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The Pedophile Blogger:

Today's New York Times has a fascinating (and unnerving) story about a self-described pedophile in Los Angeles who blogs about his exploits in dramatic detail and hopes to increase public acceptance of pedophilia.

unlike convicted sex offenders, who are required to stay away from places that cater to children, in this case the police can do next to nothing, because this man, Jack McClellan, who has had Web sites detailing how and where he likes to troll for children, appears to be doing nothing illegal.

But his mere presence in Los Angeles — coupled with Mr. McClellan's commitment to exhibitionistic blogging about his thoughts on little girls — has set parents on edge. One group of mothers, whose members by and large have never met before, will soon band together in a coffee shop to hammer out plans to push lawmakers in Sacramento to legislate Mr. McClellan out of business. . . .

Mr. McClellan, who is 45, refers to himself as a pedophile, but says he has never actually sexually touched a child, simply "embraced them in a nonsexual way, mostly in Latin American countries." He says he has never been convicted of a sex crime, and law enforcement officials in Los Angeles say they know of no convictions.

The story raises some interesting legal issues, and quotes our own Eugene.

neurodoc:
It used to be that reporters would regularly turn to Floyd Abrahms for analyses of First Amendment issues. Now, their go-to guy is none other than Professor Eugene Volokh of UCLA. No doubt, soon he will be appearing on Sunday morning television shows. (Does he have an agent? Is Ari available?)
7.28.2007 1:26pm
BruceM (mail) (www):
"Legislatite him out of business" means passing laws that shouln't be passed.

If he's a danger, everyone knows who he is, they can watch him, and he'll get caught attempting something. He's the safest pedophile in the world.

If he wants to talk about how he likes children, so what? No different than talking about how you like to rob banks.

In fact, if this guy were talking about how he really wants to kill someone, it would be a non-story. Only because of our hysteria over children does this not only become a story, but an impending horribly written, overbroad, vague law.

Leave the guy alone. Unless he hurts someone. And by all means, monitor his actions.
7.28.2007 2:49pm
BruceM (mail) (www):
I mean "Legislate" ... sorry, typo.
7.28.2007 2:50pm
Frater Plotter:
Interesting how none of the articles about this guy actually refer to his Web site so that readers can judge for themselves.
7.28.2007 4:40pm
Just Dropping By (mail):
Interesting how none of the articles about this guy actually refer to his Web site so that readers can judge for themselves.

Old media have an extremely bad habit of failing to mention web addresses in all sorts of stories about on-line activity. I've often pondered whether this is deliberately an effort to be "gatekeepers" or just laziness.
7.28.2007 4:51pm
KJ (mail):
After first reading the article I was quite disturbed and began devising ways in which a law could be crafted to outlaw such a website. However as I considered the matter, it became obvious that this law is unnecessary and wouldn't be effective.

First, banning this type of web site would have no effect whatsoever on sexual predators. Any pedophile that wants to locate children already has an infinite numbers of options.

Second, even if there are people who are sexually stimulated by observing clothed children, that is not a crime unless they act on it. I'm not convinced that people are unable to control their sexual urges. Millions of men lust after the performers in adult movies but never attempt to sexually assault those actresses.

Third, as Bruce M noted, such a law would probably be vague, overbroad and be applied to speakers who have nothing to do with harming children.
7.28.2007 5:11pm
neurodoc:
...Ms. Thompson is part of a movement to make it illegal to post images of children of any type on Web sites with sexual content or themes...Mr. McClellan has refrained from posting pictures of children on his Web site, which was shut down by its host several weeks ago but which he intends to start again, he said, with a Dutch host.

It seems that McClellan currently has no website to view and judge. And since he "has refrained from posting pictures of children on his Web site," what that movement is seeking would not make illegal what he has been doing.

If McClellan did post pictures of those children he found appealing, would the children and/or their parents have a cause of action against him, perhaps for invasion of privacy? What if it were JonBenetRamsey, who was so much in the news and whose picture was so widely and repeatedly published?

This guy is clearly "cruising for a bruising," probably of the "extralegal" type, possibly a quite severe one, especially with this media coverage and his picture published.
7.28.2007 5:28pm
Frater Plotter:
This guy is clearly "cruising for a bruising," probably of the "extralegal" type, possibly a quite severe one, especially with this media coverage and his picture published.

Given what I've been able to find using a search engine, it looks like while some of folks publishing his picture are trying to warn parents or children about him, others are trying to enable harassment or violence against him.

This seems dubious, but when Web site operators have been held harmless for publishing the addresses of gynecologists who perform abortions and celebrating the murder of same, I doubt it's illegal.
7.28.2007 5:42pm
Eryk Boston (mail):
Of course, while these parents are stalking this guy with his neon CREEP sign, they won't be watching the uncle or soccer coach who might actually be a danger.

Is it wrong that my biggest problem with this guy is that he lives off the taxpayers?
7.28.2007 6:10pm
whit:
how do you LEGISLATE against activity that is clearly constitutionally protected? answer: you don't

this guy is despicable, but he has the right to advocate for legalized pedophilia, to talk about pedophilia, to fantasize about it in writing or otherwise.

either the 1st amendment means something, or it doesn't.

it was designed to protect the MOST offensive sort of speech. and that is exactly what advocating for pedophilia is.

otoh, there is also jury nullification. and if some parent catches this guy (whose picture should be WIDELY disseminated) spying on his kid at a playground, and punches his lights out, is there ANY jury that would convict him for assault?
7.28.2007 7:38pm
BruceM (mail) (www):
KJ: congrats, you overcame the unfortunate american reaction to something icky, i.e. to legislate it away through whining directed at government, by using rational thought processes and thinking about consequences. Well done, and I don't mean to be condescending... it's just rare to see this IMHO.
7.28.2007 8:01pm
crane (mail):
...Ms. Thompson is part of a movement to make it illegal to post images of children of any type on Web sites with sexual content or themes...


I'm curious as to how broad such a law would be. Would it ban only those images that are on the same page as sexual content, or would it go so far as to ban large sites that have totally separate areas for sexual content and child-related content? The former is bad enough - there's no legitimate reason for the law to stop a guy with a blog from posting his thoughts on his favorite stripper one day and pictures of his kids the next - but the latter is just absurd.

All of the art sites I belong to that let members display their work already have rules that you can't upload pictures of kids without clothes, or in remotely sexual situations. They will, however, accept pinup-type pictures of adults, and pictures of kids in non-sexual situations. If a sufficiently broad version of Ms. Thompson's law gets passed, those sites will have to choose one or the other, and clean the losing category out of all their members' galleries - not easy when one site may have thousands of works.
7.28.2007 10:47pm
Zacharias (mail):
Listen you anxious breeders: there are libertarians out here that will use our NBC skills to keep you from silencing free speech of pedophiles.
7.28.2007 11:02pm
R.A.Q.F.B.:
"Has he acted on it? I can't say," Lieutenant Sirkel said. "But I've been in this business for 20 years, and I have never seen one who has not."


Well, duh, officer. Of the class of people sexually attracted to children, the ones with enough self-control not to act on it would normally never come to the attention of police. For the same reason that of the class of people who fantasize about murdering their spouse, the ones that have enough self-control not to act on it normally never come to the attention of police -- police deal with criminals, not with people who have fantasies about crime.
7.29.2007 5:24am
RR:
(I'll comment on this here, as the other thread seems to have gotten a bit off-topic...)

From glancing at the Times article and the archived Web site on EV's post, I'd have to agree that this could be a really tricky call. Any law that would try to completely ban the site would be far too broad -- most things on his site are morally horrid, but should be completely allowed: Advocating for legal pedophilia acts or criticizing the "war against pedophilia," is political speech at the heart of the First Amendment; giving accounts on one's own... umm... interests (?) is sickening to read but allowed; the picture that EV found seems like nothing more than a snapshot you'd see in a photo album.

The tricky issue would seem to be if there's content there that's giving tips on specific places or events to make contact with children. (I really had no interest in looking this deeply into the Web site to find out if anything this specific is there...) Even if he says there's no illegal sexual intent, it could seem reasonable that listing a certain school function or giving details on how to meet a small child, written in a sensual context, could be seen as giving advice on how to manipulate a child for sex -- like how the Nuremberg Files didn't explicitly say to kill doctors but led right to that point, or (more cautiously) how the Progressive didn't advocate building an H-bomb but might have been used to help do so. In those cases, I could perhaps see an exception -- but it would have to be so narrow as to restrict only that specific content. I'm not quite sure how this could be done.

Also, I wonder whether the police could use a Web site such as this as probable cause for sraring surveillance on the person or getting a warrant to search his computer for any illegal images?
7.29.2007 5:56am
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
I really don't see that there's anything that can be criminalized here. But it sure would be nice to find out how this creep gets the government to support him. Perhaps that's what needs fixing, so that he has to go get a job.

A lot of the high profile abusers of children seem to rely on government assistance. Jim Jones, for example, was receiving government funds to care for foster children at People's Temple--even though the children weren't even in the United States. While there's some question about whether David Koresh abused children or not, the operation was highly dependent on welfare checks. The polygamous cults along the Utah-Arizona border are also heavily dependent on welfare checks.

Maybe there's something about having to be responsible for one's self that is contrary to pedophilia?
7.29.2007 7:58pm
whit:
"Also, I wonder whether the police could use a Web site such as this as probable cause for sraring surveillance on the person or getting a warrant to search his computer for any illegal images?"

um, no

well first of all, you don't need PROBABLE cause to surveil (assuming you do it from a place where you have legal right to access etc.). cops (and others) use surveillance often to GET probable cause. it is not required to HAVE probable cause to surveil.

however, as far as getting a warrant to search his computer?

um, no. advocating that illegal behavior should not be illegal is 100% LEGAL

it is about as fundamental an exercise of free speech as you can get. should cops (i am one myself) be able to get a warrant to search the computers at NORML because NORML advocates marijuana legalization

fwiw, i know several cops who have openly advocated for marijuana legalization. not only is that legal, but their dept's cannot even think of disciplining them or punishing them in any way for doing so. as long as they don't claim to be representing their employer when they do so.

advocating that pedophilia should be legal in no way is probable cause that one has committed acts of pedophilia.
7.30.2007 1:11am
RR:
Sorry, I was unclear before. The problem of writing on the fly late at night on too little sleep, I suppose...

I'd written before that, from a quick glance at the guy's archived Web site, I seemed to see three kinds of information there: (1) advocacy for the legalization of pedophilia, (2) personal accoutns of his encounters with young girls, and (3) tips on how to see or meet young girls.

The first category, I agree (and tried to make clear before) is completely legal, and is a bulwark of liberty. Freedom of tought is meant for unpopular thoughts. The third category, I wrote, could *possibly* -- and only possibly, with strict limitations and in a certain context -- be subject to law, similar to the Nuremberg Files or Progressive cases on posting doctor addresses or H-bomb instructions.

It was the second category, the person's account of his own encounters with children, that made me wonder about cause. To use Whit's marijuana analogy: Of course advocating for legalized marijuana is not grounds to search anything. But if I were to write a blog that talked about growing marijuana in my backyard, would that be cause to search my property for marijuana plants? (And I note the difference, that this person disclaimed any illegal activity in the U.S.)

And lastly, I'd just add that this was just a random question I threw out, and doesn't necessarily indicate my view on the matter. I'm not saying it *should* be grounds to search his computer, just wondering if it *could*.
7.30.2007 2:26am
whit:
i don't see how in the case of THIS blog, the third could be subject to criminal proceedings. of course, this is america, so i could see some parent SUING him if somebody took his advice on where to meet kids and then did something nefarious. i think the lawsuit should not win in that case, but you can just imagine that it would happen. "he told the guy where to meet children, and mr X followed his advice, met my child at a playground, etc..."

there is a big difference between writing in a blog and documenting (iow admitting) criminal activity, and doing what this guy did - to use your marijuana in the backyard theory (let's use indoors instead of backyard, because backyard is always subject to overhead surveillance which in most states requires no probable cause whatsoever).

if you said "i once grew mj in my house" "i did it years ago" etc. than obvious that would not be PC.

if you wrote a blog entry, that you were CURRENTLY growing MJ, i think that would be a big step towards PC. i would want to confirm the URL at least (to see if it came from your house and somebody wasn't spoofing you, etc.)

there have been cases where people incriminated themselves via the web like this. there was a case at the UW iirc where the police accessed websites with photos that people voluntarily posted on the web of themselves engaging in a criminal act (one the police were already investigating), to help identify the actual suspects.

then the kids actually had the nerve to claim the cops violated their privacy by ACCESSING THE WEBSITES.

here's a hint. if you want to keep something private, don't post it on myspace, youtube, etc.

duh

but yes, admissions on a blog could give PC to get a search warrant. they are admissions against interest, certainly. and if you are in an aguilar-spinelli state, nobody has a better basis of knowledge that you are growing mj than YOU do.

also, iirc in regards to the nuremberg files website (could be wrong here) the case was originally prosecuted under the RICO statute (talk about prosecutorial overreaching!!!) but was then overturned on free speech grounds.
7.30.2007 8:55am