Why 'Time' Has Published the Least Responsible 'How To' Ever
Sometimes it's not enough to simply inform people of what happens in the world -- you have to jazz it up for the fearful and/or easily distracted. For example, Time magazine's online counterpart has recently started framing news events as quirky "how-to" stories like "How to Completely Screw Up a Hit-Man Scam in Five Easy Steps." Just as recently, a man in Detroit managed to catch a child predator by posing as his daughter and inviting the man into his home. The result?
They must have drugged their legal team to get this published.
Notice that this story is in the "crime" section and not, say, "humor," "irony," or "filling the void." That's because the story isn't funny, but rather a handy guide for parental paranoia and vigilantism -- as well as inviting a possible child predator into your home. All framed around one story of it going surprisingly well.
That's the catch here: Each step is coupled with the ridiculously lucky events of the man in Detroit, aka the best possible scenario. This is not unlike using the events of Die Hard as a hostage negotiation training video.
"Practice writing in blood beforehand, and carry an extra sweater in case of typos."
Here are the steps:
1. Be Vigilant
In the case of the man who rightfully suspected that there was something fishy happening on his kid's Facebook, this makes a lot of sense. In the case of the parent who just doesn't like the look of that "fruity art teacher," this is going to be the first step down a long dark spiral of justification.
"That apple is borderline pornographic."
This step literally runs below a link to an article titled "Should Facebook Have a Panic Button?" thereby instantaneously nourishing our lizard brain instinct that insists on checking behind the toilet for spiders before every shit. Vigilance, in this case, is anticipating that one out of every thousandth time when there actually is one back there. Of course there's a good chance said spider will never even attack; that's where Step 2 comes into play.
2. Throw Out Some Bait
Right. Obviously you're going to want to hack your kid's account and make sexual advances at the suspect in question over the course of a few weeks. After all, this is exactly why children are small and without rights -- so that they can be dangled precariously for the purposes of entrapment. And no, before you ask, there's no possible way this could backfire and get your child in trouble while walking home from school.
"Place a landmine in his backpack, but remember -- face it AWAY from the child."
What makes this more baffling is that, coupled with the first step, you're actually searching out and daring someone to go after your kid. It's exactly what happens at the end of Cape Fear, which, as we all know, worked out perfectly.
3. Set a Trap -- But Be Careful
Yes. You're going to want to set a trap for the strange criminal who wants your child, so be careful! After posing as his daughter, the Detroit man invited the stranger into his own home to confront him. Obviously you'd want this to go down within yards of where you sleep, that way you can have quick access to your own gun -- or to save time, just try to grab the gun the child predator probably has tucked in his belt. Either way is fine.
"Perhaps you don't understand. I said citizen's arrest."
So to recap, you've searched out your child predator and baited him on, and you've now got him within spitting distance of your kid's room. Now what?
4. Know the Law
That's right -- the law. Now that you've got the strange person in your home and you won't let him leave, you should probably check to see if any of this is illegal. Oh wait -- that's not why this step is here:
"Martin had earlier looked up the Michigan penal code for citizens' arrests and followed them to the letter. He also had witnesses present, and was careful not to coerce a confession out of the suspect."
"... so anyway, up for some entrapment?"
Of course. Know the law of interrogations! That way, if the confession comes through frantic between-dunk breaths, you'll know if it counts or not. Let's not forget that the "witness" (or, if you will, "accessory") will be there to record it all.
5. Inform the Police as Soon as Possible
You know, like maybe four steps ago, back before you lured a possibly dangerous person into your house after pretending to be your child for weeks and then confronted him.
"We're arresting both these assholes, right?"
Also, just as a bonus, if you knock off Step 5 and stick to the first four, this list doubles as a handy guide for becoming a child predator as well. So that's convenient.
Look, Time, we know you think you're being cute, but if you're going to dress a story in some kind of list form for the sake of making it more appealing, maybe don't pick the one about kidnapping a child predator. Stick to the stuff that works, like the inconsistencies of Harry Potter or toys that look like they have dicks or something like that.