“To Catch a Predator” has lost its soul

This post is a direct response to Daniel Giuditta‘s YouTube column about the NBC show “To Catch a Predator”. Please watch the video of him if you get a chance. It brushed over some very important point, but he at least raised them. While not the most professional or well organized of all the videos, the guy did an excellent job converying his thoughts.


He solicits responses, so here is my extended one:

There are plenty of reasons why people defend this show and the methods of Perverted Justice, but the points raised here remain after we wring  the issue free of all its unicorn tears and good intentions and render it dry and logical.

As I watched, three things stuck out:

  • Perverted Justice’s (to me) clear conflict of interest in cases where they are being employed by NBC (the $100,000+ per show) and also acting as law enforcement officers. You didn’t go into much detail on this, and you should have.
  • Perverted Justice’s practice of online offense (and frequent slander) in “defense” of itself and their hosting of masturbation videos and photos seems to invalidate their stated goals, at least in part if not totally. No community-oriented group should ever engage in hostility against any member of the community they claim to want to protect, at least where it falls outside of its stated MO; this type of organizational elitism is why vigilanti groups are outlawed in the US and most of the developed world in the first place, the lack of checks and balances on a para-legal system always predicts bad futures. I can no longer perceive them as a group driven only by the community’s interest, as it is obvious that money, power and a sense of organizational elite has clouded their judgement and this has become self-interested business — not selfless — behaviour.
  • The most important thing here is definitely your mention of other issues beyond pedophiles creeping on kids over the internet. There are many things out there that are bad, many of which I would consider far worse than fully consentual sex between two humans, regardless of age. You found an excellent example in domestic violence for one simple reason: the intent to do harm. The intent to do something which is perceived to do harm merely because our particular society chooses to impose a biologically arbitrary age standard on certain behaviour may be bad, stygmatized and easily sensationalized but it lacks one major component that separates it from most other felonies and sensational crimes: malice. It is in fact currently far more acceptable by the law and society to beat your spouse beyond recognition weekly for years on end than to have consentual sex with an underage person. This seems strange to me. There is no federal registry for wife beaters.

Great piece. Well thought out and I appreciate how much organization you tried to bring to it.

Not that you really care what some anonymous person writing YouTube comments has to say about things in the first place though…

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