Thursday, November 3, 2011

Which wrong(s) make a man guilty?

In my perusing of news reports, I came across this gem.  Clearly this individual was 'up to something' in this scenario, but what justified the move by police to intercept him in the first place?  Also, notice on which events the Washington Post places more weight.  It isn't the fact that he's already committing a crime by possessing a controlled substance.  It's not even the fact that he had a firearm on school property.  No, they mention and emphasize FIRST his activities as a 13 and 15 year old kid.
His age at time of arrest?  26.  That's 11 years.  11 years of no (mentioned) charges.  11 years of being a productive member of society.  (Or at least not being a drain on the system, from what we're able to tell.)
From the story:
Magistrate Judge Mark D. Clarke said the weapons and the books, each by themselves, did not make Amoroso a danger. But taken together — along with his arrest at age 15 for shooting a pellet gun at a passing boat filled with tourists on the Rogue River, and writing on a classroom desk at 13 that he wanted to kill teachers and students — there was enough evidence to show he posed a danger.
Is it really that difficult a concept to consider that someone participating in a sport is going to take it seriously, do research, purchase equipment, and the like?  I know hunters who consume sniper-related material like water, simply because it's a passion for them.  The challenge of learning how to make shots which seem impossible, the tricks and tools used to calculate the ballistics, and other factors readily turn this into an exciting hobby for many.  
So the magistrate judge and the post both look to this person's past.  What makes it so hard to believe that a 13 year old boy would feel anger toward other students and teachers?  Perhaps he was bullied, or had bad grades and was frustrated.  Perhaps he was just a normal kid, who made the mistake of writing what he was thinking.  And that was half his life ago.  
So let's move up a few years, find something more recent.  He was a 15 year old with a toy pellet gun.  15 year old kids aren't known for making the best choices across the board.  It might have been beneficial to him to have had somewhat 'closer adult supervision' than he had that day.  But again, once incident, shooting pellets at a boat, and years later it's being brought up as a sign of how dangerous he is.
It's not until they go through all this that they bother to discuss the crimes he was ACTUALLY COMMITTING at the time of his arrest.  These are plenty reason to lock him up for a while, and press charges.  While I absolutely understand the logic behind eliminating the war on drugs, and legalizing them for various reasons, that isn't the reality in which we live.  As such, his possession of drugs is a viable, legitimate charge.  As is his possessing a weapon on school property.  Again, I understand the reasons for wanting that foolish law repealed as well, and I whole-heartedly support that movement.  But that's not reality.  The law is still there, so it is still a crime.  But they still can't, in their biased minds, differentiate between the actual crimes, and perceived crimes:
Police found a loaded pistol, hundreds of rounds of rifle ammunition, marijuana, a camouflage jacket, and a novel about a sniper attack on a football game in his car.
What about having rifle ammo in his car is so bad, especially when the only firearm found in the vehicle is a handgun?  What about a jacket that happens to be a certain color scheme is so terrible?  Why is possessing a book so evil?  Should we burn all books that mention the word 'sniper' or 'gun' to protect people?  Are we really at that point?
I get that adding all this up, the guy looks suspicious, and frankly he's a bit of an idiot for his behavior, but let's not start a witch hunt over perceived wrongs.  Let's focus on what he ACTUALLY did, and let the justice system do it's job.  There are enough straw men around, we don't need to be building more out of excessive paranoia.

No comments:

Post a Comment