Saturday, May 3, 2014
One of my friends used the word "sclerotic" in a Facebook post today. The use of the word got a lot of reaction in the comments.
When prisoners started getting snotty with me at hearings, I sought revenge by using big words. If I thought they were lying, I would say things like, "you're obfuscating". If they were insulting the reporting officer or me, I would say, "There's no need to be so vitriolic". Or "cantankerous". I already wrote about the guy who got in a fight, lost, then claimed he was assaulted. I told he he was not assaulted, he just lost the fight because he "lacked pugilistic skills". If their statements were stupid, I would tell them "You are impervious to common sense". Usually they would just look puzzled. If they know what I meant, I probably would have gotten thumped a few times. I think they had an inkling that I was not flattering them but they couldn't be sure, so they didn't react. I got petty satisfaction from the fact that I had a bigger vocabulary than they did.
A couple of my friends posted a thing of Facebook saying that a good person might be covered by tattoos, and a bad person could go to church every week. You can't judge a book by its cover.
It reminded me of an experience I had in Hillsdale, a small city in western Michigan. I conducted hearings on prisoners on home confinement in that area. The hearings took place in the parole office, located on the second floor a a building which housed district court on the lower floor. One day I approached the building where a young guy was standing, along with two older people who seemed to be his parents. He had long hair and wore a concert t-shirt for a heavy metal band, Metallica or some group like that. The dad had long graying hair he wore in a braid or a pony tail, and a black leather jacket, sort of biker types. I confess I harbored negative thoughts like, "this kids a thug and his parents are anti-social". So imagine my surprise when I got to the door and the young man pulled the door open for me, and his mom reached out to help hold the door. I thanked them and they responded,"You're welcome". I realized I had stereotyped them based on their wardrobe and hair. I thought about it all morning, and finally went back and talked to my friend Inspector D. about it. She's the one who pointed out that I had been profiling. Lesson learned, don't judge just by what is on the outside.