Sunday, January 15, 2006

Sometimes, you just gotta violate those rights a little bit

Last year was a pretty bloody one for Boston: the homicide rate was the highest it's been in 10 years [and a lot of those homicides happened in an area we were initially thinking about living, but that's a whole different story ...] and police identified suspects in only about 20% of them, a 10-year low. Part of the problem with solving these crimes is apparently an increase in witness intimidation, such as gang members wearing T-shirts that say "Stop Snitching", a move that led Boston's mayor Tom Menino to consider banning the sale of these T-shirts in Boston, a notion that aroused the ire of the local civil liberties union, which is understandable.

I didn't really pay much attention to the dust-up about these T-shirts until I saw somebody wearing one yesterday. That's when it really struck me that wearing a shirt like this, especially given the current atmosphere in Boston, is like hanging a sign around your neck that says "Attention law-enforcement officers: I'm probably involved in something shady you'd like to know about". If I were a police officer,
I'd make myself a T-shirt that said "Start Talking" and devote an inordinately large share of my attention to anybody wearing a "Stop Snitching" shirt, outraged claims about "profiling" and civil rights violations be damned.

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