Saturday, March 17, 2007


Arguing tends to make me sick to my stomach, even when I am arguing about something in which I believe strongly. This is probably because, as a friend pointed out to me, I want people to like me. There's a thread I'm going to have to avoid from now on, because despite what I thought were fairly calm, coherent posts on my part, I've failed to convince anyone that my argument has any merit. That said, there's another thing that makes me sick, and I'm going to vent about it here.

There are a couple of tv shows and a website which exist to entrap "sexual predators" by having decoys enter chat rooms and pose as underage teenagers, then lure chatters into meeting them. If they show up for the meeting, they are arrested. This subject has actually come up on two different message boards. At the first, I stayed out of the discussion, but on the second, I participated and wound up nauseous and frustrated.

After a talk with a friend, I am somewhat less upset about the entrapment portion of the problem. From what little I have seen, the decoys are (generally) not the ones initiating the sexual portion of the chat, which does put the adult subjects in the wrong.

The things which bother me have to do with pandering to society's lowest common denominator, news organizations forgetting what they are supposed to be doing, misleading and inflammatory information and vigilantism.

These shows are selling fear and violence to make a profit, and America, at least, is buying it. The tv shows which run these "stings" are successful in terms of viewers and advertisers, or there wouldn't be more shows made. The Romans had their circuses, and now we have "To Catch a Predator" or whatever. I'm sure that if the subject showed up at a house and was greeted with a hungry lion, the ratings would shoot through the roof. Yes, there are plenty of people out there who get their kicks sitting in their nice, comfy living room saying, "Wow, he really deserved to have six cops tackle him. I'd like five minutes alone with that guy." We don't need to feed those kicks.

Second, news organizations are supposed to report the news in an objective fashion, not create it. Why don't we send Stone Phillips out with a pocket full of Molotov cocktails and addresses for every single person who's done something the viewers can agree is "bad." That'll make some news and some great ratings!

Third, in the thread I am not permitting myself to post in any longer, one of the posters who is a big fan and proponent of these shows stated as a fact that "there are millions of predators on the Internet." Erm. There may be. I'm sure there are millions of people with internet access, and some percentage of them are probably potential or actual predators. But children and teens are still at more risk from someone they know face-to-face. Stirring up hysteria with stories about epidemics of sexual predation is irresponsible.

Finally, while one of these shows (the only one I've seen--watched half of an episode, turned it off and threw up) utilizes the police, the website and possibly other shows use decoys who are strictly "concerned citizens." Yes, it's such a good idea to add vigilantes to our circuses. We ought to be all out there, prepared to trap and expose others' misdeeds instead of working to improve ourselves and have a positive impact on the people around us.

If the police feel that this is a decent use of their time and resources, so be it. I see no need to dramatize and televise it.

Ugh, I'm still sick.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well not to add further to your nausea but... I like the idea that the public advertisment of this game the TV producers play might effectively discourage online predators. If it prevents one child from being seduced I am all for letting it happen. It's really too bad that it requires the thought of public humiliation to get them to stop though.