Tragedy and farce.

Another special day in the D yesterday: A pissed-off young man enters a church looking for his estranged girlfriend, finds her mother and shoots her dead. During services.

Even in Detroit, this pretty much tops the Heinousness scale. It also resonated with something I read recently in the New York Times, linked here without the registration and so on; it’s about how more homicides today are sparked by petty disagreements. To wit:

Suspects tell police they killed someone who “disrespected” them or a family member, or someone who was “mean-mugging” them, which police loosely translate as giving a dirty look. And more weapons are on the streets, giving people a way to act on their anger.

Police Chief Nannette H. Hegerty of Milwaukee calls it “the rage thing.”

That sounds about right. While we await the chin-scratchings of local editorial writers and columnists, I was also struck by this comment, by Ron Scott on the DetNews blog:

What I found even more chilling was an interview with the young woman who had witnessed the assault. She made reference to the type of weapon used by the assailant with stark specificity. She called it a “gauge,�? short for a 12-gauge shotgun. How would she know this? Why would she know this? The familiarity with this kind of nomenclature reflects one who has been nurtured in a warlike environment.


OK, let’s move on to juvenile deliquency of a somewhat less-lethal nature (although if I were this kid’s parent, it would come close): At the DIA on Friday, a mischievous 12-year-old boy visiting the museum with a school group took a piece of barely chewed Wrigley’s Extra Polar Ice out of his mouth and stuck it on Helen Frankenthaler’s 1963 abstract painting “The Bay,” damaging one of the most important modern paintings in the museum’s collection and a landmark picture in the artist’s output.

But lo, the museum did not overreact:

Though museum officials were upset, they didn’t yell at the student or discipline him. At first, Hart tried to explain to him the museum’s role in preserving cultural and visual history. “I knew that probably wouldn’t make any sense to him, so I asked him what kind of music he liked,” said Hart. “He said he liked rap, so I said, ‘Well, you know what rock ‘n’ roll is,’ and he did, so I said, ‘Can you imagine if somebody had messed up the beat in rock and roll so you didn’t have any rhythm in rap.’ And he looked at me, and he got it immediately.”

This kid must be smarter than I am, because that example made no sense to me at all. I think I would have gone for the “See my boot? Imagine how you’re going to feel in about six seconds when I plant it two feet up your fundament, kiddo” explanation. The museum says he’s been duly punished. Ohhh-kay.

Posted at 7:48 am in Same ol' same ol' |

17 responses to “Tragedy and farce.”

  1. basset said on February 28, 2006 at 11:00 am

    this brings up the “third city” comment that we saw on here back before Christmas… the idea of a culture, all too prevalent, in which that kind of behavior is normal, disrespectin’ is a mortal offense, and the Detroit city government is totally appropriate.

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  2. brian stouder said on February 28, 2006 at 11:52 am

    This goes back to Nance’s lawyer/author who writes about codes of honor and eye-for-an-eye justice; an ancient impulse.

    I read that as a youth, Nathan Bedford Forrest killed a man in a dispute wherein the victim’s cow was grazing in Forrest’s pasture.

    A Union general (Nelson) was murdered by another Union general (Davis) during the war in some sort of ‘honor’ dispute, and the consequences for the shooter was that he didn’t get any more promotions.

    Before the war Dan Sickles murdered the son of Francis Scott Key in broad daylight, in front of witnesses and in sight of the White House, for “disprespecting” him (the guy was having an affair with Sickles’ wife; while Dan had one affair after the next, including an extended one with a prostitute that he brought with him to meet the Queen of England)

    by way of saying, this horrible violent impulse – in response to trivial “slights” is certainly not new

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  3. Danny said on February 28, 2006 at 12:34 pm

    Johnny Cash once killed a man just to see him die.

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  4. Dwight The Troubled Teen said on February 28, 2006 at 3:57 pm

    You can’t spank your own kids any more, Nancy.

    Misguided do-gooders will come and remove your children from you.

    You may or may not know this, but there are “guidelines” (not laws) decided by your state’s child welfare authority that dictate what an acceptable spanking is… and they are much more parental – restrictive than you can imagine. My state has a 4 swat limit per day. The fifth swat is child abuse.

    That’s not a joke.

    Use of a boot? Good gracious. Even THREATING to use a belt or paddle constitutes child abuse in my state.

    “Do you want a paddling?” Child abuse.

    That’s not a joke either. As Dorothy will tell you, I am serious as a heart attack.

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  5. Connie said on February 28, 2006 at 5:40 pm

    Yeah well in Indiana the school has the legal right to paddle your child. Good think no one ever tried it with mine.

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  6. Jim from Fla said on February 28, 2006 at 5:57 pm

    Send your lawless kids to Florida. We have boot camps where a probation violation earns you a trip to the morgue. Child abuse is defined differently down here.

    This isn’t a joke either.

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  7. mary said on February 28, 2006 at 6:05 pm

    Maybe the kid’s parents should be the ones getting the boot. The museum can’t really do much to the kid, but maybe his mom and dad should shell out for cleaning and restoring the painting. It might give them some incentive to spend a little time on behavior counseling.
    I think people spend more time training their dogs these days, and more thought into how to do so, than they do teaching kids how to live in the world with other people. I see so many people with one sort of headphone or another, strolling around oblivious to their surroundings and fellow man.

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  8. Danny said on February 28, 2006 at 6:21 pm

    Mary, have you heard the radio spots for “Uncle Matty” the dog trainer? His commercials bug me. Especially when he adopts that high-pitched voice that one reserves for praising animals. What a dork.

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  9. mary said on February 28, 2006 at 6:42 pm

    Luckily, I’ve missed those. I will probably take at least one of my new dogs to obedience training next month and use what I learn there to train the other dog at home. I got two young, semi crazy dogs at about the same time late last summer, and while they are mostly ok, they have their moments. Likely I will go to the Humane Society for lessons, since they are pretty no nonsense.
    I don’t go all squeaky voiced with my dogs. I’ve found that praising them by speaking very quietly to them works well. They listen really carefully and pay close attention.
    Dog training is intended to make dogs good companions and acceptable among humans. Dogs never dis you. Cats dis you, but that’s another thing altogether.

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  10. alex said on February 28, 2006 at 8:07 pm

    I heard from a lab breeder once that the appropriate voice isn’t high or squeaky. He talks to his dogs low and growly, and I’ve never seen labs more obedient than his. This is a man who thinks nothing of taking ten of those dumb creatures for a walk at once. It’s hard enough to take one out on a leash without it winding itself around a signpost or tree, and obedience training never took hold of labs in my experience. I grew up with them. I’ve tried this growly noise on dogs and it does seem to work. He claims it’s the sound pups first encounter from their own mothers and it’s hardwired into their psyches.

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  11. Danny said on February 28, 2006 at 10:03 pm

    I once read a quote of Winston Churchill’s that went something like this:

    “Pigs are my favourite animal. Dogs look up to us and cats look down upon us. Pigs treat us as equals.”

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  12. mary said on March 1, 2006 at 1:00 am

    On a completely different topic:
    I just watched American Idol for the first time in weeks. Mandisa rules. Anyway, I read somewhere that Katherine McPhee has a stage mother and a half. I’m watching Katherine, and thinking she looks an awful lot like someone I went to college with named Peisha Burch. Now Peisha’s name is Peisha McPhee. I googled, and indeed, that’s her mother. Peisha had a wonderful voice in college, and I ran into her in the Nordstrom’s cafe twelve years ago (I remember, because she was all svelte and gorgeous and I was very pregnant with son 2)and she told me she was a vocal coach and performer. There was a time when people mistook us for each other quite often. Neither of my kids sing though. Neither will ever be picked on by Simon Cowell. I’m ok with that.

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  13. brian stouder said on March 1, 2006 at 9:58 am

    Mary – you GO!

    You and Dorothy in the morning are the next best things to Madame Telling Tales herself!

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  14. Jewels said on March 1, 2006 at 3:23 pm

    I have a 12 year old who has been taught to respect others and other people’s property. She’s never stuck her gum to anything other than a piece of paper for disposal (her hair once, but that is another story). First off this kid needs to be taught restraint and discipline. Obviously none has been taught to this brat. Suspension is not enough. I would not even attempt to explain the boot and it’s placement, I would just do it then explain why it’s there. Oh lordy, let’s hope mom and dad learn their lesson as well and have junior scrape the bubble gum from under the desks at school. Parents wake up, it only takes a few moments each day to mold your children to respect.

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  15. Dorothy said on March 1, 2006 at 5:09 pm

    Brian I don’t even know what that means, but I’m smiling real big@!

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  16. Ricardo said on March 2, 2006 at 9:57 pm

    Dick Cheney got drunk and shot his hunting partner in the face, then waited until he sobered up the next day to even talk to authorities. When children see our leaders get away with bad behavior and lying, of course they think they should be able to get away with it too.

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  17. Hoosier said on March 8, 2006 at 2:33 pm

    Sounds like similar horror stories of field trips in Indianapolis. We have miscreants that don’t know how to behave. And it is getting hard to exclude kids from field trips. The result of visionless rules will result in either no field trips for everyone or , the teachers setting up potential miscreants to establish a paper trail to exclude them. I swear I have not done so much filing and paperwork since I was an accounting clerk!

    As to the violence, much happens as a result of culture, lack of a male influence, and weapons. Take away guns, and unfortunately machets will take over these days. And unfortunately in many of our neighborhoods, negative male influence outweighs positive male influence.

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