Thanks to today’s BookForum for this one – the LAPD is keeping an eye on a man whose website openly endorses his attraction to little girls. (I’m not gonna say the “P” word, because damned if I’m gonna have people finding my blog by searching for that word!)

So far, he has done nothing wrong. But he may, and he most certainly could. He’s already been kicked out of one community by outraged parents, and looks to be well on his way to leaving another – two fathers recently got a restraining order against him. Good on them.

Here is the crux of the matter:

Cops face a tough dilemma. If they do too little, they risk letting something horrible happen to a child—and enraging a community that will be hard-pressed to understand why someone on law-enforcement’s radar could get away with a crime. If the police act too quickly, they might violate the civil liberties of a law-abiding citizen, no matter how repugnant to community standards his predilections might be.

Normally I wouldn’t write about something this reprehensible. But I think it brings up an interesting testing point for the limits of the First Amendment. How far is too far? This person is clearly a creep, no matter how you swing it. But when you abridge his rights because he may or may not eventually break the law… how soon is it until you start blurring the boundaries elsewhere?

But if you don’t… are the consequences far, far worse?