It’s Time for the Creep Catchers to Chill

The group has become more and more reckless, so it’s time to rein it in
Braden Klassen,Contributor

(Yuta Anonueva)

Ryan LaForge, the president of the Surrey Creep Catchers, was recently charged with assaulting a man who believed he was meeting an underage girl. The assault is just the latest event in a string of unruly actions by the Creep Catchers.

The group’s response to the charges has been to announce that they are putting some of their members through security training and providing them with handcuffs for making citizen’s arrests—which, all things considered, is a step in the right direction. If they’re not going to go away, they may as well take the time to educate themselves on how to administer “justice” without physically assaulting people.

The group’s method of luring potential pedophiles into public spaces and mocking them on video or social media is primitive and unconventional and could hardly be considered justice, at least in the eyes of the law.

Of course, making this type of judgement depends on your sense of what justice truly is. In the most basic sense, the concept of justice derives from a general desire for equilibrium and fairness among members of society. When it comes to acting justly, the defining characteristic of the vigilante mindset is circumventing conventional methods of enforcing the law, which allows them to resort to using tactics that are meant to personally hurt the accused in some way through shame or violence.

Engaging in pedophilia is one of the most predatory and despicable things a human being can do, and the idea that the punishment for that behaviour should be proportionally severe does make a certain amount of sense. If watching reruns of To Catch a Predator has taught me anything, it’s that there truly is a kind of medieval element to entertainment, especially when witnessing the humiliation and suffering of someone you know is guilty of something as hideous as pedophilia.

It’s not corrective. It’s vindictive. Malice as a motivation for vigilantism is not only common—it’s required, and LaForge’s recent assault charges are a testament to that. There have also been multiple defamation suits aimed at the group for implicating innocent people with serious crimes.

The way that the Creep Catchers call out people on social media and create a spectacle makes it very difficult for the implicated people to exonerate themselves in any meaningful way, even if they are completely innocent and have been wrongfully accused. In 2016, a woman in Edmonton killed herself after a video of her was posted on the website.

Perhaps the Creep Catchers are just ignorant and incapable of coming to terms with the potential consequences of their actions, or perhaps they really do factor these mistakes into some kind of cost-benefit analysis and have determined that furthering their noble cause is worth ruining some people’s lives. Neither of these possibilities is very comforting.

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