Some thoughts on how we are all treated like criminals nowadays

Here’s a thought I had:

I have always felt that the common people are being treated like criminals nowadays.  Though this may sound silly there is truth in it.   

In general, we are restricted, prevented from doing certain things, and restricted from having some things not because of our behaviour but by the behaviour of someone else . . . namely, criminals.  In other words, our lives are being altered and restricted because of something we didn’t do. 

If ONE PERSON turns his shoe into a bomb and goes on a plane and attempts to blow it up then we ALL have to have our shoes inspected before we go on a plane, as if we are the criminal. 

If ONE PERSON shoots people with an assault rifle then we are ALL prevented from purchasing an assault rifle, as if we are the criminal. 

If ONE PERSON kidnaps a little girl then we ALL have to be watched like a hawk when we’re around a little girl, as if we are the criminal.

As a result, our lives are all affected by the behaviour of that ONE person.  Or, to be more precise, we are affected by the political/legal systems way of dealing with the problem of that ONE person.  It’s solution is generally to restrict and not allow certain things by EVERYONE else or in some form of surveillence.  As a result, aspects of our lives are determined not by our behaviour but by other people’s behaviour.  In this way, we are all treated like criminals, as if we are going to do the criminal act.   In some respects, we are being punished, so to speak, for something we didn’t do, sort of a “pre-emptive” punishment.  This is certainly a sign of the times as we are in the ‘era of pre-emptive everything’:  if it might happen-prevent it, if it could happen-outlaw it, if someone might do it-make it a crime, etc., etc.

With the way our system works, one criminal makes it bad for everyone else.  As a result, criminal behaviour has a far greater impact on our society and our lives than we realize.  In some ways, it determines how we have to live.  It ends up restricting us and preventing us from doing things and even having certain things.  It can even villanize us and needlessly turn us into criminals.  In this way, the political/legal systems way of dealing with criminal acts is much like a suppression or damper on the rest of society.  It often makes me wonder what life would be like if we did not have all these restrictions . . . 

Another aspect of how we are all treated like criminals is the way we are often watched and monitored.  In many places you have security and camera’s watching almost every move you make.  In some places you must have security checks.  In many places we go we are treated as if we might do a criminal act and we’re looked at as if we might. 

I’ll never forget the first time I went to London. I was a nervous wreck because it was my first time travelling a long distance by myself and, apparently, this showed.  When I got to the hotel my room wasn’t ready, so I went walking around, and then came back.  My room wasn’t ready.  I went walking around and came back.  My room wasn’t ready.  After several times, I happened to turn around and noticed a guy behind me looking at my closely who quickly turned away when I looked at him.  I sort of chuckled . . . I knew it was security.  My looking nervous and repetetively coming back probably made them suspicious.  Since my room wasn’t ready I left again and came back.  My room still wasn’t ready . . . sure took them a long time to get my room ready.  At one point I got talking to a lady and turned around and another guy, who was looking at me, quickly looked away and turned direction.  Again I chuckled.  Ever since then I always joke that “I wasn’t 3 hours in London and security was already watching me!” 

I often walk around in neighborhoods.  More than once I have noticed that if there are young kids playing on the front lawn parents, and sometimes neighbors, often watch me like a hawk, particularly if there are little girls.  They act like I’m going to kidnap them or something.  This, to me, is very insulting, to presume that is what my intention is to do bad.  It, frankly, makes me feel like a criminal.

The attitudes around guns is ridiculous.  I know people that think that, because a person has guns, that they’re going to go around and start shooting people with them!  Some people won’t even allow a gun in their house or their kids to touch a gun.  I’ve seen other people that, when they look at a gun, have this look of terror on their faces . . .

It’s like everyone is scared of what might happen.

And there is the word:   MIGHT.  I might be a criminal.  I might do something bad.  I might commit a murder.  I might blow up a building.  Everything hinges on the word MIGHT.  It amazes me how much of our life is impacted by the word MIGHT.  We’ve made a life out of the word might.  And so we must all be restricted and put under surveillance because of what we might do . . .

But is any of this restriction and surveillance any good?  Is the affecting of the whole population by what ONE PERSON MIGHT DO all that effective? 

That is the big question.

I’m not all that convinced that it is.  I agree that restriction, monitoring, etc. can have a degree of impact but does it really have that much of an impact?   I can hear people saying that ” . . . even if it stops one bad incident its worth it” . . . but how far do you go?  We can restrict and limit ourselves to the point that we can’t even walk down the street anymore without surveillance . . . does that justify it?  It’s like saying that the way to prevent any illness is to stay at home, have the ventilation filtered, sterilize everything that comes in the house, and endlessly use anti-bacterial lotion.  That’s a lot to prevent an illness that might happen. 

Here is the dilemma:  how much should we affect the general population to prevent what one person might do?

I don’t think there is an easy answer.

Most people justify this mentality by the “better safe than sorry” line of thought.  That sounds good but when does it end?  At an airport I once wanted to make a few suggestions: “Why don’t we have everyone undress at the airport and then put on airport approved jumpsuits before they get on the plane.  Then when they get off they can put their clothes back on.  In addition, we can do background checks on everyone and have everyone go through a psychological examination to determine if someone is ‘unstable’ before they get on the plane.  Why not, we’re almost there already?” 

Does all this stuff really restrict criminal acts?

It makes me wonder . . .

My general feelings are that all this restriction doesn’t have as impact much as some people think.  I often feel that people thinking that it works, because it makes sense to them, is its best benefit . . . not because it actually works.  The idea of restriction is like a “warm blanket” that comforts them.  We can all sleep soundly because everyone and their dog is watched and unable to buy or do certain things. 

Personally, I don’t see how it could have that much of an impact.  I can see how it can do a little but if someone is going to do something then they are going to do it.  To me, that’s part of what criminal behaviour is, doing it regardless of the restrictions.  It’s main benefit would be more for things like this:

  • It makes it so things are not easily or immediately available (such as certain guns or material to make bombs).
  • It can deter someone from doing something. 
  • It helps prevent spur-of-the-moment acts.

This is more like “easy” amateurish criminal behaviour, of acts that are not planned or thought out that much.  It’s these types of “easy” amateur crimes that can be hindered.  They will not necessarily prevent someone who wants to do it, who plans it.  Many ‘amateur criminals’ do things on-the-moment and stupidly.  As a result, these are the stories we generally hear about and which often have a bad outcome, because they are so amateurish.  Serious criminals aren’t necessarily that stupid and we seldom hear what they do.  They are probably more successful too.  This would mean that the general population is actually being restricted and is under surveillance to hinder the “easy” amateur criminal, who tends to be ‘sloppy’ and disorganized in their behaviour.  These are people like bank robbers, burglars, people who shoot up school yards, and even terrorists (as they, frankly, aren’t all that ‘professional’ about what they are doing).

But the problem is that many of these “easy” amateur crimes aren’t as prevalent as it seems.  Listening to the news makes it seems like it’s every other day, but this is not true.  It can be years between some types of acts. 

In addition, we must remember that they are also taking place in a large mass society of millions of people.  Often, we’re dealing with one person in some odd million that do some forms of criminal acts.  In effect, the people who do “easy” amateur crimes are a minority.  Generally, a very small minority.  But yet some odd millions of people are restricted to prevent what the one in 500,000 (or whatever it may be) will do. 

It just seems to me that there are other ways to handle the “easy” amateurish crime than by restricting people and putting everyone else in the population under surveillance.  It’s like saying “lets restrict and put under surveillance 2 million people because one in 750,000 might start shooting a schoolyard”.  Thinking that way, I guess if someone gets sick and dies from a bad chicken that we should outlaw all chicken and make it a crime to eat, no less possess, chicken in this country.  Why not? . . . it’s the same mentality!

Personally, I think that restricting and putting under surveillance the general population will not end the “easy” amateur criminal problem.  It may make it go down a bit, but it’s not going to end it.  What it will do, and I think it has, is make new forms of criminal behaviour appear.  If it can’t go in one direction, then it will go in another direction.  In that way, we are affecting millions of innocent law-abiding people for something that, frankly, isn’t that effective.  It’s like saying: “it is now law that everyone must soak themselves each day in a bath of anti-bacterial rinse for one half hour to prevent an illness that less than one percent of the population may or may not ever get”. 

It seems that a lot of these criminal acts are things that happen due to various circumstances, reasons, and contributions.  Because of this, there must be other solutions.  Sitting there and seeing the solution as ‘restricting the population’, or in ‘surveillance’ is looking at things narrowly and one-sided in my opinion.  In other words, making a ruling or law that affects the general population seems like a ‘cheap fix’ . . . it’s the easy solutionNot only that, it only deals with one aspect of the problem.  Because of this, I question its effectiveness.

We must remember that the political/legal system only knows the solutions that are within its logic, its means, and its powers.   As a result, that is the basis for its whole ‘solution’:  make a ruling or law!  The fact is that the political/legal system can only do so much.  To be frank, I feel that many problems are beyond the political/legal system and that they are basically powerless against it.  This means that we are all affected by the political/legal system not because it works but because it’s the only solution that their point of view can come up with.   The more I look at it the more many criminal acts seem beyond the means of the political/legal system.

I feel that some criminal acts people do are going to happen regardless of what we do.  No matter the law, the rulings, or the preparation, or the restriction, or the surveillance, it’s going to happen.  But the legal/political system has to find someone to blame.  It has to find a ’cause’ whether its true or not.   It also has to find some ‘solution’ too, whether it works or not.  My inquiry into the political/legal system tends to show that they are, frankly, not very good at finding the ’cause’ of things or the ‘solution’.  I never have looked at the political/legal system as the ‘experts’ on these things, nor the place that knows the ‘answers’ . . . you don’t see me reading political and legal testimonies to understand why things happen or how to solve the problems (I never have).  They tend to distort and twist things to fit their situation and logic.  In so doing they create illusions, an illusion of cause and an illusion of solution

Because of this I have doubt about the political/legal explanation, blame, and solution to these sorts of problems.  So when they cause some sort of restriction or surveillance on all of us, I tend to think its more to satisfy their view of things more than creating a solution.  They are creating their ‘warm blanket’ so they can rest easy.  But, it seems to me that this is just more nonsense for the rest of us . . . who must be treated like criminals because we might do something bad.

But, what’s amazing, is how little bad does happen.  I have always pointed out that there are millions of guns, for example, that are out there . . . but yet few are used in crime, probably less than 0.1 of a percent.  Very few guns have been pointed at someone, unless unintentionally.  Very few guns have been held in anger.  Very few guns have been used with malicious intent.  Very few guns have been used in crime.  Very few guns have been used in murder.  And so, because someone does do something bad with a gun, the legal/political answer is to somehow restrict, and possibly prevent, the use of the 99.9 percent of the guns out there that are used by law-abiding people?! 

That’s absurd!

That’s like saying that, because 30 people have been stabbed in one year, everyone must now have a criminal background check before they purchase any knife, down to a butter knife. 

When will all this end?!

I have always felt that there are other better ways to deal with the “easy” amateur criminal acts than by restricting and putting under surveillance the rest of the population.  The legal/political answer is not the “answer”, despite the fact that they think it is.  It seems to me that we have got ourselves in rut by seeing the legal/political answer as the only answer, not only to this but to many problems in life.  The fact is that the legal/political point-of-view is too narrow and limited in its perspective to handle many problems of life.  As a result, we should not look to it to find explanations and answers. 

That’s what it seems to me at this time . . .

This entry was posted in Government and politics, Law and legal stuff, Modern life and society, The U.S. and American society and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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