In Peter Robson & Jessica Silbey (eds.), Law and Justice on the Small Screen. Oxford, UK: Hart Publishing. pp. 289-307 (2012)

Mark Tunick
Florida Atlantic University
Dateline NBC’s “To Catch a Predator”(2006-08) involved NBC staff working with police and a watchdog group called “Perverted Justice” to televise “special intensity” arrests of men who were lured into meeting adult decoys posing as young children, presumably for a sexual encounter. As reality television, “To Catch a Predator” facilitates public shaming of those caught in front of the cameras, which distinguishes it from fictional representations. In one case, a Texas District Attorney, Louis Conradt, shot himself on film, unable to bear the public humiliation of cameras airing his arrest. The show engenders conflicting responses: Did the show fulfill a public service by informing the public about real dangers and deterring potential predators, or was it an insensitive effort to garner ratings by taking advantage of human weaknesses? Is the sort of public shaming it imposes an appropriate form of punishment given the legitimate purposes of punishment? Did the show portray justice, or did it entrap victims? How did NBC’s working relationship with local police bear on the answer to that question? This paper addresses these questions and develops three objections to the show: that NBC in effect metes out unjust punishment; that it invades privacy; and that it entraps.
Keywords privacy  entrapment  punishment
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Two Concepts of Rules.John Rawls - 1955 - Philosophical Review 64 (1):3-32.

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