Friday, 23 August 2019 18:32

COLUMN: Softer language for offenders devolves into self-parody

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I was reading one of the big news websites this morning and came across an article about what the latest goofy thing the city of San Francisco is doing. Keep in mind, this is the city that all but gave an invitation to people to use the city sidewalks as a restroom. 

What has been proposed is a measure that would give softer terms to certain things as to facilitate a more gradual and welcoming transition back into civilian life. Okay, that was a lot of words to say they don't want to offend anyone who has committed a criminal offense. 

I might be simplifying it a bit, but I am not a news reporter, so my facts don't have to be 100 percent. The argument can be made that some reporters don't care about accuracy either, but that is neither here nor there. I mean no disrespect to reporters. Some of my best friends are reporters. 

An example of the nonsense coming out of California, as if there hasn't been enough already, is a convicted felon is no longer just that. He or she is a “justice involved person” or a “returning resident.” A juvenile delinquent is no longer that. He or she is a “young person impacted by the juvenile justice system.” 

“We don’t want people to be forever labeled for the worst things that they have done,” Supervisor Matt Haney told the San Francisco Chronicle. “We want them ultimately to become contributing citizens, and referring to them as felons is like a scarlet letter that they can never get away from.” 

Well, duh. I can only imagine the guy who is a habitual felon is terribly concerned about how he is perceived by the public. That said, I would like to propose a few suggestions to the city of San Francisco on how to refer to certain elements of the criminal citizenry. 

From today on, any drug dealers in San Francisco shall be referred to as “independent pharmaceutical distribution coordinators.” This shall do away with the negative connotations of hawking narcotics to innocent people and children. We would not want the city's drug dealers shown in a bad light. After all, it could affect tourism. 

As far as tourism is concerned, it should be duly noted that the individuals formerly known as prostitutes are now “personal entertainment counselors.” Run-of-the-mill muggers, pickpockets and scam artists are now “financial redistribution officers.” Previously designated lewd acts are now “expressions of emotion of a personal and intimate nature.” Vagrancy is now to be referred to as “indeterminate loitering.” Using the sidewalk as a restroom is simply referred to as “Number One or Two On The Go.”

Of course, a lot of you are now thinking about how silly this is. It is silly and it seems only to be getting sillier. Those of us in other parts of the country have pretty much figured that California is off its rocker. Well, in the vernacular of that state, they are not “off their rocker,” but “experiencing some emotional instability.” I don't know how far down the politically correct rabbit hole California will go, but it's marginally entertaining for now. 

I once knew a guy who was a car thief. He would tell you he was nothing but a car thief. I once borrowed a friend’s car and promptly locked the keys inside. I saw this guy on the street and, knowing me, he offered to assist. He had no tools with him. I asked him how sure he was he could open the car. 

“I'm a car thief, man. I can get in that thing in less than three minutes.”

I was intrigued. I needed to get to the keys and told him if he could work a miracle, I'd give him a few bucks. Two minutes later, I was driving away. I don't want to know how he got his skill or where he used this skill. It was none of my business. Ask this guy what he did for a living, he would tell you he was a car thief. Ask the city of San Francisco, and they would tell you he is an “automotive relocation specialist.” 

Sounds like a car thief to me. 


Joe Weaver, a native of Baltimore, is a husband, father, pawnbroker and gun collector. From his home in New Bern, he (usually) writes on the lighter side of family life.