This comes from a friend and colleague who read today's column
on the draconian sentences being meted out to kiddie porn freaks:
I've always wanted to know the breakdown of prosecutions between those who have actually harmed children and those caught in a sting.
There are all kinds of taboo impulses we would never act on, or be tempted to act on, because the opportunities never present themselves in the real world.
Whether that means stumbling upon a trail of $20 bills or a three-way with two playmates who just happen to arrive at my door with cases of beer under each arm.
I mean, people get married precisely because there's no shot of the latter scenario ever happening to them.
And why do police limit themselves to sex abusers? Shouldn't we lure potential murderers - people tempted to off their spouse for the insurance, kill a co-worker who replaced them on the fast track or the cop who pulled them over?
I know I could coax a lot of people into illegal behavior if given enough time.
I would guess the overwhelming number of people who troll for video or pics do it precisely because they are incapable of the interaction and couldn't execute an actual crime without being told how it will play out, where to go and what to bring.
It's lazy justice.
There, I'm done.
He also recommended this excellent piece
by Mark Bowden in Atlantic Monthly about our own Delaware County Crimes Against Children Internet Task Force. Somehow I missed it when it first appeared.
Entrapment has long been a factor in the enforcement of vice laws, which seek to punish behavior that is furtive and widespread. Such ordinances answer society’s quest for moral clarity, positing a direct parallel between right versus wrong and legal versus criminal. Police patrolling the precincts of sin do not often find the streets empty. How are they to tell the difference between the casual sinner and the criminal?
American courts have long recognized the right of police to invent ruses. Sting operations flourish in a climate of fear. Courts and lawmakers become less and less scrupulous about basic fairness. The more frightening and reprehensible the threat, the more license and latitude are given to the police.
For a variety of reasons, few of them valid, the child-molester has become the pre-eminent domestic villain of our time.
Read it all.