A Crime and Justice Wish List for 2014

by Diane Dimond on December 30, 2013

 

Tops on the List : Tolerance

Tops on my Crime and Justice Wish List this year is the sincere hope that America finds a way to become a better functioning and more tolerant country.

I wish for the lethargy of the electorate and the deterioration of trust and respect – in our government and in each other – to magically evaporate. 

It is a tall order, I know. We live in an ugly era of perpetual backbiting that serves no real purpose but to distract us from finding solutions to very real problems.

Democrats routinely ridicule Republicans and vice versa. Various ethnic groups point to those who are different and declare their problems are the other groups fault; both heterosexuals and homosexuals complain their lifestyle is under attack; the unemployed and under-employed label business people and corporations as greedy devils without acknowledging they are the very entities providing the most jobs. Our children grow up hearing our viciousness toward one another and are likely to continue the corrosive tradition of intolerance. 

I wish for an America where people can enjoy their right to freedom of speech unencumbered by political correctness. I cling to the idea expressed by author Evelyn Beatrice Hall who wrote, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” 

Wishing That Disagreements Didn’t Turn So Ugly

A recent example of our intolerance is the case of TV personality and proud Christian, Phil Robertson, of “Duck Dynasty” fame. Asked by a magazine reporter what he viewed as sinful he answered, “Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there — bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men,” he said. Not a politically correct answer but his opinion, nonetheless. 

Paraphrasing Corinthians Robertson added, “Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers … they won’t inherit the kingdom of God.” 

Patriarch of the Duck Dynasty Cast

Now, whether you agree with Robertson’s beliefs or not that is his constitutionally protected opinion and in my America he is entitled to express it. 

The reaction to Robertson’s comments, however, was swift and vicious. One leader of a gay and lesbian group attacked the 67-year-old patriarch saying if people wanted to know why gay teenagers commit suicide they need look no further than Robertson’s, “hate that shames them into doing so.” The A & E cable network capitulated to the criticism and suspended Robertson from their top rated program. The reaction was decidedly un-American, in my view. 

Moving on … I wish for the NSA to stop all unwarranted surveillance of citizen’s activities –forever. Stay away from my e-mails and phone calls unless there’s proof I committed a crime. 

I wish for more oversight of the billions being spent by the Department of Homeland Security. I hope that all law enforcement can band together to create a trustworthy, centralized anti-terrorist tracking system to thwart tragedies like the Boston Marathon bombing. 

A New Dialogue to Stop Gun Violence

About the gun violence that continues to plague us: I’m heartened to see a renewed discussion about helping the mentally ill who have access to guns. As law-abiding gun owners would tell you, it’s a long overdue conversation. I hope we never again hear of a troubled kid shooting up a school but steel yourself because it is almost certain to happen. 

I wish young people would be required to take conflict management courses so they learned early on how to manage conflict before gun shots, road rage or fist fights break out. 

On one hand, I hope I never have to cover another Jerry Sandusky-type child sex abuse trial, but, on second thought, I hope I do. I hope Sandusky’s conviction gives strength to all child sex abuse victims to come forward with the truth – no matter what their age is today. 

Same with the story about the three missing girls held for so long by the late Arial Castro in Cleveland. These stories are so hard to hear but I surely hope more missing people are found alive and reunited with their families. 

I wish for a year with a lot fewer frivolous lawsuits (Come on, figure out amongst yourselves who gets the dog in the divorce!) so there is room in our overloaded court system for the truly important cases. And, I hope fewer judges make foolish decisions like the one who decided a drunk kid who caused a fatal car crash should do easy time because he suffers from “Affluenza.” That makes about as much sense as a judge accepting a defense attorney’s claim of “Poorfluenza.” 

The Heart Wants What the Heart Wants

In preparing this year’s list I looked back through my past New Year’s columns and realized many of the things I had wished for are still outstanding. That doesn’t curb my hope for solutions to issues like the immigration mess, better border patrol activities, prison over-crowding and reworking our National Sex Registry so that career pedophiles are no longer lumped in with amorous teenagers and drunks who urinate in public. 

Happily, some of my past wishes are in the process of coming true. New Mexico, for example, became the 17th state to allow people who love each other to get married no matter what their gender. Several states have moved to decriminalize marijuana as a way to ease prison overcrowding and raise tax dollars. And, dormant DNA rape kits are finally being processed with the results being included in the national criminal data base. Cold cases are being solved because we’re finally catching up. 

The Alternative is Chaos

But none of our issues can truly be resolved without my first wish coming true. We have to stop picking fights with each other and start finding common ground to reach common sense solutions. We need a revolution in thinking and behaving that throws off the idea that we should automatically attack someone who thinks differently.

It gets us nowhere. And even worse, it weakens the social fabric that has, for nearly 240 years, held this nation together. 

We can do better.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Diane Dimond December 31, 2013 at 4:25 pm

Twitter Pal Chrisahull writes:

“@DiDimond Censorship reflects society’s lack of confidence in itself. It is a hallmark of an authoritarian regime. ~Potter Stewart”

Reply

Diane Dimond December 31, 2013 at 4:27 pm

Facebook Friend Madeline Michele Hovey writes:

” I don’t care for this guy freedom of speech or not he needs to watch what he is saying IMO…// I did enjoy u write up though…”

Reply

Diane Dimond December 31, 2013 at 4:28 pm

Facebook Friend Jack Furlong writes:

“Well said Diane; if the only value we advance in 2014 is tolerance, we will have acquitted ourselves admirably. Happy new year…”

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Diane Dimond December 31, 2013 at 5:01 pm

Jewish World Review Reader Ken Smith writes:

‘ Hi: I’ve just read your essay provided by JWR today.
I agree with you on some points, but perhaps you don’t recognize that the way in which the law enforcement people can perhaps prevent such as the Boston Marathon attacks, is to be proactive in ferreting out the ones who plan to do it by obtaining and using their prior communications. It is a dilemma. I believe it is unconstitutional but I don’t have an alternate answer myself so am not saying you should, but you do say they should stop prying into your affairs. They of course don’t yet have any proof that you are guilty of anything – but neither do they have “proof” of anything until they obtain evidence of it. Do you have a solution as to how they should go about getting the evidence of otherwise secret plans to commit attacks and crimes?”

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Diane Dimond December 31, 2013 at 5:01 pm

Yes, Mr. Smith.

Here’s one obvious example of how they should go about getting evidence.

If law enforcement is conducting a criminal investigation – say, into a suspect who has told people at his work that he would like to blow up the Empire State Building they have every right to subpoena his phone records to see who he is communicating with. If some of the suspected terrorists calls are coming to my telephone – then, by all means, the authorities should investigate me as well. Are we in cahoots on a plot to commit acts of terror?

What I have a problem with, Mr. Smith, is the authorities routinely and habitually gathering up my phone and e-mail traffic when I am NOT suspected of any wrongdoing. It’s called “probable cause.” Police are supposed to have “probable cause” to think I’ve done something wrong before they come snooping in my private business. BTW – they are gathering up YOUR e-mail and phone call information too.

Neither of us has anything to hide (right?) – but it is the principal of the thing. Our U.S. Constitution guarantees us the right to privacy – unless law enforcement has reasonable cause to think we’re doing something criminal.

Happy New Year! ~ DD

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Diane Dimond December 31, 2013 at 11:14 pm

Facebook Friend Maggie Simi writes:

“When did it become a sin to have an opinion!!! its beyond crazy that everyone has to like and agree with everything!!!”

Reply

CLS January 1, 2014 at 12:43 am

I always enjoy reading your thought-provoking articles. Sometimes my views are different, even though I agree with the end result you hope for. This is one of those. Thanks for posting it.

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