Stop labelling people who commit crimes criminals

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firemonkey
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27 Nov 2017, 12:37 pm

Debates about people who have committed crimes are littered with epithets. We brand people as offenders, criminals, crooks, felons, convicts, lawbreakers, outlaws and delinquents. We label those who spend time in prison jailbirds and yardbirds. And we call those who’ve completed their sentences ex-offenders, ex-convicts and ex-cons. We also apply more specific epithets to people for particular offences, such as thief, murderer, rapist, sex offender, paedophile and serial killer. Even conscientious newspapers such as The New York Times and The Guardian use these labels liberally, with headlines such as: ‘Prison Nurse Accused of Sexually Assaulting Convicted Rapist’, ‘To Catch a Rapist’, ‘How Not to Raise a Rapist’, ‘Sex Offender Village’, ‘Sex Offenders Gain Right To Appeal Against Registration’, and ‘Why Giving Polygraph Tests To Sex Offenders Is A Terrible Idea’.

In many other social areas, we have moved away from this kind of labelling. We’ve largely abandoned labels such as the autistic, the handicapped, the retarded, the disabled, the blind, the poor, and the undeserving poor. We now see just how prejudiced these labels are. We recognise that giving people such labels hides the real complexity of their situation, and limits their ability to shape their own lives. Instead, we speak now of ‘people who have autism’, ‘people who are living in poverty’, ‘people with visual impairments’, and ‘people with disabilities’.

So why use epithets in the area of crime?

https://aeon.co/ideas/stop-labelling-pe ... -criminals


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kraftiekortie
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27 Nov 2017, 1:36 pm

I guess because we are angry at people who commit crimes.



naturalplastic
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27 Nov 2017, 1:51 pm

Joke?

Or a sincere, but a wrong headed deeper descent into the depths of excessive political correctness?

Or is this to be taken seriously?

Hard to say.

A starving child who steals bread in the third world shouldn't be branded a "criminal". I am with you on that.
A "perp", but not a "criminal".

But on the other extreme: Bernie Madoff, John Wayne Gayce, and John Gotti,....call them "scum", or anything that you want. Criminal is almost too good for them.



firemonkey
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27 Nov 2017, 2:12 pm

I think the author is serious. Can we really see a homicidal paedophile in the same light we see a homeless man that steals a sandwich and drink?
Should we really baulk at calling some people criminals?


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kraftiekortie
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27 Nov 2017, 2:44 pm

I would look at it on a case-by-case basis.



ASPartOfMe
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27 Nov 2017, 6:40 pm

We call people who have committed crime criminals because crime is inherent in the name, we call people who have committed rape "rapists" because rape in in the name.

We have "petty criminal" and "felon" to distinguish between the seriousness of the crimes. Usually a news story will describe the crime committed so the harm level done is inherent in that.

I am am going to call myself AUTISTIC no matter how many language police try to tell we have moved away from that. I am going to do it because of my AUTISTIC trait to dislike euphemisms.


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Last edited by ASPartOfMe on 27 Nov 2017, 6:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Tim_Tex
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27 Nov 2017, 6:40 pm

Most reserve the term "criminal" for those who commit more serious crimes.


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Daniel89
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27 Nov 2017, 6:58 pm

I imagine the vast majority of people are criminals because there are so many laws and most people break a couple of minor ones. I do think some people who come from relatively well off backgrounds look at people from more disadvantaged backgrounds who turn to crime for money or engage in harmful behaviour as victims of circumstance and whilst that may be true they still made their decision to harm others, going soft on the only punishes people from the same background who don't turn to crime.



naturalplastic
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27 Nov 2017, 8:21 pm

firemonkey wrote:
I think the author is serious. Can we really see a homicidal paedophile in the same light we see a homeless man that steals a sandwich and drink?
Should we really baulk at calling some people criminals?


We already don't see those two cases in the same light.

So whats the point?



kokopelli
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27 Nov 2017, 9:05 pm

By definition, a criminal is someone who commits crimes.

Saying that we can't call them criminals is like saying that we can't call someone who does research on stars and galaxies an astronomer. Or that we can't refer to people who don't commit crimes as honest citizens.



leejosepho
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27 Nov 2017, 9:24 pm

kokopelli wrote:
By definition, a criminal is someone who commits crimes.

No, a criminal is a person who has committed *a* crime without embracing crime as a career.

I once committed a crime and "did the time" many years ago and it would be accurate to say I have a criminal past...but it would be completely inaccurate to say I am a criminal.


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naturalplastic
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27 Nov 2017, 9:43 pm

leejosepho wrote:
kokopelli wrote:
By definition, a criminal is someone who commits crimes.

No, a criminal is a person who has committed *a* crime without embracing crime as a career.

.

You must have made a typo and left out the word "not" between the words "is" and "a" in the first sentence.

If not then your post doesn't make any sense.



leejosepho
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27 Nov 2017, 9:48 pm

naturalplastic wrote:
leejosepho wrote:
kokopelli wrote:
By definition, a criminal is someone who commits crimes.

No, a criminal is a person who has committed *a* crime without embracing crime as a career.

.

You must have made a typo and left out the word "not" between the words "is" and "a"...

No, a criminal is a person who has committed *a* crime (singular), not crimes.


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TheAP
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27 Nov 2017, 10:08 pm

I think rapists and sex offenders deserve to be labeled as such. I agree that one-time offenders of less serious crimes don't deserve to be labeled as criminals their whole lives, though.

Also, I don't think all of those epithets are bad. Some, such as "retarded", are insulting, but there's nothing wrong with calling someone autistic or blind or poor if that's what they are (if they're okay with it). Those aren't insults, but descriptors with no value judgment attached.



naturalplastic
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27 Nov 2017, 10:21 pm

leejosepho wrote:
naturalplastic wrote:
leejosepho wrote:
kokopelli wrote:
By definition, a criminal is someone who commits crimes.

No, a criminal is a person who has committed *a* crime without embracing crime as a career.

.

You must have made a typo and left out the word "not" between the words "is" and "a"...

No, a criminal is a person who has committed *a* crime (singular), not crimes.


Can someone explain to me what he is saying?

Kopekelli said youre a criminal if you "commit crimeS" (ie make a habit of it).

You pipe in and say that is wrong. And say committing ONE crime makes you criminal.

And then in the next sentence you say that you yourself commited *A* crime, but then you say that it would inaccurate to call you a "criminal". One crime does not equal a criminal. A direct contradiction of what you said in the previous sentence.

So which is it? Are you a criminal, or not.