Monday, April 27, 2009

We were bored

So far, I've pretty much only talked about the good things about Milwaukee. I haven't mentioned any of the bizarre violence, the infant abandonments and deaths; that doesn't mean that I don't think about that stuff. I see it more closely than you probably realize.

One news tidbit that really caught me was the recent beating of a can collector by some teenage thugs in the central part of our city. It really bothers me for several reasons. The man, 76-year-old J.T. Downs, was just trying to make an honest living, and performing an essential service, especially since we've abandoned recycling in that part of the city. Mr. Downs was minding his own business two weeks ago, quietly picking up other people's party supplies when he was attacked by five youths who cited "boredom and peer pressure" as legitimate reasons to beat up an elderly man.

I think the larger reason this bothered me so badly was that the kid said they did it because they were bored. Did you do stuff like that when you were 13 years old, or 18 for that matter, and bored? I didn't. I read books. I had all kinds of nerdy hobbies. I spent a lot of time with my grandmother, in fact, who was much older than Mr. Downs at that time.

Suspect Leroy Bentley III also stated that he didn't want his peers to think he was "soft" - then cried when he heard that the man had lost his eye as a result of the beating, which made me feel a bit sympathetic at first- but he probably just realized that it would add to his own punishment.

One eye doesn't seem like that big of a deal- after all, Mr. Downs does still have the other one- but think about it: that means he has no peripheral vision on that side. He may miss half the cans, or spend twice the time to collect the same amount. His work will be that much more difficult.


Anonymous said...

Leroy Bentley III should get the crap kicked out of him and then have one of his eyes removed. Maybe then he would think about what he did and not repeat it in the future, which I'm pretty sure he will anyway.

The River Otter said...

An eye for an eye, so to speak. I don't know. I think there has to be a better way. Some kind of eye-opening public service, some kind of toilsome exhausting constructive public works project.

Erik Helm said...

Punishment is too late.
What we have here is a jungle mentality. Things in our slums and inner cities have decayed so badly that societal ethics and values that are often taken for granted have disappeared. Parts of Detroit have reverted to subsistence agriculture, as urban infrastructure decays, and residents plant crops in missing flagstones in order to survive in a world that is not ascending in evolutionary terms, but instead is descending. Sad. The whole thing is so complicated and vast that it boggles the mind. Cultural values have got to play a part of the solution.

To me, the worst crime of all is being bored.

The River Otter said...

"To me, the worst crime of all is being bored" = "A mind is a terrible thing to waste."