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A prosecutor in Texas apparently shot himself to death Sunday after getting caught in one of those "To Catch a Predator" stings done by Dateline.

I don't have an opinion on that particular case, but it does give me an opportunity to ask this question:  Am I the only one who's weirded out by those Dateline reports? 

I don't know, I guess there's just something creepy about journalists teaming up with police to entrap suspects, catch them on tape, then have the tactical team jump out and smack them around a little—while the rest of us cheer from our living rooms. 

I suppose it's hard to get too worked up about a process that in the end has nabbed some people who appear to be genuine predators—though I do seem to recall a couple of segments where the police were posing as a post-pubescent victim, as old 15 or 16.  Which is still creepy, but pretty clearly isn't pedophelia.

I think I'd rather have my favorite intrepid investigative journalists doing some good ol' fashioned exposing of public corruption and such than teaming up with the government for nationally-broadcast bread-and-circus stings that actually create crimes.

But maybe that's just the knee-jerk libertarian in me.

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  1. “A prosecutor in Texas apparently shot himself to death Sunday after getting caught in one of those “To Catch a Predator” stings done by Dateline.”

    On the bright side, at least he won’t prosecute another drug case, ever. yay.

  2. A prosecutor and a pervert were removed from this earth simultaneously and inexpensively. Sounds like a win/win to me.

  3. Reminds me of The Running Man, pretty creepy even when Just..? Other then that I don’t know.

  4. Being opposed to police stings (just can’t accept that it is reasonable for the govt to be an accomplice to a crime) as well as media enacting punishments for crimes that may or may not have been committed (innocent until guilty in court of law) I find the whole thing disheartening.

    Better to let parents monitor their children’s on-line conversations, allow them to invite predators for a hook-up, and shoot them on the spot.

  5. Wait, wait, wait…you mean people actually still watch network teevee “news” shows? I thought that those things went the way of “She’s The Sheriff”!

  6. …or the perp could just be told that there is a gun and poison in the desk in the next room, do the right thing, so we don’t have to.

  7. A win-win would be the “stung” perp pulling out a gun and killing the smug journalist on tape. Bonus points for winging a cop or two. Extra-Super points if the cops are in their SWAT regalia.

    Not that I condone that sort of thing.

  8. Let’s see: (1) Dateline uses adults “posing” as children for decoys. Both the decoy and the entrapee are both ADULTS. (2) The decoy initiates conversation about sex and suggests the entrapee come to the house. (3) Dateline swoops in and saves the day.

    It’s a bunch of dubious garbage. (1) I can tell a potential sexual partner that I am 7 1/2 hears old. If it isn’t true, there is no crime. Conversely, if she says she 23 but is actually 17, there is crime. Also, a highly educated adult “posing” as a child is not the same as a child, and pervs usually pick up on this. (2) Is it a crime to bang some 25 year old girl who says she is 16? Nope, only on Dateline. (3) Putting somebody with bizarre sexual desires on Dateline with cops is, of course, going to make for great TV. Just don’t confuse Stone Phillips with anything but a trashy pseudo-journalist. Apparently, Phillips didn’t get to be the narrator on COPs.

  9. I think Dateline using private funds to help in crime fighting can be seen as a good thing. More sex offenders off the streets, no higher taxes paid by citizens, and NBC makes a profit. Win, Win, Win. I’m cool with it until “To Catch a Speeder” does bonzo ratings.

  10. Lamar,

    I have never so 100% completely agree with you as I do on that post.

    My gf was watching that show a few Fridays ago. I put up with about 15 minutes before I started to leave the room, sickened. Dateline needs regain some of the integrity it once had, like when it exposed those easily exploding gas tanks on GM pickups.

  11. The most entertaining thing about the Dateline special is that every now and then they get a repeat customer. The reporter’s like “Hi, we’ve met before. You know the drill.”

  12. Hit & Run can be very informative. Just today I learned that there is a TV show called Dateline, and a television network called NBC.

  13. Lamar:

    Impossibility is not a defense to solicitation. says so right in the statute.

    That said, don’t let me interrupt this thread’s spirited defense of online predators. Please, by all means, carry on.

  14. “Also, a highly educated adult “posing” as a child is not the same as a child, and pervs usually pick up on this.”

    That statement seems to be made with a little toooooo much certainty.

    Just saying ;~)

  15. Chris,

    Right, and anyone who is against the PATRIOT Act wants the terrorists to win!

  16. I’m a little ambivalent here.

    I don’t like the entrapment aspect, but I don’t feel much sympathy for the entrapped.

    On a side note, I wonder how many chatroom visitors deliver lectures about the dangers of what the apparent minors are doing?

    jf “Dateline needs regain some of the integrity it once had…”

    HOOHAHAHA! Best one liner I’ve heard today!

  17. Radley — I like the relative brevity of this post. Please continue to keep ’em one screen or less.

  18. If only they’d get Shaq involved, that’d be great television!

  19. I’m just guessing but I’m gonna figure the actual number of underage girls online and willing to get feaky with a 48-year-old mechanic are pretty rare.

    I’m willing to admit I may be very wrong about this, but I’m asserting that Dateline arranges more May-December trists in one episode than actually happen in real life (in the U.S. on the internet) in a month.

    Not that they’re wrong to do it, but I’m figuring these perverts real crime is self-delusion and monumental stupidity.

    That these jokers keep falling for it is amazing. Some even say they had a feeling something was up. Like the saying goes…if it’s sounds to good to be true…it probably is.

  20. Like the saying goes…if it’s sounds to good to be true…it probably is.

    The possibility of getting away with sleeping with a school age girl sounds too good to be true to you, huh madpad?

  21. jf: Do you want the terrorists to win?

    haha. I’m kidding. I am surprised at the tone of this thread, though. I realize you guys don’t like the cops/prosecutors, but c’mon. The dead prosecutor won’t prosecute another drug case? Dead prosecutor/predator is a win/win?

    Is this nonsense what passes for a principled Libertarianism these days?

  22. Yes. Yes it is.

  23. Actually, Chris, I agree that the first two comments on this thread were pretty disgusting.

  24. My favorite part of any of the stings is the tranformation from swaggering, smooth talking Romeo to slouched, defeated pervert that occurs the second that the reporter walks in, their fantasy completely blown apart.

    “That said, don’t let me interrupt this thread’s spirited defense of online predators. Please, by all means, carry on. ”

    Seriously. I dislike drug prosecution/persecution as much as anyone here, but I don’t see anything wrong with taking down these sickos in this manner.

  25. NBC? National Biscuit Company?

    I find this sort of “investigation” disturbing myself. I’m sympathetic with attempts to catch wrongdoers, but the means used need to be the right ones. I’m think about a certain Olympic bombing suspect who was not only innocent but acted heroically. Yay media! Yay law enforcement!

  26. Chris:
    These guys are being prosecuted for solicitation? That makes NO sense. Solicitation is when person A convinces person B to commit a crime. Just because the crime was impossible doesn’t mean that person A is off the hook for the separate act of solicitation. How does this fit in with your post?

  27. Chris,
    Aww, c’mon. Even if it isn’t a crime, it still pretty sick, right? So what if they didn’t actually commit a crime, TV has labeled them perverts! Is that your model of law enforcement?

  28. Pardon my naivete, but um… isn’t entrapment illegal?

  29. You know the part where these scumbags tell you “this is the first time I’ve ever done this!” Did you believe them? Right, neither did I. Poeple who want to commit crimes like these will do it over and over until they are caught, that’s a undeniable fact.

    Even if you think its wrong for them to be procecuted for the particular instance of trying to fuck someone who happened to not be a child THIS time, it’s undoubtedly good to catch these guys, find out if they match the description of other suspects and put the fear of the law into the ones who may be watching the show on TV.

  30. Actually I don’t know where to begin on this thread. Controversial topic is to put it mildly.
    My goal is always the enhancement of individual liberty. The whole child sex abuse complex leads to the exact opposite. Is that regrettable but inescapable “collateral damage”? It has been but I don’t think it has to be. Good old-fashioned parental involvement would certainly keep most online problems under control. Would there still be some kids snatched from the street? Yes, there would. There aren’t any proactive measures that would completely prevent that. Catching the last terrorist will be a cakewalk in comparison. Unless we all agree to give up all of our liberties and rights to the “control authorities”. Statutes and enforcement methods, many made legally possible to fight yet another war, the one on drugs, have been radically expanded to “protect the children”. Much to the delight of the power-hungry. if in doubt read this: http://www.toledoblade.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060829/NEWS24/608290360/-1/NEWS

    Morevoer, it is now again possible to openly and self-righteously hate an ill-defined group of people: the sex offenders. No invective is strong enough, no call for the most inhuman punishment is opposed. Humanity is routinely discarded just like it were garbage. The topic is now exploited as another smear tactic for campaign use. Of course the media, as noted in Radley’s post, use it for their own purposes: Ratings under the umbrella of public service. Where is all this going to lead us as a society? Nowhere good, that I am sure of.

  31. I’ve only been able to stomach a few minutes of those reports, but I’d be curious to know if Dateline has done any follow up on whether any of the pervs were actually convicted in a court of law…

  32. “Poeple who want to commit crimes like these will do it over and over until they are caught, that’s a undeniable fact.”

    While that might be true, the people on Dateline have done nothing more than accept the sexual overtures of another adult. That isn’t a crime. You are allowing Dateline to confuse you. Some of the people they entrap are likely real sicko pervs who should be in jail. But this whole, “on Dateline therefore guilty” is like a Superbowl ad for how stupid our country has become.

  33. Well, this is great. First time I’ve posted here.

    Lamar: You are right about solicitation generally, but there’s many types of solicitation:

    8-1509A. ENTICING OF CHILDREN OVER THE INTERNET — PENALTIES —
    JURISDICTION. (1) A person aged eighteen (18) years or older shall be guilty
    of a felony if he or she knowingly uses the internet to solicit, seduce, lure,
    persuade or entice by words or actions, or both, a minor child under the age
    of sixteen (16) years or a person the defendant believes to be a minor child
    under the age of sixteen (16) years to engage in any sexual act with or
    against the child where such act is a violation of chapter 15, 61 or 66, title
    18, Idaho Code.
    (2) Every person who is convicted of a violation of this section shall be
    punished by imprisonment in the state prison for a period not to exceed
    fifteen (15) years.
    (3) It shall not constitute a defense against any charge or violation of
    this section that a law enforcement officer, peace officer, or other person
    working at the direction of law enforcement was involved in the detection or
    investigation of a violation of this section.
    (4) The offense is committed in the state of Idaho for purposes of
    determining jurisdiction if the transmission that constitutes the offense
    either originates in or is received in the state of Idaho.

    Please note paragraph 3. The online solicitation of a real or imagined minor IS a crime. Someone else asked about entrapment. While I have no doubt that some of those accused will raise this as a defense, entrapment is where a person commits a crime that he wouldn’t have done but for the entrapment. That’s not the case here.

  34. I’m almost tempted to post an ad to Craigslist:

    SWM, 35, ISO SWF NBC Producer Pretending to Be Pre-Pubescent Girl.

    (Bring cameras)

  35. how stupid our country has become

    Indeed, this show and others like it would not be sponsored and broadcast if not for the anti-intellectual entertainment cravings of the vast lard-ass viewership. Internet “predators” may be scum, but the people who watch and support this crap are accessories in our cultural decline.

  36. The possibility of getting away with sleeping with a school age girl sounds too good to be true to you, huh madpad?

    Uh, right. Is that really how you interpereted my post, BadMood?

    I usually consider most posters here to be fairly smart and insightful. You’ve blown that impression for the day.

  37. Chris:

    When you say that entrapment “isn’t the case here” you are painting with too broad a brush. You really have no idea about each individual case (nor do I). As with much internet activity, people lie all the time about their age, appearance, gender, etc. It can’t be a crime to drive over to someone’s house who you thought to be older than the legal age, regardless of how many paragraph 3’s we have.

    And I should say one more time: Your assertion that “entrapment isn’t the case here” is rather dubious. How do you know? OH!! You watched Dateline and they said so!

    Actus reus will ALWAYS be a defense. If there is no criminal act, there is no criminal prosecution. Driving to the house of a consenting (and even begging!) adult is NOT a crime.

  38. I wish there were a way to learn whether the actual incidents or merely the reporting of such crimes has increased over the years, and if the former, to what the increase should be attributed. Any guesses?

  39. This all started in my town, Murphy Texas. It has created quite a stink. The DA that shot himself wasn’t in Murphy. He was the only one on a list of “preadators” that didn’t show up to the sting house, so they went to serve a warrant on him. Turns out,just soliciting a child online is a crime in Texas. So, they can go and arest them at their own homes rather than attracting 21 creeps to a nice suburban hood. But that would make for lame TV.

    Check out the arguments this has sparked on our town’s unofficial message board. Pay special attention to the representative of Peverted Justice’s posts. Basically you support their tactics or your with the “predators.” Sound familiar?

    http://www.murphymessenger.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=451&start=0

    BTW. The DA that shot himself was involoved in prosecuting horse rendering plants. Resaon covered that stroy not too long ago.

  40. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/To_Catch_a_Predator

    and

    http://www.perverted-justice.com/

    can keep you busy for a while addressing some of the questions posed here.

  41. Lamar:

    Of course it’s a defense that the suspect was talking to an adult that he believed to be an adult. Does anyone here believe that to be the case? I thought the issue here was that suspects were talking to adults they believed to be minors. And that is clearly not a viable defense.

  42. madpad – you’ve blown my impression that most posters here know how to spot a joke. c’mon, madpad – you’re usually one of the quickest ones around. It was a joke. You sick pervert.

  43. But this whole, “on Dateline therefore guilty” is like a Superbowl ad for how stupid our country has become.

    What in the world are you talking about? Those poeple get thier day in court same as anyone else.

    As for me, I’m quite confident in the slimey nature of those poeple they catch. I’m conforted by the fact that not a single time I’ve seen the show has the guy once cought even tried to use the whole ‘this is unfair, you entrapped’ as an excuse. They where looking for kids, they got pinched, and they know it. Why do you think they start crying and saying how sorry they are?

  44. No, that is the inherent bias in the show. They announce that the pervs think that they are talking to a minor, when that is nothing more than an assumption made by TV producers. Go onto myspace and tell me how many people are the actual age they say they are. Go onto the dating websites, same thing. People lie on the internet, and I suspect when it comes to sex and porn, they lie even more than usual. So we have this culture where lying is expected, yet the jackass TV producer announces that the perv is definitively duped. It’s just not the case all the time and people who believe what a TV head tells them should question themselves. The opinion of some jagoff TV producer is barely worth the CO2 used to expel it let alone credence in a the court of law or of public opinion.

  45. What’s next… doing a SWAT sting on people who light up in public?

  46. Now the second (and last) part of my post. I have pretty strong feelings on this. We’re on the way to wrecking our system of law and our cherished democracy.

    Has it ever occured to some commenters in here, that most people caught in these stings are really of incredibly low intelligence? I mean they are clueless. Hard to believe, but they exist in all areas of life. Yet they are treated like they’re normal. They’re not. And by that I don’t mean their proclivities, but their lack of self-control. If one of us has never had any thoughts or desires which, if they were known, would be labeled “creepy” or “perverse”, then consider yourself lucky. It ain’t the rule. God help you if they ever become known, ’cause society will certainly NOT help you.
    Poster Semm has no doubts that it is good to catch anyone proactively. I hope for his sake he never tries to pick up that $100 bill on the sidewalk. It may be a “sting” to weed out potential thieves. What? You wanted to turn it in? Sure, come again!
    Don’t give people the opportunity and most will stay clean. That’s what’s wrong with “stings”.
    He even has fallen for the misinformation that sex offenders reoffend. Intuitively obvious, they’re driven. Must be to do something like that. cas closed. Fact is, the recidivism rate is around 20%, far lower than for, say, armed robbery. Why don’t we prosecute robbers with stings and registries? I can’t imagine that it is so incredibly worse to be fondled than it is to be beaten to a pulp, disabled and impoverished by expenses. Probably because it isn’t sexy. Doesn’t appeal to the public’s prurient interest.
    Misinformation regarding sex offenses is rampant and the “authorities” like it that way. Whip up the public into witch hunt mode and you get to expand your power.
    Lamar:
    You know, you’re wrong. Illegal is what the law says it is, not what you think it should be.

    It’s all for the children!

  47. Generally speaking, the way to prosecute these cases is to get the guy to admit that he knew the victim was underage-and he showed up anyway.

    It’s pretty tough to reconcile that fact with an innocent rendevous, especially when they show up with condoms, beer, movies, etc.

  48. I usually consider most posters here to be fairly smart and insightful.

    Got enough qualifiers in there, oh great Arbiter of Intelligence?

    Just kidding, of course.

  49. Semm:

    In order to be innocent, one must feign shock? “As for me, I’m quite confident in the slimey nature of those poeple they catch.” Slimey doesn’t mean illegal, Mr. Hate-The-Constitution. It is truly disgusting that you think you have the first clue as to any of these cases after watching a heavily edited show set up to put people in the worst possible light. Truly bizarre. Maybe we should arrest professional wrestlers for assault!!

  50. “Lamar: You know, you’re wrong. Illegal is what the law says it is, not what you think it should be.”
    The “law” doesn’t say what it is. Judges do, and they draw on their legal training, and any criminal act that contains no criminal act will have a hard time getting past the arraignment. Chris is right that if they admit they went to a minor’s house for underage sex, then they get convicted. If they thought they were going to another adult’s house (with beer and condoms of course), there IS no crime. Just because a TV crew sets up doesn’t make the person guilty.

  51. jf,

    Hold on there, Hoss. I’m an over-qualifier like my father before me. I’ll never turn to the Definitive Side.

  52. But isn’t this just a case of the market at work? I mean, this Dateline thing isn’t a one shot, it is an ongoing series that has ratings numbers and commercial spots to back it up.
    Creepy? Yeah.
    Orwellian? Probably.
    Profitable? You betcha!

  53. Pro Libertate:

    Together you may rule most of the universe (around here).

  54. I don’t see anything wrong with taking down these sickos in this manner.

    “in this manner” being = cops posting a national TV-network news crew outside a persons door to capture the moment a person is confronted with (allegedly) being an kiddy solicitor?

    To be fair: most people probably wouldnt initially balk at, say, tying “these sickos” to a tree, sicking rabid dogs on them.

    So maybe the more complex question of “what are the problems raised by formally combining crime-prevention/law-enforcement with sensationalist tabloid journalism?” isnt exactly top of mind for most.

    That doesnt even really touch upon the specifics of the entrapment issue – and to what degree entrapment is really crime ‘prevention’. or whether this guy in fact ever *did* commit a crime.

    Apparently he decided facing the world as an *accused* chickenhawk was bad enough.

    Just so you dont consider me a coddler of child-molestors – I do agree, “Sickos should be Taken Down”.

    Hopefully, in a court of law.

    It’s just a question, similar to things Radley has written about in the past, about whether law enforcement goes far enough in observing basic rights, or applies force/tactics that are appropriate to situations to limit risk.

    Your comment above was probably the exact same reaction offered by some Good Ol Boys/state-trooper-cowboys when learning that some poor son of a bitch got shot in their bed by the SWAT team over possession of a dime bag.

    “Its a Crime!” they yell. Sickos must be Taken down!

    Sure, but it doesnt mean the cure always has to be worse than the problem.

    JG

    p.s. “Observer” = I’m a 8yr old girl. Meet me at the playground later.

  55. If anyone cares, I am 12 yrs old, wearing a schoolgirl outfit with a bow in my hair, and sucking on a lollipop.

    And I’m sooooo lonely…

  56. Here’s an interesting defense:
    Per the text of the law that Chris posted:
    a minor child under the age of sixteen (16) years or a person the defendant believes to be a minor child under the age of sixteen
    So, if the “perv/perp” walks into the house, greets the young lady with a “Hey baby, how’s it shakin'”, then the host walks out and the perp exclaims, “Damn, I knew it! Hot dog I was right! She is over 16!”; would he be off the hook? In that moment, he exclaims that he believed that the girl was not a minor. Can the law tell a man what he believes?

  57. Am I a bad person because I like to go into Massachusetts teen girl chats with the username “CityPlanner4U” and see if I can find any action?

  58. I’m a member of the forum on Perverted Justice. I have not participated personally in any efforts to catch Internet pedophiles. I am a libertarian, though, and one reason I joined the forum was to see if entrapment was actually taking place.

    It is not entrapment; they are very careful about that. Entrapment would be where the investigator, posing as a child, tries to offer sex to a selected individual, and to manipulate him into accepting the offer. But they don’t want any conviction to fail because the perp brings a legitimate entrapment case to his defense. (I say “his;” they would prosecute a woman if she was a pedophile, but no such cases have come to ther attention yet.)

    What happens is they hang out in a public all-ages chatroom (not a sex room, not an adult room) or put up a myspace profile or IM profile of usually a 13 or 14-year-old kid, then sit back and wait to be contacted. They usually get many contacts in a short period of time. They always make sure the individual knows the kid’s age up front and as soon as possible. They never suggest anything sexual until the perp makes it perfectly clear that he has sex in mind. The most the investigator does is try to steer a pedophile to admit in so many words that they expect sex from a child, and in the case of the Dateline stings, try to get the individual to show up at the prepared location.

    For more information, please visit the site itself. I’m only a forum member and just wanted to set the record straight about the “entrapment” charges.

  59. In this case, the police teamed up with a website, Perverted Justice, to conduct the sting. For a long time, PJ was more of a vigilante group, busting men (and the occasional woman) in online chats, then posting their pictures and phone numbers online. The teaming up with the police is a rather recent thing that started happening not long after they got some decent news coverage. 1) I think it’s a pretty good group of people. Sometimes the chatters may try to rope the men in a little strong, but it doesn’t go so far as entrapment. 2) It’s probably safer for certain parties if the police are present. I remember during one sting, the owner of PJ chased one of the men for several blocks.

  60. I agree that the first two comments were a little harshly worded, but I’d like to make an analogy. Suppose this were not 2006, but 1856, and it wasn’t a prosecutor but a slave trader. Would you still be sorry for his death? Would you say “Gee, celebrating the death of a slave trader is too harsh”? He was not just making his living off an unjust system, he was actively supporting it, perpetuating it. If you really believe the War On Some Drugs is wrong, then this guy was not just a foot soldier but a lieutenant, and “I was just doing my job; that was the law” is not any more of a defense than “I was only following orders.” Will you sit there and say “Well, not everything he did was wrong…I’m sure he prosecuted some murderers and thieves too…”? If he was a child molestor, that’s not the sum total of his existence either, yet we condemn him for it – and his willing participation in the WOSD should be considered in the same way.

  61. Thanks for the input on the technicalities of pedo-nabbing

    So, if this Texas prosecutor never actually followed up on a planned tryst with a fakey-teen, is it still a crime?

    Are there any chat-rooms/message boards JUST for people PRETENDING to be 12-14yr olds?

    How about teens pretending to be chickenhawks, soliciting sex from adults pretending to be teens?

  62. “The most the investigator does is try to steer a pedophile to admit in so many words that they expect sex from a child, and in the case of the Dateline stings, try to get the individual to show up at the prepared location.”

    In other words: The most the investigator does is try to urge the perp to commit the crime. Entrapment is never so simple, and your “site” has a predictable, if self-serving, defense for it’s policy of entrapment. Heck, it isn’t entrapment every time, but just because there’s a “no entrapment” policy doesn’t mean that it doesn’t happen a lot of the time. Is there a legal review for entrapment before the alleged perp goes on TV?

    Anyhow, when you trust your justice to “Perverted Justice” and a bunch of Texas rednecks, I guess you reap what you sow – a perversion of justice.

  63. So JD, “willing participation” in the drug war is analogous to slave trading? I am not a willing participant in the drug war, whatever that means. I am also not an unwilling participant. My job is to enforce the law AS WRITTEN, period.

    I would have thought that Libertarians, who generally oppose activism on the bench, would express the same distaste for activism in the DA’s office. It is not my place to say which of the people’s laws I will enforce. To suggest that my death is justified by my upholding the law is beyond offensive. It’s obscene.

    You know the remedy: call your legislator. The fact that they are unwilling or unable to change the law does not in any way mean that it therefore becomes my responsibility to say what the law is.

  64. I guess you reap what you sow – a perversion of justice.

    Whoa, I think i actually heard a “Bum Bum Baa Buuummmmm!” at the end of that. Way to drop a tag line!

    I wonder how our Nation’s Leading Protectors of Children – i.e. Geraldo and Bill O’Reilly – would have handled this arrest??… =

    O’REILLY: You’ve got to go in.

    What?

    RIVERA: You’ve got to go through that window right now.

    Really? Why?

    RIVERA: Somebody is going to get hurt. Kids are going to get hurt, as they were in Colorado. One of the six, remember, in that situation. But you’ve got to go in all the way, full speed, smash it up.

    RIVERA: They’ve got to go now. Go now. Stun guns, smoke bombs, in the window. Where is he? He’s the only big guy in there, shoot him down, take them down now. You can’t wait. I’m telling you. What you’ll do is you’ll come to regret it.

    RIVERA: sex criminals don’t always look like that guy Morrison from Colorado. They look like anybody. And that’s the danger.

    O’REILLY: But they can’t…

    RIVERA: He goes in there to stick the place up with KY jelly. I’m telling you, you’re not going to grease the wheels or something. There’s only one reason.

    O’REILLY: No. Now, look, I’m not saying — all I’m saying is that the crime becomes more horrifying and disturbing because there’s no signal. You know, if you can be married for 20 years and raised three children in a small community like that and nobody thinks that you’re a danger, you don’t do anything strange. And then one day you show up and execute five little girls and wound eight others. I mean, that’s horrifying in the sense that it’s so sudden. And there’s no protection against it.

    RIVERA: There’s no protection except one. No uninvolved adult males walk on that school property, wherever the school is.

    O’REILLY: You can set up armed camps. You’ve got to set up armed camps.

    GILMORE: Can i just maybe chime in here?…

    O’REILLY & RIVERA: Why do you hate America???

  65. I am not a willing participant in the drug war, whatever that means. I am also not an unwilling participant. My job is to enforce the law AS WRITTEN, period.

    And since you willingly hold your job, enforcing the law as written, period, means you are voluntarily prosecuting the drug war.

    I must be missing a nuance here, because to me, this is the same as being a willing participant in the drug war. Geez, at least take responsibility for what you do.

  66. My point was simple: I don’t think you want me deciding what laws I enforce and what laws I don’t. That’s not my job. Doesn’t that make me no different than a judge deciding what the law is or should be?

  67. Chris:

    Let me ask you a variation of a question I asked in another thread: where is the line for you? What law would be, for you, so beyond the pale that, as a matter of conscience, you couldn’t enforce it?

    JMJ

  68. aside: this has been a great thread and a good way to spend the day instead of putting pot-smokers in jail for 20 years:)

    That’s a fair question, John. The answer of course, is that there is no such law. If there were, I couldn’t be a prosecutor. We just don’t get to make those calls. Is that a cop-out? Partially, I suppose. But I think our system tends toward justice in the long run, and the best way to ensure that liberty is protected is for everyone in the system to do their job-and only their job.

    I realize that most of the posters here oppose the war on drugs. I can see why you feel that way, and in many ways I agree. But the system comes closest to illegitimacy when individuals within it decide that their prerogatives -whatever they may be-outweigh the imperatives of the coordinate branches of government doing the jobs that are assigned to them.

  69. I would have thought that Libertarians, who generally oppose activism on the bench, would express the same distaste for activism in the DA’s office. It is not my place to say which of the people’s laws I will enforce.

    Well, to start, we already have activism in the DA’s office because there are so many laws that the DA has wide discretion to decide which violations get prosecuted and how vigorously punishment gets pursued (e.g. offer a plea to something minor and walk vs. a “full extent of the law” prosecution). So yes, it is your place (even if it shouldn’t be) to say which of the “people’s laws” get enforced, and you can’t get you off the moral responsibility hook that easily. Second, as RC points out, you choose to be a DA so you are a willing participant in anything the DA’s office does.

    Finally I would ask, is there any law the legislature could pass that you would refuse to enforce on principal? If so, then again, by not refusing you are a willing participant. That isn’t to say you should refuse – you may well believe the war on drugs is moral and justified and therefore you have no reason to refuse. But don’t pretend it isn’t your place to make a moral judgment (or that you are not implicitly making one by going forward with prosecutions). Of course it is. It is every human’s responsibility to make moral judgments about his actions and to behave accordingly.

    So if you believe the law is moral, fine, enforce it – but don’t hide behind the passive “I’m just doing my job” bullshit.

  70. The discretion to charge or not charge, plead or not plead, is not the same as the decision to refuse to enforce the law in all cases.

    Like I said, the proper place to remedy the war on drugs is in the legislature. You think it makes me a moral monster to enforce laws I don’t necessarily agree with? Wait until I refuse to enforce them. See how much you like that.

  71. JMJ: What law would be, for you, so beyond the pale that, as a matter of conscience, you couldn’t enforce it?

    Chris: The answer of course, is that there is no such law.

    WTF!?! Are you serious? If that is true you have no business being a prosecutor and are a vastly greater threat to society than any dope smoker ever was. Are you telling me that if there was a duly enacted law (and Constitutional Amendment) that prescribed the rounding up and deportation of, oh let’s say Jews, that you would enforce that law? Obviously I’m sure you wouldn’t, so JMJ’s question still stands. Of course you have a line (any thinking human must) and again, you can’t duck the issue with “I was just following orders.” We’ve been through that before.

  72. Did you read what I said? If a law was so unjust that I couldn’t enforce it, I couldn’t be a prosecutor. I would not be free to disregard the law and remain a prosecutor. I’m really having a hard time seeing the outrage over what I’ve said.

  73. Did you read what I said? If a law was so unjust that I couldn’t enforce it, I couldn’t be a prosecutor. I would not be free to disregard the law and remain a prosecutor. I’m really having a hard time seeing the outrage over what I’ve said.

    I think that was the crux of John’s question. What kind of law would make you resign rather than have to enforce?

  74. Every Prosecutor has the duty to use his discretion in enforcing the law to do justice. That may mean resigning rather than enforcing an unjust law. It may also mean not enforcing an otherwise just law where to do so would cause grave injustice. If you don’t beleive those two things, which unfortunately a lot of people in power don’t, you shouldn’t be involved in law enforcement.

  75. Well, the rounding up of the Jews would be one, obviously. A law that punished misegenation might be another. Does anyone have a real world example that doesn’t invoke Godwin’s law?

    I think though, these questions miss the point: If that’s the law I’m asked to uphold, then the system, and not just the law, is unjust. If you believe in the system generally-though not necessarily in all cases- you have to work to uphold it.

    my .02

  76. “Like I said, the proper place to remedy the war on drugs is in the legislature. You think it makes me a moral monster to enforce laws I don’t necessarily agree with? Wait until I refuse to enforce them. See how much you like that.”

    Why do you insist upon ignoring the point that you hold your job voluntarily? If you don’t wish to be viewed as an executor of the drug war, don’t enlist in an occupation that requires this of you.

  77. I hold my job voluntarily.

    Incidentally, I’m probably going into private practice soon, so if you guys know anybody that wants to hire Reason’s resident Nazi, let me know:)

  78. Does anyone have a real world example that doesn’t invoke Godwin’s law?

    Oh please – that was not invoking Godwin’s law. Look it up. The misuse of “Godwins law” is a common copout. Since you said there was no law you wouldn’t enforce I was forced to try to come up with such an egregious example. I think it ought to have been clear from his question that resigning over a law that is immoral counts as not enforcing – but since there was that confusion I’m glad to learn I was mistaken in my interpretation of your remarks.

  79. Reason’s resident Nazi

    There you go again… nobody equated you with a Nazi.

  80. I was just messing with you, Brian.

    Guys, this has been fun. Quite an intro to hit&run. Unfortunately, if I don’t do some work today I won’t have to worry about resigning.

    Out.

  81. madpad – you’ve blown my impression that most posters here know how to spot a joke. c’mon, madpad – you’re usually one of the quickest ones around. It was a joke. You sick pervert.

    Now, now…It’s not like I used profanity…but your joke, in this case, was a bit…inside. Anyways, takes one to know one, fellow pervy.

  82. Chris =

    Well, the rounding up of the Jews would be one, obviously. A law that punished misegenation might be another.

    Hey – He’s cool with Jews, Jungle Fever…he can’t be all bad! 🙂

    Just kidding.

    But Chris, what about more banal, quite common features of US criminal codes that stem from the WoD =

    like, say in florida…

    “Although prosecutors admitted Paey was not a drug trafficker, on April 16 he received a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years for drug trafficking”

    A disabled man who will spend what is likely the rest of his life in jail because of stupid laws

    http://www.november.org/thewall/cases/paey-r/paey-r.html

    I mean, you seem to say, “if some big grandiose Draconian Law were passed, well *then* i might be morally conflicted”… but i think that’s somewhat belittling the actual impact of US drug policy, which probably destroys someone’s life every day.

  83. Any difference between the perverted justiceers and the minutemen?

  84. “p.s. “Observer” = I’m a 8yr old girl. Meet me at the playground later.”

    Dude, calm down. I’m just not that fired up over their tactics. Aside from what some fictional “Good Ol’ Boys” that you’ve come up with “probably” said, from what I’ve seen of the show, I didn’t see any one who could make the claim that they thought they were in an elaborate fantasy with an 32 year old woman pretending to be 14. They have the transcripts of the chats, and guys are showing up with cheap alcohol and lubrication. For Christ’s sake, one guy even got naked after walking into the house and talking to the girl. Do you need a dick in a mouth before you make an arrest? I’m sorry that that infringes on anyone here who likes to talk to teenage girls online and travels with a carfull of lube and Boone’s farm regularly.

    Please, don’t try to compare this to the Drug War.

  85. Observer:

    (1) You’ve taken one example (guy who stripped naked in front of another adult) and applied it to every situation (though most are very awkward), (2) you’ve believed what a heavily edited broadcast told you about intent and (3) you think you know what a 32 year-old with a fantasy looks like when a camera is shoved in his face. Is that about it? Care to hit any more fallacies? Ahh yes, you repeated the idiocy that showing up with liquor and lube somehow shows they knew it was a kid. That’s a pretty tight argument, huh? Did you bother to ask yourself a condom (why bother with a condom on a super young girl?) and booze means molesting minors? Should I be weary the next time I buy a six of PBR?

    Either you are saying that ALL of the guys on the show are guilty of crimes, in which case I’d like to see a 100% conviction rate OR you are saying that so many of the guys are pervs that we shouldn’t care about the innocent who got caught up in Dateline’s TV sensationalism. Unless you can show a 100% conviction rate, you are of the latter category, and that’s the very type of non-thinking, know-it-all, assuming-all-the-time American that everybody strongly dislikes.

    I’m glad you’ve common sensed this whole issue for us. Heretofore I was under the impression that people are innocent until proven guilty. As it turns out, we only need to convict them on sensationalist TV!

  86. “I mean, you seem to say, “if some big grandiose Draconian Law were passed, well *then* i might be morally conflicted”… but i think that’s somewhat belittling the actual impact of US drug policy, which probably destroys someone’s life every day.”

    Gilmore:
    I don’t necessarily disagree that the drug laws are draconian. I think where we differ is how to change them. It does no good to change prosecutors when we could change the law. Sure, my concience is clean if I pull a Thoreau and quit. So what? It won’t stop the next prosecutor from throwing some small-time dealer in jail.

    I think there’s a legitimate way to address the war on drugs: through legislative change. Demonize prosecutors all you want; that won’t change anything for those incarcerated.

    As far as libertarianism goes, the principled stance is to reduce the federal government’s reach into every area of our lives via the commerce clause. Make a serious commitment to federalism and let local jurisdictions decide how to deal with drugs, with solutions tailored to local social mores. Then you wouldn’t have to worry about Torquemada down at the DA’s office; there wouldn’t be any drug crime to prosecute.

    I just cracked a cold one, so it’s all good.

  87. Lamar:

    Boy, you guys sure take things personal. Relax.

    “Did you bother to ask yourself a condom”

    I’m not sure what this means.

    “Should I be weary the next time I buy a six of PBR?”

    No one is outlawing PBR. But you should “be weary” if you just had an explicit sex chat with someone who claims to be 13, and then pick up the PBR and then drive to their house. I don’t see how I’m the bad guy on this.

    “As it turns out, we only need to convict them on sensationalist TV!”

    No one is convicted. They still get their day in court. All I’m saying is, if you talk sexually to children online, and then go to their house, you might end up on TV. Boo F’ing Hoo for them.

    Hey, if they’re innocent they can explain to their friends and neighbors that they just like to masturbate to people pretending to be minors, and then go to their house, cause that is a totally believable story, like an episode of Three’s Company.

    “Heretofore”

    Seriously? Do you talk like that?

  88. Do you need a dick in a mouth before you make an arrest?

    That is the best question i’ve heard all day.

  89. As far as libertarianism goes, the principled stance is to reduce the federal government’s reach into every area of our lives via the commerce clause.

    Amen to that

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