Saturday, December 29, 2007

Zero tolerance versus common sense

    As I was browsing through my newsfeeds (yes, I'm an information hog), I read this story in regarding an old man sneaking out a $3 steak and returning afterwards to pay for it. The manager calls the police on him, and the store plans to press charges on the guy for shoplifting.

    What the hell.

    Yes, it's wrong. Based on most of the comments plastered beneath the story, that's the general sentiment of the public. However, I disgress. The guy was already able to sneak the steak out, probably cook it (well, literally, considering the report indicates that his house burned down) and go back to pay for it. He says he didn't have the money then. Someone argues that he should've just gone back to his house, grabbed the money, then went back to the store to buy the meat. Well, I guess store credit doesn't do much anymore does it. He should've probably just arranged something with the personnel in the shop (though considering the way they were acting, I highly doubt he'd get the help he needed for his situation), but this arrest still smacks of stupidity.

    While I'm not going to argue the intelligence of taking anything from the store (yes, I know it's shoplifting) I'm still impressed the guy came back. Couldn't the store leave it at that? This isn't a simple open and shut case; the fact that the guy came back to pay for the steak is a show of the guy's honesty. Of course, in today's society, that counts for zilch. Zero tolerance, that's what the store was harping about. Zero tolerance? For what? The guy stole a $3 steak. One can argue that big issues start from small ones, but the man was rectifying the situation already! So what is a person supposed to do next time? Just shoplift it outright?

    Someone who'll argue to me the obvious fact that he shoplifted, ergo he was wrong, needs to take his common sense medication. I may sound vehement, but it just irritates me that some people have apparently let their interpretations of the law grind their common sense into fine dust. There are matters that we can resolve without resorting to arrests and trials. He had the honor to come back and pay for it. I'm fine with that. The law was made to police the people who were doing wrong alone, not the ones who did wrong and are trying to make up for it. And trying to contemplate about what would happen if it escalates is non sequitur. What if he steals another one? Or another one? What's important is what he did NOW. If he paid for it now, chances are IF he did it again, he would have probably DONE THE EXACT SAME THING. Big surprise to most, I'm sure. Some people are too jaded about the world to realize that people like this exist. Not every other person on this earth is out to screw you, kid. One of the comments summed it up: "Zero tolerance equals zero common sense."

    Phew. Just wanted to get that off my chest. Pardon the regresion of my vocabulary to common expletives (when in Rome, do what the Romans do, I should say). Anyway. Bye.

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