Man with camera in park who fled angry parent sought by police (turns out he was taking pix of his grandson)

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225 Responses to “Man with camera in park who fled angry parent sought by police (turns out he was taking pix of his grandson)”

  1. So can the woman be charged with something like filing a false police report or harassment or something?

    • David Yoon says:

      Good to know crazy people can waste my local taxpayer money with stupid calls to the cops. Oh wait—I don’t live in Idaho. Do whatcha want, then!

      • Timothy Reeves says:

        Yeah, because stuff like this never happens in Florida, or California, or Texas, or Connecticut, or wherever you live. Good thing, huh?

  2. Blackbird says:

    Exactly what I was thinking…  There being a good parent, and then there’s this. 

  3. RioMcT says:

    Boing Boing writes”For some reason, the police found this to be suspicious, too.” and yet the article linked to writes, “Lt. Paul Manning said police are no longer worried about the man and he is not suspicious.”

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      Boing Boing writes”For some reason, the police found this to be
      suspicious, too.” and yet the article linked to writes, “Lt. Paul
      Manning said police are no longer worried about the man and he is not
      suspicious.

      Did you even bother to read the story?  The police alerted the media, who put out a call for citizens to report seeing this guy.

      Pocatello Police are warning people of a suspicious man spotted taking pictures of children at Ammon Park. Police say parents spotted the man photographing their kids, and when they confronted him the man ran off. He is described as an older white man with white hair and a beard. He
      was wearing a western-style button-down shirt and blue jeans and was
      driving a tan/brown van. If anyone has information about this man, police would like them to call police dispatch at ***-****.

      • Little John says:

        Sorry, Antinous, but you seem to have missed the  point of RioMcT’s dissatisfaction with Cory’s post, which I happen to share. Your condescension is misplaced when you say,

        Did you even bother to read the story?  The police alerted the media, who put out a call for citizens to report seeing this guy.

        You’re missing the ordering of events in the post. Cory’s report leads us to believe that the police were suspicious after the man called in, “because he was a) an adult, b) in a park, c) with a camera”. In other words, Cory leaves us thinking that the cops were on his case for the same reasons the woman was, i.e. a, b, and c above, all not illegal, even in combination.

        In fact, the “story” does not support  this insertion of Cory’s, and I say that having studied his OP, the post he’s linking to, and the LocalNews8 report w/ update of this foolishness. Cory ends his post with

        For some reason, the police found this to be suspicious, too — despite
        the fact that statistically the most likely abuser in a child’s life is
        a relative or close acquaintance, not a stranger. Who needs
        evidence-based policing when you’ve got unfounded terror, though?

        I suspect he added the former sentence just so he could inflame us with the latter. He should have just omitted both (especially since his “despite” is confusing us anyway).

        In any case, the BB post is misleading, and I share RioMcT’s questioning of it.

        P.S.: I’ve edited this post about four times now, just to fix minor formatting and typo problems, and of course the links I’ve taken care to embed in my text still don’t appear to the casual reader as links. Please enact/advocate for CSS corrections to let links appear as links. And please see about enabling Preview; does Disqus even allow it?

  4. Brainspore says:

    In fairness to the police they were reacting to this crazy woman’s description of who the man was and what he was doing, not an accurate account of his behavior.

  5. James B says:

    Then, down at my local park in Loveland, there is a guy in the bathroom taking pictures of other people’s kids.  He is in jail now, just like this woman should be.  If there are no consequences for documenting baseless accusations with law enforcement, then people will continue to do it.

  6. Brian Damage says:

    Sure the woman pointing fingers was overbearing but this sounds like it was fairly handled to me.  An accusation was made, a warning was issued to the public just in case, the perpetrator was deemed innocent, and the police gave the all clear.  That’s police procedure at its best, no?

    I’d like to think the exaggerations in the public warning were embellishments on the witness’ behalf and not the word of the police or news.

    • Alvis says:

      “An accusation was made, a warning was issued to the public just in case”

      But there’s the problem – there’s nothing wrong with taking pictures of children, and that’s all the woman accused the man of.  So what’s to warn the public of? 

      This is all based on the faulty assumption that there’s something nefarious about public photography, when it’s of children.

      • OldBrownSquirrel says:

        Part of the problem is that the person with the camera was a man, and it’s a widely held point of dogma in some schools of feminist thought that all men should be perceived as potential rapists.  The notion that all men should be seen as potential child molesters, not to be trusted around children, is a trivial corollary.  I’m pretty sure women can take photos of their kids and grandkids without drawing undue attention.

          • OldBrownSquirrel says:

            You don’t want men approaching you? Fine, OK, whatever, your problem.

            Is it too much to ask that we be allowed to take our kids to the playground without being subject to hysterical accusations?

          • Guest says:

            Ah, yes ‘hysterical’. Trot that word out any time a woman is (often, BUT NOT ALWAYS justifiably) concerned for her or her childrens’ safety. Classy.

            No, it is not too much to ask. But it would be beneficial to be aware of the sociological reasons WHY many people (and especially women) are that protective of their children in public. These things do not occur in a vacuum. Isn’t it nice that I’m not saying ‘Fine., Whatever. Your problem’? Because that would be dismissive of your concerns! See how that works?

            Finally, I am not condoning this woman’s actions- but I can see the reasons she reacted the way she did.

          • Dito says:

            Your offense at the use of the word “hysterical” is, I’m sorry, manufactured and unjustified. It’s a fairly common term for people who overreact, no matter their gender.

            As for why people are afraid, it’s because they’re encouraged to be afraid. Haven’t you seen the signs at airports and other places that read “See Something? SAY Something!”

            That’s why people are (over)protective of their children in public. They’ve been brainwashed into suspecting every male with a camera is a pedophile, just like they’ve been brainwashed into suspecting every Arabic-appearing individual on a plane is a terrorist.

            The guy in question was taking photographs in broad daylight. He wasn’t hiding in the bushes offering kids lollipops with one hand while playing pocket pool with the other.

            The world can be a dangerous place, sure. But I wish people would stop worrying so damned much about every possible wrong, no matter how rare or slight.

          • Guest says:

            XD Nice one! I’m NOT ALLOWED to be offended! Never heard that before. Privilege much? /s

            http://www.derailingfordummies.com/#enjoyit

            hys·ter·i·cal
               /hɪˈstɛrɪkəl/
            –adjective
            1.
            of, pertaining to, or characterized by hysteria.
            2.
            uncontrollably emotional.
            3.
            irrational from fear, emotion, or an emotional shock.

            Origin:
            1650–60; < Latin hystericus < Greek hysterikós, suffering in the womb, hysterical (reflecting the Greeks' belief that hysteria was peculiar to women and caused by disturbances in the uterus)

            And, that's not an offensive description of someone's (usually a woman's) concerns and fears? Basically defining them as irrational? Huh.

          • OldBrownSquirrel says:

            To quote the article Cory linked:

            The hysteria of adults photographing children in public has reached epidemic proportions.

            We’re discussing mass hysteria here, and I wasn’t the first to introduce that language to this topic.  If you want to make this discussion about your personal hysteria, that’s entirely up to you.

          • Happler says:

            I was not aware that we where Greeks living in the 1650′s?

            Anyone, male or female, can react as describe in definition 3. Most phobia’s result in hysterical reactions.  Treating it as being aimed at only women is sexist.

          • Guest says:

            That is the linguistic basis for the word ‘hysteria’.  It was originally intended to only describe women.

            And, did you have a point? I’m wondering what it is. No, wait- I don’t care.

          • Happler says:

            My point is that many words have bases that are no longer true.  To only view it as being about women is sexist and incredibly narrow minded.

            I do know that the demographics show that it is mostly men who do sex crimes against children.  If this person where really a problem, then the hysterical reaction just warned him that the police are on route and that he now has time to delete any offending pictures and come up with a valid alibi.  If the woman had thought rationally, she would have either spoken with the person politely, or called the police if she did not feel safe in doing this.  

          • Guest says:

            Why was this woman’s reaction ‘hysterical’ if she felt like she had a legitimate concern? Maybe she’s had previous experiences of this kind?

            Calling her reaction ‘hysterical’ erases any legitimacy to her concerns (which, TO HER, were legit!), and again, it is dismissive. And, yes, still sexist language used against mostly women.

            Yes, the screaming at the guy is pretty over the top. She could have handled it much better than that. But, it doesn’t mean that she had no right to be concerned.

          • Happler says:

            Since I did not see the reaction myself, I can only respond by the way that it was reported.  Now, I do have issues with how the media reports things (they only report that which will give them the most readers and, hopefully the most income), but I do view that confronting him about it in the way that it was reported, was the incorrect way.

            The statement from the man of ” but simply walked away from a woman who had gotten very close to him and was yelling at him”.  I still stand by my idea that the best way for her to handle it would be to keep an eye on him and call the police if she thought that it was an issue.

            If she did have precious experiences of this kind, then she allowed it to cause her fear rather then working towards empowering her.  Getting in someone face and yelling at them is the sign of someone acting irrationally, it does not matter if it was out of fear or anger.   Irrational people are statically more likely to make poor and or dangerous decisions.

            A more rational approach would be to either talk calmly with them, or, if she was afraid of the person, just call the police and keep an eye on them.

            I have to assume that you, also, do not know both sides of the story and are only reacting to how it was reported.  I am not questioning if she thought her concern was legitimate.  Just as I am not questioning if his alibi was legitimate.  I am only questioning the reactions of people to this story and how they, themselves are almost hysterical. 

          • earwicker says:

            Her reaction was “hysterical” because she chose to handle it by yelling at the guy.  It’s that part specifically – the yelling – that makes it “hysterical”. She has every right to be concerned, but that doesn’t mean that going up to the guy and yelling at him was anything other than hysterical.

          • Donald Petersen says:

            Why was this woman’s reaction ‘hysterical’ if she felt like she had a legitimate concern? 

            I don’t mean to interrupt, but to my way of thinking, the woman displayed what she felt to be her legitimate concern by approaching the guy in the first place, and (since she felt it was warranted) calling the police.  Where her behavior begins to attract the adjective “hysterical” is when she was yelling at the guy, causing him to leave, when the eventual judgment by the police (and the blogosphere, etc.) was that he had every right to be photographing his own grandson in the park.

            Not knowing any other details prevents us from accurately assessing the situation, since AFAIK none of us involved in this discussion was present for the altercation.  But I don’t believe that anyone was utilizing the word “hysterical” simply because she was a woman.  Yelling at a guy for taking pictures of a kid strikes some of us as a fairly hysterical overreaction (regardless of the yeller’s gender), but then again, we weren’t there.  Her yelling may have been the result of gradual escalation of the misunderstanding; we have no evidence that she necessarily just suddenly ran over and noisily got all up in his grille, shrieking threats of legal repercussions.  But then again, who would?  And then again again, wouldn’t the fellow just respond to an initial inquiry with, “It’s okay.  He’s my grandson, not some random kid, right Junior?” if she’d approached him in a calm, concerned manner?

            We’ll probably never know.  If the “hysterical” word is inaccurately applied, it’s based upon LocalNews8′s sentence here: “The man also said that he did not run away, but simply walked away from a woman who had gotten very close to him and was yelling at him.”  So in this case it’s his word against hers.  If we can believe that she was yelling at him for no good reason, then yeah, her reaction was a bit hysterical.  She obviously felt she had a legitimate concern, but her feeling is entirely subjective.  Maybe after the fact she regrets her outburst as being too paranoid and hypersensitive and, well, hysterical.  Could be that even if she acknowledges her error, she stands by her reasons for yelling at the guy (if, say, he somehow provoked her into escalating her alarm).  We can’t know.

            But if we assume that the old guy is actually a harmless old granddad who didn’t go out of his way to piss her off, then we have to label her reaction as something a bit over-the-top, or a reaction beyond that which we might expect from your typical bystanding parent.  Everyone behaves reasonably according to their own subjective motivations, be they concerned parents or mass-murdering terrorists.  Don’t we have to try to measure the legitimacy of other people’s motivations to help us decide which of our own reactions are socially acceptable or reasonable?  Need we no self-control or patience or tolerance or understanding whatsoever?

            I feel certain now that someone’s gonna get this point across in about 10% of my wordcount, so I’ll shut up now.

          • canuckfan26 says:

            You are conflating two different things: Her concern and her actions regarding that concern. So what if her concern was legitimate? Screaming at a stranger based on her own (incorrect) assumption still qualifies as an overly-emotional reaction, which pretty much fits the definition of hysteria that you provided below. 

          • eyebeam says:

             If you are called as a witness in court, are you going to insist that what you are about to give is “ovarimony?”

          • Chloramphenicol says:

            This is about the third time I’ve seen you post that link, along with the “rape culture.  Google it” quote, and so I have to ask…  Are you a psychologist, someone in law enforcement, or are you a victim?  I can understand why you post it, but the irony is that by repeatedly doing so you run the very real risk of coloring people’s perceptions of you in a not-so-friendly way, if you haven’t done so already.

            For example, knowing nothing about you other than that you are (probably) female and that you frequently link to a blog telling men to back off and only approach a woman when she explicitly tells them that’s it’s permissible, approved of, and requested (and make no mistake, that’s *exactly* how that blog post reads), I could easily assume that you are a troll (in the internet sense).  I could also assume that you have an axe grind with men for personal reasons and wish nothing but pain and misery upon them (though some of your latter comments indicate that’s not the case).

            Assumptions are bad things, however, hence my initial question.  If it really is the case that you’re a victim, well, the “I’m sorry for your trauma” of random person X on the internet isn’t much comfort, but it’s all I can offer you.

            Otherwise, no, scratch that, even so, what do you propose people actually *do* to make it so that women don’t feel threatened by every man they see, and so that men aren’t thrown onto the defensive because they’re seen around children?  Enough pointing at the issue – how do we work together to correct it?

          • Guest says:

            Yes, I am more than one of those. These issues are important to me. I deal with them every day. Every day.

            I will only respond to your last comment with this: YES YES! I am glad we agree that we must work together to change our culture. :D A good step towards that it to educate ourselves about issues of gender, privilege, and status. Which groups have privilege, and why? What can we do to help those with less privilege find more power over their lives? Let us keep challenging ourselves and others around us to ask these kinds of questions. That’s the only way it will change for the better. Talking about it is a great way to try and correct it!

            What do we ‘do’? Start working to change our culture in a way that doesn’t glamorize rape and violence towards women (also known as ‘rape culture’). Educating young boys and men to not rape women . Speaking out when you hear yet another rape ‘joke’ or another ‘joke’ about a dead hooker.

            Speaking out about issues of this nature is comfort to me- but only if people read and listen and learn, and care.

          • Chloramphenicol says:

            The sad truth is that most people are completely apathetic about any given issue until it affects them personally.  And most people don’t want to be shaken out of their comfort zone and have to think about unpleasant things.  It’s easy to write off rape as something that happens to other people until you have a close relationship with a survivor.  It’s easy to be pro-life if you’ve never had to decide whether or not to have an abortion.  It’s easy to say that drinking and driving is okay when you do it because you’ve never wrecked and killed someone.  Thinking about these things is unpleasant and hard, and so most people won’t.

            I confess, I have self-serving interests here.  I don’t want women to get hurt, be it by a random stranger or by someone they live with.  I don’t want my friends to have felony convictions because they acted in self defense but were too poor to afford a lawyer.  But at the same time, I don’t want to be automatically suspected of being something I’m not just because of how I look or what gender I happen to have.

            That being said, I think there’s hope.  We as a society have come a long
            way towards treating people as equals in terms of rights and privileges
            based on all of the qualifiers that you’ve mentioned even in just the
            last fifty years, though that doesn’t mean that we can rest on our
            laurels.

            Also, please accept my apology.  I should not have asked the question that I did in a public forum – it was rude and intrusive.  And I thank you for answering it as courteously as you did.

      • SWPL_Bro says:

        This is only tangentially related, but read this account of what happened when a father took pictures of his kids skinny dipping while on a camping trip and left them be developed.

        http://www.cfcamerica.org/?option=com_content&view=article&id=1882:photos-of-my-kids-naked-on-a-camping-trip-child-pornography&catid=3:news&Itemid=96

        An “inquisition” would probably be an accurate word to describe the parents’ experience.

    • SWPL_Bro says:

      It’s not so much how the police handled the matter that’s the point. Rather it’s indicative of a more general cultural attitudinal shift towards assuming that every male is a potential child molester until proven otherwise. 

      If you are a man and don’t believe me try going down to the local playground and sit on a nearby park bench for a while. I can’t guarantee someone will call the cops on you, but there’s a good chance you’ll be on the receiving end of a lot of dirty looks.

  7. ChicagoD says:

    “Police say parents spotted the man photographing their kids, and when they confronted him the man ran off.”

    Seems as if he would have benefited from just waiting for the police, showing them the pictures he had taken and filing a complaint against her (if she was close and yelling it may have qualified as assault). Crazy people.

    • rrh says:

       As long as your definition of “benefited from” includes continuing to be publicly berated (and, as you noted, maybe even assaulted) until the police arrived. And he also probably didn’t want his grandchild to be exposed to an ugly scene.

      • ChicagoD says:

        Too late for the kid to miss an ugly scene.

        I am not necessarily criticizing his decision to leave the area. It was one of his reasonable options. I just think there may have been several reasonable options.

  8. ToolsHome says:

    Man with camera in park who fled angry parent sought by police
    There being a good parent, and then there’s this.

  9. JeffF says:

    Just another reason not to own a van!

  10. Aaron Harmon says:

    The problem is that there is a perception among some in our society that a man having any contact with children is indicative of child molestation. A friend of mine is a single foster parent and teaches children and he experiences problems with this all the time.
    Check out “Eek! A Male!” in the Wall Street Journal.

  11. Daniel Sobol says:

    Sounds like the woman needs a little public shaming.

  12. robjmiller says:

    “For some reason, the police found this to be suspicious, too — despite the fact that statistically the most likely abuser in a child’s life is a relative or close acquaintance, not a stranger.”
     
    Contrary to Cory’s intentions, this statement implies that the fact that the man was the grandfather of the child he was photographing actually makes him more suspicious.

    • endymion says:

      This stuck out to me like a sore thumb; I’m glad someone else noticed. Too often writing is littered with words– “despite” in this case– that carry the wrong implications when you think it through. I usually think the author has a deaf ear to nuance, but Cory, generally being a careful writer, probably just made a careless mistake.

    • Blackbird says:

      Except the allegation was taking pictures of OTHERS children.  This was obviously based on the accusation, and not the outcome. 

  13. angusm says:

    I’m starting to wonder when people will begin to be suspicious of anyone taking photographs of elderly people. After all, the news is full of horrible cases of elder abuse. How are we to know that some guy with a camera snapping photogenic oldsters isn’t a hideous pervert with evil intentions?

    And don’t get me started about the guys who hang around dog runs …

  14. Everyone be afraid for the children!!!  I understand why the guy left.  Who wants to stand their ground in the face of a raving loon.  People are too damn over protective of their kids.  They need to get some perspective and relax.

  15. MrBillWest says:

    The police should have responded. That is what they are paid to do. Would we rather have dispatchers (the person really taking down the information) making determination about the severity and legitimacy of a complaint over the phone? I know I don’t. They need to take information at face value and send someone to check it out. The mom did overreact, that seems certain, but the police also responded appropriately.
     
    The lesson here is to calmly confront and investigate suspicious activity. If things don’t seem right, call the police. In this situation, the mother could have introduced herself to the older man and asked a few innocent questions to assess the risk. If she was still concerned, call the police.
     
    We always need to consider the alternative. What if the person was a predator and the police blew her off? That story would not make Boing Boing, but it would make CNN and Fox News. Think of the public outrage.
     

    • Alvis says:

      But it’s NOT suspicious!

      Should police come out to investigate if a hysterical woman calls and reports that her neighbor’s mowing his yard? No, because just like photography in public, they’re innocuous activities.

    • tarran says:

      Calling the police is generally a bad idea.  Your best hope in an interaction with the police is that they will leave you and the people you care about no worse off than you were when the interaction started.

      Given the fact that we all commit on average three felonies a day, you are running a significant risk of getting charged with something if the cop is in a bad mood.  People have called the police for little things only to watch in horror as the police escalated the issue to the point where someone is dead or badly hurt.

  16. schadenfreudisch says:

    everyone be afraid… all the time!

  17. lyd says:

    I don’t understand how the complaint “a strange man is taking pictures of children”, which is not against the law, results in any police involvement at all.  Shouldn’t the police have said, “that’s not a crime, ma’am”, and had that be the end of it?

  18. SWPL_Bro says:

    “Because he was a) an adult *male*…” FTFY

  19. nosehat says:

    I wonder if this park is equipped with CCTV security cameras, those little globes on things that look like lamp posts?  They have them in public parks where I live.

    If so, this lady would probably rest easier.  There would be some guy she doesn’t know taking pictures of the park to prevent some guy she doesn’t know taking pictures of the park. 

    The funny thing is, that would seem like justice to her, not irony.

  20. hinten says:

    “For some reason, the police found this to be suspicious, too”

    Not sure I understand this statement because the quoted article doesn’t support it. Am I misundestandign something?

  21. corydodt says:

    I hate to interrupt a good anti-helicopter-parent thread, but there is something very odd here.

    The man was supposedly photographing his grandson, right? So, he was there, in the park, with his grandson. Crazy woman confronts him and, understandably, he leaves… but his grandson stays? Even if we assume that there were other family members there, where are they in this story? They didn’t get involved when crazy woman was screaming at grandpa?

    And if there weren’t other family members there, why does grandpa just leave his grandson there?

    [Edit] At this point I’d like to point out that, even if he is lying, what he was doing was not a crime, so there’s no reason for the police to investigate, but it’s still odd.

  22. Tomiann Parker says:

    Ahh, so it was “the feminists” that were at the root of it all.  Wait, how did they have kids to be at the park with, bein’ so man-hatin’ and all….

  23. SedanChair says:

    Potacello, Idaho

    Mirror-world Pocatello, where wheels are square and the city is 98% black

  24. Jacasimov says:

    Oh boy, here we go. So, all of the holier than thou (mostly childless?) you’d just let an adult wander around and take pics of your kids? Maybe wave for the camera? Well, you’re better than I. I wouldn’t freak the fuck out but I’d sure ask what he was doing….’cause, you know, it’s my kid and all.

    Come to think of it, I guess I just must be the white knight of the world, because if I see something that triggers my suspicion (like someone breaking into a house, stealing lawn furniture, gang fighting), I do something about it. Is that weird? I mean, I *have* (doesn’t know how to italicize) confronted these things, not because I want people to suffer at my hands but because I think it matters. And a dude taking pictures of little kids is something I think matters and should be looked into. If you don’t I guess that’s cool but where do *you* (again) draw the line at non-involvement?

    You do realize people post this shit to the web, right? And that it likely is amongst the material you’d find on a pedos hard drive? I’m not sure about the outcome, or the legalities of it, but this recently happened at a park near my house and the police *did* get involved, and the guy *was* taking pictures, and he *did* get busted, so…

    • mellowknees says:

      Yeah, but she could have just called the police.  She didn’t have to go scream at him first.

      • davegroff says:

        How about neither? Sorry to be boring, but she could have said “excuse me I think I saw you taking pictures of my kids; I’m not comfortable with that … etc.” That would have given the gentleman the opportunity to say he was shooting his own grandkids. And if he did accidentally photograph any other kids, he could then say “sorry about that, I’ll be careful to keep other kids out of my pictures.”

    • James West says:

      I’m pretty sure what ends up on pedo’s hard drives are naked pictures of kids, but then again I’m not an authority on the subject.

      What are you protecting you kid from by keeping their pictures from being taken exactly?

      • Jacasimov says:

        “I’m pretty sure what ends up on pedo’s hard drives are naked pictures of kids, but then again I’m not an authority on the subject.”

        I’m no authority either, but, and here’s a big one, why *would* pictures of clothed kids be on a pedos computer at all? Answer is not “they’re not”.

      • Jacasimov says:

        “What are you protecting you kid from by keeping their pictures from being taken exactly?”

        *Me* kid is not actually being protected from anything, whether pictures are clothed or otherwise, if the photos are already out there. What protects them is not having pedos photoing them in the first place.

        I’m getting the feeling that the only correct answer here is to just let people do whatever they want (in the name of civil liberties no doubt) and have a wank at pictures of children. Is this really where I should be coming from, because I’m uncomfortable with that. If that’s cool, why not just make wank booths at all the parks?

        • piminnowcheez says:

          have a wank at pictures of children. 

          So, is this the heart of the concern?  That picture-takers will masturbate to pictures of your kid?

          • Jacasimov says:

            Specifically? Maybe. Hard to say exactly. And no not specific to my kid. Any kid really. It’s a hard concept for me to grasp with because it strikes me as *off*. Does this make sense?

          • piminnowcheez says:

             it strikes me as *off*. Does this make sense?

            Oh, it’s definitely off.  That much totally makes sense.

        • earwicker says:

          If you are in a public space people have the right to photograph you, and assuming that anyone taking pictures of kids is a pedo is really silly.  If you are so paranoid about pedos photographing your kids for wanking material then don’t take them to public parks!  If a grandparents takes their kids to a park and wants to photograph their kid are they supposed to broadcast a warning so that all other kids are sure to get out of the frame or something?

          • Jacasimov says:

            See now that’s just silly. No one’s afraid of people taking pictures of their own kids. You’re just trying too hard. 2/10

          • earwicker says:

            But that’s exactly what happened in this article!  And besides, you missed the point that even if you are photographing your own kid in a public playground there will likely be other random kids in frame and there’s nothing really wrong with that.  There’s no indication that this guy was deliberately focusing on other people’s kids.

          • Jacasimov says:

            aha! but you missed my point not being about the article but being about the RESPONSE to the article. The game is a foot!

        • Antinous / Moderator says:

          I’m getting the feeling that the only correct answer here is to just let people do whatever they want (in the name of civil liberties no doubt) and have a wank at pictures of children. Is this really where I should be coming from, because I’m uncomfortable with that. If that’s cool, why not just make wank booths at all the parks?

          You’re suggesting that the only reason to have a picture of a child is for masturbation purposes. Do you really want that window into your mind opened up?

          • Jacasimov says:

            “You’re suggesting that the only reason to have a picture of a child is
            for masturbation purposes. Do you really want that window into your mind
            opened up? ”

            I’m suggesting that I don’t love children enough to take photos of other people’s kids, and yes, it’s hard for me to imagine people who do. Do you know any?

            Feel free to peruse that window to my mind. I am confident that you’ll find no fetishistic attraction towards children. I do however have an odd (never consummated) thing for mannikins, find some foot photos hot, and like women body builders. Am I going to jail now?

          • Brainspore says:

            I’m suggesting that I don’t love children enough to take photos of other people’s kids, and yes, it’s hard for me to imagine people who do. Do you know any?

            Anne Geddes comes to mind. Admittedly only slightly less creepy than a pedophile, though.

          • knoxblox says:

            Also, the many “Somebody’s Aunt/Uncle”-style artists out there who use photographs as reference.  Amusement parks, ballet class, kindergarten…they’re everywhere.

          • Antinous / Moderator says:

            I thought that we had widely accepted that it’s generally the mind of the accuser that’s in the gutter. This is a witch hunt mindset.

          • Jacasimov says:

            So, I’m the pervy one now? As for the old he who smelled it dealt it adage, I’d say it probably holds as much weight as “there’s an element of truth in all stereotypes”. You don’t believe in that one too do you?

          • Antinous / Moderator says:

            You’re basing your entire argument on the fantasy that people who take pictures of clothed children in public parks are using them as masturbation material. I stand by my statement that the problem is emanating from inside your mind.

          • Jacasimov says:

            Can you at least acknowledge that it’s still a possibility that this does happen, *and* have it be a fantasy of mine at the same time? That’d make me more comfortable.

            My entire argument is actually not so much about the existence of pedos taking candid playground shots (because I actually know this happens), but more about how people rally around to throw stones at the poor savages who believe such pedos exist. Ok, it’s about both but really the later. That’s the one that torques me.

          • Antinous / Moderator says:

            But strangers pedophiles are extraordinarily rare compared to family/friend/priest pedophiles. Hating on everyone who takes pictures of clothed children in public because a few people might do it and then use the pictures for something which does no actual harm is like hunting sparrows with a tank. If a hundred parents are in that park with their children, one of those kids is being buggered by his own parent. Spinning out tales about the possible use of photos is just bizarre.

          • I’m not debating that THIS story is a ridiculous overreaction, and I get that a stranger/pedophile that goes to the park to get jerk-off material in the form of images of young children does “no actual harm”, but still… I’m not sure that it should be completely ignored.

          • Jacasimov says:

            “But strangers pedophiles are extraordinarily rare compared to family/friend/priest pedophiles.” I won’t bother to look that up as I’m fairly certain of the outcome. I wouldn’t call it “extraordinary” by any stretch. It is actually fairly ordinary. It’s certainly not the case in the majority of situations but it’s not like “albino” rare. And, yes priest do some buggering as well, but now you’re saying that priest molest kids more than stranger do? That sounds more like an axe to grind than a reality.

            I don’t believe the sparrow/tank metaphor is apt. It’s more like hunting for a pedo in a haystack (filled with lots of normal everyday people).

            And “bizarre”? That seems hyperbolic. I can’t really concoct a narrative of what pedos might do with the photos, honestly. I’d suspect run of the mill whacking off, but there’s also a likely probability that the procurement of said photos is also part of the titillation. I mean, don’t make it sound as if you’ve just never ever heard of such things. They’re not “bizarre” (please, look again at the internet and see the enormity of ways in which the human animal has found to get off), and frankly the tales I’ve spun I’ve been asked to spin to support my case. And still, I support my assertion that I don’t like it, I don’t have any real need for alarm though and I’ve never personally encountered it. If/when I do, I’ll figure out what action to take, but for now I’d just like to say that “helicopter parents” aren’t the real problem with the world. Now let’s talk about how our *own* parent issue…

          • Antinous / Moderator says:

            I won’t bother to look that up as I’m fairly certain of the outcome.

            That perfectly sums up your entire participation in this thread: baseless innuendo.

        • eyebeam says:

          “I’m getting the feeling that the only correct answer here is to just let people do whatever they want (in the name of civil liberties no doubt) and have a wank at pictures of children. Is this really where I should be coming from, because I’m uncomfortable with that. If that’s cool, why not just make wank booths at all the parks? ”

          Maybe the problem is that your imagination immediately jumps to thoughts of masturbating over pictures of clothed children. That concerns me.

    • uricacid says:

      “you’d just let an adult wander around and take pics of your kids? ”

      it’s a *photograph* of your child while he/she was out in public.  IN
      PUBLIC. do you berate people who *glance* in the general direction of
      your precious little bundle of joy, too?  Adults could be looking at
      your child right now, storing the mental image for prurient purposes! 
      YOU NEVER KNOW

      • Jacasimov says:

        I like how many “likes” you get for this brilliant snark. Honestly, I’m not too worried about the whole subject on my own or my kids behalf in that I’m not always looking for someone doing some wrong. I’m just saying if people are collecting photos of children there’s something potentially wrong (in modern parlance) with them and they should be looked into further. It’s up to the adults who know shit how to handle this. I don’t care about a lot of vices, but kidlust is one I have to say I’m against.

        Also, you never answered the question: “you’d just let an adult wander around and take pics of your kids?” Oh, let me guess, you’ve never found yourself in the particular set of circumstances required to place yourself in the situation in the first place?

        • piminnowcheez says:

          if people are collecting photos of children there’s something potentially wrong (in modern parlance) with them and they should be looked into further.

          I’m curious to read someone expand on this – what, exactly, is the feared outcome of taking pictures?  Would you be more concerned about a stranger taking pictures of your kid than just talking to your kid?  Would you be at all satisfied if, once confronted, a kiddie photographer explained that they were taking pictures of kids because they like children as subjects in the same way that some people like photographing animals or landscapes, etc.?

          Btw, I don’t mean to make light of legitimate fears parents have for the well-being of their children.  For instance, I think I would be much more concerned to see a stranger approach and talk to my child, because it’s a more direct step toward possible abduction, than I would if somebody were just hanging back and photographing kids at the park without engaging them.

          • Jacasimov says:

            I think the feared outcome would be that someone has the potential of victimizing kids. Maybe they’ll stalk them further. Or victimize other kids somehow by acting on the impulse. I don’t know. And sure, to be honest there’s a certain amount of just general fear and disgust that someone would be wanking to my kid, and as a rational (mostly) human being I don’t know what to do with that. I already assume that guys are jerking to women (clothed, feet photos, unclothed, simulated rape, furries, just memories, whatever), and men, but when it comes to sexual behavior with or regarding kids can’t we say that’s wrong without fear of stepping on someone’s rights?

            And I’m not sold on someone loving kids that much that they feel the need to go out in public to get photos with no consent. I’d say we all no better and if someone steps out with this in mind they kind of just don’t get how the world works and that almost scares me more.

          • piminnowcheez says:

            I think the feared outcome would be that someone has the potential of victimizing kids. Maybe they’ll stalk them further.

            Of course, I understood this when I asked the question, and again, I don’t mean to make light of this fear.  It’s how you get from point A to point B that’s not clear; what is the scenario where photographing kids subsequently leads to coercing them?

            when it comes to sexual behavior with or regarding kids can’t we say that’s wrong without fear of stepping on someone’s rights?

            Well, I don’t really believe in thought crimes, but setting that aside, even if I grant that privately wanking to pictures of clothed children is not merely disgusting but also wrong, is it wrong enough to justify interfering with the freedom of adults who are not actually guilty of it?

            I’m not sold on someone loving kids that much that they feel the need to go out in public to get photos with no consent.

            Is this really so hard to imagine?  When I was in my 20′s, I was really into taking b&w pictures of animals (and went on to study animal behavior).  Children are interesting enough in all kinds of  ways to merit attention as photographic subjects.  I didn’t need consent to take pictures of animals, thank heavens, and neither they nor children are able to grant it.  If someone who wants to photograph children in the “wild” has to obtain consent from their guardians, this is a significant barrier.  You may think it’s worth it, but it’s not a barrier that exists for adults and I don’t see an important distinction between the cases.

          • Jacasimov says:

            “It’s how you get from point A to point B that’s not clear; what is the
            scenario where photographing kids subsequently leads to coercing them?”

            I’m not sure exactly. Something to do with being in a neighborhood and the photos being a symptom of obsession or something. Other than that I’m not sure other than to say it’s unknown territory for me that I could probably back up with data but it would be purely statistical (like one in 100s of thousands, but no one wants to be the 1).

            “is it wrong enough to justify interfering with the freedom of adults who are not actually guilty of it?”

            I’m not sure I can see who’s right are being infringed in this case or at least to what degree as to cause society harm. We had this same argument about the grown ups eating in a kids park. It’s a kids park. It shouldn’t have to have a sign that says no adults without kids, but it still does. The park was put there for kids. Because adults feel slighted in not getting to eat donuts there should really be of no one’s concern.

            “If someone who wants to photograph children in the “wild” has to obtain
            consent from their guardians, this is a significant barrier.”

            Agreed, but maybe this falls under either “for the greater good”, or maybe just having a photographers rig and a confident, though not creepy, persona will grant you an exclusion.

            Here’s the thing. If you’re a creep, people can pick up on it, the problem is that people aren’t always good at it. But in the end, be less creepy or live a life of quiet solitude as a parking garage attendant or something. It’s just the human condition and it’s kind of natural. Unfortunate as it may be. I realize that this statement isn’t very inclusive of me.

        • Happler says:

          Personally I do not assume that someone taking pictures of kids as having “kidlust” as you call it.   Do you often view adults interacting with kids not theirs as having “kidlust” ?

          • Jacasimov says:

            haha, no. I’ve never encountered it. I know it exists though. And I’d just have to trust my instincts. Same with someone wandering around with a camera. I’ve also never encountered anyone who just loves kids so much they’ve got to get photos of other people kids. Have you?

          • Happler says:

            I can admit that I have never seen someone specifically taking pictures of someone else kids.  But I do not know if this was due to a) them not wanting to, b) them being afraid to due to the way society views it, or c) them lacking the camera at that moment.

            I have watched elderly people go and sit at a park just to watch the kids because it makes them feel young again and reminds them of happier times.

          • earwicker says:

            People do it all the time but its typically like when they travel to a foreign country and they see kids from a different culture in a quaint setting or in traditional clothes.  Usually when people photograph kids that are not their own the kids are from a culture that is an Other to the photographer

          • Happler says:

            I can see that. 

            For good or bad, I have been unfortunate enough to not get to travel outside of the US yet and do not see it often (or at all) where I live.

          • Jacasimov says:

            I agree with you, and that’s what spider sense if for.

            But, I’d say it’s one of those things…so you like pictures of happy smiling kids, why don’t we just not bother so much with that indulgence.

        • uricacid says:

          I didn’t answer the question because it was a stupid fucking question.  If my kids are out in public I have no control over who looks at them, who photographs them from a distance, what have you.  If someone came close enough to them and crossed a barrier of reasonable personal space, I might inquire what’s going on.

          Let me stress again — if you’re in public, you can’t control non-interactive exchanges.  Your precious little spawn do not override the basic liberties we all enjoy.

    • atimoshenko says:

      If you see something that you consider to be suspicious, politely and respectfully inquire as to what exactly is going on. It’s as simple as that – unless the transgression is obvious, everyone first deserves the benefit of the doubt.

      • Jacasimov says:

        For the most part I agree. I think I have a pretty good sense of these things but not everyone does, and some people go off half-cocked making a big thing over potentially nothing. These people also need to be talked to politely and respectfully as well.

    • Sekino says:

      I go to the playground daily with my 1 year-old. A few days ago, I spotted a guy walking among the trees around the wading pool. I kept an eye on him: His skinny ‘rocker’ demeanor, black jeans and tank top kinda clashed with the ordinary crowd of yuppy-ish parents. A few minutes later, he was walking back from the pool with two 8-10 year-olds in tow, telling them mom had came home from work and what was for dinner…

      There were plenty of things this concerned mom could have done before making a scene and calling the cops. She could have simply asked or started a conversation, or, if she was afraid of the strange man, just waited a bit and would have seen him interacting with his grandson.

      It’s good to be vigilant, but being truly ‘vigilant’ ought to employ some common sense instead of blindly reacting without reasonable assessment.  

      • Jacasimov says:

        I’ve had similar encounters and I’m frankly embarrassed with myself when it happens, but that’s why I wait and see. Hopefully any sane person would do the same. Wading in aggressively or accusing people outright is not vigilance. And in the end, I really just want to go to the park so my kid can have fun and run around. I’m not there to be a cop, or to find problems.

    • Happler says:

      Jackasimov, how does this stand with your quote from http://boingboing.net/2008/05/08/uk-database-blacklis.html ?  In your comments to this article (not easily findable due to comments software shift, but can be read in google’s cache) you state:

      Jackasimov
      What the hell is happening to Britain? Can the loss of American civil liberties be far behind?

      Yet here, you are encouraging that same loss of American Civil Liberties in favor of protecting children from having their fully-clothed pictures taken.  

      As a parent, you would appear much more suspicious to me if you where actively yelling at anyone taking pictures.  If you want to call the cops, great, that is your option but then it is in their hands.  Anything else just makes you look like a thug.

      • Jacasimov says:

        What’s suspicious is someone going back through three years your comments to find anything seemingly out of sync. Or maybe I’m flattered. Either way, thanks for holding me accountable to my own words.

        If I recall (and really I don’t), I was employing some useless sarcasm at the situation since it should have been evident to everyone where we (boing boing readers) stand on the whole civil liberties in the US situation, both for and for with reservations. And I do have some reservations as I don’t think that we can be black and white on such issues, but we need to try to let people live their lives and be fair to them. Personally, I try. I really do, but sometimes there are issues that rankle me. This is one. I think my kids rights are being interfered with if there are (and I mean definitively ARE) people taking their photos with intent to store them or distribute them for pornographic use. It’s just how I feel. Can I stop it from happening globally? No, probably not. Can I stop it if someone’s doing it in front of me. Maybe. I can try. I wouldn’t actively yell at someone though. I would either talk to them or call the cops. I guess. It’s never happened so I don’t know for sure.

        The last thing is, I worry about the piling on that’s done over protective parents. I see myself as mildly protective. I was raised by a older generation that didn’t helicopter at all, so I try not to do it myself and it isn’t really my inclination to protect them from the world to that degree. That said, they’re my kids, I really REALLY *REALLY* don’t want anything to happen to them, because I’d be just devastated. I generally assume that other people feel the same way about their own children (and loved ones), and give them a little slack and try not to fault them so much for it because their intentions are good. Not a whole lot of that going on on BB these days. Just the piling on. It feels so ultra right wing to me.

        • Antinous / Moderator says:

          What’s shocking to me is that anybody managed to get the system to work well enough to find a three year-old quote.

          • Happler says:

            I, generally, am good at finding what I need on the internet.  In this case, I had to pull google cache of the web page, and then view the text only version. BTW, I miss the old system… :P

            Jackasimov,
            Thank you for the reply.   I enjoy it when someone is willing to reexamine words they posted/said. I believe that we, as a people, only move forward by periodical self reexamination.

            I have 2 daughters and can understand your concerns (I fear when they turn into teenagers!). But being in public means that people can take pictures of you.  It also means that you can politely ask them to stop if it bugs you.  

            I agree with you that there are times when BB lately has been more “tabloid” style news and less “Wonderful things found on the web”.  I do not mind the news for the most part (heck, I read the page daily, and share the links with friends), but there are times when I miss the “Look at this cool thing that we found and wanted to share!”  Sometimes followed by unicorn chasers.  I feel that many of the news articles could also use a “unicorn chaser” to help remind us that people also do cool/neat things with their life too!

          • Jacasimov says:

            I think it should maybe be said that playing devil’s advocate to such degrees can be both good and bad. I have a hard time seeing from the (possible) pedophiles point of view, but I can see from the confused and protective parents point of view though that might not always be where I am coming from. Don’t get me wrong, I’m afraid for my girls safety (and am conveniently blocking out their impending teenage years…so far) I think to a normal degree, and some of these hypotheticals are a little difficult for me take, but I also want people to enjoy their lives. I think I’d just be happier if kids weren’t a part of how they did it. I really don’t feel like it’s something to fight in favor of, maybe like guns on a plane.

            I could use the unicorn about now.

          • Jacasimov says:

            I know. I could barely find the original article. And worse, I don’t remember it.

          • Happler says:

            lol, sorry.  when I find posts that I find interesting, I feel the need to see what else the person has posted on. Helps me know if I am dealing with someone who always posts like this, or they just feel strongly on this one subject.   That 3 year old post was the second one that I found and I found it to be interesting when compared to the current.

            No offense intended.  Just me being me.  I enjoy watching people and how the react, I am kind of an armchair psychologist.. :)

          • Jacasimov says:

            Haha, no worries. It’s not as if you’re stalking me. Hmm.

            No, I do the the same. It usually ends up with the same bombast and hyperbole in all of the posters posts (e.g. a troll).

        • Donald Petersen says:

          Just the piling on. It feels so ultra right wing to me.

          Really?  I wouldn’t have thought so.  Speaking as a guy who’s a few steps to the left of Howard Dean, it seems to me that “piling on” happens anywhere, regardless of locus on the politico-philosophical spectrum, where there’s a good-sized consensus opposing a locally-unpopular viewpoint.

          I suppose there’s a popular perception that overprotective parenting is a relatively leftist style, but I would point toward the “Free Range Kids” folks, and toward the writings of people like Alfie Kohn, to help demonstrate that plenty of us socially-liberal-minded folks prefer to instill a strong sense of independence, self-reliance, and responsibility in our kids, rather than hovering over their every movement and decision.  It’s part of our civil-libertarian (as opposed to big-L Libertarian) value system.

          We remember our own childhoods of running around largely unsupervised as the sun-soaked nostalgic memories of a bygone era, and we resent and resist the idea that today’s world is simply too fraught with peril for our own children to enter without lots of padding, five-point restraints, helmets, GPS tracking devices, lots of fencing and guardrails, and a whole slew of Vigilant Eyes watching tirelessly for the numberless predators in our midst.  Helicopter parents are unfortunately easy to mock, just as the excessively laissez-faire parenting styles of yesterday are also appalling: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bbgSFzpN5FA

          Yes, it’s true that it’s all done for the love of the children, but sometimes that love can be shortsighted.

          • eyebeam says:

             “I suppose there’s a popular perception that overprotective parenting is a relatively leftist style,”

            It’s been my experience that the most overprotective parents are almost always conservative Republicans.

          • Jacasimov says:

            I know, it just seems so easy for people to turn the empathy for fellow human beings off and jump into the fray just for bonus social points. That type of meanness strikes me as being a feature of the right. I know it’s not exclusive by any means and that all the best snarkers are lefties but it is disappointing.

            I grew up pretty “free-range” myself, and it’s always a dream to find a way back to those days for my kids. But the free-range kids folks have an arrogance and self-satisfied tone that drives me much less sane. thanks for the comment and polite tone.

    • Donald Petersen says:

      And a dude taking pictures of little kids is something I think matters and should be looked into. If you don’t I guess that’s cool but where do *you* (again) draw the line at non-involvement? 

      I’d draw it somewhere else.  I think Sekino has the right attitude on this, and I’m speaking as a father of two (a 4-year-old girl, and a boy who’s almost two).

      There are a handful of parks I take my kids to, and sometimes I take them to the ones in the upscale and frightfully white-bread community of La Cañada about a mile west of our home, and sometimes I take them to the parks in the decidedly more blue-collar and “ethnic” community of northwest Pasadena a wee bit closer to home.  I generally leave it up to the kids to decide which park they want to visit, and they identify them based upon the color of the climbing equipment therein: “blue and yellow,” or “brown and green,” or “red and green.”

      I’m a married Caucasian fella in his early forties (the first strike against me!), and I have a respectable job and a couple of clean, newish cars, and we own our house.  But when I take the kids to the park, I dress as I always do: faded jeans, old t-shirts (often heavy metal-themed), sneakers, and sunglasses.  My hair is generally a mess, and I have sketchy-looking facial hair.  In short, I do not appear to be as innocuous and respectable as I actually am.  I keep half-expecting someone to get alarmed by my appearance and my presence in the park, but so far, whether I’m in the nervous helipad of La Cañada, or the more laid-back environment of the blue-collar parks, I get treated as just another dad out with the kids.  So far.

      In today’s fairly hysterical parenting culture, I won’t be surprised if someone challenges me and my presence, but I’m not too terribly worried about it yet.  Both kids, when asked “who’s that creepy-looking guy with you,” would happily answer, “that’s my Daddy!” and I have further corroborating evidence to demonstrate my legitimate kid-accompanying credentials both in the car, and on my person, as well as a phone call away.  It’s unfortunate in the extreme that today’s climate puts guys like me under automatic suspicion, not only because it could be inconvenient, insulting, embarrassing, and time-wasting to be so accused; but also because there have been just enough genuinely sketchy characters (and even many particularly respectable-appearing ones) doing genuine harm that this widespread paranoia has even a thimbleful of justification.

      As it is, to a small degree I serve as a public reminder that outward appearance serves as no evidence whatsoever toward the presence or absence of innocence or nefarious intent.  Even on days when I closely resemble Ian Anderson’s Aqualung character, I’m not actually “watching as the frilly panties run,” and to the credit of my neighbors, so far nobody’s overtly behaved toward me as though they think I am.

      As for where I’d draw the line when it comes to other people’s behavior, I’d say that would be where they’re actually causing some harm.  Not just physical harm, of course; I’m not one to tolerate flashers, verbal abusers, proselytizers, kidnappers, dope peddlers, public masturbators, drunks, or the noticeably unwell around my children.  Heck, even Republicans must be accompanied by a chaperone.  ;^)  But people taking snapshots in public?  I’m more bothered by my kids appearing in photographs taken by hidden cameras.  Long lenses utilized by sneaky photographers a football field away, sure, those are creepy.  But so are surveillance cameras, ostensibly installed for our safety and protection, and those bug me even more (pun not intended).

      My mother-in-law is a talented photographer (used to be a professional photojournalist), and she takes copious pictures of the kids both at home and when they’re out and about.  Sometimes other kids show up in the pictures, and nobody cares; she’s a loving grandma and nobody’s getting remotely exploited.  If she were her husband (bearded in his early sixties), maybe some people would get skeeved out.  But not justifiably, in my judgment, so I’m not gonna be worried about other camera-wielding dudes in the park.  If they were peeping through the bathroom window, that’d be different, of course.  But in the thoroughly public space of a park?  Naw.  

      The stuff that appears on a pedophile’s hard drive would include actual child pornography, I’d think. I find it difficult to imagine that your garden-variety pedobear would bother taking pictures of fully-clothed children at play (and risking the wrath of parents like, well, you), when said pedobear could find many more pictures of similar prurient interest in a Toys-R-Us catalog.

      • Guest says:

        ‘I’m a married Caucasian fella in his early forties (the first strike against me!)’

        In what way is that a ‘strike against you’?

        • Donald Petersen says:

          In what way is that a ‘strike against you’?

          Perception.  Though I have no doubt the actual demographics of typical child-molesters vary considerably from the stereotype, the popular perception of characters such as Kevin Bacon’s in The Woodsman, Jackie Earle Haley’s in Little Children, and Stanley Tucci’s in The Lovely Bones tends to reinforce the idea that white middle-aged men aren’t to be trusted around kids, more so than other demographics.  I imagine most people don’t think they personally know any actual child molesters, so they might tend to formulate their opinions based on books and movies as well as actual legitimate news reports.

          • Guest says:

            Well, I am sure you’re an awesome dad and not a criminal, but…

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Child_sexual_abuse#Demographics

            There’s the stats. It sucks that you fit into the demographic because of your gender, and would ever have to endure undue suspicion because of it. Also, heavy metal T Shirts are awesome.

          • Donald Petersen says:

            Yeah, about what I figured.  What’s funny, however, is the wild variance in percentages of female offenders vs male offenders in schools, based upon who’s doing the reporting.  Looking at the U.S. Department of Education’s Educator Sexual Misconduct: A Synthesis of Existing Literature from 2004 (the text of which is here: http://www2.ed.gov/rschstat/research/pubs/misconductreview/report.pdf and the relevant paragraph is 4.2 beginning on page 24), most of the reports they cite peg the percentage of sexual offenders in a school environment who are female as being somewhere between 4% and 20%, which is sort of where we’d expect them to be.  But in two studies, wherein they ask the students themselves about offenders (as opposed to referring to newspaper reports, or records of educator sexual misconduct discipline proceedings, or asking teachers outright what they might feel tempted to try), as many as 43% of the offenders were women… and I certainly didn’t expect that.

            Outside the world of academe, however, the percentages become much more overwhelmingly male.  Part of me wonders why things are different in schools, and then I remember Van Halen’s Hot For Teacher video and things begin to make sense (mostly kidding, there).

            The next paragraph in the DOE report reads thus: “4.3 Age of offenders.  Hendrie (1998) found the age of offenders ranged from “21- to 75-years-old, with an average age of 28.””  And that sounded about right as well, displaying the full range of ages of people you’d expect to see employed at a school, but with an average age below that of the stereotypical middle-aged perv.  I suppose it’s possible that, unlike the Catholic Church, sexual offenders in the field of education might tend to get removed relatively thoroughly from the profession, so someone with those tendencies might expect to get caught earlier in his career than later.

            I wonder what the age demographics are outside the schools?

            Anyway, I’m not feeling particularly victimized by being tarred by the Male = Potential Rapist/Molester brush.  Because I’m male, I’m also more likely to be a potential murderer.  And a potential millionaire.  In my experience, I’m also more likely to be inconsiderate, obnoxious, clueless, knuckleheaded, violent, foul-smelling, tasteless, and a bad driver.

            I flatter myself that I’ve beaten the odds in so many ways.  ;^)

          • Guest says:

            Hell yes! Individual awesomeness and responsibility is awesome! How refreshing that you don’t take those statistics personally (since you are not any of those kinds of criminal)- I see it all the time, and it is bizarre and illogical. I am glad you are so aware of these things; good for you! :)

      • kmoser says:

        My father used to photograph his kids avidly, all the while sporting a style of facial hair and clothes that would make Charles Manson seem like an Osmond in comparison. (Yes, I have photos; no, you can not see them.) I don’t recall any altercations with strangers over his photos. I’ve also spent a number of hours photographing my younger nephews in public and have never had anybody given me the evil eye, probably because it’s obvious I’m just there to photograph my family. Plus, it’s usually in a park, where people are (usually) fully clothed; the beach might be a different story.

  25. Thorzdad says:

    Many years ago, when my daughter was just a toddler, I would regularly take her with me to do the weekly marketing in the middle of the week.

    I can’t tell you how unnerving it was for me, a father, to be walking through the mega-mart with this little girl, and to be very aware of the serious, inquisitive stares I was getting from the women shoppers. We’re talking “I’m about to call an Amber Alert” types of stares.

    Scary stuff.

    • ChicagoD says:

      I dunno, man. I’ve been taking my son places since he was a few months old and I have never gotten such a look. In fact, I more commonly have women “of a certain age” (i.e 40ish, like me) smile and say cutesy things. Granted, my Chicago is different from wherever you live, but . . .

    • Donald Petersen says:

      I can’t tell you how unnerving it was for me, a father, to be walking through the mega-mart with this little girl, and to be very aware of the serious, inquisitive stares I was getting from the women shoppers.

      Maybe I just don’t pay enough attention, or maybe it’s because I refuse to acknowledge it by even noticing it, but when I’m out with either or both of my children, I just behave like I have every right to be there… because, of course, I do.  Maybe it’s because American fathers are encouraged today to be more actively involved in their children’s day-to-day activities, but I don’t remember getting the stinkeye from women in public for walking around with my young daughter.  But then, I’m not looking for it.  I’m deliberately un-self-conscious, basically ignoring passersby and what they might think.

      Maybe I should spend a day making more eye contact, and seeing if I notice any trepidation on the part of the moms out there, next time I’m out and about with one or both of my kids.  I wonder if I’ll notice anyone warding off the evil eye.  It’ll be an interesting experiment.

      Even if I do, however, I’m not gonna let it bother me.  I got more important things to worry about than whether Mrs Grundy thinks I should be carrying my daughter around on my shoulders.

  26. fnc says:

    The lady should have just walked over and said to the guy “Hi. Getting any good pictures?” 

    This would have told the man that his actions were raising suspicions without making blind accusations and in this case he would probably have been happy to introduce her to his grandson and they would have probably had a short pleasant conversation about kids and the weather. If he did have malicious intent (which does happen), it would have sent the message just as clearly that what he was doing wasn’t welcome. And if the guy had given off a bad vibe she could have called the cops and reported his behavior.  Instead a grandfather now has to explain to his grandson why a strange woman would start screaming at him in the park.

  27. Cowicide says:

    statistically the most likely abuser in a child’s life is a relative or close acquaintance, not a stranger.

    You know, this crazy mother sounds suspicious.  Maybe someone should call the police on her and have her investigated?  Can’t be too safe or paranoid.

  28. Bucket says:

    I see things like this as basically social allergies. We have socially reenforced immune responses that would, in normal circumstances, be used to protect children from danger. However, we’ve made a world so safe for children that the need to protect them starts overreacting to otherwise harmless stimulus, much the way the immune system overreacts to an allergen.

    This is why I want to genetically engineer an actual child predator.

    Probably start with a koala or panda, both very cute, fuzzy animals with well developed defensive armaments. Both capable of sitting still for long periods of time. We’ll need to dial up their bloodlust to 11, of course, and possibly give them a base biological need for something they can only get by eating the flesh of human young.

    They’ll sit around near parks and playgrounds, looking like big, huggable, fuzzy toys, and then when a kid comes up BAM! his tasty little liver is my monster’s lunch.

    That should give the ‘omg they want to have sex with my baby!’ crowd something real to worry about, at least for a while.

  29. csforstall says:

    I have to question this notion of “helicopter partisanship” so common here on both on BoingBoing and across the web in general. Often we see posters everywhere pick up whatever tiny case happens to come along and post it up for political points. Often these cases are small claims at best or else they are so convoluted that it would be wrong for us to draw conclusions before those involved in the said case have reached any of their own 

    People here are complaining about helicopter parents, whilst hovering over the details and parsing meaning out of every little “fact.” Is this the new standard? That we, through the power of the web, know better then those involved?

    Ok, I get the point we can never be too watchful of our government, but there is a point when repeated calls to decry the state over lemonade stands and suspicious park goers, that I can’t help but raise the spector of systemic reactionism. When you get good at using a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail.    

    These posted cases are always specific and full of tiny details that matter to those there and are lost on those now reading. We as readers, after the fact can’t, and more importantly shouldn’t, try and parse details that we just don’t know. (I don’t know how “suspicious” the man was since I wasn’t there). I get the idea, we need to stay vigilant but crying wolf over small cases like this really undercuts  the larger counter-narrative against such truely troubling stories, like the Patriot Act. 

    Systemtemic Reactionism – a knee jerk fear of missing out, when in reality there is no business prying into these personal cases to begin with.

  30. Dito says:

    I live across the street from an elementary school. All the helicopter parents arrive every afternoon, jamming the residential streets with SUVs and minivans. Because, heaven forbid the dear wee ones have to walk home.

    It got so bad, I filed a complaint with the police. But first I went down with my Nikon to photograph the gridlock, intending to include the pictures with the complaint. Every set of eyes was on me, including the crossing guards. Although I wasn’t accosted, I definitely felt unwelcome. Had I lingered longer than the five or so minutes required to snap a handful of shots of mommy-mobiles blocking the streets, I’m certain someone would have reported me.

    What happened to this innocent man is entirely believable, and probably far from rare.

  31. Rotwang says:

    He was STEALING THEIR SOULS!!!

  32. I don’t think this has anything to do with so-called “helicopter parents”.  It has a lot to do with blind, ignorant hysteria.

    (And, this is why I hate taking my camera to the park now.)

  33. AnthonyC says:

    I am sadly unsurprised that this happened. I do think the police reacted appropriately- if you are told there is someone acting suspicious it’s worth investigating. It may not be illegal to stand on a sidewalk outside your house taking pictures and notes, but if one of my neighbors thinks you’re casing the place I’d like the police to believe him and come take a look. If the man *had* been intending to do something wrong, police showing up would likely have driven him off. I think the concerned woman should have been a lot less confrontational. Look at where his camera is pointed, notice it’s always at the same kid, then ask him “Is that your son?” or something like that. Start a conversation, maybe get introduced to the boy and see for yourself that everything is all right.

    On another note, I had the opposite experience last year. I’m a male in his mid-twenties and I was having a soda by myself at costco, when this random woman with 2 kids (about 5 and 7) asked me to *watch them* while she went to use the bathroom. I must have looked really trustworthy, but that’s a ridiculous thing for any parent to do.

    • Just for the record, why do you think that I should not be allowed to take pictures of other people’s children (assuming that they are fully dressed and I’m not asking them to pose innapropriately)? 

      Or, if you prefer, why do you think a paedophile would be interested in pictures of fully-clothed children acting like children?

      I certainly agree that it is only polite to respect the wishes of the parent in regard to their children, even in public.  But, *in public*, should not the default assumption be that I am free to take pictures of anything I can see?

      • AnthonyC says:

        I do not think that at all. I believe that you *do* have the right to take such pictures, that you *ought* to have that right, and that exercising that right does not, in itself, give me *any reason at all* to consider you suspicious. I also doubt a paedophile would have much interest in taking such pictures. Even if he or she wanted them, such pictures are freely and legally available from any number of places.

        What I mean is that if someone is acting suspiciously in some way (even if they haven’t done anything specifically illegal), enough to make bystanders think it prudent to call the police, than I would like the police to respond (politely, not a bring-the-grandpa-in-for-questioning response). Despite the woman in this story being absurdly off-base, humans are on average very good judges of character. Just look at those studies where people who see a single photo or a few seconds of video of a stranger do much better than chance at guessing all sorts of facts about them.

    • That_Anonymous_Coward says:

      Because we all know pedos only hang out in parks with cameras, not Costco.  Besides she had to pee and it takes a village to raise children so you have to take care of her responsibility for her.

      At least grandpa didn’t get maced. 
      And let us not forget the 20 somethings with an ice cream van who were taking evil pictures and needed a manhunt. 
      They were documenting their first and last day of a crappy job.  You could see money being paid for ice cream so the stories about them using free ice cream to entice children were wrong.  The best part was the interview of a local mom who was stressing how important it was to watch your children… she lives within a block of the park… yeah watch your kids…  like she wasn’t doing.  Because they only called the police hours after the ice cream van had left.

  34. idyll23 says:

    check this out…
    http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/wcf/images/wcf092.jpg
    Do you think they questioned Dorothea Lange?

    Or chase down Henri Cartier-Bresson for this?
    http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_UrEBb5r6-MU/TPcaPtuKEdI/AAAAAAAAACA/r1F0oCIgZw4/s1600/2700473140_cd97b0e709_o.jpg

    it’s not the fact that people are taking photos. It’s the fact that we’re openly hostile towards each other rather than politely questioning.

  35. fasterthantheworld says:

    This kind of stuff happens far too often from paranoid middle aged women. Because of this , as a 20-something male, I don’t glance at kids in public, and I won’t even respond to them if they say hi to me. Obviously that’s stranger behavior than just saying hi to a kid, but I don’t even want to *risk* an altercation with one of these nuts.

    I’ve also seen first hand, a woman related to someone I know, who has a daughter that is somewhere around 12 years old, who is not allowed to attend her friends’ sleepovers because this mother “doesn’t know the men in the house”. 

    It’s completely bizarre behavior and I don’t understand where it comes from.

    • Guest says:

      ‘This kind of stuff happens far too often from paranoid middle aged women.’ That sounds a lot like a stereotype, and comes off as rather derisive. Are all ‘middle-aged women’ paranoid for no reason? Especially ones who have children to protect? I don’t think so.

      Rape culture. Google it.

      Also: patriarchy. It hurts men, too. It is unfair that you are perceived as a potential child molester just because you are male. That’s got to suck. But, there are reasons for why that is- reasons bigger than you or me.

  36. Jupiter12 says:

    What happened to the grandson as gramps was leaving the park? Did he run after the van saying “Wait, grandpa!” Or did gramps grab him and put him in the van, causing the lady to freak out further?

  37. Lynda Gutierrez says:

    @Dito  There’s many reasons kids are picked up at school, usually involving having to cart them to some sort of lesson, sport, or activity.  (Now the over-scheduled kid is another issue altogether..)  Just wondering, did the elementary school open AFTER you moved in there?  I’m guessing no.  Perhaps you should have chosen a home without such an obvious drawback (to your mind.)  It’s like someone who bought a house near the freeway, then demands that noise barriers be built. 

    As to the actual topic — I totally agree with Cory dodt (above) that there’s obvious flaws in this story due, apparently, to shoddy reporting  (and, as Goblin intimated, seemingly chosen simply to ram down our throats the boingboing worldview.)   Why DID Photo Gramps leave the park, apparently without the grandchild?  If there were other family there, why did he not simply walk over to them and together let them resolve the issue?   We’d like to believe that everyone is simply as innocent as they claim, but not everyone is.

    He might in actuality have been a pervert (being a grandfather does not automatically render him innocent.)  She might have been a maniac.  (Though we apparently only have his word that she was screaming at him.  The whole thing appears to be a he said, she said issue.  The truth is, without witness reports and evidence, this whole article adds up to a BFWOT for all of us. 

    • Dito says:

      You’d be guessing wrongly. Construction on the school began a year after we moved in. The developer told us it was city land and might be developed into a park. The word “school” was never mentioned. Sorry.

  38. Dito says:

    Another question… should the police take every solo complaint and share it with the media? What I’ve got a grudge against someone and just want to make their lives miserable? Can I phone in a false pervo complaint and get my neighbor’s description included in a news broadcast? Shouldn’t there be some degree of corroboration needed? Maybe the police do the investigating instead of the media?

    • csforstall says:

      I agree, what happens with the internet is that these cases become “news” before they are fully investigagted by either the media or any other entity. What the online clique or group thinks about the supposed details of the case is in the end more important to the orginal poster, then the actual facts of the case. This story here has definite LOCAL value to the community in question, but when it is retweeted across the web that value is lost to partisan and distance politics.

      And on top of that, as web-centric netizens, so far removed from that immedicy of the case, we shouldn’t have any bearing on that local discussion in the first place.   

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      It’s called the Police Blotter. Do you really want police transactions to be done in secret?

  39. Sarah Harris says:

    Who says the guy wasn’t doing this as a gift to his son or doing a pic for some art show? You know, stuff like this news article happens all the time. Did this one only get publicity because he actually called the police? 

    • OldBrownSquirrel says:

      This got publicity because the police had issued a Dire Warning to the Populace of Pedophile On The Loose and were then obliged to follow up with an equally high profile all-clear.  Then it got picked up by the blogosphere: Carlos Miller, Lenore Skenazy, and now Cory.

  40. lillyd says:

    I think part of the reason people are so uptight about their kids being photographed now is because of our culture’s obsession with celebrities. If all these people I’m keeping up with in US Magazine are really worried about the paparazzi and avoiding the cameras, then it filters into my subconcious and becomes something I’m anxious about too.

    Obviously, the media’s hyperfocus on any event involving an abduction or crime against a child makes that feel really common. In reality, how much does an abduction in Florida increase the risk to my children in Minnesota? Not at all.

  41. MollyMaguire says:

    A random little kid the other showed my wife a toy he’d pulled off the shelf and said something about it like ‘Look it has wings’ – I don’t remember what exactly – to which she replied, ‘Oh yeah, look at that.’ and then kept on shopping. The kid’s mother turned around and snarled ‘Don’t talk to strangers!’ and then gave my wife the stink eye. Now, that sucks!

    I must be a terrible parent because I don’t actually give a rat’s ass who has pictures of my kids and I have NEVER suspected anyone at a playground taking pictures to be anything more than an obsessive and doting relative or an art student.

    Also, I don’t know what’s going with you other fathers or what your communities are like, but when I go out in public with my 2 yr old daughter, I get nothing but smiles. It’s weird and sad, but I think that for a lot of people, it makes their day to see a dad with his daughter.

  42. magnuson says:

    Some public spaces, like swimming pools and beaches with lifeguards, have policies that you cannot take pictures, even of your own children. When my daughter was younger, I was asked to leave our local municipal pool because I photographed her.  Seems to me that the policy was based on the belief that it is easier to assume everyone is a creep rather than use good judgment.

  43. piminnowcheez says:

    I would love to know what the actual incidence of creepy-stranger-style molestation is.  As we all know from reading this thread and following the Wikipedia links, sexual coercion of some sort is depressingly common between children and aquaintances/familiy members.  But my guess is that whatever evil outcome we’re afraid of when we see a lone male taking pictures on the playground is probably vanishingly rare, and we’re tying ourselves in knots as a society to avoid this rare (but, of course, awful) thing.

    There’s been talk where I am of forbidding adults from even being in the vicinity of a playground if they can’t demonstrate they’re there accompanying a kid.  I like watching little kids on the playground — not because I want to fiddle with them, but because they’re cute (duh) and I don’t have any myself, and I wish I did.  Watching children play seems like a hell of a basic human pleasure to deny ourselves society-wide.  I’d hope it’s somehow worth it.

  44. equestrian13 says:

    OMG! I had a similar thing happen to me last week. I was sitting in my work vehicle in a parking lot waiting for 2 older teenage girls to get in their vehicle so I could park where they were. In the mean time I was drafting a text to send to my boyfriend.l I decided to send a goofy pic of me along with it. The father  came out of the store and confronted me about it. I handled the situation waaaaay differently. I showed him the pic I took. lol Must have been worried his girls were going to be posted on the people of walmart site lol. They didn’t qualify, they knew how to dress roflmao

  45. Antinous / Moderator says:

    you’d just let an adult wander around and take pics of your kids? Maybe wave for the camera?

    Um…yeah.  Why would you care?  Public space is public.  You can’t control photography in a public space.  You can, however, control your paranoia about strangers having pictures of your children playing in the sandbox on their computers.  Because, why would you care?

    • ChicagoD says:

      You seem to have removed the comment twice, but I think it is an honest response. Where can I come and take pictures of you. Just because I want to. In public. Essentially people who say “so what, it’s in public” are consenting to me doing the same. Realistically most of us would find that very creepy and maybe offensive. To say that I should consent to it when it is my kid even if I’d object if it were me is bizarre.

      As for the argument that we are all under surveillance all the time anyway etc. etc. the fact is that we are ALL under surveillance. Indiscriminately. What we are talking about here is specific photos taken of specific people. They are not close to equivalent.

      • Chloramphenicol says:

        You seem to be confusing “has taken pictures of others because they were in his camera’s field of view” with “intentionally sought someone out to take their picture”.  There is a difference there.  Granted, it might not be possible for an outside observer to tell the different, but that’s where a polite “excuse me, what are you doing?” comes in.

        If I’m out and about, and you’re snapping photos of your spouse/family/friends/dog/random buildings/whatever and I just happen to be in frame, so what?  Why should that bother me or anyone else?  On the other hand, you intentionally seeking me out to take pictures of me while I’m cutting the grass is a different matter.

        • ChicagoD says:

          Actually I agree with you. I am not trying to be a nut about this. I am just stunned at the people who keep saying if you or your kid is in public there is no problem with someone specifically taking *your* picture. I understand that is legally accurate, but I don’t believe that people would not ask the person what they were doing. Remember, I think the lady here acted irrationally.

          • Chloramphenicol says:

            True.  Sorry, it’s been a long day, and I mis-parsed your initial devil’s advocacy as something else.

            And again, you’re right.  Most rational people would politely ask what’s going on instead of immediately going on the offensive.  As Donald Petersen pointed out, we don’t know the details.  We don’t know if it was a steady escalation, an immediate jump to hostility, or somewhere in between.

            Sadly our nation and society are portrayed as profoundly lacking in both rational thought and civility at the moment.  Whether that’s actually true or just how the media depicts us remains to be seen.

          • Happler says:

            I always just hope that it is the media and not people.  I would rather assume that people are civil and good and be upset at the random percentage that are not, than assume that they are all “webtrolls” and be glad when I run into a civil person.

          • Donald Petersen says:

            I think my day-to-day interactions are sometimes based on the inverse of this sentiment: http://www.flickr.com/photos/deathtogutenberg/5206301203/

            But other times the universe permits me to be more optimistic about the species.  Call me Pollyanna.

    • Jacasimov says:

      I guess having nude pictures wouldn’t be any different assuming the kids were just playing in the lake and the photographer was just lurking nearby (that way there’s no harm to the kids or screw it, maybe the kids can be asked to pose non-sexually…).

      If the answer is “yes, no different” then we have a profound difference of opinion as to general morality and I won’t bother arguing it with you further save to say, I know it’s hard to explain or get to the bottom of but wanking to pictures of kids is wrong and we all know it and the folks that do it need some help because there is something wrong in their brains. That may just be my opinion though, some people might argue in favor of wanking to kids pics. Hard to sell that to the jury I think.

      • piminnowcheez says:

        wanking to pictures of kids is wrong

        It’s definitely gross, I’ll give you that, and I’m willing to be convinced that it’s wrong, although if the kids were clothed and remain unaware of the (presumably off-site) wanking, then I have a hard time pointing to who is being harmed.

        Question: would you consider it equally or less wrong to know that a pedo was wanking to a mental image of a well-remembered, clothed kid instead of to a photo of same?  After all, we have all probably been the unwilling subjects in the sexual fantasies of people we’d have nothing to do with in real life.  I’m curious how you feel that a photograph changes the scenario.

        • Happler says:

          Just remember that loving creepy statement:

          “everyone is someone’s fetish.”

          Makes the world a slightly weirder place.

        • knoxblox says:

          “It’s definitely gross, I’ll give you that, and I’m willing to be
          convinced that it’s wrong, although if the kids were clothed and remain
          unaware of the (presumably off-site) wanking, then I have a hard time
          pointing to who is being harmed.”

          Don’t worry, Thought Crime and Acting on Precognition will exist soon enough.

        • Jacasimov says:

          “Question: would you consider it equally or less wrong to know that a
          pedo was wanking to a mental image of a well-remembered, clothed kid
          instead of to a photo of same?”

          That’s a good question and a hard one to get to the source of. Yes, I’d say it’s bad, maybe not wrong per se, but something the wank-er should get to the heart of and maybe get therapy for. Maybe the photos just add a concreteness to the issue, plus I doubt that these photo-keepers procure and store them in isolation. From what I gather, there is quite often a network of these gentlemen trading/selling/distributing, and at the end (and probably on all sides) are the actual child-pornographers.

          So maybe imagined murder isn’t murder, but planning a murder isn’t murder either…yet.

      • jackie31337 says:

        I guess having nude pictures wouldn’t be any different assuming the kids
        were just playing in the lake and the photographer was just lurking
        nearby (that way there’s no harm to the kids or screw it, maybe the kids
        can be asked to pose non-sexually…).

        We’re currently having one of the hottest summers ever in Finland. That has lead to a lot of newspaper articles, many with accompanying pictures of people trying to cool off. Here, it’s not uncommon for young children to swim topless (regardless of gender) or even naked. Some pictures of naked swimming/wading children have ended up in newspaper articles. I don’t think any of those children or their parents would feel themselves to have been harmed by it.

        I think the difference is that in Finnish culture, nudity is not automatically seen as sexual. Nudity is just a state of not having clothes on; it’s the context that can make nudity sexual. In the context of little kids splashing around in the water, it’s just nudity.

        • OldBrownSquirrel says:

          I recall seeing a photograph of two prepubescent children, a boy and a girl, at the beach.  The girl was topless, as was conventional for the culture in which they were raised.

          I saw this picture in the home of the children in in the photo, who have long since grown up, gotten married, and raised a family of their own.  As it happens, they’re now grandparents.

          They proudly display this photo of themselves together as young children; it has a place of honor on their mantlepiece, testament to the longevity of their relationship.

          I find it disturbing that we live in a society where some people believe they should be put in prison merely for possessing such a photograph.

        • Jacasimov says:

          Yes, I wish it were similar in the US. But we have some hang-ups and what seems like an inordinate amount of pedos per capita. Perhaps that’s just an assumption but I’d say the numbers probably bear it out.

    • davegroff says:

      Yes, you have the legal right to take pictures of children in public. That said, depending on the circumstances, I’m certain my daughter would be annoyed if you took her picture without asking first. 
      When she sees photographs of people who appear vulnerable, or distressed, she is genuinely concerned about whether they knew they were being photographed. For her there’s definitely an ethical issue.
      I realize this is somewhat tangental to the original post, but I think the ethics of photographing people without their knowledge is an interesting topic, and more nuanced than ‘pedo versus paranoid’

  46. brerrabbit23 says:

    If you ain’t never been to Pocatello, don’t ever come to Pocatello because you wouldn’t understaaand Pocatello.

    • Donald Petersen says:

      If you ain’t never been to Pocatello, don’t ever come to Pocatello because you wouldn’t understaaand Pocatello.

      Now, there’s a bumper sticker for the tourism board.

      • Antinous / Moderator says:

        Weird.  I opened up your comment to see why there’s so much white space and now it’s tagged as ‘Edited by a Moderator’.  That’s creepy.

        • travtastic says:

          It was the other Antinous. The one without the star.

          • Antinous / Moderator says:

            I got the star sorted out by merging accounts.  Now if I could just get the gun back…

        • Donald Petersen says:

          I went to edit it almost immediately to remove a couple of extraneous words, and the edit window opened up as a mass of blank white space.  I almost panicked, thinking of the time I’d wasted typing my suddenly-vanished screed.  Rather than saving the edit, I hit Back on the browser, then Forward, and the post re-appeared.  I hit Edit again, and the Edit window opened properly, so I applied my fix.

          The original post didn’t have any extraneous white space, so maybe you saw it while I was trying to edit it.  This disqus thing is definitely gonna take some getting used to!

          Edit: never mind. Thought you were talking about a different post.

        • Donald Petersen says:

          Oops.  Oh, that post.  I hit an extra carriage return after the blockquote, which used to look better in the old system.  Gotta break that habit.

  47. Antinous / Moderator says:

    To say that I should consent to it when it is my kid even if I’d object if it were me is bizarre.

    You don’t need to consent to it.  You have no right to withhold consent.  Your consent or absence thereof is irrelevant.  If you don’t want to accept the rights of others, don’t enter public spaces.

    • ChicagoD says:

      True, but not really the point. Would anyone be surprised if you approached someone obviously taking your picture and asked them what they were doing and why? I think most of us would expect that. The lady in the story was apparently unreasonable, but I doubt that people would really not care if someone were obviously taking their kid’s picture without asking. That is my point.

  48. Guest says:

    Having lived in Boise, ID for a few years, I can’t help but wonder what role the subculture played in that scene in the park, and in how it turned out.  The highest concentration of LDS outside Utah is not Boise, but Pocatello (or it was 10 years ago).  Boise was the most family-oriented city I’ve ever lived in or could imagine living in, except maybe Pocatello.  It’s common for restaurants to be set up to serve 20+, not for a special occasion or in a separate room, but because one multi-generation family wanted to sit down and eat waffles together on Saturday morning, and Grandpa’s buying.  And there will be several of those tables set up in the middle of the restaurant.  It is said of Idahoans, ‘Nobody leaves; nobody wants to.’  You would have to live there a while to pick up on the many social and visual cues that give a newcomer the impression of the locals seeming overly familiar with each other, compared to the general anonimity we see in most other cities.

    So when the woman ran up to the man taking pictures and accused him of evil-doing, I imagine her not just among friends in the park, but among extended ‘family’.  At the very least among people she’s known most of her life.  And so I’m wondering if her reaction was that he was taking pictures and she didn’t know him, and on some level thought she should… or was it because she did?   There is no doubt that she would find support right away and that she would be believed.  My question is, why wasn’t he?  Apart from being a man taking pictures of a young boy, was he also a relative-poor stranger? 

    There is much more to this story in Pocatello than ‘just the facts, mamam.’

  49. Antinous / Moderator says:

    I don’t care about a lot of vices, but kidlust is one I have to say I’m against.

    That’s like saying, “I’m a hundred years young!” or “Who wants ice cream?”

    Are you implying that the rest of us feel differently?

    • Jacasimov says:

      “Are you implying that the rest of us feel differently?”

      I’d say that’s a pretty petty bone to pick.

      I know I argue from the “paranoid” parents point of view. You seem to argue from the it’s ok if they do it in their homes and we know nothing about it because it’s their right to do so, point of view. I say there’s an in between where we can hopefully stop people from taking pictures of kids for their own “uses” because it’s a repulsive and seemingly corrosive side of society. That’s my opinion. You make good arguments, always, but I don’t think I’ll be swayed on this one.

      Also, you quote my post but there’s no link to where it comes from as with other posts. Is this a feature of admin?

  50. knoxblox says:

    As a former victim of child molestation, I think too many parents use
    the “swing at the swarm of bees with a paddle” approach instead of
    teaching their kids how to spot, identify, and stay clear of a beehive.

    We should teach our kids about the pitfalls of attraction, coercion, and
    the abuse of power. We should teach them how proper use of logic and
    identifying fallacy is a strong weapon against weak reasoning and poor use of statistics. We
    shouldn’t let them assume that Mom or Dad will always be there to help.

    In my experience, an effective pedophile doesn’t call attention to him/herself, and is often persuasive in his/her arguments. If reasoning fails, they can resort to strength, shame, and other useful instruments of coercion.

    My statistician (professional/professor) brother also points out that even the use of statistics can be problematic. Victims of molestation who don’t speak out aren’t counted, only the ones in reported cases are.

    @doctressjulia: Leaving the label “hysterical” out of this, my personal experience still doesn’t legitimize the right for me to go up and scream at strangers without first trying to identify if there is a problem.

  51. knoxblox says:

    Side note about the posting…being able to link specific responses to specific posts would be helpful in reducing miscommunication. Can we haz numbered posts?

  52. Happler says:

    Personally I think that this whole thing is more of a problem with the media blowing something out of proportion, then the police. 

    I want police blotters to be open, after all, who watches the watchers?  But we would have to re-train the media on how to correctly report on it.

  53. Ali says:

    The woman should face charges of being a public nuisance or for harassment.  If someone wants to take pictures of their own children no one should have the right to go all looney tunes on them without repercussions.  If she was suspicious of nefarious activity she could have simply asked him who he was photographing and waited to see if the child really did know the man.  People who get all up in someone’s face when they don’t know the first thing about what’s going on should have some consequences to pay for their behavior.  After all, she did ruin the man’s outing with his grandchild and probably frightened the child as well.

  54. Guest says:

    In reply to why would anyone want to take pictures of someone else’s kids, my answer is ‘because they’re cute!’ As with taking pictures of kittens and puppies, it’s hard to take a bad picture of a kid.  Little kids haven’t learned to mask their feelings and lie with their bodies.  They wear their hearts out on their sleeves.  They’re unschooled and unstudied; they’re natural and that is photographic gold, all the more so if you don’t have children of your own.

    • Jacasimov says:

      I agree, kids are cute. As are puppies and kitties. I just don’t need to take photos of them to experience their cuteness. But say you like taking photos of kids, just for kicks, because you liked them so much, and you weren’t a pro, what do you do with those photos now that you amassed a couple dozen? This is where I’m losing the thread…do you just look through them and smile at the good time these kids are having? I just can’t see a normal (sorry) person doing this. Don’t photos have a purpose like as a reminder of events or something? I agree that my assessment of normality might not jibe with the masses.

      • NelC says:

        do you just look through them and smile at the good time these kids are
        having? I just can’t see a normal (sorry) person doing this.

        Well, yeah, I do. Did you see that video of the cute narcoleptic baby on Boingboing the other day? Normal people would look at that and pictures of kids and feel happy feelings. A photographer, amateur or otherwise, might look at their own photos and feel similar (when we’re not critiquing our composition and whatnot). This is entirely normal behaviour. It’s weird of some people not to feel that kind of thing, I would say.

      • PKMousie says:

        I take pictures of DIRT that I enjoy going back and looking at. You forget that pictures are enjoyable to look at, and a good picture taken by your own hand is an accomplishment, which is in itself enjoyable.

        One of my favorite pictures is of a stranger’s bathing-suited child at the beach. I was able to capture a mood that I love. Before anyone gets any ideas, I was asked to photograph a birthday party for a friend as a non-pro… but I did not know the specific child in the photo, nor his parents. Despite this, I go back to it all the time… it’s a great photo! I enjoy remembering that I took it, I enjoy the result of my skill and luck, and I would enjoy it as an image no matter who took it.

        The implication that pictures are meaningless unless you have a personal connection with the subject seems completely absurd to me. If you really enjoy taking photographs, chances are you enjoy looking at them because they’re awesome, which is why you’re taking photos in the first place. To make awesome photos.

        How could it be simpler?

        And heck, if nobody wanted to look at photos just for a cute fix, why did BB feature one of my cute rat pictures in a post?

        • Jacasimov says:

          yes, you’re right. I agree. My point gets lost in the maze of trying to justify my particular stance, from a bit of a devil’s advocate viewpoint, that I’m not comfortable with strangers taking pictures of my kid. But most of all I’m uncomfortable with the fact that it makes people so upset that someone would be uncomfortable with it for whatever reason. That “helicopter parents” (of which I don’t see myself as one) are now the enemy to be belittled and scoffed at for their inferiority. It bugs me. So does the idea of having creepy people take pictures of kids and that no on can say anything about for fear of offending someone’s sensibilities or stepping on someone’s civil rights.

          You may have a good reason to have or take photos of kids, and that’s fine. No one should stop you. In fact, I’d rather live in your world where it’s still pretty much ok. I think that’s nice. But I still think that if someone’s hanging around a playground taking photos they might want to ask the parents and be prepared for some heavy-handed sentiment to be flung your way.

          And you’re right now that I think about it, I have a great photo of my daughter’s kindergarten class that I bought at a fund-raiser. And I do really like it. Of course she’s in it too but it’s still a great lively and happy photo. I stand corrected.

          • PKMousie says:

            Thanks for the response and clarification. If you don’t mind, I’d like to point out the uglier side of my position.

            I’m gay. There are times I feel less comfortable about being an avid photographer
            than I do being gay, and for the same underlying reasons. I am
            terrified that people will see me for who I am (gay or photographer) and
            literally freak out about my presence around their kids due to their own
            misconceptions and fears… I could suddenly be on the receiving
            end of a world of hurt over basically nothing. I can’t just innocently shoot pictures or even be in certain places… I’m forced to think about these things. I’m made to share in other people’s paranoia.

            I wonder if most people understand how chilling and crippling being
            treated as a threat like this can be, or even the fear of being mistook
            for a threat.

            When I’m out in public with my camera I maintain near constant vigilance
            to prevent myself from pointing it towards people I don’t know. I’m no
            Henri Cartier Bresson, my photographic world is nearly scrubbed of
            people. I simply don’t feel like I have any space to exercise my rights,
            given the volatility of these ‘situations’. As a consequence, I do a lot of shooting (trapped) at home, and lean on macro/floral/landscape photography’s inoffensive workflows. This literally warps my creative output. I adore street photography and portraiture, but I am too cowed to do any.

            This fear also plays out in any interactions I have with kids outside of
            photography. I either have a damn good reason to be there (rare) or I
            simply won’t show any interest in children apart from avoiding collisions. I
            find this really, really sad. Kids are interesting and entertaining,
            but feel like I have to opt out due to fear of the absurd but commonly
            held gay/pedophile connection. I’m not even comfortable around my
            friends kids, and they know me! Classic internalized homophobia. It wasn’t until my late 30′s, when my brother and his wife
            gave me a niece, that I ever played with a child as an adult, held her on my chest, and let her mush her spit-slimy mitts all over my chin. That was only possible for me because of the ‘legitimizing’ bond of blood, as silly as that may sound.

            I see these two unfortunate situations as fundamentally similar. I can at least put the camera away… but I’ll never escape the gayness… so I can NEVER relax. Perhaps I’m overly neurotic about it, but it’s a neuroses driven by the insane overreactions I see in the news over and over.

            This is the path that “what about the children” has lead us down as a society, and it pretty much sucks.

          • Jacasimov says:

            Thank you for explaining that. It sounds difficult. No one likes to be judged, especially for something that is part of who they are. I think I understand, it’s not the same but as a homeless kid with a certain look about me (whatever that means) I felt persecuted for a good portion on my early life. There are still occasional flair ups that I have to put in check but mostly just I got tired of caring what people thought about me and the weight was somewhat lifted. Now if something actually happens – for instance, many fathers get the feeling they are being silently judged as pedos when they’re out with their daughters – I’ll either talk it out or walk away…or something. Not as likely a possibility in your world since if someone’s judging you they will only have fears confirmed when you actually tell them you’re gay. I think that’s one of the worst things in the world, a dear friend of mine was nearly beaten to death for the same reason. It’s so unfair and sick…

            I also liked photography. And people would be my subject of choice. I love how people look going about their day to day life. Not children really…I mean I’ve never thought of them as subject but if I still followed that passion now as a father I might be interested in kids as subject but since I’ve always felt so uncomfortable taking photos of people (for fear of being judged most likely) I just had to give it up. It’s still there somewhere inside, but to me it’s like a guitar player that’s tone deaf, you have such enormous odds against you you may as well just give it up, unless you are extraordinarily driven in which case do it anyway. Odds are not in your favor but good shit sometimes happens.

            I agree that it’s all gone too far but it’s gone too far in all directions. For some reason people, maybe because we’re all so damned self-absorbed, we feel that the world is ours exclusively and we can remake it in our own image – everything from the pedobear phenom to hovering parents and everything in between is fair game. I’d like to see less of that and more of thinking of and empathizing with others.

            And once again, my point has been, I don’t care for people hanging around playgrounds snapping pictures of people’s kids. It’s polite to ask and if one doesn’t, gay or straight, there’s a good chance they will be confronted (unless you have the invisible grace of a photojournalist, in which case you are truly blessed), and police may be summoned. I can’t say that makes me feel bad or that civil liberties are in jeopardy. I think it’s extraordinarily selfish to think that one can do whatever they want whenever they want and that their “rights” are being trampled if anyone even questions their intent. Nothing screams privilege to me more than that.

            Good luck on your endeavors. I hope you can find a way to get done what you want to get done and not feel persecuted for it. It really sucks that that gets in the way of your happiness.

      • Guest says:

        Yes, I have a few photos of two brothers burying each other in the sand on Cannon Beach.  I had their dad’s permission to take the photos.  He’s in some of them, and later I sent him copies I had hand printed.  I run across them once in while and I like to think, ‘The oldest boy is around 30 now.  His dad must be close to retirement.’  They were great models; their faces are full of contentment and humor. I keep the photos because I like the story.

        There was a saying back before digital -’Film is cheap; paper is expensive’.  It meant you should shoot a lot of film, hoping for even one frame worth printing.  Sometimes the ‘worthiness’ is not on the film, it’s in the story.

        • Jacasimov says:

          Well, you’re right, I had to think about that for awhile but I get what you’re saying. Unfortunately, and maybe just for me, I don’t feel like we can live so much in that world anymore. It still exists in small patches but I still feel that from what I know, and what I’ve seen, and what has happened to friends, it’s not the world as we’d like it to be anymore.

      • Donald Petersen says:

        Don’t photos have a purpose like as a reminder of events or something?

        Photos can have many purposes.  Sure, they act as a document of a specific moment in time at a specific place.  But they can also be works of art, which might not serve a “practical” purpose.  And yeah, they can serve as visual stimuli to provoke some kind of emotional or psychological reaction.  You might find a long-forgotten picture of your late lamented father in the prime of his young adulthood, carrying wee little infant You in his arms, and it might fill you with overwhelming feelings of nostalgia, loss, regret, happiness, fondness, whatever.  You might run across a picture on Facebook depicting an old girlfriend of yours who now looks even hotter to you than she did back in the day, and that might provoke an emotional (or physiological) response.

        Some people get sexually turned on by visual stimuli (which is why the multi-zillion dollar porn industry exists in the first place), and the infamous Rule 34 exists to remind us that people’s prurient tastes are infinitely wide and varied.  It’s also axiomatic that a great many people are sexually excited by images or thoughts of situations that are far more “twisted” or controversial than they would contemplate experiencing in real life.  This isn’t much different from the way that people enjoy horror movies or disaster movies or movies about alcoholism, drug abuse, dissolution, despair, and death.  People don’t necessarily have to physically experience a given situation firsthand in order to get something out of it, whether it’s excitement, joy, terror, compassion, lust, or revulsion.

        It can certainly be argued that sexual desire for children is a “wrong” feeling, one that is abhorrent and immoral and counterproductive to society, and which should be eradicated through whatever means are necessary.  Another argument could be predicated on the idea that one has little or no control over what turns one on, and that a preference for 8-year-olds over 18-year-olds, while certainly reprehensible if acted upon, is fundamentally programmed into someone’s psyche in much the same way that a fondness for redheads over brunettes is, or maybe even an attraction to one sex over another.

        In which case, the burgeoning pedophile will have to figure out what to do about it.  Maybe some seek psychological help, hoping to somehow eradicate these inappropriate attractions.  Some just go ahead and indulge themselves, and hope they don’t get caught.  But I suspect some of them might fall in between, rationalizing to themselves that as long as they indulge their pedophilia solely as a private wank over carefully hoarded pictures, but never actually touching children themselves, they might be able to manage this obsession or attraction without actually hurting anyone.

        Of course, the wanking-pedophile market is what results in the trafficking of child pornography in the first place, so obviously somebody’s getting harmed and exploited to provide the pictures and videos.  There is no happy ending to this, since it’s easy enough to see how someone could lose control over their management of this fetish, and how one thing can all too easily lead to another as what was previously sufficient to satisfy one’s craving begins to pall from repeated use and over-familiarity, leading one to be bolder and more extreme in one’s pursuits.

        I’m not trying to defend the pedophiles of the world; they’re on their own here.  But in a very real sense, one’s actions turn out to be more important than one’s motivations when it comes to other people.  It is conceivable that a person could harbor pedophiliac tendencies (or attractions, at any rate) for a lifetime without ever acting upon those attractions.  And when it comes down to it, if what people get off on behind closed doors doesn’t directly affect anyone else (and doesn’t frighten the horses), then they’ll probably get away with it for quite a while.

        We should discourage pedophilia (yeah, I’m out on a limb here), and its practitioners should be arrested, treated, counseled, locked up, whatever society’s consensus dictates should happen, just as with any other crime.  But as far as protecting my children, I recognize the fact that someone masturbating in private while viewing clothed pictures of my kids is a pretty far cry from someone flashing them, or touching them, or exploiting them in any way that they’re actually going to feel or see or notice.  I’m not going to like the former, and of course it’s something I’ll exercise reasonable (to me) measures to prevent, and it’s certainly possible that the former might very well eventually lead to the latter, in which case there’s gonna be a whole lotta consequences and repercussions for the offender… but I’m not gonna lie awake at night worrying about it.  It’s a wide spectrum between looking, leering, photographing, approaching, touching, raping… these are varying levels of offense ranging from “none at all” to “as profound as can be.”  People obviously exploiting my children are in for a world of hurt, and yes I’m gonna do everything reasonable to prevent it from happening (I’m not gonna lock them in their bedrooms, for example).  Someone photographing my kid is not, however, obviously exploiting my kid, and I’ll keep my eyes open but I’m not going to otherwise be immediately worried.  Attentive, yes.  Concerned, maybe, depending on the details of the situation.  But just photography?  Not gonna worry me much.

        You can tell I’m a guy, one who has never (to my knowledge) been objectified as a hot piece of ass to be photographed and wanked over later on in private.  I do understand why other people would have a strong visceral reaction against being treated that way, but it’s easy enough for me to think that I wouldn’t be bothered in the least by the idea of pervy strangers getting off on me without my knowledge.  Of course, I’m a pretty big guy and less likely to be overpowered by a violent rapist than most women out there, so living without that constant worry in the back of my mind makes me relatively cavalier about being objectified.  (Plus, I’m not what most of you’d call generically attractive, so that helps too.)

        But still.  My point is that one can never tell who’s looking and what they’re thinking while they’re looking.  As long as the looker is not acting, I’m inclined to believe that their looking is generally harmless.  As I said earlier, I’m a regular Pollyanna.

        • Jacasimov says:

          Well that says just about everything I could hope to say in a way I’d be hard-pressed to express, so I’ll just shut up now other than just to say I agree with pretty much everything you’ve said even to the point of not losing too much sleep over the whole thing. I am concerned about people victimizing kids (and I’ve tried to use the word kids to take the rhetoric down a notch from “children”), but I also know that it’s not a sane thought to think it could be eradicated if everyone could just stop the photographing of kids on playgrounds. I’d be happy though in taking a link out of the chain if I could by making it harder for pedos to hang around kids in the first place.

          But if anything in this world ever needed a unicorn chaser it would be the sex offender registry and all it’s accompanying sundry information. To know there’s an offender living only two blocks away, and another a few blocks further on, and then four or five just past the next main street…it goes on an on. It’s hard not to consider the implications.

      • valdis says:

        But say you like taking photos of kids, just for kicks, because you
        liked them so much, and you weren’t a pro, what do you do with those
        photos now that you amassed a couple dozen?

        Ahem. What if you were merely a talented hobbyist/amateur rather than a “pro”?

  55. Eric Garner says:

    As a gay male living in New York, where gay men like me are now able to get married (and presumably raise children if we so choose), I see this as the next civil rights movement. Gay men are quite used to having to defend themselves in the face of public persecution based on absolutely subjective horseshit. Shame on that mother for the public humiliation she put this grandFATHER through!!! The feminists on the cutting edge of the push for further persecution of all things male need to know that such public humiliation of a gay father in a similar situation may very well bring about a backlash by some pretty seasoned civil rights fighters in their own right. Time to start applying your paranoia more appropriately, people!!!

  56. sgnp says:

    I’ve had pretty good experiences with people in cameras with parks and my kid. Most of the time, they’ll come up and say, “Hey, can I take a picture?” and I’ll be like, “Sure!”

    Even the smallest amount of contacts as individuals can change the dynamic considerably.

    I’ve photo-bombed a few people who’ve taken pictures of my kids without bothering to check in. They’re free to take pictures in a public space, and I’m free to shove my big ol’ head in the way. 

  57. SarahKH says:

    I’m not surprised and the guy should be thankful nobody leaked his name to the media lest a mob appear to drive out the pedo.  I’ve seen forum posts from fathers who’ve had park wardens or concerned parents detain them and summon the police… because a guy taking his kid out on his day off is highly suspicious.  Even to the point of having the mother leave work and appear in person to confirm that, yes, that is indeed the childs parent. 

    The general feeling is that if your a guy then your child, especially if it’s a daughter, is something to hold at arms length and never, ever, go to another child who is in distress or you’re going to get the police being very interested in you.

    You don’t want to be a pediatrician either; in one round of ‘name & shame the pedos’ that a national newspaper (and I use the term lightly) ran the guy had his house vandalized with graffiti then burned down.   There is a slight difference between a pediatrician and a pedophile which seems to escape most people.

  58. OldBrownSquirrel says:

    One of the things that bothers me to no end is this perception that men are utterly incapable of appreciating beauty, especially in photographs, other than via sex.  Do people honestly believe that Ansel Adams had a mountain fetish, that Eadweard Muybridge was a zoophile? Do people go to Astronomy Picture of the Day to get their rocks off? If I take a picture of a nebula, is this merely a first step in “grooming”? Do people really believe that if I find a photo of a tree beautiful, that means I want to put my dick in it?

    • SarahKH says:

      I don’t want to come over as a male rights activist but UK society has hit the point where the mother can have the affair, start the divorce proceedings and still get to keep the kids along with most assets.

      There is already someone in this thread who thinks a person enjoying the area, the kids playing and the general people watching means they are a pedophile looking to snatch a kid. 

      So yeah, if you shoot a picture of a nebula then you obviously want to stick your dick in it… our society is just… *facepalm*

    • Jacasimov says:

      Well, you being a squirrel I have to assume you at least want to put your nuts in it.

  59. I spend nearly every day at the park or the public pool with my eight year old daughter. It’s not uncommon to see people — single older guys usually — show up in their car, get out, go sit on a bench for a while and lecherously stare at kids (or women at the pool), and then leave. They are very obviously not relatives or otherwise connected to anyone at the park. It’s a real risk, and not always paranoia. I’m level headed and there long enough to know the difference between grandparents and pedophiles. This woman seems not to have been.

    That said, any time I have a concern, I politely approach the person and inquire about their kid. If they’re not there legitimately, they flee. If they are, a nice conversation follows without any need for crazy police calls. Thankfully I haven’t seen anyone at the park taking pictures of kids yet, but I have seen old men come up to the pool and start taking pictures of women (and young teens) sunbathing and then when they’re noticed, get in their cars and speed off.

    • Happler says:

      What does it take to be at a public park legitimately?

      I argue that just sitting childless at a park bench, enjoying the day, does not make you there illegitimately.  I have done this many times.  I often end up facing the children playing at the park, since almost all the park benches are placed in such a way to allow parents to watch their children play.

      Just wanting to be outside, or even just watch kids play when dealing with a day at work (btw, watching kids play is a great way to forget your troubles) does not make me a pedophile.

    • SarahKH says:

      Have you considered that these “single older guys” are actually enjoying the scenery, enjoying watching kids (even if it’s not their kid) enjoy themselves?  Hey if I’m feeling down then watching some kids have fun cheers me up.  No I don’t think you do actually know the difference between a pedophile & a people watcher because and here’s the thing:

      Statistically it’s your male relatives that are more likely to be fiddling with your kids than a random person doing random things in a public space.  So perhaps you should keep an eagle eye on your boyfriend/husband than the people in the park?

    • knoxblox says:

      Public is public. You can’t deny people you may “perceive to be sketchy” the right to be there.

      While I sympathize with your wishes to protect your daughter, you’re providing a popular fallacy to support your argument called “slippery slope” (Old men come to the park and stare. They’re obviously up to something, because they’re alone. If we don’t do something, someone’s child will be snatched).

      You can’t arrest someone for something which you suspect they “might” do, either. Yeah, if they’re masturbating in public, harassing others, etc. that’s one thing, but if they’re just sitting and looking, or taking pictures in general (of clothed people), then what? They don’t have a right to be there because of what you think they might be thinking?

      I hate to point it out, but these are exactly the same sentiments that supported Jim Crow laws in the early to mid 1900′s. Just insert “black guy” for “sketchy old guy”, and you may see what I mean.

    • Jacasimov says:

      Just wait, any second someone will chime in about the rights of lecherous people to hang out unobstructed around playgrounds. You must be paranoid and have a filthy mind etc. etc.

      Some people like to live with blinders on.

      • Antinous / Moderator says:

        Some people like to live with blinders on.

        Some people are obsessed with pedophilia and fantasies about masturbating to pictures of clothed children in public parks.

    • canuckfan26 says:

      “I politely approach the person and inquire about their kid.”

      So someone staring at children concerns you, but approaching a stranger and inquiring about their children is reasonable? 

  60. PKMousie says:

    To those that challenge a photographer at a park… what is the acceptable answer?

    I have a hard time believing “I’m shooting photos because I like shooting photos” would be accepted, even though that’s probably true in the overwhelming majority of cases. If that’s your reason, and you don’t stop (they have no right to make you), the cops will get called, and there’s a good chance they won’t take the photographer’s side.

    And as far as photographers running off when challenged… what should they do? Stay and get in a fight to assert their rights? Or leave when they’re unwelcome, validating the challenger’s fears? It’s a no win situation for a photographer that just wants to shoot some photos.

  61. Jenonymous says:

    FWIW, I am an avid vintage/plastic camera photographer, and also sometimes remember to take my old digital to photogenic events.  My #1 rule:  ALWAYS ASK FOR PERMISSION BEFORE TAKING A PICTURE.  ALWAYS.    By asking, I usually get a better shot, and others in the area are more open to having THEIR pictures taken.

    Yes, sometimes folks say no and you miss a great shot (I still wish the Greek Orthodox nuns that were marching in a Good Friday procession–from a small order that tatooed red crosses on their forehead, and who had veronicas pinned to their hoods–had said yes).  However, by the act of asking, other clergy members let me take shots of reliquaries, etc in the same procession, and when it was over, they ushered me over to the press stand where I got to take shots of the Midnight Mass along with the Regular Press.

    Yes, I ask,even when something is a public event like a street fair, protest, or procession.  I know I technically have the “right” to snap whatever I damn well please if it’s in a public forum, but being right is not mutually exclusive to being an asshole.

    Having said that, the lady in this story sounds nuts.  If she had just asked that HER kids just not be in any shots that would have been fine.

    Shannon–sorry that you have to deal with local pervs.  By me, there is a strict NO PHOTOS, PERIOD rule at the local pool, probably for reasons that you describe.  It’s very strictly enforced; once I was at Astoria Park shooting OVER the pool to get a shot of the sun going behind the Olympic high-dive boards and and an armed squarebadge made me put my camera away and walk away from the pool area.  Oddly enough, when I went to shoot some concrete sculputures that kids were playing near, the parents seemed totally unconcerned in contrast (because a 40-something year old lady with a giant fucking plastic art camera that takes MINUTES, not seconds to prep for a shot is probably NOT trying to take stealth shots of little Johnny/Juan/Jamal to diddle over at home).

    That is all…

  62. BlackPanda says:

    I’ve said it before, but an ex- of mine, approximately 5 years ago was denied entry to an afternoon viewing of “Finding Nemo” at a cinema in Southampton, UK, _DESPITE BEING HEAVILY PREGNANT_, on the grounds that she was “not accompanied by a child.”

    The rationale given was that nobody except for a raving paedo would wish to watch a “kids film” in the middle of the afternoon.

  63. Guest says:

    Oh, snap. Can I come, too? I have night vision goggles… :P

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