After 12 years as a public defender, and 16 years as a Center City resident, I've finally managed to become a victim of crime - sort of.
Breaking it down - am I really a victim? To the lay person, I guess every victim is an "innocent" victim. But in my line of work, across the board -- judges, police officers, district attorneys - there's a definite recognition, and ultimate distinction and subsequent disparate treatment between the innocent victims -- the store owner who is robbed, the laundress who is bludgeoned, the carowner who's car window is busted, and the not-so-innocent "victim" - the drug dealer who's killed in a shoot out over a corner, the loser on the receiving end of a mutual fist-fight, a junkie who falls asleep, and is robbed -- no one has "clean" hands, so to speak. This distaste for the non-innocent "victim" is apparent in jury verdicts - clear first degree murder cases come back as not guilty's, or third degrees (unintentional killings, kind of like an aggravated assault gone bad); many cases involving equally bad parties lead to out-right acquittals.
I've been mulling this victim concept in the context of the Michael Vick debacle. No question - what he did was horrific, heinous, stomach-turning, and he deserves to be punished. But, when Vick's deeds come up in conversation, I gently remind my companion/s that my clients oftentimes do much worse things to PEOPLE, and maybe we should be more concerned about what we are doing to each other as human beings, and not worry so much about ballplayers on steroids, athletes who gamble, and, this obvious worst case scenario - the animal abusers. Why do we care soooo much (and I'm not saying we should not care at all, obviously we should) about the Vick incident, yet we don't have daily conversations about the 277 bodies stacked up in the streets of Philadelphia? And the answer I've gotten is simply - the animals are innocent, and can't protect themselves.
Crime, apparently, does not happen to the blameworthy. Or, if it does, is it just not a crime?
A crime, techinically speaking, is the noncompliance with a legislatively enacted law. And if we unconcerned about gunplay between 2 nefarious characters, and we're not moved by robberies that occur between to drug addicts, are we now defining crime in a different way? And for a sympathies to be truly swayed, and our hearstrings tugged, the victim should have floppy ears and a tail. So, it's with these questions floating around in my mind, that I can only say I was victim of crime, sort of, when my house was clearly burglarized Friday night.
So, I went out after work on Friday, had a few glasses of wine - ok, probably four glasses of wine. 2 were at the Samson Street Oyster House with my friend Sue, and I returned to the office to finish happy hour with my girls in my unit. Then, I went to Chris's Jazz Cafe, had half a beer, realized I was done for the night, and went home. Before going to bed, I made a few phone calls, crashed on the couch, then before going upstairs, I went to lock my front door. It was one of those humid nights - crazy humid, and my door was so swollen, that I could not get the deadbolt to shut. So, I was like f- it, what could happen - is some guy going to come down my street and try every door? I went to bed, and in the morning, when I came downstairs, my front door was wide open, to the street. Huh, I thought. I looked around. Nothing appeared to be ransacked, out of place, or missing - my laptop sat on my ottoman right by my door. My handbag was on a chair. Huh, I guess when the door become unswollen, it opened. Before I left for Rosie's for my Saturday morning shift, I looked for my wallet. That's odd, I thought - I can't find it. I knew that my phone had been in my little wallet that is more like a pouch. Was I that drunk that I left it at work, took the phone out and just don't remember? Must be. So, I went in to the office - no wallet. I checked my account. No money missing. Who steals a wallet and doesn't even try to use the VISA card? Must be lost.
I cancelled my one card, and began the process of replacing my id. On Monday, I got a call from one of my neighbors around the corner. He had found my wallet, and my make-up bag, that I hadn't even realized was missing, next to his car, that had been broken into that same night. Someone had really been in my house. When I got home on Monday, I inspected my stuff, and realized that my digital camera was also gone.
I had lunch with Kenny's old partner, Detective Bobby yesterday, and he was like, well, did you call the police? What was I going to say - um, I was so drunk I couldn't even remember if I had my wallet at home, didn't even know that stuff had been stolen, and, oh, by the way, I went to bed without locking my door because I was to lazy to wrestle with the swollen deadbolt. Yep, I would have made an excellent complainant - the dumb ass who didn't lock her door. Hardly an "innocent" victim.
I don't really have a point in all of this - just ideas that I've been thinking about -
And, unfortunately, since I don't have a digital camera, no photos of my now finished Brooks Farm sweater, or the Tangled Yoke Cardigan that I started in Avocado Felted Tweed.
Now that's a crime . . .