(Reuters) - A New York City police officer accused of plotting to kidnap and cannibalize women had been having dark fantasies since he was a teenager, but had no intention of ever turning those thoughts into reality, his attorney said on Monday at the start of his federal trial.

Attorney Julia Gatto also said that Officer Gilberto Valle, who faces 20 years to life in prison if convicted, talked online about torturing his own wife and her female friends and colleagues.

"What really turns on is the idea of a woman - oiled, bound, laid out on a platter with an apple in her mouth, about to be cooked," Gatto told jurors in opening arguments. "That's his dirty little secret."

She argued that Valle was engaged in online sexual fantasy role play involving a little-known internet subculture where people with unconventional desires gather to act them out in cyberspace but with no intention of every carrying out criminal acts. (source)

What do you think about the idea of prosecuting people for unacted-upon thoughts? Is that a horrible idea or a creative way of putting away people with homicidal, phedophiliac, or larcenous thoughts before they commit a crime.

Tags: crimes, thought

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When thought becomes a crime, then 99.99% of the human population had better stop thinking!

The problem with this story is not that it's just a thought, it's been put on the internet, but since I too have what some might call dark fantasy, I'd disagree that it's the business of the court to get involved, it's a very personal thing.

"a little-known internet subculture where people with unconventional desires gather to act them out in cyberspace"

Yeah, some of us refer to it as BDSM, other sub cultures of similar nature exist online such as Gor based on the books by John Norman http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Norman

It seems to me this cop has done nothing, his actual fantasy makes me a little uncomfortable, but it's still just a fantasy.

Thought Crime, Orwell was right!

I saw a discussion of this on CNN. The lawyers thought that the prosecutor is going to lose on the criminal thought aspect. The cop did abuse police department resources in researching some of his fantasy targets, and they will probably get a conviction on that.

I am afraid I can't go for punishing bad thoughts.  They don't violate people's rights in any way, shape or form.

Acting upon them is another story.

Welcome to the department of Pre-crime!

What do you think about the idea of prosecuting people for unacted-upon thoughts? Is that a horrible idea or a creative way of putting away people with homicidal, phedophiliac, or larcenous thoughts before they commit a crime.

That depends. Are we as cruel as God now?

I have an idea.

Let's find a big empty desert, dig a really deep hole, and fill it with all kinds of flammable material. We'll set it on fire, and call it... I dunno... "Hell" !

Then we take all the people who commit thought-crime and send them there!

Then we take all the people who commit thought-crime and send them there!

There I fixed it.

Thinking potentially evil thoughts or carrying out a warped fantasy online w/ others may be troubling for a spouse or loved ones who learn of it. But how is this any different than playing an FPS game where you maim and murder street side innocents in a sea of blood and guts?

The idea of prosecuting people for un-acted upon thoughts is unconstitutional. I do however believe that we must become aware of the potential for crime derived from such thoughts. Ted Bundy is a good example of what can happen when unchecked fantasy becomes overwhelming and lashes out into reality. Keep in mind that mental illness can (always does) exacerbate these tendencies. Therefore, I do think there's something to be said for helping people deal with these emotions before they do become a reality. One might argue, "it's all in my mind..." But thoughts can and do in many cases lead to action.

I believe that laws exist allowing authorities to force people into psychiatric evaluation against their will. I don't think that treating potentially dangerous thoughts should be taken to the level of a crime.

someone else, or the person themselves, would have to come in or be brought in to the emergency room, if no crime has been committed yet. And they can  hold you for 1 week. a doctor stating your a risk to yourself or others cane enlongate that by 2 weeks, really because they can't force treatment only the hospital stay. Then if your doc deems your a risk to others, usually because of denial of treatment, it can be another week or until a court can hear the case. then a committment hearing will occur with the judge siding either way, but they could mandate treatment and a hospital stay for as long as the doctors require, but the doctors do have to state how long that will be once treatment begins. all this is per state btw.

I don't think that treating potentially dangerous thoughts should be taken to the level of a crime.

I don't either. I honestly don't think there's a way to tackle things proactively in this regard. The answer to the above stated question of what to do about a person having dangerous thoughts of any kind is that really it comes down to the individual to recognize the warning signs and seek help. This is normally not done due to different societal barriers that prevent them from doing so. I think we should focus more on knocking down those barriers rather than the notion of prosecuting innocent individuals that just need some help.

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