Entrapment is never justified, no matter what the thought crime: Readers respond to Katharine Mieszkowski's "Mob Justice."

By Salon Staff

Published September 19, 2003 7:30PM (EDT)

[Read the story.]

This is just as reprehensible as anything the KKK does, hidden behind the seemingly inviolate goal of "protecting children."

People are entitled to free speech in this country as well as having a right to privacy. Considering the incredibly destructive power of even an accusation of child molestation (much less a conviction) these accusations without proof are damaging and a violation of the civil rights of the accused.

All people have the right to be protected from those who would choose to exploit them.

-- Rachel Tait

Just curious but what is to stop someone, say a vengeance-seeking ex-wife for example, from digitizing a pic of her ex-husband, signing up for an IM account and trolling in the chat rooms for 13-year-olds under the guise of her former husband? How does Perverted Justice verify who they are chatting with? How do they prevent identity theft, as it were? Sorry, but the potential for abuse in this scenario is simply far too great. Shut the site down, ASAP, before truly innocent people get hurt.

One more thing: Not all pedophiles are men. Why doesn't the site target female sexual predators as well? Why the double standard? Perhaps it is more rare to find female peds, but does that justify concentrating on men alone? Perhaps the reason we have more male sex predators is that we don't suspect women of the same crimes and therefore don't make the same effort to track them down.

Either way I don't see what is to stop me from grabbing a pic of my boss, digitizing it, signing up for an IM account and hitting on every underage girl I can find in Yahoo chat rooms in hopes of getting nailed. Now that I think of it, I have nothing better to do with my weekend so maybe I'll give it a try.

-- Phoenix Giamalva

I agree with and applaud Perverted Justice's intentions. I don't see anything controversial about what they are doing. In fact, if more groups did the same thing, pedophiles would be afraid to reveal themselves via the Internet. The issue of child abuse is very serious, and should be tackled on all fronts.

Condemn the pedophiles and not those trying to root them out of our society! Even if those running Perverted Justice are approaching the matter from a wrong angle, at least they are doing something to protect children. I have absolutely no sympathy for child molesters.

-- Lorna Jerome

Our local free paper in Portland did a story on this group recently. I exchanged letters with them and challenged them on their message boards but was barred. They don't take criticism well.

After reading the article in the paper I went to the Web site and read some transcripts that were pretty outrageous. They would entice a young guy, say 21, to talk to a girl 14 or 15 and when he would start pulling away the "girl" would start talking really vulgar to get him to stay. Now, despite the law, a 14-year-old and a 21-year-old are not that far apart in age or sexuality in our culture. That didn't stop the vigilantes from trying to ruin the young man even after he begged them for forgiveness.

The people who run that site are the lowest of the low, as low as who they are trapping. Molestation charges are too easy to claim in our warped culture and these bored slackers know it. It would be harder to go after corporate criminals so they go for an easy group to humiliate for thought crimes.

Also check into their Web site for posts from a young woman who met the tattoo artist online once. She says he was coming on to her though he knew she was underage. Isn't it often the case that the perpetrators of such acts are the most judgmental?

It is more than ironic that they won't allow anyone to know their names. Gutless and horrible people they are.

-- Jerry

The irony is that I bet half or most of the people "playing" the roles of little girls are getting off on it themselves.

A girl is molested when she's young and then goes online when she's an adult to role-play as a little girl and give pay back to horny men?

The horny men aren't the only ones in this exchange getting off in perverse ways.

Heh. If I was posing as a little girl on the Internet and luring men to talk to me, I'd hide my identity also.

-- Jeffrey Turner

I am not defending pedophiles, however I think this is a case of good-hearted people going over the line. There is still something in this country called the Constitution, which protects the rights of innocent and guilty alike. Who knows if the alleged molester is not just "posing" just like the vigilantes? Sure, just because a minor asks to have sex with an adult doesn't mean that it is alright for that adult to do so, but the vigilantes are adults also. The good guys are supposed to have higher ethical standards than the bad guys. Until the alleged perp actually breaks the law, these vigilantes are simply acting as "thought police," and the actions of these vigilantes violate the rights of alleged molesters.

-- Dave Miller

Salon Staff

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