When an officer stops someone who may pose a threat to someone else, provided both parties are respectful and peaceful, it needs to be an accepted fact of life, especially if safety for all is the underlying purpose. No one with anything to hide should ever be offended, yet many are offended as they feel singled out, embarrassed and blamed for doing nothing wrong when they are stopped. Perhaps any of us could feel this way if we were repeatedly stopped, but I have to think if I lived in a dangerous area I would welcome the inconvenience especially if I had nothing to hide. How can we ever prevent a crime if we can’t be proactive?
Is there a broader blame that should be considered? In almost every case of wrong doing, the guilty party in some way felt justified for the actions they had taken. The people who brought the case against stop and frisk feel justice is not served when Blacks and Hispanics are stopped in their neighborhoods, even though many of the crimes in these neighborhoods are committed by Blacks and Hispanics.
In the case of Ariel Castro, the man who held and repeatedly raped three women in Ohio for nearly a decade, he attempted to defend his actions by pleading not guilty. His claim was that he was abused as a child, which, combined with a society that promotes sexuality, caused his actions.
Our society must begin to shoulder some responsibility for the attitudes of people who are quick to blame others for their actions instead of recognizing their own failures. These offenders are a product of a society that tolerates and in some cases promotes unacceptable behavior, right up to the flash point of a media blitz, then becomes outraged at the act while accepting zero responsibility for being a catalyst.
If we are to judge people by their personal character and actions alone, we must all take steps to seek new solutions.
Dan Alexander is associate publisher of New Market Press and publisher and CEO of Denton Publications. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.