We are All Criminals

There’s been a lot of turmoil lately with gun violence and shooting, particularly with an emphasis on police officers shooting black people. Here is a very interesting, very informative website about criminality, punishment, and how it all relates to class.  1 in 4 people in the US have a criminal record.  But does that mean that 75% of Americans are therefore law-abiding citizens?  Maybe there’s a good portion of them who are criminals, but they just never got caught.  But who are those who are typically seen as suspicious?  It’s usually people of color.  Sure, there’s more white people in prison, but black people make up almost 38% of the prison population.  Yet, black people make about 13% of the US population.  They are mostly seen as “thugs” or “criminals.”  It’s a self-fulfilling prophesy, and yet, everyone has done something criminal.

It relates to what John Oliver said about municipal violations:

Overall, if we are all criminals, we typically don’t think that we are, or we shrug it off because whatever action we did in the past is “in the past” or it was something that I did and I’m not a criminal.  But it’s those people who are criminals.  But what if we look at crime at a new angle, where we see it not as something that only bad people do, but as something that everyone has done?  Of course, this isn’t meant to say we should undermine all crimes, but it does suggest that committing a crime and getting caught are distinct which has class, race, and socioeconomic factors that should be taken into account.

About shaunmiller

I am an assistant professor (LTR) at Dalhousie University. My ideas are not associated with my employer; they are expressions of my own thoughts and ideas. Some of them are just musings while others could be serious discussions that could turn into a bigger project. Besides philosophy, I enjoy martial arts (Kuk Sool Won), playing my violin, enjoying coffee around town, and experimenting with new food.
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1 Response to We are All Criminals

  1. The correct Les Misérables reference would have been: ¨You know nothing of the world. All I did was steal some beer.¨

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