I recently watched a PPV movie on DirectTV staring Denzel Washington of course. The title caught my eye, and my mind threw up flashes of the ’70’s TV show The Equalizer, about a good samaritan, fairly well off so he had free time on his hands to utilize his skills to assist people wronged and suffering injustice.
Well, Denzil’s character does deal harshly with some wrong-doers. However, he himself is a paid spook assassin for a US agency, and only the focus of who gets killed comes into play. In the end, members of his old team are trying to kill him! Of course, his character is painted as a rational, in-touch with the world around him sort of fellow you’d meet on the landing of your apartment building. Compassionate even.
This was just another example of the line up of movies Hollywood spits out to corrupt the way we think. I admit I’m nearly persuaded. Diabolical characters are more and more portrayed as having a measure of human empathy and compassion, who find themselves in plot scenarios where we find ourselves siding with them, hoping, even desiring them to vanquish that other foe before they bite the dust. Hollywood has given us bad guy heros, the lesser of two evils!
I kind of enjoyed movies of the past where the distinctions were clear. Which brings me to my topic. America has undergone gradual change in the way we look at criminals and criminal behavior. When many states abrogated the death penalty, our penal institutions became laboratories for the criminally insane. Instead of removing the leven of evil, we’ve kept it around, festering. Civil rights activists lobbied for better treatment of inmates to the point of ridiculousness! All the while, hoping the rate of recidivism would drop. A non-sequitur.
What infuriates me the most is that for fifty years state and local governments have been throwing our taxpayer dollars at a system which allows these incarcerated miscreants to become smarter, wiser, stronger and more determined to do their evil craft, believing that the saving of ‘a few souls’ in the process is an enactment of justice. Case in point.
I subscribed to an archaeology journal focusing on the middle-east. In one instance, a ‘scholarly’ reader post came from an inmate in California. Having killed someone in a gang fight he got 20yrs or so. Now this guy begs, borrows and does whatever to obtain any materials pertaining to Egypt. Self-taught, he becomes a sought-after ‘expert’ Egyptologist! Ok, one out of many. But here’s the rub, how did we move away from those good ol’ days, when incarcerated criminals were chained to one another busting rocks for the new county road? Sheriff Joe Arpaio over there in AZ had the right idea: a man doesn’t eat if he doesn’t work!
My family worked all our lives, we even paid back our student loans! Sure would have been nice for you bunch of taxpayers to cover our living expenses so we’d have all the free time in the world to pursue advanced education! Who paid for my schooling and that of my wife? Continued physical fitness, or our recreational / entertainment needs? The clothes we wear, the food we eat, the beds we sleep upon? Excepting we grasp our role in society, we’d be on the streets with the homeless. So why the preferential treatment of sociopaths?
Here’s a thought. Every day we hear of another municipality or city going broke. We hear of the need for millions if not billions more dollars to fix the infrastructure of services, e.g. water pipes, sewer pipes, communications, etc not to mention the pot-holes and roadways needing repair or replacement. When is the establishment going to wake up to the axiom, if a man doesn’t work he doesn’t (shouldn’t) eat! We need more sheriff clones like Joe Arpaio to bring back the good ol’ days: tethered criminals with balls and chains!