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Friday, May 05, 2006
The Problem With Being A Bleeding Heart

Is that eventually your heart bleeds for the wrong people.

Last night, I caught most of To Catch a Predator on MSNBC. If you're not familiar with the show, basically it's feeding into the current "internet predator" boogeyman mindset: Men soliciting sex with minors online. The show is in "Gotcha" format; a "sting" is set up, men solicit sex with a minor in an online chat, not knowing that they're actually speaking to a cop. When they show up at the agreed-upon location, suddenly they're confronted by Chris Hansen, Dateline "Correspondent."

He goes on to talk about other such sting operations on TV, and how they made him feel sympathetic to the focus of the sting because the purpose seemed to be to humiliate the person.

I got this same feeling while watching Dateline last night. Now, pedophiles and predators of children are the lowest of the low. But the attitude of Chris Hansen was so melodramatic and sneering, I almost found myself feeling sorry for them. And I was pissed, because I felt like I was being manipulated into feeling that way. I didn't really feel "sorry" for them in the slightest... but because the show was trying to manipulate me into the "shoot him now!" mindset, it backfired.

You know how it goes. Because he's not willing to be lured into the lynch mob mentality, he feels sorry for these pedophiles. Why? Because he doesn't like to see them humiliated.

A typical exchange would go like this: The predator would show up at the "home" of the minor he had solicited (a house with hidden cameras set up all over the place), and would enter upon being called in by a female voice in another room. "I'm just getting changed!" They would walk in, and suddenly CHRIS HANSEN would burst into the room, saying something ridiculously overdone like "I'm afraid you won't be keeping your DATE tonight!" Bewildered, they would allow themselves to be seated with Hansen, who would sneeringly badger them with questions taken directly from the chat sessions they had with their "dates." They all went a little like this (You can read actual transcripts at the MSNBC story.):

"You were here to have sex with her, weren't you?"

I don't see anything wrong with humiliating these guys. Maybe the next guy who gets into an IM conversation with a real 15-year-old girl will think twice before he tries to arrange a "date" because he's nervous about another sting operation like this.
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