Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Who's To Blame?

An unfortunate yet understandable ingredient in my line of work, is having to deal with some of the sickest individuals in our society. I attended a training seminar this afternoon whose topic was sex crimes and the role that law enforcement officers play in the successful prosecution of these miscreants. Sidebar - I have seen some of the most disgusting and heinous scenes imaginable, yet what I saw and heard testified to today caused my stomach to turn. On the ride home, a co-worker and I had an engaging conversation on...Why? What is it that causes sexual predators and molesters to do what they do? And should we really buy into many of their absurd defenses; namely that they simply cannot control their "urges" and that genetics are really to blame? Admittedly, there are people "smarter" than I who have stated clinical opinions on the issue, and I do not purport to have any clinical evidence on which to base my opinion. But I believe that a look at the basic components of human nature will offer us some enlightning insight into that nagging and seemingly unanswerable question...Why? Here is my $.02.

I believe that our very nature seeks to avoid being wrong and when we are indeed proven wrong and have no "out", our nature takes the next step and looks for a scapegoat; something, someone or somewhere that we can drop blame so as to avoid being accountable for our misdeeds. Let's look at this...

A child molester is placed on trial for numerous acts of sexual molestation. His defense? A genetic imbalance prohibited him from understanding the wrong in sodomizing young children; a defense he vigorously maintained until the prosecution discovers videotapes made by the defendant while committing these despicable acts. An immediate recess was pleaded to by the defense and a change of pleas was not far behind. Far-fetched? Not hardly. This is a true story.

Obviously, those videos completely changed the course of that trial, but why? Here's why...there is no explanation, there is no rationalizing, there is no genetic imbalance that could excuse the actions of this man. It was not a genetic imbalance and when all the cards were laid out and no other scapegoats remained, the only other explanation to offer was the one that the defendant knew all along..."I was wrong and should not have done what I did. How can I avoid as much punishment for my wrongdoing as possible?"
If I, a somewhat reasonable human being, do something and I believe that it was an acceptable act, should I fear a video of me committing this percieved "acceptable" act? Of course not.
The alcoholic, the child molestor, the my opinion, none of these people were "born that way". Somewhere in their lives, they zigged when they should have zagged and as a result, they are the way they are. What better way to avoid personal accountability that to blame wrongdoing on something so totally out of our control as genetic makeup?


Barb said...

How true - it is completely normal to avoid taking responsibility for actions that are deemed unsatisfactory by others. Of course, most of us learned to take responsibility as children - through the morals and ethics taught to us by our parents, family, friends, etc. It seems to me that a huge gap between personal actions and responsibility for those actions exists right now - and that saddens me. Many young people are waiting for their parents to guide them, and they're getting "friends" instead of parents. Yikes.

However, I do feel (without clinical knowledge or training) that there are some who are just bad. Whether they could have ever been raised right is now moot, and they have no morals, and only their own rules to follow. They don't care about society, except for more victims, and I often struggle with a desire to put them down like dogs. It's not a charitable position, but it's that or lock them up forever, and I personally think it's better to remove them permanently. I guess I sound bloodthirsty, but it's not revenge, it's doing what seems the best for the whole society.

USMC2336 said...

The key thing that you need to remember in the line of work that we have choosen is that our job is to try and protect the innocent from these types of people. Once we have caught and charged these people they are going to say and do anything to try and lessen the punishment they will receive. But we can not burden ourselves with trying to understand why they do what they do. If too much time is spent on trying to rationalize why we may lose sight of the main objective... Protect, Serve, and make it home in the same condition as when we check 10-8.