I have to admit - I am a crime news junkie. I love to watch the Investigation Discovery Channel and shows such as ďThe Real NCISĒ (of course, I like to watch the Mark Harmon version, too). But Iím captivated by how some people seem to get away with the most obvious crimes and others are sunk after their carefully crafted plans unravel.
I suppose what captivates me the most is motivation. Why are people driven to do what they do?
For example, Drew Peterson, ex-cop and serial divorcee, was recently arrested in the death of his third wife after his fourth wife disappeared. Both wives met mysterious circumstances during rather nasty divorces. As he now sits in jail on a multi-million dollar bond, he joked with reporters about his ďbling,Ē chews gum in court and acts like heís on vacation.
Casey Anthony and her attorneyís are working to move her trial to another court after citing the negative media coverage about her and her possible involvement in the violent death of her two-year-old daughter.
John Demjanjuk took his case all the way to the Supreme Court. His lawyers contend that the 89-year-old is too weak to be deported to Germany to face charges of war crimes. Demjanjuk is charged as an accessory in the death of 29,000 prisoners in a WWII Nazi camp in Sobibor, Poland.
Granted, every example listed above is innocent until proven guilty (or at least thatís how itís supposed to work), but, if they did what they are accused of, then Iím left with the ultimate rhetorical question: Why?
Was Peterson that driven by the love of money? Could a human being, sworn to protect and serve, really be capable of murdering two women he also swore to love for his half of everything? Could a mother, no matter how young, really play a death game with the daughter she carried for nine months and watched grow into a beautiful toddler? Could a soldier be convinced to hate so much that he would willingly herd people into gas chambers and lure them to their deaths?
What drives this sort of behavior? Money, fear, hatred, power? I honestly donít know, but I know if they are guilty, then they will suffer much easier demises than any of their victims.
I was told once that an old Chinese proverb claims you can gage the height of civilizationís humanity by how they treat the impoverished and the imprisoned.
I was also told that Chinese prison guards do not carry weapons on patrol either. But since Iím not planning on visiting any Chinese prisons soon, Iíll just have to take their word on it.
I have, however, visited a Texas prison. While it was not the Hilton, Iím sure it is better than a concentration camp. And while I believe in our justice system, I also believe it is easy for us (including the media) to forget that we are dealing with humans - humans that are locked away like animals and eventually begin to act as such.
In our attempt to keep a balanced system, we canít sink to the lowest levels of our civilization - we canít act like the criminals. We must use them as examples of our highest capabilities.