Jameis Winston’s Crabs — When Is a Thief a Thief?

Well, in case you have been living under a rock (kind of funny cliche considering the subject matter), you probably heard about national championship-winning, Heisman Trophy-winning, Florida State University quarterback Jameis Winston’s latest run-in with the unexpectedly short arm of the law.  Winston apparently walked out of a local Publix Supermarket without paying for a little over $30 worth of crab legs.

winstonThe fallout was instantaneous.  And the battle lines appear to be coming into focus.  Is Jameis a thief?  A victim?  Another college student making a bad decision?

What makes it a little juicier is that Jameis famously was accused of rape last year.  The drama ran right up to the end of the season, leaving Florida State fans and Heisman voters alike wondering if Jameis would even be eligible to play by the end of the season.  In the end, he was not exonerated, but not charged (those are two different things, remember now).  Jameis went on to take the Heisman and lead a late march to take the Seminoles to a long-awaited national championship over the Auburn Tigers (who ironically had a similar debacle a few years earlier with one Cam Newton).

There are pretty much two camps on this.  One camp is that Jameis got away with another slap on the wrist.  He was not arrested.  He was cited.  At virtually any other location in America, shoplifting means handcuffs and a ride in a police car if caught.  Jameis was cited in his own home, and there is an excellent chance that he will perform a few hours of community service and have his record cleaned as if the incident never happened.

Is it a big deal to steal $30 worth of crab legs?  Well, it depends on who you ask.  For example, a black attorney appearing on a popular national radio show says it’s just thirty lousy bucks, what’s the big deal?  Some people say that Jameis just “forgot” to pay for the crab legs because he was bombarded by people asking for pictures and autographs.  And then the last camp:  a thief is a thief.

Would you care to take a stab at how the demographics work out on this?  It seems that African Americans are more likely to paint Jameis a college student that demonstrated bad judgment or someone who was incorrectly painted as a thief from the get-go.  White people are more likely to paint Jameis as a thug who already got away with one crime and now is cherry-picking others from the ever-so-gracious Tallahassee Police, now known as the biggest joke of a police force in the American law enforcement industry.

So, our question is simple.  What makes you a thief?  Stealing one thing.  Stealing a pack of gum?  $20,000 bucks?  $30 worth of crab legs?  A pen from the office?

When is a thief a thief?  Must he demonstrate a repeated propensity to take things that are not his?  Is it the third time?  Or is it the third time you take something more than $100?  Are you a thief the third time you steal that pen from the office?  How many cars do you have to steal to be a thief?  Is that automatic branding?  What about ears of corn?  What if you steal a roll of toilet paper out of the bathroom stall?  Are you a thief then?

We want to know your opinion.  When is a thief is a thief?
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