Thursday, March 29, 2007

Can't we all just get along?

This is a slight variation on a blog I originally wrote for M.J. Rose. Paul Levine said I should reprint it here. I won’t cop and say this is a joke. I’d support efforts to work along these lines.

If this seems familiar it has been posted a few times but it does generate conversation. Maybe not along the lines of my “Kids should learn how to knife fight” post but comments.

I read a few blogs. I keep up with Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind because by reading Sarah Weinman’s opinions then taking them as my own I sound like I read a lot of good books. The key is to stay vague about the particulars and never admit to reading the blog. I read Crime Fiction Dossier for much of the same reason. I also read Paul Guyot’s former blog, Inkslinger, because he touches on a lot of the personal issues writers face, like contributing to a blog as a way not to face up to when the next book is due. I also like Paul’s blog because I’ve convinced him I wrote the Kite Runner. I like gullible friends. They misspelled my name on this version of the cover.

On a blog a little controversy doesn’t hurt. The problem is that everyone has opinions based on what they read in the newspapers or hear TV pundits blab about endlessly. Few people have opinions based on unique, personal experience.

I don’t know enough about publishing to offer an opinion on the industry. I still can’t find someone to satisfactorily answer what the hell a “literary novel” is. I even thought J.A. Konrath was a cute chick from Chicago until I met the furry little guy. So I’ll keep my uninformed publishing opinions to myself. That’s why I usually blog about writing.

Law enforcement issues, that is a possibility. As a cop, yes, a working cop here in Florida, I have a formed some opinions based on my experience. Not on statistics. Not from reading newspapers. Not on anything quantifiable (those are the best kind of opinions because they’re harder to challenge). This is an opinion based on dealing with assholes and seeing the aftermath of other people’s actions.
First let me say I am not representing law enforcement as a whole. I have a specific job as an agent with the State’s Department of Law Enforcement. I don’t wear a uniform. I don’t generally get in fights much any more. I’m not the Hollywood view of a redneck southern cop in that I don’t chew tobacco, I’m not a racist, I’m not even a Republican and I went to college, or, at least Florida State.

Now here is my opinion. The death penalty is a useful tool. There I said it. My friends in New York can shun me now. My façade as a liberal writer has been dropped. Canadians can call me a barbarian in the most polite terms. Mothers can keep me away from their children and dogs can now growl at me when I walk down the street.

Now save the usual argument about it not being a deterrent. I agree, it is not a deterrent to a gang-banger who has no decent life any way. It is no deterrent to a junkie who robs a liquor store and doesn’t mean to shoot someone. I agree. However, used in a proper place, on the appropriate population, capitol punishment could have an extraordinary effect on the country.

I would be in favor of legislation that instituted the death penalty for corporate executives who plunder companies. If Ken Lay had been sent to the electric chair for his actions or Dennis Kozlowski received a lethal injection, I believe that big time corporate corruption would cease almost immediately. Once these despicable men realized what they had to lose they would consider their actions much more carefully. For the record, apparently God agreed with me in one of these instances.

I see the victims of crime every day. I am not minimizing the loss of a family who has had someone shot by a carjacker. But the forgotten victims are the little people who have lost their life savings and retirements to fraud. These folks are never the kind who can just start over, they are the ones who, after a lifetime of hard work and savings, and think their pension is secure, get wiped out by some asshole who wants gold bathroom facets and to throw his wife a birthday bash is Monte Carlo. These poor victims end up with their self esteem shattered, working at McDonalds putting up with kids pissed off because there is catsup on their hamburger.

I constantly put up with the little losses I suffer as a small investor when there are ‘accounting anomalies’ at a waste management company or have to write off stocks like Adelphia because someone thought they could use a public company for their own benefit. It annoys me but it doesn’t ruin me financially. But take a moment to consider the number of employees Enron had and the number of investors who sunk in all there savings based on the belief that it was a sound company which would supply a means to survive as the employees grew older.

Those opponents of the death penalty should take another look. By thinning the herd of crooked CEOs we might all benefit. I’m open to opposing view points but not loud ones.


  1. Let's see...

    Innocent investor loses life savings and pension; spends golden years at McDonald's serving fries.

    CEO fries.

    I kind of like it.

  2. Thinning the herds of crooked for me.

    Jim Born for President!


  3. Now that's a theory I can get behind, Jim!!

    So when are you announcing your run for President? :-D


  4. Can I pull the switch? Can I? Can I?

  5. I concur, and second the nomination.

    Is drawing and quartering still an option?

    Tom, T.O.

  6. On a serious note, I'm against the death penalty and disagree that it's a deterent because CRIMINALS DON'T BELIEVE THEY WILL EVER GET CAUGHT, especially white-collar criminals. And for the latter group, they are too often correct in that assumption. Here's the problem. Jailhouse snitches lie, prosecutors withhold exculpatory evidence from the defense, eye witnesses make mistakes, circumstantial evidence is just that--circumstantial. I wonder how many innocent people we've killed because of all of the above. One is too many. What if it had been you or someone you loved? Think about it.

  7. I agree with Patty, but I'm stilling writing in Jim Born for '08 prez...

    GREAT POST!!!!!!!!!

  8. Just kidding, Patti. I'm anti-death penalty as well. But I do want to see these moral pygmies behind bars. They destroy far more lives than poorly educated street criminals.

    Jim for President? Works for me.

  9. As an undergraduate, I wrote editorials opposing the Vietnam War, supporting Robert F. Kennedy for President, and opposing the death penalty.

    I stick to my guns on the first two.

    I've come around on the death penalty and support it for heinous and brutal crimes where guilt is beyond doubt. As Jim Born well knows, execution would not pass constitutional muster for securities fraud, grand larceny, or just being a big fat corporate pig .

    I'm all for long prison sentences where they are deserved. The federal no-parole system is fine with me, too. Dennis Kozlowski will likely die in prison. No more room service foie gras; no private jets; no personal masseur (unless it's a guy named Bruno from Cell Block D). Justice is served.

  10. Ooops. Sorry, Patty. I misspelled your name. Blame it on that image of Jim firing Cheney and Gonzales.

  11. You know, I've always thought that death was too good for bottom-feeding scum-suckers like Ken Lay and Co. They die, it's over, they escape retribution (except for the divine kind, which I believe in, but don't get to watch ;-)

    I would have liked to see Ken and Barbie (or whatever her name was) forced to live in the same trailer park that their perfidy forced some Enron investors to live in, and to work at the same McDonalds that some former employees had to work in. For a really, really long time. With no help from their friends in the White House. And with occasional visits from Geraldo to film the depths to which they'd sunk. Now that would've been justice.

  12. Carol, I knew you were joking and you can spell my name any ole way you want. I used to favor the death penalty but changed my mind as I got older and stopped trusting people in power to tell the truth.

    And all I can say is when Born runs for prez, I want to be among those people the press quotes as being "close to the president." Very close. Heh. Heh.

  13. I'll stnd by this one. Unlike muder, there are enough avenues to coorborate crimes of this magnatude.

    While white collar criminals believe they won't be caught they also believe, correctly, they won't be punished much.

    While I appreciate the support, I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your President.

    Also, I am not a crook.

    And, A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have.

    But, I have lusted in y heart.

    So, History teaches that war begins when governments believe the price of aggression is cheap.

    But if You read my lips, no new taxes.

    It depends on what the definition of "it" is.

    And finally If we don't succeed, we run the risk of failure.

    And that is the extent of my presidential quotes in order from Johnson until today.


  14. Bravo, Jim.

    I'm in favor of the death penalty. Always have been. I can't think of a single instance here in South Dakota where there was any reasonable doubt the guilty wasn't...guilty.