Social Question

zookeeny's avatar

Do you think that society avoids making criminals take resposibility for their actions?

Asked by zookeeny (883points) May 11th, 2010

I just heard on the news that a policeman had been struck and killed when laying road spikes to get out of the way of a speeding stolen car. The inquest decided that the policeman didnt make a very good judgement because he only had 18 seconds to get the spikes out and get out of the way. My issue and anger is where is the liability for the criminal?! The speeding driver in the stolen car. The policeman was called to the scene to put down spikes as he was the closest cop. He did his job. He may very well have saved the lives of other innocent people by doing so. If he hadnt have put those spikes down and other people had died then it would be a headline about a policeman not doing his job properly!!!

When will the focus be on the criminal?? If the person driving the car hadnt stolen it and wasnt speeding in the first place the policeman would still be alive. His actions killed the policeman. The news reports are all about the policeman not getting out of the way in time!!!!

Does anyone eles read this and think there is something seriously messed up with the way criminals are not made to account for the full extent of their actions. The consequence of this criminals actions was the death of another human but because that human was a policeman ‘who should have got out of the way quicker’ he is not made accountable for that mans death.

How does this kind of twisted thinking benefit society? If I commit a crime surely the responsibility for all the consequences that follow my choice to behave in that way should be what I am made accountable for not have some consequences excempt because the person stopping me was doing his job and was too slow at putting the pikes down and getting out of the way.

What are your responses? Are there any other examples of this kind of injustice that makes you feel livid at the basic stupidity of it?

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35 Answers

jerv's avatar

This is 21st-century America: nobody is accountable for their actions any longer!

lilikoi's avatar

I am not understanding how the criminal is not being charged with manslaughter…?

Kraigmo's avatar

I don’t understand why rape kit backlogs exist all over America, while police still spend time chasing marijuana users in some areas.

I don’t understand why we pay more money to police in helicopters to search for weed, than for investigators to track down the accused rapists and investigate the kits.

I also don’t understand why we prosecute 18 year olds for having sex with 17 year olds, and then they get put on public lists on the internet and harassed all their lives as if they are as bad as the real sexual predataors on those lists. When we punish people for consensual crimes, we give power to the predators. We dilute police resources.

And as for cops as those you mentioned, well if they have no issues of aggression in their secret records, then they should be forgiven for making tragic mistakes, when done in good faith, and the criminal to blame, like you said.

NeroCorvo's avatar

Because in this country you are innocent until proven guilty I wonder if the accused would have to be found guilty of the crime before successful charges could be brought. However really I do not see why they do not just add it to the charges. There must be a compelling reason that they decided not to legally.

About the main question it seems like it starts with many parents and evolves into a sense of entitlement and an attitude that the world owes the individual. As an example I have a friend who threw a rock through a passing car windshield. The man got out of the car but my friends mom confronted him saying her son would never do such a thing. Despite the fact that she told him afterwords to never do it again.

So yes- I think that taking responsibility for ones actions in society today is avoided. And that this begins as a trained behavior in childhood and works its way into adulthood.

ducky_dnl's avatar

Well maybe if we didn’t have idiots blaming it on a bad childhood, or chemical imbalance.

In the words of my mother “It’s time we stop victimizing the aggressor, and start defending the victim.” I think this was one of the best statements my mom has ever said.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

The investigation did a disservice to the policeman’s reputation. Police are expected to take greater than average risks to protect the public, he did so and it cost him his life. I believe the driver of the stolen car should be charged with his death.

partyparty's avatar

Most certainly the speeding driver should be prosecuted for the death of the police officer.
My motto is ‘if you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime’.
The family of the officer must be feeling very let down by the criminal justice system.

ragingloli's avatar

I would like you to supply us with a source, because I think you are withholding important information from us, particularly about what charges where brought against the driver, which you skillfully left out.

john65pennington's avatar

When police officers hold up their right hand and swear to uphold the laws of their jurisdiction as well as the Federal Laws of the United States, they understand from this point on, that their life will forever be in jeopardy. its not written in a book, its not on their computer, its just something that cops realize and are willing to take the chance. you are correct in your statement that this officer was just doing his job and he was killed for it. surely, the driver was arrested. the proper charge would be negligent homicide, due to the circumstances leading to the officers death.

I have laid down spike strips many times and it is indeed very dangerous, especially if the wanted driver is on alcohol or drugs and we have no way of knowing this, UNTIL the driver is stopped. i have had occasions where i did not have 18 seconds to throw out the spike strips and jump back to safety. a vehicle going 100 mph does give an officer much time to conduct this situation and run back to safety.

Negligent Homicide is the proper charge.

Cruiser's avatar

It is indeed a curious case. The criminal pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter as the inquest determined the driver did not intentionally kill the policeman. Unfortunately the officer made some bad judgment calls in his effort to lay down the spikes and paid the price for them. May have indeed saved other peoples lives by doing what he did.

OpryLeigh's avatar

@ducky_dnl I agree with your mum!

CaptainHarley's avatar

Do NOT get me started on this!!

cornbird's avatar

The driver of the vehicle should be charged with Negligent Homicide. The policeman was doing his job and he died doing his duty. Society needs to reform and cleanse itself.

zophu's avatar

Society has no idea how to treat its criminals. The rule with undesirable elements in any system is to “heal” or “remove” them. Putting undesirable people in prison for a while does neither very well. But, we can’t help every misfit, and “removing” every problem-person is barbaric. Until we develop a society competent enough to make sure all but the most obscure social mutants are treated well enough to maintain healthy relationships with their communities; no judicial system is going to work well and will always be open to corruption at every level of power involved.

Criminals hide their crimes, police abuse their power, politicians buy the police or create their own, social engineers design-in convenient flaws. It’s a joke. It’s not the delinquents that cause problems in society that’s the issue; it’s the society that creates the delinquents. Our monetary system is designed so that there will always be a poor class. That would be a good place to start improving, I think.

CaptainHarley's avatar


I largely agree with you, with one possible exception. How do we ensure there “will always be a poor class?:”

ragingloli's avatar

1. Under Capitalism, due to profit maximising measures (fire people, make the rest work harder), shipping jobs overseas into practically slave labour countries and massive autmation via the use of robots, jobs are limited, so there will always be more people than jobs, therefore unemployment is unavoidable. Unemployed people, in the best of cases on taxpayer funded unemployement benfits are poor, in the worst case they are homeless and have to beg.
2. A large portion of available jobs are those who are critical to society, but that pay very little, in fact so little that many people have to have 2 or more jobs just to get by or have to get state benefits to prop up their measly wages. Those people, of which there are many, are poor too.

CaptainHarley's avatar


I believe it was @zophu to whom I directed the question. But now that you’ve given your answer to it, what alternative would you propose to replace capitalism?

ragingloli's avatar

The publicly owned, democratically controlled market. Also known as Socialism.
It is important to know that this does not mean a centrally planned economy inhabited by monopolies, as was used in pseudo socialist countries like East Germany or the Soviet Union.
It is perfectly possible and in my opinion advantagous to leave the competitive elements of capitalist economy in place, with many competing companies, to foster innovation and progress. However, strategic decisions made by those companies would be decided by the people themselves with popular votes, minor decisions inside the company by the employees of the company.
By eliminating or reducing the quest for profit from the economy, a lot of money would be freed up that would be spent on higher wages for employees, the hiring of more people instead of using robots, lower working times, more leasure time and thus more opportunity for consumption and social activity that would benefit the market and society in general.

Cruiser's avatar

@ragingloli Interesting answer but pure suicide for the American Dream and everything this country fought hard to achieve. Times are a changing and we are now in a “global” economy and in order to participate and succeed there we have to be at the top of our game and allowing a group-think atmosphere make the strategic decisions is borderline insane if we are to remain top-dog competitive in this global economy. To be Top-Dog you have to be aggressive, you have to be innovative and you have to be competitive with an edge and you DO NOT get that with a socialistic mindset of “I’ll just work for my share of the pie and go home at the end of the day”. You do that with free thinking aggressiveness that is rewarded for it’s innovative profitable endeavors that make these tax paying corporations thrive and hopefully dominant in the worlds market place. Companies that make efficient rational economic decisions are what is needed now more than ever not ones that take an act of Congress to make up their minds. All IMHO of course

CaptainHarley's avatar

Socialism has proven time and time again to be unworkable, particularly in America. Limited capitalism seems to work better than most other systems, although the Chinese seem to be doing rather well, especially since they hold a massive amount of our debt! Sigh!

ragingloli's avatar

As I already said, none of the so called ‘socialist’ countries were actually socialist, because they were dictatorships, with the regime handing down plans to the state owned economy.
The workers, the people, had absolutely no control over what and how much was produced or how it was distributed. The very essence of socialism, which is the direct and democratic control of the economy by the people themselves, was missing in each and every self proclaimed ‘socialist’ country and thus none of these countries were in fact socialist.

Cruiser's avatar

@CaptainHarley…the Chinese are suffering big time…their Gov has a death grip on all news that is reported but the “citizens” there I talk to say their economy there is worse than ours and they are very afraid

CaptainHarley's avatar

@Cruiser Really?? I didn’t know that.

Cruiser's avatar

@CaptainHarley I was at a trade show recently and met with one of my Chinese customers and “off the record” they told me what I just shared with you. The pain and anguish in their faces as they spoke told me there is more to their story. In their words….“it’s bad….very bad!”

zophu's avatar

@CaptainHarley Money is created out of nothing when loans are made. There is more debt than there is money. There will always be debt. Even if every person in our society became incredibly “responsible” and focused all of their time and energy on paying off their debts and avoid going into debt, it would be mathematically impossible for there to be success.

It’s a pyramid scheme. For every middle class, there is a poor one. For every developed country, there are those that go without food on this planet where we can grow more food than we can physically eat. For every educational advancement here, an entire culture is lost elsewhere, their language forgotten. There always has to be those on the bottom for this system to work, that is the design.

CaptainHarley's avatar


That’s a pretty cynical outlook. I rather suspect it’s far more complicated than that.

jerv's avatar

@CaptainHarley The details are, but I think @zophu has it right.

CaptainHarley's avatar

It’s impossible to eliminate differences between people. As long as there are differences, there will be some people smarter, or more creative, or faster, or who are simply born into better circumstances. This is what creates ( as socialists are fond of saying ) “classes” of people. The financial structure is largely a reflection of these differences.

NOTE: Do NOT claim that I said one “class” of people is somehow “better” than another.

zophu's avatar

“As long as there are differences, there will be some people smarter, or more creative, or faster, or who are simply born into better circumstances.”

The idea is to improve the circumstances in which people are born into. That is what life is—you create a better world for the following generations. Humans are the most adaptive animals; our environments are what shape us. Genetics do not define the fates of individuals in any vast way. In fact, our genetics and genetic legacies react to our environments within single generations. There is no justification for the unhealth we see in such great numbers throughout the world based on genetics, geography, or monetary-ism. It is massive incompetence on a global scale, nothing less. This will become clear to the masses and we will take control of our own living systems—or we will be crushed beneath them as they collapse.

We have been bred as slaves into systems that do not serve us but instead parasitic rulers. We are not needed in such great numbers. We are overpopulating, and those incompetent fools who control this incompetent, foolish system can not manage all of us. So, again I say, we either take control for ourselves, or we are culled down to more manageable numbers like over-breeding cattle and kneel under a more complete system of foolish control.

This isn’t cynicism, it’s analysis.

CaptainHarley's avatar

You obviously have yet to encounter large numbers of people who are dumber than bricks. Yes, we are definitely overpopulating, but unfortunately the end result is a sort of devolution where those who limit the number of children they have are smarter than those who do not. Soon, unless things somehow change, we will consist of a bottom-heavy demographic dominated by a much smaller intellectual class. This is a prescription for disaster.

Much the same thing happened to the Roman empire. They were able to placate the breeding classes with bread and circuses for awhile, until the internal rot gave rise to external attack and conquest.

jerv's avatar

The sum of human intelligence is a constant; the population is rising :P

Personally, I noticed the rot over a quarter of a century ago. That may not be a big deal for someone your age, Captain, but I believe that you are older than my parents. I find it disconcerting that such a trend is so obvious that even a child can see it.

Is it cynical to spend almost your entire life waiting for The Collapse?

CaptainHarley's avatar

Probably, but I try very hard to not be cynical about cynicism. : )

zophu's avatar

Yeah, I’m burning out the last of my extreme cynicism now. I suspect I’ll give most of up as I get further into my 20’s.

zookeeny's avatar

I should have mentioned this is New Zealand not America where the case has been on the news. It was more the reporting I was refering to rather then the details of the actual case. The way it was presented and the focus in the media was directed at whether the policeman had made a bad decision and that was why he was dead. I felt that the focus should have been on the fact that he died because of this criminals behaviours. It just seems surreal to think that the focus in the media was not an out cry that a man was killed by a criminal in a stolen speeding car but the outcry and focus was on whether the policeman got himself into strife because he carried out his job and had to make a call and the discussion was focused around whether he didnt have time to get the spikes out and so shouldnt have. My point is that the whole situation only happend because of the criminals chossen actions yet the focus of the reporting seemed to have missed that and focused on the policemans split second decision (which he might well have given his life i the line of duty and could have meant saving the lives of others yet it wasnt reported like he was a hero but instead his actions were questioned it just felt very wrong). I am not missing out details as all I heard reported was what I said and it is that report on radio new zealand national that provoked me into venting my percetion of the situation on here and quierying if I was alone in being frutrated by these kinds of things in society/the media. If you want more info on the actual case google it. I dont know the fullness of the story other then the news report I heard and as that was where I was recieving the news about it I thought hang on a minute this reporting doesnt feel right. Im sick of hearing about twisted people not being the focus for their behaviour but instead the blame or focus being placed eleswhere. Its so wrong and terrible to imagine the pain that policemans family is going through without the media questioning him as though he were the criminal!!!

Joybird's avatar

Capitalism teaches mass exploitation and so what do you expect…there are ignorant, amoral people who are going to exploit to get what they want at every economic level and class bracket. That makes for some pretty abhorent behaviors in our culture and we can’t afford to house people for their societal transgressions so we adopt this idea that people have served their time. To me it’s like this other idea in our society that you can be “born again”. Ideas and socio-political positions play out in societies in very detrimental ways sometimes. If you remove these two ideas what you find is that humans shun, isolate and exterminate those people who don’t serve the group. And then this leads to the creation of power bases for exploitation all over again or it leads to peace when individuals are exceptionally dependent on the group in question.
In our society the message is one of entitlement to exploit whatever means necessary to accumulate power, influence and wealth. The upper eschelons of our society model this for all of us. And the rest of the sub sectors in society mirror that.

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