There’s something gone wrong—why, he’s clearly insane;
There’s a chemical problem that’s hurting his brain,
Some organic dysfunction that helps to explain
Why he hasn’t been acting quite right
It’s clearly these deep neurological flaws
That are making him act in defiance of laws;
It has to be something! It can’t be because
He is young, and he’s male, and he’s white.
We’ll break it all down in the usual way
Is he poor? Is he black? Is he godless, or gay?
There must be a reason he’s drifted astray
Any label at all is fair game.
There has to be something (the experts discuss,
And for experts to notice and make such a fuss
There’s a reason) that means “he is not one of us!”
Cos we don’t want to share in the blame!
The misogynist message he posted online?
The authorities saw it, and called it benign!
Why, it’s only in hindsight we call it a sign—
We see worse things than that every day!
Why, if all of society ground to a halt
When some internet loner claimed plans of assault
We’d be doomed—with the innocent loners at fault
When it’s only a game that they play!
See, freedom of speech is a blessing and curse
You can say what you want—you can bully, or worse—
(And they can’t even force you to say it in verse)
Save specific and credible threat
But legitimate threats don’t stand out from the noise
And the language a dangerous asshole employs
Since it can’t be distinguished from “one of the boys”
Are the claims #YesAllWomen will get
It is a common claim: if you blame society, you are letting the perpetrator off the hook! But remember the flip side–when you blame the perp, you are letting society off the hook.
I am not a fan of “justice”; it’s a concept that, near as I can tell, was invented to let us blame individual criminals after the fact, instead of doing the hard work of changing the environment to actually prevent crimes before they occur, in cases where there are known variables we can control.
We have heard, and will continue to hear, reasons why a particular individual should shoulder all the blame. We will be told that we are weak on crime if we even entertain the notion that anything other than that individual is to blame.
I would much rather prevent a crime than punish a criminal after a crime has been committed. And yes, I know that paints me as someone opposed to freedom–the freedom to swing my fist up to the point where someone else’s nose begins. If it is right to intervene after a crime is committed, it is right to intervene. If moral responsibility exists, then knowing that an element of our culture contributes to crime, and doing nothing about that element, makes us as culpable for our inaction as we wish others to be for their action.
The difference is whether we wait for people to be hurt before recognizing our ability to make a difference.