Crime

Okay, this is a continuation of the previous article ‘Christian Complains of Hypocrisy.’ Alot of what I had written in the latter half of that post under the question of what should be our approach to crime was lost due to computer error at the time. I am going to attempt to rewrite that section now.

There are generally two different approaches to dealing with crime. The first one is what I would call the traditional ‘law and order’ approach which is to me a basically knee-jerk reaction approach. Basically this approach calls for a ‘war on crime’ for ‘zero tolerance’ and for increased punishments for crimes. While I criticised Christian’s post for making an unfair call of hypocrisy on the part of the PLP I would be inclined to support the argument that Senator Burch’s comments would certainly fall into the realm of this ‘law and order’ approach. The only difference really was that the UBP was attacked for putting forward some very real, tangible proposals for law and order that were argued against as draconian. Senator Burch put forward some meaningless rhetoric, various crime-fighting buzzwords that really served to placate the citizenry. Such reactionary rhetoric however does have to be criticised all the same, as this often encourages and atmosphere of more aggressive policing and sentencing; reactionary rhetoric can indeed have reactionary results.

The second approach to dealing with crime, and the one that I favour, is what one might call ‘deal with the causes and not the symptons.’ Realisitically this does not call for totally ignoring the symptons of crime (crime itself) but rather a greater focus on the causes itself. Sort of like a viral infection one would give the victim some painkillers for muscle ache or fever, but at the same time one would set about developing anti-virals, vaccines and hygiene procedures to both fight the virus itself and to prevent future threats from the virus. The notion is simple, find out why the crimes are committed, see what can be done to prevent such conditions conducive to crime generation, and crime will fall.

Of course there will always be bad people, socio-paths and psych-paths. There are a number of reasons for this, but I don’t think our species will ever be truly free of such people. However, I am of the distinct opinion (and this is something one could confim, it is something that can be quantified, I just don’t know where to look) that such pathological people are a distinct minority amongst our species. I am also of the belief that of those commonly labeled as criminals only a minority of them are indeed composed of such pathological people. So we will never be 100% free from crime, but I do believe that the vast majority of crime today is entirely preventable, in that there are certain social conditions that generate such criminals.

While I generally try to stay out of prisons I think I can safely say that the vast majority of incarcerated people are not pathological individuals but in general tend to be, well, bad criminals to begin with yes, but mostly poor people with emotional, drug or alcohol problems andindividuals with special needs disabilities who were caught doing stupid things.

Drugs is certainly one of the key problems crime wise for Bermuda. But why are people taking drugs in the first place? While addiction is obviously a factor one has to ask why people took the drugs in the first place and by so doing became addicted? From my perspective the use of drugs stems primarily from two possible beginnings, from escapism and from peer pressure. Of these I think escapism is the dominant cause, with peer pressure really only serving to accelerate the potential for people using drugs for escapism as opposed to other possible forms of escapism (consumerism, emotional eating, television, video games, etc.). So, what is causing people to seek escapism? What are they escaping? I feel that most people are trying to escape from what they percieve to be a mundane reality, be it disempowering and mind-numbing work, alienating wage-slavery, inability to cope with complex relationship issues, inability to deal with emotions properly, stress from keeping the rent, utilities and other bills paid, keeping up with the Jones consumption wise, poor education, overcrowding stresses, special needs disabilities, or even a general sense of boredom. While not much can be done for the super-rich who have everything and take drugs out of pure spoiled boredom, for the vast majority of the rest these factors can be dealt with through social changes. Heavy investment into education, and a change from the whole ideology of current education (factories for producing wage slaves mostly), heavy investment in health services (including mental health, with a focus on prevention), heavy investment in quality housing and community centres, radical changes to the nature of our jobs to ones of more empowering and balanced job complexes, and a challenge to the hegemony of mass consumerism; a dedicated and productive ‘war on drugs’ would have to focus on these areas. This list is of course not exhaustive, but I think it provides a better solution to stamping out the scourge of drugs than the current system. I would also reccomend the decriminalisation of drugs for users, the provision of clean needles, and even the standardisation and regulation of drugs in order to ensure hygiene and safety. The focus should not be on wrecking lives through convictions of users, but rather fighting the causes of drug use and investing heavily on rehabilitation of users.

Gangs are also a large problem in Bermuda. A lot of the gang-related criminality is directly related to the issue of drugs, and a sincere and progressive ‘war on drugs’ would also go a long way to dealing with the gang problem. But drugs are not the genesis of the gangs, they only assist in the perputuation of them, and add to the problems they represent. Gangs themselves serve a very real social purpose for their members. They provide a sense of community, of identity and solidarity that their members have otherwise not felt outside of the community of the gang. A heavy focus on building communities and combating social alienation are key to dealing with the gangs. Why do their members feel otherwise alienated from the ‘legal’ community? Also, gangs themselves do not have to serve a negative function in our society; they can be altered to form a very real positive function in our society, and one should seriously investigate the potential and strategies for doing so. Ideas, as silly as they may sound at first, such as encouraging sporting competitions or even dance-offs, music clashes, whatever, can substitute for the current phenomena of violently warring factions. They deserve serious investigation.

Most crimes of violence are connected to the drug problem here, and successfully dealing with that scourge will significantly reduce the rates of such criminal acts. In this I am including assault, mugging and breaking and entering. A minority of such crime is related to either real or percieved need. Some people truly are in poverty, and steal to ensure they have food. In Bermuda though most such crimes are of a percieved need though; their perpetrators are not genuinely pverty-stricken, but in a society where the media daily tells us we need x, y, or zed in order to be accepted, to fit in, its not heard to see how the poison of consumerism can pressure some to resort to crime in order to ‘keep up appearences.’ A counter-ideology war must be made against this ideology of consumerism, where what we feel we need is manufactured by the system itself.

Crimes of a sexual nature are a bit more difficult. Alot of these crimes are I feel committed by genuine pathological people, but there are also a lot of crimes that are avoidable but occur due to the patrichal nature of our society. Women are too often objectified into objects of sexual consumption, something to be possessed and dominated. The feminist movement has been coopted by this system, and there is a need for the feminist movement to be restrengthened and reclaim what feminism really is from the crass form so often peddled by the system. Feminist revolution would go along way to reducing the rates of sex crimes, and this must be explored in greater detail.

As for pathologies I personally share the view put forward by the documentary The Corporation where it provided a general list of traits of pathological indiduals:

Callous unconcern for the feelings of others
Incapacity to maintain enduring relationships
Reckless disregard for the safety of others
Deceitfulness: Repeated lying to and deceiving of others for profit
Incapacity to experience guilt
Failure to conform to the social norms with respect to lawful behaviors

…and shows how ‘corporations’ which are legally ‘individuals’ display all of these traits in general. From my perspective its about time that ‘corporations’ recive the downsides to their legal situation as individuals, whereas so far they have only benefitted from them. And the same goes for the States that so often serve as insurance agents, lawyers and security guards for these corporations (*coughcoughIraqcoughcough*).

In the PLP Platform for Change the emphasis was put on preventing crime by focusing on the social causes of these crimes while at the same time continuing to address the existing symptons. I support this strategy, but I doubt the Government will make any of the truly radical changes needed to seriously address the causes of crime. I can see some of it being effective, but most of the strategies would appear to be piecemeal at best. The objective is not to blindly beleive that the Government’s reforms will do the job, but instead support them with kicks of constructive criticism to say, thats good, this would be better, and eventually demonstrate whether or not true radical change can occur within the existing framework. I doubt that such radical change can be effected within the existing system, but will continue to support what reforms are progressive while continously calling for more radical measures.

Each of these topics discussed above deserve more full and in-depth investigation. I acknowledge that, and acknowledge that my thoughts are at best first thoughts, rough drafts that require more thought. But they seem to me to be good starts, and hope to write more fully on each soon (eventually 😉 ).

I am worried about what I beleive will occur with the overseas consulting work of Giulani’s security firm. The tendency to always seek outside help for one strikes me as betraying a colonial mentality, and I believe we can handle alot of our problems ourselves to be honest. Further, one cannot import a foreign model directly into Bermuda without there being problems. Beyond that, we must carefully analyse what this foriegn model is, and what effects it has had in the land of its origin. I still need to review it more, but from what I’ve studied of the Giulani model I am far from convinced that it is either an effective model for Bermuda or an effective model in and of itself.

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