A week ago, Malik Richmond and Trent Mays, two high schoolers accused in a widely publicized rape case, were found guilty and sentenced…
…to two years in juvenile detention.
Now there’s no rant I can write which is going to effectively communicate just how psychotic it is that Richmond and Mays received minimum sentencing, so I’m going to forgo any attempt and jump right into a list of crimes receiving harsher penalties.
Sale of Marijuana in Amounts Under 50 Kgs: 5 years.
Larceny in Excess of $3,500: Up to 10 years.
Mail Fraud: Up to 20 years.
Heck, Aaron Schwartz, an MIT student and internet activist who downloaded thousands of academic papers from JSTOR, was sentenced to 35 years in prison, in addition to a million dollar fine (Schwartz tragically killed himself in January of this year). Is what Schwatz did seventeen times more heinous than rape and dissemination of child pornography?
I don’t think so either.
And I don’t think people like Patricia Spottedcrow should be given twelve-year sentences for selling a dime bag of weed while someone who commits domestic violence may receive a maximum (in Nevada) penalty of 180 days in jail.
But I’m not hear to rail on our demented and irredeemably corrupt legal system.
I’m hear to talk about our values as a whole.
Back in 2011, during the teacher’s union strikes in Wisconsin, a complaint I heard a lot was “That teacher makes more than I do, has better benefits, and wants more money? That’s just greedy!” or “I saw that teacher driving around in a <insert fancy car here>!”
Now I honestly don’t know where these figures were pulled from; I have yet to see a wealthy teacher, let alone one who drives to and from work in a 1965 Chevy Impala, but that’s not really the point.
I do get being ticked off at people demanding more money when there aren’t enough hours in the day to spend all that they already have. Believe me, that resonates.
But if that’s the case, then where’s all the righteous indignation during the NBA lockout in 2011? No matter which way you slice it, those players were making millions, and pretty much shut down the NBA for half a year because they felt they weren’t making enough.
Now I’m not trying to pass judgment one way or the other, partly because I don’t know enough about the politics of the sport, and partly (mostly) because I think everyone involved makes and obscene amount to begin with.
So do actors, for that matter.
I frankly don’t see why actors should be paid millions to act as teachers in the ghetto while real teachers in the ghetto wouldn’t make that kind of money if they worked until their deaths. The same goes for doctors, civil rights lawyers, independent journalists, and so on. Pay an actor $5,000,000 to pretend to be a teacher, and everyone’s fine with it. Pay a real teacher $50,000 and the world is apparently coming to an end.
A professional footballer makes about $2,000,000 a year. Y’know how much a grocery store clerk makes? $28,000 (if we’re going ridiculously high). And you’d best believe my life is impacted more by any grocery clerk than anyone catching/kicking/hitting a ball for a living.
Now all this is to say we need to step back and take a hard look at our value system. What do we really consider to be a terrible crime? Is selling weed or beating your spouse senseless a more awful crime than rape? Is the work done by actors really so much more valuable than that done by teachers and nonprofit works *cough*? And even get me started on our military budget and the perks we give our politicians.
Again, I’m not here to pass judgment (not until tomorrow, anyways). I’m here to simply present the facts before you. Do you think we’ve got our priorities in order?