Property vs Human Value

One of the driving forces for me sticking to my rigorous schedules, my many classes and almost impossible tuition payments is what I call the WOW effect. Simply put, the WOW effect is just that, every time, in almost every class I experience something that is a complete learning experience. Sure, there are lots of names, places and theories, but in almost in every class there is a piece of knowledge given that makes me stop and think then sit back and rethink it and digest its contents in my poor brain.

This summer I’m studying the academic world of the Sexual Offender, and Sexual Deviancy & Violence, perhaps one of the strongest evoked public pinioned subjects in Western society today. The dominate themes are psychology and sociology, the make up of this seminar style class is made to create thought provoking insight into this little known world. Public opinion is abound, and the media uses it to, at any opportunity, to sell its wears with. So understandably so the public perception going into this course is of very mixed and unbalanced preconceptions.

The first step in learning the aspects of these types of crimes is to explore and examine the historical context of sexual crimes, starting with our oldest records of human civilization, then working right up to present day examining our laws and public opinions in our many societies. But it was looking at how women are treated (and valued) throughout time and cultures that created a spark of enlightenment for me, and most of the class. It was the part of the chapter talking about medieval Europe, in particular about Italy during the 12th and 13th century, that the prof asked us to look at the laws then of property crimes vrs rape.

The class paused as the question was presented: “Is rape considered a more serious crime then property crime today, than compared to medieval Europe”?

The class was silent, but then a few hands went up. At first the general consensus was that indeed rape was thought to be a more serious crime compared to property crimes now. We were all bitten by the world of public opinion as we tried to build a case of all the data that supported stronger laws against rape and sexual violence. It was until we actual compared the two sections of the Canadian Criminal Code that the dark surprise leap out at us. The maximum punishment for property crimes is life, while the maximum for Sexual Assault in Canada is ten years. In Canada, as is in most modern (and not so modern societies), not much has changed since the medieval period as crimes against women are less than that of property crimes.

[CORRECTION] May 26, 2008, My prof just informed us today that there is a form of sexual assault that indeed carries a maximum sentence of life in prison called Aggravated Sexual Assualt under Section 273(2) of the Canadain Criminal Code. It should also be pointed out too that so far since this legislation has been created, it is extremly rare to have someone chardged under this offence.

Researcher Researching Research

So, research, it sucks. OK, may be not that much, but I’m starting to hate it to the point that if I could ditch my research project, I would. I found myself yesterday thinking of clever and creative ways that I could slip out of the research project and still claim a half decent mark for it. I thought about wishing I would catch some exotic disease that would throw me in the hospital for exactly three weeks, and I awoke with all the work done, and then I would just pick up and continue on to the next set of classes. Or, a huge cataclysmic earthquake hits British Columbia, and it flattens the College, and my term papers just so happened to be in the building at the time….

I really can’t knock the work though? I see that research is an necessary staple of academic work, and with out it we would know very little of the world around us. Heck, in my field, we would know next to nothing if it weren’t for all the research done. Though, in criminology, research is a bit tricky?

Criminological research is so difficult to pursue now-a-days that current research projects are nothing compared to what was done back in the 1960s and 70s. Why you ask? It boils down to ethics. Think about this, you want to do research on why people do drugs. As we all know, in North America, as it is in other parts of the world, some drugs are illegal, like marijuana. You want to know what makes youth want to smoke it, so you decide to pick a school and set up a research project where you want to do interviews and do field observations on the playground, hoping to see some drug activity take place. But there are some problems…

Drugs like marijuana are illegal, and as an adult seeing youth in possession of it and taking it puts an onus on you that means you become part of the criminal element. In other words, seeing the crime take place and recording it under the gaze of anonymity can be just as much of an offence as the youth who are doing the criminal act in the first place. This is the problem of doing research on and about criminal activities. If you wrote in your analysis that you observed N=marijuana smokers, and they were youth, there is nothing to stop the police from demanding your research notes and hauling you into court to surrender the names to them so that they can lay charges against you and the youths? So Ethics Boards today are now very sensitive as to what criminologists do research on.

This is why some of the best research came from the 1960s and 70s. They got away with subject matter then that today would cause a university to explode as they send you and your ideas out the door.

As a “beginner” researcher, I can only do safe topics that have little criminological value. My research topic for this class, Qualitative Research Methods, is on “cash versus debit and credit cards.” I want to see if there is a difference in the way people spend their money and manage it whether it is with cash or plastic. So, I need some participants? I need four more people that I can interview, who do not mind talking about their opinions on money and how you spend it. There is a consent form that is needed for the College that states that your input is anonymous and the data will be destroyed once the research is finished, plus it explains your rights and the potential risks, etc…. My research requires a one-to-one interview that I want to audio record then transcribe it so that I can compile the data from it. Anyone who is interested, this would help me out a lot. Please let me know within the next week or so?