has been written about the causes of crime, and why crime rates
are higher in some countries than in others.
Individual or collective responsibility?
not about "income inequality", "poverty", or "diversity" of race
or nationality, but of class and culture. It has been studied as
the "culture of poverty
", but technical poverty is
not the key factor. It is more like the "culture of depravity",
and yes, some are depraved because they are poor, but more are
poor because they are depraved. It is the culture of mutual
predation, crime, neglect, and exploitation. Alcohol and
addictive substances don't help, because it results in
generations of impaired people. There really are entire
communities where most of the youth celebrate crime and
criminals as their role models, and actively discourage people
from becoming educated and rising out of that condition. The
cause is mostly not racial discrimination, but discrimination
against those perceived to be of the lower class is a factor
when it is the result of profiling rather than individual merit.
Some might object that "depravity" is too strong a term, and
perhaps suggest "corruption" or "decadence", but those are just
parts of the same spectrum.
of this kind is like an infectious disease. If it is kept out of
a community that community can remain virtuous for a long time,
but once the infection sets in it can take over and dominate for
generations. Like the proverbial rotten apple in a barrel. I
have seen that at the level of public corruption, communities
that after WWII had all honest officials, but then one or two
dishonest ones got in and were not removed. That brought in
more, until there was a tipping point when all of them went
corrupt and conspired to keep honest ones out of government. Try
to find an honest judge in entire jurisdictions of the U.S.
today. They have been bought or intimidated by the drug dealers.
In Mexico the expression is "plata o plomo", "silver or lead".
by much of society is sometimes blamed, either for creating
the conditions that encourage crime, or by provoking crime as
acts of resistance or retaliation. We can identify several of
the most important bases for discrimination that might do
- Appearance. That
includes race, ugliness, deformity, height, and other
attributes over which the target has little or no
- Ability. Sometimes
important for some role in society, and sometimes not.
- Class, culture.
Behaviors deemed undesirable, such as habits of speech,
dress, grooming, cleanliness, vulgarity, manners,
rejection of education, or disrespect.
- Morality. Behaviors
that are harmful to others, negligent, fraudulent,
- Ethnicity, nationality.
Behaviors that seem strange, threatening, or
on the basis of each of these may be acceptable in some
situations, and unacceptable in others. They are sometimes
combined, but discrimination on the basis of one may be
misattributed to one or more of the others.
common misattribution is to accuse someone of discriminating
on the basis of race when the discrimination is really on the
basis of class or culture.
classic exposition of this theme is the play Pygmalion, by
George Bernard Shaw, and its musical version, My Fair Lady.
In class-conscious British society, the character Eliza
Doolittle is looked down upon, not because of her economic
condition or occupation as a street vendor, but because of her
dialect. The character Henry Higgins raises her social status
by teaching her how to speak upper-class English. The play is
somewhat contrived, but it makes a valid point. Everyone
engages in profiling to some degree, based on first
impression, when there is not time to get to know someone
well. Therefore, making a good first impression is critical to
on the basis of class or culture is often regarded as
improper, but the signs of being low class are strongly
associated with immorality or inability, and it is to be
expected that profiling will be done on that basis.
adolescents will often adopt low-class behaviors as a way to
irritate adults, and defend their behavior by arguing they
have a right of free expression. Of course they have the legal
right, against the coercion by government, But if their
nonconformity to social mores reaches the level that most high
class adults regard as threatening or disgusting, then, then
they have no one to blame but themselves if they are treated
for example, it is one thing for Blacks to speak a ghetto
dialect (that some have called "Ebonic"), or dress or act like
a "gangsta", in an artistic performance, such as a stage play,
but it is quite another to be unable or unwilling to speak in
refined, educated English, or dressing in at least business
casual, being well groomed and clean, when trying to get a job
or talking to a police officer in an intense street
it is generally not a good idea to act like an adolescent,
especially when one is too old for it. We live in a culture
that celebrates adolescence, mainly because now they have
enough money to buy things that appeal to that aberrant state
of (hopefully) temporary insanity, but things were generally
better before they had any money they didn't work for doing
socially responsible things. We might want to regard
adolescence as charming and mostly harmless, but in today's
world it too often is seriously dangerous.
people, especially young people, we can offer some words of
- Speak and write proper,
educated, English, without a dialect or accent.
- Dress in good, clean, clothes
in good condition, at least business casual and
preferably in suits. Push schools to require school
- For males, get short, neat
haircuts, and shave every day.
- Blend in. Don't flash bling.
Don't call attention to yourself unless it is raising
your hand in class with a question or an answer.
- Exhibit good manners to all
persons at all times. Never show disrespect, even when
you are disrespected.
- Embrace and seek as much
education as you can. Don't show disdain for learning or
self-improvement, or disrupt the learning of others.
Become very good at doing things, and work hard.
- Focus on helping others, and
yourself only to the extent you must to enable you to
help others. It's not about you.
- Don't tolerate misbehavior by
others. Stay away from misbehavior and addiction.
- Defer gratification. When in
doubt, do without. Instead of satisfying your desires,
eliminate the desires.
- Don't hang with your peers.
Hang with your betters, such as responsible adults.
Learn by the example of people who know things instead
of those who don't.
all "disadvantaged" people were to take the above advice, they
might be surprised at how fast what they now perceive as
racial discrimination would fade away.
As for the crimes that have been getting the most attention,
mass killings, aside from the ones motivated by terrorist
agendas, what almost all of them have in common is not guns
but use by the killers of psychoactive substances. There have
always been mass killings. The word "amok", as in "run amok",
is a Malay word for instances of that from ancient times. But
almost all of the instances in recent times in the United
States can be attributed to things like drugs, alcohol,
pollutants, and the stresses common to dense urban
environments. The shooter in the recent tragic Charleston
killing is reported to have been taking suboxone, commonly
(over)prescribed to combat opiate addition, but itself
addictive, and having paranoia, hatred, and violence as known
side effects. Perhaps if everyone who takes such drugs were
placed in some program of constant electronic surveillance
violence might be prevented.