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Does it seem to you that criminality, mass shootings, and threats against persons in public spaces are increasing? Whatever happened to crime and punishment?

Hi, I’m Rex Rogers and this is episode #82 of Discerning What Is Best, a podcast applying unchanging biblical principles in a rapidly changing world, and a Christian worldview to current issues and everyday life.

Recently in downtown Chicago, an event occurred that media called “Teen Takeover.” It was a social media fueled mob of youth, apparently from throughout the metropolitan area, who simply decided to run amok under the Loop and on Michigan Avenue.

Numerous videos are available online showing hordes of young people breaking windows, jumping on cars, trashing whatever was in their path, firing guns in the streets, even assaulting innocent bystanders and tourists.

In videos, “teens can be seen jumping on top of a bus while others start a massive brawl. A Tesla, said to be worth $120,000, was vandalized.” Two teens were shot during the incident. Fifteen teens were arrested.

Teen takeovers have happened before in Chicago. It’s a deadly hobby. So is violence in general in Chicago, and in other major American cities where law and order is on life support.

The weekly shootings and murders in Chicago have become so routine that it rarely makes national news. Newsweek noted: ‘The number of homicides in Chicago hit a 25-year high in 2021 with more than 800, according to the Chicago Police Department. That number decreased to 695 last year but is still far higher than when (outgoing Mayor Lori) Lightfoot took office in 2019. Crimes including carjackings and robberies have also increased in recent years.’"

Meanwhile, two elected officials’ response to the teen takeover is telling:

Robert Peters, an Illinois State Senator who represents part of Chicago, tweeted, “Since I’m a glutton for punishment and I’m sure I’m gonna get the most unhinged, crime weirdo replies but: I would look at the behavior of young people as a political act and statement. It’s a mass protest against poverty and segregation. Rest in peace to my mentions.”

In other words, this violence against property and persons is a protest about poverty. One problem with that argument is that the U.S. has a large body of law dating to the 1960s that clearly delineates how social protests can take place, how freedom of speech can be exercised and is encouraged under the First Amendment, as long as property, people, and the public’s right to free thoroughfares is not violated. Point is, the minute violence ensues, the action is no longer a legal protest but an illegal riot.

Chicago Mayor-elect Brandon Johnson, the progressive who will succeed ineffective Mayor Lori Lightfoot, said, "In no way do I condone the destructive activity we saw in the Loop and lakefront this weekend. It is unacceptable and has no place in our city. However, it is not constructive to demonize youth who have otherwise been starved of opportunities in their own communities."

In other words, to hold youths accountable for destruction of property, assaults, and breaking other laws is somehow to “demonize” them. Mayor-elect Johnson’s solution, by the way, is not to employ more trained police officers. No, he said, “Our city must work together to create spaces for youth to gather safely and responsibly, under adult guidance and supervision, to ensure that every part of our city remains welcome for both residents and visitors.”

What spaces is he talking about? Does he really believe youth would go to some controlled space under adult guidance and supervision?

How can these political leaders think this way? Sadly, they are not alone. Many so-called “woke” individuals have been elected in recent years, or those in office have jumped on this bandwagon in the name of race relations, only to make race relations worse.

“State and city district attorneys, and county prosecutors seek either to release violent criminals without bail or reduce their felonies to misdemeanors. Critical legal and race theories are their creeds. So, they argue that crimes have little to do with individual free will. Criminals are not deterred by tough enforcement of the laws. Instead, ‘crime’ reflects arbitrary constructs of a racially oppressive hierarchy.”

But, “rhe cure to lawlessness is not to indulge the lawbreakers by justifying or seeking to explain their behavior. It is to enforce the law. Doing so serves to tell others there are consequences for illegal behavior and justice will be swift and certain. Without law enforcement there is no glue that can hold a city or a society together. Hundreds of Chicago police officers have left the force and the city is having trouble recruiting replacements. Is it any wonder with the ‘defund the police’ movement and growing disrespect for those who feel called to protect and serve?”

When lawless behavior is tolerated and leaders who are supposed to keep neighborhoods safe effectively see lawbreakers as depraved because they are deprived, to quote lyrics from ‘West Side Story,’ it is a virtual guarantee that some will run wild. As the Proverb says: "Where there is no vision the people cast off restraint" (Proverbs 29:18).

What is happening?

  1. As I’ve noted before, America is engaged in an unnamed Second Civil War, pitting those who do not believe in God or at least one who to whom they are accountable, and who reject the idea of objectively determined right and wrong, individual responsibility, and law and order 

against those who still believe in God, absolute truth, morality, and righteous justice for all.

  1. The practice and rule of law and order, blind justice, and accountability are under attack.

Take illegal immigration. Nearly 6 million people have poured across our borders illegally since President Joe Biden took office…In blue state cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, New York and Chicago, laws protecting private property, public safety and public health are routinely flouted; the consequences are felt only by law-abiding citizens…Retail theft is no longer prosecuted, so bands of thieves walk into stores and steal with impunity. Small businesses are forced to close or move. Even large corporations like Walgreens, Walmart, Target, Macy's, BestBuy and REI are…leaving, citing theft and crime that is undeterred and unpunished. In 2020, under then-Mayor Lori Lightfoot's tenure, mobs of vandals did millions of dollars in damage and theft to the upscale stores on Chicago's Magnificent Mile.”

This crime wave evident across our country and culture is not pure happenstance. It is the result of a society reaping what it sows in discarding time tested, moral standards, mores, and values. 

I’ve heard it said that “Nowhere is safe today,” or “We’re experiencing diminished personal safety like never before.” I know what they mean, because there was a time in my lifetime that if you exercised good judgment and avoided places you knew were prone to “bad things happening,” you could move about relatively safe and secure. This time seems to have passed.

There has always been crime and there always will be. What we have now in American culture is ignored or approved crime.

Now, you cannot be sure if you go to an athletic stadium, music concert, mall, campus, even church, that you will be safe. We are retrogressing to a time when individuals and families did indeed care for their own safety. In frontier times and later in the Old West, everyone carried a gun or was with someone who did.

In days gone by, the place where you did not carry a gun or worry about protecting yourself was what they called “civilization,” meaning localities back East that had established right and wrong law and order.

What’s now disappearing in America is just that, “civilization,” an advanced state of human society based upon moral standards, mores, and values that respects and protects life.

The principles that undergird the United States of America -- indeed, what we think of as "Western civilization" generally are being dismantled.

Our living assignment remains the same:

To know truth and to make it known.

To speak the truth in love.

To be ready always to give an answer of the hope we have within us.

To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

In so doing, you also need to become more aware, more conscious of your surroundings, more capable of protecting your family and friends if you are called upon to do so.


Well, we’ll see you again soon. This podcast is about Discerning What Is Best. If you find this thought-provoking and helpful, follow us on your favorite podcast platform. Download an episode for your friends. For more Christian commentary, check my website, r-e-x-m as in Martin, that’s 

And remember, it is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm.

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2023   

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