Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A Local Murder

My husband has this on his Thinks Happen page today:

 Click on image for bigger version
It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words. Perhaps that is true. But often a picture still doesn’t tell the entire story. Sure, here is a small memorial, growing along a main street in a residential area. You’ve seen these before. Someone died here.

He was a visiting Australian athlete, out for his afternoon run. The story so far is that he was shot by three teen age boys who “wanted to see someone die.”

Does this hit you where you live? It is less than a minute from my home.

The site of the shooting is literally just around the corner from where we live. It's a very quiet neighbourhood, right on the edge of a quiet Oklahoma town. The young man murdered was a visiting baseball player from Australia.

NBC report HERE

Report from an Australian newspaper Herald Sun HERE.

What compels young men to act out their apparent disaffection in such violent and pointless ways? According to a piece in the Huffington Post back in April at the time of the Boston Marathon tragedy: as of 2006 in the US boys accounted for 83 percent of arrests for violent crimes. By the age of 17, over a quarter of boys report having carried a handgun. In 2010, there were an estimated 756,000 gang members throughout the country.

Curmudgeonly thoughts lead me along the lines that a mandatory draft into public service of some kind is needed, to try to plant some sense into young heads. Other thoughts remind me that young men from the USA and UK, not far from the age of these youths were fighting and being killed in World War 2, in the hope that their sacrifice would bring about a better world - and this is within my lifetime. What on earth has befallen us?

We seem to be well down a slippery slope towards something I don't even want to contemplate.


♥ Sonny ♥ said...

Life seems to get scarier by the day.. I'm far more concerned about the local folks than I am the Russians:)

we had a murder here in may just 2 miles away. boyfriend got mad and shot thru the windshield of his girlfriends car when she came home from work..
we've spawned a generation of entitled, spoiled, violet kids, not fit for society.
thats what we get for going along with the " Mother would rather you didnt do that dear".. Beat kids- NO.. Disipline in a meaningful way YES.. Parents have lost their believability by threatening and then not acting. They took all control from the teachers and school system and in order to keep their job, they have to let the kids run rampant...

anyjazz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
anyjazz said...

The Australian Deputy Prime Minister has called for a boycott of America. Can't say as I blame him.

Twilight said...

Sonny ~ Yes. Russians have never scared me, to be honest.

I agree with you, lack of discipline is a big part of what's wrong. That with a background of the US climate of easy gun ownership, cheek by jowl with violent video games and movies which must serve to de-sensitise in time - in not very long a time too I'd say.

Twilight said...

anyjazz ~ Yes, the former Deputy PM advises Australians not to come here on vacation. Wise advice. A boycott of US goods (not likely to happen) but it might force a few in the corporate world to wake up and press the govt. for re-think on gun control and overview of violent games etc. at least.

mike said...

Christopher Lane's life used as an element of entertainment is beyond comprehension. It's a sign of our times that it takes someone of importance to make the news when they lose their life to senseless murder. It becomes uber real, when it occurs in our neighborhood or someone we know personally.

Peculiar that human life can be less valued than the cost of the newspaper that will carry the headline tomorrow. Many of these murderers grew-up in situations of utter anguish, pain, and powerlessness, devoid of love. It's no wonder they are willing to kill for the thrill to increase their perception of self-worth and empowerment.

It's easier to isolate those individuals in our minds as perverse, but it's much more difficult to consider what factors in our society create such perversions.

“It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.” Voltaire

mike (again) said...

Maybe it was the Aquarius full moon last night, but my response seems pollyanna-ish now.

I think that all humans are crazy to some extent...just a matter of how much and when. The statistical bell-shaped curve for sanity still puts many individuals on the outer standard deviations. Add factors such as genetics, socio-economic status, street drugs, age, peer pressure, and maybe astrology of the negative kind...a benevolent person can change. More and more Americans are on psychotropic medications that can have unusual mental effects during medication, and particularly when the meds are not taken frequently or stopped altogether.

I have a neighbor that is bipolar. I used to think that these individuals simply experienced excessively exaggerated highs and lows. No, they are also delusional and paranoid. My neighbor has terrorized his surrounding neighbors with his behavior and the police have been called many times. Some day, he will probably go too far.

Some of our ancestors exhibited aberrant mental behavior...hence, "ship of fools". So, it's nothing peculiar to the modern human. I do think that the modern human has an increased potential for mental illness and psychotic behavior, due to the dissipating natural world, possibly the modernized diet, environmental pollutants, etc.

Conformity was an essential part of our ancestors' lifestyle. Probably those that didn't conform met an early demise or took a voyage.

R J Adams said...

Saw the news. Turned to my wife. Said," That's close to Twilight's place." Australia has strict gun control. I hope the Aussies react strongly against America. It's time this country grew up.

Twilight said...

mike ~ Thanks for both your comments.
I am at a loss to grasp the reason, the motives, if there were motives behind this tragic event. I've been reading strings of comments under today's rash of articles about the murder.

When we first heard of the shooting and saw the memorial just around the corner from our home, we were unaware whether the three teenagers were white, black or mixed. It wasn't immediately reported. I did say, straight away "Oh gosh, I hope they weren't black". They were. At least two of them, the third of mixed race - his white mother was shown on TV I think.

Some commentary I've seen this morning blames the rap culture and gangsta rap in particular.
Apparently the boys' Facebook pages indicate they are keen on this culture, especially the one called Edwards.

Try this link and the comments :


A mix of so many things must have fed into what happened. The things you mentioned, the things Sonny mentioned, and the things I mentioned among them. Added to all of that it seems there's this rap culture thing too.

I hate to read the racist comments flooding the net about the event, they were inevitable though, especially coming so soon after the arguments about the Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman case.

We saw the new movie "The Butler"
on Monday evening too....sigh.

Twilight said...

RJ Adams ~ Yep - this time it was right on our doorstep (so to speak).

Yes, it's way past time for taking stock and growing up - way past!

Yet, RJ - in the absence of a gun these teens in this kind of mindset would probably have found other ways to cause harm - a home made bomb, a fire. The gun enabled them this time, and the tragic event, through accidentally involving Australia might bring about some small change on the gun front.
We can hope.

mike (again) said...

I can understand why some people believe that rap music (thug music) promotes this behavior, but I can't buy into the concept. Heavy metal music (Marilyn Manson et al) has been blamed for decades, too. Along with violent video games, TV, and movies. I can turn-on my TV and catch several mainstream shows every night depicting horror, mayhem, and bloody murder. How is that different than rap music?

Violent, murderous, gory plots abound in books that go back way too many years. Some of those books became movie scripts from the 1920s onward. I don't recall comments from my parents stating that reading murder-genre books were responsible for gory crime in their day.

Someone that is likely to kill probably will not be promoted by seeing, hearing, or reading about it. There would be many more murders, if so.

Wiki has interesting data regarding racial aspects of murder:

"In the US, murder is the leading cause of death for African American males aged 15 to 34. Between 1976 and 2008, African Americans were victims of 329,825 homicides. In 2006, Federal Bureau of Investigation's Supplementary Homicide Report indicated that nearly half of the 14,990 murder victims were Black (7421). In the year 2007 non-negligent homicides, there were 3,221 black victims and 3,587 white victims. While 2,905 of the black victims were killed by a black offender, 2,918 of the white victims were killed by white offenders. There were 566 white victims of black offenders and 245 black victims of white offenders. The "white" category in the Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) includes non-black Hispanics."


Twilight said...

mike ~ I have no personal experience of video games or "gangsta" rap, so can only comment from hearsay - and a wee bit of logic.

I understand your points that violence has always been present in films and books, and on TV, yet these were not blamed for murders and other atrocities in the past.

While agreeing with that I also would point out that video games are very, very different from reading a book or watching a film in the cinema or on TV.

A video game actively engages the player(s), gives them control - a control which was never present in book or film. It's a much more closely engaging activity, and if engaged in regularly involving games of violence, human against human, simply has to end up de-sensitising the player.

The rap and gangsta matter I'm not sure about, but gangs and fitting in and wanting to appear "gangsta" seems, for some young men, a need to belong, to prove themselves in some twisted way.

The racial, black/white statistics are interesting.

Each murder is different, each circumstance and motive is different. In this current case
the motive isn't yet clear. The victim was white. Was that something which determined the murderers' choice? Would they have shot a black jogger who happened to be passing by? We don't know. Were they or any of them under the influence of drugs, prescription or otherwise? We don't know that. Did any of them have mental problems - we don't know that.

We must not forget that white perpetrators (all young men) have been the authors of numerous atrocities in the USA - several fairly recently.

I see this as age-related rather than race related, and that's what brings me to link behaviour to today's culture of violence with video games and the potential for de-senstising users as one important ingredient.

LB said...

Kids who grow up emotionally and/or physically abused (and without meaningful outside influences) face huge challenges and *may* choose to perpetuate the cycle of violence in one form or another. Initially at least, we tend to adapt the values and behaviors of those in our immediate environment; if we don't experience regular and consistent examples of what respect, responsibility, kindness and compassion look like, it becomes far more challenging, although not impossible, to develop those qualities on our own.

And never underestimate the powerful negative influence *neglect* -whether it be physical, emotional, educational or moral- can have on our kids. Even subtle forms can play a big role in a fragile developing (young) mind - kids without clear guidance are more likely to take their cues from their surrounding social environment and to embrace whatever values they find there as a way to provide meaning to their lives.

In my previous life, I spent 20 years working as a manager for a non-profit that served kids with special emotional/educational needs. Many of our students were periodically incarcerated (in and out) and some eventually ended up committing violent crimes that landed them in prison. Having grown up during the turbulent 60's and 70's amongst neighbors who sometimes embraced violence as a means to achieve power, I witnessed young people so desensitized, they would laugh at things you or I would find difficult or impossible to watch. It's a problems that's gotten worse, not better.

Fighting, bullying, intimidating, humiliating, and other more extreme forms of violence can all become twisted forms of entertainment, a way for young people to prove themselves while also impressing their peers. You can learn a lot about what young people value by paying attention to what they watch and listen to as well as their online postings or tweets - posting fights online isn't all that unusual these days. Maybe for some, it's a way to embrace what was once painful by making themselves invulnerable to suffering. It's not an excuse, just an observation.

As a society, we're frequently in denial about the extent and nature of the problem, and the roles we play in ignoring and glorifying violence. We make too many excuses without really understanding or offering alternative ways to deal with situations, and in the process send wrong messages to our young people. To some extent, I believe our naivety is part of the problem. We let so many potentially valuable teaching opportunities slip by. We *all* have choices.

Twilight said...

LB ~ Thank you for those valuable insights from personal experience and observation.

We don't know yet exactly what kind of background these three youths come from, whether they were subject to any kind of neglect direct or indirect. It seems likely that education could be one glaring example. But then, even with teachers who are doing their best (within limiting financial circumstances), if kids don't want to absorb teachings, they will block them out.

In general, I agree with all you've written. We'll have to wait for more details to emerge on these three youths.

LB said...

As very young children, our most influential teachers are our parents or primary caregivers. Along the way, others will have an impact too, either reinforcing or contradicting those original, sometimes unspoken, messages.

It's natural for older children to begin to look for support and approval from within their peer-group, which is why it's so important for kids to have healthy, loving adult role-models who make a point of staying informed and actively interested/involved in all aspects of their lives - without ignoring or avoiding unpleasant realities.

I agree Twilight, there are no guarantees the lessons we teach (or the limits we set) will be accepted or valued.

Twilight said...

LB ~ True! There are always going to be a few "bad apples" in every crop, as in apples so in young people - the rot easily spreads to those next to the infection.

Maybe it's just because news and methods of communication are so much easier and quicker now than they've ever been in the past that it seems we have more and more bad apples, and the rot is more putrid. I hope that's the only reason.