In the "Law & Order" franchise, producer Dick Wolf presents plot lines "ripped from the headlines." In the process, many controversial issues are explored.
On a re-run of "Law & Order SVU," a teenager turns himself into the police station. He fears he will molest his stepbrother.
That, of course, brings him into the system.
The detectives find out he's been clicking on a website operated by a man wired to be a pedophile but not acting on it. The website's mission is to deter actual molestations.
Eventually, the teenage boy does molest a child (not his stepbrother), posts the details on the website, and is murdered by the website's operator.
The pall that hovers over the episode is that everyone is a victim.
The boy's life is ended in a four-minute rage-filled stabbing. His screams are recorded on his cell phone. But before that happens, his stepfather rapes him with a baseball bat.
The boy's mother blames herself. She wonders what she did wrong. When his impulses are outed, her marriage becomes undone.
The child who has been molested will be emotionally wounded for life. By the end of the episode the detectives had not been able to identify who the child is.
The website owner has the illusion he's doing good. When that is shattered after the boy acts on his impulses he ruins his own life through murder.
The boy and all other pedophiles have to live with a disease they were probably born with. There is no cure. If "caught," molesting children they will be severely punished and live with the stigma of being registered as a sexual offender. That list is public.
There were no answers when that re-run was first aired. There are no answers now.
Perhaps the saddest part is that it's taboo to indicate compassion for the pedophile.
In West Hartford, Connecticut, the son of the family next door returned from a prison sentence for molesting a very young boy. We would talk now and then over the fence. I did not have children. Maybe that was why I could express sympathy for his plight. That was not well received. Actually, several members of the community shunned me. They assumed I was condoning the behavior.
Reflection: It is difficult to have a conversation about this disease.
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