Finally, a voice of reason. Methink, the closet sympathizing with gangserts and rogue elements populating inner cities and the hatred of anything that smacks of public law enforcement agency is another variant of this romantic gun-toting, government-hating mythology.
As I previously argued in this thread, there are social causes of the high crime rates in the US society (as oppsed to other capitalist nations) - which I identified as land use that led to the destablization of communities. BUt having said that, we must also recgnize the fact that social or environmental factor are only half of the story, the other half is human agency.
Far from being Robin Hoods of romantic populism, criminals are usually a violent, manipulative and opportunistic lowlife that victimize their neighbors for purely personal gain, such as gaining respect of their cronies, sex, drugs or money. They are the worst scum because they exploit and terrorize not the rich and powerful but those who already got the short end of the stick under capitalism - and they do it by perosnal choice - for otherwise anyone facing similar social conditions would be a criminal.
Of course, the long-term solution is to eliminate the root causes that promote criminal behavior - that is, change land use patterns and promote stable and viable communities. But before those policies take an effect (it took a generation or two to get where we are now) - short term solution must be implemeneted to protect people from the rogue elements. I do not think that a zero tolerance policies - provided they are implemented with community cooperation and control and with the safeguards against police abuses - are not an irrational option to deal with that problem.