Thursday, May 04, 2006

Some thoughts on DATELINE’S "To Catch a Predator".

Dateline NBC has had an on going series of reports where they trap sexual predators searching the Internet and targeting underage teens for sex. When I saw the highlights from the third installment of the To Catch a Predator series. I had several questions.

My first question is for the parents of computer literate teenagers. Are you aware of this problem? I have met so many so many parents that treat their computer illiteracy as something to be proud of. " Oh Jenny is on that computer all the time. Me I don’t know how to turn the thing on". Guess what? Jenny is making a date with a guy whose online photo looks like Brad Pitt, but in reality looks like Larry The Cable Guy. Whether you mask your computer illiteracy as an excuse saying that you are to old to learn how to use a computer or that you don’t want to be a slave to technology YOU ARE WRONG. There are parental control programs that are designed to help you with this task, but since most parents can’t master the "V" chip how can I expect you to access these parental control programs on your browser? More importantly, do you know what your kids are doing online or are you in denial about that?

My second question is for small town America. Are you in denial too? The same way parents say, "Not my child", community leaders say, "Not in our town". If you think that this is a big city problem, YOU ARE WRONG. When Dateline aired To Catch a Predator IV this time the sting was set up in Greenville, Ohio. Even in small town America vulnerable young teens are not far from danger. These predators were willing to drive for hours (Sometimes even crossing state lines) to have sex with a thirteen year old girl your thirteen year old girl. It's time to get off your moral high ground and face reality.

My third question is for Media watchdog groups like The Parents Television Council. Why are you not giving any credit to Dateline for doing this series of reports? I thought your organization was dedicated to protecting our children. You have people watching hours of primetime television and inventory swear words, sexual content, violence, disrespect for authority and other negative content. Then the data goes into your "Entertainment Tracking System". You criticize a dramatic show that features sexual predators going after kids online like Crossing Jordan or Law and Order SVU, and place them on your Worst Show of the Week list. So you are outraged over something that is a piece of drama, drama that the audience can take or leave. You choose ignore this real threat. Maybe the PTC does not want risk loosing their base by telling parents not to be in denial, learn how or to use the "V" chip and become computer literate. Perhaps they want to down play the fact MySpace (A popular site for predators seeking underage teens in these reports) is owned by News Corp. Yes the same News Corp that owns the FOX News Channel. I wonder if the PTC spoke out on this subject would their representatives be invited on Bill O’Reilly or Sean Hannity's shows.

I have to ask the predators themselves... I guess this has to be a rhetorical question since the actual predators featured in the report are probably a little busy right now and hopefully forbidden by the court to use the Internet. Why don't you have the sense that God gave bugs and viruses? Bugs develop immunities to insecticides and viruses mutate to survive changes in their environment. So why after the first couple of To Catch a Predator reports did you not suspect that when you making your date that this might be a trap? After seeing the forth installment of the series I realized that you guys are so sick that your pedophile nature overshadows your common sense. The first guy (The one with all the booze) on the report looked like he would be kicked out of a brothel for not meeting the dress code. This guy was so stupid that if Dateline had not busted him, he eventually would have won a Darwin Award. I am amazed that he knew how to work a computer to make the date in the first place (Just proves that anyone can learn). Why would anyone, let alone a thirteen-year-old girl find this walking Jeff Foxworthy joke appealing? The guy enters the house, puts his booze on the bar, and then unzips his pants. Who says romance is dead. This guy later threatened to sue if Dateline if showed him on TV. It's not like Jay Leno made you look like a fool on one of his Jay Walking bits. Even more amazing is one of the later predators, a schoolteacher, suspected that this might be a Dateline trap but obviously the risk was worth taking if there was the slightest possibility of having sex with a thirteen-year-old. You are a teacher, an educated man and your pedophile nature overshadows your common sense. Unlike another teacher who actually did have sex with an underage teen, you are not too pretty to go to jail. It seems that every predator was trying hook up with a young girl for the first time and many of these predators claimed to be very religious people (One was actually a rabbi). Sadly I think many of you had tried and succeeded in doing this before. As for religion, I'm sure you will have many religious experiences in jail.

When I write my Blog my goal is to illustrate how real life influences TV and how TV influences real life. These Dateline reports have vividly illustrated a threat to our children that is more serious than Nip/Tuck, Family Guy or Janet Jackson's right breast. To the teenagers who are chatting online with grown men you have no business associating with, not to sound cynical but... Oh who am I kidding there are bad people out there and they play for keeps. You are playing with fire and you will get burned.

To quote Jay Leno (Interviewing Hugh Grant was after he was caught in his car with prostitute Divine Brown), "What the hell were you thinking?"

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa
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