‘Vigilante’ citizens can save victims from horrible crimes if they stay aware

There are some pretty awful people in the world.

Honestly, no one is completely a saint. There are the kids who cut you off in a lane. There are the ones who slack off during group projects. And there are the people who use memes in real life. Classified as “The Most Annoying Kids in the World,” these people need to be beaten down with a laptop. Or so I’ve been told. Several times. That one does not simply use memes in public.

But all things considered, overall, we’re still a seemingly conscientious group of students. Yet there are people in the world who are just simple morally bankrupt. And sometimes, they’re closer than we think.

This past week, Champaign Police took Michael Denight into custody on charges of child pornography. Denight has hundreds of pictures of 12- to 15-year-old girls in public and private restrooms. And that’s just the ones that the police found.

Now, I don’t think it would have mattered if this had happened in Champaign, New York or Istanbul. I still would have felt major disgust, because, as we all know, child porn is just not OK.

But I think the reason that this really hits home for me is that he was videotaping directly at a lot of hotspots for U of I students. In fact, the first time I heard the news was a couple of days ago when I was at Fat Sandwich (for Fat Tuesday, guys! Don’t judge.) and a Channel 3 reporter was covering the story. Apparently, Denight had hit up the restaurant, as well as other places.

I miss the days when the Big Fat Ugly was the dirtiest thing about Fat Sandwich.

Unfortunately, the sad thing about life is that it operates under the condition that we cannot change the actions of others. Karma finally caught up with Denight, and he got his awful self hauled to court. But for every man arrested, there are about two that are running around, pro-pervy and scot-free.

The problem I have in this situation, though, is that it’s really unfair that we can’t snap our fingers and make town-creepers go away. It really isn’t. None of those girls asked to be violated in that manner, so why did it have to happen?

And though the age groups were a little younger than our demographic, it makes you think about safety for us as a whole. Are we supposed to hold it until we go home? That only works so many times, you know.

Yet, there’s one weapon we have up our sleeve: our vigilante skills. I’m not talking about beating up every person you suspect is a child pornographer (although, it does works for Batman … ). I’m talking about watching out for the community, and reporting activities that seem harmful.

I commend the woman who led the Champaign police to the peeper. What took maybe two minutes of her time probably saved dozens of girls from discovering an awkward videotape of them in the future. And we should take note of the woman’s actions as well. If something doesn’t seem right, report, report, report.

Though we might only think about central Campustown as the broad scope of our world, the fact of the matter is, we’re Champaign and/or Urbana citizens too. What goes on in the town has to matter to us, and we need to be on the lookout for our fellow townsmen.

It might not magically prevent everything awful from happening. But it’s definitely a step in the right direction.

Tolu is a junior in Media.