BOB RINEARSON: When does a crime stop being a crime? Answer: It doesn’t
Does a crime stop being a crime if we simply stop calling it a crime?
In definition, a crime is described as an unlawful act that the state can act upon, meaning prosecute and issue a penalty.
But if the state either overturns a law which makes an act, an indulgence or behavior a crime, or refuses to prosecute the person or persons who breaks the written law, then does the crime simply stop being a crime.
But when a crime committed, that also means that there is a victim, right? Does the victimization end?
We can talk about such crimes such as murder, theft, burglary and rape, and it seems simple enough to say that whenever one of these exploits is committed, then it is also simple enough to recognize a victim.
Of course the victim is often just an individual. Joey gets a gun stuck in his face, his wallet is taken involuntarily and wham, Joey is now the victim of a crime. Of course, it may not only be an individual, but a whole family who is victimized. Wilson gets drunk and reacts when his wife is crabbing that he forgot to mow the yard. So Frank gets upset, and slugs his wife repeatedly, all the while his 3-year-old daughter and 6-year-old son watches. The police arrive and the kids now get to watch as daddy has his hands hand cuffed behind his back and mommy is placed in the back of an ambulance. In the meantime, the children are taken to the police station while the facts are sorted out and interviewed by representatives of the Division of Child Services. Ultimately, grandparents are called to come and take the children, who then must explain (perhaps falsely) that everything with mommy and daddy is going to be alright. The children can only hope.
But then it may be that an entire community becomes the victim. Ginny, who is loved by all of her neighbors is found shot to death inside the walls of her bedroom. Ginny and her neighbors believed their neighborhood to be safe. Aside from patrolling the streets, the police seldom were called. The neighbors fearing the unknown, now invest in security cameras and deadbolts. They hear and see things that never before struck a nerve. From an individual, to a family, to a community, paranoia tightens its grip.
If a legislature suddenly one day announces that robbery, burglary and murder were no longer criminal acts, would that change the landscape, at least in the eyes of the victims of such atrocious acts? Of course not.
But there are crimes, or former crimes that our legislators have overturned or refused to enforce. And despite all the assurances from politicians, academics, activists, and media personalities, there are individuals, families and communities that continue to be victimized.
First are the drug laws. Special interest groups such as NORML have for decades launched well financed campaigns to change the public and the political attitudes so that those who want to enjoy their drug induced vice can continue to do so without fear of consequence. So-called experts describe drug crimes as victimless. Then they reach into their pocket of tricks and announce that marijuana is a miracle cure for everything from anxiety to colon cancer. Despite what we were told, drug dealers continue to sell on the street corners and in the neighborhoods where children play. Individuals continue to light up marijuana joints to hold them over until they can get ahold of something stronger. Users still overdose, nowadays over and over again thanks to Narcan. Families still break up when the savings are gone and the addicted family member empties the savings accounts or loses their job. But the laws are changing to benefit those who have surrendered to their love of escaping reality, from Colorado to Canada.
And of course we have the hotly contested illegal immigration problem. Illegal in name only, according to the progressives who want open borders to everyone, including terrorists and drug cartels. Celebrities describe the notorious, border hopping Salvadorian street gang MS-13 as a group “only parents have heard of.” Parents, that is, of children who have been tortured and slaughtered by the notorious street gang known for their lust for violence. But when those who want the immigration laws enforced to keep the criminal gangs and drug runners out of this country, they are ridiculed as racists or, even worse, ignored by a congress who refuses to stand by, strengthen or enforce the laws they pass.
So believe what you want to believe, that such laws against such crimes should either be struck down or ignored. But there is a whole caste of victims throughout this country who believe otherwise. Perhaps you should be so lucky, that you will never have to share their status.
Bob Rinearson is a resident of Fort Wayne and worked 38 years in both educational and correctional settings in areas of student management and security.