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"I think the perpetrators should be made to replace the instruments. If that means the courts have to take charge of everything they own, leave them penniless and practically homeless, tough. They should have thought about that before they ruined the instruments."

This is a somewhat more realistic criminal justice approach. Make bad behavior (1) too expensive and (2) too troublesome, so that it, hopefully doesn't continue. Think of how driving infractions are handled... though this is more serious, and more deliberately hostile. Sometimes exposure to the public eye, confinement, restitution are tools that work. It can make someone feel really sorry (if only when they have to pay their lawyer), or at least, publicly humiliated enough that they leave town.

It would seem that the school may have a structural problem with the security of the practice rooms. Other schools where I have used such rooms, it was necessary to check out a key and show a student ID, and all the premises were under lock and key.

I am very sorry this has happened! I hope it can be set right very soon. And I am glad, as the previous poster said, that the actions were not taken agains persons or animals, as far as we know. But it does need to be seen to lest it escalate.


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Agreed 100%.

Pianos are the culminated effort of years of loving work, not to mention soundboard wood that took decades / centuries to grow. Such act is beyond criminal.

The pianos, even after the repairs, will no longer sound the same.

Just like the high-D in this picture... it is a goner.
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Originally Posted by A441
It is just plain disgusting !!!!!!!

Payment for the damage done and a little jail time is in order !!


A441


More than a little... They deserve to be punished as hard as possible. It is a cruel and brainless act of vandalism... mad



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I’m very sorry to hear this has happened at the Whalen School.

Some interesting comments have been raised here.
I particularly liked and agree with the sentiments of Jeff Cleff, AJF, ChoipinAddict and others who say the perpetrators deserve to be punished as hard as possible.
If caught, a long prison sentence on nothing but bread and water I say! It’s a pity though that the do-gooders would never allow this, which is one of the reasons that acts similar to this (and worse) are so common.
As Victor Cam pointed out, this type of incident could never happen in a place like Singapore. Why? Just thinking about the penalties is enough to put any potential vandal off. Which is just one reason why it is such a wonderful, safe place, spotlessly clean and where the people are proud and strive to keep it that way.

In my home country and in my current location, perpetrators of vandalism (if caught) know they will be given at least 3 chances before any serious [sīc] steps are taken. Even if a prison sentence should eventually be delivered, they know that this will be suspended, a slap on the wrist will invariably be administered, followed by a release to the urban jungle to recommence their sick acts. It’s not always the case though.......

Only just this morning I opened my newspaper to read that in the next village a 17 year old youth caught breaking and entering into a bar in the early hours of the morning was shot dead with a shotgun by the owner of the establishment. Reading between the lines, all the sympathy appears to be for the family of the potential thief. The owner of the establishment has been treated as a “thick brute without a brain”. He’s been arrested, and although his act may have been in legitimate defence, he has been detained on a murder charge.
I wonder how many reading this Whalen School account - assuming they’d been armed at the time, and had seen practice rooms being vandalized and pianos being broken up – would have been highly tempted to put a few ounces of buckshot where it really hurts.

Last edited by Tweedpipe; 12/18/09 07:54 AM.

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This is just horrible. I have no sympathy for the ones who did this. I don't care how bad they are hurting. Such an act of violence is inexcusable.

This time it was violence against pianos. Next time, it may be against a person.

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For the record, I was being a little sarcastic in my post regarding steep an harsh punishment. Although I think it's very important for criminals to be made very present to the impact of their actions on others and be held fully accountable, I also find the mob mentality that has emerged here a little disconcerting. We seem to get really caught up in apprehending and punishing criminals in our society with a lot less emphasis on understanding why these things happen in the first place. I understand that acts like this make us very angry but when the focus is on 'catching those bastards and making sure they pay!' where does that really get us in the long run? We have overpopulated jails across North America with far worse crimes going on on the inside than on the outside. Places like Singapore and Japan have very low crime rates compared to North America but at what cost? Steep and merciless punishment reduces crime but also feeds a fear based society.
It's easy to look at a 'criminal' with disdain and disgust and anger and wish for severe punishment to befall them for their deeds. That feeds our animal and ego driven instincts. That's how we've done it as a race as long as we've been conscious enough to record history. When are we going to find a better model for dealing with criminals?
Will we ever get to a place as a society where the motivation to abstain from crime comes not from a fear of punishment but instead from a sense of love and respect for each other--being so I tune with how our actions affect others that we would never want to do something as horrible as destroy something like a piano simply because we would know the pain it would cause others?
If we continue to be angry instead of compassionate and judmental instead of empathetic, well then people are going to keep smashing pianos--or robbing and murdering each other.
If we cultivate compassion, empathy and ultimately love, then eventually crime will cease to exist.
It saddens me that this possibility is often so quickly dismissed on the grounds of being idealistic and naive. To me what's *really* naive is to keep working the same old broken model and think it's suddenly going to fix itself or miraculously start working.
We are all connected. Each and every one of us-- 'criminals' and saints alike. The sooner we start cultivating *that* as a society the sooner we stop seeing trashed pianos.


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It may well be that there is less crime (or at least, less vandalism) in Singapore and Japan because they are both cultures that value respect for property, etc.

Perhaps there is more mindless violence--against both people and property--in America because our culture has become one which values mindlessness more than people or property. The culprits were no doubt students, and students at a pretty expensive and prestigious school; so they probably weren't misunderstood, neglected ghetto youth, but rather upper- or upper-middleclass kids who graduated from high school with good grades.

In which case, is anything really accomplished by shooting or beating an idiot for stealing or vandalizing? Publicly exposing them for the spoiled little sh*ts they are and making them (or Mommy and Daddy) pay for the damage, including legal and police costs, would have greater effect.

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Well, AJF, I certainly understood your sarcasm. I just disagreed with much of it. Yes, the internet encourages mob-like expressions of outrage, but I think there is a reasoned argument for not bending over backward to 'understand' the poor people who do this. They are not necessarily the victims of whatever social pathology has gripped the apologists of the moment. As I suggested earlier, the reasons for this behavior may lie as much in narcissism and self-indulgence as it does with angst and tortured soul. Simple and well-advertised punishment can be an effective deterrent without turning us into a fear-based society like .... Japan? Do you have evidence that Japanese people feel fear that we do not, that they yearn for our supposed freedoms ... to do what, commit acts of indulgent violence like something out of Clockwork Orange?

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Pianodad,
I understand your point. The problem, to me, isn't with 'simple and well advertised punishment'. The problem is that punishment becomes the focal point in these situations. I'm not a practicing Christian but that Jesus guy was pretty damn smart. Like when he said 'he who is free of sin, cast the first stone'. All the townspeople standing there eagerly waiting to stone a woman to death for her sins and then he steps in and says 'hey, why don't you all look at yourselves' which to me appeals to our sense of empathy (and makes us aware of our own hypocrisy). I would never suggest that any criminal should go without punishment. But the way it is administered in North American society disgusts me--completely void of compassion and love. We don't punish criminals out of a desire to help them see the impact of their actions on the rest of us so that they can learn to live well amoung us. We punish criminals to satisfy our need to see heads roll and to temporarily satiate our fear of bad things happening in our world.

I have no evidence that places like Japan live in fear. But I do know that their penal system is severe with a conviction rate in the high 90 percentile and I've been told that many criminals who enter Japanese prisons are never seen or heard from again. So you tell me: with statistics like that are you motivated to be a law abiding citizen out of respect for others or out of a deep fear of consequence?

All I'm really trying to say is that I believe that all crime stems from a place of fear (including narcissism and self-indulgent acts of crime which to me seem to be a desparate denial of fear). Having a cold and harsh approach to punishing crime creates fear in a society. Fear feeds more fear. And so the cycle continues indefinately--until you inject love into the equation. It's easy to love friends and family, but who's there to love the criminals and drug addicts and vandals and homeless people?
The more we look at them with hate and judgement the more we fuel their own fear. So I won't do it.
Some kids trashed some pianos at a school. Who wants to throw the first stone?


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Those that need love and understanding the MOST, are often those who deserve it the LEAST.... just a thought....


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60 pianos? If it took 10 minutes to vandalize each one, we would be talking about 600 minutes or 10 hours to finish it.

Everyone is talking about a group of youngsters but just a thought... Doesn't this also look like an organized crime activity?


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I doubt that ten minutes was spent on each piano or that the mob was involved. But who knows. That's the problem. Not a lot of information to go by. I don't think the damage is as extensive as first thought. There really hasn't been a laundry list of damage or suspects other than most of the practice rooms are now open. Most pianos are back to working and one tech and his assistant are fixing the others. They're no longer talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars of damage.

A real whodunnit although I'm sure the cops have their ideas. Students? Who knows. Motive? Maybe it went beyond vandalism. Maybe there's a political or financial angle. Maybe it's personal. Could be folks from town on a tear or a bet. Could be a love affair gone bad. Bottom line it's a property case but the notoriety might give the cops a little more time and money to throw at solving it.


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Originally Posted by AJF
Hang them! Burn them at the stake! Put 'em in the slammer and throw away the key!!

Let's not try to understand this sort of behavior, lets just make sure they're punished real good.


The problem I have with trying to "understand" this sort of thing is that without stern consequences, it rarely prevents such behavior in the future. There should be a punishment for something like this. If one is old enough to flip over a grand piano, one is also old enough to know that it is wrong. For that reason, I don't think we need to "understand" them. Its not that difficult.

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All they need is boredom, ignorance and a mean streak. This comes of the same mentality that shoots out deer crossing signs and bashes mailboxes.


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"I particularly liked and agree with the sentiments of Jeff Cleff, AJF, ChoipinAddict and others who say the perpetrators deserve to be punished as hard as possible."

But, Tweedpipe--- I didn't say that. "Make bad behavior (1) too expensive and (2) too troublesome, so that it, hopefully doesn't continue. Think of how driving infractions are handled..."

Quoting myself--- well, there's a new one. Sending someone to Old Sparky for a property crime is not what I meant, anyway. Neither is letting it go, and just saying, "Oh, well."

I think it is a very hard problem, to know what to do, that works.

That situation with "The Woman at the Well" was, in its time context, probably viewed as a property crime. And in fact, AJF was right that it illustrated a balanced and measured criminal justice approach (which a mob, even of piano-lovers, is never going to achieve). Jesus rebuked the mob and sent them packing. Then he instructed the woman, "Go thou, and sin no more." And maybe it worked. She probably took a pretty good scare, and you can't count on such a lucky break next time.

Rock breaks scissors.

But we are talking about pianos. So why do I think of Glenda's advice to the Wicked Witch of the West--- "Begone! Before a house falls on you, too."

Oh.

Last edited by Jeff Clef; 12/22/09 12:11 PM.

Clef

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