The One Forbidden Thing
Don't do that again!
We’re constantly reading about people who can’t seem to stay away from doing the one thing that got them into trouble before and which they’ve been told, warned, admonished never to do again.
Jeffrey Epstein, for example, a billionaire (we guess – nobody is quite sure), was arrested and charged with an arm’s length of sex crimes, all related to having sex with or sexually assaulting or raping young women, some of them girls as young as 14. He pled to a reduced charge and was sentenced to a year of what you might call “work release.” That is, he had to spend the night in jail but was allowed out during the day to “go to work.”
Some journalists have reported that he allegedly continued the same behavior during this period. Sometimes with the prison guard who was supposed to be watching and supervising him sitting outside his office.
This wasn’t work release. It was catch-and-release.
Anyway, you would think that a rational person – and if anybody would be thought to be rational, it would be a self-made billionaire – would have a sit-down with himself and determine not to be put in that situation again.
Au contraire, all Mr. Epstein seems to have learned is that he got away with his crimes and that he was free to commit them with impunity. And now as I write this is being held in prison without bail and is facing a life-long sentence for doing exactly the same thing that got him into trouble in the first place.
My friend, Clayton Freeman
There’s this guy I went to school with – we’ll call him “Clayton Freeman,” or “Clay” for short (changing the name to protect the guilty) – who a long time ago got in trouble with guns. In fact, his whole life, it’s been guns, guns, guns. Add to that a heathy dose of socio-pathology, a touch of paranoia, a self-willed nature, daddy-issues, and generally not liking to be told what to do (which is what the law – or in Clay’s case, the “law” – is all about), and we’re talking trouble.
With a capital “T.” (I guess that makes it Trouble).
It started innocently enough: target shooting in the desert when he was in high school. Which gravitated to target shooting in the city (not so innocent). And then robbing liquor stores. (Yeah, we moved pretty rapidly from innocent to definitely guilty.)
And it wasn’t like he needed the money. His father was very well to do, the owner of a prosperous business, but there was something about being a “bad guy,” a robber, a danger, a public enemy that appealed to Clay. So appealing as a matter of fact that it became something like a hobby for him.
He did switch things up a little (variety being the sugar and spice of life). He did a little shoplifting and burglary on the side, but his major as student of crime was definitely robbery.
Saturday routine: work out, load gun, rob store, go to party, get drunk, pick up girl, have sex in the bed of his pick-up truck. Go home, rinse off, repeat next Saturday.
Eventually, that wild summer came to an end – not just the summer, but Clay’s new hobby. He got caught.
This is where “rich privilege” came in. You see, rich people don’t live by the same rules that you and I do. It’s not that they are born with a get-out-of-jail card so much, but that they carry around a stay-out-of-jail card. In Clay’s case, he was a minor. He came from a “good family” (which meant he was white, and his daddy was rich, and he had a lawyer who played golf with the judge).
So … harmless teen-aged prank, let’s not do that again, Mr. Freeman. Probation
Okay, Clay cheated the hangman on that one.
Shortly thereafter, one Saturday night at a party (how much trouble the world would avoid if we simply did away with Saturday nights!), Clay shot two guys.
There’s no being cute or funny about it, he killed two guys he’d gotten into a fight with.
But guess what? Daddy. Lawyer: Justifiable homicide. Self-defense.
At this point, you’d think any rational person would have a sit-down with himself, and decide, Enough with the guns already!
And for a while it appeared so: Clay finished college, got married, moved out of state, started a little business, became a pillar of the community …
But let’s go back to the business.
It was a gun store. All legal. All legit. Sorta … (nobody seemed to notice his youthful indiscretion, which should have disqualified him from being anywhere near the things).
But everything was going along fine. Hunky-dory, as a matter of fact. Okey-dokie. Peachy. Alright. Aight. And chill and chim.
All of them.
Except for Haajid al-Arshad, a tall Arab man who rolled up in a Bentley limousine, who walked into the store one day, wanting to buy a couple of guns.
Glad to help, sir. We’re here to serve. What can I do you for?
Upon which, Mr. al-Arshad pulls out a wish list the length of a Bridezilla’s registry, and leaves it with Clay, along with instructions to pack the merchandize in a shipping container and send it all to Mr. al-Arshad’s home address, which happened to be somewhere in the Middle East.
There were a lot of things going on with Clay at this point. On the one hand, the chance to make a double porta-potty load of money, to finally show Daddy he was a man, to uphold the Constitutional right to keep and bear arms, while at the same time playing the bad boy by defying all the other laws.
On the other hand … who are we kidding? There was no other hand.
So, the merchandize was ordered, the shipping container was loaded and shipped, and promptly intercepted. Clay was tried and convicted of gun running, or smuggling, or something along those lines.
This time, Clay got a year’s free vacation at Club Fed.
Which wasn’t too bad. It wasn't hard labor. He didn't have to worry about paying the bills. He got three dietitian-planned meals a day, a "job" in the prison library. He joined the inmates' ping-pong team and lost weight. (He even won a couple of trophies!)
When he got out and resumed life as usual, minus the gun store. And his home. And his wife.
But other than those teeny-weeney details …
At this point, you’d think any rational person would have a sit-down with himself, and decide, Enough with the guns already! In fact, that’s the very thing the Federales had told him. This time they had been very clear: No guns whatsoever, Mr. Freeman. You can’t own, possess, or be in the presence of or have access to guns. In fact, we don’t want you to even think about guns. Nothing that even sounds like gun: No glue guns. You can’t put anything in a gunnysack. You can’t refer to the sludge build-up in your car’s engine as “gunk.” If you’re in a movie, and one of the actors pulls out a gun, you have to leave. Don’t point in a “gun” hand gesture. Come to think of it, stay away from all "gu" words in general. For instance, don't even think about chewing gum.
But human beings are not known for being rational actors.
Once more to the poisoned well
Time went on, and Clay’s politics evolved, which is to say that he became even more entrenched in gun culture, took up with a para-military group that spent its weekends running around out in the woods prepping for the End Times, the End of Days, or the Zombie apocalypse or … whatever.
To underline this point: Seriously prepping. With real guns. Surplus military hardware. Camouflage outdoor gear.
You might laugh, but for them it was serious.
You can see where this is going. Clay was arrested again, this time as a felon in possession of a significant cache of arms, any one charge and conviction of which could sent him to prison for the rest of his life. (As of the writing of this piece, he's still awaiting sentencing.)
There are several billion things you are allowed to do.
Some simple guidelines
All of which could have been avoided by simply following these simple guidelines:
- Don’t do that again. Whatever your predilection for sex with young people is, stifle it. Find willing partners who are of certifiably legal age who look young. (You have the money, set up a vetting process: check i.d.’s, run back-ground checks, put a poor college girl through university.) Have them dress up as school girls. Yeah, school uniforms, pig tails, lollipops, k-pop fashion, anime-eyes, and OK Kitty lunch boxes. It’s weird, admittedly, but it’ll keep you out of jail. Emphasize: everything is consensual and legal. Or, if you have a hankering for guns that is unquenchable, read or even write books about the topic. Watch all the movies you want about gunslingers, gun fights, war, or any other related topic. Join a paintball team and indulge yourself in paintball “gun fights” to your pee-brain’s content. Follow this simple, fundamental principle, and voila! Predilection satiated, prison avoided!
- You’ve got the money, honey. In the case of Epstein, we’re talking about the age of consent here. There are some states in the United States where what you might want to do is legal, or something close to what you want to do is legal. Move there. Stay there. Knock your kinky self out.
- Get the hell out of Dodge City (follow up on and more elaborate version of #2 above). One thing to remember is that not only is the arm of the law long, its memory is long, too. You aren’t just a regular Joe Goodcitizen walking around. They know who you are, and they are watching you. Like Santa Claus, only in a bad way. You’re on a list now. And the time will come when they will come knocking on your door, and they won’t be mad; on the contrary, they’ll have big smiles on their faces – long time no see, buddy. Gotcha! So, take the opportunity now, and get out while the gettin’ out is getable. Cash out, move your furniture, your ostrich-feather coats, and your avant-garde art work (the feel-o-rama nude statues that are scattered around your mansion) to a different jurisdiction where they don’t care about such things. In Epstein’s case, move in with Roman Polanski in France. It’s worked for him all these years. It’ll work for you. For Clay, I would advise moving somewhere they don’t care about how many guns you own (or they don’t check on your background): Somalia comes to mind. Isis is always looking for candidates. In either case, everybody’s armed to from the toes to the canines. Move there!
Living the dream!
as many as the stars in the sky
There are several billion things you are allowed to do. However tempted you may be, out of those hundred-thousand-million-billion-billion allowable things that are allowed -- things that are as numerous as the stars in the sky -- my final advice for the stupid criminal, the scoundrel who hasn't quite caught on yet to this simple axiom, would say this:
In Christian, Islamic, and Jewish scripture, there's the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. They have the run of the place and complete license to enjoy all the fruits and delights of that heavenly abode, except for tasting of the fruit of the tree in the center of the garden. They live in pure, literal paradise, but they can't resist eating of the fruit that is forbidden to them.
Maybe that ancient story tells us something about human nature. The American poet Emily Dickenson wrote,
Forbidden fruit a flavor has
That lawful orchards mocks;
How luscious lies the pea within
The pod that Duty locks!
That's true -- there is an almost irresistible temptation in that which is denied us. But my advice would be -- stifle the urge. Don’t do the one forbidden thing. (Remember where that got Adam and Eve!)