Civil Liberties

Predatory Cameras

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This story hits almost all the Hit & Run bases: a cyberspace sex panic, a forced-entry raid that ends badly, a set of troublesome ties between reporters and the government—everything but Roy Orbison in clingfilm.

An excerpt:

Dateline has argued that "Predator" serves a genuine public good, but it could be argued that, in fact, Dateline is doing the public a disservice. 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.

[Via Infocult.]

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  1. I use “Sphincter Numbers” – pulled right out of my ass.

  2. 97.4% of statistics are made up on the spot

  3. Government Agencies Make Up Figures; Hurt 50,000 Women And Children.

  4. I would believe the numbers if they replaced the word “prowling” with “masturbating to an old Raggedy Ann doll.” Otherwise, it just isn’t credible.

  5. The show does the public a great service by getting all these dangerous criminals into prison.

    It is also great entertainment, it is great to watch them get tackled and beaten when they try to escape, they should shoot them on the spot and show it on TV, that would be great fun to watch them bleed for the evil they do to society.

  6. They should set up another show where they lure deadly criminals in to buy drugs and then have the cops take ’em down for some good ‘ole fashioned SEVERE punishment!

    J

  7. They should also set up a show, “To Catch a Gambler” where the setup an online poker game, then the cops take ’em down for some good ‘ole fashioned SEVERE punishment!

  8. 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.

    And how many undercover cops are prowling the Net trolling for the predators? Given that local news shows San Antonio PD busting pervs about once a month I’d Goldilocks the number collected nationally at 5,000.

  9. A comepeting network should set up a countersting. See if they can figure out where NBC and Perverted Justice are set up, then have an actual minor logon and see if they can get someone on the other end to solicit sex first. And do the same type of show with cops and all. At the very least it could get a highly rated show off the competitor’s roster.

  10. I always thought what they should do is get an actual minor, then have them go on the net and claim to be over 18, then when the perverts show up bust them for soliciting a minor. I think they would potentially catch more predators if those at the other end didn’t believe they we soliciting a minor.

  11. Jane, you sound sexy (and stupid), thats great for me…

  12. Maybe Radley Balk should start claiming that 50,000 innocent people are killed a year in SWAT raids gone badly. That might penetrate the media… 😛

  13. Balko, even…

  14. I’ve been posting here for a couple of years, and I’m still not sure if Jane/Juanita is for real, or just a trolling jokester.

  15. If it REALLY hit all Hit N Run bases, it would’ve had a Kinks reference in the title.

    OK, how about an ELO reference then: Dreaming of 50,000

  16. Lamar,

    What is the meaning of your comment? In all seriousness — do child predators/pedos do that sort of thing? Just looking for clarification.

  17. what is there more of on the on the internet:

    real psychos trawling for victims?

    or cops (and TV guys) looking for perverts?

    I see a chat room with 10 people in it…

    all cops

    I also wonder if our society’s macabre fascination with kiddie fiddlers isn’t counter productive, in that it exposes up-and-coming deviants to the possibility of taking that route (as opposed to blow up dolls, cantaloupes, or the church)

  18. I guess… except its not illegal to solicit an adult… and it is hardly fair to pretend to be an adult and then hold them strictly liable for believing your lie. In fact it would be entrapment.

    It’s certainly creepy for older guys to trawl for young women. But it isn’t illegal.

  19. By young women, I mean 18+

  20. 50,000 Justice Department officials are pedophiles.

    Just sayin’.

  21. As a miner I would sit at the bar, trying to get other miners to buy me drinks. Occasionally, if I’d had too much to drink, they’d offer me a ride home, always to my own house, where my wife would be waiting with a video camera. The following morning, after seeing the video, I’d swear off drinking, at least until the next payday. It just didn’t seem like to a big thing to try to hustle other miners.

  22. I was immediately reminded of an old “Night Court” episode.

  23. The one obvious disservice that the NBC series does is to skew viewers’ perceptions of the prevalence of child sexual abuse by strangers. The actual rate of such crimes is low in comparison to the much higher prevalence of such abuse being perpetrated by a relative or acquaintence of the victim. The latter have much easier access to their potential victims, and can use their relationship with the victim to more readily gain the victim’s trust and acquiesence.

  24. Psychologically, this is little different than Romans watching prisoners/slaves kill each other in the arena.

    Not to say that Chester the Molester deserves much sympathy, but it’s no big mystery why this sort of entertainment happens. It takes a very repressive society for it not to happen.

  25. Thanks to those damn Roy Orbison clingfilm stories I get the weirdest smile on my face when wrapping leftovers. It’s difficult to explain that to anyone in the kitchen with me.

  26. High#:

    Mrs. Moose and I chuckle about that, too!

    (Can assure you that the lake looks breathtaking today!)

  27. I guess… except its not illegal to solicit an adult… and it is hardly fair to pretend to be an adult and then hold them strictly liable for believing your lie.

    Not true, in the case of any crime involving a child strict liability applies, even checking an id does not protect you if unbeknownst to you it is fake.

  28. (Can assure you that the lake looks breathtaking today!)

    Didn’t ask. Don’t want to hear it. Screw you and your lake – I work in Naperville. ;(

  29. hrumph.

    /kicks pebble

  30. Aw, shucks! I’m sorry. Don’t be like that. It’s not your fault. I shouldn’t take it out on you.
    [sheepish grin]

  31. but…. i was naughty….

    /locks self in closet with magical forbidden suitcase of mystery

  32. “”Not true, in the case of any crime involving a child strict liability applies, even checking an id does not protect you if unbeknownst to you it is fake.”””

    I disagree. It goes to intent. The person did not intend to go after children, and presumably, email content would back that up. I doubt a jury would ever convict.

    I don’t have a problem with Dateline on this subject. They should do it as much as they can. If you stupid enough to fall for it… After all, they seem to “qualify” the intent of these people in their emails. That’s far better than what AG Gonzo, is trying to do.

  33. Wal-mart has a “pedometer” on sale for $3.94

    >channeling hank hill< What the hell?

  34. VM! What you got in there? Huh? Huh?
    Lemme see! Lemme see! Please? Plee-ease?

  35. High#: apparently it’s a bunch of brotherben’s pedometers customized with the word “amen” on them!

  36. I disagree. It goes to intent. The person did not intend to go after children, and presumably, email content would back that up. I doubt a jury would ever convict.

    That’s not what the law says, just like the law says that a person possession of more than X grams of MJ is guilty of trafficking, even if they had no intent to distribute.

    And as for the jury refusing to convict, thanks for the laugh. The prosecutor and the judge would instruct them that they had to apply the law strictly as written. Any pro-nullification jurors would already have been dismissed during jury selection.

  37. Oh, why is that cool?

  38. “””That’s not what the law says, just like the law says that a person possession of more than X grams of MJ is guilty of trafficking, even if they had no intent to distribute.”””

    First of all, if the guy went to a location to meet with someone and nothing happened, the crime would be conspiracy to commit said crime. In order to satisfy conspiracy you would have to prove intent. If there is no intent, there is no conspiracy.

    In your example the guy HAS committed a crime (possession). Therefore what he intended to do with his X amount is up for question.

    I must point out that the Prosecutor can not instruct the jury to apply any letter of law. That’s strictly the Judge’s job.

  39. Tricky Vic

    “I disagree. It goes to intent. The person did not intend to go after children, and presumably, email content would back that up. I doubt a jury would ever convict.”

    that’s the point of strict liability – your intent don’t mean shite.

  40. GILMORE,

    Laughing my arse off…

  41. that’s the point of strict liability – your intent don’t mean shite.

    Strict liability applies only to criminal actions, not intent. In other words, if I unsuccessfully attempt to solicit sex from a minor under the mistaken belief that they are an adult, there is *no crime*, at least none I’m aware of. If I successfully solicit such sex, then I’m guilty of statutory rape–but the offense is based purely on my actions, not my intent. Without the actions and no intent, there is no crime.

  42. As a jurisdiction with due process, the United States makes only the most minor crimes or infractions subject to strict liability. One example would be parking violations, where the state only needs to show that the defendant’s vehicle was parked inappropriately at a certain curb. But serious crimes like rape and murder require some showing of culpability or mens rea. Otherwise, every accidental death, even during medical treatment in good faith, could become grounds for a murder prosecution and a prison sentence.

    Another area where strict liability tends to show up is in drunk driving laws; the punishment tends to be given on a strict liability basis, with no mens rea requirement at all. This was important for the purposes of a U.S. Supreme Court case in 2004, Leocal v. Ashcroft, where a deportation order was overturned because the conviction that led to the deportation order was a strict liability law, while deportation was only allowed upon conviction if the crime was a “crime of violence” (where violence, or the potential for it, was inherent in the crime itself).

    In many states, statutory rape is considered a strict liability offense.

  43. Strict liability applies only to criminal actions, not intent.

    No, strict liability means you are guilty (or liable) regardless of negligence or intentionality.

    In other words, if I unsuccessfully attempt to solicit sex from a minor under the mistaken belief that they are an adult, there is *no crime*, at least none I’m aware of.

    Well, you are guilty of attempting to solicit sex from a minor, which is a crime regardless of whether anyone takes you the least bit seriously when you say “But, your honor, she looked at least 18!”.

  44. if I unsuccessfully attempt to solicit sex from a minor under the mistaken belief that they are an adult

    No in statutory rape cases there is no mistaken belief defense allowed, basically there is no defense allowed. If you have sex or solicit sex from a minor it doesn’t matter that you reasonably believed them to be over 18. Even if you ask for proof, and see a reasonable looking birth certificate that shows them over 18, if it is forged it is not a defense, even if a reasonable person would find it believable. It is inherintly unfair, but is considered necessary for society to protect minors as a greater good, in other words, don’t have sex with anyone unless they clearly, obviously look over 18, perhaps unless they look at least 30.

  45. A guy I was in prison with picked up a drunk young lady at a bar (the drinking age was 21)

    he took her with on a roadtrip to visit his brother in Cali

    upon returning from the trip, he dropped her off at her house and proceed towards his house

    cops pulled him over

    turns out chick was only 16 years old and her father called teh cops w/ dude’s license plate number

    next stop: 4 years in the hoosegow

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