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Friday, 21 October 2011

Perceived Criminals vs Actual Criminals..Is there a difference?

One hundred years ago in this great nation, many small towns and villages had dog fighting and cock fighting as a form of entertainment. If you possesed bot the space and location to host such a controlled event, you were celebrated as a pretty cool person in that area. You were known as the man (or woman) who was a good host or hostess during these cock/dog fighting events.
      Most recently, an NFL star quarterback, Micheal Vick, was given a prison term for dog fighting at his house among friends. Micheal was blanketed as a criminal under the criminal code of the United States. Interestingly enough, my opinion of Micheal immediately changed. I compared him to other criminals, judging him as being just as bad as any other man in prison. However, after reading numerous books and articles dancing around this word, "perception" it seems evident to me that the media is wrong and my judgement of Mr. Vick was skewed.
      See, Micheal Vick is what I argue as a perceived criminal. A man who commits a crime in a society and context where the "crime" is deemed criminal activity. for example, if Micheal had have done the exact same activity in Canada 70 years ago he would have been a pretty popular guy. However, in this time and place he was an instant criminal. The difference between a perceived criminal and what I call, "actual criminals" is this one thing. Time. A crime that stands the test of time such as murder and theft give birth to undeniable criminal allegations. Understanding the difference between these long term unacceptable crimes and contextual crimes is important to assess a man like Micheal Vick fairly.
      While he was in prison, he was visted frequently by a man named Tony Dungy, who never gave up on Micheal. He was down in the dumps because of the immediate media assumptions and labelings, thus ruining his career. Tony understood this difference, saw the potential in this young mans life and took the time to mentor him back into a starting NFL quarterback. Tony and Micheal both accepted the fact that what was done was done and what he had done was wrong, but realized he was a perceived criminal but more importantly, that he was an all-star quarterback that needed the game of football in his life.
      I write this article not to promote criminal activity, but to understand criminal activity and its contextual perceptions. Most people do not understand this difference and blanket all as one, just as we love to group other things together in our lives like ethnic groups, sexuality and socioeconomic class. I challenge you to do more than just that. Educate yourselves  in what truly means what. Educate yourself in terminology, context and history of social stratifications.
      While working on a previous football team the slogan was, "Do what you have to, to do what you want to". I want you to do what you have to in order to better understand the world we live in, only then can you do what you want to do by understanding the world more freely

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