Posts Tagged ‘crime’

Spiritual Methadone

March 9, 2008

About a week ago, there was a story on the local news that followed up on a story from months earlier about a drug addicted beggar who knocked down an old man he had asked for money.  The old man was giving him $5, a generous enough sum, but when the guy saw the old man’s wallet he grabbed it and knocked him over, injuring him.  The incident, captured on security cameras, happened in a church.  Let’s ignore the presence of security cameras in an institution built on faith, for the moment.

Today, the mugger is in a religious retreat.  He can’t explain his actions of that day but now he is a changed man, he says.  He has found god.  Hallelujah.

Neither he nor the pastor at the home he is in made any mention of real world counselling, therapy, or treatment.  He doesn’t appear to be addressing any real issues.  What he is doing is reading the bible.

No doubt the pastor thinks he has done good work.  He has converted a man who was ‘lost’ and brought him into the fold.  A good get.  Another soul saved.  And, because his soul has been saved, he is cured.  In fact, the man is just hiding behind god.

I’ve written before about AA and other twelve step programs requiring addicts to trade in their old addictions for addiction to god.  This is no real solution, but it does increase the numbers of the Lord’s army.

It seems a rather perverse outcome for a man who would attack an old man in a church to find shelter in a Christian retreat.  He didn’t seem to think there was anything special about the church before.  Why should he think it can save him, now?  It can’t, and it won’t make him any better.  Only he can take responsibility for his actions and decide what to do or not.  Pretending that it was all part of god’s plan isn’t taking responsibility or control.  And substituting one addiction for another doesn’t address the real underlying problems.

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Eating Out Is Getting Dangerous

February 1, 2008

There is a gangland style killing for every wallet.  It doesn’t matter where you eat or socialize, you may be a witness to – or victim of – the latest episode in the gang wars that have broken out in greater Vancouver.  These killings could have been lifted straight out of the movies or the Sopranos finale.

A few months ago, just four blocks from my home, gunmen walked into a Chinese restaurant on East Broadway, approached a table, and opened up.  Two people were killed and others were wounded, including young girls.  I assume they were the girlfriends.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve passed that restaurant.  I used to be a regular customer at a bakery directly opposite it, before it closed, and have used the bus stop outside the former bakery many times.  The bullet hole in the window of the restaurant is enough to make you think about the possibility of innocent victims of stray bullets.

A few weeks later, gunmen fired shots through the window of a more upmarket restaurant on West 4th.  It has a reputation as one of the more romantic restaurants in town, I believe, but love wasn’t in the air that night.  A known gangster was killed.  It was only by luck that no one was killed by stray bullets, again.

A few weeks ago, a man with a past was gunned down outside a well known downtown steak house that’s so expensive I had to win a contest to eat there the one time I did.  It happened in full view of other diners inside, including the rest of his party who were waiting for him.

It doesn’t seem to matter where you go or how much you can afford to spend, there’s no guarantee you can escape it.  You’re not safe anywhere.

What are restaurants supposed to do – screen customers to keep out the targets?  How?  Should they ask customers, “Are you now, or have you ever been, involved with a criminal gang?”  I don’t think they’ll volunteer that information.

There is talk of the police working with restaurants as they did with nightclubs.  They visited the clubs, identified known criminals, and made it clear they were not wanted there.  I don’t know how they’ll adapt that to restaurants.  There are a lot more restaurants than nightclubs.  Maybe they’ll just distribute names and pictures of criminals so the restaurants can refuse entry.  That would take a pretty brave Maitre d’.

Whatever they do, I hope it works.

Belief Does Not Make You Good

January 28, 2008

There is no correlation between morality, or ethics, and religion or belief in god.  The one doesn’t require, or guarantee, the other.

China is officially atheistic but they have strong traditions and morals.  Women are taught to be modest.  They might even be considered prudish compared to western women, including Christians.  They believe a man wants to marry a virgin, so – no sex before marriage.  I’m not saying this modesty makes them better, but a religious zealot would aspire to a society of such ‘virtue’.

Things are changing, now that the country that used to talk of western decadence has adopted the mantra, “It’s glorious to be rich”.  So, it seems that economics and the pursuit of material wealth have more to do with influencing ethics and morals than belief or non-belief in a god.  You could be a highly ethical atheist or a sleazy believer.

I was once in the presence of someone who I think may have actually killed someone, and he told me he believed in god.  I found myself in the London flat of someone who knew someone I knew.  Someone else was there, too, sitting across the coffee table from me.  The conversation revealed that he was twenty-six and he’d just got out of prison after serving eight years.  So, he was sentenced at eighteen.

Maybe the situation is different in Britain these days, but at the time the papers were screaming about wishy washy liberal judges who were soft on criminals and more concerned with their rights than the victims’.  They also complained about parole being automatic.  So, if he served eight years, he was probably sentenced to at least twelve to fifteen.

I wondered what an eighteen year old kid had to do to get a twelve to fifteen year sentence from a wishy washy judge who thinks he deserves another chance and that, given the position of disadvantage he started from, it was inevitable that he would make some bad decisions.  The only two things I could think of were murder or a particularly brutal rape.

But, he believes in god, so, according to his fellow believers, he’s a better, more ethical person than me.

Tasers For Self Defence – Coming To a Store Near You?

January 13, 2008

Recently, I read that the good people at the company that makes the Taser, those adamant deniers that their product is a potentially lethal weapon, are planning to introduce Tasers for self defence.  Specifically, they will be targeting women with ‘female friendly’ Tasers.  They’ll be available in pink and other nice, bright colours, so they can do double duty as fashion accessories.  I guess if you make something pretty enough, it ceases to be a weapon.  So, a gun with a mother-of-pearl inlaid handle isn’t a gun and a jewel encrusted dagger isn’t a knife.

Maybe this is already a reality in the U.S. but, apparently, they want to bring it here, too.  Just what we need, a readily available weapon that criminals can get their hands on to use against their victims.  An easy way to immobilize someone before you rob, beat, or rape them.  What?  Criminals getting them?  But they’re for self defence, aren’t they?  Sure they are – just like all the guns that are used by criminals.  Another American import.

No doubt they will roll out some veneer-thin security system that will ‘ensure’ that only law-abiding potential victims can get them, but we’ve seen how easy these are to get around.  Just off the top of my head, for instance, since women are the target market, any woman would probably be able to get one.  But are women always victims?  Violent crimes by women and girls seems to be much more common these days.

And what about male criminals’ girlfriends?  They could walk in, declare their fear of being raped, walk out with a Taser, and hand it to their mugger boyfriend.

Then there’s the Tasers that will fall into the hands of criminals because the victims didn’t get them out fast enough, and they were stolen along with the rest of the contents of her bag.

There doesn’t seem to be a lot of foresight being exercised on their part.  Or maybe they just don’t care.  For the moment, it’s a tough sell in Canada, company executives say.  Some high profile deaths, including that of Robert Dziekanski, will prevent approval by the government, in the short term.  But they plan to “re-educate” the Canadian public on Tasers.  How Maoist.  Get ready for the bombardment.