Friday, August 17, 2007

Outrageous Excuses

A week and a half ago I wrote about a gang shooting less than three miles from my home. Last Sunday the Standard Examiner included an article about a two-hour jailhouse interview with the 19-year old gang banger that is accused of being the shooter in that incident.

Reporter Tim Gurrister expertly includes statements from the interview that are intended to elicit an emotional response. Realizing that Gurrister’s 810-word article can only include a minute portion of the interview, I have waited a few days to write about this in order to hopefully achieve some objectivity. However, rather than becoming calmer about the gang banger’s statements, I find myself increasingly outraged.

Like almost all criminals, this 19-year-old waste of skin has his ‘story’ and blame casting techniques meant to justify his nefarious activities and to show that he has been incarcerated unjustly. But he stupidly tries to play both sides of the issue.

On one hand, “all he wanted to be was a gang member;” specifically a member of the same gang his father and grandfather belong to. Now, isn’t that special? Most Americans raise their kids to go to school, get a decent job, buy a home, and raise a family. Not these guys. They raise their kids to join gangs. Isn’t that sweet?

On the other hand, this creep blames the police for his gang involvement. When he was 13, his cousin was killed in a gang shooting that the police never solved. This injustice caused him to become more deeply involved in the gang. This is so screwed up on so many levels that it seems unnecessary to discuss it further.

Oh, and it’s also the fault of the police that gangs are using more guns rather than just fists and knives like they did in the good ol’ days. The creep asks, “Why don’t they do something to get all the guns off the streets?” It seems lost on our little banger that among the things they are doing is putting him behind bars. The police can’t turn off all the gangsta rap that idolizes gun violence.

But wait, he now says his confession was coerced and that he isn’t the real shooter. He admits he was in the car from which the shots were fired, but he says he didn’t pull the trigger. However, he’d rather go to prison than violate his gang’s code of silence by ratting out the real shooter. He is hoping to beat the rap and resume his regular life. I guess he’s never heard of being an accomplice to murder. Prosecutors feel confident enough of their case that they have filed aggravated murder charges, which could lead to the death penalty.

Of course, this dirt bag says the shooting would never have happened had not somebody at the post-wedding gathering insulted his gang. Naturally, this warranted spraying the crowd of 30+ people with bullets. The culture of honor that was once prevalent, particularly in the South and on the American frontier has been receding as a culture of law has taken precedence and society has come to understand the value of civil rights for all. But gangs relive this old culture of honor.

For example, it was once socially acceptable (and even socially demanded) that a man defend an insult to his family even to the death. Today, you can verbally insult my family and I will simply think you’re a jerk. I wouldn’t think about retaliating. If you do something illegal against my family, I will appeal to the legal system to resolve the issue. But I’m not going to shoot you. In gang culture, however, if someone says, “Your gang sucks,” you are obligated to kill him. What kind of screwed up culture is that?

Although he now wants to move away from the gang, the filthy little banger says that gang life is great. He touts his gang’s ethnic diversity. He makes it sound like a church, something one reader found quite objectionable (see here). His gang has family barbeques, for example. I enjoy taking my family to my local church cookouts, but I certainly don’t expect any of the attendees to be packing heat, nor am I worried that somebody from a rival church is going to drive by and start shooting at me and my kids.

This 19-year-old piece of human trash says that he has sired two children with his girlfriend of six years, and that they have a great life together. Perhaps copulating and creating a teen welfare queen has been this banger’s most significant income producing activity. Maybe second only to burglary. Are taxpayers subsidizing gang activity?

I realize that this guy needs to have his day in court and that it is imperative that appropriate legal standards be applied to his case. But this punk’s expressions are nothing short of outrageous. Prosecutors have told his defense attorneys that their client would do himself a favor by curtailing his public statements. In other words, get a clue, boy, and shut up. Besides, the guy is a gang member. How much of what he says publicly can be trusted?

Meanwhile, creep boy sits in jail, where he rubs shoulders with other gangstas and learns how to be a better filth bag. His homies on the outside, cruising around in their low riders with their guns in their waistbands hail him as a hero.

We cannot outlaw gangs. They have a constitutional right to gather and associate. But they have no right to perform illegal acts. Although they may have family picnics, crime is the main goal of gangs (see here). This warrants keeping an eye on them so they can be caught when they cross the line of legality.

Some experts argue that using a heavy hand against gangs has proven to be counterproductive because gangs thrive on rebellion. The more they feel the authorities push, the stronger they become and the more they push back. These same people cite studies showing that prisons are gang factories, where gangstas earn their badges of honor and become harsher criminals. These criticisms are perhaps well founded, but ignoring gang activity doesn’t work either.

The question is how to achieve a cultural shift. How do we make a culture of rebellion less enticing to those that currently go in for that kind of thing?


Voice of Utah said...

Very insightful. Wish I had an answer for your last question.

Bradley said...

Wow, I don't think I've seen you this steamed in a post before!

I'd love to read more of your analysis and thinking on the thoughts you raised in your last two paragraphs.