Monday, December 17, 2007

Entrapping a predator?

Living in Florida, I know a little something about gators. They are natural hunters in search of prey. That’s all they do. When silly humans do stupid things, like throw morsels of food at them, being kind and all, they don’t realize they are sealing the reptile’s fate. No longer will that alligator live in fear of people. They will move in on civilization and seek out food. Cats, dogs and children become easy targets. Professional trappers are called to take care of the problem. They will be destroyed in most cases because once they lose fear, your home is their home. Gators and humans have certain things in common, uncannily. Both are hunters/gatherers. Both are predators. Humans are intellectually superior, though, and we can rationalize. Unfortunately, the desire to pounce sometimes outweighs the fear of being caught and those types become more like the animal that must be trapped and dealt with. Human error. Unfortunately, for some gators, that's human error, too.

I read an article online that took aim at NBC and the author called it, “the predator network” for airing its series, “To Catch A Predator”. Personally, the article offended me. I am familiar with that writer, and by his own admission, he has no children, and cannot speak for the millions of parents out there, yet, he became the supreme authority on the subject. NBC is taking advantage of sick minds and profiting from the venture, he said. I asked if his intent was not to make money off the sales of his books? Is NBC not a business out to make money? So what if they take these people off the streets of America while making a buck? At the same time, aren’t they enlightening parents and others the world over about the evils lurking out there? He started his post by stating it’s “where pedophiles are entrapped in online chat rooms and in-person…” to justify his defense of sick minds and went on to explain why they should not be incarcerated. They should be treated medically. He closed his comments with a question about why parents don’t know what their children are doing on the Internet. No mother and father can police their children 24 hours a day. Parents can’t stand there watching intently over their shoulders as children research school projects and chat with legitimate friends. They have other obligations, like fixing meals and doing laundry. Things only parents know about. If he had a 13 year old child and the same scenario arose, would he be singing the same tune?Let's start off by describing what the term entrapment means. According to Wikipedia:

In jurisprudence, entrapment is a legal defense by which a defendant may argue that he or she should not be held criminally liable for actions which broke the law, because he/she was induced (or entrapped) by the police to commit those acts.

Note the words, “legal defense.” This means charges have been filed. Let’s allow the court system to sort this out according to community standards. What plays in Peoria might not carry a tune in New York City and that’s why one person should not make the call here. What about undercover sting operations? They can be highly successful. Imagine, provocatively dressed working girls standing on street corners waiting for johns may just be employed by the police department. Is it wrong to stop a potential crime before it occurs? Is “to catch a [potential] rapist/murderer” in such a manner entrapment? Clearly, what plays in Peoria does carry a tune in New York and soliciting a prostitute, whether real or planted, is against the law.

Recently, an attempted robbery took place in Statesville, NC, and the whole thing was captured on video tape. After the alleged robber forced the employee into the office to open the safe, he pulled the trigger at the worker’s head. MISFIRE! The employee took his only chance at that most opportune time to defend himself. After a struggle, the robber relented and fled. Because the gun misfired, the robber can’t be charged with murder if he’s ever caught. Could he be charged with attempted murder instead, along with other crimes? You bet. The attempted murder charge applies because the intent was there. The quasi-inducement was knowing there’s a safe inside that business. “Well, Your Honor, my client wouldn’t have robbed the place if there was no safe, no money.”

In the case of child predators, I’ve heard, “Besides, the person they’re going after is no child at all. He/she’s an adult pretending to be underage. How did they hurt a child when none even existed and no real physical contact occurred? That’s entrapment!” If a person hires a hit man to kill someone and the assassin is really an undercover law enforcement agent, can the perpetrator be charged with a crime? How can entrapment be part of the defense when the person solicited the cop, not the other way around? The “hit man” was no more of an assassin than the young boy or girl were underage and it’s the same with child predators. They purposely seek out chat rooms and personal blogs in search of children. They do the initial soliciting. Many times, they describe what they’d like to do with those underage bodies and attach explicit photos of themselves. Should that be legal, too, protected by free speech?

Because of that author’s rejection of incarceration and belief that sexual predators and offenders should be sent to mental health institutions for rehabilitation, shouldn’t those options be left in the hands of the court system instead? Let the law work, not one man's opinion. Who writes the laws? If you don’t like them, vote. Any candidate who wants to give predators a break would never get elected.

Are prisons only meant for those who actually commit horrible crimes against children and get caught? Or should there be no prisons at all, no matter what the crime? Everyone guilty of a crime should be sent to mental health institutions? What about that author? If we were standing face to face, I’d be tempted to wring his neck and I am a very nonviolent man. I don’t need to say I can’t stand the thought of an adult touching a child. Lock them up and throw away the key as far as I’m concerned. What would he choose to do to me in that fictional scenario? Jail, along with NBC’s broadcasting license? Yes, he’d be the first to call the police, but I know what he says about them, too, and it’s not pretty. It's also selective. He gets to play God, but he doesn't believe in him, either. Very confusing, isn't it?

In any event, I can hear myself telling the judge, “Your Honor, I did perform a violent act against an adult with the common sense of a 5 year old. He induced me! It was entrapment!”