Friday, January 17, 2014

In this tragic story, neither the school nor an angry student felt an obligation to respect the rights of others

This school didn't single-handedly turn a kid toward violence. But it sure didn't help that the school ignored basic fairness when it punished a boy severely while ignoring the fact that another student had earlier victimized him in exactly the same way.

An innocent boy, Christopher Lane, is now dead.

The school played politics. My guess is that Christopher Lane isn't the last victim of a system (and I'm not just talking about the school) that ignores fairness. It will surely take many years before the final victim in this story is taken down. It turns out, you can't protect the golden boys and girls when you allow the kids on the wrong side of town to grow up impoverished, deprived of opportunities, neglected and/or abused.

Darkness in August
Vanity Fair
By Buzz Bissinger
February 2014

...If there was anything keeping [James] Edwards in high school in the fall of 2012, his freshman year, it was wrestling. This was the only sustained time he did his homework and kept his grades up so he could stay eligible. He wrestled at 160 pounds on the varsity as a freshman, and had the twin gifts of quickness and strength.

But one day a classmate took a picture of him on the toilet and posted it for a while on Facebook before deleting it. Edwards sought revenge. He made a video of the classmate at a urinal and posted it on Facebook, too—a typical tit-for-tat prank.

The kid didn’t care, but his father did. He complained to school officials, and Edwards got suspended for cyberbullying. He returned after roughly a month but then was kicked out for the rest of the school year for doing something similar.

Edwards was never the same after that initial suspension. It curtailed his wrestling season, the only positive outlet he really had. He felt that a double standard was being applied. As he told an adult friend, “This white kid. He did the same thing I did. And he did it first. And I get kicked out of school.”...

Sarah Harper, the girlfriend of Christopher Lane, the Australian baseball player who was shot and killed while out for a jog in an Oklahoma neighborhood

'My heart just broke right there': Girlfriend remembers Okla. ballplayer killed in random shooting
By Randy McIlwain and Becky Bratu
NBC News
Aug. 21, 2013

The girlfriend of the Australian baseball player who was senselessly shot dead while jogging in Duncan, Okla., said he was a kind and charismatic 22-year-old who could light up a room and who loved to travel.

"He had done more things in his life than I ever thought I could even imagine doing. He's traveled so many places, he's seen so many things," Sarah Harper told NBC News. "He's already so worldly at 22 years old but yet he still had dreams to go and see everything and be everywhere and know everything."

The ballplayer, Christopher Lane, was a native of Australia and a catcher for an Oklahoma college baseball team. He was gunned down Friday in an apparently random shooting.

Harper, an American who attends Oklahoma Christian University in Edmond, said she remembered everything about the moment when police broke the news of his death to her...

...A woman who called 911 after the shooting told the dispatcher that Lane fell into a ditch, had blood on his back, turned blue and then stopped breathing.

The slaying has dominated news reports in Lane's home country, leading former Australian deputy Prime Minister Tim Fischer to call on Australian tourists to boycott the United States.

“It is another example of murder mayhem on Main Street,” Fischer told CNN on Tuesday night...


Steve Fair
Steve Fair on murder of Christopher Lane in Duncan
August 23, 2013

I am sure you have heard of the recent shooting (Friday) by some teenagers in my hometown - Duncan, OK - of a young Australian baseball player. This was reported as a 'random act of violence' and that there was no connection/reason/motive for the shooting other than the thugs 'were bored.' Already some folks from Australia and U.S. liberals are condemning our state and nation for allowing citizens to have guns to protect themselves. I want to point out three things:

First, this shooting is not representative our our community, county or state. The real problem wasn't the gun the young man used - it was the heart of the shooter. Sin and wickedness are in the heart before they are in the hand. Please pray that God will regenerate dead hearts in young people not only in Duncan, but across our nation. I fear we have danced around the real issue in America: the inherent wicked, depraved nature of man. The hope of America is the regenerating gospel of Jesus Christ...period.

Second, my wife taught two of the young men charged with this heinous crime. She says both were discipline problems in elementary school. She wasn't surprised to learn both were involved in this shooting. She said the parents were uninvolved in their kid's life. This points out another problem in America.

We have children raising themselves and parents justifying their kids' every action.

[Maura Larkins' comment: this last bit about parents justifying their kids' every action would seem to apply to the parent who demanded that James Edwards be suspended, while his own son was not suspended for initiating cyberbullying.]

When you teach rebellion, you reap rebellion. The fruits of that rebellion are anarchy (no government) and antinomia (no law).

Third, we ask for your prayers. God is sovereign and He is in control. I don't understand why He allowed this tragedy in our area, but I do know it has a purpose. I am thankful for our District Attorney Jason Hicks and our Sheriff Wayne McKinney. Both are godly men, both Republicans, who are unafraid to stand on principle. Pray for them as they work through this case...

Steve Fair
National Committeeman - Oklahoma

But perhaps Mr. Fair is not being totally honest when he claims that "this shooting is not representative our our community, county or state."

The Vanity Fair article notes:

...The people of Duncan could act with beautiful hearts, as they did last May, sending multiple volunteer crews when the Oklahoma town of Moore, 75 miles to the north, was decimated by a tornado. But there was an undertow in the community and surrounding county, a simmering violence that did not explode very frequently but was horrific when it did. More often than not, it involved the young.

In the early-morning hours of June 10 in Duncan, 16-year-old Michael Ray, disconsolate that his 14-year-old girlfriend, Alyssa Wiles, had dumped him, broke through the back door of her home and stabbed her to death with the knife he was carrying, according to the police, who said he also stationed a 14-year-old friend outside to alert him if her parents or anyone else came to the house. (Ray has pleaded not guilty.)

Five months before that, in January of 2013, a home invasion had taken place in nearby Comanche. According to police, two men shot Mark Roebuck twice, bound his wife, robbed the safe, and then shot Roebuck again on the way out. Roebuck survived; two suspects were later arrested and are awaiting trial.

In June 2012, in neighboring Velma, a 16-year-old girl, Braylee Henry, had gone into the Tee Pee Totem convenience store to get a soda. She encountered Miles Bench, a 21-year-old man who worked there. Bench, apparently infatuated with Henry, allegedly beat her to death with a blunt instrument, dumped her body, and then was arrested driving her car. (Bench has pleaded not guilty.)

People in Duncan and surrounding towns were shocked by the brutality of such crimes. They responded with admirable largesse for the families of the victims. But the crimes were passed off as aberrational blips. On the morning of August 16, nobody thought violent crime was trending up...

See also:

Severe and unequal school discipline preceded the killing of innocent bystander Christopher Lane

Why the Wealthy Favor Harsh Punishment — for Criminals and Errant Schoolchildren (discusses "class essentialism")

Basketball players suspended from game for hand signals popularized by Boehner, Dekker: why are school administrators so dumb?

Higher social class predicts increased unethical behavior

Maura Larkins comment: I don't want innocent children like Christopher Lane to die because other innocent children are "raising themselves." Wouldn't it be better for society to help kids who have a parent in prison or on drugs, to prevent those children from becoming violent, than to merely "stand on principle" after horrible crimes are committed? Mr. Fair points out that this crime could have been prevented. But if waiting until a crime has been committed and then meting out punishment were a successful tactic, we'd have the most crime-free nation in the world.

Clearly, suspending students and imprisoning their parents hasn't solved our problems. Is it perhaps time to try something new? Perhaps Mr. Fair could do something more concrete than merely exhort his fellow friends to "pray that God will regenerate dead hearts in young people."

Amazing! Here's what happened when poor people were given a stipend. The frequency of behavioral problems declined by 40 percent, nearly reaching the risk of children who had never been poor. Can we save middle class kids by saving poor kids?

James Edwards

Vanity Fair notes that James Edwards wrote this private message to a woman who was a surrogate mother:

I’m fighting a mental battle of success and failing. And I’m running out of options. I have little help! … And I’m at the point where I have no choice but go out and hustle. I’m going to look for a job 2marroo But that won’t do much cus I’m 15.

Jackson wrote back, warning him that he was flirting with prison, that the “hustling” life was “no place for you!”

Edwards’s reply:

Yes mam correct. And I am wrong for it I know.… And I gotta get in where I fit in. Take me in if you don’t want me like this. You feed me. You help me get shoes. Oblivious I’m looking for help. #this is the part where everyone says the can’t. And say love u bye.… Next year ill still be a crip and years after that until grave! Wat choice do I got.

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