In November, 2004 Dateline NBC introduced the greatest hour of reality television the world has ever known: To Catch a Predator. For those who haven’t seen the show I will give you the basic premise. Dateline NBC works with Perverted-Justice to set up an undercover sting to catch sexual predators who try to meet under aged children and have sex with them. The way it works is that the Perverted-Justice volunteers start online profiles posing as under aged children (usually between the ages of 13-15) and chat with people. The volunteers chat with the men and then give them an address to meet at. The men drive to the house to get their jail bait on, but instead of an under aged girl, they find Chris Hansen, a Dateline reporter who hosts the segment. Hansen has the men sit down, and he then proceeds to grillthem. After that he tells them not only have they been caught trying to bang little kids, but they are also on Dateline NBC. In the end they get arrested.
Can you take a seat for me?
The best part of the show is Chris Hansen’s interactions with the would be kid diddlers. The men always seem to enter the house into the kitchen. From there, Hansen comes out from behind a curtain like the damn Wizard of Oz. Then, he always says some variant of “Can you take a seat for me?” The men don’t initially know that Hansen knows who they are or that he has a transcript of the conversation the men had with the Perverted-Justice volunteer. From what I’ve seen there are two basic types of pedophiles. The first kind are the ones who try and play it cool. Chris asks them what they are doing at the house, and they talk to him like they are just there hanging out, no big deal. The other kind of Pedophiles crack almost immediately. The second Chris comes through the curtain they crumble, and you can just see on their faces that they know they are going to jail. Regardless of what kind of pedophile they are Hansen eventually starts to read through the transcripts of the conversation the men thought they were having with a young teen. Many of the men say completely vulgar things and send all kinds of dick pics. The ones that do dick pic it up get to deal with Hansen holding up a piece of paper with the picture of their dick on it and ask “did you send this to a young child?” When the interview is over Chris Hansen does what may be the cruelest thing, or coolest depending on how you look at it. He takes the transcript and taps the papers together, and he let’s them know they are on Dateline NBC. Then, he tells them they are free to go. The look of relief in the eyes of those pedophiles is almost touching. They think that they just hit the lottery. They got completely busted for trying to have sex with a kid, and Hansen is telling them that they can just walk away. Chris Hansen wouldn’t lie to a sexual deviant would he? Of course, he would. Hansen knows good and well that there is a team of police officers waiting for the men outside. It’s like Punk’d only so much better.
Lie, lie, lie, deny, then lie some more
One thing that you can always be sure of is that the men who get caught are going to lie, about everything. When Hansen asks how old the person they were supposed to be meeting is they lie. Some of them don’t even bother to lie and say eighteen. Some of them lie and say fourteen if the girl said she was thirteen, or fifteen if the girl said she was fourteen. Most of the men will say that they were there just to hang out, watch some TV or a movie. My personal favorite, which is used more often than I would have initially expected, is that they are just there to tell the young girl that chatting with people on the internet is dangerous. They try to make themselves out to be misunderstood Good Samaritans. The other thing that you can be assured of is that it is always their first time ever doing something like what they’ve been caught doing. Now, I understand why the men feel the need to lie, but just once, I want there to be an honest pedophile. Just one time I want for Hansen to ask “Why did you come here today?” and for the guy to just say “I was here to bang her. She said she was thirteen and I came here to get it on. No, this isn’t my first time and I’ll probably try it again.” The way I look at it, you are already a pedophile. Why not be honest about it?
There are people who criticize the show, and Perverted-Justice’s methods, by saying that what they were doing is tantamount to entrapment. When you watch the show you really do see that these men realize that their lives are over. Many of them have wives, friends, and children of their own. They are going to jail and more than likely losing everything they have. Each of the men has a look of utter shame and many of them cover their faces when they find out they are being filmed. Bottom line though, it’s kind of hard for me to feel bad for them. Yes, their lives are over, but they came to that house with the intention of having sex with an under aged child. Maybe the methods are a little unfair, but it makes for great TV.