August 2007 Unethical Website
Los Angeles Girl LoveCharting new territory in the category of Constitutionally protected speech on the web that is nonetheless outrageously unethical was Jack McClellan's Seattle-Tacoma-Everett Girl Love Web site. It was created, according to its home page,
Despite that nice distinction, the site was a child molester's dream-come-true, with candid photos of young girls he snapped in public places like parks or festivals, and his commentary about how they made him feel, and what the virtues of the locales were for finding LG's---that is, Little Girls. McClellan is not a convicted or registered sex offender, merely a very high-profile pedophile. And his website obviously was an excellent resource for the David Westerfields of the world, men who enjoyed doing more with LG's than mere "cuddling"---like raping, killing and burying.
Once McClellan's Washington-based blog became known outside the shadowy realm of child predators past, present and future, the public outcry forced him to move to Los Angeles, where the blog was renamed "Los Angeles Girl Love." That site is also down (for now), but given McClellan's hunger for notoriety and bizarre belief that he is a warrior for the inalienable right of grown men to fondle kids, it is likely to pop up again.
The site is appalling, of course, but it is also a useful lesson in how something can be wrong, harmful and rotten to the core without being illegal. While posting pictures of children in sexual situations is a felony, posting them fully clothed in everyday situations is not. At least according to him, McClellan has not actually molested any children, though his website would indicate that he has a strong urge to do so. The Constitution says that we cannot make desires illegal, nor can our government criminalize a status, the state of being a particular way. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Robinson v. California, that criminalizing a status (in that case, the status of being a drug addict) violated the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. "Pre-crime" cannot be prosecuted, and as anyone who saw "Minority Report" can attest, that's a good thing.
"Thought-crime" is also a prohibited concept, although the burgeoning number of hate-crime statutes is straining the legal integrity of that principle. And the First Amendment protects McClellan's musing on possible encounters with young girls, making a website on the topic legal unless and until it can be shown to be designed to facilitate criminal activity by others, a possible route to prosecuting him but a long-shot at best. It is unlikely that giving people links to public parks and children's book fairs can be made criminal, even when the intent seems sinister.
The best course, or at least the best available course, is what has worked so far in Washington and Los Angeles: relentless protests and exposure of McClellan's image on the web and elsewhere, and counter-measures such as www.JackMcClellan.com, an anti-pedophile site that helps parents of young children be vigilant. A Los Angeles judge recently hit McClellan with a restraining order that requires him to stay away from the LG's he craves. That won't stop him from writing about them, but it's a wise, strong and Constitutional measure that may minimize the damage caused by his unethical and very creepy website.