[*BCM*] Cyclist foils heist, Boston Phoenix 9/28
gh3451 at yahoo.com
Sat Sep 29 10:31:05 EDT 2007
I guess my main point was left in the dust. Let me quote from the BCM website: "The Revolution Will Not Be Motorized." A flip quote maybe, but I would agree with the premise that a revolution, at least in our assumptions and ways of thinking, would be beneficial.
It is not that I don't expect that the general population will have the law and order viewpoint, it's that I would expect this group to have more in sympathy with a lawbreaker than with the law by the very nature of your main activity.
I also know the rage that can be sparked by the adreneline rush. When an SUV deliberately hit me on my bike in Chinatown, I kept riding (thankfully I could) because at that moment I could have killed the driver with my bare hands, I have never been so goddam mad in my life, but in that instant I learned that I could control that impulse and rise above the moment. For me, at least, it was enlightening.
Through my own circumstances I have been pretty close to the street for most of my life. At this moment I am involved with a group trying to address violence in Boston and I am coming up against many of the built-in realities of our system. Perhaps my own experiences are what give me empathy.
I always ask the "why" questions. Why was the bike being stolen, why was my car broken into, why was my landlord mugged, and why, for that matter, the almost universal hostility toward bikes? But also why is it so hard to change things. This incident has shed a little light on that for me.
John Hays <jjhays2 at gmail.com> wrote:
While I strongly oppose all laws against the consensual growth,
manufacture, distribution, possession and use of drugs of all kinds, and
I fully agree that drug laws ruin lives, and that drug laws also
necessarily increase the price of drugs, which can lead marginal drug
users to theft -- all of that is COMPLETELY BESIDES THE POINT, absent
further evidence, because there's currently no evidence that any of that
applies to this asshole. I strongly disagree that most theft in the city
is fueled by drug addiction, simply because there's far, far more
property theft in the city than drug addicts can account for. As someone
who lives in Allston, it's abundantly clear to me that drug addiction is
rarely the underlying cause of property theft. College students, and
young people in their 20s generally, are inveterate thieves, and you
have lots of petty theft wherever large numbers of them congregate. They
are also rarely drug addicts.
Some people have minimized the severity of crime by scoffing at the
importance of 'property' (conveniently forgetting the assault). While I
think this is misguided for several reasons, I would just point out that
the 'things' we legitimately acquire are the result of the product of
hours of our own labor. If your $300 bike is stolen, and you worked at
$10/hr job to raise the money to buy it, then you've lost more than a
physical thing -- you've lost the 30+ hours of your own time that you
invested into one pursuit over another, perhaps more enjoyable pursuit,
in order to acquire it. That is, I think, no small crime.
I have serious objections to the criminal 'justice' system, as well
as the justice of deliberately inflicting unpleasantness onto people as
retribution for a crime (as opposed to say, a framework designed around
restitution to victims); but what I have no doubt about is that this
bicycle thief has committed a grievous wrong, and I'm not going to
lament his punishment too much.
Paul Centro wrote:
> It might have been interesting if someone had spoken to James Johnson,
> the alleged perp, for his side of the story. While I do not know his
> circumstances, let me suggest an alternative read for stories such as
> -Drug addict in the throes of addiction needs money for a fix. John
> Doe of Boston who has been unable to find steady employment due to
> arrests in his youth for minor offenses finds himself in increasingly
> desperate circumstances. What started out as recreational use of
> cocaine has become a $50 a day methamphetamine addiction. "I'd like
> to kick, but I cannot afford treatment and all of the subsidized slots
> are filled," says Mr. Doe.
> "I'm really sorry about the bike, and you have to understand how
> desperate I am, I'm looking at 2 years in jail due to prior
> convictions. Running is the only choice I have right now."
> Is this so far fetched? I would argue that most of the property crime
> in this city is perpetrated for just such reasons. Can we feel good
> that this person was caught? What's to become of him? Jail at 40k+ a
> year with no rehab or job training at worst, unable to work because of
> a CORI that will follow him for the rest of his life and vote
> dis-enfranchisement at best is what it looks like to me. All this for
> a bike? I see no justice here.
> Make no mistake, we pay for folks to use drugs and crime is the method
> of payment. Drug laws have a human cost and I think it's time for a
> little empathy in place of punishment. I am disappointed that someone
> involved with Critical Mass is so stoked at the result. If these
> folks are unable to see beneath the surface of things, who is?
> Peter McNeff,
> Jamaica Plain
> Pinpoint customers
> are looking for what you sell.
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> list at bostoncriticalmass.org
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