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Crime Can Pay This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   In recent opinion articles from newspapers across the nation, the general public wrote columns concerning how "Crime Can Pay," specifically referring to Michael Fay, the American who was sentenced by Singapore to six strokes with a rattan cane. After President Clinton expressed concern, the sentence was reduced to four lashings. According to articles, "On his return to the United States, it is estimated the Mr. Fay will immediately entertain offers of some $2 million for book offers, television rights, and talk show appearances." Obviously there is something wrong with this picture. Mr. Fay has committed a crime. Even though he has suffered its penalty, he is going to be treated like a hero. Is this right or fair? I don't think so. Instead of supporting the many people suffering from starvation, homelessness, and disease, the entertainment industry is willing to pay $2 million to a criminal!

Recent statistics and television ratings from Entertainment Weekly show there is growing interest in horrors, crime, action, and phobias. Some of the most highly rated television shows are NYPD Blue and Cops, police shows with detailed violence. According to Margaret O. Hyde's book, Fears and Phobias, psychological studies have proven that it is human nature for a person to be fascinated and intrigued by the "wrongs of society." Whether those wrongs are death, cruel and unusual punishment, or crime, they all attract large audiences. Past television movies such as NBC's Witness to the Execution and ABC's miniseries of The Stand have captured the attention of the majority of the United States' television viewers.

Since 1992, there has been congressional debate over violence on television, mainly relating to censorship. The government has passed a law asking for television networks to state "Due to some violent content, parental discretion is advised." As a result, the more children and people see these warnings, the more they want to ignore them. Studies have also proven that the recent generations (i.e. since the 1970s) like to go against the flow. If a person is told not to do something, then they will want to do it even more. Thus, the government's action is not going to help prevent further violence.

The fact that violence and action sells big for entertainment is fine. That's human nature, right? However, it's not fair film producers and authors pay real life criminals so they can make movies or books "based on the true story," is it? The entertainment industry should keep all violence and action limited to fiction. If the entertainment industry wants to buy rights to a story, then they should tell courageous stories of heroes, dramatic stories of child abduction or amazing escapes.

Michael Fay should not be paid one cent, never mind two million dollars. He is a criminal. We here in our bubble of freedoms may find fault with his punishment but in Singapore, that is the law. We can't just suddenly decide to pay this criminal $2 million to make a movie about his punishment. That's like offering to pay $1 million to each criminal who dies in the electric chair. Do you think we should waste our money to watch crime? It just isn't right to pay a criminal, nor is it right for crime to pay. ?


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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