Saturday, February 14, 2009

Violent crime "out of control".

According to this article in the Globe and Mail gang related shootings are quickly becoming a very serious problem in Vancouver.  Few could...

( I'm going to interrupt this for a moment to mention that as I was writing a series of explosives went off not far from my house, my first thought was, well this is ironic, but then I quickly realized it was fireworks.  Thais like to celebrate, especially in the country side and my apartment is almost literally on the limits of where city becomes country.  I can look to the right from my balcony and see city.  If I look left, I see country with all of the shanties, old style Thai bars, and lots of old Thai music.  It's fun living here because of the two worlds thing.  Anyway, the fireworks were nice.  Back on track)... 
Few could forget the shootings in Toronto over the last few years, like the guy just putting his fruit out to sell and was killed by a stray bullet.  American cities certainly know what horror gang violence can bring.  

What can be done?  If it would solve anything, I would advocate imposing the War Measures Act (I know, it's been softened but I'm sure it could be done) and rounding up everyone who might have the vaguest connection to a criminal gang and prosecuting to the fullest extent.  But, I don't think that would solve anything.  Punishment is not as much a deterrent to criminal groups as it is to generally law abiding people.  I don't steel because I think it's bad, but when I'm poor I would steel a little but I don't because I don't want to be punished.  If it was not illegal, I would justify taking a little of something from a store now and again.  But, for those who have joined a criminal syndicate or other organization, I don't think they really care so much about living within the bounds of law.  I don't think they think much about punishment.  Though, in Thailand the shoot first, ask later policy that was used a few years ago did seem to get rid of a lot of the drugs for a while.  Obviously that policy is just not going to fly in Canada, and I don't think anything less than that is going to be sufficient deterrent.  

That leaves us with the question of what can be done.  I think that we, as a country and we can include the U.S and a lot of other countries on this as well.  We as a society, Canadian, American, or whatever, have to evaluate what is going right and what is going wrong.   Why are young people falling into crime?  Why are murders happening in ever younger groups?  

I think these kids just don't feel engaged with society.  They don't feel that they are stake holders in the political and legal process.  They don't have strong connections with the greater community and they don't have the social structure and extended family support that Asians have.  Asian Canadian gangs have become a problem.  In their country of birth (or their parents birth) they had a place in society.  In Canada, they are living out the dream of their parents, but it's not their dream.  In short, they feel powerless and without a culture so they go out and join illegal groups and get all of those warm family feelings, and feelings of belonging from their gang.

I had an old psychology professor once (Dr. Charles F. Preston).  He was really one of the early psychologists  at the university of Toronto and he once commented to me that he believes some of the problems in Western society are caused by the lack of male to male affection.  I commented that it's viewed as homo-erotic in Canada for men to hold hands etc, and he replied "that's because Western society is sick".  I think he might be right.  

My mother blames it on the television.  She recalls how when she was young the people in the town would all get together to listen to the election on the radio...and continued to do so with the TV for the first number of years.  She recalled everyone sitting around the living room waiting to see if Diefenbaker would get back in.  Tough being a Tory in those years.  She told me about how differently people behaved towards their neighbours at that time.  Now, the last time I lived in Canada I could hardly imagine my street all having a common party.  If we were to, it would be slanted in a really Bree Van de Kamp  sort of way.  

Tony Blair was right (as always...when one doesn't take a stand either way, one is seldom very wrong), we need to fight crime and the causes of crime but I think the causes of crime are very complex.  


Anonymous said...

I have always been interested in extremes, the concept of the tribe or gang has its attraction. As a social anthropologist (I use that tongue in cheek) I got up close and dirty with two groups feared by larger society.

I wrote an essay on one of these groups in the early 90s and it addressed causalities and provided an academic understanding. But there is something else and you have touched on it. I want to speak about it but fear it will sound, well,... dumb. But I do think there is something to it.

To belong to that group or family has a real pull to some individual males. And many of these individuals I knew could succeed easily in the larger society but chose this alternative life. (I am talking about the two groups I knew which were white)I think part of it is the scale, the numbers are often reflective of hunter-gathers of our distant past. There is an elemental reconnection to something that the disconnected contemporary society does not provide. There is also a real feeling of boots on the ground power that is truly salient. In a time of metro-sexual male, here is something radically different. It is also interesting that sports teams often contain comparable numbers. Team uniforms equate to group colors and other codification. All very interesting, and no lack of women in either case. Also no accident that comparison to military structures exist. Have you ever seen Chimps coordinate an attack to obtain a fresh kill for meat on discovery channel? I really believe it is in the nature of the human animal that this exists to a degree.

On another note. I shed no tears for the drug dealers killed by the police in the early 2000s. I really cannot get worked up about human rights or liberty etc. when it comes to human cockroaches. I knew of one drug dealer in 2002 that just "disappeared". The fear of God cleaned up that community at that time. I think you can make a link in thinking to this cancer and that of radical Islam. If society is going to go to war with elements that want to destroy it, society may as well go to war.

That being said, I think drugs should be legal as well as freedom of religion, just don't steal from me for your habit or threaten me to live by your insane beliefs.

Anonymous said...

That last sentence reflects my belief in the right to bear arms and self defense.

Craig Williamson said...

What you say regarding group/family/male/huntergatherer/salence of boots on the ground is very true. I agree that it is instinctual and is coming out in these groups you mention because the greater society is missing some things. My mother blames what is missing on the television, my prof seemed to blame it on the lack of male affection. I think that tattoos, piercings and other such items of "counter-culture" culture are also borne out of the same instinctual need to belong to a group.

In this era of the metro-sexual man there is indeed a great draw towards those with power. Scientists have observed something happening in the brain when people are exposed to the famous or notorious. We are drawn to it. We are drawn to leaders.

But, in this society we can hopefully apply some sort of logic to our choice of leader and ethics as well. Charismatic leaders often inspire those sorts of alpha feelings but perhaps we are getting past it.

Regarding those drug dealers going missing, I have a lot of sympathy for them. They didn't set out to be bad, they just became that way due to a lot of circumstances and drug dealers can be reformed. There are other groups that I have somewhat less sympathy for certain other groups, such as those who abuse children, those who use positions of power to dominate or control another person, and those who are responsible for acts of genocide including ethnic cleansing, forced pregnancies, and destruction of indigenous ways of life.

I think that as a society we have to limit our response to criminals regardless of how vile we consider their acts to be. That is also a biblical principal. Eye for an eye, not eye for a head. That's a limit on retribution. I do think that the Jesus idea of turning the other cheek is the ideal and in the long run causes less violence.

Regarding arms and drugs, I like both of them but I'm not sure if they are really good for society as a whole. My mother and father have lots of guns between the two of them and they have never once shot each other or anyone else. I used to work in a shooting range and fired all sorts of weapons, but never once did I even think about firing it at the asshole barking orders at me. Barking orders at a 16 year old with a loaded shot gun is probably not the best idea actually, but those who kill don't kill because they have the gun, they kill because they are messed up. Would they all kill if they didn't have guns? No, they couldn't. They would just want to. So, though guns are fun, some people just shouldn't them. I think about that with alcohol and drugs as well. Some people just because pests when they are on these things. Should we ban them? Maybe we should but for the fact that it will just cause more to go underground. Also, we'd have to look at what sorts of drugs. Marijuana isn't exactly a green leafy vegetable but it's not one of those manufactured tablets that the kids like either. Should some substance that is highly damaging be legal? Should I be able to set up a crack lab and peddle it on the street? Should the government regulate it? I think we need to keep the laws as they are and only make very minor steady as she goes adjustments from time to time in order to keep the laws relevant to public morality.

Anonymous said...

I think legal drugs would look like booze. You would get high quality at a reasonable price on the open market.

Really, when you look at Paxil and rest of that stuff you have to admit the West is drugged anyways. I noticed that Thailand elites are starting to consume the anti-depression drugs.

With personal choice and responsibility, if you want to bake your brain, go ahead. Don't expect me to pay for your medical bills however. If you steal and are violent to support you habit, you are sent to a private sector jail and work to earn you keep.

Booze is legal in countries that have a slight degree of personal freedom (those countries that do not allow booze are oppressive by any measure), most people do not show up drunk at work. The same would hold true for drugs.

Your crack lab would not survive in the open market.

Your Blog friend