Streams

The Valle Verdict and "Thought Crime"

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Daniel Engber, Slate columnist, explains the ins and outs of the so-called "cannibal cop" trial, and to what extent you can be prosecuted for your thoughts. 

Guests:

Daniel Engber

Comments [37]

guy catelli from America

Brian, this individual went way beyond mere "thoughts".

Mar. 13 2013 09:31 PM
Mary from Central New Jersey

I need to ask a question because I'm wondering if I'm the only person who has thought of this perspective- why is this different than a pedophile who only "looks" at child pornography and only "fantasizes" about sex with a child? Isn't that only thought if they do not act on it? Isn't that only imagination? That would never be acceptable to anyone in our society. Nor should it. Yet people who "fantasize" about cannibalism should be allowed their thoughts? Is it because theirs are about adults (usually women)? I'm not sure I understand that argument.

Mar. 13 2013 09:07 PM
mike from long island

if the cop is guilty, then all the writers, producers, directors of the Saw movies, and other torture movies should also be in jail. the creation of those movies is a large collabrative effort, therefore a conspiracy. it is indeed possible the guy might have snapped and physically carried out his fantasy. its possible we all could snap one day. if he abused his police powers in anyway, then he should absolutely be charged with that.

Mar. 13 2013 06:59 PM
Brian S Wilson from Home

Is your guest insane? This was not just some random perverted phantasy by someone who happened to be a police officer. This was someone so out of control he illegally accessed police records searching for his vittles; knowing that his actions could be, and thank heavens were, monitored. He actively went to spy out his victims habits and homes. He actively insinuated himself into their lives. As a cop, he knew that the blue wall of slience would most likely cover up any suspicious acts once he had killed his victim; so long a body wasn't found. Good grief, Jeffrey Dahmer managed to convince two cops to turn a naked, bleeding, incoherent 14 year old boy over to him without any investigation; even when they smelled the decomposing corpse of a previous victim in Dahmer's apartment. This guy knew he stood a good chance of getting away with his plan.

A cannibal murderer doesn't have to show up with cutlery and steak sauce for an intelligent jury to figure out that he had means, motive, opportunity, did in-fact act on his perversions and thus was guilty of conspiracy to kidnap and illegal use of a federal database.

Mar. 13 2013 05:58 PM
townNcountry from brklyn

both the host and "expert" guest in this segment disgusted me. maybe in a thousand years, men will also be sick of violence against women in all of its expressions. both acted as apologists for a person whose sexual fantasies centered on pre-meditated, brutal murder of women culminating in consuming their flesh. what is wrong with people?

Mar. 13 2013 01:46 PM
concerned from Manhattan

Do we want to live in a society where people have thoughts & plans of killing and eating another, & worse???. It seems that the people opposed to this, are ones that have had plans that they mights be convicted of. There is a huge difference of thinking about something and talking about it and researching on Google. In the past these people were in institutions. Women's lives are hard enough. This case should not even be discussed and I am shocked at Brian Lehrer for bring up the thought police. If truly only thoughts, no one would even know about it.

Mar. 13 2013 11:15 AM
uscdadnyc from Queens NY

Although it is Questionable whether this Guy was Guilty of Conspiracy or Not? It is undeniable that this guy was STUPID. Indulge your Fantasies at a Public Internet Terminal (ex: At a NY Public Library PC). BUT even "Highly Educated Professionals" are STUPID Also. (ex: a NYLS (NY Law School) Professor who had
Kiddie Porn on his Work Computer). STUPID STUPID STUPID

Mar. 13 2013 10:48 AM

Guilty of thoughts? I better go delete all of my Facebook posts.

Mar. 13 2013 10:35 AM
Renter from East Village

The psychiatric profession has been given the legal right to commit a member of law enforcement to an institution, against his will, if the physiatrist feels the person’s political opinions poses a public threat. Certainly other thoughts of harm to others will also qualify for confinement for observation. This is not the only recent extreme public threat to the public by a police officer where their mental state is at issue. I question the undercurrent of propaganda value that allows the purging of law enforcement people who question things like NDAA etc.

Mar. 13 2013 10:32 AM
Mick from Inwood

I once knew a woman who had been sexually abused as a child and indulged in detailed fantasizing about torturing and castrating men, not just the relative who had abused her, but many men. I don't know if they reminded her of her abuser, but she did habitually carry a knife and would engage in conversations with other women about how and what they would like to do to particularly chauvinistic men they knew. Could you say she "would eventually snap?" Was she committing a "thought crime"? Should she have been imprisoned for conspiring with her friends?

Mar. 13 2013 10:32 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

If women are so paranoid and scared, my advice to them is either (a) get a big dog;(b) get a big man; or (c) get a big gun and learn how to use it!

Mar. 13 2013 10:32 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

God help MEN if these kinds of women ever gain total power!

Mar. 13 2013 10:30 AM

@hunh?: Valle's "plans" are tenuous at best. Many writers keep notes and everyone has odd search engine histories. Nothing that Valle "planned" was ever put in motion nor was there evidence to believe that they were ever going to be enacted.

Mar. 13 2013 10:30 AM
Vanessa from Brooklyn

Is anyone else concerned about our tolerance of increasingly violent and misogynistic porn, and how that may be producing such brutal fantasies in men?

Mar. 13 2013 10:29 AM
Stella from downtown

At some point, the fantasy no longer satisfies and becomes reality. This man needs to be incarcerated, and, if at
all possible, helped. End of story.

Mar. 13 2013 10:28 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

I notice that a lot of the people commenting here FOR prosecuting for thought-crimes are women. Clearly, the fear by women that they are helpless and now need thought-control punoishment is very worrisome in a world where women are aspiring to, and gaining more and more real power.

Mar. 13 2013 10:26 AM
APRIL from MANHATTAN

I WAS STALKED. WOKE IN THE NIGHT AND A MAN WAS STANDING BY MY BED. WHEN HE MOVED, I SHIVERED. WHEN HE WAS QUIET I MEDITATED AND CALMED DOWN. MY ENTIRE LIFE WENT BY AS BEFORE DEATH. I KNEW THE MAN'S NAME. HE'D DONE IT TO A FRIEND WHO LEFT TOWN. I CALLED THE COPS. THEY CAME AND INVESTIGATED ME, A HIPPY PAINTER THEN. THEY OPENED A CLOSET DOOR AND ASKED "WHAT'S THIS?" "CANVASES" "YOU RUN A CANVAS RACKET?" "I'M A PAINTER." I GAVE HIM THE NAME OF THE PERSON. THEY SAID, "THAT MIGHT BE THE GUY WHO'S BOTHERING THAT LITTLE GIRL." TERRIFIED, I WENT TO A FRIEND'S HOUSE. WHEN I GOT THERE, THE PHONE RANG AND HE HUNG UP. HE ALWAYS KNEW WHERE I WAS. AFTER I LEFT TOWN, A WOMAN WAS KILLED IN THAT NEIGHBORHOOD. NO ONE GIVES A DAMN ABOUT WOMEN'S SAFETY.

Mar. 13 2013 10:26 AM
JT from LI

Any time there is a mass shooting everyone looks into the warning signs that were missed and how it could have been prevented. This is a case where the warnings were not ignored and many are wondering if he should have been convicted.

Mar. 13 2013 10:24 AM
townNcountry from bklyn

how did he get caught???

Mar. 13 2013 10:24 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

You can be arrested for evidence of conspiracy to commit a crime or terrorism, but not just for thinking about it.If we start going down the road of thought-crimes, that road is a very slippery slope.

Mar. 13 2013 10:22 AM
shaneeza from brooklyn

if looking into the database was not part of his job, then clearly fantasy was going to become reality. he didn't care about the consequences.

Mar. 13 2013 10:21 AM
Sarah

He crossed the line. He was making plans to make the fantasy real - I'm happy he's not a free man. This wasn't a story on a computer - this was taking steps to take it out of fantasy. He needs help. Serious, Serious help.

Mar. 13 2013 10:20 AM
Kristen from Brooklyn

I think there is evidence that this officer had a severe fetish that involved tourture, murder, rape and even more shocking canibalism.

I do think this guy would have eventually snapped. You build a tolerance to these fantasies. He clearly went out to see these women in person and this man's actions would have escalated from there.

Mar. 13 2013 10:20 AM
Netty from NYC

Every time the NYPD busts a would be terrorist - the guy always tries to physically blow something up.
The NYPD give them a bogus device and then the would be killer clicks it and then they bust him.
This guy is innocent - he killed no one.
I feel for him, regardless of his disgusting thoughts.

Mar. 13 2013 10:19 AM
Roy from Queens

@John From Office: As long as their outside work doesn't contradict with their police work, a police officer can do whatever they want. This matter isn't clear cut as people like to think. It's sad that people want to regulate people's thoughts in a democratic nation, which is slowly becoming an asylum.

Mar. 13 2013 10:19 AM
Mick from Inwood

I have not followed this case. I can agree that someone who habitually engages in this kind of violent fantasy should not be a police officer, but this seems to be an overt case of prosecutorial over-reaching and resume padding by convincing a jury that thoughts and speech are a crime. Just like the Central Park Jogger case, this shows that we must have a different way to judge and reward prosecutors other than just Win--Loss records.

Mar. 13 2013 10:19 AM
Bob from Manhattan

Since computer generated images are so advance, could you be prosecuted for CG kiddie porn?

Mar. 13 2013 10:16 AM

was the jury anti-cop?

Mar. 13 2013 10:16 AM
hunh?

Blue Dahlia,
Maybe making plans is a little bit of a hint...

Mar. 13 2013 10:16 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

It's becoming too much like the movie "Minority Report" where minds can be read and people rounded up for thinking criminal thoughts. And technologically, that's no longer necessarily science fiction! Personally, I do not believe in thought crimes, not matter how heinous.

Mar. 13 2013 10:14 AM
RUCB_Alum from Central New Jersey

Sorry....Perspective is everything. I wrote a short extended erotic fantasy story about a tryst that I never had with a co-worker after an Xmas party. It was hot and expressed a side of my desire that I had not approached yet in my marriage.

My wife eventually found the story on my computer and was not satisfied that NOTHING had occurred until she contacted the woman. Needless to say that is one former co-worker I no longer speak with.

Thought is not a crime. Leave the identifying of 'potential' criminals to the professionals. The prosecutors should have known better.

Mar. 13 2013 10:14 AM

I hope this verdict is easily overturned because it seems he was convicted more for sexually fetishizing cannibalism than any actual conspiracy.

The public reaction to this trial disturbs me most of all. Just because you don't share his sexual proclivities doesn't mean it's "perverted". Just because someone gets sexual pleasure from certain fantasies doesn't mean they want to act them out in real life.

Mar. 13 2013 10:11 AM

too far for me. big brother is watching

Mar. 13 2013 10:10 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Sheesh, and I thought I was misogynistic! But even I never thought of actually cooking and eating my ex-wife for supper! That takes really a lot of hate and imagination. But is it criminal to think that? Can thought be criminalized in a democratic society? That is a tough question.

Mar. 13 2013 10:10 AM
hunh?

Didn't he do something murky in this process? Cross lines on the internet or something? What about what his wife had to say? (That she was really scared)

Mar. 13 2013 10:10 AM

If I was one of the women on his list, I'd be happy he's not walking the streets. Do fantasies include names of real people with elaborate plans?

Mar. 13 2013 10:09 AM
John from office

This was a proper verdict. Mr. Valle was a police office and has to be held to a higher standard then the public. His visits to the fetish website was like him visiting and chatting on a racist website, it was not proper for a police officer.

Also it seems he went beyond just thoughts, to the planning stage.

On the other hand, law enforcement can find questionable things on almost anyone's computer and if some innocent search is taken out of context.

Mar. 13 2013 08:12 AM

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