A Solution to CrimernChronicles interviews Peter ShawrnFrankly, we were skeptical when first contacted by PeterrnShaw, Ph.D., a genial, tweedy, professorial type carrying arnsomewhat foxed and dog-eared manuscript boldly titled “MyrnSystem.” It outlined, he claimed, a comprehensive solution tornthe leading social problems of our era. Despite appearances,rnthe man was hard to dismiss, especially given his claim that hisrnplan would be embraced with enthusiasm by liberals and conservativesrnalike.rnThroughout the interview Shaw insisted that he was himselfrna liberal dedicated to preserving compassion, tolerance, and thernother liberal virtues. But inasmuch as he sometimes slippedrninto describing these virtues as the liberal “mindset” and espousedrnliberal doctrine with an exaggerated unctuousnessrnstrikingly at odds with the hardheaded solutions he offered, wernremain skeptical about where Shaw’s true allegiance lies. Thernsomewhat frustrating interview, during which we might havernpressed certain points a bit further, follows below.rnChronicles: What is your background, and what are yourrnqualifications for offering a solution to all social problems?rnShaw: Crime is the biggest social problem. That’s what I’m goingrnto talk about first. Figure out how to deal with crime andrnPeter Shaw’s latest book is Recovering American Literaturern(Ivan R. Dee, 1994).rnall the rest follows according to the same formula.rnChronicles: But what is your expertise in this area?rnShaw: The first thing is that everyone has to start thinkingrnabout crime in just the opposite way from what they’re used to.rnMind you, I don’t question the received wisdom in this area—rnor in any other for that matter. Of course law-abiding citizensrnare contemptible—lawbreakers arc society’s true heroes. I dornnot in any way challenge this truth as it has been admirably promulgatedrnfrom our pulpits by educational leaders, thoughtfulrnpoliticians, enlightened police chiefs, and TV news anchormen.rnAll I propose is that—as a temporary convenience only—wernagree to turn everything we understand backwards. This meansrnthat we would agree to regard unsocial and illegal behavior inrnthe opposite way from how we know it should be regarded. Wernwould, that is to say, regard such behavior as bad.rnNo, no, don’t interrupt! 1 can tell that you are shocked. Letrnme say that it is to your credit that you are. But before I am, asrnit were, shouted down and laughed off the stage, let me just indicaternwhat would follow from adopting the assumption thatrnI am proposing.rnThe first result would be instructions to the police to enjoin,rndetain, or even arrest people committing unsocial or illegal acts.rnIt would also be necessary to assure the police that such actionsrnon their part would no longer be condemned by the press, norrnJANUARY 1995/23rnrnrn