Sociology and The Perception Of Deviance

Suppose someone tells you that your car had just been stolen. The natural human reaction is shock, and a need to see it for themselves. So, in response, you go running outside to see if your car is still there, and it is. The person that told you of your car being stolen is now hysterically laughing while you have a very perplexed look on your face. At this moment, you realize that you have been lied to and tricked. It is not a big deal, it was a gag, and so you simply laugh along with your friend to show your good humor and to avoid embarrassment. Lying is a form of deviance. It is called perjury. But you don’t bring your friend to trail. He did not commit a deviant act. Yet someone that lies to the police or in court, and it is found that they have lied; they can be prosecuted for that crime. Not only is lying a form of deviance according to the U.S. Constitution, but it is also one of the 10 Commandments. So how is it that so many people these days knowing speak falsehoods to people and not be punished for it? The answer lies in discretion.

Deviant behavior is formed by the construction of norms in a society. Therefore, if there are laws against someone lying, or killing, there should be no area of leniency in the deviance in these areas where laws have been made to protect the society against such people. Laws are created to punish, treat, seclude, and reprimand the deviant people in a society to ensure peace and security. Society depends on discretion for the constant balance between good and evil. If everything that is defined as deviant was deviant, if it was a black and white matter, courts would be more out of control than they are now, jails would be packed worse than today, and the number of people labeled as deviants in one way or another would virtually include everyone. Since having such a tight government would probably lead to a war, discretion was built in to weed out the crimes from the faux pas. This is why I can say “I ate a whole 50lbs turkey at thanksgiving by myself!” and not be arrested for it. It is what we call in society, a “white lie”. Therefore, the relativist view on deviant behavior is basically stating that discretion is a necessity, and must be used whenever possible to determine the deviants from the real deviants.

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