Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Keeping crime safe, legal & rare

Bill Clinton famously said that abortion ought to be safe, legal, and rare. Given his creative relation to the truth, it's not surprising that he only made good on promise out of three.

Certainly he did all he could to keep it legal. And that's only to be expected. Promiscuous men support abortion because they don't wish to get stuck with the consequences of their one-night stands.

Whether abortion is safe, I cannot say, for the abortionist has no pressing incentive to refer any cases of malpractice to his insurance company, and the liberal media is no more motivated to report on such claims.

In any event, abortion is far from rare. Had Roe v. Wade been in place when his mother was with child, Bill would probably not be around to make this statement since a pregnant widow faces the sort of financial hardship that the abortion lobby makes a poster-girl for its cause.

But whatever Clinton's sincerity, or lack thereof, this sentiment is widespread in the liberal establishment. We're told that since certain forms of behavior are inevitable, we should legalize such conduct, regulate it, and thereby reduce it. The operating assumption is that people should be shielded from the consequences of their lifestyle choices. The duty of the state is to save them from themselves.

This is the argument for abortion. This is the argument for needle exchange programs. This is the argument for the free distribution of contraceptives in the public school system. This is the argument for legalizing prostitution, and gambling, and drug-use, and so on and so forth.

Now it's not to my immediate purpose to say what should or should not be criminalized or decriminalized. Instead, I'll just extend this line of reasoning to another case in point.

For Clinton might just well have said that we should make bank robbery safe, legal, and rare. This platform rests on impeccable liberal reasoning.

To begin with, liberals assume that people steal because people are poor, and they are poor because they are the victims of tragic circumstances. Society has failed them. The system let them down.

Hence, they're entitled to financial reparations. Bank robbery is just another form of affirmative action.

Indeed, socialism believes in income distribution, and this is about as direct a method as you can get.

In addition, every good liberal will tell you that violence breeds a cycle of violence. And surely a bank heist is a showcase example. Think of all the innocent victims, the collateral damage, that happens when a robbery goes bad. The teller is shot, the security guard is wounded or killed. Customers are killed or injured in the cross-fire. The get-away car may run over pedestrians or crash into other cars. And the police, in hot pursuit, must also engage in reckless driving.

And what about the forgotten victim—the bank robber, who is so often injured or killed in the line of action? He was just trying to feed his family or his drug-habit. Addiction is involuntary. A junkie can't help himself. He deserves treatment, not punishment. He shouldn't have to risk his life to support his drug habit.

To patrol a bank with armed guards and off-duty policemen elevates the value of property rights above the value of human life. What could be more illiberal than that?

Moreover, there have always been robbers. When they weren't robbing banks, they were picking pockets, snatching purses, or looting the pyramids.

Like sodomy, there's a small, but steady statistical percentage of bank robbers in every generation. Why fight a losing battle? Why these futile punitive measures?

Clearly we need a massive government overhaul of the entire institution of bank robbery. The time is long overdue to put in some major reform measures:

1. Policemen and security guards should be disarmed. Gun-toting guards and policemen make bank robbers nervous and trigger-happy. The solution is selective gun control.

2. Just as financial institutions have banking hours, they should have bank-robbery hours. Bank robbers ought to be able to make reservations to rob their local bank. That way they wouldn't need to wait in a long line, which makes them impatient—or cut in line, which is impolite.

Or they could have their very own window—just as some banks set aside a window for entrepreneurs. All the bank robbers could cue up and form their own line.

3. Hours should be flexible to suits the needs and convenience of the robber.

4. Free reserved parking should be made available. If the robber doesn't own a car, and the bank isn't within easy walking distance, free transportation should be provided. Perhaps a monthy bus pass.

3. Soothing music should play in the background.

4. Coffee and cookies should be provided.

5. Security cameras ought to be turned off since this makes robbers agitated.

6. Robbers should be issued standardized forms. Too often, scribbled, hand-written notes are illegible or full of misspellings, which fosters miscommunication and frustration.

7. Robbers should be treated as customers, not as beggars. Charity is demeaning and humiliating. Robbers are human too, you know. There's no reason to treat them as second-class citizens. It injures their self-esteem.

Tellers should be instructed to address the robber as "Sir" or "Ma'am," and say "please" and "thank you" with each transaction.

8. The identity of the robber ought to be kept confidential to avoid social stigma. Schools and businesses should hold mandatory sensitivity seminars on the courteous and affirming treatment of robbers. Derogatory remarks need to be criminalized as hate-speech.

Once this pilot project is successfully implemented, the same techniques could be applied to counterterrorism. There is no need for terrorists to make such a mess of things, or governments to be so belligerent.

Governments need to forge a working relationship with terrorist networks, based on mutual respect. Attacks should be carefully coordinated between official agencies and responsible terrorist cells. The terrorist has a right to express his grievances, but without undue dislocation to the infrastructure. Cities should be targeted on a rotating basis to share the burden. Scientific consultants ought to be assigned to terrorist organizations. Laboratories and other support service facilities should be provided free of charge, but under appropriate supervision. Authorities ought to make maps, blueprints, tech manuals, schematics, and smart-bombs available to terrorist entities in order to maximize the message while minimizing the disruption to vital goods and services. After all, your average terrorist has to eat and drink as well. So this is a win-win proposition all around.

Financing is a common problem for terrorist organizations. They often resort to drug trafficking to make the pay roll. Government grants should be made available. This would cut down on drug running.

Free plane tickets and special express visas should be issued to overseas terrorists. Airlines ought to offer frequent flier points to hijackers. Low cost housing, situated near the target, along with food stamps and green cards, should also be provided as a way of winning hearts and minds, as well as making a terrorist strike more efficient and cost-effective. There's way too much waste, fraud, red-tape and unnecessary duplication to modern-day terrorism. Terrorists who play by the rules would receive merit pay and civic awards—maybe a chance to star on American Idol or The Apprentice—as an incentive to keep up the good work.

Suicide bombers should be issued vouchers to visit a good barber or dentist before they videotape their last will and testament. Right now they're just not ready for Prime Time.

The citizenry, especially big city dwellers, need to be taught that submission to a precision-guided terrorist attack is a civic duty, as part of the process of bringing some proportionality and predictability to terrorism. A measure of self-sacrifice is in the interests of the common good. That should be incorporated in the core curriculum of public education.

Needless to say, such a global enterprise would be a multilateral effort, demanding the full participation of the EU and UN.

An international collaboration between Western nations and state sponsors of terrorism holds out the promise of keeping terrorism safe, legal, and rare.

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