While the rest of the United States eagerly awaited the opening of Super Bowl XLIV, I was off watching Dateline NBC’s ‘To Catch a Predator‘ marathon. For those that are not familiar with this series of investigative work, ‘To Catch a Predator’ is an elaborate series of sting operations hosted by:
- Dateline NBC
- Perverted Justice, a non-profit foundation
- Local police authorities
Through the course of one episode –that was about all I could stomach for a night– predators from all walks of life were busted by the sting operations. Like who you may ask?
- A minister
- A cancer researcher
- A father
- A guy that had just turned 22
The list goes on. When the thought of a child predator comes to mind, one does not think of a next door neighbor or a trusted family member. Perhaps they should.
In watching the show, I was struck by how much the Internet causes a loss of community. Online, people are able to live out their wildest fantasies without any sort of consequences. Unless they are caught by a hidden camera news show like ‘To Catch a Predator’. When being interrogated, after being caught, these predators showed much remorse over their actions being revealed to others (in this case the interrogator). In light of community, of a fellow man, the act of sleeping with an child seemed revolting to these would be predators. Let’s see:
Light + Community = Accountability
Accountability somehow failed in these cases though. Many of the men that were caught were married. Why didn’t their wives know about their activities online? Not trying to fault the spouse, but this shows that no accountability system was in place. There was a failure in the system. The fact that some of these guys drove 2-4 hours just for the opportunity to sleep with a little girl, demonstrates their lack of being plugged in with others.
In our brave new digital age, being known in real life is the struggle. Anyone can act out their impulses in the obscurity of the Internet. Anyone. However, it takes a real man or woman to let themselves be known by others; to plug themselves into a community. Accountability is the fruit of living in community. Accountability is something we need more of.