IMproper Conduct

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Virginia politicans are making yet more moves to keep sex offenders off the internet.

The proposal would make Virginia the first state to dovetail with MySpace.com's recently announced plans to block sex offenders from access to its popular social networking site for teenagers and others.

"We require all sex offenders to register their physical and mailing addresses in Virginia," [Attorney General Bob] McDonnell said in a prepared statement, "but in the 21st century it is just as critical that they register any email addresses or IM screen names. . . . I hope other social networking sites will join Myspace.com in implementing the software necessary to accomplish this goal."

I was living in Virginia when McDonnell won last year, and I don't recall seeing any campaign ads that weren't targeted at parents' fears about sexual predators. There was a nice stock video the ads all used of McDonnell talking to cops, then a lonely, sad white guy sulking as prison bars close on him. Their effectiveness was probably aided by the fact that MSNBC's "To Catch A Predator" series, now in installment 13,429 (I think), started in northern Virginia. Which is a way of saying that this flawed plan (IM names! Surely these crooks can't get new IM names!) is the tip of an iceberg.

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  1. This is a good idea. Period. End of discussion.

  2. Do I have to specifically register, or can I just us an IM name like “IMAPERV” or “WEENIEWAGGER”

  3. I don’t think he goes far enough. They should be required to notify their local police departments at least 48 hours before abducting and molesting any person under 16. Period. No exceptions.

  4. No, this is a stupid idea Juanita. How long does it take you to register a new email address. I personally have three different addresses, one for work contacts, one for family, and one for bullshit. It took me about a grand total of sixty seconds each to open each of them. I also have a different IM for each. How easy would it be for a predator to do the same, only report one address, and proceed to use the other. How could any bureaucrat keep up with a determined sex offender’s email addresses when you virtually open and close a new one every day if you want?

    Seriously, I’m personally disgusted with chomos just as much as the next person, but you need to use you brain when advocating policy, Jaunita, not just go with your gut reaction.

  5. How long before McDonald is caught trying to sodomize teenage boys like Foley? It never fails with these guys, the more concerned they are about sex abuse, the bigger old pervert they are in private. Talk about projection.

  6. Amen to that John.

  7. Any effort to make the internet safer for our children is a good thing, regardless of actual results.

  8. and on second thought, I should use my brain before criticizing sarcasm.

  9. Any effort to make the internet safer for our children is a good thing, regardless of actual results.

    Amen

  10. Perhaps free up some prison space so you can put the perverts in prison longer?

    Let’s see . . . you’d have to let out some of the *other* prisoners . . . those whose offenses involve less serious activity . . . then there would be more room for the rapists and molestors . . . but whom to release to make room for the *criminals?* Whom to release . . . whom to release . . . I’m stumped, does anyone have any ideas?

  11. “I personally have three different addresses”

    I just KNEW you were a pervert.

  12. Todd,
    I don’t see this as a preventative measure but more as a way of ratcheting up sentencing when the molestor is caught. The idea might be that the probability of actually molesting someone by using the internet is much greater than the probability of molesting someone by other means (say by trying to solicit a kid with candy in the park). So if there’s a higher probability of harm when using the internet there should be a greater deterence (thus harsher punishments).

    plus you could get a convicted sex offender for having an unregisterd IM name before they actually made an attempt. The standards for what constitutes an attempt are high in some states and maybe you want to arrest them before it gets to that possibly unsafe point.

    So not necessarily just stupid policy.

  13. I wonder if we are not looking at this from the wrong angle.
    Maybe we could get parents to register their kids.
    And then fine them if their kids IM chat with predators.
    something like that.

  14. kwais may be right here. If only parents had an incentive to keep their kids from talking to predators…

  15. Another case of people making laws where they have absolutely no idea of how things work. Making someone “register” an email address is silly. It’s not like a physical location that’s a bit more of a pain to change. I’ve lost count of how many email addresses I have (and use).

    This will have exactly ZERO effect on stopping pervs from using the internet to look for kids.

    I know! Let’s tell the parents to watch their kid’s use of the internet and to teach them the “don’t talk to strangers” thing. Seemed to work OK for me. Oh, that’s personal responsibility and that won’t work.

  16. You’re missing the point: it sounds good to internet noobs and makes its author look TOUGH ON PERVS. Who gives a crap if it does anything? It looks like it is doing something!

    Mission Accomplished. The War on Pervs has stopped being about protecting potential victims and has become an image enhancer.

  17. “One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programmes by their intentions rather than their results.” -Milton Friedman, R.I.P.

    I think this applies here quite nicely.

    New policy idea: Let’s stop sex offense (outside of prison).
    Means: Arrest every human being over which we have jurisdiction.

    Nice. Stopping sex offense is really good, right? I mean, right?

  18. “Any effort to make the internet safer for our children is a good thing, regardless of actual results.”

    Like banning Dan T. from using the net?

  19. “Any effort to make the internet safer for our children is a good thing, regardless of actual results.”

    Juanita, policy is different from general statements.

    I think we all agree that people should wear shoes when they go out, yet it would be silly for the government to pass a law mandating people to wear shoes outdoors. Mainly because it’s unenforceable. Although I can imagine a politican and dare I say (you) declare: Any effort to help stop foot injuries of the public by the government is welcome.

    Or we could do it Saudi style, and cut off a few penisis to make an example and let the sheer fear of the punishment ripple through.

  20. Look, this is simple: just regulate the distribution of e-mail addresses, and require ISPs and webmail providers to obtain verification of identity.

    Am I being paranoid when I wonder if that’s where this whole thing is headed?

  21. andronoid, I think they’re one step ahead of you. By continually piling on demand after reasonable demand, they’ll eventually be able to rearrest anybody they want to for failure to comply with some obscure facet of the law– sort of like the tax code is now.

    No need to worry about recidivism; They’ll all be guilty of something. Just reel them in.

  22. MAybe they should start by making members of Congress register their IM names.

  23. Guys (and gals)-you are missing the big picture:

    The next step is to ban anonymous Email.

    Wanna take bets on when the first proposal will come out?

    Put me down for eighteen months.

  24. “Any effort to make the internet safer for our children is a good thing, regardless of actual results.”

    That’s the dumbest thing I’ve seen a really long time.

  25. If no measure is wrong…

    Let’s just shut down the internet. then the children will be safe.

    I’m sure anyone who doesn’t hate children will agree that this is sensible.

    Jake
    (who has to go scrub his brain out with mentalfloss now)

  26. Im all in favor of protecting people from criminals, but I think this
    sex offender idea is not near enough protection.

    Im talking about murderers, car thieves, bank robbers, car jackers,
    violent gang members, drug dealers, burglars, and people convicted
    of animal cruelty.

    Where are the registries for these potential reoffenders? If there is a
    car thief living next door to me, I want to know, and if some kids down
    the street set a cat on fire last year, I certainly want to know about that,
    I love my cat. And violent gang members are very likely to do another
    violent crime, I would like to know if my neighbor is a threat to my
    aging mother who likes to take nightly walks.

    Burglars, cant forget about them, might want to rethink where my big
    screen TV is sitting, if there is one across the street I might not want
    to have it in plain view?

    Whats that you say, registries like that would be an absurd violation of
    the criminals bill of rights??!! You don’t say?.. but your all in favor of
    this kind of treatment for some boogy man sex offender?.. amazing.

  27. How could you ban anonymous e-mail? If you can figure out who sent it, then it wasn’t anonymous. So how could you ever punish anyone for it?

  28. Any effort to make the internet safer for our children is a good thing, regardless of actual results.

    Amen bro’

    Wuzzup is Juanita man! How ya’lls doing?

  29. If a crime is committed by a criminal, there should be some kind of penalty so that doesn’t happen.

  30. I don’t bother using anonymized proxies or remailers, but I know they are out there should I ever have need of them – usually in other countries. I’m sure the solons behind this have no clue about how easy it is to mask your identity if you have the know how and the incentive. That being said, I’m also convinced that the clueless mooks who let themselves get nabbed by Dateline-style stings will get caught using non-anonymized accounts. The sets of {Criminal} and {Idiot} have a large intersection.

    The Feds and others serious about controlling the net are sure to be on the hunt for ways to cut off access to anonymized servers. That would be one way to enforce the attempt to ban online gambling. They’ll the fights against terrorism and predators as cover.

    Kevin

  31. News from the other side of the pond: Children as young as 12 are taught pole dancing.

  32. Andronoid:

    This is pure guesswork, but I think it’s likely that contacts made with children over the internet would be less likely to result in a, uh, completed molestation attempt. Probably most child molestations are committed by an adult known to the child in the real world.

  33. So Juanita is not a troll but someone being extremely sarcastic?

  34. Probably most child molestations are committed by an adult known to the child in the real world.

    Probably? No probably about it. But this issue, like the satanist molester cults of the 80’s, circumvents reason.

  35. I miss joe. He only posts like every 4th thread. And let’s be honest: other than joe, our trolls and contrarian automatons lack a certain… 4th grade mental capacity.

    this message brought to you by “joe for Supreme Leader of the Opposition.”

  36. I think Joe is more mainstream H&R than me lately. I don’t think he can be called a troll.
    I mean he gets on and talks about how horrible this president is and how wonderfull Clinton was, and there appears to be a chorus of approval.

    Maybe after a year of the Dems being in congress, Joe will be in the minority again here at H&R.

  37. van,
    I totally agree. but here’s an analogy. Suppose robbery can take place with either using no weapon or a knife or using a gun. Just because we for some reason can’t punish the gun robbery more harshly than the no weapon robbery doesn’t mean we shouldn’t punish the knife robbery more harshly than the no weapon robbery.

    Here some would argue that we can’t punish someone more harshly for getting to know a kid before abusing them (maybe that’d be too vague/impractical?) but that doesn’t mean we can’t punish them more harshly for using a computer to abuse a kid.

    Anyway, I agree with everybody here and I’m just playing devil’s advocate because I desperately want everyone to see how smart I am.

  38. Juanita darling, remember our rule – no blogging until the kitchen and bathroom are clean.

    God, good help is sure hard to find these days.

  39. I am going to go against the grain here. The law makes sense, or at least it makes as much sense as similar laws do – like hate crime laws, or laws agianst selling drugs within 1000 ft perimeter of a school. The motive behind these laws is not regulatory. These laws are motivated by the expection that empowering the police to stick an extra charge on someone who has already been arrested for another, more primary offense, can put away for longer or will have to plea bargain without much fuss.

    Lawmakers do not have understand these here internet tubes to get what they want.

  40. i find Kwais’es idea fascinating. The talk of “registering children” is a bit jarring, but in light of the whole sitaution with porn on the internet, maybe making it a small crime to provide unrestricted Internet access to a minor is a good idea.

    They would have to make sure enforcement didn’t get out of hand, but it is kind of like underage drinking, as policy issue. To be clear, I think the problem of minors drinking is handled in an okay way in the US. I don’t like all the details, but the basic rule of conduct where patrents know they can’t be too free with providing their children alcohol is a good one. maybe there should be a similar policy for the Internet.

    I hate to say it, but maybe government should even be responsible for what content can go on the “children’s internet” and what has to come off. Maybe government should set up special rules of anonymity for this “children’s internet.”

    If we were going to add this layer of government regulation, as a way of keeping freedom of expression on the adults’ internet, then it would be cool if the control could be local, with each city or county designing its own filter. I sort of like the idea of all the US’s scolds and busybodies having local councils to debate and specify what the “children’s internet” can be in their local city. I think there are way too many scolds and busybodies and this would give them something to do out of my way.

  41. Anyone still watching this thread?

    [crickets]

    Anyway, I find this to be some pretty scary shit.

  42. Any effort to make the internet safer for our children is a good thing, regardless of actual results.

    How about an effort that would produce results. Provide every child preditor with a computer and a free email account, wait for him to contact one of the many law enforcement officers posing as children, then let him string enough rope to hang himself.

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