In this week’s episode of C.S.I. New York, entitled “Unusual Suspects,” a 14-year old is shot and his younger brother intentionally misleads the police regarding the shooter, identifying the wrong suspect who is ultimately chased by the police and fatally hit by a bus while trying to flee. Eventually the truth comes out. The two boys–armed with a gun!—robbed a bank, and the older boy, who engineered the crime, was shot by a man who subsequently took the loot from them.
The boys knocked over the bank because they overheard their mother say that she couldn’t pay the rent. This is apparently sufficient justification for the bank and the District Attorney to decide not to press charges against the little dears. As the show ends, two of the C.S.I. squad look in on the hospital room, misty-eyed. where the wounded boy lies recovering, as his brother and mother sit vigil by his bed.
“There’s a lot of love in that room,” observes one of the officers.
A lot of felons, too.
Let me get this straight. Children and teens are routinely prosecuted for vandalism, for drug dealing and possession, for stealing cars, for throwing rocks at cars, for shoplifting and downloading copyrighted music, but an armed robbery of a bank that directly results in the death of one person and the shooting of another warrants no action by the justice system at all, because…well, because it was done for a good reason.
Two kids robbed a bank, using a gun, and no crime is charged. The message being sent by “C.S.I. New York’s” writers is apparently that it isn’t the conduct or the law that makes something a crime, it’s the circumstances, and if the circumstances are sympathetic enough, why, there just isn’t any crime. This, certifiably nuts as it is, is the only message they can be sending, because the message that kids are not accountable to the laws of society would be an outright lie. Yes, there are mitigating circumstances in this scenario. Yes, I could support a plea deal in which the kids were put on probation and served no jail time, although that’s only a slap on the wrist for armed robbery. But nothing? Nothing?
Maybe this explains the mysterious logic of support for illegal immigration in California and elsewhere; indeed, maybe the two positions are organically linked. Illegal immigrants break U.S. laws to come here in order to support their families and live a better life, and those noble motivations render the laws null and void. Is that the thinking? Similarly, as long as you are only robbing the bank to help your mother, there’s nothing really criminal about it. Empathy! Empathy trumps the law.
This is, of course, an endorsement of the process of grafting rationalizations onto lawless activities, which can be used to justify almost anything. Good intentions and sympathetic law-breakers can not justify the waiver of our laws. The fact that the entertainment industry, one of the most influential cultural forces in the nation has come to believe otherwise and apparently is no longer capable of recognizing how irresponsible its position is, should frighten us all.