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Joe Rogan Nailed the Absurdity of Media With This Viral Video

Podcaster Joe Rogan on Friday highlighted viral footage from a recent Vice New segment that was meant to stir sympathy for sex offenders but ended up doing the opposite.

SO WHAT

There’s a long tradition of journalists arguing that criminals are really OK and then finding out they really aren’t.

THE VIDEO

In “Why Some Sex Offenders Never Get Out of Prison,” Vice News correspondent Alice Hines said her documentary was meant to expose “the injustice” sex offenders can face “at the hands of the state.” But she ended up facing a very different kind of exposure.

 

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Rogan sought to sum up the absurdity of the situation in an Instagram post that quoted 18th century English writer and politician Horace Walpole and was liked nearly 400,000 times.

  • The Sept. 18 Vice News segment, which got widespread social media attention last week, followed Aishef Shaffer as he struggled to reintegrate into society in the face of rules that prohibit people on sex offender registries from living in proximity to schools, churches and other facilities.
  • Shaffer, who claimed he was innocent of the sexual assault charge he was convicted of committing at the age of 15, served six years of “dead time” beyond his prison sentence because he was unable to find housing that matched the location criteria, according to Vice News.
  • Hines suggested abolishing the sex offender registry because it “stigmatizes people who are trying to get their lives back together and reintegrate into the community.”

OK, BUT: Near the end of the segment, Hines revealed that after their final interview, Shaffer sent an unsolicited nude picture of his penis to a Vice News producer.

  • Hines said her team debated whether to mention the “dick pic” in the segment because “you could argue it is not relevant” to the “story of the injustice,” but ultimately decided to.

THE BIG PICTURE

Journalists’ tendency to sympathize with criminals is nothing new, and in several high-profile cases it has proved embarrassingly misguided.

  • In 1972, writer William Styron befriended prisoner Benjamin Reid and helped save him from execution with an article in “Esquire” and a personal appeal to the Connecticut Board of Pardons; in 1970 Reid escaped from prison and kidnapped and raped a woman before he was captured.
  • In 1971, “National Review” founder William F. Buckley, Jr. publicized the case of  death row inmate Edgar Smith, whom he believed was wrongly convicted of murder, and assembled a legal team that persuaded a judge to vacate the sentence; after Smith tried unsuccessfully to kidnap another woman in 1976, he admitted to committing the original murder.
  • In 1981, writer Norman Mailer lobbied for the release for Jack Henry Abbott, a convicted murderer with literary talent; six weeks after Abbott was released he was arrested for another murder and eventually committed suicide in prison in 2002.

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