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Wednesday, July 28, 2010


The rotten states of skateboarding…

In 2000 four Americans were charged with importing lobster tails in plastic bags. This was in violation of a Honduran regulation that Honduras no longer enforces (it should have been in cardboard boxes). They had broken the Lacey Act which makes it unlawful to import certain plants and animals without an import declaration and bars Americans from breaking foreign rules by prohibiting trafficking in “illegal” wildlife, fish, and plants. If the original intent was to prevent Americans from, say, poaching elephants in Kenya, it has now been interpreted to mean that they must abide by every footling wildlife regulation on Earth.

Obviously, the lobstermen had no idea they were breaking any law. Yet three of them got eight years behind bars. Two of them are still in jail.

Yes, America is different from the rest of the world in lots of ways, and one of the bad ones is its willingness to lock up its citizens for all the wrong reasons. One percent of all American adult are locked behind bars (with the rate rising to almost 10% for young black men). Its imprisoned population is a whooping 2.3 million people and exceeds the combined population of 15 of its states. If those on parole or probation are included, one adult in 31 is under “correctional” supervision. Some 3,700 people who committed neither violent nor serious crimes are serving life sentences under California’s “three strikes and you’re out” law. No other rich country is nearly as punitive as the “Land of the Free”. The rate of incarceration is a fifth of America’s level in Britain, a ninth in Germany and a twelfth in Japan.

Most of us in America think that criminals should go to prison for long periods of time which every politician know is a counterproductive way to manage bad behavior. But politicians need to be elected and so, they must please their constituents which makes them mindful of public opinion (generally old grayish white men in their 50’s to 70’s) so they need to sound tough and must propose laws tougher than the ones that the last dude who wanted to sound tough proposed. Some politicians appear in campaign advertisements waving guns and bragging about how really tough they are.
America is suffering from a generation gap where, on the one hand, the future of the nation are racially mixed youngsters who blend together between “races”, are multilingual and multicultural, naturally progressive, (the so-called MBBS -mixers, blenders, benders and switchers) have new positive attitudes towards life and on the other hand, the law abiders who are old grayish white men thinking that America should still be the way it was in the 50’s or 40’s. There is a total incomprehension divide between those two groups of people and attitudes that are normal for young people are repulsive to elders. Take skateboarding: Strictly speaking, the act of personal locomotion on a four-wheeled board is not a crime in any jurisdiction in the United States. However, many cities have outlawed skateboarding on public places like The Decatur City Commission who voted last June to restrict the use of skateboards in most of downtown. If you are caught skateboarding in Decatur or any other city property across the US, you could be charged with the crime of trespassing, as well as other crimes depending on if anything on the property was damaged due to the skateboarding or if someone was injured. Of course, if you are caught skateboarding with a forbidden substance (like cigarette), the simple act of skateboarding can lead you to arrest for trespassing, destroying property, endangering people, carrying controlled substance, resting arrest and whatnot!

Yep, skateboarders are dangerous for the peace of the US citizens and the more get arrested, the better the old generation feels. And if skateboarders have a lot to do like those 3 fishermen doesn’t that mean there really is something rotten in the States of A?

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posted by Xavier Lannes @ Wednesday, July 28, 2010 




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