Guilty or Not Guilty?

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Back when I was interested in law, I matter-of-factly declared to my mom one day, “I want to be a prostitute.” I couldn’t understand why she was so appalled by my ambitious goals until I realized I had misspoken. What my 10-year-old self meant to say was that I wanted to be a prosecutor. Prostitute. Prosecutor. Same thing.

But upon further investigation, I realized prostitution wasn’t the only thing that wouldn’t be in my future. Prosecution would not be as well.

When most people hear of a crime on the news, their first reaction is to instantly feel sympathy for the victim and anger toward the perpetrator. But for me? I immediately jump to the defense of the criminal.

What if he didn’t do it?
What if it was a mistake?
A misunderstanding?
What if he’s sorry?

Believe me when I say how ignorant and stupid I probably sound. If someone raped and killed a woman, he doesn’t deserve redemption. And if he’s not put behind bars, he’ll probably do it again. And if he does it again, well that’s just not okay.

I know all that. And yet I always play the role of the defendant in my head. Maybe it’s because I always want to see the best in people. Or maybe I just really believe in second chances. Either way, it’s instinctual for me.

I guess it’s not so much that I side with criminals, but rather, that I need to hear both sides. Instinctually, I gravitate toward anyone who’s being targeted. If 1,000 people are hating a person, then I guess I need to be that one who doesn’t. I love exploring the other side.

Take football games for instance. When Ryan Fitzpatrick of the New York Jets throws an interception, everyone hurls insults and curse words at their TV. Sometimes I’m a part of this, but mostly, I just feel bad for the guy. While everyone’s yelling away, I’m sitting there thinking, “I can’t imagine how sad he feels right now.”

Before you call me stupid, let me just say that my brother and dad already have you covered. They assure me that he and his multi-million dollar contract will be just fine. But as an extremely empathetic person, I just can’t help my reaction.

I don’t care about the fact that he just ruined the game for us. He’s human. And I guess that’s a big part of my weird instinct to defend people. If nothing else, humanity unites us all. It’s just so hard for me to give up on people. To find them purely evil. And yes, people like that do exist in the world, like ISIS. But I’m talking about the people who are sorry. Who have regrets. Who are truly human.

I’m not saying that criminals shouldn’t go to jail. Not at all. I’m just saying I could never be the one to put them there. I’m too much of a softy (in a bad way) and I have the utmost respect for the prosecutors who have the strength, skills, and resilience to put them there.

Prostitutes are pretty cool, too.

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