Saturday, December 21, 2013
Vindication of a Criminal
Crime has existed almost as long as mankind has, and has ingrained itself as an Achilles’s heel in our society. It can neither be eradicated nor foreseen and has to be borne. The scriptures and murals of the ancient world also depict petty thieves, gamblers, and warmongers. In today’s world, the media has given us as a comprehensive picture of the scale of atrocity that our society sees on a daily basis. The past month has witnessed sexual scandals, a brutal assault in an ATM, shocking murders, chain snatching, robberies, and child trafficking. Corruption too has bewitched our society, right from the petty bribes we pay all the way up to multibillion scandals that have defaced our country’s image. Crime, at each level of hierarchy, is here to stay.
Our heart melts when we read about a 10 year old girl ruthlessly raped 20 times a day, or about an old lady who was struck on the head with a machete. We are left ruing the state of our society and hoping the law takes it proper recourse and strikes the criminals. Most of us also seem to have a flair for sensationalism and jump at any opportunity to be armchair critics and pass their own judgements and character assassinations. However, thinking beyond all these knee jerk reactions, have we ever spent time pondering over what creates these criminals? Why has crime become so rampant that criminals have formed their own class and strata in society? What were the factors that fostered and drove them to become so heartless and wretched?
‘Criminals are not born. They are made’
At some point of time in our lives, each one of has felt tempted to commit a crime, irrespective of the gravity of it. Sometimes, we are so insinuated by injustice or malice, that we start fuelling a vendetta against someone. We might have really wanted to kill someone because of blind hatred and irritation. We have contemplated running off from shops without paying. Some of us have probably even stolen small amounts of change from our parents! Personally, I have always had this kleptomaniacal urge to steal chocolates and even did it once! We all have our share of petty lies and blames.
‘Our impulses are too strong for our judgement sometimes’
However, it is that one instigative spark at such a moment that transforms an ordinary man into a criminal. Your entire future boils down to that one threshold decision you take (To be, or not to be). Most of us have the sense to dispel these petty thoughts as soon as they are formed. Some, however, play along with these malicious ideas and step foot into a world of ignominy and sin. So, what leads them to this wrong decision?
'The laws of genetics apply even if you refuse to learn them'
Science has explanations that delve into pathology and genetics. Researchers have proven that most criminals have a particular chromosome passed down that makes crime inherent in their genes. This gene may go undiscovered for generations before a person actually exhibits such traits. This chromosome has also been said to be the reason for most criminals being male. In any case, the evidence has been insufficient to firmly assert that criminals are born. Genetic disorder, in spite of having little weightage, simply cannot be used an excuse for those who commit crime.
‘Circumstances make man, not man circumstances’
Environment is another factor that breeds criminals. Poverty is one such factor where basic necessity drives people into resorting to wrong ways. Their impoverishment often leaves them with no other option. Their only goal is to survive tomorrow, even if it renders them blind to all ethics or justice of any sort. Various mafia movies have depicted how poor and ordinary men are forced to take up arms in the face of prejudice. Some men, who lose all faith in the law of the land, erect a court of justice for themselves and abide by its principles. I quote from the movie Nayagan, ‘As long as it feeds four mouths, nothing is wrong’.
'Tell me who your friends are and I’ll tell who you are'
In other cases, it is peer pressure and social stigma that pushes people to the brink. The behaviour of others around them influences them in a wrong way and begins to play on their mind. Eventually they resort to crime to emulate their associates, or to just prove a point.It again all comes down to a person’s ability to distinguish right from wrong.
‘He who is not contented with what he has would not be contented with what he would like to have’
Greed, desire and lust has always been one of mankind’s biggest follies, be it Dharmashtra’s greed for gambling or Cleopatra’s greed for men. It takes an immense amount of moral courage to know when to say no to one’s desires. Many criminals have been led astray by falling prey to these desires and in the process have forgotten their moral code. If desire were to have a bound, we could draw a line on how much it can devour and mutilate a person’s mind. However, it is endless, and only grows exponentially onto a person each time he gives in to it.
‘If you wield the sword once, there is no putting it back’
When one commits his first crime, it completely shatters his moral barrier between right and wrong. Nothing feels wrong anymore, as it has already been done once before. There seems no turning back, now that the barrier that held them back has been breached and destroyed. In some vague sense, it is society’s fault that criminals continue to roam the streets. After completing their jail sentences, most criminals are unable to assimilate into the common society. They are slighted upon as a despicable class of beings that can never be reformed. They are feared, discriminated against and do not receive opportunities to rebuild their lives. They are condemned to retribution and go back to their old ways.
‘First the man takes a drink; then the drink takes a drink; then the drink takes the man’
Alcohol superficially seems the best way to socialize or to drown sorrows. The fake ‘high’ that it gives often incenses people into heavy drinking who long for that transitive happiness it gives. At the same time, it consumes men and makes them behave without their own sense, judgement or consciousness. It destroys their ability to make sound judgements or to even thinking before acting. Hence, it is no surprise that most crimes occur at bars or by drunken men. It has been alleged in the media that Tarun Tejal was intoxicated before making advances towards the journalist. It is quite likely that he had little clue of what he had done. There are also many cases of drunken brawls and reckless driving. Statistics have shown that 35% of all crimes and 2/3rd of all assaults are by those in an inebriated state. Is it really necessary to be such a spineless slave to alcohol and dance to its tunes?
We agree that crime isn’t something that we can remove with the swish of a magic wand. Even centuries may not be enough to completely root it out. However, being aloof and passive towards crime is a crime by itself. We can start by identifying criminal tendencies of those around us, and help them if needed. We can be more vigilant ourselves rather than to whine about how unsafe the roads are. We must come together as a society and collaborate on ways to mitigate this menace. Together, we may one day make zero crime a reality.
Article written by Girish Kumar, a writer and volunteer with the Zerocrime initiative.