In this week’s reading, the textbook discusses the ethics of police “sting” operations, addressing the question: “Is it morally right for police detectives to entrap pedophiles by posing as children in chat room and agreeing to meet with them?” In my mind, such behavior on part of the police is no different than other sorts of “sting” operations. If it is ethically acceptable to pose as drug dealers in order to catch individuals who are trying to buy drugs, then it should also be ethically acceptable to pose as children in these sorts of “sting” operations. I advocate a utilitarian perspective. If plenty of people are effectively deterred from engaging in child predator behavior as a result of sting operations, the act of lying in order to catch such individuals is insignificant. However, I am unsure as to whether the sting operations have actually effectively decreased child predator behavior in chat rooms. The book goes into no detail about the subject. If there are statistics showing that child predator behavior has decreased since the advent of the sting operations, then I don’t see an issue with continuing to perform them.
Although I would advocate sting operations if they are, in fact, an effective deterrent against child predators, I have mixed feelings about viewing these people for amusement purposes. For example, on the show “To Catch a Predator,” pedophiles seem to be a source of amusement for viewers. Although it may be funny to listen to the creepy old men’s explanations of why they have shown up at a minor’s residence, I feel morally guilty getting amusement from the show. Pedophilia is a mental disorder, and I feel uncomfortable in gaining amusement from watching them get “busted.” Similarly, the online databases are sometimes used as a source of amusement. Surely, some people use the databases in interest of protecting their children, but there as just as many people who like to look at the photos for fun. Is it morally wrong to put sex offenders on stage for our amusement?