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Tag Archives: crime

Bowling team member accused of assault and battery

Typical. We all know how bowlers are, don’t we? It just goes to show.

Or,

Surfer Jailed for Drunk and Disorderly Conduct

Lacrosse Players Convicted of Rape

The question I’m trying to raise is why specify sport, except where the perpetrator is a world-renowned athlete, or the crime is directly connected with the sport, as in,

Golfer Clubs Hamster to Death,

Rugby Players Attack Opposing Team, or

Boxer Throws Female Admirer Out of the Ring, Cracking Ribs

Because headline writers count on raising reader interest by playing on stereotypes, so we can feel good about having them confirmed by an independent source.

Here are some real headlines I found, after I got fed one too many radio reports on football players’ crimes. Do these real headlines sound more plausible? Or do you wonder, like I do, what football has to do with the story at all?

High School Football Players Accused of Sexual Assault Make 1rst Court Appearance

Kishawn Tre Holmes & Byron Holt Jr., High School Football Players, Charged In Sexual Assault Case

Steubenville High School Football Players Convicted of Rape are Sentenced

3 Oregon State Football Players Jailed on Counts of 3rd Degree Assault, Disorderly Conduct

Football players are disproportionately represented in such headlines, from what I can tell.

If someone wants to show, with adequate data and good scientific analysis, that being a football player is associated with a predisposition toward violent crime more than any other sport (or along with, say, tennis or curling), they can go ahead and try. But it’s unfair to associate, without explanation, a crime with a sport, as it is with a race or nationality, just for effect. At the very least journalists should consider the feelings of the many upstanding and law-abiding football players (and their relatives and friends) among their readership.

So how about being fair and specifying all sports and leisure pursuits in crime headlines, and see what interesting reactions we can create in readers’ minds?

Diver Smothers Aunt in Fit of Rage

Hurdler Jumps Ship with Smuggled Cocaine

Head of Quilting Association Hijacks Small Aircraft

 
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Posted by on November 25, 2013 in Media, Writing

 

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Is it the element within, something under the skin?

In the aftermath of media coverage of heinous crimes, there is always some exploration into the nature of the perpetrator’s character. Acquaintances sometimes report having known there was “something wrong” with such-and-such a person, which gives us all pause as we consider how we can reach out and help those with similar mental health issues. Other times, the search for signs of mental instability, radicalization,  psychopathology, differentness, seems fruitless. How could we have known? Were we all out of touch? Could we have discerned something wrong?

Are the elements of character that can result in choices to commit premeditated violent crimes discernible, at least in hindsight? Can we enter all the information gathered about previous crimes in a database, create the appropriate algorithms, and design an app that uses its powers of deduction to predict the development of criminal character?

In G.K. Chesterton’s murder mysteries, the amateur detective Father Brown takes the view that identifying the character flaws, motives, and even opportunities to commit crime can be best seen from behind our own eyes. It’s not merely about criminal psychology and powers of deduction. For Father Brown, understanding comes through imagining, remembering, mentally following the trail as it would unfold for him personally, were he in similar circumstances. This is why he is so drained by the process of detection–he has to come to terms with how closely he may resemble a murderer, how fine is the line between someone who only imagines committing violence, and one who plans and executes it. Father Brown also carries within him an understanding of human nature as revealed in the confession box, and knows that the “monster” that commits murder in present in some form in all of us.

Why some and not others cross the line, it seems to me, is not so much about an imbalanced distribution of God’s grace from some (“There, but for the grace of God, go I”), but is much more complex. The more we learn about what criminals have done, the more we sense that we all share some responsibility. It takes God’s grace, yes, but I think that grace plays out largely through human beings who live with their eyes and hearts open to others, and who treat encounters with other human beings as all part of God’s call to be a blessing.

 

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