Online Sex for Adults (and Kids)

The world learned this week about a creepy Homeland Security Department spokesman who was arrested for sexually explicit conversations with a detective he believed was a 14-year-old girl. According to the AP:

A Homeland Security Department spokesman was held Wednesday on felony charges of sexually preying on a detective posing as a 14-year-old girl through explicit online conversations. He was quickly suspended without pay from one of the nation’s top crime-fighting agencies.

The arrest of Brian J. Doyle, 55, raised doubts about the ability of an agency responsible for safeguarding the country to ensure the security credentials of its own people.

Doyle is accused of 23 felony charges related to sexually graphic conversations with what he thought was a teenage girl, who was in fact an undercover Florida detective. The charges, lodged Tuesday night by the Polk County, Fla., Sheriff’s Department, included 16 counts of sending pornographic movie clips to a minor.

This episode is disturbing on a whole bunch of levels, including the fact that this genius, accorrding to the same AP report, gave out his name, employer, Homeland-Security office and cell phone numbers, and pictures of himself (in case authorities couldn’t identify him with just his personal information). What if the person pretending to be a teen-age girl had not been a detective but a terrorist? In fact, Rep. Peter King (R.-N.Y.) made the same observation:

The arrest "raises serious concerns about the department’s hiring policies and, more important, its security clearance practices," said House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King, R-N.Y.

Pledging to investigate those practices, King said Doyle may have used a government-issued computer to "provide potentially sensitive information over the Internet to a complete stranger."

"What if the person on the other end had been a member of al-Qaida or a similar terrorist organization and used this information to blackmail Mr. Doyle?" King said.

It was not immediately clear when Doyle received his security clearance, which gave him access to sensitive Homeland Security information. A senior Homeland Security official, speaking on condition of anonymity because it involves a personnel issue, said Doyle’s security screening consisted of an FBI background check but did not include a psychological exam.

The clearance was valid for five years; Doyle was hired by the federal government, at the Transportation Security Administration, in 2002, officials said. He previously worked, for 26 years, as a reporter at Time magazine in Washington.

But the most disturbing part of this whole thing is Doyle’s preying on a teenager. I spend almost all of my time outside of my job at Human Events working with Junior and Senior High School students, so this issue is strikes a personal chord. Online predators are an increasing problem, as everyone knows, and it’s only getting worse.

And now, we have an AP report (posted on Fox News) about the growing industry of video games based on coitus. In a news piece headlined "Sex Replaces Fighting in New Online Games," we read, in part:

NEW YORK — Online games have so far mainly revolved around the killing of fantasy monsters. The occasional fight with a Stormtrooper provides some variety.

Companies are now developing a handful of games — though calling them that is a stretch — designed to give players a very different option: making love, not war.

In "Naughty America: The Game," set to launch early this summer, players will assume the forms of alluring but cartoonish people who meet, flirt and have sex with other player characters.

Characters will have their own apartment, but the world will have also have "public sex zones" and themed rooms, said Tina Courtney, the game’s producer.

"We’ve got the cowboy room, the make-your-own-porn room … it doesn’t just have to be `Your place or mine?"’ Courtney said.

Great. On the one hand we’re all sickened by the behavior of Brian Doyle, on the other we’re stuck with the gaming/entertainment industry creating games that foster behavior like Doyle’s. Apparently, we want our kids to start acting like adults — in more ways than one.

This new crop of adults-only games would combine the player-player interaction of the online games and the graphic sexuality of the single-player games.

Game designer Brenda Brathwaite, who has been in the industry for more than 20 years, sees the new games as a natural evolution of online life, noting that even in the very simple text-based adventure games of the 80s, virtual eyelashes were batted.

"If there were two people playing, eventually those people would start flirting," said Brathwaite, who is working on a book about sex in video games.

It’s only a game, right? If Doyle had been playing this game online with the 14-year-old girl, I would suppose the authorities couldn’t have touched him: it’s just a game.

But don’t worry:

Of course, these games raise the possibility of sexual predators lurking in the chat rooms. Naughty America has plans to let users pay for a background check that scans their criminal record. Users who do so would have a special tag in their profiles, identifying them to others as someone who’s been vetted.

Whew.

I was afraid there were’t going to be any protections for kids. Look into the eyes of the at-risk kids I work with, and tell them you’re OK with the safeguards the adults who are supposed to protect them — Homeland Security employees and others — are providing.


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