Thursday, August 30, 2007

Victimhood

After 12 years as a public defender, and 16 years as a Center City resident, I've finally managed to become a victim of crime - sort of.

Breaking it down - am I really a victim? To the lay person, I guess every victim is an "innocent" victim. But in my line of work, across the board -- judges, police officers, district attorneys - there's a definite recognition, and ultimate distinction and subsequent disparate treatment between the innocent victims -- the store owner who is robbed, the laundress who is bludgeoned, the carowner who's car window is busted, and the not-so-innocent "victim" - the drug dealer who's killed in a shoot out over a corner, the loser on the receiving end of a mutual fist-fight, a junkie who falls asleep, and is robbed -- no one has "clean" hands, so to speak. This distaste for the non-innocent "victim" is apparent in jury verdicts - clear first degree murder cases come back as not guilty's, or third degrees (unintentional killings, kind of like an aggravated assault gone bad); many cases involving equally bad parties lead to out-right acquittals.

I've been mulling this victim concept in the context of the Michael Vick debacle. No question - what he did was horrific, heinous, stomach-turning, and he deserves to be punished. But, when Vick's deeds come up in conversation, I gently remind my companion/s that my clients oftentimes do much worse things to PEOPLE, and maybe we should be more concerned about what we are doing to each other as human beings, and not worry so much about ballplayers on steroids, athletes who gamble, and, this obvious worst case scenario - the animal abusers. Why do we care soooo much (and I'm not saying we should not care at all, obviously we should) about the Vick incident, yet we don't have daily conversations about the 277 bodies stacked up in the streets of Philadelphia? And the answer I've gotten is simply - the animals are innocent, and can't protect themselves.

Crime, apparently, does not happen to the blameworthy. Or, if it does, is it just not a crime?

A crime, techinically speaking, is the noncompliance with a legislatively enacted law. And if we unconcerned about gunplay between 2 nefarious characters, and we're not moved by robberies that occur between to drug addicts, are we now defining crime in a different way? And for a sympathies to be truly swayed, and our hearstrings tugged, the victim should have floppy ears and a tail. So, it's with these questions floating around in my mind, that I can only say I was victim of crime, sort of, when my house was clearly burglarized Friday night.

So, I went out after work on Friday, had a few glasses of wine - ok, probably four glasses of wine. 2 were at the Samson Street Oyster House with my friend Sue, and I returned to the office to finish happy hour with my girls in my unit. Then, I went to Chris's Jazz Cafe, had half a beer, realized I was done for the night, and went home. Before going to bed, I made a few phone calls, crashed on the couch, then before going upstairs, I went to lock my front door. It was one of those humid nights - crazy humid, and my door was so swollen, that I could not get the deadbolt to shut. So, I was like f- it, what could happen - is some guy going to come down my street and try every door? I went to bed, and in the morning, when I came downstairs, my front door was wide open, to the street. Huh, I thought. I looked around. Nothing appeared to be ransacked, out of place, or missing - my laptop sat on my ottoman right by my door. My handbag was on a chair. Huh, I guess when the door become unswollen, it opened. Before I left for Rosie's for my Saturday morning shift, I looked for my wallet. That's odd, I thought - I can't find it. I knew that my phone had been in my little wallet that is more like a pouch. Was I that drunk that I left it at work, took the phone out and just don't remember? Must be. So, I went in to the office - no wallet. I checked my account. No money missing. Who steals a wallet and doesn't even try to use the VISA card? Must be lost.

I cancelled my one card, and began the process of replacing my id. On Monday, I got a call from one of my neighbors around the corner. He had found my wallet, and my make-up bag, that I hadn't even realized was missing, next to his car, that had been broken into that same night. Someone had really been in my house. When I got home on Monday, I inspected my stuff, and realized that my digital camera was also gone.

I had lunch with Kenny's old partner, Detective Bobby yesterday, and he was like, well, did you call the police? What was I going to say - um, I was so drunk I couldn't even remember if I had my wallet at home, didn't even know that stuff had been stolen, and, oh, by the way, I went to bed without locking my door because I was to lazy to wrestle with the swollen deadbolt. Yep, I would have made an excellent complainant - the dumb ass who didn't lock her door. Hardly an "innocent" victim.

I don't really have a point in all of this - just ideas that I've been thinking about -

And, unfortunately, since I don't have a digital camera, no photos of my now finished Brooks Farm sweater, or the Tangled Yoke Cardigan that I started in Avocado Felted Tweed.

Now that's a crime . . .

16 comments:

Liz K. said...

You're totally a victim. Leaving your door not deadbolted is not an invitation to steal your wallet and camera. You know this. I know you feel stupid, because I have done stupid things like this too. Or the time I left my door unlocked and someone stole my VCR, my telephone, a leather jacket, and gold earrings that belonged to my grandma.

I still filed a report, and nothing was ever recovered, but I still felt immensely stupid.

Sorry about the camera. I would have liked to have seen the BF sweater.

Angie said...

I am thankful that whomever helped themselves to some of the contents to your house wasn't looking for anything more irreplaceable. I have been thinking the same thing regarding the Vick media spectacle. Yes, all aspects of dogfighting are brutal and horrible, but this sort of thing happens every day to people and it doesn't make as much press. I find that sad.

buttercup said...

I wondered what the end of the story would be. I was hoping that I'd not hear anything more about it after you came back to Rosie's after checking the office.

Yes, you are a victim. This world was a place where you could leave the dead bolt unlocked and not have a worry. Now you can't even do that for one night.

Although you're kicking yourself over this, I'm glad the person who entered your house wasn't looking for something other than what he could turn over for a quick buck. I'm glad you're safe and sound.

Elysbeth said...

I'm glad you are safe. In the big scheme, whatsa camera. Miss seeing the knits though.

Knittah said...

I'm so glad you are safe! That's the most important thing.

Implicit in your questions about victimhood is whether a victim "deserves" what happens to them. Dogs never deserve poor treatment; even dogs that bite should be treated with compassion (doesn't mean they should be left off leash, though). Then there's the "she deserved it" myth, like a woman's clothes somehow relieve a man of the duty to abstain from violence. So drug dealers, drunk drivers, poor people - as a society we lump them into a category more "deserving" of poor treatment or suffering. Don't fall for this fallacy and tell yourself that you "deserved" to have your house burglarized.

It saddens me that more people turned out to wave posters at Vick in protest than turn out for the paltry attempts at anti-violence rallies going on in the city.

Tracy said...

Wow. Glad you're okay. I think you're a victim. No question about it. Your house has been entered illegally and your property stolen. Whether or not your door was secure shouldn't matter. I mean, do we decide who is a victim by the quality of there locks? Do we say "they should have had bars on the windows" if someone breaks in that way? I always figured locks where for keeping "honest" people out. If somebody really wants to get into your house, they will. That being said, it's up to you whether you file a complaint. I would. You have been robbed no matter what you may or may not have done to prevent it. Take care.

Macoco said...

I'm really sorry to hear about this! I'm also really glad that you're okay as well. Here I was feeling bad because somebody took my laundry detergent from the laundry room! I think it's worth filing a report. It's not your fault that some creep broke into your home. Unlocked door or not.

Knitting Novice said...

How Scary! Thank God you are ok.

Donna said...

Whoa!!! Scarey stuff! You are SOOO lucky Wendy. Thank God you are OK.

I can't tell you how many times I have left my doors wide open. We are living in frightening times. God I sound like my mom!

chris said...

That's really scary. No one has the right to enter your home or take your stuff - glad that you are ok.

Lisa Shobhana said...

whew! thank god you're okay.

Knitty Delicious said...

W
You've also been violated. When my car was broken into and of all things, the air bags stolen, I felt victimized AND violated by the mere idea that someone else had been in my space. I'm glad you are safe, and no yarn was harmed in he writing of this blog
KD

Ellen said...

Add me to the "Glad you're still here and unharmed" list. We've had a spate of garage breakins and our cars were tossed. Nothing besides change was taken (luckily, I don't keep cash in the car) but just cleaning up the mess makes me mad/scared. I can get everything in my garage (including all the expensive bikes they didn't take) again but not my family (and, by extension, not you, either!) But I did get a new dead lock - and so should you!

Carol said...

Scary! Glad you are ok. I'm sure you already know how lucky you were that it was just a wallet. How awful that we live in a world where this happens on the one day you let your guard down. Be safe & smart and file a report.

Lisa said...

I am also in the relieved that you were not harmed category. And also in the yeah, you've had smarter moments category, but you should still report it to the police.

Looking forward to maybe seeing the sweaters live and in person at knitting circle.

WandaWoman said...

Sorry that you were burglarized. That sounds terrible and regardless of the circumstances, you still didn't deserve to hae your things stolen.