Saturday, February 16, 2013

What a Tragic Waste of Life

These stories always sound like something out of the dark ages to me. Are we really so barbaric as to condone this?

Fox News reports, with a more complete article at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, that a 15 year old was killed in commission of a burglary by the homeowner. His 17 year old accomplice will be charged with murder because his accomplice was killed in commission of a burglary (what!?!?!).

The tragedy is that death and a murder charge are wildly disproportionate to a property crime. I was acquainted with several people that committed minor property crimes while I was a teenager. While I unsurprisingly fell out of touch with all these folks after high school, tools like Facebook have allowed me to assuage my curiosity about what happened later on. While none of these folks are going to be winning the Nobel Peace Prize, almost all of them have gone on to hold steady jobs and some have families. These two kids have both been robbed of this chance.

The real problem here is that I have never heard of a situation where a firearm actually seemed like the appropriate use of force. In these situations pepper spray, a taser, and a baseball bat or extendable night stick would have provided a more than sufficient deterrent. All a firearm adds is tragedy.

Probably linked to this, a second problem is a tendency in American culture to brand people permanently based on their actions. Instead of two dumb kids who would have otherwise gone on to hold (crappy) jobs and have families we tend to frame these individuals as criminals (there's probably a race element here as well, which I'll just note rather than go into more detail on). There's something sick about a culture that does this.

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