Criminal Mentality - "Respect"

This short piece discusses the criminal thinking that DEMANDS as opposed to EARNING respect.

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Thursday, July 20, 2006

Criminal Mentality - "Respect"

The Criminal Mentality – “Respect”
© Copyright 2003, 2006 – David Todeschini – All rights reserved

Posted by: WebPastor David Todeschini
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This is going to be a difficult thing to explain to my target audience, because normally, an understanding of this subject requires an understanding of psychology and Dianetics, or alternatively, an immersion into an environment in which people think this way, or behave in the manner I am about to describe.

“Criminal thinking” as it is called, is rooted, as I see it, in one or both pre-conceived notions or conditions: 1) Low self-esteem, and 2) De-humanization of others. Without either of these conditions being present, a person cannot truly be called “a criminal”, even though he or she may have broken the law and actually be in prison. Let’s examine these two conditions and relate them to criminal behavior:

1) Low Self-esteem (or self-respect) leads to the condition of a person who then demands that respect (or esteem) from others, even though he has done nothing to earn that respect or esteem, and perhaps exhibited behavior that would preclude respect and esteem. The criminal mentality seeks unjustified respect and esteem from without himself, because he cannot find it within himself. People are naturally reluctant to respect someone who is abusive, obnoxious, belligerent, or inconsiderate. People usually do not hold someone in high esteem, unless that someone deserves acclaim for some exceptional act or accomplishment. Failure to render homage to someone who demands respect but doesn’t actually deserve respect, in the criminal thinking of someone with low self-esteem, can be perceived as disrespect. In the ghetto mentality of many of those who think this way, disrespect is the enabling condition that permits the justification for violent reprisals against those who have failed to “respect” the “king”.

2) De-humanization unfortunately occurs in all areas of our society. A good example on the larger scale would be the institution of slavery, and the Holocaust of World War II. In slavery, the “niggers” were treated as chattel – things and objects to be possessed or discarded, or bought and sold as property. The only indication of their humanity was that they [slaves] looked like us [Caucasians], and could reproduce [successfully breed] with us. In every other respect, black slaves were said to be inferior to whites – especially in the area of intelligence, Of course, it isn’t true – and was never true. In the Holocaust, the Jews were ostracized and persecuted. They were made the scapegoats for the societal and economic ills of an entire nation. It therefore was easy for Adolf Hitler to justify their extermination; the Jews were seen as inferior, and the Aryans became “The Master Race”.

In all of the wars we have been involved in, dehumanization has played a role in the training of soldiers. Teaching a soldier to see the enemy as less than human removes the normal moral barriers that keep him from pulling the trigger and killing another human being. Being faced with the prospect of being killed himself, coupled with the sight of a few dead buddies, soon removes all inhibitors and replaces them with the hatred[1] that it takes to become an effective, experienced soldier in the field.

In our society in general, any difference between “them” and “us” can start the process, and this is the commonality with the “war mentality”. We learn that classes, categories, and races of people are less human than we are. It starts with the epithets: “Kraut”, “Jerry”, “Chink”, “Gook”, “Dink”, “Zipperhead”, “Slant”, “Sand-Nigger”, et al., and it goes downhill from there. When another human being is less than human, he or she becomes a thing to be used and abandoned, owned like property, discarded or killed, and forgotten.

The beginnings of criminal mentality have their roots in either or both of the afore-mentioned conditions which are common elements to the mentality of a criminal, or a combat soldier who can kill without conscience. I am not trying to equate a combat soldier with a criminal, but merely pointing out the common elements of how the “urban soldier” mentality operates. I concede that criminal mentality is not the same as military mentality but have elements in common, let’s move on.

Additional factors and mental processes, cognitive and perceptual distortions play a role in the development of the mind of a criminal. These elements are not essential, but are present to some degree in all of us. Now let’s examine the most prevalent of those elements:

Desensitization / Level of Tolerance: For this example, let us construct a simple scenario. Let us suppose that you or I in the peace of our living rooms were suddenly to be electronically dematerialized into 1941 Berlin, and that in your rematerialization, you ended up as a Jew, an SS officer and his squad of goons going door-to-door… I would tend to believe that “terror” would describe our state of mind quite adequately, while the Jew living next door and who grew up around the environment would, of course, be afraid but would know what to do and perhaps how to escape. The difference is the tolerance level; what we reasonably expect in our daily lives, and we get used to what we are constantly exposed to, and must as a consequence of our environment, have to live with.

The daily bombardment of Television news bringing us graphic descriptions of the world’s problems; something that we all cannot control or do anything about, and some things that are none of our business, desensitizes us, and increases our level of tolerance until we come to accept the fact that “this is just the way the world is”. We pray the “Serenity Prayer”, and in it, we ask God to give us the wisdom to know the difference between what we, as individuals can change, and what we cannot change. Yes, we become serene within ourselves because we accept the notion that we can’t change the world as individuals, but the truth is that each of us, individually, can make a difference, and we can change the world – even if it is done by comforting one child in distress, helping someone in need, saving one life, or bringing hope to someone in need of a friend, or just being a genuine, caring human being.

I believe that I can single-handedly change the world, and so should you. With my books and my web site, I know that I’ve changed the world in some way, and perhaps something within these pages will inspire someone who can, by virtue of circumstance, evoke a larger change for the better than my own ability or circumstances permit. If an Austrian house painter named Adolf Hitler can be directly responsible for the evil that was unleashed during World War II, then you or I with a much greater intelligence, and with the benefit of the knowledge gained by history; we can change the world. We can make a difference; we can stir the pot, and we can indeed change the world.

In order to clear our minds, we must re-sensitize – not de-sensitize. We can no longer subliminate the anger at the daily injustices we now allow to go undisclosed and unpunished. We must not, if we profess to be Christians, seek to be “serene” within ourselves when our fellow human beings are being murdered on our doorsteps, subjected to genocides half-way around the planet, or being murdered before they are born. If our nation, founded by Christians, has any one of us left within it who seeks to follow in the footsteps of his Lord and Savior – then I say we all must rise up, and we all must become revolutionaries. If you think that one person cannot change the world for the better as much as one person can influence the world to do and tolerate evil, then you are overlooking the obvious fact that Jesus Christ was a revolutionary. He was a rebel, and 2,000 years ago, He changed and influenced the entire planet, and He did it without violence, without the benefit of all the tools we have at our disposal today, and most importantly, He did it single-handedly.[2]

Our becoming “accustomed” to the daily injustices around us, and endeavoring to do nothing to change it, is perhaps the single, most significant factor as to why these evil things exist in the first place, and existing because of tolerance and apathy, they tend to become worse. It is a vicious circle:

Some injustice is done – perhaps on a large scale – corruption in the government is a good example. We, observing this, decide that “this doesn’t affect me”, or reason that “you can’t fight City Hall”, and we go about our daily lives – it bothers us, but we believe that we can’t do anything to change it or make it right, and besides, it – whatever “it” happens to be – doesn’t affect me. Why should I be upset? Why should I bother? Nothing I can do can change it, Whatever I can do won’t make much of a difference in the scheme of things, anyway. The people who are perpetrating this injustice or doing the evil things that we are tolerating soon learn that we are all collectively complacent to a great degree. They learn that we will tolerate this particular thing, and so slowly, they take more and more liberty in perpetrating and perpetuating the harm and the evil, while we subliminate our anger at the injustices and leave our responsibility as Christians to be our brother’s keepers in God’s hands.

In the throes of conditioned apathy,[3] we ignorantly take solace in “Serenity Prayers”, failing to seek to be the instruments and vessels of peace that Our Lord intended His followers to be. That is a mistake, and there is an old, wise saying: “Evil prevails, when good people stand by and do nothing”.

If you want serenity, pick a weekend with a sunny forecast, take your tent and tackle and go fishing at night, by candlelight. Amid the crickets, hoot-owls, wolves, and loon calls, start reading the Gospels, and Psalms 8. Then you can return to your daily routine – enlightened, and with a new perspective.

Twisted Code of Ethics / Justification: This factor of the criminal mentality applies not only to the criminal, but to the cops who arrest him, as well. Firstly, a drug dealer for example, may feel that he is justified in his daily sale of drugs, because taking an entry-level job commensurate with his education and experience is beneath his (inflated) dignity. He blames his lack of education not on his lack of effort, but on “the system”, the teachers, or the school. Those rationalizations failing him, he finds fault in that “his ancestors were slaves”, and blames everything on “racism”. He takes a victim’s stance and rationalizes that if he was not the one selling drugs to the people he sells to, someone else would be there in his stead. He minimizes the impact that his criminal enterprise has on the community, by adopting a self-imposed “code of ethics” that makes him less culpable for the damage he’s doing: “I don’t sell to kids or pregnant women”.

Learning The Trade: Upon his incarceration, someone who is not receptive to the damage he has done, will seek to analyze how he was caught, and how he can avoid the consequences of his (planned) future criminal activity – when he learns to “do it better” or “do it right next time” from his peers behind bars. The root cause is the justification, and the police can justify breaking the law themselves, in order to apprehend him. Yes, the criminal must be punished, but there no excuse for the police to circumvent the law in order to enforce the law. This, unfortunately, happens hundreds of times a day in this country. The criminal, whatever his crime, if he is not cognizant that he is wrong, will not understand that it is impossible to something that is wrong to begin with, “right”. There is no way to rehabilitation, unless one comes to the realization that there is no “right” way to sell drugs, hold up a liquor store, commit a robbery, arson, rape, or murder.. “Not getting caught” in some of this rationalization, is equated with “doing it right”. The doing of it “right” quickly becomes divorced from the fact that the action or behavior is wrong – even by the secular definition of “right and wrong”. This loops back to low self-esteem, and the cognitive distortion that society and the world owes you respect – something you have not actually earned. You, if you are a career criminal, you deserve (in your own mind) to engage in whatever criminal enterprise you choose because you [have made yourself, or have been made to] feel that you have not been afforded an opportunity equal to that of others. You fail to realize that there is in reality, no such thing as “equal opportunity”, and there never will be. The truth of the matter is, you never made the effort, and you think that “opportunity” is your birthright. As a line from a song in the movie “West Side Story” goes:

“He’s depraved on account-a’ he’s deprived” [4]

This is a victim’s stance, that because you have been abused or deprived, you are then justified in abusing others, and depriving them of their life, dignity, or property. The world owes you a living and the right to be a criminal because of some real or imagined injustice done to you. And don’t think – those of you who are reading this; those of you who don’t perceive yourselves as criminals, and those in the majority who are not criminals – don’t think that all of us have not engaged in this sort of thinking if not the behavior at one time or another; to one degree or another. If you deny it, I have to call you “a liar”.

“Criminal Thinking”, unfortunately, is part and parcel of how the world works. It has integrated itself so well into our government, our military, our police force, and our way of life, that it is all but imperceptible to the average person. No one – even those who have studied it – even those who have multiple degrees in psychology, criminology, criminal justice, and penology – really understand it. The people who have the most insight, unfortunately, are criminals – or ex-criminals. The dividing line between those of us who engage on occasion in these types of “thinking errors”, but do not act out the thinking and those who engage in the behavior as well are a combination of circumstance, inhibiting factors, and core motivations. The law has never and will never prevent a crime – the law only defines the crime. The law is a codification of the collective ethics of a society; the law is an amalgam of the society’s values. The law only incarcerates an individual when he or she violates the collective ethics, thereby breaking the law.[5] In an increasing number of cases, the law that protects citizens from what would otherwise be a Police State, is violated by the police themselves, and has resulted in many innocent people going to prison.

The criminal mentality is contagious, as is evidenced in history; the most significant example being Nazi Germany, and the Holocaust of World War II. It is apparently not difficult at all to get people – even an entire nation – organized into a lynch mob, or stirred into the frenzy of a “witch-hunt” mentality. It is extremely unfortunate that the world as a whole has not caught on to the obvious truth in these matters. We all pay the price for our collective lack of vigilance.

The way to start the process of slipping into a Police State, is to do to society’s “criminals” what would be unconscionable to do to the average citizen. The way to insure that a criminal – a real criminal – is never rehabilitated is to do what the science of Dianetics calls “holding a person in valence”.[6] This is done by the State keeping criminal records and dossiers on people, and although this may seem the “logical” thing to do, it is a form of unforgiveness. The “message” it sends to the offender is, “You’re a criminal, and you’ll always be a criminal”. In reality, it is a tacit admission by the State that it is incompetent in their multi-trillion dollar efforts to effect one iota of change in a person’s life; it is an admission of gross incompetence, and admissions notwithstanding, the truth is evident from the statistics. Jesus said, “you shall know them by their fruits”, and the “fruits” of the “Criminal Justice System” are a cornucopia of career criminals. It is time we moved to end the practice of the current methodologies, and do what Jesus said to do. Forgiveness is sometimes very difficult, and forgiveness and Restorative Justice would put the majority of prosecutors, judges, and prison guards out of work – this is precisely why they are opposed to it.


[1] However unarticulated or repressed that hatred may be.
[2] Even if Jesus Christ were NOT Lord and Savior, He is without a doubt the most significant and influential figure in all of world history.
[3] The government and the media are responsible for inducing this state of apathy.
[4] Line from the song “Officer Krupkee”.
[5] Or when the cops themselves break the law and / or lie to fabricate a case.
[6] Valence – Dianetics defines valence as “a false identity assumed unwittingly”.