Socialized Crime and Societal “Guilt”

Please review Trigger Warnings disclaimer at top of the Righting on the Wall page. Needless to say, this serves as a trigger warning.

Against my better judgement, I am writing about a current epidemic that puts me on the “wrong side of history”. What is the wrong side? The side that does not agree with another side (see the slippery slope?). Pick your political side and stamp it “Right” and just! It’s that easy.

OK, so what is this epidemic? For lack of a better term, it is socialized crime. This is where we take down people for NOT doing things (as well as the actual perpetrators). It is the crime of inaction, of not knowing something (or ignorance), and of not making decision with hindsight information. The guilt gets spread out in the pursuit of “justice”.

This is where neighbors, co-workers and just about anyone you want can be held accountable for the actions of others. Even better, this socialized crime is happening along with the current movement of guilty upon accusation (innocent until proven guilty is such a “wrong side of history” concept).

Now, this post is not about any specific investigation and public assassination (although this is inspired by the 2018 Michigan State university crisis – see transparency notes and disclaimers at end of this post*). The motivation is that this accusation based socialized criminal wave is growing in frequency and momentum. And capitalists (even Impact Capitalists) make for good targets. This post does not offer any “to-do” advice – it is just observation and insight.

The consequences of this movement are frightening. In fact, it is a chilling effect caused not by law, but by public opinion and moral outrage. We are now seeing evidence of changed behavior (above and beyond what behavior did indeed need to change) due to fear of public retribution. All of a sudden, men and women do not know the new rules of interaction and are uncomfortable when they do interact. This carries over to race and ethnic interactions as well.

Public opinion is the new law. Just look at the outrage caused when the legal system enacts a judgement that is counter to the public verdict.

The right side of history people argue that good people have no need to fear as long as they behave accordingly (isn’t history littered with this perspective in support of their actions?). Even if one were to buy that we can avoid this attack if we just behave well (by their definition of course), it does not negate the societal guilt element of socialized crime. In the accusatory socialized crime environment, anyone can be steamrolled to correct “wrongs”, regardless of actual actions and wrongdoing.

Great. So how do we fix this. Honestly? I don’t know. All we can do is understand our current reality and try to avoid the undertow of a movement. The best crisis management plan is to not engage in activities that would lead to a crisis. But we are now liable for accusations, inactions, and ignorance (in its true sense of just not knowing).

* There are many examples out there (and independent of political leanings). The one that is spurring this post is the early 2018 Michigan State University case. Couple of things I need to put out there (for transparency):

  1. I am an MSU alumnus
  2. I worked (as a grad student) with the cast out President of MSU when she was still Provost
  3. There has been an actual pattern of crime by an individual – this is not Fake News – Many of the accusations against this individual appear to be true/credible, and the legal system has also found him to be guilty as charged – it is despicable behavior. But this is about socialized crime, not individual
  4. Victims are justified to be angry
  5. It is possible that there was system based wrong-doing. But I prefer to let the objective, non-political (or “correctedness”) discovery of evidence and facts progress before I feel comfortable expressing outrage AT an actor (or social system). At the time of this posting, no legal crime charges have been made (although an investigation by the State Attorney General has been launched).
  6. This post does not try to diminish actual crime and victimhood – but the notion to always believe accusers before due process and holding non-action as criminal is problematic. It can be weaponized for any agenda or motive.

I could probably add a few more – but even a list of 100 disclaimer points would probably still not protect me from activist agendas.

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