What the “Creepy-Clown Hysteria” Reveals About our Criminal System

clown-1537543_960_720Fear.

Our criminal “justice” system is supposed to be based on the principle of “innocent until guilty.” The state is supposed to be required to prove their case “beyond a reasonable doubt,” the highest possible legal standard. These decisions were made with reason, understanding, and respect for individuals and liberty.

Then, there’s fear.

Fear is an understandable emotion. It’s even positive at times. Fear keeps us protected, safe, and healthy. But fear can encourage evil. Fear can paralyze. Fear encourages thoughts of disregarding reason, understanding, and respect. Unfortunately, when fear is allowed to run rampant, individual lives are disrespected, smashed, and even thrown away.

So, what about clowns?

I don’t like clowns. I don’t want clowns to stand in my yard and stare at me. I don’t want clowns to follow me in the park. I don’t want clowns to scare me with fake weapons. I don’t want clowns to try to scare children in their playgrounds. A growing group of individuals find some enjoyment in using clown costumes to intentionally illicit fear.

Another large group of individuals find enjoyment through clowns. They illicit laughter, thoughts of the circus, tasty hamburgers, and innocent children birthday parties. They crack jokes, juggle, and make us balloon animals. They are depicted on night lights and wall decorations.

Clowns come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Some are happy, sad, scary, or excited. Some are loud and some are silent. Some want something from you and some want to give you something. In a sense, clowns are representative of our society. At the very least, they are a category of human beings.

When fear drives our criminal system…

Our criminal “justice” system has expanded dramatically and consistently over the decades. Legislatures gain political clout by promising to protect us from our fears. If stricter laws are passed and we are tough on crime, your fears will be relieved and they will continue to get elected. Police are encouraged to take all precautions and actions necessary to relieve this fear. Making noises, talking to certain people, certain advertising, and even dumping fish off your boat can all land you in a cage. Our society unfortunately looks to the criminal system for the answer to every fear it may experience.

In our current mindset about fear and our criminal system, when clowns start to illicit fear, we hear a call for police action. We see local police make taunting commercials about arresting all clowns they see. In idle conversations about the creepy clown epidemic, we hear validated and justified ideas about “any clowns creeping me out should be arrested.” Good clowns’ livelihoods are threatened; companies refrain using clowns to sell hamburgers. Any clown must now walk around in fear of being arrested.

Why must we use the criminal system?

Why do we immediately ask to throw people in cages because we are afraid? As humans, we should strive to treat each other, every one of us, with love and respect. Every time someone is wrongfully stripped from their life, job, and family, society hurts. If one single clown is misunderstood and wrongfully taken to a lion cage, our society hurts.

What if we reacted to our fear with love, instead of calling in the enforcers of that fear? If a creepy clown makes you afraid, walk up to them, engage them as a human, and see what happens. The vast majority of the haunting creepy clowns have not been reported to cause any real harm to anyone. The sole basis for our discomfort is a feeling of fear. Why does one person’s fear or discomfort justify throwing another person in a cage?

Our system has gone too far. It is time individuals, as a society, stand up and refuse the call for police and the criminal system to relieve our fears. If, instead, we reached out in love, lives can be enriched, rather than further tormented.

Our country has a gross history of embedding fear into lives of black Americans. Over two hundred years of embedded fear will not easily be overcome. Misapplied and wrongful fear has caused the current atrocity of mass incarceration. It’s time to stand up and refuse this response to our fears. It’s time individual lives are not are disrespected, smashed, and even thrown away because of fear.

We can do better.

About Drew Willey

Drew is a new attorney part of the FACT (Future Appointed Counsel Training) program through the Harris County Public Defender's Office and Gideon's Promise. He strives for holistic criminal defense, and also practices IRS/tax controversy. Please visit his website at www.Law-DW.com.

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