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Yo, Homey! Give Back The Name!

Posted by Rick · April 26th, 2005 · 1 Comment

Lately, I’ve been focused on researching “gangs” — a much-maligned term that covers groups both benign and, shall we say, less than benign — with a focus (naturally) on the shredding of certain constitutional rights.

Oddly — because it will seem for the first few paragraphs or so as if I’m wrong — this post is not about that.

For this, my friends, is another of my Balaam’s Ass posts.

Most people don’t realize it, but California’s attempts to deal with our “gang problem” — which covers a multitude of sins from “I need to sound tough on crime so I can get elected” to the fact that there are some serious issues related to certain groups (and we just don’t know how to deal with them properly) — have resulted in some really strange “logical” rules.

For example, under California’s Street Terrorism Enforcement and Prevention Act of 1988, which has been modified virtually every year (sometimes more than once a year) since it was passed, anyone who commits a crime for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with a criminal street gang with the specific intent to promote or assist members of the gang in committing criminal acts can get additional time in jail. First, they’re convicted (theoretically) for their crime and then, if the jury says, “Yep, it’s also a STEP Act violation,” they get a sentence “enhancement.” The “enhancements” can be significant. In one case I’ve worked on, the actual crimes committed resulted in about a six-year prison sentence; after “enhancement,” it was twenty-five years.

There a number of other requirements, such as determining whether a particular group counts as “a criminal street gang.” In order to qualify, the group has to have as one of its “primary activities,” the commission of certain crimes. There are 25 paragraphs listing such crimes, although this is misleading because some of those paragraphs say things like “selling, buying, transporting, blah, blah, blah, anything that counts as a violation of this code, that code and the other code over there.” The result is that numerous crimes get subsumed under one paragraph.

The interesting part, for purposes of this article, is the word I emphasized in the previous paragraph — “its” — and the related issues of “primary activities” and “a pattern of criminal behavior” which both depend on that same 25-paragraph list.

And what makes it interesting is that California case law interpreting the STEP Act has evolved to the interesting point that in order to qualify for the enhancement, the commission of crimes that cause a group to be classified as a criminal street gang do not have to be gang-related (People v. Gardeley (1996) 14 Cal.4th 605) and they do not have to be committed by gang members (People v. Augborne (2002) 104 Cal.App.4th 362). Furthermore, both the “primary activities” and the “pattern of criminal behavior” elements of the Act can be satisfied by one event.

Orwellian, yes? Prosecutors love this because it means that if they are able to slap a STEP Act charge against someone, they don’t have to prove their case. It’s an automatic trip to jail. Usually for a looong time. But that’s a topic for my next article.

The interesting point here is that under the right conditions, non-gang members can commit non-gang-related crimes that will result in the gang being classified as a criminal street gang. (For those who are confused by the media, not all gangs are criminal street gangs.) This can often play itself out by someone who has a connection with one gang committing a crime in connection with friends who have connections to a different gang for their own personal benefits — not for either gang — with the result that both gangs end up being classified as criminal street gangs. So much for “its.”

A similar thing is happening throughout America right now with respect to a much larger gang. And I have sometimes, because of the close relationship between the names of the two groups, contributed to the confusion.

They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men. — Mark 7:7 (NIV).

The gang I’m talking about, of course, is the Fundamentalist Christian Gang (the FCG), increasingly confused with the Republican Party gang, but still more often associated with the Big-Cs. And like some of the more notorious gangs plaguing California, this gang is fond of terrorism, burglary and the illicit/illegal enrichment of its members.

There is (sometimes I wistfully think: “unfortunately”) no STEP Act for dealing with this gang. But it doesn’t matter, because that’s not why I wrote this article, anyway.

Fact of the matter is that there really are large numbers of people who get caught up in California’s gang net who shouldn’t — because, as I said, prosecutors love the STEP Act and are increasingly charging people with violations of it whenever it is remotely possible, in order to keep from having to prove that any crimes have been committed — and, similarly, there are people whose names are dragged through the mud because of the mistaken association between the FCG and Christianity.

Make no mistake, there is no real connection between the two groups. They just happen to use similar sounding names and both groups congregate; the one for religious worship, the other to preen and network. Other than that, they’re as different as day and night, lightness and darkness. Respectively.

I wish those moronic Tiguas were smarter in their political contributions. I’d love to get our mitts on that moolah. — Dotty Lynch, Follow the Moolah (April 25, 2005) CBS News.

Scratch below the surface — you don’t have to look far, but you do have to look — and this is what America’s “religious/cultural war” is really about. It’s da money. Even the quest for power is really just about da money.

I’ve repeatedly written about the dangers of Theocracy, but the fact of the matter is that it’s just da money the FCG wants. Sure, there are theocratic elements to their actions. After all, everyone knows things go better with Coke God. But, ultimately, as Lynch noted, it ain’t about da Messiah; it’s da Money.

The shame of it is that many long-suffering Christians — the real ones — aren’t the only ones suffering from this. The increasing gap between rich and poor to which the FCG are contributing is hurting us all. The drag on our economy should be (but, oddly, doesn’t seem to be) apparent to everyone by now. Does anyone remember the cost of gasoline before the FCG pushed Bush close enough to power to enable Diebold to shift votes the few other percentage points undetected? Besides the very real fact that nearly all of us have to drive nearly every day, fuel costs are having a double-whammy on our economy because they drive up the cost of transporting food, clothes and other consumer goods — which increases their costs — and they also mean less money in our pockets to buy any of those goods.

I would think that Big-C Christians and other non-FCG members would want to do something about this. The concern for Big-C Christians is that the admonition of Matthew 5:16 find that — as far as “witnessing” goes — their light is swallowed up in the incredible darkness that accompanies the name “christian” and “christianity” when that name itself is shared with minions of the Prince of Darkness. Other non-FCG members get to suffer the pain of living under a shredded Constitution in a nation controlled by faux religionists. We all — Big-Cs and other non-FCGs alike — get to suffer from what this is doing to our Nation. Heck, even rank-and-file FCGs (but not their leaders!) suffer. The faux religionists care neither for their professed religion, nor for the Constitution. They make a mockery of both, to the detriment of us all.

I don’t know, maybe the Big-C Christians think that if they just live their lives under the umbrella of Matthew 5:16, God will handle everything else. And, who knows? Maybe he will.

You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name. — Exodus 20:7 (NIV).

But it’s worth noting that Jews, Big-C Christians and others who truly worship are the embodiment of God on earth.

Then the nations will know that I am the LORD, declares the Sovereign LORD, when I show myself holy through you before their eyes. — Ezekiel 36:23 (NIV), emphasis added.

Perhaps my Balaam’s Ass post will help some of these Big-C Christians to get off their butts and become more involved in the world. After all, the last time — as the legend goes — that God was personally embodied on earth, he was not disengaged. Or need I remind you Big-C Christians of the Temple, the Pharisees and the little problem of the up-ended tables? (Matthew 21:12.)

As the spotlight now shines on the role of religion in politics, maybe it is the influence of moolah — not the Messiah — that should be receiving a little more scrutiny. — Dotty Lynch, Follow the Moolah (April 25, 2005) CBS News.

As the power of the one gang grows unimpeded by those who can rightly lay claim to the Name, it becomes increasingly difficult to know the difference between the Big-C and the FCG.

And until that changes, Big-Cs, your light fades. And in the darkness, no one sees your Messiah.

Categories: Religion


1 response so far ↓

  • 1 basil's blog // Apr 27, 2005 at 4:20 am

    Breakfast: 4/27/2005

    Try one of these specials with your breakfast: The Jawa Report has part 3 of the interview with Carrie Hallums Cooper Info Theory wants to know why people visit his blog. UnSpun takes on Christian gangs. groupThink is blogging again.

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