What is the technology of crime?
Since the first primitive man picked up a rock and used it to crack open the skull of his fellow human being, humanity has been making use of both hardware and a kind of software to hurt and kill each other. When primitive peoples figured out that a blow could be ducked or blocked, that a club swung could be intercepted by another club, that a chipped stone knife could be used to keep a similarly armed human at bay, they began to understand the technology of violence ... and everything that entails. The first ancient martial arts were the application of knowledge to the empty hand and to the hand grasping a weapon. Just as the lever amplifies human effort, the knife, the club and the gun are all force multipliers – technology that magnifies human effort. These tools, and the knowledge to use them (which, as "software," is itself a form of technology), have been with us for as long as there has been an "us."
A few years ago, USA Today reported that a 5,300-year-old Neolithic man nicknamed "Otzi" (who was discovered in 1991) was "murdered." Extensive study of the body revealed many of the dead man's secrets. He was naturally mummified and found in a thawing glacier by Austrian mountain climbers. Found with him were several artifacts, including a copper-blade ax, a quiver of arrows and a knife. The knife was, in fact, clenched in "Otzi's" right hand. There was an arrowhead embedded in his shoulder; the man had apparently been struck from behind and was able to break off the shaft. Researchers subsequently found evidence of knife wounds and bruises to the torso. The consensus seems to be that the doomed man died wounded and on the run from his assailants. Thousands of years later, "Otzi" would lie as mute evidence of ancient humans' use of technology to do violence to each other – both initiated and in self-defense.
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We have no way of knowing whether "Otzi" was the aggressor or the defender. Was he criminal or victim? Was he pursued by Neolithic brigands bent on outnumbering him and killing him – or was he pursued by righteously indignant tribesmen bent on bringing him to justice? Did he fight for his life because others sought to take it from him wrongly – or did he fight to escape the consequences of his own violence? Whatever the truth, in the intervening millennia, society evolved. An unfortunate outgrowth of that evolution has been the glorification of the criminal and his technology.
Specifically, multiple elements within our society propagate the myth of the supercriminal. You've heard of him in the news, from some police officers, from pundits, and even from self-defense and martial-arts instructors. All of the people who peddle this misinformation paint a terrifying picture of the criminal element: He is a prison-built monster, larger and stronger and faster than you. He trains constantly in a secret jailhouse fighting style born and disseminated in America's penal system. To the end of furthering this myth of the undefeatable societal predator, the urban legend of "52 Blocks" or "Jailhouse Rock" has arisen. It exists more in the imaginations of those who write about it with wide-eyed credulity than it does in reality, but all it took to breathe life into this lie was a little grainy prison yard footage of an inmate teaching a sloppy martial art to his fellow felons.
The supercriminal can't be stopped by mere mortals like you, goes the myth. When you are most vulnerable, he will leap out and attack you. If you are armed, he will take your gun away. If he is armed, he will always have the drop on you. He will always outnumber you. He will always surround you. You are told that the only way to defeat the supercriminal is to give him what he wants. This is why you shouldn't own a gun or a knife or train in a martial art. These things are useless. You should not object to regulations banning things for which you have no use.
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Be passive, you are told, in a mantra that starts in our schools: If someone is bullying you, don't fight back because you'll both be suspended or expelled. Tell an adult – and of course that will end the bullying, the harassment, the threats. The mantra continues in every area of our popular culture. We dare not arm the crews of the ships attacked by Somali pirates, for if the crews fought back, the pirates might get really angry and do something violent. We dare not fight a war on terrorism, for we will simply create more terrorists by trying to combat them. We dare not resist the rapist, for he might become angry and kill us. We dare not fight back against the mugger, for he might get mad and hurt us instead of just robbing us.
Whether with hardware or as software, it's a fact that criminals do train, and train each other, in certain ways. The myth of the supercriminal, however, is just that – a myth propagated by defeatists on both the left and the right who seek to create an artificial division between you, the free citizen, and elevated "elite" classes, such as law-enforcement personnel and military operatives. Those on the left hold such personnel in sneering contempt unless they're being used to the leftists' own ends (battering down a door and pointing a submachine gun at Elian Gonzales was OK as long it was done to ship a little boy back to the prison state that is Cuba, for example). Regardless, glorifying the technology of the criminal while denigrating the private citizen as unworthy, unable, or simply incapable of defending himself, his family and his home is done for a single purpose: The establishment of a subjugated class of private citizens who have no power and no recourse in the grip of an increasingly totalitarian, increasingly socialist, increasing invasive government.