Sometimes the news is so overwhelming that it’s difficult to digest it all.
Just this past week we had innocent people allegedly killed by poison gas and the mayor of San Diego resigning because he liked to grope women.
Then there was news of the sublime. A poll taken of Louisiana Republicans supposedly found that nearly a third blame President Barack Obama for the slow response after 2005 Hurricane Katrina. Obama became president in 2008. How could they forget then-President George W. Bush praise for then FEMA Chief Michael Brown with, “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job.” Well, we all (wait, maybe just some of us) know how this turned out.
But there was a national story this week that broke my heart this week for its senselessness.
The story came out of Duncan, Okla., where three boys, 15, 16 and 17 years old, are accused of shooting and killing a 22-year-old college baseball player who was jogging, when he was shot in the back.
As horrible as that is, here’s where it gets as my grandmother used to say “worse than terrible.” According to Duncan police, one of the boys allegedly said they were “bored” and went out looking for someone to kill.
So they mounted up in car, found a victim and killed him.
This is a tragedy of enormous magnitude. How could these youngsters be so mean and callous at such young ages?
The boys arrested are black, and the victim is white. Race may or may not have played a role in this. But race does matter to me in this instance because this kind of stuff happens all too often in my community.
I want the Jesse Jacksons and Al Sharptons of the world to swoop into Duncan, Okla., and hold a national town hall meeting with parents, children, teachers, ministers, social workers to discuss this. I want national TV personalities. I want Anderson Cooper there.
I want Trayvon Martin-style enthusiasm and outrage from my community about this.
Hmm, I wonder what the victim was wearing? Maybe I could wear jogging shoes and place a photo of them on my Facebook site to express my anger.
Early Friday I called my friend, Juvenile Court Judge Kathleen Richey, to ask about changes she has seen in the young people in her court over the 23 years she has been on the bench. Maybe she could explain how this stuff happens.
Talk about timing. She said my call came shortly after a mother and her three children in court had all tested positive for marijuana use. “It’s amazing,” she said.
The lack of parental involvement is an increasing problem, she said. “There are instances when parents feel bothered that they have to come to court with the children … it is an imposition,” she said.
Richey said she has not seen a lot of egregious violence such as happened in Oklahoma. Who has? Oh, yeah, there was the recent case of Michael “Marlo Mike” Louding, who was sentenced for essentially being a teenage hitman.
The longtime judge said, “Young people are getting numb to violence … It’s as if they expect to have violence in their lives … I have seen a more cavalier attitude about violence ... They are not shocked by violence. ”
But the horrific incident in Oklahoma should inspire a debate around the country on what is happening to our children and what we can do reduce the chances of this happening again. Of course, you can never stop everything.
If the Oklahoma killing doesn’t get our attention, doesn’t mobilize us, then we are as numb as those boys.
Edward Pratt is a former Advocate editor. He is assistant to the chancellor for media relations at Southern University. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @epratt1972.