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Spencer Ferri

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Is it good to trap people with stealable cars and broadcast their arrests as entertainment?

I was watching TV with my girlfriend the other day and we came across a show where cops in some American state would target people who were previously convicted of grand theft auto, by placing a good car in the perfect spot to be stolen.

They put a camera in the car, video-taping the person driving away with the car. In the episode I saw, the guy had a strange conversation with an invisible man while he was driving, meaning he was obviously disturbed.

After letting them drive on tape for a bit, they stop them and arrest them, demeaning them and putting them down for stealing the car.

I found this show offensive. It seemed like dropping a hit of heroine by an addict and then arresting him for giving into his addiction. But if it's on TV, it must be appreciated and agreed with by some.

So... Is it right to trap people with created scenario's of theft? And is it right to broadcast it as entertainment? Or is it wrong?

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    Mar 14 2012: You've actually asked a variety of questions. Is this entrapment? Legally, no. The Bait Car exploits the dishonesty in some people. The courts say it's legal because no pressure was exerted that forced people to steal.

    Does it exploit people with mental challenges? Probably yes, because we see dishonesty as aberrant behavior, so all perpetrators are impaired to some extent by that yardstick.

    Is it acceptable to put people embarrassed by their own behavior on television? Apparently yes, considering the popularity of show which do this on varying levels: America's Funniest Home Videos, America's Dumbest, and others.

    I agree with you when it comes to the swaggering and demeaning way the police attitude is characterized on these programs, whether its Bait Car, Cops, America's Most Wanted or whatever. I'd prefer to think that those enforcing the law have a degree of maturity and professionalism that disallows petulant egotism. Judging from these programs, my expectation is too high. Then again, television's primary attribute these days is falsified reality --especially in so called reality shows where we find that even stamp collecting is a dangerous and life risking pursuit upon which millions of lives depend.
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      Mar 14 2012: I believe you when it comes to the cops, but I believe -them- when it comes to the stamps. Mine are under armed guard 24/7. lol.

      I know it's not legally entrapment. But lately, I haven't been impressed by law. It seems to me, laws are ideas created by some and enforced by others. But whether they do good is debatable. Obviously, some laws are better than others. I'd say it being illegal to murder is a much better law than it being illegal to smoke marijuana. But there are laws I don't believe to be 'good', and I think this is a situation in which laws are manipulated to do bad.

      While these people are making a bad decision, their decisions likely stem from some psychological attachment. I don't think people have rational thoughts like "I think I'm going to steal that car.". If I'm right, attempting to reintegrate these people by challenging their psychological addiction is a positive solution, and luring them back into a crowded prison isn't - laws be damned!
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        Mar 16 2012: There's no question that many of the laws enacted are made for dubious purpose. When people try to enforce their own morals or beliefs on others, Laws that seek to conform others to the will and beliefs of the people enacting the law are bad laws. Enforcing morality means to force others into the beliefs of a few, which is hardly democratic. Too many of the laws created these days have little to do with justice or the maintenance of a democratic society.