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Monday, May 4, 2009

Crime and Punishment or... Crime WITHOUT Punishment?

Welcome to Daytona BeachDAYTONA BEACH, FL - History is replete with cases of criminals that get caught and receive their just punishment. Other malfeasors, whose conscience tortures them, end up turning themselves in for their punishment. There is a third group: those without conscience, the true sociopaths that actually believe they are above the law and above the rights of other citizens.

One of the most well known examples of the second kind is the story of Raskolnikov, the fictional protagonist of Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky.

Raskolnikov is a young and handsome ex-student of law living in extreme poverty in St Petersburg. Despite his very humble origins, he considers himself to belong to a superior caste of people. Emotionally and financially stressed, he is also socially inept and neurotic about small things, such as crowded spaces. Raskolnikov fluctuates between extremes of altruism and apathy.

Raskolnikov believed that people were divided into the "ordinary" and the "extraordinary": the ordinary are the common rabble, the extraordinary (notably Napoleon) must not follow the moral codes that affect the ordinary since they are meant to be great men.

An extraordinary man would not need to think twice about his actions. Raskolnikov believes himself to be one of these extraordinary men and as such he considers it acceptable to even commit murder if it helps his utopian world. He murders an elderly pawnbroker whom he considered an inconvenient parasite to the greater good of society.

Soon after committing his crime, Raskolnikov's conscience and sense of guilt become and unbearable torture. He turns himself in to justice as he began to realize that he was not a superior being at all but just one more of that group of people he held in contempt.

The last group of criminals represents the most extraordinary danger to society. This group is composed of those that commit crimes and abuses without a sense of guilt. These are convinced and act as if they were superhuman that transcend moral and legal limits.

Dostoevsky Brilliant psychological observations depict the need of criminals and psychopaths to believe they are smarter than ordinary mortals ... that they are above certain things. So when the house of cards start tumbling - the sense of inferiority is enraging - way more than it would be to a regular person who knows he is NOT a "superman intellect".

Very far from the Russian steppes, in Daytona Beach, a small group of men and women have turned their regime into a veritable gang of thugs under Color of Law. Under near absolute control by a few multimillionaire special interests, they have literally raped and pillaged a formerly bustling beach city into the poster boy of Florida Corruption. In no other place is the "Good 'ol Boy" Gang-of -Thugs' mode of government more evident and acts with more impunity.

Their influence is palpable with the local corrupt politicians and, thanks to the magic of Quid Pro Quo campaign contributions and undue influence, infects the very institutions responsible for the checks and balances. In the Daytona Beach model of government, the "watchdogs" are controlled by the thugs.

Raskolnikov turned himself to justice without being denounced; a striking difference from the megalomaniacs ruling this poor city, convinced that their actions in favor of their patrons bear no moral or legal obligations to the people they serve.

Thus they continue to plunder the public trust, grant gifts to their patrons, deprive the local youth of educational and job opportunities, utilize retaliatory code enforcement to control their enemies, selectively enforce the laws (Where else can multimillionaire capos openly operate vehicles while drunk and without fear of being prosecuted under Florida's strict DUI laws? Where else can multimillionaire capos obtain private property without paying for it? Where else can multimillionaire capos get their corrupt public officials abuse their zoning powers to take property away from its lawful owners?).

They waste the taxpayers' hard-earned dollars, cause the flight of local businesses and talent to more politically-sanitized locales, destroy jobs and, in the end sink the city into further despair.

Sooner or later, these actions will attract Federal attention and then, but only then, will Daytona Beach have a chance.

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