Fast & Curious: Short Takes on Random Things

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Mission creep

This was the front page of Wednesday’s Cape Breton Post:

“Wow” I thought. “They sure are creepy — I wonder who caught them?”

Only it turns out the people lurking in the shrubbery in the skull balaclavas and sunglasses are not the creeps — they’re the creep catchers. The anonymous creep catchers, identified only by their pseudonyms, Mason and First Lady.

The two are part of the seriously creepy Creep Catchers, an organization dedicated to catching “child predators,” and in Post reporter Nikki Sullivan, they found a highly sympathetic listener:

All members of the group use fake names and hide their faces, protecting their identities from people who are angry they found a dark truth about someone they know or from employers who might not understand.

I’m curious as to when the members — of whom there are five on Cape Breton Island — don these getups and use their fake names. Presumably not to go to work (particularly if they are employed in what I believe are called “client-facing” positions.).

Also presumably not in their fake social media profiles, where they lie and say they are 19-year-olds until contacted by “targets,” at which point they lie and say they are 14-year-olds. (You know if they posted this picture they’d spend all their time deflecting invitations from other 30-something, balaclava-wearing, shrubbery fetishists.)

Sullivan, alas, doesn’t explore this question, she’s too busy allowing Lady and the Tramp to share their solid, data-based research on the prevalence of internet luring:

It just seems as the years go on, there’s so much more of this happening … it’s seems every day there’s more and more of these men and women doing this.

Yeah, really, why bother with crime stats or you know, actual facts, when you can just share the random musings of the vigilante in the skull mask you found hiding in your hedge?

One of the heartbreaking truths about child molestation is that the perpetrators are almost always people the victims know and trust. Most cases do not involve children being lured by strangers — even strangers who’ve come prepared, as Lady Gaga is permitted to imagine on the public record, in a truck “filled with gags and weapons.”

Sullivan reports our local branch of Creep Catchers have “caught three men” since they started and then provides a handy “How to Catch a Creep Guide” that conveniently leaves out the most controversial steps in the Creep Catchers’ process — namely, actually meeting targets, filming them and making the footage public.

Fortunately for us, the CBC also covered the story, only instead of interviewing two masked strangers, Anjuli Patel spoke to privacy lawyer David Fraser who says it will be “fascinating” to see if the charges against the Cape Breton Creep Catchers’ most recent “catch” — a man from Prince Edward Island — will stand up in court.

“The police, when they see this sort of stuff, they say, ‘Well, there’s nothing we can do with this. This will not stand up in court,'” said David Fraser.

“The problem is that what they create is something that can only be used for shaming which ruins people’s lives, ruins people’s careers,” he said.

“There’s a real concern — and the police have voiced this — that when they actually encounter the individual, there’s a real possibility for violence … the most shameful thing you can call someone these days is a child predator.”

The CBC story also notes that in July, a court ordered the Creep Catchers of Surrey B.C. to destroy their videos because they violated that province’s Personal Information Protection Act.

Fraser told Patel that although Atlantic Canadian laws are different, most of what Creep Catchers post online is defamatory.

“I wouldn’t think that somebody with that motivation is going to make a credible witness,” said Fraser.

Especially, I would add, if they take the stand in their balaclavas and sunglasses.

Sullivan did speak to local police who did not fall all over themselves thanking the creep catchers for their assistance:

Sergeant Mike Murphy, the sergeant in charge of the Internet Child Exploitation unit (ICE) at Cape Breton Regional Police Services confirmed police do not work with the Creep Catchers and do not condone or support their activities.

Really? But they’re so…creepy.

 

Saltwire…WINNING!

The Saltwire era in Atlantic Canadian journalism was always going to be weird but it’s turning out even weirder than I’d expected.

Let’s call the Creep Catcher story Exhibit A.

For Exhibit B, we turn to another Saltwire property, the Truro Daily News (thanks to Tim Bousquet for pointing this out):

What, at first glance, appear to be photos of a second-degree murder in progress actually turn out to be photos of a guy eating blueberry pie.

More weirdness: the use of Canadian Press copy for important local stories, like the Nova Scotia government’s decision to impose a wage package on unionized workers. Shouldn’t this be the work of your own Province House reporter?

Final weirdness: as reported in The Coast, Mark Lever and Sarah Dennis just pocketed $664,474 in federal subsidies earmarked for 15 of the Transcontinental Media properties they bought in April. The monies come from the Canada Periodical Fund. As The Coast‘s Jacob Boon explains, this could just be the first car in the gravy train if the publishers’ lobby group News Media Canada gets its way. Lever sits on the board of the group that wants the federal government to expand the $78 million Canada Periodical Fund into a $350 million annual revenue source for newsrooms.

I don’t know how I feel about my tax dollars supporting Saltwire.

What am I saying? I totally know how I feel about that.

 

Story Time with Peter Mansbridge

The man knows we simply can’t live without him.

“Stories…must think of stories…”

Peter Mansbridge, who was finally pried from the news desk at CBC’s The National in July, has announced plans to tour the country telling “stories.” Says Stuart McLean Mansbridge:

Most have never made it to air… but they tell you something about Canada, about Canadians, about journalism and yes, about me. And some may surprise you!

Nova Scotians wishing to be surprised by Peter Mansbridge can join him at the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium in Halifax on October 23. Tickets run from $41 to (SURPRISE!) $101.50.

 

Reader’s Digest

Since this has turned into Fast & Curious: The Media Edition, let’s expand that universe beyond Saltwire and Peter Mansbridge.

Here are some things I read and enjoyed this week from independent news sources:

Erica Butler in the Halifax Examiner on public transit to beaches and parks from Halifax. Besides being a good read in and of itself, it permits CBRM readers a moment of smugness — we had a municipal bus running to a national park all summer and according to the folks at Transit Cape Breton, it was a success. We also have beaches accessible by bus — although I think running a dedicated beach bus in summer would be very cool. This story is behind a paywall but you were planning to get that joint Spectator/Examiner subscription for $15 a month anyway, weren’t you?

Rankin MacDonald’s obituary for Sally “Central” Beaton, 101, of Mabou in the Inverness Oran. He had me at the name — her husband’s family was distinguished from other Beatons of Mabou by “Central” because his mother “ran ‘the Central,’ the community’s telephone hub in those long-gone days when people used to actually connect telephone callers.’

Maureen Googoo’s history of the Nova Scotia Mi’kmaw Summer Games. Googoo, who runs Kukuwes.com, an online publication dedicated to Indigenous issues in Atlantic Canada, wrote this article last year but re-posted it as the 2017 games got underway in Wagmatcook First Nation (August 20-27).

 

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