Ernest Miller says:
Yesterday, the LA Times ran an article on the struggles of a Canadian law enforcement agency in chasing down pedophiles based on the clues in various child porn photos. They're the ones who released the photoshopped images that showed only the backgrounds of the photos in hopes that people could identify where they were taken (it worked). There was a strange claim in the article, however: "On one wall [of the law enforcement offices] is a 'Star Trek' poster with investigators' faces substituted for the Starship Enterprise crew. But even that alludes to a dark fact of their work: All but one of the offenders they have arrested in the last four years was a hard-core Trekkie."
Reader comment: Boing Boing reader Mr. Spocko says:
As you can see, based on my pseudonym, I'm a fan of the show Star Trek. First of all, I'm not defending pedophiles. I think what they do is disgusting and they should be caught and punished. Out of all the info in that tragic article about pedophiles you chose to pull out this piece of information devoid of context.
"All but one of the offenders they have arrested in the last four years was a hard-core Trekkie."
The writer, Maggie Farley, didn't talk about other characteristics they have in common. She might have said, "All were users of the Internet.or All were hard-core digital photographers. What if she had said, "All but one were hard-core Republicans? or All but one were hard-core readers of Boing-Boing?" Would that have raised your hackles and made you want to know actual details of such a sweeping claim?
I read your website, I understand your desire to find the unusual, the amusing, the controversial. But pulling this information out of that story without context and the statistical relationship to the entire twisted population at large seems to me to create connections were they might not exist. Does it mean anything that the people trying to crack these cases have a poster of themselves in Trek grab hanging on the wall? Might the writer also have said, "All but one of the team tracking these pedophiles was a hard-core Trekkie?"
Police need ways to find these people, maybe that comment will help them do that, but might it also stigmatise a group of people who are innocent of such morally repugnant activities and simply make them guilty by association?
I pointed out that factoid not because I thought it terribly credible, but because it seems rather incredible. Sure, are some Trekkers pedophiles? Probably. But all but one arrested by Toronto cops in the last four years are Trekkers? Seems rather unlikely to me. I hope that another reporter decides to look a little closer into this.
Update: Ernest says,
I have now spoken to Detective Ian Lamond of the Child Exploitation Section of the Toronto Sex Crimes Unit and he claims they were misquoted, or if that figure was given it was done so jokingly. Nevertheless, he does claim that a majority of those arrested show "at least a passing interest in Star Trek, if not a strong interest."
They've arrested well over one hundred people over the past four years. Det. Lamond claims they can gauge this interest in Star Trek by the arrestees' "paraphenalia, books, videotapes and DVDs." I asked if this wasn't simply a general interest in science fiction and fantasy, such as Star Wars or Harry Potter or similar. He said, while there was sometimes other science fiction and fantasy paraphenalia, Star Trek was the most consistent and when he referred to a majority of the arrestees being Star Trek fans, it was Star Trek specific.