Pedophile Hunters- Anatomy of Punishment

Pedophile Hunters- Anatomy of Punishment

A new genre of online entertainment has emerged in the streaming world: pedophile hunting. Millennials are familiar with the concept from the NBC TV show Dateline where older men are fooled by a fake persona claiming to be underage and attempt to meet up with them. The host, Chris Hansen, pops out from the back of the house and confronts them on camera, which is followed by an arrest from the police. Multiple streamers have replicated this format with ranging effects-some doing impressive journalistic work and uncovering child rapists and child porn rings, while others simply create a spectacle for their thousands of fans. Alex Rosen does his “Pedophile Poachers” videos where he manages to get into the heads of child rapists and get them to confess to ongoing criminal activity. Here’s one example, although I don’t recommend watching most of his stuff. Rosen provides a service to the world and spreads awareness on such issues but hearing the horror story details is not psychologically beneficial to most people.

Spectacle and Sadism

A more recent variation is the spectacle approach to pedophile hunting. 

Here streamer “Vitaly” confronts an alleged 72 year old man of being a pedophile, causing another man to punch him and knock him out.

In many instances the streamer blackmails the alleged predators by demanding that they submit to humiliation and torture, or else they call the police.

Here they shave a man’s hair:

Another gets his head spray painted:

Tiktoker juujika13 posted this video violently beating a man allegedly meeting up with “young people”


Another streamer dresses like a little girl and walks around a community full of registered sex offenders and harrasses people.

Most recently an old producer from Space Jam was attacked for allegedly trying to meet with a 15 year old. 

 These incidents lead to a few questions. Are there a lot of men trying, and succeeding, to meet up with teenagers and children? Does this actually happen often, or does it only happen because of the actions of the streamers? How many of these people could be classified as mentally ill or just plain low IQ? Do these streamers actually care about children being victimized? To what extent is the whole thing a staged spectacle? Regardless, there is a growing vigilante mob morality on this subject. 

Snowtown Australia 

In 1999 Australia’s biggest serial killer was arrested. John Bunting and his associates brutally tortured and killed dozens of victims and stuffed their bodies in barrels. His reason for doing this? According to Bunting, his victims were pedophiles. 

The story of the Snowtown murders is realistically and darkly portrayed in the 2011 movie Snowtown. Rob Ager does a detailed analysis of the film, putting it on his list of “8 scary movies I won’t watch alone at night”. 

It takes us to a poor South Australian trailer park in the early 1990s where we see a very dysfunctional community of single moms on welfare, drug abuse, poverty, and a growing problem of pedophilia. We see events unfold through the lens of teenager Jamie who, along with his two brothers, are subjected to sexual abuse at the hands of their mother’s boyfriend. It’s a very disturbing film that tackles such dark material in a very realistic way. In the wake of the abuse a new boyfriend comes along that acts as a trusting father figure to the family- John Bunting. John and the boys get revenge on the abuser and begin to wage a campaign on known pedophiles in the surrounding area. John manages to get Jamie and others to help him conduct intricate premeditated murders which often involved brutal torture. In the most gruesome scene of the film, John has one of Jamie’s abusers held hostage-chained up in a bathroom. 

Robert Wagner and John Bunting

This scene should be a moment of catharsis or even “justice” where an evil sexual predator and rapist is getting the punishment he deserves. John conducts a prolonged, ritual-like session of violent torture on the victim- ripping off toenails with pliers, beating his face to a pulp, and repeatedly choking and suffocating him with a cable around his neck. “…again… stop…again.. stop…”. John rhythmically continues the torture while staring into his victims eyes. He takes in every moment of suffering, wildly indulging in the sadism over and over again. What started out as justice has turned into a demonic indulgence of cruelty. A bludgeoned and beaten human being chained in a bathroom, repeatedly tortured for pleasure. Something only seen in the darkest horror movies. 

Bunting and his crew did this to several victims over a period of 10 to 12 years. Other than the abusers that they personally knew about, it’s unclear if their targets were actually pedophiles. Bunting would often rail against homosexuals and crossdressers that were in his community- lumping them in with pedophiles and sexual predators. Bunting was convicted of 10 murders when most of the bodies were discovered in barrels in Snowtown South Australia and is currently serving life in prison. 

Entitled to mistreat

In Genealogy of Morals Nietzsche writes

“The criminal deserves punishment because he could have acted otherwise,” this idea is, in fact, an extremely late achievement, indeed, a sophisticated form of human judgment and decision making. Anyone who moves this idea back to the beginnings is sticking his coarse fingers inappropriately into the psychology of older humanity. For the most extensive period of human history, punishment was certainly not meted out because people held the instigator of evil responsible for his actions, and thus it was not assumed that only the guilty party should be punished:—it was much more as it still is now when parents punish their children out of anger over some harm they have suffered, anger vented on the perpetrator—but anger restrained and modified through the idea that every injury has some equivalent and that compensation for it could, in fact, be paid out, even if that is through the pain of the perpetrator. Where did this primitive, deeply rooted, and perhaps by now ineradicable idea derive its power, the idea of an equivalence between punishment and pain? I have already given away the answer: in the contractual relationship between creditor and debtor, which is, in general, as ancient as the idea of “legal subject” and which, for its part, refers back to the basic forms of buying, selling, bartering, trading, and exchanging goods. 

Why do we as humans desire to inflict punishment? The need to exact punishment doesn’t come from a sense of meting out justice and giving people what they “deserve”. Rather, there is a primitive impulse within us that desires compensation for when we are wronged. Parents will punish their kids out of anger. The basis of that punishment isn’t to discipline and develop the child, but rather to obtain some kind of psychological payback. 

The creditor is given a kind of pleasure as repayment and compensation—the pleasure of being allowed to discharge his power on a powerless person without having to think about it, the delight in “de fair le mal pour le plaisir de le faire” [doing wrong for the pleasure of doing it], the enjoyment of violation. This enjoyment is more highly prized the lower and baser the creditor stands in the social order, and it can easily seem to him a delicious mouthful, in fact, a foretaste of a higher rank. By means of the “punishment” of the debtor, the creditor participates in a right belonging to the masters. Finally he also for once comes to the lofty feeling of despising a being as someone “beneath him,” as someone he is entitled to mistreat.

The desire to indulge in cruelty is a lust for feeling the power of the master. This means low status people are likely the ones who get the most pleasure out of being cruel. Waging intense psychological punishment and indignation is an attempt at being cruel and getting the pleasurable catharsis of being a master after being powerless for so long. A long period of powerlessness will build up slave resentment that wants to exert itself through the pain and punishment of others. 


John Bunting’s case puts the modern pedophile hunter into perspective.  When you mark someone as being categorically “bad” or “dirty” in some way you give yourself permission to bully, torture, and humiliate them. For a lot of these streamers their actions are not driven by compassion for children but rather to indulge in a passive and masturbatory kind of cruelty. The most recent incident with the “Space Jam producer” seems to be the worst case. I definitely don’t think old men should be contacting 15 year old girls, but watching these morons scream “SHE’S 15!” over and over while getting off on attacking some old guy just seems pathetic to me. They have a mob of sadists on their side who are foaming at the mouth to say “you broke the rule- we get to abuse you now.” Such things should be beneath us. At a certain point its just a bunch of mentally ill animals abusing each other. 

There are accounts on Twitter with names like “Fuck around and find out” showing people getting into accidents and hurting themselves. People get pleasure in watching this and conclude that the person DESERVES that pain. People will post videos of a guy getting tortured with a cation saying “this man tried to rape a woman” with no evidence and people get off on it. Many of these people routinely seek out the darkest corners of the world just so they can feel the pain of it and lash out in catharsis. Seeking out pedophiles so they can fantasize about the pleasure of killing a pedophile, then justifying it as righteous.

Most situations involving abuse won’t get resolved through some romantic moment of justice on camera. A lot of sexual abuse is contained within certain communities and happens among family member- especially in non white communities. Many people who abuse others were sexually abused as children themselves. The purpose of the justice system isn’t to torture them for what they “deserve”. The only way to have a society with no pedophiles is to have complete control over who the in-group is, which we don’t have. I don’t want to torture pedophiles- I want them to not exist. Every form of moral indignation, every form of seething psychological punishment, every indulgent desire for cruelty, comes from a place of powerlessness and self indulgence. It doesn’t actually curtail the number of pedophiles in the world. 

There is something destructive and anti-intellectual in this kind of mob morality that is worth calling out. At best it’s cringe and annoying, at worst it can lead you to become a truly demonic entity like John Bunting. I have to admit though- despite his sadism I feel a lot more sympathetic to him than I do toward these streamers. Bunting lived in a very dark, disgusting world. He stepped up to the plate and fulfilled a role that nobody in such a degenerate community could fulfill. In all of the savagery and brutality he seemed to be operating from a desire to redeem the things that were taken from him and the boys in the community.       


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