Essay: History and Theories of Crime

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Crime Theory

The thirty years that made up the historic era known as the 1950s through the 1970s produced many changes in the way we view the world. Two significant events, the Weather Underground's rise to popularity and the massacre at My Lai both contribute to radical behavior. that contributed to this time in history's quality. These two events share something more important however, and that is the ability of history to reverse outdated roles and expose actions and people for their real humanity instead of fabricated and cliche roles.

The United States of America was constructed in violent and unjust manner. Native Americans were eliminated in a genocidal frenzy that has lasted well over two centuries. The Vietnam War represented for America a turning point in its history. The constant defeats that were experienced by American forces by a guerilla and impoverished force certainly defied predictions about military dominance for this particular conflict.

Both the Weather Underground and the Massacre at My Lai are offshoots of this terrible war. At My Lai we witness the inhumane murdering of civilians by American military forces. Chaos took hold of these men as they burned and shot hundreds of innocent people for reasons many are not sure of. This act of mysterious savagery highlights the inanity and sheer recklessness of warfare. It is most likely that American history needed this event to happen in order for a complete understanding of the events to be understood.

The Weather Underground is another inside-out occurrence where terrorism arose out of war. The Weather Underground resistance movement was based on protesting the Vietnam War. Ironically these group used terror and violence, much in the same ways as their enemies were doing at the same time.

Any history class that wishes to look at these events must take note of the changing attitudes towards subjectivity and the point-of-view of the historian. These two events discussed above suggest that history is relative. One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. Good and bad are plastic and history is not a reliable science to derive morals. Facts and figures appear that they can be bent and molded to one's own preferences as these stories would attest to. History classes that focus on this time period need to be reminded of the unique circumstances each event is subject to. A fair and honest representation of these studies, including this class, must be able to put patriotism and nationalistic alliances aside to determine the most honest and truthful representations of these events.

Differential association theory and Gottfredson and Hirschi's general theory about crime are both criminal theories that attempt to explain the mysterious causes of crime and violence. Differential association theory suggests the crime is a learned skill that is picked up from others in the environment. The General Theory of Crime is the polar opposite. This theory suggests that crime results from a lack of self-control.

These two theories clash at the most basic and primitive level. Each one identifies a specific cause to crime, one being individual the other being collective. Both appear to have solid arguments and data to support their findings. They are however at complete odds with each other and disagree completely with the source of criminality.

A research program to distinguish between these two theories must be crafted very carefully. In order to accomplish this task, subjects, through some investigative method, must be able to communicate their motivation for their crime. A qualitative questionnaire may be best suited for this task. Criteria for committing crime must be then quantified and turned into some form of raw data to… [END OF PREVIEW]

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