Morality is a very clear concept for me. There are no grey areas. You are either operating the right way or the wrong way. Doing the right thing, or the wrong thing. Period. End of story.
The criminal mind begs to differ. It views morality as a fluid concept. Criminals live by the code of the streets. They do believe in right and wrong mind you. They just believe there is a right way to do wrong.
This concept was broken down for me last week by inmate Brains. (he was originally introduced in my Parenting with Pistols entry) Brains is a criminal that dons many hats. He robs, steals, kidnaps, tortures, murders, abuses, deal drugs, and beyond. As a drug dealer, he has no problem peddling poison to anyone who could pay for it. (Payment is not limited to cash, he also accepts payment in the form of sexual favor. According to the inmates, this is a very common form of compensation.)
Brains begins to tell the story of an evening on the streets. His partner had just persuaded a homeless crack addict to blow his fingers off with fire crackers purely for entertainment purposes. “Why in the world would anyone willing blow off their own fingers?!” I am sure you are asking yourself.
Imagine you are in the grips of a terrible addiction and you need your medicine to take the pain away. Your desperation leads you to do anything you are ordered to do, in order to get the reward of the drugs your body is terribly sick over. So if your
doctor dealer told you to light fireworks and hold them in your fist or you wouldn’t get your medicine drugs, you would more than likely do it. The shaking, sweating, fever, nausea, and body aches are so intense you cannot think clearly. The only thing you know is you need your fix. Welcome to life on the streets.
A few customers later, a VERY pregnant prostitute is holding out her money for crack. Brains refuses to sell her anything. His partner laughs and grabs the woman’s money. Brains takes it out of his hands and gives it back to her. He makes a very clear stand. He will not sell her anything while she is pregnant. It is unfair for her child to be born addicted, and then lose their own mother because she will be arrested for giving birth to a strung out newborn.
I begin shaking my head in disbelief. I need clarity so I interrupt him. How is this better? The point is you are giving her poison no matter when you give it to her. Is the child no less a victim if you sell it to the mother after she gives birth? Then you have a child being raised by a parent strung out on drugs. Wrong is wrong. Don’t sell drugs at all dummy.
His rationalization makes perfect sense to him. He is going to sell drugs. He is a greedy, selfish, predator. He will survive by any means necessary. I will not even begin to write about the conversation I had with him about his days as a pimp. That juice is worthy of its own blog entry. But it falls in line with this concept. That fucker is consistent.
In summary, as I had to explain to him…I believe in right and wrong. There is not an inbetween for me. Morality is not measured by one-act being slightly less bad than another. It is either right or wrong. But for Brains, as he stated to me, there is a right way to do wrong. On this day, we agreed to disagree. He is not going to change my mind, and I will not be influencing his. Sigh. Praise God I survived another class with one of the scariest people I have ever had to spend 12 hours a week with.