I’m heartless. Stone-cold hearted, at least. Either that or I just don’t qualify to be a bleeding heart liberal.
I had to do a double-take when I read today’s front page article in the Roanoke Times. There were two articles under the title of “Dance with the devil,” a phrase that utility workers use in describing the dangerous practice of attempting to steal copper wiring due to its value. One article details several of the numerous deaths of people attempting this “dance” and the laws that have been proposed to prohibit such thefts. Just last week, two men in Radford were electrocuted while trying to steal copper wiring, one of whom has died and the other in serious condition.
But what really caught my attention was the other article. It showed the human side of the two Radford men’s lives. Like a eulogy, it detailed the caring side of the men and how they did what they could to provide for their family. In painting the most sympathetic picture possible, the article made the men out to be victims in this tragic affair. The first lines of the article summarize the article quite well: “To D_ B_, her oldest son didn’t die trying to steal copper wire from the Radford Foundry. Instead, she said, he died while doing his best to provide for his family, something he had done since he was a teenager.”
There’s just one problem.
The entire article glosses over the fact that the man died while committing a crime. He was breaking the law and knowingly putting his life at risk. Even the caption under the front page picture of the foundry tries to cast doubt, saying that the men were “allegedly” trying to steal the wire (even though later in the same article, D.B. is said to have known their plans.) Certainly, our hearts go out to this family that has lost a son and brother and friend. Yes, it is terrible that these men felt they had no other option to provide for their family. But these two men broke in (crime #1) with the intent to damage property (crime #2) and to steal wiring (crime #3). This is a textbook case of our current thinking in society of making everyone the victim. No one is guilty and everyone is a victim of our society or oppression. This was evident in news stories earlier in the year about how different individuals, while running from the police, was either injured or killed. Nobody seemed to remember that these individuals were breaking the law, but instead they chose to cry outrage over the fact that the police were doing their job.
Oh wait, there is a possible scapegoat here - high prices of copper. The closing statement of one of the articles is a quote from a scrap dealer: “As long as the prices are high, this is going to happen.” There you go. It’s all the economy’s fault. Or perhaps the foundry’s fault. Maybe it’s Bush’s fault.