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September 21, 2010 7:02 AM   Subscribe

When a thief stole a backpack and a GPS unit from Amanda Enayati's car, he picked the wrong target to mess with.

Enayati, a journalist, writer, cancer survivor and former solo child refugee from Iran, didn't take it lying down. Looking on Craigslist, she found an ad for a GPS that looked suspiciously like hers. Following the advertiser's email address, she found that he had also used it for signing up to a "low-rent dating site". From there, it was a short distance to his and his dubious friends' MySpace profiles, and enough evidence to put him behind bars.
posted by acb (222 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

 
Sometimes the good guys do win and the bad guys get caught, life isn't total shit. Thanks for posting.
posted by Fizz at 7:07 AM on September 21, 2010


He's several months into a two-year sentence.

There is so much pain in the world. And it just keeps going round and round and ......
posted by kuatto at 7:09 AM on September 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


There is so much pain in the world. And it just keeps going round and round and ......

Do you have a better alternative to imprisoning him?
posted by acb at 7:13 AM on September 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


There is so much pain in the world. And it just keeps going round and round and ......

what
posted by OmieWise at 7:14 AM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


And it just keeps going round and round and ......

It's not like there's a law of conservation of being a dick. He made a choice.
posted by mhoye at 7:19 AM on September 21, 2010 [21 favorites]


Two years? Can I assume he can broker himself a good-behavior deal after six months or something? He's a thief and a bastard, for sure, but holy crap if this is a first strike, that is an enormous waste of space and money. Someone who steals a bag from an unlocked car seems to be a prime candidate for Learning His Lesson without having to spend two years in the slammer.

Low-Rent Dating: Where Section Eighters meet Sexy Seniors.
posted by griphus at 7:20 AM on September 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


I think this just goes to show that MySpace users are idiots.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:21 AM on September 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


Someone in Toronto did the Craigslist thing too, after someone stole his iPhone:

A few days later, “on a hunch,” Bostelaar checked Craigslist. “Somebody had posted an ad, in Richmond Hill, selling a phone the exact same as mine,” he says. Posing as a potential buyer, Bostelaar set up an appointment to meet him at a McDonald’s. “He swaggers in, sits down, and I shake his hand,” Bostelaar says. After checking the phone’s serial number, which confirmed it was his, Bostelaar confronted him, slipping the iPhone into his pocket. “He’s saying, ‘Give me back the phone,’ ” Bostelaar says. “I’m saying, ‘Dude, it’s not going to happen.’ ” Bostelaar’s friend called the police. Bostelaar admits it was “kind of dumb” to pull off this sting operation, but he has his phone again.
posted by Beardman at 7:24 AM on September 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Why would he post pictures of his girlfriend on a dating site?
2 years for stealing a GPS? Boy that's harsh, but not undeserved.
posted by DZ-015 at 7:25 AM on September 21, 2010


It wasn't a first strike. The article says the police "recognized him immediately because our boy was on probation."
posted by TheophileEscargot at 7:27 AM on September 21, 2010 [23 favorites]


I agree with kuatto. I don't see this as any kind of a victory. A young man going to prison for 2 years for stealing a GPS unit? Sure it's habitual behaviour, but then again so is this and she's not in jail.

The system is broken. Youth unemployment runs rampant yet still the temptations dance before them. What would you expect to happen?

It is of the arrogance of the average US citizen to presume that in this time of social upheaval their rights are to remain as primary. That is an idealistic and enforceable case however the pursuit of that goal will result in another youth, fresh out of jail in two years, with more advanced forms of criminality and fewer moral qualms about that.

Success!
posted by nickrussell at 7:28 AM on September 21, 2010 [8 favorites]


Two days later I got a call at 7 a.m. Inspector Vargas had run Johnny Boi's photo by the San Mateo police. They recognized him immediately because our boy was on probation.

He was on probation, so it's not a first offense, and by stealing somebody's stuff, he was in violation of his probation.
posted by Comrade_robot at 7:28 AM on September 21, 2010 [8 favorites]


There is something very crowd-pleasing about catching a thief red-handed. I saw a comedian tell a similar story at one of Eugene Mirman's shows at the Bell House, about how being robbed and catching the robber made him feel awesome but also a bit like a yuppie schmuck ("they stole our iPad, and we'd barely used it yet!").

And yeah, it does suck that a guy is in prison - he's a father to a child! a fiancé to a fiancée! - but it's not as if he's there for civil disobedience.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:30 AM on September 21, 2010


I'm sorry but I have no sympathy for this criminal. And that is what he is, a criminal because he committed a crime. He was on probation and so it shows that the justice/legal system did give him a second chance at life, he made a choice to disregard this opportunity and so now he's back in the system.
posted by Fizz at 7:30 AM on September 21, 2010 [7 favorites]


The article says the police "recognized him immediately because our boy was on probation."

God dammit. Why can't we exile people anymore? He needs to be punished but somehow paying nearly six figures to lock this dude up for stealing, what, some cash, (canceled) credit cards, a GPS and a BlackBerry?
posted by griphus at 7:31 AM on September 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Excellent detective work! Although, it does make me worried about just how much someone on the 'Net could find out about me if they wanted. If they haven't already...
posted by ralenys at 7:31 AM on September 21, 2010


I do not think this is a case where someone happened to see a bag and decided, right there and then, to begin a life of petty crime.

From the article: "I made sure to point out Johnny Boi's friend Tatiana's comment from three months back: 'Dude!!! How do you not work? You win the freak'n lotto??? If yes, you need to be spreadin the love.'" This suggests that Johnny Boi was not possessed of a regular job.

In one possible scenario, he is living off of carefully-hoarded savings. Since one stolen GPS does not provide enough money to live on for several months and allow for the purchase of a time machine so that one can retroactively provide money for that period of unemployment, the other potential scenario is that he has been ripping people off for several months.
posted by adipocere at 7:31 AM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Boy, will the internet be happy when they hear my long story about a stolen GPS!!!
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 7:32 AM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Griphus, the article mentions he was already on probation, this doesn't sound like it was a first strike.
posted by saladin at 7:32 AM on September 21, 2010


2 years for stealing a GPS...while on probation for an unrelated crime. The message on his MySpace from the friend wondering how he gets by without a job suggests he's done a few other crimes for which he *should* be doing time. Sorry, Johnny Boi gets no sympathy from these quarters and not just because he's a MySpace-cadet.

Kudos to Amanda Enayati for being just pissed off enough to pursue this.
posted by squasha at 7:32 AM on September 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


somehow
posted by griphus at 7:33 AM on September 21, 2010


But here's a note to aspiring thieves: If you're going to steal someone's personal items(...) that person would probably prefer you just dump it all in the trash.

Aspiring thieves, if you're reading this thread, I for one still prefer "easily findable on a neighbour's lawn," if it's all the same.
posted by Shepherd at 7:33 AM on September 21, 2010 [19 favorites]


I know this is sort of a shitty reaction, but at least he stole a backpack and a GPS out of an unlocked car, rather than the rat bastard who broke a bunch of car windows and ripped out stereos in my neighborhood. The total haul from our car, if everything was new? Which it wasn't? Around 300 bucks. Our total cost to repair the damage? $600
posted by muddgirl at 7:34 AM on September 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


Does this really need to be yet another LOLPRISONSUX thread? (IAMNOTANTIREHABILITATIONIST)

The thing I wonder about is if it's really this easy to catch people selling stolen stuff on the interwebs, why aren't the police routinely monitoring craigslist, ebay etc for stolen goods?
posted by public at 7:34 AM on September 21, 2010


Oh no! A thief is going to prison!

my heart, it bleeds!
posted by sonic meat machine at 7:36 AM on September 21, 2010 [7 favorites]


It is of the arrogance of the average US citizen to presume that in this time of social upheaval their rights are to remain as primary. That is an idealistic and enforceable case however the pursuit of that goal will result in another youth, fresh out of jail in two years, with more advanced forms of criminality and fewer moral qualms about that.

Yeah, I heard he had gone legit and applied to seminary.
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:39 AM on September 21, 2010


Shit don't stop
posted by kuatto at 7:42 AM on September 21, 2010


That read like an Affleck movie: big hype coupled with beautiful background story and then a lazy "everything kinda worked itself out" ending.

TIL: McDonald's has developed one of the best restaurant surveillance systems in the entire world.

Is that true?
posted by jsavimbi at 7:42 AM on September 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


public: "why aren't the police routinely monitoring craigslist, ebay etc for stolen goods?"

Too busy? the article mentions that the detective working the case was only on 4 days a week (off weekends+Monday) due to budget. Plus, he probably has more work on his docket because the squad probably let some guys go, or at least stopped hiring new guys. There is only so much they can do in their 32 hour week. And most of that probably goes to murders and violent crime, at the very least not small potatoes like this guy.
posted by I am the Walrus at 7:44 AM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


God dammit. Why can't we exile people anymore?

You're going to feel really dumb when that guy turns his life around and cures cancer someday.
posted by Naberius at 7:45 AM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Can you see how that someone might be way more twisted than you?

I kind of love her.
posted by sugarfish at 7:45 AM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]




You're going to feel really dumb when that guy turns his life around and cures cancer someday.

OK, I know that I've made some pretty big claims for Fresh People Slurry, but c'mon, I don't think you can point to a single instance where I've said it cures cancer. I admit, we do have hopes for the latest research, but at this point we cannot conclusively say that Fresh People Slurry cures cancer, and I'm not afraid to admit that.
posted by aramaic at 7:49 AM on September 21, 2010 [6 favorites]


It is of the arrogance of the average US citizen to presume that in this time of social upheaval their rights are to remain as primary.

This is an incredibly stupid statement for a number of reasons, but for the sake of brevity I’d like to remind you that it's concomitant arrogance to presume any reoccurrence of your standard gee-I-like-it-when-bad-guys-get-caught news copy is the byproduct of a caricatured American Puritanism.
posted by tiger yang at 7:50 AM on September 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


But here's a note to aspiring thieves: If you're going to steal someone's personal items -- the BlackBerry with contact information for dear old friends, the wedding anniversary wallet that her husband bought her when she finished chemo, stuffed with about two years' worth of love letters from her toddlers, hopeful doctors' notes, and other scraps of paper she couldn't bear to part with -- that person would probably prefer you just dump it all in the trash. Because finding fragments of your private life on people's yards and scattered on the street, in the shrubs and gutters, is a unique kind of psychological torment

This is the paragraph that made me (very bitchily indeed) mutter, "Oh brother." I loathe this writing device (if it is one -- I've seen it in a lot of magazine articles). Not knowing it's proper name, I would call it "making a mountain out of a molehill." Obviously the thief wasn't interested in psychologically tormenting anybody as he was getting to the valuable goods. But no, this lady is so precious and darling that she has to attach meaning to everything. I find it annoying. Lady, you got robbed. Period. No one knew you had cancer or that your husband bought you whatever after chemo. I feel like she's manipulating the reader by dropping that in there.
posted by anniecat at 7:50 AM on September 21, 2010 [10 favorites]


McDonald's has developed one of the best restaurant surveillance systems in the entire world.

Is that true?

Well, "restaurant" is a hell of a qualifier.
posted by Shepherd at 7:52 AM on September 21, 2010 [32 favorites]


That read like an Affleck movie

I was thinking a Max Fischer play.
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 7:53 AM on September 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


We need to figure out a more financially efficient way of dealing with small time crooks. Putting him in prison for even six months is roughly 20 grand in California. If he has a family that depends on his theft then they go on food stamps and use up other governmental services for many thousands more. Shouldn't the government take half of that money and use it to teach this scoundrel some form of legal trade? Then have them pay 10% of that first year salary into some kind of fund that compensates crime victims for their trouble. I know that this idea lends itself to corruption but there has to be a more enlightened way to deal with non-violent crime besides cutting off a hand or a 2 year prison sentence.
posted by any major dude at 7:53 AM on September 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Anniecat,

Yeah, she got robbed. But getting robbed is these things she mentions. To the thief it's just a few bucks but to her it's all her memories. I think it is definitely an uncharitable reading to say that she attaches meaning to "everything" when the things she mentions are items such as letters her toddler wrote and a gift from her husband when she finished chemo.

I used to know some methheads that routinely broke into cars and stole stuff. The callous disregard for what other people find valuable and is not to you, and so either discarded or destroyed, is one of the evils of this kind of crime.
posted by josher71 at 7:55 AM on September 21, 2010 [19 favorites]


> Prison is totally unnecessary.

As for the thief, the male and the female, amputate their hands in recompense for what they committed as a deterrent from Allah. And Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise.


You know, if you're going to cherry pick verses like that then at least have the decency to post the very next one:
But whoever repents after his wrongdoing and reforms, indeed, Allah will turn to him in forgiveness. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.
In all of the the verses of the Quran suggesting punitive or retributive measures, there is invariably another verse immediately following that counsels that forgiveness and mercy are superior. It's a shame that countries like KSA gleefully pursue the former while omitting the latter, but both are offered as a possible continuum.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:56 AM on September 21, 2010 [10 favorites]




I finished the article. Boy, this lady is some classist and pretty impressed with herself while snarking on people who aren't well educated and in a different class and who do stupid shit. She should consider writing differently. Comparing chemotherapy to a concentration camp? They really aren't analogous (I get the obvious pain and anxiety metaphor but it makes me uncomfortable---not the same kind) and I could see why it would be really offensive to compare them. so she might want to rethink/rewrite this thing.
posted by anniecat at 8:02 AM on September 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


We need to figure out
a more financially efficient way
of dealing with small time crooks.
Why not simply force him
to ingest a magic potion
to turn him into a GPS
and then imprison him in a car?
Recalculating...
Recalculating...
Detour found for justice...
Estimated arrival time:
FOR ALL TIME
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:04 AM on September 21, 2010 [14 favorites]


God dammit. Why can't we exile people anymore?

He was exiled. He stole the GPS to find his way home!
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:04 AM on September 21, 2010


God dammit. Why can't we exile people anymore?

Naberius : You're going to feel really dumb when that guy turns his life around and cures cancer someday.

Wouldn't his turning his life around and curing cancer be an indication that exiling him was a good thing to do then?

I'm just being pedantic for the sake of doing it...
posted by quin at 8:05 AM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


God dammit. Why can't we exile people anymore? He needs to be punished but somehow paying nearly six figures to lock this dude up for stealing, what, some cash, (canceled) credit cards, a GPS and a BlackBerry?

TO THE AIRLOCK!

Okay, maybe not.

I couldn't believe it so I checked. You're right that if he serves his entire sentence that it will cost California nearly 100,000 to keep him incarcerated. Unbelievable.
posted by zarq at 8:06 AM on September 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


Two years? Can I assume he can broker himself a good-behavior deal after six months or something? He's a thief and a bastard, for sure, but holy crap if this is a first strike...

Uh, he was on probation. I'm sure that if this was a first offense he'd get probation or something like that.
posted by delmoi at 8:08 AM on September 21, 2010


On the topic of finding criminals on social networking sites:

Last year my fiancée was carjacked in front of our house at 9:00 AM while walking to her car to leave for work. Some pasty-faced kid who she later described as looking more terrified than she was (she is one tough woman) brandished a sawed-off shotgun (later discovered to be unloaded, or so the cops said, perhaps just to offer some measure of relief to her after the fact, dunno) and relieved her of her work laptop, GPS equipment (commercial not personal, company property), iPod, purse, and her Ford Taurus. A high-speed chase ensued and the kid wrecked her car when the cops caught up with him. They booked him and we were left to wait for the gears of the criminal justice system to get their grind on.

Anyways, while we were waiting for the arraignment, we got the bright idea of punching the name of the guy into Facebook and MySpace. He had pages on both sites. It was a very, very weird experience to watch his friends comment on his then-suddenly-dormant pages, expressing something like glee, followed by concern, and then ultimately anger at his predicament. After he was sentenced (12 years: he had pulled the same stunt on a female neighbor a week earlier, and the fact that he was using a modified weapon, plus a host of other related felonies, put him into multiple-felony territory) he stopped looking at his pages, but I will never forget the sight of his mother, weeping quietly in the back of the courtroom as this 19-year old was carted away for years. Mind you, this is all coming from the otherwise non-violent guy who entered this situation ready to murder this guy for threatening the love of my life. Like, I was so angry it did not strike me as unreasonable in the least that, if I got to him before the cops did, I would beat him to a bloody pulp (which is funnier if you know me, I guess, and my lack of pugilistic abilities).

Seeing his Facebook and MySpace pages humanized him in a way that was only confirmed by the sight of his family mourning his and their loss. We are moving in January (staying in Detroit but moving somewhere with secured parking, etc.) in large part because of this entire episode, but I wanted to share. Reality is complex, human beings doubly so.
posted by joe lisboa at 8:08 AM on September 21, 2010 [58 favorites]


I know that this idea lends itself to corruption but there has to be a more enlightened way to deal with non-violent crime besides cutting off a hand or a 2 year prison sentence.

Only if behavior modification is a viable option. Character is fate. If you are an adult and you feel entitled to take what you want, you are a narcissist and nothing will ever convince you that others are your equals. This man's life will be full of property crime and other assorted self-centered acts (some probably violent) until he dies. If the state isn't paying to put him away, individuals, insurance companies and municipalities will be paying for the things he takes and the damage he causes.

Perhaps if someone reached out to him when he was child, this wouldn't have happened. But even then I'm not sure. I think if someone has the personality that allows them to victimize, and you push them to succeed, they end up going to business school and harming people that way.
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:10 AM on September 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


* he WE stopped looking at his pages
posted by joe lisboa at 8:10 AM on September 21, 2010


But no, this lady is so precious and darling that she has to attach meaning to everything.

Well, she attached meaning to her things. I'm not sure that's everything. I mean, when my mom was working on her doctorate, someone busted out a back window in her car to steal her briefcase. It's contents? Her lunch and the last-but-one draft of her dissertation (this was the early 80s, when it was all done on typewriter). Fortunately, they thief dumped it in someone's yard, and he nicely called the department so she got the briefcase back, but she had a very bad day. To pretty much everyone but my mom and her advisers, that was just a stack of papers, but, to them (and especially her), it was a very important stack of papers.

Would Amanda Enayati's life been ruined if she hadn't gotten the stuff back? I doubt it. Did she kind of overstate her case? Maybe. But it is really a case of quantity not quality.
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:13 AM on September 21, 2010


I agree with kuatto. I don't see this as any kind of a victory. A young man going to prison for 2 years for stealing a GPS unit? Sure it's habitual behaviour, but then again so is this and she's not in jail.
Paris Hilton did go to jail. I don't know if she'll go to jail again for coke but it was a very small amount. She's not out there jacking people's shit. Also, while drunk driving is dangerous a 0.08 BAC is equivalent to driving while talking on a cellphone. I doubt lowering the limit from 0.1 has saved many lives.

Also, if you exile someone, then wherever you exile them too, the people already there have to deal with them.
posted by delmoi at 8:14 AM on September 21, 2010


his man's life will be full of property crime and other assorted self-centered acts (some probably violent) until he dies.

Thanks Nostradamus.
posted by delmoi at 8:15 AM on September 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


why aren't the police routinely monitoring craigslist, ebay etc for stolen goods

A whole lotta work.

Unless the perp confesses, the various wheels of justice would have to actually work up a case.

This thief is locked up because of his past screw up - easy work for the cop on the case.

Actual work - Meh. The cops are as lazy as you are.

I had a van stolen - was able to ID some old ugly mismatched building material from Craigslist. A bit of searching gave me a name. Neighbors SAW the van being taken. The Cops? They didn't interview either witness. Spent more time asking me 'how do you know this' than actually looking into the matter.
posted by rough ashlar at 8:19 AM on September 21, 2010


Also, if you exile someone, then wherever you exile them too, the people already there have to deal with them.

Well, I was being more than a little facetious about that exact method. But, come on, we live in the future, psychology is a well-established science, can we figure out something cheaper (yet still effective) to deal with guys like this? Prisons serve two functions: rehabilitation and isolation. This guy isn't a public danger; he's a nuisance. Sweeping him under the rug for two years is completely pointless for society as a whole.
posted by griphus at 8:19 AM on September 21, 2010


I couldn't believe it so I checked. You're right that if he serves his entire sentence that it will cost California nearly 100,000 to keep him incarcerated. Unbelievable.
posted by zarq at 11:06 AM on September 21


I wonder how much of that is true marginal cost, versus some level of fixed-cost allocation? Not attempting to draw any specific conclusions, just curious.
posted by brandman at 8:27 AM on September 21, 2010


Mayor Curley:

Character is fate. If you are an adult and you feel entitled to take what you want, you are a narcissist and nothing will ever convince you that others are your equals.

Then why not train him to be a commodities broker?
posted by any major dude at 8:27 AM on September 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


> Well, I was being more than a little facetious about that exact method. But, come on, we live in the future, psychology is a well-established science, can we figure out something cheaper (yet still effective) to deal with guys like this?

I remember being a bit horrified by a bit in Clarke's "2061" (aside from the general awfulness of the entire book) about a servant assigned to the protagonist who was undergoing some kind of criminal rehab. He had on some kind of neural brace that basically lobotomized him and made him subservient. After a period it was removed, and his personality returned. I'm not sure if that kind of exile is any more humane that physical incarceration.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:28 AM on September 21, 2010


I've seen a few of these stories now, but none of them has irked me in the same manner as this one. The authors of these accounts tend to come from the perspective of "How cool is this!" This lady, on the other hand, tries to paint herself as some kind of vigilante in the Charles Bronson mould. The vengeful tone that permeates the article is somewhat distasteful, and in combination with the implicit disdain for the great unwashed mentioned earlier by anniecat, it really leaves a nasty taste in the mouth
posted by Jakey at 8:29 AM on September 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


The total haul from our car, if everything was new? Which it wasn't? Around 300 bucks. Our total cost to repair the damage? $600

Seriously, this is why I rarely lock my car. You want my calculator, my ball-point pen and my muddy tivas? Fine, but please just leave the glass alone.

I do wish America could get proportionate with its sentencing laws, though. The more you steal, the less likely you are to do hard time.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:31 AM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


if you exile someone

I know one gent who claims he's been told by the county cops if he ever returns to MN, they will prosecute him.

My old man claims that, because a old thread cutter was stolen from a business being shut down (and is now in the local pawn shop) the thief was told by the cops to leave and never return to the county. Cuz if he comes back they will start looking over his life with a fine loupe.

Tales of 'sign up for the military or go to jail' are quite common.
posted by rough ashlar at 8:31 AM on September 21, 2010


Then why not train him to be a commodities broker?

Isn't that essentially what I said at the end of the comment you excerpted?
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:34 AM on September 21, 2010


> I remember being a bit horrified by a bit in Clarke's "2061"

Oops, make that 3001.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:35 AM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't have a lot of sympathy for the thief, but then, I've also had my car broken into two times in the past year. Both times, they destroyed my passenger side window, looked around the car, couldn't find anything worth stealing and took something of near zero value to them that took me quite a bit of time and money to replace (the last time, I had my military uniforms in the back that he took—taking those to get retailored is always a pain). I remember both times thinking, I wish this guy would have just asked me for $200 as that's how much it cost to get my window repaired each time. But this guy didn't. This guy say a car, decided to act. I can assign saintly or devilish motives as I see fit, but it ultimately is conjecture because it is his act that affected me, not his person. Maybe he was trying to feed his family by breaking into my car, but the carelessness of the attack doesn't speak well for that option. They obviously never found whoever did this, and in the end, I've learned to live with it. However, if I had a choice between him being caught and him not, I want him caught in a heart beat.

On a similar note with property, when I dropped my wallet while riding my bike, someone did put my ID and (by then canceled) bank cards in a mail slot. Sure I lost the $70 that was in my wallet, but I guess I can roll with that. Perhaps the person who picked up my wallet (and knew who I was and where I lived from the ID) thought he desereved the money more than me?

I try not to get angry, but it is immensly frustrating. I hope a solution is found other than Fresh People Slurry.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 8:39 AM on September 21, 2010


I read a proposal once (I wish I could remember the author) that criminals should not be incarcerated in view of the cost and ineffectiveness of such punishment. Instead, convictions would result in the accumulation of points corresponding to the severity of the crime. If enough points were accumulated, the convict would be executed.
posted by exogenous at 8:39 AM on September 21, 2010


Thanks Nostradamus.

You're right, I was rash. A guy who tries the handles on parked cars, fences hot shit on Craigslist, and tests stolen credit cards at fast food outlets despite being on probation is probably destined for Great Things. No wonder he's looking for other girls besides his pregnant fiancee.
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:39 AM on September 21, 2010 [16 favorites]


"why aren't the police routinely monitoring craigslist, ebay etc for stolen goods?"

My housemate recovered her stolen computer via craigslist, too. The police told her that they do monitor craigslist etc but they don't have the time to babysit it like she did--more like periodic spot checks, which means a lot of stuff will slip through a very loose net if it's just left up to the cops.
posted by not that girl at 8:41 AM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Seriously. At least being in prison will give him two years fewer worth of opportunities to impregnate anyone. That's something.
posted by Jess the Mess at 8:45 AM on September 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


'That's when I started to hang out on his dating site. Good news for Johnny: There was a gorgeous blond girl with green eyes viewing his profile. Bad news for Johnny: It was me, and I look nothing like that. '

I don't know why this particular bit piques me but the authors implied use of someone elses photo on a dating site is not cool. Something to do with her commodification of someones image whom presumably she does not know combined with her flagrant snobbishness is particularly distasteful.
posted by numberstation at 8:47 AM on September 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Mayor Curley, yes, I'm just taking your premise and wondering what would make for a better society - locking up sociopaths or putting them to work in a profession filled with them? I don't have an answer. I don't think behavior modification has an age barrier but a love and nurture barrier that isn't offered up as much to adults as it is to children so hence the assumption. All humans need to feel protected by society before they participate and there is only so much a government can do to offer that protection - the rest has to come from family and community.
posted by any major dude at 8:48 AM on September 21, 2010


implied use of someone elses photo on a dating site

'Round 2 months ago I got in an infected laptop.

Gave me carte blanche to figure out how it happened.

The owner was hanging out on Russian Dating sites. The pictures from the Russian - one still had meta-data in it labeling it as an American Porn star

not cool

Or just fraud.
posted by rough ashlar at 8:53 AM on September 21, 2010


Something to do with her commodification of someones image whom presumably she does not know combined with her flagrant snobbishness is particularly distasteful.

If you can't be snobby about the person who stole your personal belongings and violated whatever remaining trust you had left in humanity, what can you be snobby about?

But yeah, you're right Amanda Enayati is definitely the worse person here. She should have let him keep all her crap that he wanted and just think really hard about how much respect she she should have for his culture and maybe treat him to McDonald's herself. That would have been the right thing to do.
posted by Jess the Mess at 9:05 AM on September 21, 2010 [12 favorites]


Theft is very personal. I'm still irked by the person who stole CDs from my car, including a Tori Amos one that had the ticket stub in the jewel case. I know that this meant nothing to the thief, but I would have been slightly relieved to have found it in the yard.
posted by dgran at 9:05 AM on September 21, 2010


For those complaining about a 2 year sentence for stealing a GPS, note that the article is vague about what that sentence is actually for. If the guy was on probation for something more serious, the 2 years are likely the balance of the sentence for his previous crime, which kicked in when he violated probation. (The guilty plea for the GPS may even have saved him some extra time tacked on.)
posted by turducken at 9:09 AM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


> If you can't be snobby about the person who stole your personal belongings and violated whatever remaining trust you had left in humanity, what can you be snobby about?

Yeah, criticism of her attitude is a bit misplaced here. There really ought to be some kind of reverse swear jar that Metafilter users who accuse victims of less than saintly responses should be required to deposit money in. Besides, she admits here that she's normally not that way.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:10 AM on September 21, 2010 [7 favorites]


I read a proposal once (I wish I could remember the author) that criminals should not be incarcerated in view of the cost and ineffectiveness of such punishment. Instead, convictions would result in the accumulation of points corresponding to the severity of the crime. If enough points were accumulated, the convict would be executed.
That's a terrible idea, people would just freely run up points until they started getting 'close'
You're right, I was rash. A guy who tries the handles on parked cars, fences hot shit on Craigslist, and tests stolen credit cards at fast food outlets despite being on probation is probably destined for Great Things.
Uh yeah. Right because if you're not out committing violent property crimes, you're obviously doing "Great Things". Which is why everyone who's not a billionaire wall street tycoon is also thief (oh wait, no, that's the opposite of reality)
posted by delmoi at 9:11 AM on September 21, 2010


Seriously. At least being in prison will give him two years fewer worth of opportunities to impregnate anyone. That's something.

Except for conjugal visits.
posted by zarq at 9:14 AM on September 21, 2010


In my opinion: Good detective work, but I was rooting for the thief by the end of the article.
posted by codacorolla at 9:15 AM on September 21, 2010


As to the repeated refrain of 'oh no, we're sending people to jail for two years for stealing a GPS,' I suppose the solution to that problem, given that he was actually sent away for two years for violating probation, and not because of what he stole, is to not release people on probation anymore. He went back in for two years for his original offense - stealing the GPS and other items was the trigger that sent him back in on those prior charges, for which he had been released on probation.

No more probation, then. It won't solve the prison overcrowding problem or reduce the expense to taxpayers. But it will keep people from crowing about how probation violations aren't really all that bad.
posted by The World Famous at 9:21 AM on September 21, 2010


Uh yeah. Right because if you're not out committing violent property crimes, you're obviously doing "Great Things". Which is why everyone who's not a billionaire wall street tycoon is also thief

"Great Things" can be as simple as being a good father and partner. He has as good a chance at those things as he does being a billionaire.
posted by Mayor Curley at 9:22 AM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


why aren't the police routinely monitoring craigslist, ebay etc for stolen goods?

After a few encounters with the police over the years regarding vehicle prowls, wallet theft, and credit card theft, it's clear to me that the police just don't give a shit.
posted by xedrik at 9:22 AM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh brother. How unsurprising that bleeding-heart MeFites feel sorry for the thief in this story.
posted by shivohum at 9:22 AM on September 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


They found stuff on the ground at the station? He couldn't even be bothered to put it in the trash there? Truly a candidate for the Darwin awards.
posted by Melismata at 9:23 AM on September 21, 2010


I found that article to be incredibly obnoxious for some reason, maybe it's the "tone" I perceived from it? Dunno. In any case, because of that feeling, I almost want to side with the criminal or at least empathize with his plight, possible addiction(s), socio-economic, status, etc etc...

but then I remember he's a criminal, worthy of saving surely, but after dealing with the consequences of his actions and then only after finding some reason to want to change the direction of his life.
posted by Debaser626 at 9:23 AM on September 21, 2010


The response to this fpp, compared to this one this - about a stolen bike in Brooklyn, and how the owner got it back - is weirding me out.
posted by rtha at 9:23 AM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


> Truly a candidate for the Darwin awards.

Nah, he already spread his seed.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:25 AM on September 21, 2010


I attempted to do something similar to this after my girlfriend's backpack was yanked out of our car by busting out the window. The thief's used the credit cards at a few places and we attempted to get surveillance footage from. No dice, and the cops didn't really help out. What got the police's attention was that the gate-code that was in there and they broke into the mini-storage place we were at. They didn't seem to take anything from our unit (but we suspect they took the paper cutter) but they did break into a few others. Still never heard any follow up.
posted by wcfields at 9:39 AM on September 21, 2010


Oh brother. How unsurprising that bleeding-heart MeFites feel sorry for the thief in this story.

Do we? It's been 87 comments and only two people have really said anything about the sentence being too harsh. The problem as I see it isn't that he's not getting what he deserved but that it's costing the state of California too much money.
posted by zarq at 9:48 AM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, criticism of her attitude is a bit misplaced here. There really ought to be some kind of reverse swear jar that Metafilter users who accuse victims of less than saintly responses should be required to deposit money in. Besides, she admits here that she's normally not that way.

I dont care about her attitude but as someone with a bit of a white trash background (and who has relatives who are currently in prison for doing dumb shit like this) I thought some of things she said about this guy and his girlfriend were shitty. I get the feeling she looks down on the kinds of people I grew up with even when shes not angry about getting robbed.
posted by sickle cell moon at 9:50 AM on September 21, 2010


The writer could be several order of magnitudes more of a douche - this guy still committed a crime. He's on probation for other crimes. Society TRIED for a better outcome than 100k/year to keep him imprisoned, and he didn't hold up his end.

Should other people be in jail before this guy? Probably. Do I feel sorry for him? No.

Besides, it's not like cops will actually follow up on something like this without footwork by the victim and access to media outlets. The victim is doing everything she can, and she didn't need to break any laws to do it, either. Good for her.
posted by NoRelationToLea at 9:51 AM on September 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


How unsurprising that bleeding-heart MeFites feel sorry for the thief in this story.

I think it's surprising, actually. Right-wing fearmongering about socialism often characterizes it as a society wherein if someone has more than you, and has something that you want, you just take it; having less than an average person makes you entitled not just to money from the state, but the actual possessions of others. I always thought that this was a very ugly yet brilliant lie: taxes are ethereal, someone else taking your TV is not.

Until a few minutes ago I thought it was ridiculous that people actually fell for this spurious characterization. Now I'm really shocked that people here not only believe it, but think it's just fine. Obviously, no one has said "please take my stuff," but some folks have said "hey, if you take other people's stuff, that's pretty much social justice if you're poorer than the victim and you shouldn't be harshly punished for it."

Right wing demagogues would pee their pants if they read this thread -- they could point out some of the comments to their slack-jawed audiences and gleefully yell "See? SEE?"
posted by Mayor Curley at 9:54 AM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


> Right wing demagogues would pee their pants if they read this thread

Right-wing demagogues are pretty much pissing themselves 24-7. Tailoring your language to appease them is a losing battle.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:06 AM on September 21, 2010 [8 favorites]


This isn't about bleeding-heart Mefites at all. It's about seriously bad writing, or maybe seriously sloppy editing. Consider the elements, and decide if you would have published this first-person account of true, ahem, crime -- or told the writer to count her blessings, lock her car doors next time, and go find something interesting to write about.
posted by turducken at 10:14 AM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


some folks have said "hey, if you take other people's stuff, that's pretty much social justice if you're poorer than the victim and you shouldn't be harshly punished for it."

Uh... who here has said that? Specifically? I'm getting some "man, that writer is a jerk," and some "man, $100K to lock this dude up seems like a stupid waste of money," and one "I was kind of rooting for the crook" (as a subset of the-writer-is-a-jerk, obviously) but no "hey, if you take other people's stuff, that's pretty much social justice if you're poorer than the victim and you shouldn't be harshly punished for it."

I'm tempted to say you're really looking hard for the reading you want to see here, instead of what's actually written, but it's a getting-longer thread and I may have missed something. So I'll appreciate the pull quote and timestamp you are about to provide.
posted by Shepherd at 10:17 AM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Great Things" can be as simple as being a good father and partner. He has as good a chance at those things as he does being a billionaire. -- Mayor Curley
So you're saying there is no chance this guy won't be a good father and partner, ever? In his entire life? If so, then yeah I'd say you're just talking shit. Like everyone else, you have no way of knowing what's going to happen in this person's future.
The response to this fpp, compared to this one this - about a stolen bike in Brooklyn, and how the owner got it back - is weirding me out.
A lot of it just has to do with tone. The way the author described herself seemed kind of arrogant. Not to take away from what she'd gone through in the past (exile, cancer patient) but I guess it just rubbed people the wrong way. She also described the criminal in a way that made him just seem kind of hapless and pathetic, but also a father to be and we end up finding out more about his home life. In describing her detective work, she reveals the character of the criminal.

Plus, she calls herself "twisted" and sets up a pretty epic story, but what she actually did wasn't really that interesting or difficult.

And really, that actually indicates the writing is pretty good. But it making the badguy sympathetic she makes herself seem callous when she writes, "Anyway, he's two months into a 2 year sentence".
Until a few minutes ago I thought it was ridiculous that people actually fell for this spurious characterization. Now I'm really shocked that people here not only believe it, but think it's just fine. Obviously, no one has said "please take my stuff," but some folks have said "hey, if you take other people's stuff, that's pretty much social justice if you're poorer than the victim and you shouldn't be harshly punished for it." -- Mayor Curley
No one said anything like that, you idiot.
posted by delmoi at 10:17 AM on September 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


I've had shit stolen out of a (mistakenly) unlocked car before, and due to the arrogant and bitter way that the article was written I was still rooting for "Johny Boi" to get away with it.
posted by codacorolla at 10:18 AM on September 21, 2010


This isn't about bleeding-heart Mefites at all. It's about seriously bad writing, or maybe seriously sloppy editing.
I'd actually say the writing was good, but the problem was that the author wasn't adept enough at controlling the narrative to make herself actually look good.
posted by delmoi at 10:19 AM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


The Story of Love and Hate
posted by kuatto at 10:22 AM on September 21, 2010


Mayor Curley - you play right into their hands with that kind of thinking. Who gives a shit what "right wing demogogues" think? These are not serious thinkers but shills hired by the 1% to create distraction and disruption of any and all kinds of progress that will restrict a single dollar from going anywhere but in their pocket. Corporations are building prisons and then buying politicians who promise to create more incongruous laws. Liberals would do well to stop confusing baiting for debating.
posted by any major dude at 10:28 AM on September 21, 2010


I'd rather find the remains of someone's wallet, than the remains of their life.
posted by nomisxid at 10:33 AM on September 21, 2010


Clearly, the repeat offender is the victim here. I'm sorry he had that snarky internet story written about him.
posted by TrialByMedia at 10:36 AM on September 21, 2010


I thought about stealing this thread, but I decided I didn't want to go to jail, so I didn't. Hooray for free will!
posted by davejay at 10:39 AM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


No one said anything like that, you idiot.

One, Way to keep the discourse polite and Two, Oh, really? Here are a couple of quotes from the thread:

">He's several months into a two-year sentence.

There is so much pain in the world. And it just keeps going round and round and ......"

And my favorite:

"The system is broken. Youth unemployment runs rampant yet still the temptations dance before them. What would you expect to happen?"

Both of them suggesting that the criminal's actions are either justified or so nearly justified that it doesn't warrant punishment. Naturally, you will counter with something along the lines of "no it doesn't, because I don't want it to." And then you will make an argument, despite the comments being right here, that the commenters are not equating poor people stealing with social justice.

And then you'll probably call me another derogatory name. See, I am Nostradamus.
posted by Mayor Curley at 10:42 AM on September 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Love that she *faxed* his MySpace page to the police.
posted by eugenen at 10:48 AM on September 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


> And then you'll probably call me another derogatory name. See, I am Nostradamus.

More like Nostradumbass, amirite?

I kid. I kid...it was too easy.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:51 AM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


At least one year of the sentence was for the Myspace page.
posted by benzenedream at 11:00 AM on September 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Mayor Curley - you play right into their hands with that kind of thinking. Who gives a shit what "right wing demogogues" think? ... Liberals would do well to stop confusing baiting for debating.

I see what you're saying, except that it wasn't the point that I'm trying to make. I'm saying:

1. Hate Radio pundits like to scare their listeners by saying "leftists won't stop at redistributing social wealth, they want to give your personal possessions for poor people."

2. I used to think "who would ever believe that's true?"

3. I read this thread and realized that the Hate Radio line had a kernel of truth. Holy shit, you really CAN find people who think that. (I don't think they're numerous or influential, but they're apparently real.)

I'm not worried about the public relations aspect of people on the left thinking this (though I can absolutely understand why you might read my previous comment like that.) I was saying "right wingers painted what I thought was purely a ridiculous caricature, but HO-LEE SHIT there are people right here who conform to it! Wouldn't that give some talking head a boner!"
posted by Mayor Curley at 11:01 AM on September 21, 2010


The problem with this story is that is presents a false sense of justice. When the victim and the perpetrator are have no better chance of reconciliation after the law has been enforced, no justice has been achieved. It is a falsely decorated celebration of caveman ethics.

However, everyone who is turning this into an issue of class is dead wrong if you excuse the behavior of the poor because of their social status. Should that be a mitigating factor in determining the punishment? Absolutely; that's what courts are for. The angry sentiment at throwing this person in jail is because 1) he's not going to come out the other side of jail any better than when he went in, and 2) he is probably going to be sent to jail by some criminal punishment algorithm instead of a meaningful judgement that takes his situation into account. Don't confuse the two issues, because no one is going to listen to free property rights. In order for that to work you are going to need 100% of society to agree to those rules in a democratic manner. Let's at least keep our goals to something achievable in the next ten generations.

The perpetrator wasn't a slave or sharecropper or other indentured servant, so he has no moral right to take what is not his. There is some rational basis for his actions, but the solution isn't to excuse it. The solution is to use the opportunity of community interference to attempt to help him get his life back together and become a productive, or at least non-destructive, member of society. Not holding him accountable for actions, or doing so by throwing him in jail with violent criminals, are two great ways to achieve the same bad result.
posted by notion at 11:20 AM on September 21, 2010


Holy shit, you really CAN find people who think that. (I don't think they're numerous or influential, but they're apparently real.)

well, if not, they can always hire some desperate actor for a few hundred bucks to play one - all they and the rest of the outrage trolls, right and left, are doing is inoculating people against feeling outraged so they can give in to apathy and withdrawal

for all i know, that's the real purpose - to get people so sick of it all that they don't care what the politicians and opinionators say or do
posted by pyramid termite at 11:20 AM on September 21, 2010


When the victim and the perpetrator are have no better chance of reconciliation after the law has been enforced, no justice has been achieved.

i don't see where it's the victim's obligation to reconcile with the perpetrator - he's already stolen her stuff, why should she have her time and energy stolen, too?
posted by pyramid termite at 11:24 AM on September 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


i don't see where it's the victim's obligation to reconcile with the perpetrator - he's already stolen her stuff, why should she have her time and energy stolen, too?

I wouldn't call it an obligation, but if you're trying to build a better society, addressing social injustice is a better choice than just throwing people in jail. Once you start treating people who have drug addictions or suffer from psychological problems like criminals, and then you incarcerate them with criminals, what sort of behavior are you really expecting to get?

The victim is free to dismiss their fellow citizens as unworthy of help, but they often do so at their own peril.
posted by notion at 11:45 AM on September 21, 2010


Boy, this lady is some classist and pretty impressed with herself while snarking on people who aren't well educated and in a different class and who do stupid shit

Is it so horrible to say that some people in the world are better than others? I may not be a saint, but I'm better than this shitbag, both in education and morality.

if he serves his entire sentence that it will cost California nearly 100,000 to keep him incarcerated. Unbelievable.

Incarceration is really the one industry we should be outsourcing. You could house him in Haiti for $1000 for the year, and he'd still be better off than most of the free citizens there.
posted by coolguymichael at 11:46 AM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Both of them suggesting that the criminal's actions are either justified or so nearly justified that it doesn't warrant punishment. Naturally, you will counter with something along the lines of "no it doesn't, because I don't want it to." And then you will make an argument, despite the comments being right here, that the commenters are not equating poor people stealing with social justice.

Here are my interpretations of the two comments you quoted. You may interpret them differently which is fine, but I don't see where exactly you are getting "stealing = social justice" without adding in ideas that aren't really there in the text:

>He's several months into a two-year sentence.

There is so much pain in the world. And it just keeps going round and round and ......


I think this comment is referring to the fact that the correctional system is more punitive than rehabilitative, so that when someone causes pain through committing a crime the only result is in the form of them experiencing the pain through being incarcerated. That is possibly reading too much into the comment though, because there is not a lot to go on here. All I can say for sure is that it is saying that a lot of bad things happen, and that people spending two years in jail is one of those bad things. It does not say anything about whether the actual criminal act is justified.

The system is broken. Youth unemployment runs rampant yet still the temptations dance before them. What would you expect to happen?

This is a more substantive comment in that it actually does offer some sort of political view about the underlying social issues. I would sum it up as meaning that small-time crime is a direct result of unemployment and consumerist culture. I don't necessarily agree with this assertion, but you are making what I consider to be an unjustified leap by equating "societal issues cause crime" to "crime is justified by societal issues".

You can call "no it doesn't, because I don't want it to", but honestly I think you are misrepresenting those two specific comments in the same way that right-wingers misrepresent progressive political views as being pro-crime or whatever. While I disagree with your argument that someone like the criminal in this case would never be a good person, I think then you were at least engaging with what people were actually saying rather than declaring that people here are the crazy libruls that right-wingers complain about.
posted by burnmp3s at 11:50 AM on September 21, 2010


The victim is free to dismiss their fellow citizens as unworthy of help, but they often do so at their own peril.

I agree with you regarding the general ineffectiveness of incarceration as a tool for amelioration of society and prevention of crime. But when you refer to the victim being free to dismiss their fellow citizens as unworthy of help, what do you mean? The victim of this particular crime had, essentially, two options: Let the guy get away with it or pursue him. I don't see how letting him get away with the crime accomplishes the goal of building a better society any better than catching him violating his probation does.

Indeed, isn't one of the goals of probation to help people who would otherwise be incarcerated to change their conduct without incarceration?

Incarceration is really the one industry we should be outsourcing.

Hocus Pocus by Kurt Vonnegut is a really good book. I recommend it.
posted by The World Famous at 11:51 AM on September 21, 2010


so that when someone causes pain through committing a crime the only result is in the form of them experiencing the pain through being incarcerated

But that is literally false in this specific instance, where the perpetrator had committed prior crimes without being incarcerated and where the current incarceration is not the result merely of the theft, but of the violation of his probation that had been imposed as an alternative to incarceration.
posted by The World Famous at 11:54 AM on September 21, 2010


I was saying "right wingers painted what I thought was purely a ridiculous caricature, but HO-LEE SHIT there are people right here who conform to it! Wouldn't that give some talking head a boner!"

Bill Hicks went into extensive detail on the sequence of events that would need to transpire for Rush Limbaugh to even achieve a semi boner. Let's keep that visual in mind when we dare to allow these cretins to enter into our thought process when we discuss important intellectual matters that their greed will only ever allow them to see (literally) in black and white.
posted by any major dude at 11:54 AM on September 21, 2010


Can't we just turn this into another one of those threads where we argue about whether we should say 'another think coming'?
posted by shakespeherian at 11:59 AM on September 21, 2010


Is it so horrible to say that some people in the world are better than others? I may not be a saint, but I'm better than this shitbag, both in education and morality.

Dont forget money you have more money them him, that makes you better too.
posted by sickle cell moon at 12:01 PM on September 21, 2010


Dont forget money you have more money them him, that makes you better too.

As indicated in the article, the perpetrator's friends marveled at that fact that he apparently did have adequate funding, notwithstanding his lack of legitimate employment.
posted by The World Famous at 12:05 PM on September 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


She was a hater boi
She said see ya later boi
Myspace wasn't good enough for her

He went by Johnny Boi
He took her Blackberry toi
Now he's a stupor star
Banging on prison bars
Does Craigslist see what he's worth?
posted by benzenedream at 12:10 PM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Dont forget money you have more money them him, that makes you better too.

So you're insisting that the dude is the love child of Jean Valjean and Tom Joad despite all the evidence, eh?

(I do appreciate your reference to Worthington's Law, though.)
posted by Mayor Curley at 12:15 PM on September 21, 2010


I'm fascinated by the assumption in this thread that the theif was a) poor, and b) from a different social class than the victim. Do people just assume that everyone who breaks into cars to steal things is poor and of a low social class? Or do they assume that everyone who makes stupid decisions in what they post to social media is poor and of a low social class? Moreover, even if the assumption that the thief is poor and of a low social class is correct, why are we assuming that the victim is not also poor and of a low social class?
posted by The World Famous at 12:21 PM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


And I can't spell thief, apparently.
posted by The World Famous at 12:22 PM on September 21, 2010



I agree with kuatto. I don't see this as any kind of a victory. A young man going to prison for 2 years for stealing a GPS unit?


That's two years he's not stealing anyone else's stuff.

In my county the jail is too small. People get picked up for stealing. They are back on the streets before the cops are done with the paperwork because the jail is too crowded to keep them. While they are out they keep committing crimes. It's a freaking revolving door. The little brothers and sisters of these miscreants see their older siblings getting away with stuff over and over (a lot of these crimes are drug related) and see no reason not to follow their path into crime because this is a lowwage town and there's money in drugs.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 12:23 PM on September 21, 2010


The victim of this particular crime had, essentially, two options: Let the guy get away with it or pursue him. I don't see how letting him get away with the crime accomplishes the goal of building a better society any better than catching him violating his probation does.

You're missing the third way. It's not for the timid, or for the self righteous, but is it the most moral thing she could have done: caught the guy, and tried to help him. Turning him over to the authorities for punishment seems to have been more about her ego than it was about justice.

It's above and beyond the call of duty, but that's the whole point. It was easier for this guy to rip someone off than it was for him to get his life together. It's easier for this woman to dismiss him as beneath her and turn him in than it is to try and understand why he did it. It's easier for the police to toss him in jail than it is to find some program that will actually help him. It will be easier for the parole board to save money and toss him out early for good behavior than it will be for them to get him into a halfway house that can really help him. It's the prevailing attitude in our society, and one that is making things worse.

Finding the capacity within yourself to step beyond this standard is difficult, and one which I probably fail at more than anyone else. But every time I read about people who do find the strength to do it, the beauty of their compassion outshines my cynicism, at least for a moment. Even if it doesn't become the standard, I think it should become the goal.
posted by notion at 12:24 PM on September 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


Mayor Curley: "So you're insisting that the dude is the love child of Jean Valjean and Tom Joad despite all the evidence, eh?"

How does the quote insist that?
posted by I am the Walrus at 12:25 PM on September 21, 2010


Brava! I love Amanda Enayati's success story in getting her stuff back and some justice. Nice going Amanda, superb detective work.

A couple of other stolen stuff is successfully found detective stories.

It sucks being ripped off by a thief. It's not just the lost stuff, it's a feeling of being violated, being targeted, made into a victim of a crime. And how dare that creep throw all her private, personal papers all over the neighborhood. It's not just that he violated her and her husband's boundaries, breaking into their car. Then he stole their stuff. Then he threw her private papers all over the neighbors' lawns, on train station floors, creating a situation where she also then faced identity theft, public humiliation.

How awesome her neighbors and other strangers were kind and returned her papers.

No, dammit. He's a repeat offender, let him be punished for what crimes he committed.

And so what if her husband left the lock unlocked and stuff on the dashboard. Just because a person covets something that is not theirs and the object is not protected doesn't give anybody a right to steal it.

I like her a good and interesting blog too.
posted by nickyskye at 12:26 PM on September 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


You're missing the third way. It's not for the timid, or for the self righteous, but is it the most moral thing she could have done: caught the guy, and tried to help him.

What, specifically, do you think that trying to help him after catching him would consist of? How do you imagine that scenario playing out?
posted by The World Famous at 12:26 PM on September 21, 2010


My car's been broken into three times at my work. I've watched one of the times later on our shitty cameras which can't get a plate, but can let me know that the thieves were driving a much nicer vehicle than mine. One time they stole nothing, just ruined my door. One time they stole my tire iron and used it to break another car's window (and ruined my door again). I actually wished they'd have at least taken the change in my console, or some CDs, or something, just to qualify the invasion.. Now I've given up repairing it, have a gaping hole in my door where my lock should be, and have no idea if anyone ever opens it up, but all my stuff is always there (my favorite bands suck)
Anyway, I've sometimes wondered what would happen if I caught someone in the act, and have been horrified with myself, because all I picture is me beating someone's face into the ground. To death. Or me getting shot. Something entirely ridiculous when viewed in proper context. Sure, prison is expensive, but if I can't get my licks in, I irrationally at least want them to serve consecutive life sentences and think about how they just couldn't let me have one nice thing and I can't/won't afford another trip to the body shop so I don't have to be embarrassed by my door or constantly tell people don't lock it! because then I have to get someone to break me back in...
I picture a teenager making one poor choice, and me losing my shit and ruining a lot of lives, which really sucks, but seeing me just saying hey stop it isn't very satisfying. Like I said, I've given up, and having entertained the scenario, I'm sure rationality would prevail, but it did make me think a lot about justice.
No answers here, just venting.
posted by hypersloth at 12:27 PM on September 21, 2010


Why would he post pictures of his girlfriend on a dating site?

Come on, I thought mefites were more open-minded than that! The guy is breaking into cars, and you're going to pick on him for polyamory?
posted by faster than a speeding bulette at 12:28 PM on September 21, 2010


The World Famous: "I'm fascinated by the assumption in this thread that the theif was a) poor, and b) from a different social class than the victim. Do people just assume that everyone who breaks into cars to steal things is poor and of a low social class? Or do they assume that everyone who makes stupid decisions in what they post to social media is poor and of a low social class? Moreover, even if the assumption that the thief is poor and of a low social class is correct, why are we assuming that the victim is not also poor and of a low social class?"

It is mentioned in the article that he is on probation and in unemployed. Outside the rap world, this generally means a person is poor. I believe people are using the MySpace page as an indicator of social class.
posted by I am the Walrus at 12:29 PM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


St. Alia of the Bunnies: "In my county the jail is too small. People get picked up for stealing. They are back on the streets before the cops are done with the paperwork because the jail is too crowded to keep them. While they are out they keep committing crimes. It's a freaking revolving door. The little brothers and sisters of these miscreants see their older siblings getting away with stuff over and over (a lot of these crimes are drug related) and see no reason not to follow their path into crime because this is a lowwage town and there's money in drugs."

Wait, what? Are they going into burglary or dealing drugs? When did drugs come up? This is the first mention of it in this whole thread.
posted by I am the Walrus at 12:35 PM on September 21, 2010


Interesting story.

Anniecat: I've had a partial hysterectomy due to cancer. I've also been trapped, for several years in a war-ravaged city surrounded by people shooting at and shelling me and killing members of my family. I considered it then and consider now the experience to have been pretty analogous to a concentration camp. And guess what, the psychological trauma of cancer and being trapped in a warzone are remarkably similar. I'm not sure why choose to judge someone whose made a pretty valid and accurate comparison based on some weird "assumption". But guess what, as a person privy to experiences which allow me to make a real-world comparison, you've got it wrong. But count your blessings . . . ignorance is bliss.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 12:36 PM on September 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


It is mentioned in the article that he is on probation and in unemployed. Outside the rap world, this generally means a person is poor.

Cite, please.
posted by The World Famous at 12:40 PM on September 21, 2010


I'm fascinated by the assumption in this thread that the theif was a) poor, and b) from a different social class than the victim.

Dunno if this is to me, but I guessed he was poor because he has priors, didnt go to college, and worked at Applebees. He could be some trust fund kid for all I know but I doubt it, he sounds a lot like the white trash people I grew up with. I assumed coolguymichael had more money than him because hes more educated and from looking a question he asked about going on a caribbean vactation where cost wasnt a factor. No idea how much the victim makes but she sounds like a snob.
posted by sickle cell moon at 12:42 PM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


It is mentioned in the article that he is on probation and in unemployed. Outside the rap world, this generally means a person is poor.

Well, except the article also mentions that he did have money, and enough so his friend commented on it. At least to that friend, he did not appear as an unemployed person should, which implies that he was not struggling. And I would guess that he wasn't struggling because he was stealing and conning his way to moderate success. There are plenty of criminals with money.
posted by Danila at 12:47 PM on September 21, 2010


Wait, what? Are they going into burglary or dealing drugs? When did drugs come up? This is the first mention of it in this whole thread.

Here, at least, the great majority of people doing theft and burglary are doing it to obtain money for drugs.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 12:51 PM on September 21, 2010


Oh, and my second point was really just addressing sentencing for any kind of crime be it drug related or not. If they are incarcerated they are not out violating laws.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 12:52 PM on September 21, 2010


I just came in here to say that one of my coworkers used Kajiji to track down the barbeque that was stolen out of her backyard.
She turned the theif over to the cops. From reading the posts on this page, I take it my coworker was the bad person here, not the guy who decided to take her barbeque and sell it?

As for car break-ins, I got a window smashed out and a backpack and a makeup kit stolen from the backseat of my car a couple years ago. I hope the theif enjoyed my Changeling the Lost rulebook and my makeup. Replacing the window was a pain in the ass, and they got nothing for their trouble.
posted by sandraregina at 12:59 PM on September 21, 2010


What, specifically, do you think that trying to help him after catching him would consist of? How do you imagine that scenario playing out?

If she's such a whizbang detective, she could have called his mother or his girlfriend. There is nothing immoral about shaming him publicly for his actions. She could have turned him over to the police and then petitioned the judge or his PO to get him into some sort of community service or counseling program instead of running him through the revolving door of the prison industry.

Let me contextualize my response: if she had simply done all of this and moved on with her life, I really couldn't find fault with her actions. People are busy, and her response is everything you would expect. But the fact that she boasts about her actions as if they had some higher moral value is what I take issue with. She's reveling in simple retribution as if it were meaningful.
posted by notion at 12:59 PM on September 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


From reading the posts on this page, I take it my coworker was the bad person here, not the guy who decided to take her barbeque and sell it?

Did she write an article extolling her virtues for turning over a criminal to the police?

If the answer is no, then she's doing the most common thing people do when they are robbed. If the answer is yes, then she is pretending that handing someone over to the cops represents some sort of moral superiority. It does not.
posted by notion at 1:04 PM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


But she was pretty pleased with her detecting abilities, she said some not-nice things about the theif - why does the size of the audience matter?
posted by sandraregina at 1:33 PM on September 21, 2010


There appear to be two different arguments going on and many of the comments have conflated the two. One argument is about the apparent harshness of the sentence and the possible motivations and/or justifications of the perpetrator. Personally, I know nothing of the latter and don't feel able to comment on the former, as the fact that the guy was on probation means that there are clearly other considerations at play.
The second argument is regarding the shrillness of the article. I commented earlier that the tone of the writing left me cold. Some commentators have taken this as taking umbrage at the writer for having the temerity to say nasty things about the thief. That is not the case. The issue is that the writer appeared to be saying nasty things about whole swathes of people, in an implicit sense at least, and that by doing so she somehow contrived to fritter away what should have been a banker sympathy/well done vote.
posted by Jakey at 1:50 PM on September 21, 2010 [2 favorites]



Anniecat: I've had a partial hysterectomy due to cancer. I've also been trapped, for several years in a war-ravaged city surrounded by people shooting at and shelling me and killing members of my family. I considered it then and consider now the experience to have been pretty analogous to a concentration camp. And guess what, the psychological trauma of cancer and being trapped in a warzone are remarkably similar. I'm not sure why choose to judge someone whose made a pretty valid and accurate comparison based on some weird "assumption". But guess what, as a person privy to experiences which allow me to make a real-world comparison, you've got it wrong. But count your blessings . . . ignorance is bliss.


Do you realize my criticisms aren't about cancer but the quality of her writing, right? That chemotherapy does not equate to a concentration camp.

I don't remember concentration camps actually having been for the purpose of attempting to cure/treat anybody of any disease. How is that an accurate analogy that helps inform the reader? Is having cancer and having the opportunity of undergoing chemotherapy being just like a Jewish person singled out and sent to Auschwitz to be murdered? Does that make the doctor a Nazi? It's a very dumb analogy and bad/lazy writing.

If she wants to be a good writer, she can't be lazy about metaphors. I don't think Holocaust survivors would say being in a concentration camp was like being treated for cancer.

So read whatever you want into it. I don't condone bad writing because the writer wants to guilt me into feeling sorry for her. A person doesn't magically become a great writer because they are a cancer survivor or had their lives torn apart by war. There's way too much confessional writing and journaling being passed off as journalism these days.
posted by anniecat at 1:54 PM on September 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


Oh, she didn't compare chemo to a concentration camp. My eyes were getting lazy. She compared it to late stage cancer. My bad. I still think it's a ridiculous metaphor. Why do authors have to compare things that are not concentration camps to concentration camps for it to be compelling?

She left the car door unlocked and someone stole her GPS and bag. I'm half expecting her to compare that to being raped, which it's not. Someone stole your crap because you left your door unlocked.
posted by anniecat at 2:04 PM on September 21, 2010


> Someone stole your crap because you left your door unlocked.

More accurately, someone stole her stuff because he was a thieving shitbag. Leaving the car unlocked is dumb, but it doesn't make the theft justifiable in any way.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:09 PM on September 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Mayor Curley, the point I was trying to make was that this is a terribly sad event no matter which way you slice it. It's a matter of sympathy, not justification. No one has won here, not this man, not the state, and not this woman.

Can we take joy in a fractured life? Can we be satisfied with the destruction of a soul? And this woman's life, now that this experience is over, it is better? an improved state of being?

There is no Good here, nothing redeemable, just a malignant spiritual impulse and the brute hand of authority. Justice has been served and nothing good will come of it.
posted by kuatto at 2:09 PM on September 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Justice has been served and nothing good will come of it.

I don't know about that. I bet a lot of people who read her blog post will be a bit more careful about what they leave in their car, about locking their car, and about not carrying around extremely personal writings in their bag on a daily basis.
posted by The World Famous at 2:11 PM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


kuatto, that man is in jail because he put himself there. If he had not stolen he would be out on the streets today. I can feel bad he made stupid choices but I refuse to think the victim of the theft is not compassionate because she made him accountable for a CRIME.

No one held a gun to that man's head to force him to take things that did not belong to him. Am I supposed to pity him that he got caught for being stupid and for being a thief? I can have compassion on a thief and want to help them make better choices in future, but I think part of that is allowing them to face the consequences of their actions.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 2:15 PM on September 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


"I was mostly mad at my husband. Who leaves a backpack with a BlackBerry and a wallet full of cash and credit cards in the car overnight, with a GPS visible on the dashboard and the freaking car doors unlocked? We might as well have hung a sign on the door that read: Suckers live here. Welcome!"

I love the thinking that creates statements like that. The thief committed the crime, but the husband gets blamed.
posted by CarlRossi at 2:21 PM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


What an angry, egocentric piece of writing.

The author concludes:
If I were mathematically inclined, I might even observe that in my tale, the good guys outnumbered the bad guys, by about 10 to one.

No. If you are mathematically inclined, you would realize that reality does not consist of good guys v.s. bad guys.
posted by polymodus at 2:29 PM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


More accurately, someone stole her stuff because he was a thieving shitbag. Leaving the car unlocked is dumb, but it doesn't make the theft justifiable in any way.

Or the thief could have been mentally ill or abused or a meth addict or needed money for health insurance or prenatal vitamins for his pregnant sister or an abortion for his girlfriend or condoms or a new tattoo or fend off the anxiety of economic insecurity or food for his dog or modeling headshots or beer or cocaine. Who knows? Who cares? People steal stuff. Rich people, poor people, people since the beginning of time--there have always been thieves and thievery. It sucks to get stuff stolen but it happens. There isn't a person out there who isn't going to have something stolen from them at some point in some way. Accept it and lock your doors.
posted by anniecat at 2:36 PM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Two years? Can I assume he can broker himself a good-behavior deal after six months or something? He's a thief and a bastard, for sure, but holy crap if this is a first strike,

griphus, you've already been panned for your inability to RTFA (the creep was on parole at the time)... but what burrs me is how eager you are to defend someone who victimized an innocent.

Really. Disgusting.
posted by IAmBroom at 2:39 PM on September 21, 2010


I was ready to sympathize with the writer, since it sucks having your stuff stolen (it's happened to me, thankfully not recently). I like a good sleuthing-and-catching-the-criminals story as much as anyone. But I felt uncomfortable reading her story: there was something weirdly self-aggrandizing about her tone, i.e. "the beautiful blond" remark, yuck. Kind of creepy IMO.

So yeah, the thief was an asshole, but I can totally see why many MeFites are less than thrilled with Ms. Enayati.

But, you know, YMMV.
posted by suburbanbeatnik at 2:46 PM on September 21, 2010


there was something weirdly self-aggrandizing about her tone, i.e. "the beautiful blond" remark, yuck. Kind of creepy IMO.

Did you not catch that the "beautiful blond" was a photo of someone other than the writer, selected specifically for the purpose of catching the attention of the thief on a dating site?
posted by The World Famous at 2:50 PM on September 21, 2010


Me and some friends got exiled from Moscow, Idaho once. Told by the sheriff - in his words - to leave and never come back. It was a compromise, since we were leaving the state the next day, anyways, and no one wanted to deal with the travel and expense of figuring out in court exactly who gave that shot of vodka to our 20 year old friend.
posted by kaibutsu at 2:59 PM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I can exist perfectly comfortably in a space where

a) Dude was wrong to steal stuff out of a car.
b) Writer is an obnoxious self-obsessed dork.
c) $100,000 to keep a petty thief-of-opportunity locked up for two years is a mediocre use of taxpayers' money.*

*I'm in Canada, but similar enough things occur here all the time that I feel okay about sympathizing with American taxpayers on this one.**
** and I'm not saying "WHY $100,000 IS AN OUTRAGE FEED THEM ONLY MOLDY BREAD AND THROW THEM IN THE SLIME PIT," I'm saying that there might be better solutions to this sort of thing than jail time.
posted by Shepherd at 3:01 PM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've often thought of how MeFites would be the absolute worst type of people to have around if you were ever the victim of crime.

Crime victim: Would you mind if I borrowed your phone? I've just been mugged and they took all of my belongings.

Mefite (in a total Van Driesen tone): Mmmm, yeah, I don't think so. You're probably too selfish to realize this but you were actually the oppressor in that situation. If I let you use my phone you might call the police and that poor man who was forced by circumstances to hold you up at gunpoint and relieve you of your belongings might end up in prison. So I think the best thing for you to right now would be to walk home and think about how you could have helped that misguided soul. And you know, you really shouldn't be walking in this neighborhood if you don't want to get mugged, mmkay?
posted by Jess the Mess at 3:01 PM on September 21, 2010 [8 favorites]


Both of them suggesting that the criminal's actions are either justified or so nearly justified that it doesn't warrant punishment. Naturally, you will counter with something along the lines of "no it doesn't, because I don't want it to." And then you will make an argument, despite the comments being right here, that the commenters are not equating poor people stealing with social justice. -- Mayor Curley
Yawn. Deliberately misinterpreting people's comments, and also deliberately misinterpreting your own statements (claiming first that he would definitely be a violent offender, then claiming he just wouldn't do "great things" and then circling around again and claiming that by "great things" you just meant being normal. Whatever)

Why even bother dealing with it. If you're not trolling, you're off in your own little world where things don't need to make sense. Obviously it's impossible to have a discussion with people who keep changing the meaning of things.
However, everyone who is turning this into an issue of class is dead wrong if you excuse the behavior of the poor because of their social status. Should that be a mitigating factor in determining the punishment? Absolutely; that's what courts are for. -- notion
Hah. Of course the courts heap greater punishments on people without the economic means to afford good lawyers, etc. I don't think anyone is trying to excuse what this guy did, just pointing out that she somehow managed to portray herself in an unsympathetic manner in her writing.
Incarceration is really the one industry we should be outsourcing. You could house him in Haiti for $1000 for the year, and he'd still be better off than most of the free citizens there. -- someone unimportant
Why not just shoot them in the head? It would be cheap! And we could bill their families for the bullets! I don't think Haiti could handle a 33% increase in population, which is what would happen if we shipped all three million or so of our prisoners over there.
It's a freaking revolving door. The little brothers and sisters of these miscreants see their older siblings getting away with stuff over and over (a lot of these crimes are drug related) and see no reason not to follow their path into crime because this is a lowwage town and there's money in drugs. -- St. Alia
End the war on drugs, problem solved. But by all means build more prisons instead of more schools. That will definitely solve the problem.
You're missing the third way. It's not for the timid, or for the self righteous, but is it the most moral thing she could have done: caught the guy, and tried to help him. Turning him over to the authorities for punishment seems to have been more about her ego than it was about justice. -- notion
She didn't catch him, the police did. She had no real way of catching him herself. You can get all Jesus and 'turn the other cheek' on her, but come on. They didn't put him in jail for stealing her stuff, but for violating probation. Besides, you can't help someone who doesn't want help.
How does the quote insist that? ["the love child of Jean Valjean and Tom Joad despite all the evidence"]
That's just how things work when you're the mayor of tolltown!
She turned the theif over to the cops. From reading the posts on this page, I take it my coworker was the bad person here, not the guy who decided to take her barbeque and sell it? -- sandraregina
No, people just didn't like her self-aggrandizing writing.
posted by delmoi at 3:01 PM on September 21, 2010


Did you not catch that the "beautiful blond" was a photo of someone other than the writer, selected specifically for the purpose of catching the attention of the thief on a dating site?

Sorry, no, I didn't-- I guess I wasn't reading too carefully. The style of the piece kind of made my eyes glaze over.
posted by suburbanbeatnik at 3:10 PM on September 21, 2010


I've often thought of how MeFites would be the absolute worst type of people to have around if you were ever the victim of crime.

What you're thinking about is passing off sarcasm as the truth. First, you move from simple property crime to a mugging. Those are two very different situations. A man who is willing to assault another human being for their stuff is not the same as one who opens an unlocked car door to take their stuff. There are similar attributes, but if theft of property is such a heinous crime, you would expect someone from Wall St to be drawn and quartered in Times Square at the top of every hour, if a few hundred dollars of electronics is worth a year in prison.

I'll admit that I don't understand why people get so upset when their stuff is taken. My car has been broken into on multiple occasions. The first time they broke a window and stole my stereo. The second time they stole my cell phone and the change in my dash. The third time they stole my car, took it for a joyride over the weekend, and I had to pay $100 to get it out of impound and another $30 to get it cleaned out and fix the ignition. Was I inconvenienced? Sure. Did that translate into my desire to have the culprits incarcerated? No, because it wouldn't give me my stuff back or my money back, and I don't lull myself to sleep with hatred of people who have crossed me. And I know that incarceration decreases their shot at turning their life around, and therefore increases the chances that as soon as they are out, they'll be pulling the same dumb shit one someone else.

Your attempt to translate that sort of compassion into indifference for the victim of an assault is dishonest and frankly disgraceful.

posted by notion at 3:36 PM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Bah. Italics or not, hopefully you got the point.
posted by notion at 3:37 PM on September 21, 2010



St. Alia of the Bunnies wrote:
Am I supposed to pity him that he got caught for being stupid and for being a thief?
Pity the essential connection between you and him: your shared Human Nature.

The World Famous wrote:
I don't know about that. I bet a lot of people who read her blog post will be a bit more careful about what they leave in their car, about locking their car, and about not carrying around extremely personal writings in their bag on a daily basis.
Yes, and perhaps we can all scurry around like rats as well, furtively looking over our shoulders, assigning mistrust and apprehension to every stranger we see. And eventually we may be victimized, or not.

There is no Good in this.
posted by kuatto at 3:40 PM on September 21, 2010


I bet a lot of people who read her blog post will be a bit more careful about what they leave in their car, about locking their car, and about not carrying around extremely personal writings in their bag on a daily basis.
So true; I'm certainly taking down my MySpace profile before the next time I go out on the rob.
posted by Abiezer at 3:44 PM on September 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


Yes, and perhaps we can all scurry around like rats as well, furtively looking over our shoulders, assigning mistrust and apprehension to every stranger we see. And eventually we may be victimized, or not.

There is no Good in this.


That's right. Don't lock your car. If you do, the terrorists have won. Or something.
posted by The World Famous at 3:52 PM on September 21, 2010


That's right. Don't lock your car. If you do, the terrorists have won. Or something.

Is this hidden sarcasm? I believe one of the chief goals of terrorism is to inspire irrational fear within the community you are trying to destroy.
posted by notion at 3:59 PM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


If she's such a whizbang detective, she could have called his mother or his girlfriend.

kuatto, do you think his dam would naturally be more sympathetic to his victims than to him? And his girlfriend -- she might be a victim of her own bad taste in men, but she has no reason to be kinder for all that. In order for a person to be helped, there must be something in that person that wants help. Can you give it to them? Any one of them? At any time?

That said, I found myself strangely unsympathetic to the author as well. It was a matter of narrative voice.

This calls to mind something I don't know a link for. A year or so ago, I read an article by a journalist -- Joanna or Joann something, I can't name her -- who had been raped as a college student by a stranger. She testified at his trial, and he went away for a long time. Twenty years later, she used her skills to track him down. He had died of illness in prison, but she took the opportunity to speak to his sister and learn about his home life. He came from a brutal, brutalized father, who had been (if he told the truth) a part-Cherokee from a reservation, survivor of a ravaged society. It made me marvel at her unflinching eye, and at the depth of misery in this world. How many generations back could you travel in a family before you found someone who was loved and hoped for?
posted by Countess Elena at 4:01 PM on September 21, 2010


Is this hidden sarcasm?

Hidden? I don't think it's hidden. It's a response to the assertion I quoted. See the italicized part above my statement? That's what I was responding to.

I believe one of the chief goals of terrorism is to inspire irrational fear within the community you are trying to destroy.

Are you referring to my comment about locking car doors? When I park and lock my car in Los Angeles, I do not do so out of irrational fear. Are you referring to something else?
posted by The World Famous at 4:07 PM on September 21, 2010


I've often thought of how MeFites would be the absolute worst type of people to have around if you were ever the victim of crime.

Crime victim: Would you mind if I borrowed your phone? I've just been mugged and they took all of my belongings.


As someone who has been the victim of violent crime, I find your attempt at humorous analysis pretty weak sauce. I would have been plenty grateful had MeFites been around when I was mugged at knifepoint, but whatever gets the LOLs, yo. Analyzing the nature of criminality and the admitted complexity involved therein does not equal justifying said criminal behavior. There is explaining and then there is justifying. This is like Sociology 101, try harder. Do better.
posted by joe lisboa at 4:10 PM on September 21, 2010


The author concludes:
If I were mathematically inclined, I might even observe that in my tale, the good guys outnumbered the bad guys, by about 10 to one.


Actually 1 in 30 (or 31) people are 'on paper/in lockup'. Many states have over 40,000+ laws on the books. Add in the Fed laws/regulations that have the force of law to bump up the tally.

Would you know a police state if you were in one?
posted by rough ashlar at 4:49 PM on September 21, 2010


It's called hyperbole, sheesh. Besides, it's all a continuum anyway, right? Stealing other people's stuff is a shitty thing to do, assaulting people whilst stealing their stuff is an even shittier thing to do, killing someone then stealing their stuff is shittier still. Vandalizing their stuff is slightly less shitty but still shitty, littering less shitty than that and so on. So what you're saying, notion, is that once threatened or actual violence comes into the picture the perpetrator is no longer worthy of of your heretofore bottomless well of compassion?

joe lisboa, I think we're all aware that most criminals come from troubled backgrounds, social injustices need to be corrected and prisons need to be reformed. It's just the stubborn insistence of some people to paint this woman who stuck up for herself against a guy who willingly and wantonly commited a crime against her as the bad person here that lends itself so easily to satire.
posted by Jess the Mess at 4:51 PM on September 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


And I know that incarceration decreases their shot at turning their life around, and therefore increases the chances that as soon as they are out, they'll be pulling the same dumb shit one someone else.

As much as I believe criminals should turn their lives around, I don't think letting them get away with crimes will persuade them to stop stealing either.

Could the system be way better? Yes, of course. My preference is to make the miscreants repay what they stole seven times over and then go and sin no more. But until society figures out a way to do something along those lines we are stuck with the system we have. And if an adult robs, burglarizes and steals, they need to have a consequence. (Juveniles have other needs and I agree it's stupid to send them to what amounts to burglar school. But I call it unsanctified mercy to just say ooh, poor criminal and not make them responsible for their actions.)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:13 PM on September 21, 2010


As much as I believe criminals should turn their lives around, I don't think letting them get away with crimes will persuade them to stop stealing either.

How about if we initially give them probation, and only send them to jail if they violate their probation by continuing to commit crimes?
posted by The World Famous at 5:16 PM on September 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


So what you're saying, notion, is that once threatened or actual violence comes into the picture the perpetrator is no longer worthy of of your heretofore bottomless well of compassion?

Don't weasel out of your initial assertion about people who have posted in this thread. Their compassion for the perpetrator doesn't outweighs their compassion for the victim after an assault. No one is making that ridiculous claim but you in your effort to smear people you disagree with.

And no, theft of property is not "slightly less shitty" than theft of property with assault, and assault is not "slightly less shitty" than murdering someone. The willingness to harm another individual for your own personal gain is not in the same ballpark as stealing their stuff. When I was a kid, I snuck a twenty out of my mom's purse. Would that be slightly less shitty than hitting her with a bat and then taking it? Would that be slightly less shitty than hitting her in the head with it until she stopped breathing? Seriously, what planet are you from?

I try to have compassion for everyone, but that doesn't mean I don't understand the need to separate the violent from the non violent. and the sociopaths from the sane. At a certain point a person does lose their privilege to live freely in a society. However, I'd much rather have the police solving every single violent crime, rape, and murder, than wasting time on small property theft. I'd much rather have people convicted of stealing rehabilitated out of that behavior through counseling than locked up with violent criminals, and I imagine anyone who values their humanity and their tax dollars feels the same way.
posted by notion at 5:20 PM on September 21, 2010


I promise I know how to conjugate verbs.
posted by notion at 5:21 PM on September 21, 2010


If you are an adult and you feel entitled to take what you want, you are a narcissist and nothing will ever convince you that others are your equals. This man's life will be full of property crime and other assorted self-centered acts (some probably violent) until he dies.

It is attitudes like this that keep our prisons filled. I hear it all the time, this callous throwing away of the potential of another human being, but it still makes me feel queasy.
posted by agregoli at 5:33 PM on September 21, 2010


Is it so horrible to say that some people in the world are better than others? I may not be a saint, but I'm better than this shitbag, both in education and morality.

Yes, it is horrible, in my opinion. Because you likely didn't start on an even playing field for morality and education. How does having more opportunities make you superior?
posted by agregoli at 5:38 PM on September 21, 2010


Because you likely didn't start on an even playing field for morality and education. How does having more opportunities make you superior?

Why are you assuming that coolguymichael has had more opportunities than every hypothetical criminal in the world?
posted by The World Famous at 5:41 PM on September 21, 2010


For one, because he's not a criminal, or at least professes not to be one. I don't know what you might know about criminal populations, but they're not exactly high on the education or good upbringing scales.
posted by agregoli at 5:46 PM on September 21, 2010


(Recognizing someone's humanity doesn't mean forgiving them for their crimes, by the way.)
posted by agregoli at 5:47 PM on September 21, 2010


The World Famous wrote: "it will keep people from crowing about how probation violations aren't really all that bad."

To be fair, probation violations can be for some pretty penny-ante shit, like living with the wrong person or failing to update your address even though you still go see your probation officer every month and pee in the little cup. (or for failing a drug test when you do pee in the cup)

I'm all for leniency for first time offenders for almost any nonviolent crime (and even some violent crimes of passion) and even more leniency when the crime doesn't actually harm anyone. However, once you've established a pattern of behavior, I don't think it behooves us as a society to let you roam free when you've clearly demonstrated you don't care enough about other people to simply not hurt them and not steal their stuff.

At the same time, I think our prisons are an embarrassment and something must be done about that, but the solution is not to just throw up our hands and say "fuck it, everybody just run wild" and hope that the notion of common decency penetrates the brain of those who choose to turn to crime.

There do exist corner cases where my philosophy would result in unfair punishment. That's what judges are for. It's too bad that we've tied their hands between the mandatory sentencing laws and other things that make real objectivity difficult. Like our prisons, this is a problem to be solved, not an institution to be eliminated.
posted by wierdo at 5:58 PM on September 21, 2010


I don't know what you might know about criminal populations, but they're not exactly high on the education or good upbringing scales.

I've read literature on it and seen statistics. And I also know several people who have done serious time. I only know one person (that I know of) who is currently in prison. He was raised in a strong, well-to-do family with a top-quality education in one of the wealthiest zip codes in the United States. In fact, I would be willing to bet that he had more and better opportunities with regard to morality, education, and other factors than anyone participating in this thread.

So, for the moment, let's set aside every other criminal in the world and leave only this one guy I know. He's currently doing serious time in a state prison. It is his third time in prison. His offense is a serious one - it is not drug related. And his priors include violent crime.

You said above that it is horrible to say that some people in the world are better than others "because [coolguymichael] likely didn't start on an even playing field for morality and education." By your reasoning, is it not horrible to say that some people in the world are better than the convict I know?
posted by The World Famous at 5:58 PM on September 21, 2010


Don't weasel out of your initial assertion about people who have posted in this thread. What assertion? That they all talk like Van Driessen? I'll stand by that assertion 'til the day I die.

And no, theft of property is not "slightly less shitty" than theft of property with assault, and assault is not "slightly less shitty" than murdering someone.
Of course it's not. I said vandalizing something is slightly less shitty than stealing it. I think that's a relatively fair statement. What I'm trying to say is, the place where you're drawing the line is kind of arbitrary and based on your own feelings. You don't feel violated when someone steals from you but a lot of other people do. And guess what? A lot of people who commit the small crimes that you consider better off going unpunished often do work their way up to much nastier stuff. The lack of respect for other human beings that is necessary to being a thief often doen't usually limit itself to thievery. And no, I won't deny that the prison system often helps this trajectory along, but your current alternative, letting people get away with as much harmful behavior as they'd like up to a certain point, is most definitely not the answer.
posted by Jess the Mess at 6:06 PM on September 21, 2010


rough ashlar: "Tales of 'sign up for the military or go to jail' are quite common."

"If you ladies leave my island, if you survive recruit training, you will be a weapon. You will be a minister of death praying for war. But until that day you are pukes. You are the lowest form of life on Earth. You are not even human fucking beings. You are nothing but unorganized grabastic pieces of amphibian shit. Because I am hard you will not like me. But the more you hate me the more you will learn."
posted by bwg at 6:41 PM on September 21, 2010


(Recognizing someone's humanity doesn't mean forgiving them for their crimes, by the way.)

Hey! Stop trying to take away the red herring Mayor Curley, Jess the Mess, and Sandra Regina are operating with!
posted by mreleganza at 7:14 PM on September 21, 2010


notion, I call bullshit. Theft of personal property is not a huge stretch from violent behavior. Both are sociopathic. Both involve a person failing to treat other people like people. They fail at empathy. They don't realize the person they take action against is their mother/father, is their husband/wife, is their 6 yr old child, etc.

I'm sorry but maybe you were somehow raised to not respect the concept of personal property but in my book you don't just take something from someone else. That shows a total lack of respect for that person as a person.

Vandals, also sociopaths and people who use the right hand turn lane to pass traffic at a red light. All of those people make this world a more miserable place.
posted by MrBobaFett at 8:22 PM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Theft of personal property is not a huge stretch from violent behavior... Both involve a person failing to treat other people like people. They fail at empathy. They don't realize the person they take action against is their mother/father, is their husband/wife, is their 6 yr old child, etc

Showing someone disrespect is not the same thing as putting them through trauma. For reference, ask anyone who's been through trauma.

Trauma robs you of your feeling of security no matter where you are. Theft can rob you of that feeling when certain people are around, or in a certain house or neighborhood, but feeling afraid for your things should be different than feeling afraid for yourself. If you identify the things that you own as a part of yourself, your world is seriously fucked up.

To pretend that taking your kids piggy bank to get a fix and beating them is the same thing is simply nonsense.
posted by notion at 9:34 PM on September 21, 2010


A lot of people who commit the small crimes that you consider better off going unpunished often do work their way up to much nastier stuff.

I didn't say they should go unpunished. I said everyone would be better off if they didn't go to jail.

The lack of respect for other human beings that is necessary to being a thief often doen't usually limit itself to thievery. And no, I won't deny that the prison system often helps this trajectory along, but your current alternative, letting people get away with as much harmful behavior as they'd like up to a certain point, is most definitely not the answer

Alright, explain to me how locking someone indoors with violent criminals who may rape them will make them less violent. Keep in mind that that being young and a first offender makes that person a prime candidate for being sodomized against their will.
posted by notion at 9:46 PM on September 21, 2010


I wouldn't call it an obligation, but if you're trying to build a better society, addressing social injustice is a better choice than just throwing people in jail.

as if getting your shit ripped off by some random asshole on the street isn't a social injustice in itself

it happens more to poor people than the affluent, doesn't it?

you forget, sir, that society includes ALL of us, not just the people who you feel sorry for - and that this thief was actively engaged in increasing the injustice in his society by stealing things from people who did not deserve to have things stolen from them

the guy was on probation - the guy had been given a second chance and basically said "fuck you, i'll do what i want"

i don't care what kind of magical social program you think might rehabilitate people; the truth is that some people are stone selfish jerks and are going to continue to do this kind of crap until they suffer a serious consequence - and often even after they suffer it, time and time again

and inherent in all this talk of yours about social injustice is the thought that this criminal is simply doing this so he can fight back with a society that is oppressing him - that it is his way of fighting for his class

bullshit - he's not manning a picket line - or protesting something - or running for office, or supporting someone who does - or, yes, sabotaging something belonging to the powerful or even targeting for assassination someone who is responsible for oppression

all he's doing is stealing whatever he can for his own selfish reasons

if one wants to preserve the current social order, what he is doing is destructive to that - and if one wants to overthrow the current social order, what he is doing is destructive to THAT goal, also
posted by pyramid termite at 9:57 PM on September 21, 2010


pyramid, I said earlier:

The perpetrator wasn't a slave or sharecropper or other indentured servant, so he has no moral right to take what is not his. There is some rational basis for his actions, but the solution isn't to excuse it. The solution is to use the opportunity of community interference to attempt to help him get his life back together and become a productive, or at least non-destructive, member of society. Not holding him accountable for actions, or doing so by throwing him in jail with violent criminals, are two great ways to achieve the same bad result.

And you're saying:

and inherent in all this talk of yours about social injustice is the thought that this criminal is simply doing this so he can fight back with a society that is oppressing him - that it is his way of fighting for his class

You should probably read what I have said in this thread and try again. It basically summarizes like this:

1) The lady was being self-righteous. Turning someone into the police is par for the course, there's no need to pretend it's anything more. Desire for retribution is a primate ethic.

2) The person isn't a violent criminal. Let's punish him with something besides the revolving door of our prison system which will do nothing but make rehabilitation more difficult.

3) If it comes down to a choice between not punishing him and sending him to jail, I'd rather not send him to jail, because that won't make the situation any better. She won't get her stuff back, he won't emerge changed for the better, and what it's mostly going to do is help create another violent criminal and spend tens of thousands of dollars of tax money.

Some people apparently value things as much as they value themselves, and they don't accept this argument. If you think a second offense warrants a 10% chance of sodomy with scattered beatings, you have more in common with the Iranian government than you thought.
posted by notion at 10:28 PM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Notion, how do you know he is not a violent criminal? I didn't notice that the article disclosed what prior offense he was on probation for. You're writing as if he was incarcerated for the crime of theft of the author's belongings when, according to the article, he was incarcerated for violation of probation for an unspecified prior offense. Given the wide variety of priors that could conceivably lead to a two-year stint, I don't think it is at all safe to assume that he is not a violent criminal.

Likewise, your hyperbolic assertion about second offenses and the Iranian government plainly ignores the possibility that the first offense was something significantly worse than petty theft.
posted by The World Famous at 10:40 PM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Given the wide variety of priors that could conceivably lead to a two-year stint, I don't think it is at all safe to assume that he is not a violent criminal.

You're right, there's not enough information to decide either way. For the sake of this argument, that's all the information I had, so I gave him the benefit of the doubt that his priors weren't violent.

Likewise, your hyperbolic assertion about second offenses and the Iranian government plainly ignores the possibility that the first offense was something significantly worse than petty theft.

I know, it's crazy. I don't think any criminal, regardless of their crime, should be raped in prison. Is that some minority opinion in America now?
posted by notion at 10:49 PM on September 21, 2010


pyramid, I said earlier:

The perpetrator wasn't a slave or sharecropper or other indentured servant, so he has no moral right to take what is not his. There is some rational basis for his actions, but the solution isn't to excuse it. The solution is to use the opportunity of community interference to attempt to help him get his life back together and become a productive, or at least non-destructive, member of society. Not holding him accountable for actions, or doing so by throwing him in jail with violent criminals, are two great ways to achieve the same bad result.

And you're saying:

and inherent in all this talk of yours about social injustice is the thought that this criminal is simply doing this so he can fight back with a society that is oppressing him - that it is his way of fighting for his class

You should probably read what I have said in this thread and try again.


That's what's bothering me the most: Those of us who are either mustering some empathy for the perp and/or not really appreciating the tone of the article and/or speaking out against a prison solution are having their views wildly misread or misinterpreted by those on the other side of the argument.

No one is saying he's the "good guy," no one is saying she is the "bad guy," and CERTAINLY no one is saying what we need to do is give him a lollipop, a pat on the back, and thank him for striking a blow against the oppressors for breaking into a random car.

We are saying that this issue is complex and loaded with shades of gray, PEOPLE are complex and loaded with shades of gray, and we might be better served, as a society, by doing a deep dive into that complexity than saying, "Bah! Give him a couple years, he had priors." and changing the channel.

I don't think it is at all safe to assume that he is not a violent criminal.

Likewise, your hyperbolic assertion about second offenses and the Iranian government plainly ignores the possibility that the first offense was something significantly worse than petty theft.


Considering his priors only led to probation, then I think it's bit safer to assume than you think.
posted by mreleganza at 10:58 PM on September 21, 2010


mreleganza wrote: "Considering his priors only led to probation, then I think it's bit safer to assume than you think."

I don't know about California, but around these parts, you'd be surprised at what somebody can get away with probation for.

Throwing a thief in maximum security prison surrounded by rapists is probably not the way to go here. Neither is another attempt at probation without at least some additional punishment. Whatever the correct punishment is, it should involve some sort of job training, education, or other program designed to help get the guy back into normal society.

For all I know, dude is dirt poor and needed some money and at least had the decency to go for the unlocked car to avoid causing damage. For all I know he had no need of money and just decided to steal from whatever vehicle was in front of him at the time. For that reason, I can't say what's appropriate in this instance. I can, however, say that I'm not totally upset at the penalties this guy is facing, again unless the first offense was some penny ante bullshit that didn't deserve even probation in the first place, in which case I'd say prison is probably out of line.
posted by wierdo at 11:09 PM on September 21, 2010


Well, in fairness, someone did suggest above, with a straight face, hat the victim should have called the perpetrator's mom instead of the police.
posted by The World Famous at 11:10 PM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Those of us who are either mustering some empathy for the perp and/or not really appreciating the tone of the article and/or speaking out against a prison solution are having their views wildly misread or misinterpreted by those on the other side of the argument.

that's because you're not offering us a real solution, just some vague "we should be nicer to him because of social injustice"

you're not doing your argument any favors by bringing this aspect into it

We are saying that this issue is complex and loaded with shades of gray, PEOPLE are complex and loaded with shades of gray, and we might be better served, as a society, by doing a deep dive into that complexity than saying, "Bah! Give him a couple years, he had priors."

what you miss is that it's not just a matter of rehabilitation or punishment - it's also a matter of self-protection

he won't be breaking into cars during those two years

other ways were tried and it didn't work - mulling over the complexities can be a way of avoiding a solution - and at least some aspect of the problem is solved by keeping him locked up for a couple of years

you've offered nothing that doesn't have that concrete a result, however flawed it may be
posted by pyramid termite at 11:22 PM on September 21, 2010


well, i seem to be replying to the wrong person, but my points still stand
posted by pyramid termite at 11:28 PM on September 21, 2010


Some people apparently value things as much as they value themselves

some people work their asses off to get those things - if you wish to live a monastic, holier than thou life, go ahead, but the rest of us aren't required to

If you think a second offense warrants a 10% chance of sodomy with scattered beatings, you have more in common with the Iranian government than you thought.

if you think this is anything but specious rhetoric, you're mistaken
posted by pyramid termite at 11:32 PM on September 21, 2010


Well, in fairness, someone did suggest above, with a straight face, hat the victim should have called the perpetrator's mom instead of the police.

...if the goal was to try for some higher moral standard than calling the police.

You must own a shitload of cornfields.
posted by notion at 11:42 PM on September 21, 2010


some people work their asses off to get those things - if you wish to live a monastic, holier than thou life, go ahead, but the rest of us aren't required to

Taking a small percentage of your monthly pay isn't on the same scale as taking your house or your car away. This is probably the same reason you're confused on what social justice means.

if you think this is anything but specious rhetoric, you're mistaken

It's a serious question. Do you or do you not think that petty crime warrants a 10% chance of sodomy in prison? If the answer is yes, that's something you have in common with the Iranian government.

If you want to be lazy and dismiss it as rhetoric because you don't like your answer, that's one way to avoid dealing with the issue at hand.
posted by notion at 11:49 PM on September 21, 2010


pyramid termite wrote: "some people work their asses off to get those things - if you wish to live a monastic, holier than thou life, go ahead, but the rest of us aren't required to"

I may be heavily into buying shiny things, but occasionally I lose them or they get stolen. I say "damn, that blows" and move on. Monastic, I am not. Realistic about the value of things, I am. Feeling personally violated because something of yours was stolen by someone you don't know when you weren't even present seems very odd to me. Alien, even.
posted by wierdo at 11:51 PM on September 21, 2010


Taking a small percentage of your monthly pay isn't on the same scale as taking your house or your car away.

ah, old school liberalism - the kind where a person is only emphatic towards those he can feel superior to by "helping" them

This is probably the same reason you're confused on what social justice means.

more poor people lose things by theft than rich people do

i pointed that out - i also pointed out that you don't have a concrete solution

get back to me when you do
posted by pyramid termite at 12:03 AM on September 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I may be heavily into buying shiny things, but occasionally I lose them or they get stolen. I say "damn, that blows" and move on. Monastic, I am not. Realistic about the value of things, I am. Feeling personally violated because something of yours was stolen by someone you don't know when you weren't even present seems very odd to me. Alien, even.

This is the result of living in a very forgiving environment (support system, relatives, cash cushion, good job, possessions that are not necessities). Try feeling this way after:

a) your car is stolen
b) you have a 50 mile commute poorly served by public transit to your minimum wage job
c) you have a grand total of $100 in your checking account

Having stuff stolen can ruin your life if you are tottering on the edge of poverty.
posted by benzenedream at 2:26 AM on September 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Having property stolen and losing property are not the same thing. It would really upset me if I accidentally dropped my camera into the Grand Canyon. I saved up for a while to get that and I love using it. I really would have cared less if it was my Batman Forvever DVD.
However if that same DVD was stolen I would be furious. I'm not just out $20, I was violated. My basic human rights were violated. I was treated as sub-human by another. Unless something has been done to stop this other person there is no reason to believe he won't do it again and take more of my stuff or others, or break it or hurt them or me. Because it is treating others with respect that makes us good people.

Violating another's rights is not cool.

Also speaking of strawmen, I didn't see anyone advocating that this guy get raped.
posted by MrBobaFett at 5:07 AM on September 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


pyramid, you're being incoherent (and responding to the wrong people) but here's where you are flatly misinformed when it comes to crime and incarceration.

other ways were tried and it didn't work - mulling over the complexities can be a way of avoiding a solution - and at least some aspect of the problem is solved by keeping him locked up for a couple of years

First of all, you don't take into account the costs to society at large for the difference in options. Let's say this person experiences $1,000 in lost property and time due to the theft. Should we really lock the guy up at the expense of $60,000 a year to make up for it? If he's robbing someone every week, maybe.

Secondly, locking him up temporarily solves the problem at great monetary cost and increases the chance that he comes out the other end a more hardened criminal. Subjecting someone to the American prison system means that there is a 1 in 20 chance he will be raped, and a one in 4 chance that he'll be subject to violence, and a one hundred percent chance that he will be subject to humiliation. That's not a strawman, that's a reasonably expected result of that particular action. If your attitude is "not my problem" then you aren't being realistic about the results. Eventually the guy is going to get out. Do you want him to be more or less likely to assault someone or commit another crime?

If you keep escalating the stakes without providing him a real opportunity to atone for his actions, in my opinion, you are failing at basic ethical reasoning. Rehabilitation saves money, and it's more effective than jail at reducing repeat offenses. What is so difficult to understand about that, and why would you prefer a more expensive solution that doesn't work as well? It seems like a preference for a bizarre sort of arms race where everyone loses.
posted by notion at 8:20 AM on September 22, 2010


You must own a shitload of cornfields.

Maybe it's too early in the morning. But I'm sitting here trying to figure out what you mean by that. I mean, I can tell it's intended to be a personal attack of some kind against me. But I cannot, for the life of me, figure out what it means. I consider myself to be a fairly culturally literate person. But it's going right past me. I feel like I did when I was 5 and the 10-year-old across the street called me a motherf**ker and I smiled and waved in response. Can you please explain?
posted by The World Famous at 8:41 AM on September 22, 2010


The thing I wonder about is if it's really this easy to catch people selling stolen stuff on the interwebs, why aren't the police routinely monitoring craigslist, ebay etc for stolen goods?

LOL. My house was burglarized; over $2,000 of property stolen.

The police didn't even come out to the house.

As someone who is strongly anti-prison and pro-rehabilitation, I still wanted the people who did it caught, of course, and not (only) because I didn't want them to strike again.

The callous disregard for what other people find valuable and is not to you, and so either discarded or destroyed, is one of the evils of this kind of crime.

Yeah. The actual material and money stolen was not what hurt. Our house was TRASHED, and all of our photos and videos from this year are gone. That's what hurt.

Feeling personally violated because something of yours was stolen by someone you don't know when you weren't even present seems very odd to me.

Do you not have material that you keep private? How would you like someone to see/read it, damage it, then strew it around your neighborhood? How do you know what they did or didn't do to your toothbrush?

And yes, of course, prison is a failure.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:02 AM on September 22, 2010


Dunno if this is to me, but I guessed he was poor because he has priors, didnt go to college, and worked at Applebees.

I think it depends on your definition of poor. I know people who have been arrested, people who didn't go to college, and people who worked in drug stores and grocery stores and McDonalds -- and none of them were poor in the sense that they were all raised by middle class families and were doing just fine with money. There's a wide chasm between poor and trust fund kid.
posted by davejay at 10:06 AM on September 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


ALso:

You must own a shitload of cornfields.

CHILDREN OF THE CORN, MUTHERFUCKERZ!

In all seriousness, though, I can't make sense of this comment either.
posted by davejay at 10:08 AM on September 22, 2010


You must own a shitload of cornfields.

I assume he is suggesting that you are setting up and knocking down strawmen. Normally one would use straw, grown in a straw field to do that. But some people do not know that corn and straw are different plants...
posted by MrBobaFett at 10:15 AM on September 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I took it as an oblique (opaque?) reference to wishing someone into a cornfield
posted by zarq at 10:24 AM on September 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


First of all, you don't take into account the costs to society at large for the difference in options.

and you don't take into account the costs to society at large of increased fear, community disruption, security systems, etc

Secondly, locking him up temporarily solves the problem at great monetary cost and increases the chance that he comes out the other end a more hardened criminal.

letting him continue his crime spree also increases the chance that he will be a more hardened criminal

If you keep escalating the stakes without providing him a real opportunity to atone for his actions, in my opinion, you are failing at basic ethical reasoning.

disingenuous - we're not escalating the stakes, HE is, by refusing to follow the conditions of his probation

Rehabilitation saves money, and it's more effective than jail at reducing repeat offenses.

only if the person is willing to go along with the program - this person wasn't

your absolute refusal to acknowledge that there are some people who will just not go along with the programs you vaguely propose means that you are not facing the problem as it is

pyramid, you're being incoherent

at least i'm not accusing people of agricultural wealth

---

But I'm sitting here trying to figure out what you mean by that.

perhaps the iranians are getting into the ethanol industry - is that a scarecrow in your cornfield or a mullah?
posted by pyramid termite at 10:26 AM on September 22, 2010


You must own a shitload of cornfields.

I assume he is suggesting that you are setting up and knocking down strawmen.


Oh, now I get it!

But as the owner of a shitload of cornfields, I have a direct pecuniary interest in making sure none of my straw men get knocked down, don't I? I mean, they are there to keep crows from eating the corn, are they not? And if I'm the owner of all that corn, I certainly don't want my straw men knocked down. A wealthy corn magnate would never knock down a straw man. Unless it was the straw man of one of his or her competitors.

So, really, the attack should have been: "You must be a wealthy corn magnate whose competitor owns a shitload of cornfields guarded by straw men, and you must be just the sort of unscrupulous corn magnate who would employ tactics such as instructing your underlings to maliciously sabotage the scarecrows that protect your competitor's cornfields!"

But even then, the attack would have no sting. For I am not, in fact, a prominent corn farmer. Indeed, my vast tracts of land are utilized primarily for the cultivation of hardcore taters.
posted by The World Famous at 10:30 AM on September 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Indeed, my vast tracts of land are utilized primarily for the cultivation of hardcore taters.

better not tell him about the fertilizer plant, then - or the rapeseed crop in the back 40

not that he would know shit from canola anyway
posted by pyramid termite at 10:34 AM on September 22, 2010


"You must be a wealthy corn magnate whose competitor owns a shitload of cornfields guarded by straw men, and you must be just the sort of unscrupulous corn magnate who would employ tactics such as instructing your underlings to maliciously sabotage the scarecrows that protect your competitor's cornfields!"

Strawman Sabotage?
posted by zarq at 11:12 AM on September 22, 2010


You must own a shitload of cornfields.

Probably planted with genetically engineered corn! And you're probably suing the organic corn farmer next door because he's stealing your proprietary pollen!
posted by rtha at 11:16 AM on September 22, 2010


I grew up in the south. Historically, a farmer would use scarecrows in their cornfields, usually made out of straw. It wasn't a great joke for a number of reasons.

You must be a wealthy corn magnate whose competitor owns a shitload of cornfields guarded by straw men, and you must be just the sort of unscrupulous corn magnate who would employ tactics such as instructing your underlings to maliciously sabotage the scarecrows that protect your competitor's cornfields!

not that he would know shit from canola anyway

I don't accept thesaurus fetishism or spiteful ad-hominem as a substitute for rational argument. Cleverness really loses it's appeal when it doesn't exist to serve a purpose beyond smug self-satisfaction. I fully confess that I get caught up in the argument myself, and have thrown some punches below the rhetorical belt, but really: is this the best you have to offer?
posted by notion at 12:46 PM on September 22, 2010


is this the best you have to offer?

No. I never waste my "A" material on MetaFilter.

And anyway, what you apparently called a straw man was my saying that someone in the thread had suggested that the theft victim should have called the thief's mother rather than the police. That's not a straw man. You actually did suggest that.
posted by The World Famous at 1:00 PM on September 22, 2010


It's so strange reading this post and all of the responses. Tuesday morning, my apartment was robbed while I was asleep. They took stuff from my bedroom, including my DSlite which was on the bed next to me. I feel really violated. And yes, I do want the person who did this to go to jail, even though I have renter's insurance and all of my stuff will be replaced.

I keep checking Craigslist, but I haven't seen my stuff yet.
posted by domo at 2:10 PM on September 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


No. I never waste my "A" material on MetaFilter.

Well, it's good to know it's wasted somewhere. (See? Anyone can pull it off being smug. When you're on the internet, it's like getting wet in the rain.)

And anyway, what you apparently called a straw man was my saying that someone in the thread had suggested that the theft victim should have called the thief's mother rather than the police. That's not a straw man. You actually did suggest that.

No. I said if she's going to do something better than call the police, then public shaming would be an option: Let me contextualize my response: if she had simply done all of this and moved on with her life, I really couldn't find fault with her actions. People are busy, and her response is everything you would expect. But the fact that she boasts about her actions as if they had some higher moral value is what I take issue with. She's reveling in simple retribution as if it were meaningful.
posted by notion at 2:56 PM on September 22, 2010


Anyone can pull it off being smug.

Oh please. You were being silly and I was being silly right back. If you don't want ridiculous responses, don't say things like "is that the best you have to offer?"
posted by The World Famous at 3:12 PM on September 22, 2010


They took stuff from my bedroom, including my DSlite which was on the bed next to me.

that is some seriously scary shit
posted by pyramid termite at 9:01 PM on September 22, 2010


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