Many Jean Valjeans in Today’s Society

Today, I saw the 25th-anniversary production of Les Misérables, the musical done after Victor Hugo’s famous 1862 novel. The musical is well worth seeing, and the original work well worth reading. In fact, to see the musical at the Boston Opera House, it was even worth traveling to Massachusetts, which I normally try to avoid like plague.

Contrary to what most people think, there are many Jean Valjeans in today’s society, and paradoxically as many, if not more, in America than in most civilized countries. They are the people who have been convicted of victimless, state-manufactured crimes, and whose whole life is destroyed by their criminal records. The yellow passport they carry is much stickier than Jean Valjean’s, for it stored in government computers and accessible by an army of little Javerts.