To Script a Predator
Who doesn't love Dateline NBC's To Catch a Predator series? What's not to love about a show that punks potential internet predators, confronts them with their own pathetic come-ons, and shows them being arrested on camera? Every episode plays like a police procedural mixed with those old commercials where someone's regular coffee has been replaced by Folger's Crystals: but instead of delicious coffee, the mark thinks he's about to enjoy some steamy underage action and finds himself sipping a piping hot cup of justice—Perverted Justice!
Alessandra Stanley of The New York Times called To Catch a Predator "seedy and fascinatingly repellant" and, to date, it's resulted in 98 alleged sexual predators being prosecuted, according to Chris Hansen, the show's Mike Wallace-meets-Allen Funt host.
But there's one thing that doesn't work about the show: The totally lame self-justifications and explanations provided by the perps when confronted (sometimes over a plate of homemade cookies) by Hansen. When these doughy cats get caught with their paws in the henhouse, they invariably try to bullshit their way out of it by saying they were there to "help" the girl, to "talk to her about the dangers of the internet," or just to watch TV and keep her company. (At this point, Hansen asks the guy if that's truly the case, why did he send her a photo of his penis? The man is good.)
So, while we definitely don't advocate meeting underage kids on the internet and arranging dates with them, should you do so and find yourself facing off against Chris Hansen and his Dateline crew, we suggest you use one of the following lines. No one will blame you if your mind goes blank when confronted with the fact that you just drove 4 hours to meet a child you've seduced online and you're now on television for all the world—especially your dear, dear mother—to see, but if you can remember just one, you'll make a big difference to the To Catch a Predator viewing audience at home. We thank you in advance.
- Hey, man, she's not twelve. She said she was born on a leap year.
- I got that Andy Milinokis disease, but in reverse. I look forty, but I'm actually eight.
- Yeah, I said I was into kids—that's a baby goat. You need a dictionary, dude?
- Kids grow up so fast these days. I assumed she'd be of age by the time I got here.
- Ever since the sixties, the rise of feminism, and the emergence of the gay rights movement, morality has become slippery. Liberalism and its emphasis on moral relativism is fraying the delicate fabric of this nation. I heard Bill Bennett saying that just the other day on his radio show.
- Right, but when Ruth Gordon does it, it's the premise for a beloved Hal Ashby film.
- Why would I want to come here and have sex with an anonymous 13-year-old when I have a lovely 46-year-old wife at home who still occasionally goes to the Y for a waterobics and who appreciates how hard I work to provide for her and support our children who honor me and never whine about toys and a puppy making me want to drive the goddamn mini-van into oncoming traffic and kill us all.
- What can I say? She typed on a college level.
- Dateline? Aren't you the ones who faked the side-impact GM pickup explosion footage? By the way, how old's Ann Curry? She got a screenname? Aw, forget I asked...