Correcting assumptions in AskMe? October 19, 2011 10:25 AM   Subscribe

Bad deletions.

I didn't post, but I did see the deleted posts. What this guy is doing is possibly illegal--and possibly not. I don't see how this is different from any other time posters have corrected bad assumptions in AskMe, which they've generally been allowed to do.
posted by smorange to Etiquette/Policy at 10:25 AM (166 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

Oh, a MeTa about deletions. How refreshing.
posted by absalom at 10:27 AM on October 19, 2011 [24 favorites]


It's not the illegality per se that gets me. It's that the deleted posts pointed out that what the guy was doing probably was hurting people, contrary to the asker's assumptions. I don't see why they were deleted, when the question was predicated on those assumptions.
posted by smorange at 10:28 AM on October 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


I think people are jumping to conclusions about illegality and focusing on that and not the question the OP is trying to get answered which is "what do I do about this new information I have about my partner?" The first comment was basically "Whether or not you're fine with the fetish doesn't address the possible problems he could have if someone were to find out and report it." and then there were two more comments directly replying to that one. It's totally possible to give answers that are both cautionary AND answers and that's what we'd like people to be doing.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:29 AM on October 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, this is mostly about the need for people not to railroad an asker's question into a side discussion about a different angle than the one they're actually asking about. The issue of the complicated legal/ethical issues involved in the background are fine to address with some care in the context of the question being asked, but kicking a thread off with comments that are basically chiding about that side issue while ignoring the actual question isn't really helpful.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:34 AM on October 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


You are a very, very bad deletion. You should be punished.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:34 AM on October 19, 2011 [17 favorites]


[ voluntary deletion ]
posted by mazola at 10:37 AM on October 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh god not this again....
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:37 AM on October 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah, the question is about how something discovered in a relationship affects that relationship and what a person should do in the situation. Arguing the legality of owning a photo of a possibly 16-17 year old looking naked girl isn't part of the question and doesn't answer what anonymous is asking.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 10:39 AM on October 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Judging by the thread's appearance as of when I looked at it just now, seems like the deletions weren't bad.
posted by kavasa at 10:39 AM on October 19, 2011


Oh god not "oh god not this again..."
posted by TheBones at 10:40 AM on October 19, 2011 [24 favorites]


I wholeheartedly support those deletions, and I look forward to more.
posted by Maximian at 10:42 AM on October 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


Oh god, not 'Oh god not "oh god not this again..."'
posted by to sir with millipedes at 10:43 AM on October 19, 2011 [7 favorites]


I just read the thread, and it looks like there's still one comment that points out the OP might be hurting people.
posted by sweetkid at 10:44 AM on October 19, 2011


I mean that the OP's boyfriend might be hurting people. oop.
posted by sweetkid at 10:44 AM on October 19, 2011


Well, if I'm outnumbered on this one, I'll concede the point. I don't disagree much with the mod opinion on this, but I do disagree with the implementation of it in this case. Early comments, and early deletions, affect the way threads develop, and I think there's value in repetition, if that repetition reinforces an important point. But if most everyone disagrees, then fair enough.
posted by smorange at 10:46 AM on October 19, 2011


I agree with the deletions, and I'm glad they were gone before the thread got derailed. It could have gone bad very quickly.
posted by patheral at 10:48 AM on October 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's funny how I followed the link in a complaint about a bad deletion and find the exact right kind of answer that gets the same point across AND stays within the only clear boundaries set on the site as the first remaining comment.

Not funny ha ha, but funny nonetheless. Probably not funny to mods at all.

I suppose it doesn't directly mention the legality of pretending to be underage online, but unless Chris Hanson is one of Metafilter's own (please God know), I'm curious how many really know how that would play out anyway.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:48 AM on October 19, 2011


I had a comment deleted and while it basically made a similar point to Inspector.Gadget's, the difference in tone and helpfulness make it pretty clear to me why that one stands and mine was deleted.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 10:49 AM on October 19, 2011 [7 favorites]


Early comments, and early deletions, affect the way threads develop, and I think there's value in repetition, if that repetition reinforces an important point

The problem wasn't so much the repetition; the problem was that the first deleted comment did not answer the question in any meaningful way or any other way at all, and the other deleted comments were replies to that one. I mean, that's pretty much standard for the Ask portion of the site - you have a lot of leeway in how you answer the question but you need to actually answer the question.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 10:49 AM on October 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Early comments, and early deletions, affect the way threads develop

True, but in the 12 years I've run the site I've found that early comments are much more important to how a thread will go than later ones, and an early off-topic derail will kill almost any useful conversation that might have followed, so we have a higher bar for first comments.

I'd still delete this derail if it was comment #30, but starting off a question with a derail about something not germaine to the original question is total deletion material, so the original asker can get some useful responses and not be mired in a weird side discussion.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 10:50 AM on October 19, 2011 [8 favorites]


Arguing the legality of owning a photo of a possibly 16-17 year old looking naked girl

I don't think the girl in question was naked, based on the picture.
posted by empath at 10:56 AM on October 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


err.. based on question, rather..
posted by empath at 10:56 AM on October 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Early comments, and early deletions, affect the way threads develop

This is actually exactly why we do this, both in AskMe and with early threadhsitting type comments in MeFi. We'd like people to have a chance to have a discussion or to get answers to their question without people turning it into what they want to talk about at the expense of the question. I get where people are coming from completely and understand that this sort of question sets off a lot of people's alarm bells, but I think there are conclusions being jumped to [like empath, I have no idea if the girl mentioned was clothed or unclothed] and many ways that sort of thing could be cleared up without being like "let's talk about who your boyfriend is harming!" right off the bat.

To be honest, this is one of the reasons this question was approved in the middle of the US day, so that we'd be around to keep an eye on it and deal with issues as they come up.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:58 AM on October 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


Done! Let's all go out for waffles!
posted by Specklet at 11:00 AM on October 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


the comments now in there about what might REALLY be going on aren't answering the question either. The thread is kind of weird, because the OP said they were OK with the behavior and wants to make their boyfriend feel better, but the comments are heading to assumption city.
posted by sweetkid at 11:02 AM on October 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I just ate a probably fatal amount of bacon but I'm down.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 11:02 AM on October 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Anyone know a good breakfast place in assumption city?
posted by villanelles at dawn at 11:05 AM on October 19, 2011


Everything is legal in Assumption City. Probably.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:05 AM on October 19, 2011 [12 favorites]


I like to imagine I am open minded about things as well, but that question weirds me out.
posted by cjorgensen at 11:07 AM on October 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah, what I meant to say is I'm sure they've got amazing waffles in Assumption City. I'll meet you guys there, you probably know the place I'm thinking of.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 11:08 AM on October 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


Good deletion.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 11:11 AM on October 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


The framing of mathowie's version of the marriage thread seems less "pickle jar" and lady-focused, so it would have been interesting to see how that thread might have played out differently.
posted by sweetkid at 11:14 AM on October 19, 2011


I feel like now that thread is shifting into a different kind of non-answer, but about morality instead of about legality.

My subjective opinion is that people are getting way too worked about what is really just Standard Issue Internet Trolling (the idea that he's causing his "victims" some kind of emotional harm is a little absurd), but I'm intentionally not commenting in the thread, because I don't really think that's an answer either.
posted by roll truck roll at 11:28 AM on October 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


I wholeheartedly support those deletions, and I look forward to more.
posted by Maximian at 6:42 PM on October 19


I suspect you're not going to be disappointed.
posted by Decani at 11:28 AM on October 19, 2011


I posted the first comment. Honestly, I wasn't trying to derail at all. My immediate reaction when I read the question was "oh my god there is potentially a 16 year old girl involved." I know people who have gone to jail for being in situations eerily similar to this one, and if I were the OP, possible legal issues are the very first thing I would want to deal with; boyfriend's hurt feelings be damned.

I didn't see any of the responses to my answer, so I have no idea how it was received. If other people felt it was too off-topic and needed to be deleted, that's fine.
posted by phunniemee at 11:29 AM on October 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


crap, i meant for my last comment in my thread to go here, can a mod kill it from the ask thread?:

"Those guys either believe that they're really having cybersex with an underage girl, in which case, i don't feel particularly upset about them being lied to, or they know that its not really an underaged girl, in which case, they aren't even being lied to."
posted by empath at 11:34 AM on October 19, 2011


I posted the first comment. Honestly, I wasn't trying to derail at all. My immediate reaction when I read the question was "oh my god there is potentially a 16 year old girl involved." I know people who have gone to jail for being in situations eerily similar to this one, and if I were the OP, possible legal issues are the very first thing I would want to deal with; boyfriend's hurt feelings be damned.

I was one of the responses to your answer that got deleted (basically adding that even if he didn't get caught what the bf is promoting is harmful). I get why my answer was deleted. I wish the question had a trigger warning, though (seriously).

"the idea that he's causing his "victims" some kind of emotional harm is a little absurd"

Promoting the idea that underaged girls are willing participants in such scenarios is harmful in general to underaged girls.
posted by marimeko at 11:39 AM on October 19, 2011 [20 favorites]


Promoting the idea that underaged girls are willing participants in such scenarios is harmful in general to underaged girls.

I didn't think of it that way, and I think you're right.
posted by sweetkid at 11:53 AM on October 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


Oh, how I wish I'd seen this Meta before I posted. Also didn't get to the thread early enough to see the deleted comments.

I tried to word carefully and not get too witch-hunty, but my honest concern was to help the OP, who seems a little naive to me. My thought was the the OP needs to consider more information in order to best make a descision about how to deal with the situation and approach the boyfriend, because op didn't seem to really grasp the repercussions.

Hope I didn't contribute to a derail. There's no question that it's a dicey Ask.
posted by Nixy at 11:57 AM on October 19, 2011


This one time on the internet someone saw a picture of a girl of unidentifiable age. News at 11.
posted by TomMelee at 11:59 AM on October 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I could have lived with that question not being posted.

The title question: How do I deal with my boyfriend's secret?

For any number of reasons, marmenko's among them, DTMFA is not an unreasonable answer. It is far from unreasonable to think this is vile. Someone is apparently leading people to think they are masturbating while chatting with an underage girl.

AskMe - how do I handle this? Is there a way I can reassure him that his fetish isn't something he should be ashamed of?

Again, a reasonable contention that this is something he should be ashamed of.

How are the people he's chatting with looking at and thinking about under-aged girls, thanks in part to his actions. Sure, they would have those views if he wasn't doing these things, but he is party to it.

Call me what you will but I think what amounts to "I'm going through life and I am actively contributing to guys' lust for under-aged girls, their masturbating while thinking about having sex with them," damn sure is something someone should be ashamed of.

By the way, if I somehow came to learn that he was in any way using my niece's image and/or information, I absolutely would go straight to the police, FBI, etc.
posted by ambient2 at 12:04 PM on October 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


Film. Film at 11. You already gave them the news.
posted by vidur at 12:04 PM on October 19, 2011 [17 favorites]


It seems to me that the cardinal rule of AskMe answering from Day 1 has been answer the question that was asked, not the question you think should have been asked. Deletions of answers that don't meet that standard have been and will continue to be routine.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 12:04 PM on October 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think it's a disservice to the OP and her boyfriend to leave the legal ramifications unexplored.

Suppose, for example, that one of the people he lures into masturbating while online with him happens to be an underage boy?

Suppose that's her boyfriend's aim in the first place, to lure in an underage boy?
posted by jamjam at 12:17 PM on October 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Suppose, for example, that one of the people he lures into masturbating while online with him happens to be an underage boy?

What if he was trying to find out someone's home address so he could murder them in their sleep? THINK OF THE POSSIBILITIES!!
posted by empath at 12:25 PM on October 19, 2011 [14 favorites]


Suppose he's actually an axe-murderer. Suppose the asker is really the boyfriend. Suppose Matt Haughey is actually cooperating in an FBI sting.

Suppositions can go in all sorts of directions for all sorts of reasons; this is part of why we pretty much want folks to decide to engage with the actual questions asked or go do something else if that's something they can't stick to, because the green is supposed to be about helping people find answers to the questions they're actually asking.

It's fine to think that the asker's boyfriend's deal is gross or wrong or legally or ethically problematic; it's fine in a limited sense to broach that in the process of answering the question asked; it's really not so fine to pursue that stuff in lieu of answering the question asked. The grey area stuff we try to be flexible about, but ultimately not wanting to take the question asked at face value is a reason to step away from the question and find something else to engage with.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:26 PM on October 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


If we have knowledge of illegal activities, are we obligated to report it? I read that question, am I now an accessory?
posted by Ad hominem at 12:28 PM on October 19, 2011


to sir with millipedes: "Oh god, not 'Oh god not "oh god not this again..."'"

It's "Oh god"s all the way down.
posted by that's candlepin at 12:28 PM on October 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: Suppose Matt Haughey is actually... sting
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:29 PM on October 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


I suppose I can leave out the comment I was supposedly going to make.
posted by vidur at 12:29 PM on October 19, 2011


This thread is now the room where all the detectives look through a one-way mirror at the interrogation room on the green. We should send someone in there to tell the people thinking the guy wanted to be caught that perhaps OP fibbed a little about finding the pictures saved to the desktop to cover up some less than casual snooping.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 12:29 PM on October 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Congratulations on that new gig in Obama's corporate crime crackdown team, empath.

I'm sure they've been looking for someone like you for along time.
posted by jamjam at 12:30 PM on October 19, 2011


Can someone please explain what the boyfriend is doing that might be illegal? Perhaps I'm just naive, but while I think what he's doing is awful, I don't understand how it might be illegal.
posted by zarq at 12:35 PM on October 19, 2011


If people are asserting that it's astronomically unlikely he's had underage respondents, I congratulate them on their clairvoyance-- or their stupidity, one or the other.
posted by jamjam at 12:36 PM on October 19, 2011


It's fine to think that the asker's boyfriend's deal is gross or wrong or legally or ethically problematic; it's fine in a limited sense to broach that in the process of answering the question asked; it's really not so fine to pursue that stuff in lieu of answering the question asked.

But should the question be posted here in the first place? AskMe is a great resource, sure. But it's also part of the MeFi community, and I think it's acceptable for a community to say, "We disapprove of what you're doing for legal and/or moral reasons, and we're not going to tolerate it in this community."
posted by smorange at 12:37 PM on October 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


Suppose he's actually an axe-murderer. Suppose the asker is really the boyfriend. Suppose Matt Haughey is actually cooperating in an FBI sting.

Okay, so, I think this is a little unfair. We know the boyfriend is willing to lie to people. We know the boyfriend is willing to engage in sexual activities that he himself finds creepy. We know he has some interest in sex with minors.

I can't pretend to any objectivity here, because I'm a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. But let me just say that I think the whole scenario is really fucking creepy. And I think it's almost as creepy how blase a lot of people on Metafilter seem to be about it.

I'm not answering the question myself, because all I want to say is, DEAR GOD RUN AWAY. And I realize that response is as much about my personal history as it is about the situation. But I think there is something really weird and messed up about disallowing commenters from talking about the other people who are involved, who are being harmed or potentially harmed by what the OP's boyfriend is doing.
posted by overglow at 12:38 PM on October 19, 2011 [11 favorites]


Can someone please explain what the boyfriend is doing that might be illegal? Perhaps I'm just naive, but while I think what he's doing is awful, I don't understand how it might be illegal.

Possession of child pornography in the form of the picture of the (apparently) 16 year old girl for one. Dissemination of child pornography (i.e., sharing the photo as his avatar), for another.

I'd say that's a good decade in jail, at least (though I'm not about to google "penalties for child pornography" at work!).
posted by Admiral Haddock at 12:40 PM on October 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm not touching that question either, but I think the "text file containing verious biographical details of girls - names, ages, birthdays etc." is enough to make it ten pounds of ew in a five-pound bag.
posted by Gator at 12:41 PM on October 19, 2011 [12 favorites]


But should the question be posted here in the first place? AskMe is a great resource, sure. But it's also part of the MeFi community, and I think it's acceptable for a community to say, "We disapprove of what you're doing for legal and/or moral reasons, and we're not going to tolerate it in this community."

There are differing philosophies on this. From an approving-anonymous-questions perspective, we try to be on the permissive side about stuff when there's not a nuclear-grade problem with what's being asked (so no suicide questions, no "help me figure out the best way to commit this felony" stuff) if it seems like a question people can help get answered in good faith. Strict legality is not a hard limit, for a few reasons; ethical dubiousness isn't either, if the question is more about "help me understand what has happened" than "help me plan to do this thing".

People's lives are complicated and weird and not always what other people approve of. To the extent that good people can have weird or unpopular parts of their life experience, being able to ask about that stuff in a situation where "we disapprove" is not the likely response can be really valuable, especially if they already know that a lot of disapproval is what they might encounter talking about it directly with their family or friends or coworkers. This is a different social space than that, and that's part of its utility.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:42 PM on October 19, 2011 [9 favorites]


But I think there is something really weird and messed up about disallowing commenters from talking about the other people who are involved, who are being harmed or potentially harmed by what the OP's boyfriend is doing.

But this thread got kicked off because of deletion of a handful of start-of-thread non-answers; we aren't talking about disallowing talking about those other angles and have in fact explicitly framed out how it can be okay to do that in the context of addressing the actual question. It just needs to be done with a bit of care and within the boundaries of the existing "you are here to help the asker" guidelines that drive askme.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:44 PM on October 19, 2011


Promoting the idea that underaged girls are willing participants in such scenarios is harmful in general to underaged girls.

Exactly, and even if he's using a non-pornographic image of a teenaged girl to lure in guys, where did he find this picture? Whose picture is it? Masturbating to a picture of a stranger is one thing, but circulating it around the internet with overtures of sexual availability is really awful to this girl.

I'm wondering if the text file of birthdays, &c. is to keep track of his own "characters."
posted by stoneandstar at 12:44 PM on October 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hmm, cortex, I suppose I disagree with the emphasis on utility rather than community. That's not a position I'll always advocate for, but it is my position in this case. I think allowing the question was a mistake; in the alternative, I think deleting comments that expressed legal/moral disapproval was a mistake. Still, it's a judgment call, and although I disagree with the judgment exercised in this particular case, I understand that it's a tough call to make.
posted by smorange at 12:46 PM on October 19, 2011


Maybe people don't remember that kid in Wisconsin who extorted sex from all those high school boys while posing as a girl:

An 18-year-old Wisconsin man is being charged with using Facebook to extort sex from boys by threatening to expose nude pictures of them he obtained by acting as girls on the social-networking site.

It was the subject of an FPP, as I recall. Funny, I thought some of you actually paid attention around here.
posted by jamjam at 12:47 PM on October 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


We know the boyfriend is willing to lie to people. We know the boyfriend is willing to engage in sexual activities that he himself finds creepy. We know he has some interest in sex with minors

I didn't get the last bit from the question. He has some pornographic photos of - possibly underage - young girls on his computer. From the question, it looks like he uses those photos (and other made up biographical details) to pretend to be a young girl in chat rooms. His turn-on seems to be other people being turned on by his online persona. That's not the same as "interest in sex with minors". It is, of course, possible that some of those people chatting with him are minors. But we won't get anywhere with "Suppose ... " crimes.

So, if the legal situation is murky at best, perhaps the best way to answer is to flag the legal issue in your answer, while answering the actual relationship question that has been asked?
posted by vidur at 12:48 PM on October 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Admiral Haddock: " Possession of child pornography in the form of the picture of the (apparently) 16 year old girl for one. Dissemination of child pornography (i.e., sharing the photo as his avatar), for another. "

Was the girl naked? Was she the one masturbating? There's no clear indication.

This is what the post said: "They were a cam shot of a young teenage girl (about 16-17) and what appeared to be a screenshot of the girl on webcam with a guy, who was masturbating."

It appears from the way this is said that the guy was the one masturbating. Perhaps not.

Having a cam shot of a clothed 16 year old girl or using one as an avatar is obviously not illegal.

Is having a picture of a clothed 16 year old girl paired with one of a man who is masturbating (presumably in a chatroulette-style double window -- a meme which has been photoshopped to death online) automatically considered child pornography?
posted by zarq at 12:48 PM on October 19, 2011


anyone who says they can know the age of a 15-20 year old by only a picture is wrong.

as a single piece of evidence, i present little lulu[sfw]

18/19 doesn't magically look different than 16/17. if he were using pictures of a 9 year old, the child porn question would make sense, but i've seen enough 20 year olds who look 15 and 15 year olds who look 20 to never assume someone's age unless i see proof.
posted by nadawi at 12:48 PM on October 19, 2011 [9 favorites]


the existing "you are here to help the asker" guidelines

I think this is important. Commentors, in cases like these, you need to ask yourselves: Are you there to help the asker? You don't have to help them if you don't want to. Popping in just to disapprove helps no one.
posted by hermitosis at 12:49 PM on October 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


It was the subject of an FPP, as I recall. Funny, I thought some of you actually paid attention around here.

This seems like a weird and jerkish false-gotcha to be throwing around. The userbase is not a monolith with one set of reading experiences; inconsistency in the group is the product of it having ten thousand different individuals as constituents. Which is entirely aside from the question of whether any given person is going to assume that thing-that-happened-once must therefore be thing-that-is-happening-here.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:49 PM on October 19, 2011 [10 favorites]


Illegal? Is he accepting money for it? Otherwise, where's the illegality?
posted by Ironmouth at 12:51 PM on October 19, 2011


nadawi: "anyone who says they can know the age of a 15-20 year old by only a picture is wrong."

There's also the case of Melissa Bertsch (link is SFW, goes to a MeFi comment) -- a porn star who apparently looks (or looked) underage enough that someone possessing a legal video of her was arrested on child pornography charges.
posted by zarq at 12:57 PM on October 19, 2011


zarq - same case with little lupe. a guy was arrested for child porn for having videos of her. she went down to puerto rico to prove her age.
posted by nadawi at 1:01 PM on October 19, 2011


I was responding to the implication that the scenario I raised as a worst case possibility was overwhelmingly unlikely, cortex. The link I provided shows that not to be the case.

I've heard a number of other stories of sexual blackmail implemented by imposture. This one happened to be the first result of my initial search.

"Some of you" would include you, by the way. I regret it if my assumption that you glance at most FPPs was inappropriate in some way.
posted by jamjam at 1:04 PM on October 19, 2011


So you find out about your SO's deepest, most shameful secret and your first impulse is, "Hmm, I have to share this with somebody! I know! The mods at metafilter! It'll be totally OK 'cause, other than them, no one will be able to figure out who he is."

How about disallowing the question on the basis of the awful judgement shown by the OP in going to the internet with it in first place?
posted by Right On Red at 1:07 PM on October 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ironmouth, in addition to what Admiral Haddock said, and supposing that the boyfriend is being truthful, if the guy masturbating is underage, then the boyfriend may be committing an offence. Depending on how the statute is written, simply pretending to be a child while doing what the boyfriend is doing may be an offence (by inducing another person to commit an offence). I'm not saying that this is or isn't the case, and I'm not saying the OP's boyfriend is likely to be prosecuted even if it is, but it's at least a possibility.
posted by smorange at 1:07 PM on October 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


nadawi: "zarq - same case with little lupe. a guy was arrested for child porn for having videos of her. she went down to puerto rico to prove her age."

AH! I didn't read both "controversies" paragraphs. Thanks.
posted by zarq at 1:09 PM on October 19, 2011


Right On Red: "So you find out about your SO's deepest, most shameful secret and your first impulse is, "Hmm, I have to share this with somebody! I know! The mods at metafilter! It'll be totally OK 'cause, other than them, no one will be able to figure out who he is." "

One of the reasons AskMe exists is so that people can ask questions of people they don't know, in order to hopefully get objective answers. When faced with a situation like this, the OP probably can't ask a friend or family member, who would obviously know their boyfriend.

So they ask here. Anonymously, to protect the identities of all involved.

My feeling is that we shouldn't shame them for it, and we should respect their privacy.
posted by zarq at 1:15 PM on October 19, 2011 [8 favorites]



One of the reasons AskMe exists is so that people can ask questions of people they don't know, in order to hopefully get objective answers. When faced with a situation like this, the OP probably can't ask a friend or family member, who would obviously know their boyfriend.

So they ask here. Anonymously, to protect the identities of all involved.


Problem is, they're not really all that anonymous.
posted by Right On Red at 1:16 PM on October 19, 2011


Dear AskMe,
I was snooping on my boyfriend's computer and I accidentally found out that he's an axe murderer. He had pictures on his computer of his victims. I love him and he is very ashamed of his murdering innocent people. He will probably continue to kill. Please don't tell me what he did was illegal or immoral, just tell me how I should handle this and make him love me.

Signed,
Desperate
posted by 1000monkeys at 1:17 PM on October 19, 2011 [3 favorites]



Suppose he's actually an axe-murderer. Suppose the asker is really the boyfriend. Suppose Matt Haughey is actually cooperating in an FBI sting.

C'mon. Sure, someone could ask for recommendations for someone with a particular type of expertise in something (counseling, cooking, plumbing, etc.) because they're out to kill a specific type of person, but this ain't like that.
posted by ambient2 at 1:20 PM on October 19, 2011


My feeling is that we shouldn't shame them for it, and we should respect their privacy.

I agree; answer the question, or flag the question. That's really all you need to do in AskMe.

Desperate: This may help.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 1:20 PM on October 19, 2011 [6 favorites]


Problem is, they're not really all that anonymous.

I've definitely seen lots of anonymous questions where the poster gave really stupefying amounts of identifying information but I dont see how this is one of them. Pretty sure the only person that would recognize the boyfriend in this question is the boyfriend.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 1:21 PM on October 19, 2011



I've definitely seen lots of anonymous questions where the poster gave really stupefying amounts of identifying information but I dont see how this is one of them. Pretty sure the only person that would recognize the boyfriend in this question is the boyfriend.


The mods know all.
posted by Right On Red at 1:23 PM on October 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Depserate: get him a Husqvarna forest axe. Trust me, he'll love it.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 1:23 PM on October 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Right On Red: " Problem is, they're not really all that anonymous."

I figure they're as anonymous as they need to be. The people behind anonymous questions can be uncovered by the mods, but they say they don't bother unless a question might violate site policy.

Do we really think the mods give a damn who the subjects of anonymous questions are? Why should they even care?

I've asked a handful of anonymous questions myself over the years. Only one could conceivably be traced back to me by a non-mod, and that only because I have commented non-anonymously on the Blue on the same topic.
posted by zarq at 1:23 PM on October 19, 2011


1000monkeys: "Please don't tell me what he did was illegal or immoral, just tell me how I should handle this and make him love me."

First, tell him to be smart from the very beginning....
posted by zarq at 1:26 PM on October 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


Ironmouth, in addition to what Admiral Haddock said, and supposing that the boyfriend is being truthful, if the guy masturbating is underage, then the boyfriend may be committing an offence.

She gave zero indication that that was the case.
posted by empath at 1:26 PM on October 19, 2011


Do we really think the mods give a damn who the subjects of anonymous questions are? Why should they even care?

Not a question of the mods giving a damn. It's a question of the OP being indiscreet when that's the number one thing we know their SO wants to avoid.
posted by Right On Red at 1:27 PM on October 19, 2011


Problem is, they're not really all that anonymous.

Hopefully people take good care to maintain the level of anonymity they want when they decide to go to the internet with something that isn't intended to be publicly attached to their real identity. That can be anything from "I don't want it to be trivial for random mefites to notice that I'm asking this birthday-party-planning question, because it's for somebody who reads the site" all the way up to "I don't want it to be possible for nation-states to trace this missive to me even with the full power of their security agencies employed".

Someone submitting an anonymous question here with that latter hope is being foolish because Metafilter does not have the resources to battle a nation-state and win. I don't think that's the case basically ever, though; in more normal-practice terms, someone submitting a question with the expectation that their identity will not be publicly revealed by the mods under any kind of normal circumstances is in good shape. We don't tell people who posted an anonymous question even in the rare circumstance that we have a reason to even look it up, and it's a process where we have to manually look it up to even know.

If the implication is that an asker includes too much directly identifying information in their question to avoid easy identification by a random googler, that's certainly something that happens sometimes, either by mistake (because the asker was careless or naive about that level of identification) or by design (because they're not that concerned about being found out other than casually). I don't know if you're feeling like this is a case of that or just speaking generally.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:28 PM on October 19, 2011


'eh. Metafilter's always been moderation happy and I prefer light moderation because diversity of opinion is important. But MeFi has also outwitted, outplayed and outlasted its peers. It still feels lame to be deleted.

For what it's worth, in my deleted comment I enummerated some of the various ethical harms involved. The OP's question does ask explicitely: "How do I go about discussing this with him as helpfully as possible?" Enabling is not helpful. I know that if I were the OP, getting a better feeling for the ethical dimensions of this future discussion would help immensely.

Many of us have difficulty setting boundaries in relationships because we like to think of ourselves as open minded and easy going. A good reality check that "hey, this is neither normal nor harmless, maybe you shouldn't be so easy going afterall," is helpful to me when I'm seeking peer advice.

Someone said that it's absurd to consider the chat partners. I look at things from many ethical angles. Deliberatly harming others, without consent, for your own pleasure violates a lot of ethics. "Do No Harm" Is one. "You are the wolf that you feed," is another. The harm towards the photo model and towards the perception of teenage girls as sex objects may be helpful for the OP to consider as well.

Also, what's up with people who hang out in MetaTalk and whine about "here we go again"...?!? Metametafilter is kind of navel gazy and deadhorse beaty by definition, no?
posted by Skwirl at 1:29 PM on October 19, 2011 [11 favorites]


Metafilter does not have the resources to battle a nation-state and win

What about Tuvalu?
posted by villanelles at dawn at 1:30 PM on October 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


cortex: "Metafilter does not have the resources to battle a nation-state and win."

The Metafilter that Roared.
posted by zarq at 1:32 PM on October 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Does metafilter have the resources to battle a nation-state and lose with dignity?
posted by villanelles at dawn at 1:34 PM on October 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


How many 5-year-old nation-states could MeFi take in a fight?
posted by Edogy at 1:36 PM on October 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


someone submitting a question with the expectation that their identity will not be publicly revealed by the mods under any kind of normal circumstances is in good shape.

Respectfully, my point is not that the OP is at risk of having her identity outed, but that she increased the risk of having her SO's identity becoming known when that's the last thing he would want. It's more about her thinking this is something that's happening to her rather than something she could cause to happen to him from here forward.

Perhaps it's a distinction without a difference (or without a difference that anyone here cares about) in an age where privacy has become so devalued.

Over and out.
posted by Right On Red at 1:36 PM on October 19, 2011


MetaFilter: Suppose Matt Haughey is actually... sting

That would explain how he's able to moderate for such long stretches of time uninterrupted.
posted by mannequito at 1:46 PM on October 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


Dear AskMe,
I was snooping on my boyfriend's computer and I accidentally found out that he's an axe murderer. He had pictures on his computer of his victims. I love him and he is very ashamed of his murdering innocent people. He will probably continue to kill. Please don't tell me what he did was illegal or immoral, just tell me how I should handle this and make him love me.

Signed,
Desperate


You can connect with him by assisting him in disposing bodies better. Noting says "I love you" like being accessory to murder!
posted by vidur at 1:49 PM on October 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


Respectfully, my point is not that the OP is at risk of having her identity outed, but that she increased the risk of having her SO's identity becoming known when that's the last thing he would want.

I hear you there, and obviously the transitive nature of anonymity/privacy is something worth thinking about that people don't always think through when talking about something that involves more than just them. But, again, there's theory and there's practice here: is this a case where the asker recklessly exposed their SO in how they actually proceeded? More so than, say, talking about it to someone who knows them in real life, or posting about it on Facebook?

At a certain point you have to choose between maintaining a perfect chain of anonymity or ever talking about something with anyone. Anonymous Ask Metafilter is not, by design or in mission statement, the most secure possible channel to manage privacy on the internet, but it's one where we filter up front for stuff that seems actively problematic and make a point of separating asker from question significantly to avoid casual disclosures of identity. It's not enough for the truly paranoid, but it's a better channel to presenting a privacy-minded question to disinterested third parties than a lot of options people typically have.

So I hear what you're saying but I think there's a pretty big continuum here in how people manage their personal and their shared privacy, and while I've seen people make some pretty questionable fumbles with such stuff this doesn't seem like a particularly good example of that.

It's more about her thinking this is something that's happening to her rather than something she could cause to happen to him from here forward.

I imagine she's thinking of it as both, which is probably part of why it's anonymous. She's obviously trying to be supportive of her SO here, but she's also trying to deal with how this impacts her and impacts their relationship. Again, the truly secure option is to never talk to anyone about it ever and forbid her SO from doing so as well. Humans aren't very good at that sort of thing even when they try; being choosy about where and how to discuss something sensitive is the more practical option.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:52 PM on October 19, 2011


By the way: There was also a text file containing verious biographical details of girls - names, ages, birthdays etc.

We do not know what those ages and birthdays are and I do not know the legal ramifications if he is specifically relating that he is an under-age girl.

I trust and assume the owner of this site does know about the legal side. Is there essentially or exactly a zero-percent chance that a law-enforcement agency would want to investigate further, pursue getting contact information for the person who posted the question?
posted by ambient2 at 1:55 PM on October 19, 2011


Is there essentially or exactly a zero-percent chance that a law-enforcement agency would want to investigate further, pursue getting contact information for the person who posted the question?

This turns into a tricky issue because our level of risk tolerance and your level of risk tolerance may not be the same. We do not think that having this question up on AskMe poses a problem for the site. If we did, we wouldn't have approved it. If it makes you uncomfortable, that is certainly your right, but this isn't a case where all questions need to have a 0% risk, it needs to be a case where we've decided that the level of risk [I don't believe you can entirely be free of lawsuits if you have a web community generally] is tolerable. I personally am comfortable that, short of someone deciding to make a big deal about this and go to the cops with their concerns, this is not going to be a problem for the site. I'm sorry if that sounds cold-hearted, but it's a calculation I thought through and decided I was okay with it. If it turns into a problem, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. What people are reading into that question is not, at all, what I was reading into it. It may be that I'm not correct, but again we're okay with the way this is working out.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:04 PM on October 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is there essentially or exactly a zero-percent chance that a law-enforcement agency would want to investigate further, pursue getting contact information for the person who posted the question?

There's never exactly a zero percent chance because we have no control over those sorts of externalities and the reasonableness of an action isn't the same thing as the possibility of an action. That said, yes, Matt has had legal consultation on this territory in the past in trying to figure out where we feel okay about staking out policy ground on this stuff, and has a laywer for Metafilter/biz purposes. If you want more details than that it's probably something where you need to drop him an email directly.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:04 PM on October 19, 2011


I think what the asker's boyfriend is doing is completely an unambiguously wrong, so asker, if you're here, now you know.

Lying to people to get off is wrong. Pretending like you're someone's parent discovering their chat, wrong. Sexual acts require consent. There is no grey area where the other person is kinda creepy so it's okay to do things without their knowledge.
posted by the young rope-rider at 2:28 PM on October 19, 2011 [13 favorites]


In Australia 16 year olds are not minors. And 18 year olds can vote AND drink alcohol. Amazing, I know.
posted by taff at 2:31 PM on October 19, 2011


Yeah, this is mostly about the need for people not to railroad an asker's question into a side discussion about a different angle than the one they're actually asking about.

For real.
posted by hal_c_on at 2:33 PM on October 19, 2011


Oh, I should clarify. 16 is not below the age of consent. Technically a minor though.
posted by taff at 2:35 PM on October 19, 2011


If only it were that simple, taff. The age of consent is based on state law, so this varies to some extent. For example, the age of consent in Queensland is 16, except for anal intercourse, where it is 18. With the usual caveats that apply to Wikipedia, here's a handy guide for anyone going on the prowl.
posted by dg at 2:55 PM on October 19, 2011


In Australia 16 year olds are not minors. And 18 year olds can vote AND drink alcohol. Amazing, I know.

Not that these things are even remotely related, but personally I'm fine with folks having to wait until they're 21 to legally drink if it means that it's illegal to sexually exploit young women, especially without their consent.
posted by phunniemee at 3:04 PM on October 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't know that setting a legal age when you can drink higher than the age of consent would have much effect, to be honest. Someone who is likely to sexually exploit others is unlikely to care too much about whether it's legal to drink alcohol while doing so. Perhaps young women are less likely to find themselves in a situation to be exploited if they aren't allowed to drink, I guess.

I think there is something inherently wrong, though in saying to someone 'you can be sent to war against your will when you're 18, you are forced to vote when you're 18, but by god you can't be responsible enough to drink alcohol until you're 21'. If you are legally an adult and held responsible for your actions at 18, you should have the right to make decisions about whether you drink alcohol at the same age.
posted by dg at 3:22 PM on October 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ironmouth, in addition to what Admiral Haddock said, and supposing that the boyfriend is being truthful, if the guy masturbating is underage, then the boyfriend may be committing an offence. Depending on how the statute is written, simply pretending to be a child while doing what the boyfriend is doing may be an offence (by inducing another person to commit an offence). I'm not saying that this is or isn't the case, and I'm not saying the OP's boyfriend is likely to be prosecuted even if it is, but it's at least a possibility.

There's no evidence in the thread that the other side people are underage. Not a word. Your adding facts. There are no facts in the question that the photo is of an unclothed woman underage.

What statute? There is no statute written like that. For a crime to occur, there must be both mens rea (state of mind) and actus reus, the act. Even if the guy thought he was fapping to an underage girl, he's not, so no crime. This is basic criminal law.

You are projecting a whole lot into the question that just isn't in there.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:26 PM on October 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Not that these things are even remotely related, but personally I'm fine with folks having to wait until they're 21 to legally drink if it means that it's illegal to sexually exploit young women, especially without their consent.

As you say, they definitely aren't related, nor to the question of the illegality of sexual assault.

I'm happy for the deletions. Weird as the askme situation sounds, there's an actual question being asked, and not nearly enough information given to be able to speculate usefully about legalities.
posted by Forktine at 3:28 PM on October 19, 2011


I think what the asker's boyfriend is doing is completely an unambiguously wrong, so asker, if you're here, now you know.

Lying to people to get off is wrong. Pretending like you're someone's parent discovering their chat, wrong. Sexual acts require consent. There is no grey area where the other person is kinda creepy so it's okay to do things without their knowledge.


It is a wrong, without doubt. But it is not a criminal act, nor civil fraud or promissory estoppel because the watcher isn't relying to his pecuniary detriment. The watcher didn't put money into the act. If the bf was accepting money, then it is a civil fraud.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:29 PM on October 19, 2011


I'm confused about the side conversation about age of consent, he isn't the girl so he can't consent for her, regardless of age. And age if consent for sex is generally different than age if consent for pornography
posted by saucysault at 3:30 PM on October 19, 2011


we don't actually know how old the girl in the picture is or if she took the picture as professional pornography.

for instance - lets say for arguments sake it's a picture of little lupe - she made those pictures for the purpose of pornography, so would it be breaking her consent to use those pictures to get guys off?
posted by nadawi at 3:39 PM on October 19, 2011


if=of
posted by saucysault at 3:39 PM on October 19, 2011


A legal question: Understood that it may vary from one jurisdiction to another, but with the exception of places like Saudi Arabia, is it generally legal for someone to go online, use someone else's picture (when the picture in itself isn't illegal), relate that they are under-age and engage in sexually oriented communication with people?
posted by ambient2 at 3:42 PM on October 19, 2011


we don't actually know how old the girl in the picture is or if she took the picture as professional pornography.

for instance - lets say for arguments sake it's a picture of little lupe - she made those pictures for the purpose of pornography, so would it be breaking her consent to use those pictures to get guys off?


The OP wrote:

"he became very upset and admitted to me that sometimes he likes to pretend to be young girls on webcam/adult chat sites".

OP's boyfriend set out to pretend to be 'young girls'. Legal or not--of age or not, that she was underage seems to be integral to this fetish (for all parties involved). For lots of reasons I think whether or not this was legal seems to be besides the point.
posted by marimeko at 3:50 PM on October 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


What statute? There is no statute written like that. For a crime to occur, there must be both mens rea (state of mind) and actus reus, the act. Even if the guy thought he was fapping to an underage girl, he's not, so no crime. This is basic criminal law.

The offence of inducing another person to commit an offence does not (always) require that the latter offence was actually committed.
posted by smorange at 3:50 PM on October 19, 2011


What statute? There is no statute written like that. For a crime to occur, there must be both mens rea (state of mind) and actus reus, the act.

Chris Hansen would disagree.
posted by empath at 3:57 PM on October 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


OP's boyfriend set out to pretend to be 'young girls'. Legal or not--of age or not, that she was underage seems to be integral to this fetish (for all parties involved). For lots of reasons I think whether or not this was legal seems to be besides the point.

It's certainly not beside the point of whether or not this was legal.
posted by OmieWise at 3:58 PM on October 19, 2011


For lots of reasons I think whether or not this was legal seems to be besides the point.

i don't disagree with you, but i was specifically speaking to legality and consent.


Chris Hansen would disagree.

a lot of people disagree with chris hansen.
posted by nadawi at 4:04 PM on October 19, 2011


It's certainly not beside the point of whether or not this was legal.

The legalities of whether or not the photo is of an consenting and or 'of age' woman don't necessarily matter in light of the fact that the fantasy is that she is underage (a 'girl). that is, still harmful despite possibly being legal.
posted by marimeko at 4:04 PM on October 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ironmouth, in addition to what Admiral Haddock said, and supposing that the boyfriend is being truthful, if the guy masturbating is underage, then the boyfriend may be committing an offence.

This could be true for any porno chat of any sort of any supposed age group. I just can't see that what he did was any big deal, and if I were the OP I'd just think it was dorky, as are so many fetishes.

People seem to be trying really hard to come with a legal rationale to justify them feeling icked out.
posted by small_ruminant at 4:25 PM on October 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Sexual acts require consent.

Is typing a sexual act? I have been doing it all wrong! And wait til my boss finds out!
posted by small_ruminant at 4:27 PM on October 19, 2011


What statute? There is no statute written like that. For a crime to occur, there must be both mens rea (state of mind) and actus reus, the act. Even if the guy thought he was fapping to an underage girl, he's not, so no crime. This is basic criminal law.

The offence of inducing another person to commit an offence does not (always) require that the latter offence was actually committed.


There is no such crime as "inducing" another to engage in a criminal act if there is no criminal act to be committed.
posted by Ironmouth at 4:31 PM on October 19, 2011


Seriously, this is exactly what law enforcement does in sting operations all day long. Its not "inducement" by any means.
posted by Ironmouth at 4:32 PM on October 19, 2011


I'm simply curious about this (and need no legal justifications to have any feeling about anything). Based on the example of Chris Hansen, if someone is taking the show's approach--for their pleasure, with zero plan or effort to try to meet the "girl"--and using someone else's picture, am I correct in understanding that it is legal?
posted by ambient2 at 4:44 PM on October 19, 2011


It seems very clear to me that he is achieving sexual pleasure through defrauding people. If you require victims in order to achieve sexual satisfaction I find that troublesome and disturbing. If the OP were my daughter I would sit her down and do my best to assure her that there are so many, many more and better fish in the sea.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 5:00 PM on October 19, 2011 [6 favorites]


I agree. It's dreadful. But owning the photograph if she's 16 doesn't, in my amateur opinion, make him a criminal. Creepy, yes.
posted by taff at 5:11 PM on October 19, 2011


We disapprove of what you're doing for legal and/or moral reasons, and we're not going to tolerate it in this community.

'Disapproval on moral grounds' is a slippery slope that I don't want to go sliding down, thanks. I may be squicked out by some of the stuff in that question (the text files on young girls, including birthdays, leads me into thinking this might very well transfer in some way from the internet into the real world), but my personal discomfort is not a justification for banning a question for everyone else.

As for legality, if the mods knew for sure child pornography was going on, I don't for a second think they'd condone it in any way.

I did not comment in that thread, either, because I although I think I have something the OP should hear, it doesn't answer her question.

She's asking how to be supportive of her boyfriend and make him feel better after she discovered this stuff, and what I want to say to her is, "Wow, so you've been cheated on before, and you are still so gullible and trusting that you accept your boyfriend's very dubious contention that the only reason he has any connection to this material catering to people with fetishes for very young girls is because he is "tricking" other men into thinking he is one?! Wow, where can I get me some of that kool-aid you are drinking?"

See what I mean? Not helpful.
posted by misha at 5:13 PM on October 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


If the OP were my daughter I would sit her down and do my best to assure her that there are so many, many more and better fish in the sea.

Quite frequently relationship AskMes makes me want to shake people and tell them that being alone is not the worst thing in the world. This AskMe gives me that feeling more than most of them.

Seriously, not having a boyfriend doesn't automatically make you go out and buy forty cats and the entire print run of Lady's Circle magazine. It's not a fate worse than death.
posted by winna at 5:13 PM on October 19, 2011 [9 favorites]


The legalities of whether or not the photo is of an consenting and or 'of age' woman don't necessarily matter in light of the fact that the fantasy is that she is underage (a 'girl). that is, still harmful despite possibly being legal.

Yeah, like I said, your contention that it doesn't matter is only true if you're not interested in the legality. I understand that people have other concerns here, but part of the question is about legality.
posted by OmieWise at 5:16 PM on October 19, 2011


FWIW, written descriptions of sex with someone under 18 even if it is fictional and includes no pictures/photographs is illegal in Canada. I find it hard to believe that someone with that fetish wouldn't be very aware of the risk and shared that information with the OP. Even if the OP is not in Canada one of the victims of the boyfriend's deception might be and could drag the boyfriend into a legal - and public - mess. The Toronto Police have a special squad that is certainly not catching everyone but they are making very public arrests.
posted by saucysault at 5:52 PM on October 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


FWIW, written descriptions of sex with someone under 18 even if it is fictional and includes no pictures/photographs is illegal in Canada. I find it hard to believe that someone with that fetish wouldn't be very aware of the risk and shared that information with the OP. Even if the OP is not in Canada one of the victims of the boyfriend's deception might be and could drag the boyfriend into a legal - and public - mess. The Toronto Police have a special squad that is certainly not catching everyone but they are making very public arrests.

Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition, 535 U.S. 234 (2002) holds the opposite in the United States.

The asker is an American:
To be perfectly honest, I think that he wanted you to know what he was doing, and also set the situation up so that you would feel guilty ever asking him questions about it, questioning it, being suspicious of what he is really doing, or having a problem with his behavior in any way.
Canadian English does not spell behavior like that.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:32 PM on October 19, 2011


psst, Ironmouth, you didn't quote the OP.

We don't know the jurisdiction, which makes the legL debate so interesting as we are not limited to American Law.
posted by saucysault at 6:37 PM on October 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


not having a boyfriend doesn't automatically make you go out and buy forty cats and the entire print run of Lady's Circle magazine. It's not a fate worse than death.

It is actually not a bad fate at all! Soooo much better than waking up next to someone you don't trust every day, for example.
posted by oinopaponton at 6:40 PM on October 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


This thread is gonna set some sort of record of assumptions and projections. Maybe some of you should consider hiring a lawyer to try to FORCE Matt to give up the identity of the poster so we can GET THIS GUY!
posted by mreleganza at 6:49 PM on October 19, 2011


psst, Ironmouth, you didn't quote the OP.

We don't know the jurisdiction, which makes the legL debate so interesting as we are not limited to American Law.


sorry on that, thought i had the right part of the post.

The odds are massively in favor of this person being a US resident. Why? Because it is obviously North American English and there are nearly 10 U.S. residents for every Canadian resident.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:53 PM on October 19, 2011


we are not limited to American Law.

We are though, on the site. We try to sort of do a reality check when we're talking about things that are illegal in various places and try to figure out if the thing the person is asking about is badly illegal [i.e. they are asking about actively breaking a just law] or not so much [i.e. they may be asking about someone else who is possibly breaking a stupid law] and stuff in-between is in more of a grey area. Just because porn occupies a different legal area in Canada than it does in the US does not mean that MeFi has an obligation to uphold that standard, and we don't even have a hard and fast rule against illegality, just that it's one of the things that could get your anon question not approved or your non-anon question deleted at our discretion.

So, we disallow questions about murder and suicide and even questions about stealing software but we're okay on questions that involve marijuana or maybe copyright violations [depending] or trying to make the best of a complicated immigration scenario. I'm not saying that people have to agree with where we draw the lines, and it's probably good that we're talking about things, but these decisions aren't made without trying to contextualize whatever's being asked about, whatever rules laws or guidelines may be being violated, and the position of the site and the people answering the question in whatever the activity is. So, we'd draw a line between "Help me buy weed" and "Help me cook with weed" even though that may be an academic distinction, obviously. Similarly "Help me figure out birth control options so that me and my girlfriend can have sex without getting pregnant [p.s. we're both 15]" is not going to be deleted just because it talks about sex between minors. If you think it should be, we're here to listen, but we also want you to understand where we're coming from.

I'm not trying to draw any paralells between those scenarios and the one in the question, but just saying that while you're welcome to have whatever personal reaction to the question you want, we do have guidelines for how we expect you to interact with stuff on AskMe and I think we all want, as mods, for people to at least understand why we do what we do, even if they don't agree with us.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:58 PM on October 19, 2011 [6 favorites]


I hate this aspect of MetaFilter. People can be such busybodies. Of course, that's probably much of the attraction of AskMe for many of the answerers, so I guess it shouldn't come as a surprise. (Not everyone. Lots of people just like to be helpful, and that's very cool. But lots of other people like asserting their values onto other people, which isn't as cool.)
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:25 PM on October 19, 2011 [6 favorites]


Even if the OP is not in Canada one of the victims of the boyfriend's deception might be and could drag the boyfriend into a legal - and public - mess.

I'm sure that's going to happen. "Hey officer, I thought I was masturbating to an anonymous underage girl, but it turns out it was an anonymous dude instead. Can you arrest him for false advertising?"
posted by empath at 7:39 PM on October 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


(the text files on young girls, including birthdays, leads me into thinking this might very well transfer in some way from the internet into the real world)

This is a perfect example of how we just don't have enough information to be coming on so harshly. I had assumed these were notes for his role-playing, so he could remember that "Suzy" is 15 and blonde, and that "Marissa" likes horseback riding, while maintaining multiple conversations over time with multiple guys. It's possible that you are right, instead -- there simply isn't enough information given (or perhaps even known by the OP) to have even a crap shoot at being right.

We try to sort of do a reality check when we're talking about things that are illegal in various places and try to figure out if the thing the person is asking about is badly illegal [i.e. they are asking about actively breaking a just law] or not so much [i.e. they may be asking about someone else who is possibly breaking a stupid law] and stuff in-between is in more of a grey area. Just because porn occupies a different legal area in Canada than it does in the US does not mean that MeFi has an obligation to uphold that standard, and we don't even have a hard and fast rule against illegality, just that it's one of the things that could get your anon question not approved or your non-anon question deleted at our discretion.

There are other things about how the site is run that I might quibble with, but this aspect of it gives me big-time warm snugglies and every time I read a policy description like this I want to sent imaginary electronic hugs to the moderators.
posted by Forktine at 7:51 PM on October 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't understand how Metafilter determines what is risky or not. These posts got deleted for telling the asker that what the BF is doing is illegal. Yet the other day there was a question rom a guy who overdosed on Adderal, and the very first response told him to do something insanely dangerous: have a drink and mix alcohol with an overdose of prescription medication. I reported the comment and was told that Mefi doesn't delete answers simply for being wrong. Isn't this the reason that one doctor left Mefi... because of horrible advice from non-medical people? (Sorry, I'm awful with names.)

So that was not dangerous enough advice to be deleted. And now this guy masturbating to possibly underage girls is not dangerous enough to warn the OP of the illegality. I dunno, I would think you guys would want to CYA more. I would have deleted this question altogether.
posted by IndigoRain at 8:15 PM on October 19, 2011


maybe before you would have deleted it you would read the question. he wasn't masturbating to underage girls. he was pretending to be an underage girl.

if you want to respond to a made up scenario, your response should be deleted for not answering the question.
posted by nadawi at 8:24 PM on October 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


the very first response told him to do something insanely dangerous

By the time you had emailed us, people had commented in the thread telling the OP to not do that. If we get into the "we delete wrong answers" game then we have to evaluate every answer for rightness or wrongness and we can't and don't do that. Again, I understand that people are not always comfortable where we draw these lines, but we try to be consistent. We are not actually too concerned with CYA stuff in most cases, drawing the line at comments that say "Someone should assassinate that guy!" and revenge/murder/suicide/warez for the most part.

There is a difference between what is risky for the site and what might be risky for the people asking or answering questions. And there's the same rule for all answers: you have to answer the question, even if your answer is stupid or wrong. If what you're saying, however, is "You're stupid and wrong!" there's a good chance that's not an answer to the question.

because of horrible advice from non-medical people?

ikkyu2 left for many reasons.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:27 PM on October 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ironmouth:

Criminal Code of Canada, s.464:

"Except where otherwise expressly provided by law, the following provisions apply in respect of persons who counsel other persons to commit offences, namely,
(a) every one who counsels another person to commit an indictable offence is, if the offence is not committed, guilty of an indictable offence and liable to the same punishment to which a person who attempts to commit that offence is liable; and
(b) every one who counsels another person to commit an offence punishable on summary conviction is, if the offence is not committed, guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction."

Furthermore, police are not allowed to induce others to commit offences. In Canada, at least, doing so crosses the line and constitutes entrapment. I've forgotten the case that's authority for that proposition, but it's a Supreme Court of Canada case, if I recall correctly.

I don't think American spelling of words is decisive of nationality. As many Canadians as not use American spelling, in my experience. Point taken on the statistical probability, however. And I know little/nothing about American criminal law.
posted by smorange at 8:28 PM on October 19, 2011


nadawi: "maybe before you would have deleted it you would read the question. he wasn't masturbating to underage girls. he was pretending to be an underage girl.

if you want to respond to a made up scenario, your response should be deleted for not answering the question.
"

I didn't respond to that question. And I thought part of the problem in this case was that the guy was passing off pics of underage girls as himself. There is something about a text file with the girls' information? If those pics are pornographic then they're illegal. If that only got brought up here and not the Ask thread then I'm just confused. Sorry.
posted by IndigoRain at 8:34 PM on October 19, 2011


the picture is of a girl that the poster says looks 16/17 - we know nothing else about it (and as i pointed out up thread - "looks 16" doesn't really mean anything). the guy's story seems to be that the text document is to help him fool the men into think he's a young girl.

i wasn't saying you responded to the question - i was saying why the deletions were sound - that the only illegality people can point to is either grasping at straws or making things up.

i'm glad the mods don't delete questions based on tenuous "ifs."
posted by nadawi at 8:42 PM on October 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


FWIW, written descriptions of sex with someone under 18 even if it is fictional and includes no pictures/photographs is illegal in Canada.

That's an overstatement. See paragraph 21 of the ruling you linked to: "It is not enough that the material ... characterizes the criminal sexual activity as enjoyable and the child participants willing. In my view that does not equate to active inducement or encouragement." I'm not sure the ruling is entirely coherent, but it's more nuanced than your blanket statement makes it seem.
posted by twirlip at 9:53 PM on October 19, 2011


If those pics are pornographic then they're illegal.

There is absolutely nothing in the question that implies the photos are pornographic.
posted by empath at 10:30 PM on October 19, 2011


Depserate: get him a Husqvarna forest axe. Trust me, he'll love it.

In case you're curious, Wood Trekker reviews the Husqvarna Traditional Axe.
posted by ryanrs at 1:24 AM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow. All sorts of people talking outta their ass about what is legal and not...and I'm guessing not one of you "well it is illegal" people has ever looked up legislation.
posted by hal_c_on at 2:17 AM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


What I want to know is where the open Jay Smooth post is, because it's not on the front page or even one page back.
posted by mephron at 3:01 AM on October 20, 2011


Here.
posted by taz (staff) at 3:07 AM on October 20, 2011


ironmouth: Even if the guy thought he was fapping to an underage girl, he's not, so no crime. This is basic criminal law.

I'm not a lawyer, and I have only a passing acquaintance with United States criminal law, but it took me ten seconds to find this on Wikipedia:
A person is guilty of an attempt to commit a crime if, acting with the kind of culpability otherwise required for commission of the crime he: purposely engages in conduct which would constitute the crime if the attendant circumstances were as he believes them to be. MPC ยง 5.01 (1)(a).
It's Wikipedia, so it might be incorrect, or I might have read it out of context, but it sits with my basic understanding of the impossibility defence to inchoate offences in other common law jurisdictions.

If you're a practicing criminal lawyer or scholar of criminal law, fine. If you're not, well, you can do what you like, but I don't think I'm alone in thinking that brash assertions don't add a whole lot of value to any discussion, let alone legal discussions.
posted by doublehappy at 3:10 AM on October 20, 2011


Ironmouth: What statute? There is no statute written like that. For a crime to occur, there must be both mens rea (state of mind) and actus reus, the act. Even if the guy thought he was fapping to an underage girl, he's not, so no crime. This is basic criminal law."

Again, I'm not a qualified criminal lawyer, but my understanding of attempt is that the actus reus is an act proximately connected to the intended offence. In my jurisdiction, the test is whether the defendant took "real and practical steps" toward committing the offence, and I imagine it's similar in the United States.

So, in the fact scenario you present in the penultimate sentence of the quoted comment, I'd guess that the mens rea is intending to fap to an underage girl and the actus reus could be any of a series of acts (opening the chat window? chatting to the "girl"? I don't know), depending on the threshold required by the relevant jurisdiction.

And yeah, I don't know latin, so I may be opening myself up to ridicule here, but I think that mens rea, while it is technically a state of mind, actually means guilty mind.

RE: the actual topic of this thread, I'm fine with answers being limited to answering the question at hand and a strong moderation policy to that effect. The answers are for the Asker, so the Asker defines the scope.
posted by doublehappy at 3:29 AM on October 20, 2011


Even if the guy thought he was fapping to an underage girl, he's not, so no crime.

Somebody better tell this guy and the cops who arrested him --as well as all the other people who get arrested for thinking they are fapping to an underage girl who isn't as advertised-- that it isn't a crime since the "girl" was actually an adult (and in this and many other cases, police officers).
posted by Orb at 5:34 AM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is one of the reasons I love Metafilter!
posted by slogger at 5:44 AM on October 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


Oops! Wrong thread!
posted by slogger at 5:44 AM on October 20, 2011 [4 favorites]


Oops! Wrong thread!

This is one of the reasons I love Metafilter!
posted by OmieWise at 6:12 AM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's ok slogger, this is a safe place, let it out.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:14 AM on October 20, 2011


What I want to know is where the open Jay Smooth post is, because it's not on the front page or even one page back.

I know taz already made with the specific link, but I'm gonna put a word in here for the site search because I feel like it's not used as much as it could be for stuff like this and maybe a lot of people feel like it's not as good as it is. It is, especially for something where you actually know a key word for sure, actually very good. Fast, thorough, sharp as a tack, etc.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:18 AM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


I didn't believe cortex about the site search, but when I did one using the term "jay smooth", the post that was being talked about popped up in less than a second.

Still not believing him on the werewolf unicorns though.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:47 AM on October 20, 2011


Still not believing him on the werewolf unicorns though.

Of course not. They never believe...until it's too late.
posted by to sir with millipedes at 6:49 AM on October 20, 2011


the site search because I feel like it's not used as much as it could be

Isn't that because the site search sucked for so long? I think I remember being encouraged to use Google to search MetaFilter.
posted by pracowity at 7:41 AM on October 20, 2011


Yeah, it was not so great several years ago. It has been pretty robust for a while now, as in years; google is still handy for specific tasks (notably multi-word fixed string searches) but for most search tasks on site the internal search is a hell of a lot more useful.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:07 AM on October 20, 2011


Please use the site search, Jeffery. It's a good engine...and thorough.
posted by echo target at 8:34 AM on October 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


Ironmouth: What statute? There is no statute written like that. For a crime to occur, there must be both mens rea (state of mind) and actus reus, the act. Even if the guy thought he was fapping to an underage girl, he's not, so no crime. This is basic criminal law."

Again, I'm not a qualified criminal lawyer, but my understanding of attempt is that the actus reus is an act proximately connected to the intended offence. In my jurisdiction, the test is whether the defendant took "real and practical steps" toward committing the offence, and I imagine it's similar in the United States.

So, in the fact scenario you present in the penultimate sentence of the quoted comment, I'd guess that the mens rea is intending to fap to an underage girl and the actus reus could be any of a series of acts (opening the chat window? chatting to the "girl"? I don't know), depending on the threshold required by the relevant jurisdiction.

And yeah, I don't know latin, so I may be opening myself up to ridicule here, but I think that mens rea, while it is technically a state of mind, actually means guilty mind.

RE: the actual topic of this thread, I'm fine with answers being limited to answering the question at hand and a strong moderation policy to that effect. The answers are for the Asker, so the Asker defines the scope.
posted by doublehappy at 6:29 AM on October 20 [+] [!]


This interpretation would make a huge number of acts engaged in by the police illegal. Take for example the "undercover police officer poses as hired killer." The police officer says that he'll do the job for 10,000 but she has to pay him first. She comes up with the 10,000, he arrests her. Or a woman officer poses as a prostitute and a guy comes up and looks at her and solicits a few prostitutes before coming up to her. She flirts.

These would be illegal acts under your interpretation. I don't know how they do it up there in Canada, but it sure is legal here. In other words, unless the actual act that the person is trying to commit is illegal, there is no crime on the part of the inducer if the inducer knows it isn't a crime. Even if the induced party believes that act to be illegal.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:17 PM on October 24, 2011


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