Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Perverted Justice Indeed.

The following news reports questions the police entrapment "reality" show To Catch a Predator. Basically a private vigilante group receives funds from NBC to troll the internet and solicit sexual conversations with people. The solicitors pretend to be underage and talk dirt with individuals and then try to arrange meetings. The people they solicit are then arrested as predators. One major problem with this is that it is hard to distinguish, on-line, if someone thinks they are actually speaking to a minor or if they are speaking to an adult engaged in sexual role play. (More below.)

There are people who enjoy on line sex chats or telephone chats. And often, without ever seeing the other person, they hint at the fantasies they wish to play out. The other person takes the cues and responds appropriately (or inappropriately as the case may be). There is no way to discern role playing from serious soliticitation. Even asking the other person creates a problem as the other person may assume you wish them to lie in order to play out the fantasy.

If this were not the case one would have to explain the amazing on-line surplus of 21 year old hunks with swimmers bodies, and blond, chesty female models who are 19 years old. The first is likely to be a 42 year old overweight accountant. The second too! In fact you can't even be sure that the "hot girl" on the other end is even female. No one thinks the man who posts that he's "been a bad boy" is in fact, a young boy who has been bad, just a horny middle-aged adult who wants domination and discipline. But this NBC entrapment scheme operates on the assumption that no one ever role plays on line. And then they set the people up for arrest and film it just for the ratings. In fact, the solicitor is role playing. But the police assumes the one being entrapped doesn't assume this and arrests them on the basis that they are actually soliciting an underaged individual.

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