Thursday, March 22, 2007

Just the Facts...

by B. Strong

From CNN, a brief story of alleged kidnapping and physical abuse:
GREENSBURG, Pennsylvania (AP) -- A couple and their three teenage children held a woman captive for six months, referring to her as their "slave" as they beat her, forced her to do chores and threatened her life and the lives of her relatives, police said Wednesday.

All five members of the [Pollard] family, ranging in age from 43 to 16, were arrested on charges of kidnapping and making terroristic threats. They had not entered pleas Wednesday but denied wrongdoing.

Awful, if true, but note the charges: kidnapping and making terroristic threats. Setting aside whether "terroristic" is even a word, why this charge, and not something like, oh, assault and battery? Has the USA Patriot Act so skewed the justice system that DAs see a better payoff to trying to prove "terroristic threats," demonstrable only through "he said/she said" evidence, than to proving assault and battery, for which relevant evidence is physical?

Truth be told, that's not what initially caught my eye about the story. It's this bit of reporting:
No one was home Wednesday at the Pollard house in a dingy alley. The front door was open and had no doorknob; its white aluminum siding was covered with dirt. [emphasis mine]

Either the AP journalist is practicing for a second career as an author of airport-kiosk fiction or he/she wanted to be sure that readers understand that abuse doesn't happen to Nice Folks Who Live in Nice Houses in Nice Neighborhoods. No classism here, nope, just reporting the facts, move along...

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Comments:
"Terroristic threats" are a class of crime that pre-date the GSAVE, though obviously the term has been impregnated with additional meaning to the extent that the linked search asks me if I mean "terrorist threat" (emphasis Google's).
 
Being poor helps when you want to hold people captive, because you don't have to worry about the people who come clean your house ratting you out.
 
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