WHAT DO MAYORS DO? Well, they chair municipal meetings, open public libraries, and pay citizens to hack off each other's heads.
That's true anyway of Rodrigo Duterte, who is shortly expected to become mayor of Davao City in the Philippines. To cut crime, he has just offered US$120,000 anyone who brings him the head of alleged car thief Ryan Yu.
"Bring it to me ON ICE, so it doesn't smell bad," Duterte told reporters. (Hacked up body parts he can cope with, but just don't ask him to put up with a yucky smell).
Filipino author Miguel Syjuco wondered how this could be an anti- crime technique.
But a Filipina I know revealed herself to be a big fan of Duertes. So I asked her: "Isn't murder a bit on the naughty side?"
She referred me to a statement by the city's police chief, who said that if Yu "resists arrest," his death could be legally justified.
Right. Got it. In that case, I'm tempted to go for the reward myself, defending myself with the line: "He attacked me by repeatedly throwing his neck on my ax, your honor."
The police chief suggested people work alongside officers: "Otherwise, we will have so many Ryan Yus or people who look like him dead."
That would be bad.
LinkedIn shows at least 35 people called Ryan Yu. I imagine most have gone into hiding.
Remember, my ax-wielding friends: CHECK before you CHOP.
THE SAME DAY, I was sent a US crime report by reader Balbir Singh of Hong Kong. A man tried to rob a laundry. But crime is so rare in the town of Auburn, Maine, that cashier Linda Wilson thought he was joking.
"Give me all your money," said the armed bandit. "I only have a dollar-fifty," Wilson joked, and went back to talking to a customer.
The man interrupted again and eventually managed to persuade her that he was a real live robber. He escaped with the contents of the cash register -- less than US$20.
So in one society, criminals are so rare that people don't believe in them, while in another, hacking off heads is something the good guys do.
I miss absolute values.
THE PEOPLE’S Daily, a newspaper in China, just ran a sneering report saying that The New York Times is a really bad newspaper. This is the same People's Daily that has missed every big story in its own country, from SARS to corruption cases, protests to earthquakes.
SEVERAL HUNDRED people in the United States used Twitter to make arrangements to meet friends to loot shops during Hurricane Sandy last week. Many made highly incriminating posts under their own names, using accounts featuring pictures of themselves.
Do detectives even have to leave their desks these days?
YOUR HUMBLE NARRATOR is writing this at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok. I only have a few minutes, so this will be a short post!
I am at a function called Reaching The World and the sched is at www.apwriters.org Come and say hello if you are in town.