A week ago, early on a Sunday should have been like any other for a Santa Fe, New Mexico family, 34-year-old Teral Christesson, armed with an AR-15 rifle, broke a window and invaded their home. Once inside, he slept, had some beer and shrimp out of the fridge, and took a bath.
When the surprised and alarmed residents returned to their home later to find a stranger with a duffel bag and an AR-15 scoped rifle there, Christesson expressed great embarrassment and apologized profusely. He then gave them $200 to make it all better, or at least to pay for the window he broke. Then he said goodbye, and left.
What a nice young man!
He was arrested the next day when police found Christesson after responding to a report of a man attempting to hijack a car. He reportedly told investigators he still “felt bad” about breaking that window. Now he’s facing charges of aggravated burglary, larceny, and criminal damage to property.
- Christesson has ethics alarms, all right. The problem is that they are so defective that they might as well not be there at all.
What’s his obsession with the window? What about the shrimp? What about the unconsented to appropriation of someone else’s home? What about his trespassing? What about forcing the family to confront a man with a deadly weapon? My late mother and my very much alive and kicking wife would rather have had five broken windows smashed than to have their home defiled by the presence of a uninvited stranger for second. What if the house is a mess? What if he tells people?
- This guy is such a Ruddigore Fallacy fan that I wonder if he’s a Gilbert and Sullivan aficionado. In “Ruddigore,” perhaps my favorite of all the brilliant operettas, a man under a family curse that forces him to commit a crime a day tries to counter his affliction by doing a good deed each day as compensation. Ethics, however, is not like a bank balance, and one is (or should be) fully accountable for wrongful acts, regardless of any separate good or even exemplary conduct that may be in the mix. The Ruddigore Fallacy is how we get The King’s Pass, the corrupting rationalization (#11 on the list) for the epidemic practice of letting high achievers as well as the rich, popular or powerful (or their sons) escape the consequences of conduct that anyone else would be punished for.
We’ve been seeing a lot of that lately. Have you noticed?
- I guarantee that Christesson’s defense lawyer will use that $200 and his apologies at the scene to argue for a reduced sentence. This too relies on a rationalization, my least favorite of the bunch, the infamous #22, “It’s not the worst thing.” It would hold that breaking into someone’s house carrying a weapon, treating property that isn’t your own as if it is, and scaring the bejesus out of the family that lives there isn’t the same crime when you are nice about it as it is if you are surly, threatening, and laugh demonically as you leave.
But it is.
- A nice home invader is still a home invader. There is a likely mitigation for this one, however. I think he’s nuts.