Skip to main content

Fantasising online. Is it a crime?

Hello again Dear Reader,

Today I would like to start by offering you a hypothetical. Let's pretend that you are a senior judge in your country's judicial system (and if you really are, just go along with it!).

A person has been brought before you charged with a serious crime. After a thorough investigation by the police, this person was found to have engaged in online discussions with like-minded adult individuals in chat rooms where they discussed their desires and fantasies for carrying out acts of the most vile and unspeakable type. Acts which if carried out or if even only planned would clearly be illegal under your country's criminal law code.

Now, this person has not to date acted on any of these depraved fantasies, has not carried out any overt planning that would tend to indicate their intention to commit this act soon, but has spoken of their desire to do these things online on numerous occasions over a long period.

You are the sole decider of this person's fate before the law. Are they guilty of committing a crime? Do you say 'guilty' even though they haven't actually acted out their fantasies, but by ruling so possibly prevent any future illegal activity that may have brought another person to harm? Or do you say 'not guilty' as they haven't actually done anything yet, and in doing so possibly allow this person freedom to commit this crime in the future and harm another person?

For now, why don't you grab yourself a cuppa and have a good long think about this person's fate and the possible ramifications on both them and society. We'll continue when you're ready.

Ok, we're back. Guilty or Not Guilty?

To further assist you in your deliberations I would like to introduce as case exhibits A and B two true cases that both relate in some ways to your decision.

Case Exhibit A is from New York, USA. On October 25, 2012, a New York Police Officer was arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit kidnapping. The arrest occurred after police discovered that he had been actively communicating in forums dedicated to fantasis involving torture, rape, murder and cannibalism. The officer had been chatting with another user about torturing, murdering and cannibalizing more than 100 women, including his wife. Throughout the trial, he claimed that his online communications were pure fantasy and that he had no intention of ever acting on them.

He was found guilty in March, 2013.

But now it gets interesting. On appeal, the Federal District Court overturned his conviction in June, 2014, agreeing that he 'was only engaged in fantasy role-play'. The government appealed the dismissal. In December, 2015 the United States Court of Appeal for the 2nd Circuit agreed with the Federal District Court that based on online discussions only, no crime had been committed.

Ok, got that? Pretty straight forward yeah. According to US law, talking about evil shit online with other adults may be disgusting, be depraved and morally unacceptable...but it isn't illegal.

So, Case Exhibit B. Now we get to travel from New York to Sydney, Australia. In April, 2017 a well known Australian journalist was arrested and charged with using a carriage service for child pornography material. He pleaded guilty to two charges in September, 2017 and is currently going through the sentencing process.

He faces a maximum 15 years in jail.

Fair enough yeah? But as in Case Exhibit A, now it gets interesting. In putting forward the Brief of Evidence, the police alleged that the journalist had engaged in explicit conversations about children with an adult male and discussed child pornography. At no stage is the journalist alleged to have traded or possessed illegal images, attempted to groom a minor online or in anyway act upon his depraved conversations. As per our New York chap, the journalist claims that his conversations were pure fantasy role-play.

So, he talked filth online about things that make our stomach turn. He didn't act on it, but as one journalist noted, "The problem is that everyone, including his lawyer, knows that actual pedophile crimes were the next step. After all he communicated to a man heavy pedophile on-line fantasies." If he thinks about it, goes out and finds like minded people online to talk about, then acting on it must be the next step. So let's stop him before he hurts someone.

Ok, so after looking at these two real cases, in many ways similar, but treated quite differently, how are you feeling about the person in your dock now? Are they guilty, because we know what comes next and we will always do whatever is necessary to protect the innocent and vulnerable in our society? Or are they innocent, because they haven't actually done the crime that we're really scared of and we're not going to throw someone in the slammer for years based on the sick crap that's in their head.

Your'e the judge.

The defendant, the lawyers, the media and the public are back in and waiting for your decision.

Over to you.


Popular posts from this blog

The ABC of Stupidiity

Hello again Dear Reader,
Nice to be back after a while.
Today’s comment in the daily Australian news was so bloody comical, I just had to put my toe back in the blogging pond and have a bit of a chuckle at the mindless stupidity of some of our highly paid professionals.
In this case, I draw your attention to the recent sacking of the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) managing director Michelle Guthrie. She was terminated halfway through her $890K job with immediate effect by the national broadcasting authority on 24 September 2018. Obviously, as any reasonably sane person would be, she was almost certainly mightily pissed off when the hammer came down.

Keeping in mind that in many cases people are misquoted by the local tabloids (sometimes accidentally, more often deliberately), I found the following quote by Michelle absolutely hilarious.....
While my contract permits the Board to terminate my appointment without cause and with immediate effect, I believe there is no justification …

Remember, we only kill Black People

Hello again Dear Reader, If you've been following my blogs, you probably know by now that I usually like to be nice and rational in my blogs (well I try to anyway), just flow along and rely on the evidence to gently lead you to what I hope is a logical conclusion. Without emotion yeah. Purely objective. Usually. However.
But sometimes I get cranky and just have to raise my hand and call out hatred and plain old bigotry for what it is...evil. And yes folks, that's exactly what I mean and exactly how I feel right about now. I'm confused, I'm amazed and I'm bloody angry.
For those of you who read my blogs (do you exist?), you know I'm a big fan of the USA, it's people, it's culture and it's total acceptance of us Aussies in their land. So, how do you think I feel when I watch a for real video of an American Police Officer saying to a white, female civilian at a traffic stop, 'Remember, we only kill black people'?
What the hell? Did you really…

Same sex Marriage and Teen Suicide Prevention

Hello again Dear Reader,
Today I’d like to take the opportunity to follow up on yesterday’s Blog ‘Where is the Love’, which begged the question...when is a loving relationship wonderful and acceptable to society and when is it not? When discussing the recent ‘Yes’ vote for same-sex marriage in Australia, one reader noted that “they predict the incident (sic) of young lives lost to suicide will decrease” as a result. 
And you know what? I bloody hope that ‘their’ prediction is spot on. Anything, absolutely anything, that can be done to save the lives, and even improve the quality of life, for our youth is to be welcomed and encouraged. So, if allowing two consenting same-sex couples to marry does that, let’s hurry up with changing the law and get out the wedding bells.

But. And I can’t help asking this, it’s in my nature. Who are ‘they’? Who made this prediction and discovered the causal factor link between youth suicide and the non-legalisation of same-sex marriages? What data or evidenc…