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Kevin Wolf

Luckily, your perspective, while not unique, is still relatively rare. But only someone who has lived it can explain it. Good post.

I tend to be more lenient in my assessments of these things, good Lefty that I am, but it certainly doesn't hurt to take in all info from all sides and come up with solutions that don't offend the victims.

To me, the real problem is the attempt to legislate absolutely everything (criminal penalties, etc.) which ties the hands of all involved in the "pursuit of justice" - which is hard enough to obtain without having options taken away from the suspect, the victim, and the system.


I grew up (and by "grew up" I mean from my mid-teens) in Chicago, in a highly-patrolled but still hazardous South Side neighborhood. I got jumped only once, by 3 underage kids, half a block from my house, and only by raising holy hell (and after they had kneed me in the balls), did they run away. I subsequently wandered the streets at night, for years, and without incident, but with eyes in the back of my head and ears cocked and knowing every block and alley and posture of anyone a quarter-mile away.
I knew way too many women - fellow students, workers, guests - who had been raped (and they were not being careless) to know that as a not-small guy I could walk around with an advantage. Even that didn't prevent the annual burglaries, which seemed to get past every security measure installed after the last one, and which increased in malice as the kids who broke in got older. We had a pretty good idea of who was responsible for the break-ins (as did the cops), but you have to catch these guys in the act in order to nail them, and even reformed Chicago cops couldn't do much more than shrug and sigh in the aftermaths.

Much, much worse for me was my first experience of domestic violence, in LA. A very swift education in psychos (you can learn a lot in 6 months, and street-smarts have nothing to do with it). I'll tell you, though, that the women I knew were the best guides through that experience, and I tried their patience - the process itself is agony, and it doesn't work very well, and when you have no experience of violence, it's far too easy to go numb, turn into a zombie. I needed a lot of talking to.
My sleep isn't disturbed any longer by any of this, and the scabs are long gone, but there are scars. Don't wake me suddenly, or I'll cry out and shatter some glass.

Lance Mannion

Blue Girl,

I know how it feels to look down the barrel of a gun. I also looked down the shaft of a knife at the same time. I was double-teamed by a pair of thugs one night in Boston.

And I wasn't the least bit scared.

I wasn't brave. I was just too surprised. I literally couldn't believe it was happening. I even said to the muggers that I was amazed at their choice of mugging spots. Nobody would ever expect to be mugged here, I said. They weren't impressed by the compliment.

The point is that these guys were bad dudes, and I wish they'd been caught and sent to jail, but their crime didn't include terrorizing their victim. Only by accident though. So should they have been punished less than the guy who mugged you?


Juries and judges are supposed to take everything into consideration to reach their verdicts and impose sentences, including the fact that the victim was a short woman in one case and a six foot tall man in another.

Terrorizing you was a foreseeable fallout of his crime and choosing you over someone like me makes his crime more dastardly.

But judges and juries have to take into account his thinking and character too. This is why mandatory sentencing is a bad idea. The crime against me was not as vicious as the crime against you, although on the books they look the same.

The fact is that the two guys who mugged me might really have been worse criminals than the one who mugged you. My guys might have been perfectly willing to kill me if I'd put up a fuss like you did. Your guy, despite his show of violence, might have run away if you'd put up more of one.

Who the guy is and what he intended matters, if it can be determined.

That's why that dopy kid was done an injustice. All the facts weren't taken into consideration. Just his act.

blue girl

Lance, who you callin' short?

Ok. Ok. So I'm vertically-callenged. And so was my bad buy -- at 6' tall, you coulda kicked his butt! How I would have loved you to have been there --

I'm confident that with your quick wit, he would have not run away with my new purse. The one that that I got swindled into buying by the obnoxious saleswoman in NYC just a couple of months prior. (In the big picture, NOT that big of a deal, but ya gotta understand, no one else in this city had such a gorgeous, unique over-priced bag! Grrrr.)

For all the reasons you write about above, I am confident I would be a thoughtful juror. Except the point about the punishment being tied somehow to the reaction of the victim. No matter my stuttering or your verbal Ju-Jitsu, they had deadly weapons and were, ultimately in control.

How lucky we are to be doing this important "blog" work now! If our brains would've been splattered on the sidewalks, oh well...only a small circle would've cared, I guess.

Since starting this blog, I've learned it's not enough just to have an opinion, or be able to somehow get it into words for the blog world to read.

I've also learned that I better gosh darn be able to frame an argument, while writing well.

Darn you! You force me to write more and think more. Since you've put the proverbial gun to my head, here goes.

My point was not to defend mandatory sentences proposed by a politician trying to get re-elected on the platform of being "tough on crime."

My point was Stephen Elliott's way of writing about this kid.

Here are his phrases:

"He places the gun against the clerk's chest..."

"places?" -- please: jabbed, stuck, shoved -- even "poked" would've been better.

"...the gun is fired leaving a tidy hole in the store rooftop."

"tidy?" -- yeah, I'm not up on the exact wording of how fast a bullet, a projectile meant to rip something to shreds, flies out of a weapon, but a "tidy" hole?

"As it blew through the roof" -- sounds better to me.

"Plaster and dust sprinkles on the combatants..."

"sprinkles?" -- Makes me want to bake sugar cookies for my Grandma.

"combatants?" -- Did these guys know when they took the job at this convenience store that they were also signing up to be soldiers? They are not this kid's equals in crime -- they were hired to be clerks, not combatants.

"His record is as clean as an upscale restaurant." Grrrr. I do not like this line at all.

"No one was hurt." -- Completely narrow-minded. All it takes is a little imagination.

My batteries running low, I'm going to have to finish this later.

In the meantime -- have a safe trip to Boston this weekend.

Lance Mannion

Blue Girl,

What quick wits? I'm telling you, my wits weren't working. That's why I wasn't scared. If I'd been thinking I'd have been terrified.

But because I wasn't scared, what they did to me wasn't as bad as what that guy did to you.

But it was.

Except it wasn't.

I wasn't hurt by my mugging. You were hurt by yours. It's really possible that no one was hurt in that stick up.

I can understand why you are bothered by Elliott's word choices, though.

And I make *you* think? What do you suppose you do to me? I was happily losing IQ points by the day until you showed up.

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