Saturday, November 10, 2007

A Night at the Movies

I'm not a big movie goer. I usually end up waiting for a movie to hit the discount bin at Wal-Mart or at the video rental place before I see it. Chris will see movies with her friends and the kids often want to rent something that I don't really care to watch. Tonight, however, Chris and I went to the local discount theater and saw a pretty good movie...The Brave One, starring Jodie Foster.

It was a bit of an action movie, a bit of a suspense movie and brings up some interesting questions for our society. In many ways, our sense of fair play caters to the guilty more than to the innocent or to the victims. It would seem that our over flowing prison system (full of repeat offenders) would indicate that the system itself is not a deterrent to criminal actions. Showtime has its series Dexter with a modern day vigilante. In my own mind, I have to wonder if a movie like Brave One and a series like Dexter doesn't sanction or at least encourage some kind of modern day vigilante activity?

Do we as a society guard those that take the law into their own hands and rid us of criminals when the law seems to fail? Do we make them out to be a sort of hero? Remember Bernie Getz? He shot four African-American teenagers on a New York subway in 1984. He ended up serving a year on a gun charge but was otherwise hailed as a hero at a time when crime in NYC was going crazy. I wonder about our system when it would appear that justice is often for sale.

Even something as simple as a traffic ticket can be bargained away at the prosecutor's table. A speeding ticket can raise your insurance rates. In Missouri, it can add points to your license that can lead to suspension or revocation. But rather than have that go on your record as a moving violation, you can plea bargain for a non-moving violation. The fine may be the same, but you don't get the points and you get to keep paying the same insurance rates as the safe, law-abiding drivers even though you may be a higher risk. The prosecutor's office gets to keep their conviction rate high since you did agree to the fine for a lesser violation (that you didn't actually commit).

It works pretty much the same way for more serious crimes. No wonder victims and victim's families often get so upset and feel like the system has let them down. I often believe that we are soft on crime and criminals. But I do believe that our system is a good one that works most of the time. If you've seen this movie or the show Dexter and want to comment, please do. Or maybe you haven't seen them but would like to weigh in just the same. I'm interested to hear your thoughts.


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