Have you ever seen that TV show “To Catch a Predator”?
Sure you have. It’s the “Dateline NBC” specials with
Chris Hansen, where they have these online fake teenie-
boppers set up old pervs who cruise the Internet looking
for young victims to help them fulfill their twisted carnal
fantasies. Apparently there are a lot more of those guys
than any of us might like to think.
Some decoy gets on a chat room and hooks up with the
sicko, and convinces him that they are, say, a 13 year old
girl who is willing and ready to do unspeakable things
with just any old fat guy that they have never even met. It just so happens that her parents are away for the weekend, and the “kid” eventually sets up an appointment time for the guy to come to her house and play. When he gets there, Chris Hansen pops out and, in entertaining fashion, informs the guy that his intentions are all on film and broadcast on national TV. So, whatever kind of life the predator had is ultimately toast. But that’s not the end of it – because when the pervert walks out of the house he is immediately nabbed by a bunch of cops, handcuffed, and hauled off to the pokey, where he can experience somebody else’s fantasy.
The whole concept seems like pure justice to me, because there is no doubt as to the intentions of these men. But I cannot help but to wonder how any of this is legal, and I cannot fathom how all of them aren’t acquitted using an “entrapment” defense.
Let’s be clear. I’m not defending these guys. If it was me, and if it wasn’t against the law to devise such a plan, I’d have something more violent and illegal waiting for them when they walked into this set-up. And when, or if, they walked out, they would no longer possess the equipment required to conduct the activities they have in mind. But, sooner or later, it would be me that ended up in jail, because even in nabbing criminals there are some laws that have to be followed.
It’s just that when I get a question like this in my head, I can’t rest until I get some kind of satisfactory answer.
First of all, these aren’t really even kids. They are adults, posing as kids. So the culprit, even though he thinks he is, isn’t even communicating with somebody under-age. When he gets to the house he is invited in by the decoy, who is, in fact, an adult. There aren’t even any kids in the house. Can you arrest and imprison somebody for what they are thinking?
What about those wackos on HBO who dress themselves or their partners up in diapers and play with rattles and lollipops when they…you know…do what they do? What goes on in their heads has to be some kind of a crime. But you don’t see them getting dragged off barefooted to the big house in their little bonnets.
Here’s another analogy. You don’t like the jerk who lives down the street. You know he’s inclined to smoke a little weed now and then, and you come up with a plan to sell him some and get him popped. (Who’s the jerk?) You arrange a meeting where you have several cops and videographers hiding in the bushes; meet him there; and exchange a plastic bag of oregano mixed with cat litter for a hundred bucks. As soon as the exchange is made, six cops jump out and slam him to the ground, and load him up into the paddy wagon.
That guy thought he was buying marijuana, which, as you may know, is illegal. But he purchased cooking spice (and whatever cat litter is), which are not. Did he commit an actual crime? Will he end up in jail for it?
How ‘bout this one? There has been just too much speeding on the local by-pass. Somehow, law enforcement manages to get all your automobiles and tamper with the speedometers – setting them so that they register 15 mph faster than the car is actually traveling. You’re zipping down the interstate at what you think is 80 miles an hour, but you are, in fact, going only 65, on a 70 mph highway. Clearly, your intention is to speed. Lawbreaker! Which little box is going to be checked on that ticket? Can you be fined?
Or this. Say you’ve been making enemies of the wrong people, and you have discovered that one of them plans to (gulp!) assassinate you. Through some clever means you manage to set up a “Blazing Saddles” sort of fake scene out in the desert. Sitting there in a rocking chair is a spitting-image plastic replica of you, reading the latest Harry Potter book. Up in the rocks, two hundred yards away, the sniper is looking through a high- powered scope. The little laser dot appears on your head and the assassin squeezes the trigger. Boom! The cops jump out of their hiding places and drag the shooter down. What is he arrested for? Murder? Attempted murder? Destruction of private property?
This is fun, and I could go on with these scenarios all day. I won’t. Just hoping here that some legal scholars out there will think this over (for free) and let me know their thoughts concerning how this “perverted justice” bunch makes the charges stick on these astonishingly stupid would-be child predators.
Then I can find something else to wonder about.
© 2009, Rick Baberhttp://www.rickbaber.com