From Where I Sit – Meaningful Consequences

Do you remember the age of innocence? I’m not talking about some long-forgotten era of old. I’m talking about when we were young, when life was simpler.

If You’re a male baby boomer chances are you were a young adult in the 1970s. Do you remember primping for a date or a night out with friends? Odds are you showered, shampooed your hair, chose your clothes with thought. Just before leaving the house you splashed on aftershave, took one last look in the mirror and dashed out the door with car keys in hand. If there was any trouble at all that night it probably amounted to a dust-up over a girl in the parking lot outside a dance hall.

Fast-forward 30 years. Too many young men today have added one more step to their routine. Before heading out to the bars and clubs, an alarming number of men are packing a knife. Even more shocking is the number of men who will use that knife, often with fatal results.

Can someone please explain to me what sort of thought process this takes? How do you decide one day that you need to carry a knife? Where do you go to buy one? How do you pick the style, the blade length, the concealability of it? What is the rationale: protection or acts of aggression?

Is there any issue on earth important enough to warrant plunging that knife into another human being? Is there any thought given to the consequences of that action? Or is it simply the result of alcohol- or drug-fuelled rage and stupidity? Does the spectre of jail time mean so little as a deterrent? When did human life become disposable?

It’s apparent I have more questions than answers. Sadly, the same is true of law enforcement and social service agencies. A few years ago I sat through several youth court sessions watching the wheels of justice turn in the case of my stolen car. I was not quite a neophyte. I have been a fee justice of the peace since 1978 and have seen my share of criminal code charges, warrants, and dumb criminals. This time I was on the other side of the fence as a victim of crime. Frankly, I was appalled and disgusted at the lack of respect for the court shown by the gallery.

The only other thing rivalling my disgust was watching the youth court judges in action. Good grief, I’ve demonstrated more engaged, forceful, convincing, authoritative, tougher, louder action disciplining my own kids during a household squabble. Here were these people in authority accepting shoddy behaviour, mumbling their questions, accepting asinine explanations for 30 hours of community service not completed in a year’s time, and finally delivering laughable judgments.

I realize It’s simplistic to lay this mess at the feet of the court because, obviously, parenting plays a huge part, but shouldn’t actions have consequences–meaningful consequences? Using a knife to injure or kill should have consequences, from where I sit.

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