Just the other day Jason mentioned to me that despite how crazy the world seems, when looking at history and statistics, we live in some of the safest times ever recorded. Which gets me thinking that other than the weather reports, I am about to give up on watching the news altogether. I have respect for the news media and what they do (Okay- to a point, anyway.) But I am afraid that the constant barrage of news has people living in fear. I’m just now down with that.
And lately, the news just makes me angry, but nothing like this week! It’s funny how I can complacently be-bop along when something jars me out of my state of apathy. This week it was a news story here in OKC of a pharmacist, an older gentleman and war veteran who shot and killed a robbery suspect. Two teenage kids attempt to rob a local pharmacy – one is armed, one is not. As they enter the store, the one waves a gun while the other struggles to put on a ski mask. The pharmacist aims at the unarmed kid, shooting him in the head, knocking him unconscious – but still alive. The other runs out, chased by the pharmacist. At this point, he acted in self defense, totally within the law. Then things take an awful turn.
The pharmacist reenters the store, walks past the suspect lying on the floor and unlocks a drawer nearby. He retrieves another gun and proceeds to shoot the suspect 5 times at close range in the abdomen, killing him. This was all on tape – showed over and over on the news. The pharmacist has been arrested and charged with first degree murder, and it seems that many Oklahomans are outraged . . . that the pharmacist is in jail at all.
When I saw this story I was shocked, saddened – the kid was only 16, the pharmacist a victim of a crime. Just a mess. Then the news began to report the comments flowing into the station of how “wrong” it was that the pharmacist was being charged at all, that the kid “deserved what he got”, that the pharmacist was just defending himself – using his right to protect himself and his employees. That just went all over me in a bad, bad way. In fact, a pollon kfor.com shows that a majority think what he was completely justified.
My take: Yes, he had a right to defend himself and did so, the first time he shot him. But, how is anyone justified in taking someones life once you are no longer in imminent danger?
I was not there, and I don’t know what was going on in this man’s head and heart. Wahtever his reason(s) were for what he did, I am troubled by people’s attitudes towards the ordeal, and the overwhelming and total lack of compassion for the family of the child who died. I’ve heard it said several times that this situation will “teach punks a lesson” or make “them think a second time.” It should make us all think a second time . . . are we justified to punish someone however we see fit, to throw the judicial system out the window, to place such little value on human life?
While I hesitate to even mention that people’s attitudes towards the ordeal are tinged with racism, I think it’s true. He was a young black kid from a less than desirable neighborhood, and he tried to rob an older white man, a veteran. Would attitudes be different if the tables were turned? I wonder.