Crime vs. Harm

During our in-class discussion on Monday, my group focused on what the difference between crime and harm. Our definition constantly evolved as we delved deeper into distinguishing the two. I began to think about what I thought the difference between the two meant. As I played out various scenarios of crime and harm, I came to the conclusion that crime was a societal construct, while harm was intentionally inflicted pain on another. After discussing more with my group, we revealed that one may hurt another without the intention of doing so, or even the knowledge of the occurrence.

I thought about how “crime” varied based on geographical region and societal norms. For example, in Nicaragua, to be gay is breaking the law, but it in the United States, gay marriage is legal. My definition of crime evolved to being¬†based on a collective peoples’ beliefs and morals in a region. People can oppose laws, and, in our country, laws can be amended.

In my humanities two class, I learned the origin of our law system originating from the ideas of John Locke. He stressed the importance of life, liberty, and property. Locke enforced the idea of creating laws in order to protect white land-owning men and their property, which at the time included enslaved people. When I brought this up in my group, someone brought up the fact that spray painting a public bridge¬†is considered breaking the law, but does not harm anyone. I argued that if the spray paint is vulgar, it may harm children. Additionally, I reiterated my point about the foundation of our country created around Locke’s ideology of property being equally important. Because the bridge is considered public property, and citizens pay taxes, the bridge belongs to everyone and is available for all to use. Damaging public property, therefore, is damaging the property of us all.

Then, I concluded that I believed that harm was an act of violence and crimes are when someone breaks a set of laws regulated by the government. Whether the breaking of the laws was intentional or not then resides in the hands of the court systems. I plan to reflect more on this topic because it has challenged my thinking to see beyond the black and white.

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