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Blaming the Victims

There’s a fine line between teaching someone to be smart to avoid being a victim and actually blaming them for the crimes committed. But it looks like Harrisburg, Pennsylvania has not only crossed that line, it’s not even visible in their rearview mirror anymore. They actually criminalize potential victimhood.

Meanwhile, police have issued several citations to people who left vehicles running and unattended in the city during the past week, police Chief Pierre Ritter said.

Motorists are not allowed to leave cars running in Harrisburg if they are not in them, even out front of homes to prevent vehicle theft, Ritter said. Drivers with cars left idling and unattended will receive $90 fines.

Get that? It’s a crime to leave your car in a manner in which it could be stolen by a criminal. You will be punished because someone else might come along and make you a victim.

By this logic, what is Harrisburg’s next big idea to cut down on car theft? Fining those who buy nice cars. If they wouldn’t drive nice cars, then criminals wouldn’t be tempted to take them.

The next big crime fighting law proposed by Chief Ritter will be to cut down on rape. If we follow his justification above, he plans on fining women with vaginas in order to prevent rape. We can’t have those women with vaginas tempting potential rapists.

23 Responses to “Blaming the Victims”

  1. Harry Schell says:

    The logic as to rape sure makes sense to me. Putting women under burkas would have a lesser effect, but requiring them to smell like camels might be another path the savant Ritter should pursue, as long as clothespins are banned to make sure the rapist has to smell his target on approach.

    Loser. No wonder Harrisburg is broke.

  2. MGS says:

    Harrisburg is not the only place with laws like this. They are loosely known as “attractive nuisance” laws. I have no problem with the unattended vehicle law, since that sure as hell is an attractive nuisance, and there is zero reason to do it. Alternatively, I have no issue with the cops moving that car to the bottom of the “to be recovered” list and putting zero effort forth if it is stolen instead of citing the moron who left it running.

  3. Braden Lynch says:

    “…and there is zero reason to do it.”

    Sorry, there can be valid reasons to do this. I have had to do it to defrost my vehicle before I could drive it safely. In Arizona, where your car can turn into in oven in 3 minutes, the reverse is true for A/C.

    My gripe is why does the nanny state need to dictate every little detail of my life? Why is the criminal given every advantage?

  4. Ken says:

    Let me guess, Braden, you live in a warm climate.

    In any area farther north than, roughly, Oklahoma, you’ll be destroying your car if you don’t warm it up during wintertime. And it isn’t especially pleasant waiting out in your car while it’s still warming up.

  5. Right Wing Wacko says:

    We have a similar law here in WA; however after reading the law in it’s entirety it appears to be more to prevent accidents (unattended vehicles taking off on their own and causing damage), than to prevent theft.

    Also since this is an RCW, and not an Administrative code rule; it’s considered a real crime, not just a traffic infraction.

    RCW 46.61.600 – Unattended motor vehicle.

    (1) No person driving or in charge of a motor vehicle shall permit it to stand unattended without first stopping the engine, locking the ignition, removing the key and effectively setting the brake thereon and, when standing upon any perceptible grade, turning the front wheels to the curb or side of the highway.

    (2) The most recent driver of a motor vehicle which the driver has left standing unattended, who learns that the vehicle has become set in motion and has struck another vehicle or property, or has caused injury to any person, shall comply with the requirements of:

    (a) RCW 46.52.010 if his or her vehicle strikes an unattended vehicle or property adjacent to a public highway; or

    (b) RCW 46.52.020 if his or her vehicle causes damage to an attended vehicle or other property or injury to any person.

    (3) Any person failing to comply with subsection (2)(b) of this section shall be subject to the sanctions set forth in RCW 46.52.020.

    [2010 c 8 § 9072; 1980 c 97 § 2; 1965 ex.s. c 155 § 68.]

  6. AZRon says:

    Another possibility is that these laws were put forth by the ecos’ as a fossil fuel/air polution problem.

    I’m thinking that driving a deadly weapon with severely reduced visibility is a greater risk to humanity than the minimal CO output. Even in Phoenix, this time of year, I need the defroster for 5 minutes before I can see a thing out of the windshield. In the summer, the interior temperature can quickly reach over 150F and five minutes with the AC on while idling is almost mandatory before driving.

  7. Bitter says:

    There are plenty of legitimate reasons to leave one’s car running and unattended if someone is willing to take the risk – and it would not in any way be a nuisance to neighbors or nearby citizens. If you ban everything for which there isn’t a need that you randomly determine, MGS, then that leads down a very bad path for the concept of freedom and individual rights. There’s zero need for us to sit on our porch, and our neighbors my even consider us a nuisance if they don’t like the way we are dressed, but that doesn’t mean you can ban such an activity.

    I’ll also remind people that my focus is on the Chief of Police’s justifications for such a law. Regardless of the intent of the leaders who actually passed the ordinance, his public view of the law that he chooses to promote in a press conference is that it’s a way he can punish potential victims. That’s a mindset that’s very dangerous for anyone to have, much less a law enforcement officer.

  8. Bram says:

    There are anti-idling laws in NJ for eco reasons that nobody obeys.

    I often see some high-end Audi’s and Infiniti’s idling in front of the coffee shop in the mornings. Sure seems like an open invitation for a test drive.

  9. Oakenheart says:

    Remote start anyone? Lots of people use remote starts, and theft is not an issue since the key is not in the vehicle. If someone’s going to steal it, they will.

    • My remote start is programmed to stop the engine when the door is opened. It’s possible to change this, but even so, there is another interlock that kills the engine when the brake is pressed if no key is in the ignition.

      Anyhow… Texas also has a law against unattended vehicles left running. I ignore that law anytime I am traveling with my dogs and the weather is warm (which about 10 months out of the year). I try to minimize stops, but I’m not going to kill my dogs over a silly nanny-state law.

  10. A Critic says:

    My last Subaru had a loose ignition, you could start it with any key, or start it with the key and then lock the doors and walk away.

    Apparently leaving your car off, unlocked, with the keys in it will not be fined…makes me doubt their motives.

  11. mike says:

    I can see how this line of reasoning can be applied to fighting rape too. If women are dressed in a manner that makes them easily susceptible to rape – a dress or skirt for instance – then they should be fined (if not imprisoned for their uber protection). The only reason anyone would oppose such a law is because they either hate women or are rapists.

    We need to stop rape now, so we need to find anti-rape politicians to support this commonsense legislation.

  12. Savaship says:

    Dear MGS,
    For those of us that live in extremely cold or hot environments there are many reasons to start one’s car and let it run unattended. You may enjoy, and actually look forward to looking at a frosted over windshield for a half hour, but I would rather have a coffee during that time. Since insurance is mandatory in Pennsylvania and many other states, I am not sure why you made the final comments of moving the victim’s cars to the bottom of some imaginary list that you believe that cops have… I can only imagine that you wished the world worked like that, and are terribly disappointed that it doesn’t. I start my car unattended every day, and I don’t need a police officer to protect it… I have a .308 for that, any thief with the balls to go against that security system deserves my car… just like I contractually deserve a new one from my insurance company that I’m forced by my state to pay. In short, you favor unnecessary laws because you don’t respect liberty, those that don’t respect liberty don’t deserve liberty or the freedom it supplies.
    Good Day Sir.

  13. Arnie says:

    Somebody from NYC please correct me if I am wrong, but I seem to recall reading about a car owner in New York City being fined because he left his keys in his unlocked car (engine OFF) and it was stolen and ended up in an accident that injured a third party.

    He might also have been sued civily by the injured party.

    I always felt, if true, this was wrong!

    – Arnie

  14. mikeb302000 says:

    Am I the only one who made the connection to guns? Somehow I doubt it. The theory of shared responsibility dictates that the thief is 100% responsible for the theft, but the owner (of the car or the gun) is 100% responsible for not having secured it in such a way that theft was deterred.

    If a guy steals a car that’s idling with the keys in it and goes tearing around the corner and kills someone, the car owner is responsible for his part.

    If a gun owner does not secure his guns in the home in some kind of safe or lockbox, and a thief breaks in and uses the gun to kill someone, the owner is responsible for his part.

    • mike says:

      Imagine a camera is stolen and used to make kiddie porn. I would hold the thief/pedophile responsible and you’d be chasing down the guy who had his camera stolen.

      • mikeb302000 says:

        No, that’s not it at all. No one says to blame ONLY the victim of the theft.

        Why do you find it necessary to exaggerate what I say in order to argue against it?

        • mike says:

          To illustrate the absurdity of blaming the victim. In the stolen camera example, making it an even better analogy for stolen guns, the thief would already have a long history of stealing and using guns in crimes and would continually be released with little or no punishment. This happens in real life until they actually kill someone. Then, instead of asking why the criminal justice system kept letting the guy out, people like you start blaming the gun.

          Here’s a quote from an actual criminal:

          To sum up, I did Parris Island Marine Corp training when I was 17, in the summer of 1970. I didn’t have to go to Viet Nam, thank goodness. After the military I owned guns both legally and illegally over a period of about 15 years. I was never passionate about them back then and over the last couple of decades have become strongly anti-gun, especially since I started writing this blog.
          - mikeb302000

          http://mikeb302000.blogspot.com/2009/04/florida-boy-shoots-himself-in-head.html?showComment=1240481280000#c5120180008588042193

          http://i40.tinypic.com/x3io1t.png

          Perhaps he can give us some insight into how criminals think (aside from wanting to disarm law-abiding citizens).

          • mikeb302000 says:

            Yes, I can give you some insight into how criminals think, but so could you if you wanted to. Just use your head instead of repeating the pro-gun talking points all the time.

            I can also give you some insight into how the pro-gun guy thinks. In many cases he thinks he can leave unsecured guns in the home or car and if they’re stolen he has no responsibility at all. It’s a convenient ans self-serving philosophy.

            • mike says:

              I was really looking for your insight as someone who owned guns illegally for 15 years (and then has the audacity to tell law-abiding gun owners how irresponsible they are). Care to go into more detail about your illegal firearms possession? Or are you just going to keep telling us how law-abiding gun owners are the real problem?

              • mikeb302000 says:

                Yes, this.

                “Or are you just going to keep telling us how law-abiding gun owners are the real problem?”

                All the guns in criminal hands today started out legally owned by someone just like you. Why is it so hard for you guys to hold onto your property? Are the criminals so much smarter than you? Or do you just not give a shit enough?

                The real problem is at exactly the point when the gun passes from a lawful owner to a criminal. In that transaction both parties are to blame each for his own crime.

                • mike says:

                  All the guns in criminal hands today started out legally owned by someone just like you.

                  Instead of trying to point the blame at law-abiding gun owners again, why don’t we talk about the guns you illegally owned for a moment? I don’t know why you’re so shy about sharing your past criminal gun history. It’s not very often we have real-life gun criminals here. So perhaps you can share some of your own, personal criminal experiences instead of just blaming people who aren’t criminals for things that people like you do.

  15. Steve says:

    If I recall correctly, about a year ago, a Washington, DC councilmember proposed a law that would add an additional fee (tax) for people who registered the top 3 most stolen vehicle models. For once, sanity prevailed and the legislation was eventually dropped.

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