The Craftiness of Criminality

Clever criminals hide inside each of us. Like the proverbial wolf in sheep's clothing, human nature easily spans the realm from the normal to the abnormal. People are capable of anything, both good and bad. Regardless of the socio-economic status, criminal behavior can cross any social boundary lines. Crimes large and small happen every day. Just because some are minor doesn't mean they're less important. Such incidents are still crimes. For most of us though, the criminal is the other guy. Not us of course. We're quick to point the finger, gossip and pass judgment. Roll our eyes, stick out tongue and shoot a finger, everyone dislikes someone. Holy virtues are always at war with deadly sins. We don't like to let on that the only reason we're not him or her is because we didn't get caught. Although, in everyday life, we've probably had some similar thought. Motives, intentions and proclivities run deep in the dark recesses of the human brain. Sometimes, we call it the mind, an illusion the brain chemistry creates. Our perception of criminal behavior is a conception based on denial of our complicity in self-conceit. At the same time, some of us make choices, albeit poor ones, to plan, execute and carry out own desires, urges and yearnings. However, once apprehended, there are a myriad of excuses surface from that personal inner sanctum of cunning craftiness. Yes, we're sneaky, sly and shrewd. Some of us are really good at it.

From running stop signs to cheating on taxes, or drugging a date for sex, we'd do anything if we thought we'd get away with it. Wily and devious, the human cerebral processes fantasize an amazing range of possibilities. Our entire entertainment industry, from the news media to public policy, offers escapism in one form or another. The more tragic the story the better the ratings factor. Fact is traded for fiction and myth becomes reality. Not too long ago, responsibility and accountability became the twin relics of lost ethical principles. Moral absolutes have been replaced. Precepts of morality are quickly traded for easy answers and comfortable feelings. Instead toughening up, we search for ways to explain away the failure of leadership, a crisis of integrity or so called lapses of judgment. Politicians, the press and the priestly class know these sleight of hand tactics all too well. Throughout society, at every level, we've covered our tracks. There are so many more psychological ailments than ever before. When push comes to shove, we'll find some reason to rationalize the heinous commission of injury to another. The age of hypocrisy, double-speak and passing the blame has fallen on contemporary society. In short, we can justify anything, concoct conspiracies and slip away quietly while no one is watching.

As a public, we love a good mystery, brazen tragedy or major crisis. We'll shut down an interstate system just to get a glimpse of roadside carnage. So often, we cleverly overlook our own ability to make decisions, select alternatives and otherwise exercise the freedom of our willfulness. When it comes to committing crimes, criminals are no different than the rest of us. Behavior is one of making choices. Elementary issues relate to rational exercises of personal freedom. From ideation to commission, criminals premeditate their actions into self-gratifying activities.

Being crafty, clever and cunning, some criminals, like the rest of population, are better skilled than others. Sly and devious, perpetrators of criminal behavior are people who've made choice to break the law. They're self-centeredness is a primary characteristic of their overall personality. From psychology to psychopathology, the continuum is one of connectivity to the inner urges of self-indulgent proclivities. Trespassing across the boundaries of another is a breach by which perpetrator find alluring, tempting and seductive. To them, other people are a means to an end. It's a matter of getting what they want, when they want it and where ever they can get it. Their intended victim is an objective. They'll stalk, hunt and prey on someone or something they perceive belongs to them. Criminals go after targets of opportunity, given the selected environmental conditions, and abilities for personal gain. The challenge, temptation and enticement relate to individual motives, inclinations and desires. Aware of the risks, they take the steps necessary to achieve their goals. Objectives depend on the skill-set of the mindset.

Like the rest of us, criminals apply their talents, abilities and capacities to the crime that fits their needs. From political corruption, to corporate embezzlement, to armed robbery and murder, we all have potentials for committing a range of anti-social behaviors. While some commit infractions, others commit murder. Yet, the inherent motivations are the same. It's all about personal gain, such as love or money, and the variations of these two basic themes. On occasion, it could be power, dominance and control that turn one on. Gives excitement to the senses and provokes the acquisition of the objective in question. Or, the love of self or obsessive possession of another person. Just depends on individual ideation, fantasy and motivation. Within this secret realm of the fantasy, there is the sowing of expectation to extend into the real world. Ideation loves the fruition of the subconscious into the reality of the conscious. From inside these darkened reaches comes the intention of carrying out a criminal act.

Criminals see themselves as clever, creative and competent within the sphere of their criminality. But, then again, don't we all dream of getting away with some unconventional activity? Display our arrogance in a number of ways, means and motions? Or, coming into possession of something for nothing? While some of us divert ourselves into acceptable diversions, those who don't prefer the deviance of crime. We chose what we do and know why we do it. People don't suddenly one day up and "snap", "go off the deep end", or "fly off the handle". The feelings inside have been building, plotting and scheming over a period of time. Premeditation is a uniquely human activity. By reason and rationality, we pursue our goals for a purpose. Likewise, so does the person who chooses to accept a bribe, carry out treason or report fraudulent news stories. Similar to other endeavors, criminality spans the spectrum of crimes of choice. While some may have a preferred method of operation, they are capable of changing, adapting and altering the nature of their criminality. As such, the mysteries of the mental processes are more complex than we can predict. The problem of predictability is compounded by the fact that we all share a heritage. The criminal inclination is part of human nature. To know what a criminal looks like, all one has to do is look in the mirror.

For the individual, deviating from accepted social norms harbors seductive possibilities. The sensual transcends the sexual and evolves into the spiritual realm of our thinking processes. We make it so, by virtue of our choices. Inherent in the design of human nature is the propensity to depart from the rules by acts of disobedience. That is, of course, if we choose to do so. Likewise, we can agree not to deviate. From the allegory of the first fall, to the perceptions of postmodern society, allusions abound in the metaphorical depictions of free-will selectivity. Yet, we ignore the fine detail. Bottom line, conscious decisions are made to do things we want to do. Cleverly, we seek out repetitive behaviors, seeking the pleasurable delights in the gain we obtain. The core of our essential personality harbors the contents of thoughts, fantasies and desires. We cloak them is a myriad of deceptions. Fooling everyone, from family members to authorities. When caught, we fabricate a mystery. Tell tales of tall stories. Find as many excuses as we can. But, in the end, we have to realize you don't catch criminality like the common cold.

On a simpler level, we think we're crafty in our criminality. Misbehavior becomes an attractive alternative attached to the libidinous notions of our sexuality. Instead of the boredom of "law abiding" community service, our clever sense of ourselves brazens the transgressions of cross the lines. Producing the sensations of a psychic "high", the craft of criminality provides the release of pent-up desires. Hidden notions of private motivations. Astute, shrewd and devious, people play roles. Posture in public and private performances to bring out their inner thoughts. Test the reality of the real-world from within the depths of mental proclivities. But, not completely. Only the tip of the iceberg ever emerges above the surface. In the process, they fool the best of us. From psychics to psychologists, from profilers to politicians, cops and the community, the con job pervades the public policies of societal institutions. Acting out "stupidity" in public allows people to escape responsibility. We project wishful thinking. In the vicarious witness of a bizarre heinous act, we rush to judgment. Pull out the straightjackets and conclude only a "crazy" person does things like that. Yeah, crazy like a fox.

The craft of criminality has fostered whole industries of various "schools of thought". Some are innovative, creative and some are ridiculous. All the while, most of us miss the point. We overlook the decidedly dangerous dark side of humanity. People can be cunning, sly and devilish. They can change, alter and transform their thinking, behavior and methods of operation. And, from an investigative standpoint, our hope is that we're cleverer and craftier than the criminals think they are. Or, for that matter, we got to be better at "fighting crime" than they think we are. Criminal arrogance views the rest of us "law abiding souls" as being foolish, gullible and naïve. We have to follow the evidence trail. And, perform our criminal behavioral assessments by careful crime scene analysis, astute investigative follow-up and determined innovative processes. Caution must be exercised in the face of quick fix fads of contemporary fiction instead the facts. Our theories and conclusions must adapt to changing situations, circumstances and pursue the technology affecting forensic evidence. People aren't necessarily stupid, even though they act that way. But, they do make mistakes and rely on our misconceptions about criminal behavior. The craftiness of criminality is the sleight of hand magic of postmodern societ