11 September 2010 - 18:30

TEHRAN, Sept. 11 (MNA) -- Many years ago, in an article entitled “Apaches”, Rafael Barret was astonished at the fact that, having multiplied temptation, facilitated revenge, and mixed desperation with saturation, there were people who were still complaining about the rise in criminality.

The article finished with an exhortation to the eternal code reformers: “Oh, doctors! Don’t you understand that criminals are your own thoughts that have become flesh and dagger? Don’t you understand that the thief and the murderer -- weak mediums of everyone’s crimes -- execute your silent intentions? Do you want theft and murder to be over? Well then put away your codes and do not covet, do not hate. It is very simple: be perfect. The world will silently imitate you.”

Barret died in 1910 at the age of 34. A century later we have still not understood what he told us and we still think it is natural that there are lawyers, journalists, doctors, psychoanalysts, politicians, and whole sectors of the society who believe that the best way to fight crime is with more punishment, and the so-called juvenile criminality, with increasingly more juvenile sentences.

When the police chronicles involve minors -- cases we hear about every day -- we avoid looking at the adults who recruit them and send them out to kill or get killed for a few coins. Perhaps we do not want to look at them because, be they police officers or civilians, they look too much like us.

The Argentine federal police officers who, a couple of weeks ago, picked up a group of kids who were standing near Alto Palermo shopping center and tortured them with electricity could be easily confused with any of us if they were drinking coffee in a bar without their uniforms. Perhaps they take their children to the same schools our children go to and buy their food in the same supermarkets. Maybe they have the same dreams and nightmares as the people who dope themselves with the nine o’clock soap operas and almost reach stupidity overdose watching Marcelo Tinelli’s program.

But kids -- the Apache, as Barret would call them -- are unmistakable. The distance that separates us from them is almost insurmountable. It starts with age, continues with clothing, and becomes reality with words and facts. Like inhabitants of different galaxies, we look into each other’s eyes without being able to understand each other.

Once a kid from El Jaguel told me:

I wasn’t doing anything. I was sitting on the street curb with a friend. Suddenly the earthlings got off the ship and took me away.

The earthlings?

The police, he said. You.

He was right. From his sidewalk, he was the Apache, the one out of place, the alien, and we were the owners of the planet, even though we live across the street and dream the same nightmares.

The Spanish language original version of this article can be viewed at the website www.pelotadetrapo.org.ar.

(Sept. 9 Tehran Times Perspective Column, by Miguel A. Seman)


News Code 41789

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