What “Criminal Minds” Taught Me

Criminal Minds

Lately, I’ve been watching a lot of “Criminal Minds”.  I’ve watched the first seven seasons in three weeks.  You could say I’m friends with the owner of a DVD rental and delivery company in Ghana, Box Top Up, who gives me a great rate on renting movies and TV series.

“Criminal Minds” is a police TV series focused on the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU).  In the show, the BAU creates a psychological profile of serial killer then helps local law enforcement find and capture them.  The TV series centers on a seven-member team who specialize in a different aspect of “chasing bad guys”:

  • A former prosecutor
  • A genius who can spew out contextual facts like the character Data in Star Trek: Next Generation
  • A former intelligence officer,
  • A former counter-terrorism expert
  • One is an “OG” profiler
  • A database/IT expert that personifies what I suspect the NSA and intelligence agencies can do

I realize it’s a TV series but the characters represent both the upside and downside of law enforcement.  For instance, in spite of having millions if not billions of dollars of equipment and experience behind them, the BAU seems to hope that suspects do not invoke their right to counsel.  They regularly try to trick people into self-incriminating themselves.

If you have nothing to hide, then why shouldn’t law enforcement be able to look into your life.  This is probably a common refrain by law enforcement agencies.  According to Harvey Silvergate and his book Three Felonies a Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent, no one is completely innocent.  I haven’t read the book but it’s easy to figure out that every day Americans commit felonies and are vulnerable to being prosecuted.

Watching the show and how terrorist suspects are treated in the US, I believe it makes sense that once police or Feds have you in their sights, you actually have the burden of proving yourself innocent.  Law enforcement personnel are no different than normal people.  Once they have invested time and energy into a theory that a suspect committed a crime, it may take a lot to convince them otherwise.  If you’re poor or clueless, then only a “court-appointed lawyer” separates you from jail.

Richard Jewell, wrongly accused of executing the Atlanta Olympics bombing

Richard Jewell, wrongly accused of executing the Atlanta Olympics bombing

Now I realize that my three years of living in Ghana has taken me mostly out of the system.  Because most establishments in Ghana do not accept credit cards, I realize I live a rather anonymous existence.  Furthermore, many records are still on paper.  It’s like living in the same era as “The Shawshank Redemption”.  (Great movie if you haven’t seen it.) For instance, every few weeks, I’ll read a story of how someone pilfered a police uniform then masqueraded as police officer to commit nefarious acts, e.g. armed robbery.

Given these concerns about law enforcement, I wonder if I can continue living as a “Ghanaian” when I return to the US.  Using credit cards obviously provides convenience but a nosy person could use it against you.  In Ghana, you must carry or have access to hundreds of cedis to make getting through every day convenient.  For instance, one person I met early on admitted that he always leaves the home with at least 1,000 cedis because he never knows if he’ll be in an emergency.  (This was when the cedi was actually worth something 1 USD = 1.5 cedis.)  An “emergency” can include going to the hospital, getting into a fender bender, paying off police in the course of his business.  Of course, this kid admitted that he regularly spent 300-500 cedis on the weekend partying.

Can I live without a cell phone?  Edward Snowden and spy movies confirm that the NSA has the ability to track your every movement by using your cell phone.  Most teenagers don’t want their parents knowing where they are going at night; I can’t imagine they would want the federal government having this information catalogued and searchable.  Of course, I probably can’t live without a smartphone.  Imagine still having a landline and asking prospective employers to leave a message on your home message machine (I’ve even forgotten what they are called!).

Lastly, I realized that America is pretty dangerous place.  Anyone can buy a gun and conceal it.  “According to John Douglas, a former chief of the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit and author of ‘Mind Hunter,’ says, ‘A very conservative estimate is that there are between 35 and 50 active serial killers in the United States” at any given time.'”  Other experts seem to think there are as many as 100 actively killing at any moment. Watch those singe white guys!  A small minority has thought of a gruesome way to kill other white people. (I’ve learned that serial killers usually kill people who look like themselves.)

Wikipedia has a list of “notable” serial killers by country.  It seems France, Germany, South Africa, the UK, and Australia have a disproportionate share.  The US list of “notable” serial killers earns them their own page.  American excels at producing serial killers.  Eye-balling the list, it seems America has had more serial killers than all other countries combined.

Look at Ghana…  They only have one “notable” serial killer.  My only explanation is serial killing is a symptom of people with too much time on their hands.  In Ghana, most people are too busy trying to make enough money to eat.  The psychopathic murderers don’t have the time and resources to think of crazy ways to kill people.  Maybe it’s only something that white people (obruni!) do.

Wow!  Living in Ghana and watching “Criminal Minds” has made me more libertarian! Get the government out of my business. Next you’ll hear me buying a gun when I get back to the US and subscribing to Guns and Ammo.

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