Friday, September 15, 2006

To Catch a (Bike) Thief

My old friend, (and if the truth be told, for a few heady months back in the heyday—at least for me—of hippie-fagdom in the Seventies, my old boyfriend), Larry Livermore, has become, of late, what I would call a neo-neocon, (at least insofar as that entails a commitment to personal responsibility, law and order, and Enlightenment values) and I say good for him; I’d much rather hear Larry’s thoughtful fulminations than what emanates from others who share his Conservative inclinations (although for the life of me, I still like Peggy Noonan).

I, on the other hand, remain much more of a bleeding heart (at least insofar as that entails a belief that social conditions play a leading role in people’s behaviors and that values, while not entirely relative, are deeply informed by culture) and while I don’t consider myself nearly as articulate a commentator on social issues as Larry, I do have this example to share that helps to illustrate where I’m coming from.

The night before last, the cops arrested a prowler in our neighbor’s back yard. It’s almost surely the dude who stole my bike. Same M.O. (he rode up the alley on a—different this time—beater bike), same night (Tuesday, again), same intent (he was pawing through my neighbor’s garage for stuff.)

I came outside in time to see him slumped in the back of the cop car. Earlier, I had wanted to punch him in the neck.

Now, I just want my bike back.

I don’t even know if the guy should be punished. If it’s just to exact retribution for his crime, I dunno; and if it’s simply to deter other would-be bike thieves, then that seems like an unjust violation of his human dignity.

I’m sympathetic to the Oakland strategy that Larry ridicules; in my version, if this guy gets me back my bike, give him a job; if he doesn’t, then sure, punch him in the neck.


Anonymous Curugroth said...

I can think of at least one other reason for incarceration: It will give the rest of us a break from being ripped off by this parasite. And who knows, he may be educable; a little jail time could give him a chance to reflect on the stupidity of his current life strategy. Everybody wins!

9:35 AM  

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