is, well, victimized is the wrong way to solve the problem.
Stepping aside for a moment…
Remember that firefighter who got arrested for showing his winkie to a lady who was sunbathing topless? Under a tree. Where she had been for days. In a park where semi nudity is allowed. Where SHE TOUCHED HIM IN A SUGGESTIVE MANNER AND ASKED TO SEE THE MAN’S CRANK. Did the guy act in a foolhardy fashion? Yes. Should he have asked to take her to a hotel or even back to his place? Yes. Did anyone, other than the woman who quite literally asked for it even SEE the man’s unit? No. Would the silly man have whipped it out had a female undercover cop NOT asked him to do it however is anyone’s guess. (If it turns out that this woman wasn’t a cop, I would like to know how come she wasn’t charged with soliciting. But law enforcement officials breaking the law in order to enforce it is a lesson for another day.)
Now stepping back in…
It is very easy to claim “the bitch set me up” when police are dealing with scumbags. And these guys, the ones actively seeking sexual congress with a minor are indeed scumbags. Entrapment is a real, albeit rare, occurrence however. How much harder would the police have to work if the sexual predators didn’t literally come to them is a question no one can answer. How many of these guys are just Joe Average on the path to depravity and need to be examined for the bad chemicals in their heads is the other half of that question though. Arrest for a crime against a fairy tale persona is not the answer.
Understand this too, please. I do not think these people need to be let free to roam the streets. Public shaming and humiliation used to work. I think branding may be too far to go, but what about the modern equivalent: Use the Web to make sure that these animals are known publicly for what they are—perverts in waiting. Next comes the question: If we as a society aren’t going to put these guys in jail, just give ‘em the old Hester Prynne treatment, why are we spending police budgets to catch them? My very question and the reason I wrote this piece.
Parents: parent your own kids! If you are incapable of teaching your kid right from wrong, honorable from wicked, scary from safe… maybe your kids don’t need to be on the internet in the first place. If you have failed so utterly and completely as a parent that your kid thinks a forty year old man is the answer to his or her thirteen year old problems, then you should be ashamed. In the long run, the police can help you pick up broken pieces, maybe even catch the bad guy after the fact, but you, parent, are the one responsible for protecting your own kid and teaching them how to deal with the goblins.
There is, of course, a 1st Amendment factor in all this as well and we could sit and enumerate the violations of free speech all night. The case could be made that violations of the 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, and possbily 8th Amendments have occurred in other cases of this nature. I guess it would take a really bored, rich , and patient ‘pervert’ to go to the time and expense to defend himself on those grounds, thereby making himself an even bigger object of public derision.
So, if a guy knows that Chris Hansen is setting up a ‘sting’ and goes along with it just to fight the case in court…