Sunday, October 08, 2006

Scumbags

A few months ago, my guitar got stolen.

Let me explain just how much that pissed me off.

First of all, it was an expensive guitar. A Gibson SG to be exact. I’d got a really good deal on it (It cost me the equivalent of $500), but to replace, it’ll cost me well over $1000…in fact, closer to $2000

Second, it was the first guitar I’d bought myself. I’d owned others (In a way, still do, but they’re back in England). However, this was my first ‘quality’ guitar. My others where hand-me-down acoustics, and those pressed fiber-board $100 dollar electric jobs.

This was a Gibson SG…solid Rosewood. I’d had it since I was 17.

Then, to ship it to the USA, I had to buy an expensive, special order, full flight-spec case. Not only to make sure that it didn’t get damaged in transport…but because the shipping company refused to insure it with anything less. This, in American Dollars, cost me roughly $400.

Last, and by no means least, this was my guitar. The musicians in the audience will know what I mean. I could get another Gibson, but it wouldn’t be the same. My Gibson is different to all the other Gibsons out there. You probably wouldn’t be able to tell the difference if I put my guitar and another of the same model in your hands, but the point is I could.

If you’ll indulge me and allow me to get a little poetic for a moment, when you get a new instrument, you pour a lot of yourself into it. It stops being an object made of wood and metal, it becomes almost like a friend.

Basically, to replace, the whole lot would cost me close to $2500. However, and this is the rub, it’s not something that can actually be replaced.

There’s the analogy I’m looking for. It’s like a beloved family pet dying or running away. You can get another dog, the same breed and everything…but it’s not your pet. It looks the same, but the personality is different.

Anyway, where am I going with this?

Well, my guitar probably found its way into a Pawn shop and was probably bought for less than a hundred dollars. Even if they caught the bastard that took it, it’s doubtful he’d do any jail time.

I think the law should be changed.

Basically, if you go into someone’s house or car, and steal something that belongs to them, you should go to jail…for a minimum of 5 to 10 years.

I don’t care what the monetary value of the object taken is. Whether it’s a valuable family heirloom or a $50 car stereo. If you take something that belongs to someone else, you should be punished…severely.

Now many people will think this is too extreme. That the punishment should fit the crime, and that if someone steals something that’s easy to replace, they shouldn’t be doing so much jail time…if they go to jail at all

Here’s the thing though. I don’t care.

Before I continue, let me be absolutely clear on this. I’m not writing from the point of view of someone who has had a prized possession stolen, and is pissed and wanting revenge. My guitar vanished months ago. The initial shock and anger has long since worn off.

No, I’m writing this from the position of someone who is pissed off because we’re living in a society where someone can walk into someone’s house, take their DVD player, and know that in the highly unlikely event of them actually getting caught…they’ll be out stealing more shit within 24 hours.

Basically, I don’t care if people think 10 years for stealing is too extreme. If you don’t wanna go to jail, stop stealing other people’s stuff. It’s that simple.

People talk about crime like it’s a thing. An unstoppable phenomenon.

It’s not, it’s just a minority group of people who think they’re above the law, and too lazy to actually earn things the right way.

(Before I get hate-mail…When I say minority, I mean a small percentage of the population…I don’t mean ‘minority groups or anything racial)

Question…

Does someone who steals someone’s car deserve to go to jail for five to ten years?

But before you answer that, answer this:

Did the person who actually went out to work, earned their money and saved to buy that car deserve to have it taken from them by someone who is too lazy or stupid to buy a car of their own?

It’s something I’m sick to death of; A legal system that protects the ‘rights’ of the criminal more than the victim.

I’m tired of hearing the stories about fathers who punch out a burglar, and then get prosecuted for assault. I’m tired of hearing the stories of burglars who break into people’s houses, slip on a wet floor, and successfully sue the home owners for ‘damages’. I’m tired of hearing of habitual criminals, constantly being let off with what amounts to a slap on the wrist

Here’s the deal. If you openly disobey society’s laws, you have no right to expect them to protect you. If you don’t want to get punished, don’t do the fucking crime in the first place.

I remember reading an interview with a member of a street gang once. I’ll paraphrase, but here’s the gist of what he said:

“Walking around talking on a cell-phone. You might as well be walking around holding two hundred-dollar bills to your ear. It’s how I make a living. What’s my other choice? Go to McDonalds and flip burgers all day for minimum wage? I don’t think so.”

Read that, and if it doesn’t make you angry, it should.

What this guy is essentially saying is that he doesn’t want to earn things legally. Why should he, when he can let everyone else do it, and then just take the things he wants from them?

Basically, this guy is saying “The legal way is too hard and takes too much effort, so I’ll just let everyone else work, and steal from them.”

I mean, is this a “not knowing the value of a dollar” thing? I mean, I look at my possessions, and they mean more to me than their actual cost, because I can remember the amount of work I had to get them. My TV isn’t all that expensive, but it represents a couple of weeks slaving in my cublicle at my old job.

My guitar represents months of work at a job that I hated.

That’s what these people don’t understand.

They may be taking an ‘object’. It might not be very expensive or valuable…but it represents the time it took for the real owner to earn it. Not to mention the incalculable sentimental value.

Put it this way. If I still had my guitar, no one could offer me enough money to give it up. Not only did it take me months of work to earn enough to buy it, it was mine, a highly personal and treasured object…worth much more to me that its intrinsic value.

That’s what these people should be punished for. Not it’s ‘blue-book’ value.

You couldn’t have bought that guitar from me for $100,000. How much prison time would you do for stealing that?

We need a ‘No-Tolerance’ policy right across the board. I don’t care about the sob story that ‘turned’ you to crime. I don’t want to hear “It was only worth $50! It’s not worth prosecuting.”

The truth is, these people are society’s leeches. They get rich off our hard work.

Make the punishment so severe that they’ll think twice.

Even if the deterent theory doesn’t work…I’d rather pay higher taxes to make sure these people are punished. I’d rather lose a few hundred dollars out of my taxes every year and know the scumbags are rotting behind bars, than lose a single possession to them that’s worth a single dollar.

5 comments:

OzzyC said...

I agree that we're an entitlement society and that we're too soft on criminals. Unfortunately, supply and demand wouldn't let us implement your solution. We'd have to increase taxes, and your proposal would drain the labor pool even further. It would be easier if the victims could kill the perpetrator if caught in the act.

Paulius said...

Definately sounds like a plan to me, Ozzy.

At the very least, if I ever catch up with whoever took my guitar, they can say goodbye to their kneecaps and thumbs.

MC Etcher said...

Sorry to hear about your guitar!

Aro said...

Make your punishments as severe as you like and they'll just exploited in some manner.

Imagine how easy it would be to frame someone you didn't like as stealing your pack of pencil crayons.

And then they go to jail for ten years. Their life isn't over, but ten years in jail definetly puts you on a different path and takes ten good years out of your life.

But yes, they shouldn't have done it. Well, a lot of people do things they shouldn't have done. A lot of people have things that they never earned. And for the most part, the people with the most money are the ones that have worked the least for those dollars.

Will the world be a better place if petty thieves suffer public executions? Will the world be a better place because there are harsher penalties for all forms of theft?

I don't see how. I don't see how that will create understanding or compassion. I don't see how that will create anything other than more dangerous criminals -- because now who cares if you're caught for stealing a VCR - okay it would suck (for you), but your life won't end. However, how about if your life is over if you're caught? Willing to take it that extra step?

Nobody knows everything. No one knows all sides of a conflict. No one can.

That's why you need to keep your perspective. It doesn't matter that your guitar was stolen. Your guitar wasn't a person, or an animal. It didn't cry when it was stolen.

Yes, you were hurt..but life can be harsh, and sometimes you can't get the answers you want. And it's only a guitar -- and you should learn to move on and buy a new guitar -- and no, it won't be the same, but it will still be 'your friend', if you let it.

I guess the reason why I was inticed into ranting here is because you don't know why whoever stole your guitar stole your guitar, but because of it you're willing to throw away your humanity and be more ruthless against people you cannot relate to.

Besides, you got that guitar for $500 and it was worth $2000. In another perspective, you stole $1500 when you bought that guitar.

A lot of people would have loved to get that same deal too.

I think you should be happy you had that guitar at all, and move on. At least no one was hurt.

You are what you eat and right now you're eating a big bowl of vengence.

Paulius said...

Thank you Aro, for pointing out everything wrong with people's attitudes and our legal system.

I, the victim, should just get over it and count my blessings...and the criminal who walked into my house and took a very valuable and above all irreplaceable possession should be pitied because he's obviously 'misunderstood'.

As for me 'stealing' $1500. Are you on crack? Where you high when you wrote that?

I walked into a store and paid the advertised price. If it had been more, I'd have paid more. If it had been more than I could afford, it would have stayed in the store.

So what was this guy's 'motivation' for stealing? Was he starving? Then why did he walk past the fridge? On drugs? Well, no one put a gun to his head and forced him to suck on a crack pipe.

Criminals do not deserve pity, understanding or compassion. They're a boil on society.

...and until we as a society make crime unacceptable, instead of trying to 'understand' these people...crime will never stop.