Monday, June 08, 2009

Scrutinized

As I went through the usual suspects (websites that I go to nearly every day), I came across this link which led me to a website called "Pick the Perp." It shows you five mugshots, and it tells you a crime that one of these people committed (though all of the people shown committed some crime or other, as the site claims that it got these pictures from publicly accessible sections of law enforcement websites). My job is to choose which person I think did it.

The first crime listed is grand theft auto. I look into the blood-shot eyes of these people; I view their foreheads, ridged with wrinkles; I see gray hair on people whose bodies look much older than they likely are. They all look like they've had a rough time in life.

And my job is to guess which of them has been caught stealing a car.

What does a car thief look like? Is it the gruff young man? Is it the middle-aged woman with the snarling grin?

My mind drifts to another website, the Interview Project, which has conducted over a hundred short interviews with people met by the side of the road as the camera crew traverses these United States. I remember the interview with a man whose girlfriend had killed a man in self-defense, and this man, in a grim effort to help out, had gotten in trouble for "burial without a permit." He is on parole, and can't leave the state (or see the "love of his life") for a few more months. He can't wait for the time to pass so that he can be with her, and move up to Montana so that they can be away from everything and everyone, to live a life on anonymity I think how unlikely I am to ever be in his situation.

What does a man who buries without a permit look like? Like this man, apparently.

I am reminded of an idea from Sunday school, that when you point your finger at someone, you've got four fingers pointing back at yourself.

I click through a few rounds. Is the soccer mom the heroin possessor, or is it the teenage girl who glances away from the camera? Which of these five, sad faces tried to run from the police? After only a few more rounds, I have to close out of it. I feel unsettled, my pulse runs a bit faster. I am disquieted; I am anonymously singled-out. Much like they are.

What does a man look like who, without sin, is throwing a stone? I have yet to see.

3 comments:

Christie said...

Hey, I haven't checked your blog in a while. I'm so sorry about Ohio! They don't know what they're missing, honestly. I hope the next step becomes clear.

Also, I love John Milton. Thanks for posting his poem.

And the thing where you try to choose who the criminal is...I'm going to have to give that a try...when I actually have time to dink around at the computadora again. Hopefully soon.

Mama V said...

Oh wow... um... gulp... that just hit home.

Thany said...

I like it when your writing turns all reflective-like.
And you have given me something to think about today.