REALITY?: Addition and Division

Garner is charged with assault, assault to a victim over 60 years old, two counts of credit card theft and larceny.   (

Every one of us has a cause that’s more important to us than another, a soft spot for the downtrodden or trait of a particular group. Children, ethnicity, gender, race, etc. This preference based on the same criteria that is used for prejudice issues is considered okay. I’ve always tended to champion the elderly. I do see a problem, however, when it becomes more than an individual choice, but rather the subject of group activism that adds laws that become biases in themselves.

I never understood the long-standing implications of shooting a police officer being more of a serious crime than shooting an innocent bystander. To me, the policeman is armed and expecting a confrontation with a possible outcome of losing his life. It’s not that he should expect to get shot, but his choice of profession put him in a position of higher risk. It also gave him a gun to defend himself. Why is his life worth more than the guy on the street who just happens to be in the bad guy’s way? Either way, there is the taking of one life by another. Somebody’s left grieving.

Why are there “hate crimes” when few assaults are committed out of anything but? To me, again, at least “hate” is a reason–if a horrid one–whereas I’m more troubled by those that kill someone because they just don’t have a respect for human life at all.

Getting back to the story and the seemingly on-the-books charge of “assault to a victim over 60 years old.” Despite its intent (probably being that someone over 60 is not as physically able to defend himself–and that’s questionable), what comes across is that victims over 60 are premium, given higher points, are more valuable and so it’s more serious a crime to knock one of ’em off than it would be to assault someone 40 years old, 30 years old, or even 59. Does that make sense? It’s the same thing with hate crimes based on race, gender; though I cannot help but agree in my gut that killing a child is more abhorrent and tragic.

What these laws do, to me, is to assign values to people’s lives and thus create a more obvious, legally defined inequality of the populace. A human being is a human being. Somebody’s mother, father, child, sibling, relative, friend. To divide us up into rings of a target is wrong somehow. Turning the murder of an individual into an issue subjugates life to a cause. It clouds the reality. And most importantly, it hinders justice. We will never really know if O.J. Simpson killed Nicole Brown Smith.

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