Several years ago, Patrick and I identified the Law & Order Principle. This is when something bad happens to someone because that person was doing something he shouldn’t have been doing. We noticed on the television show Law & Order that often the victim of a crime was doing something stupid —- dealing drugs, hanging out at bars late at night, dating drug dealers, embezzling money from his employer . . . you get the point. Then we began to notice this principle in many high-profile real-life criminal cases.
Let’s look at a big case in this week’s news. The Duke Lacrosse Scandal. Now, nobody deserves to be raped, but the stripper who claims to be raped was drunk and taking her clothes off for a whole houseful of strange (and drunk) men. Ummm. . . .if you’re setting up the perfect circumstances for rape to occur, this would be pretty close. Or, let’s say this woman is making up the charges, falsely accusing the lacrosse players. Well, if you have a big drunken party with 40 of your closest male friends and bring strippers into the house and get them drunk too, then you’re sort of setting yourself up for something bad to happen. In this case, the woman couldn’t have been raped if she’d been home sober, fully-clothed, and taking care of her children. The players couldn’t have been accused of raping her if they’d been . . . oh, let’s say studying or playing Trivial Pursuit in the dorm or having a party with Chex Mix and root beer and the latest video rental.
Of course sometimes people are innocent victims of crimes and tragedies, but so often people were doing things they shouldn’t have been doing when the crime or tragedy occurs. I’m thinking about familiar headlines —– dozens of people are injured or killed when a nightclub catches fire . . . a gang member is killed by a rival gang . . . a kid is killed during a drug deal . . . a teen falls to her death while skipping school, drinking beer, and climbing a mountain . . . a college student begins an illicet affair with a man she met online and ends up being murdered by him . . . Over and over again, people do stupid or immoral things and end up dead or injured.
We see this on a very small scale with our children, and we’re trying to teach them the Law & Order Principle while the stakes are much lower. Today my 3-year-old, Silas, and his big sister, Lauren opened the front door and stepped onto the porch after I told them not to. As they scrambled to come back inside, Lauren closed the door on Silas’ fingers, cutting one and badly bruising another. He is fortunate the finger didn’t break. Law & Order Principle at work — if they hadn’t been outside when they weren’t supposed to, his fingers wouldn’t have been squished. Our 5-year-old, Caleb, perched himself on the edges of 2 chairs today after I had told him to sit down properly. Of course, he lost his balance and fell backwards onto the floor. Ouch! No major injury, just a bump and a sore bottom, but it wouldn’t have happened if he’d obeyed his mommy.
When thngs like this happen in our home, we gently point out to our children how their poor choice contributed to their pain. I’m hoping they learn the Law & Order Principle while the consequences are only bruised bottoms and squished fingers.