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"nearly 20" kids beat man to brain death with bats, shovels and boards
September 30, 2002 10:33 PM   Subscribe

"nearly 20" kids beat man to brain death with bats, shovels and boards Brutal stuff. One of the kids in custody is only 10 years old. The victim had "confronted them for throwing an egg at him and punched one teen in the mouth". They went and organized a mob, and returned, according to the Milwaukee Police. What do you do with a 10 year old murderer, anyway?
posted by BarneyFifesBullet (42 comments total)

 
That is, if the 10 year old did anything and is found guilty of it.

That should cover me.
posted by BarneyFifesBullet at 10:36 PM on September 30, 2002


Convict him?
posted by cortex at 10:43 PM on September 30, 2002


Or, perhaps more importantly, how do we prevent it from happening again?
posted by Eekacat at 10:58 PM on September 30, 2002


What do you do with a 10 year old murderer, anyway?

Give him the "electric stroller".
posted by RavinDave at 11:28 PM on September 30, 2002


What do you do with a 10 year old murderer, anyway?

Well, if it happened in Texas....
posted by mathowie at 11:48 PM on September 30, 2002


What do you do with a 10 year old murderer, anyway?

It's a good question. Most people would agree that you can't execute a 10-year-old. Rehabilitation would be the ideal answer, but there are two major flaws -
it doesn't satisfy the natural desire for vengeance, or at least punishment; and nobody really knows how to turn a murderer into a valuable member of society anyway.

Imprisonment doesn't seem to help either ... it just turns out hardened criminals.
posted by nomis at 12:14 AM on October 1, 2002


I agree with Eekacat... we need to focus on prevention.

Too many folks in our country are hell bent on killing folks... gangs AND the justice system. (IMHO)
posted by FilmMaker at 1:22 AM on October 1, 2002


what do you do with a 10 year old murderer? erm, nothing.

Well, some counsoling with him and the parents, but children are children. They don't always have their moral compas glued on right.

We don't put kids on trial for a reason people...
posted by delmoi at 1:29 AM on October 1, 2002


This story reveals so much that is wrong with some parts of US society that I hardly know where to begin. Part of me just wants to cry.

I hesitate to appear as if I were blaming the victim, for I am not, but why did he feel the need to chase down and punch a boy who threw an egg at him? What sort of anger must he have harbored within him?

And then I must ask about the boys. Gangs of boys who wander the streets armed with bats and shovels? Boys angry enough and undisciplined enough to beat a man nearly to death? What sort of emptiness has entered their lives to make them feel that violence is their only source of power? I cannot possibly fathom it.

And what of the neighborhood? Why did no one help?

As for punishment? Sadly, the US is the only Western nation, and one of only a handful of nations worldwide, to allow the execution of children under the age of eighteen. Should the victim die, no doubt people will be screaming for the heads of those boys. What those boys did was monstrous in the extreme, but surely mob mentality played some part in the beating? Surely, one should hope, rehabilitation can play a part in the sentencing? Surely we can cure them? Or are boys willing to take the life of a man already beyond redemption? Can bloodlust be cured? I simply do not know, but I am certain prison time will only harden their criminal instincts and further alienate these boys from society. It would be remiss of us were we not to at least try to save them. And watch them carefully ever afterward...
posted by Steve Hight at 1:39 AM on October 1, 2002


What do you do with a 10 year old murderer, anyway?
the same as u would to any other murderer
posted by monkeyJuice at 1:46 AM on October 1, 2002


lock him up somewhere safe.
posted by Spoon at 2:11 AM on October 1, 2002


I'm almost afraid to suggest this, but at the very least, give the kid a vasectomy.
posted by Beholder at 3:23 AM on October 1, 2002


Some more background from European cases.
posted by i_cola at 4:39 AM on October 1, 2002


re: James Bulger (Spoon's link)

Dang, I remember his case on TV.
posted by firestorm at 4:58 AM on October 1, 2002


What do you do with a 10 year old murderer, anyway?

Why, post about him to MonsterFilter, of course.
posted by adampsyche at 5:38 AM on October 1, 2002


As for punishment? Sadly, the US is the only Western nation, and one of only a handful of nations worldwide, to allow the execution of children under the age of eighteen. Should the victim die, no doubt people will be screaming for the heads of those boys.

They can scream all they want -- Wisconsin doesn't have capital punishment.

This is one of those things where there isn't any US to speak of, just 51 loosely united governments.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:09 AM on October 1, 2002


better one for you folks. what to do with a 5 year old murderer.
had a friend who was harassed by a rabble of teens. a few incidents occurred, scuffles. a neighbor video taped one event. The schools did little, the police, hands tied until the next incident.

when someone threatens a driveby, better take it seriously.
He put the heat on the school. (video evidence of possible hate crime)

so we guarded the house for two nights. (looked like dick cheneys bathhouse.)
the cops came on day two, exasperated, my friend says
"How can i defend myself IN my own home."

Cops: "If they rush your porch and enter the door....shoot them."
posted by clavdivs at 6:40 AM on October 1, 2002


And what of the neighborhood? Why did no one help?

No one helped because they were afraid. They were afraid to talk about it to the police and press the next day as well (according to the article). 20 kids in a frenzy with bats and shovels...who would get close to that, anyway? The only thing anyone could do was call 911.
posted by Oriole Adams at 6:40 AM on October 1, 2002


An armed society is a polite ... ah, screw it.
posted by moonbiter at 7:17 AM on October 1, 2002


Ack! It says the victim tried to seek refuge in an apartment, where it seems (going by the article) people were home (at very least, people knew what was going on, because they described it), and nobody did anything. That's almost more disturbing than the crime itself, if people were in a position to stop this and didn't.
posted by biscotti at 7:29 AM on October 1, 2002


And what of the neighborhood? Why did no one help?

I'm guessing you've never been to inner city Milwaukee. I don't want to suggest that it's the worst city in the U.S., but it can get pretty nasty. It's consistently cited as one of the most segregated cities in the U.S.

In the summer, the place builds pressure as folks without air conditioning roam the streets, angry at the heat and looking for some way to vent their anger. I've spent a lot of time there, and you can feel tension building. And I don't even live there.

I have friends who have been attacked for no reason - not a robbery, just an assault - male friends that have been raped, others who have had their dogs killed. Some parts of the city are great. The bad parts, though, are pretty rough. The neighbors don't do anything because they can see the same thing happening to them.
posted by rocketman at 7:35 AM on October 1, 2002


i agree with rocketman. I was staying with my sister in 'inner-city' milwaukee this weekend. I could feel the tension pretty strongly. I can understand why a person would not open their doors when there's a band of 20 murderous kids outside on your porch with bats and shovels. It's sad, but i understand. The only thing you can really do is call 911.
posted by jnthnjng at 8:35 AM on October 1, 2002


Simply thin the herd. 3 weeks, 3-bag limit per. Hunting hours from 10PM to 6AM, Inner city only. Weighing station at city hall, any corpses bearing weapons paid a bounty of 10 bucks; more than a deal considering the future cost of trials and free attorneys. Corpses may be brought in over the fender or tagged for removal where they fall by city sanitation trucks in the morning.

Hunters are encouraged to yell, "They're comin' right at us!" as a prerequisite for firing.

There are a number of advantages to this.

1) The burden of single mothers trying to unsuccessfully raise children while maintaining an active work and social life is eased.

2) The city morgue is air-conditioned, so each registered kill would be removed from the miseries of heat that cause them to commit antisocial violent acts.

3) The herd has been thinned, and those members of a pack surviving the hunting season have been witness to urban renewal methods of the 21st century, and are given a second chance to reconsider the wisdom of pack life.

Under a five-year plan of selective culling of the herd, we can hope to make inner-city Milwaukee a place where the residents can leave their locked and barred houses - even at night!

Vote for me, City council, district 13
posted by Perigee at 9:24 AM on October 1, 2002


Kind of reminds me of that case a few weeks ago when the two guys in the rental truck that crashed into a crowd of kids were beaten to death.

The "my god we can't punish children" thread mystifies me. Granted, children's moral compasses may not be glued on at age 10 - but to say that a 10-year-old doesn't know that killing people is a major no-no seems ludicrous to me.

We can't treat crimes committed by children as mere unfortunate occurrences - particularly when the victim is dead. Where murder is involved, there must be an accounting. An ounce of prevention, yes, but there must also be a pound of flesh when prevention fails - as, in some cases, it inevitably will.
posted by kgasmart at 9:26 AM on October 1, 2002


Milwaukee... a Great Place on a Great Lake ;-)

Just wait 'til the stadium collapses again while they repair that squeaky roof. You heard my prediction here first.
posted by rman666 at 9:34 AM on October 1, 2002


Well, some counsoling with him and the parents, but children are children. They don't always have their moral compas glued on right.

Any ten year old who hasn't learned that beating another human being with shovels and bats until that person is unconcious and 99and44/100ths per cent dead is not acceptable is a ten year old who deserves, at the very least, to spend every waking moment left to him in prison, ideally joined by the parents who are responsible for those little monsters' actions whether they want to be or not.

I am truly saddened to think that in this day and media age any reasoning adult would try to fall back on some kind of "It's morning in America"-1950s-Norman-Rockwell misconception about what kids know and when they know it. Ten year olds in inner city Milwaukee probably have seen and know more about life and death than most of us learn in a lifetime. These kids knew what they were doing and we have a right - and indeed an obligation - to ensure that they never have the opportunity to do it again.
posted by JollyWanker at 10:25 AM on October 1, 2002


How about they send them all to Tranquility Bay?

As for the problem - I think it's a lot like the gang problem of 1970's-80's New York City (Manhattan - you still have the South Bronx today), or LA.

It seems as though the Milwaukee gangs aren't as well organized (yet). Massive police attention and local citizen empowerment (read: police-sanctioned organization of local people willing to get into a brawl with little kids) would be a good idea.

Two things:
1. As a parent, I don't think that in this situation, you're going to have a good case for blaming the parent (versus the blame that can be levied on disaffected upper class children who use their parent's money and 'Dr. Spock' childrearing to motivate and fund their killing)

2. One of my kids is 4 years old. He is smart enough to know what is right and wrong.. maybe not appreciate consequence fully yet, but well enough that extrapolating out to a ten year old - that ten year old is quite aware of all the moral issues and consequences with killing someone.

As for what to do with these misfits - send them to the adult prison. For life.
posted by rich at 10:50 AM on October 1, 2002


a lot like the gang problem of 1970's-80's New York City

The first thing I thought of, actually, was Harlan Ellison's classic Memos from Purgatory. Which is an account of his joining a juvy street gang in 1954. Scary stuff.
posted by rocketman at 2:25 PM on October 1, 2002


I like Perigee's "modest proposal" above.

I actually have some very strong opinions on this but I'll save them for a thread I get to sooner, this one has waned.
posted by Ynoxas at 8:12 PM on October 1, 2002


... ideally joined by the parents who are responsible for those little monsters' actions whether they want to be or not.

Exactly - the parents are, in my opinion, more responsible than a 10 year old child, as the child is not yet old enough to develop his/her own set of values. Give the counselling to the child and throw the parents in prison, I say. A few examples like that and you may see parents actually parenting for a change.

It still blows my mind that people stand by and let this happen though - if you live in that neighbourhood, you have some responsibility to maintain the community standards and prevent the sort of environment where this happens.
posted by dg at 9:18 PM on October 1, 2002


The parents need to be charged with murder and the kids put into a foster home that can teach them a decent set of morals. A counsellor for the obviously mentally abused children should help get them on the right track.

If a 10 year old doesn't know that murder is abhorrent, and that drawing blood from someone in a fight is extreme, the parents have failed miserably in their duties, both to the children and to society, and they deserve to pay for their criminal negligence.

25 years in jail each should not only bring them to their senses, but should also put them out of reach of having more children that they can abuse. Everyone wins.
posted by shepd at 10:54 PM on October 1, 2002


For anyone who thinks this kind of thing is new, read a Mike Royko collection, Nelson Algern or Huber Selby Jr.'s Last Exit to Brooklyn...

I do appreciate the comments of people who don't live in Milwaukee, who pass through, who seem to think this city is some sort of powder keg.

If you have lived here long enough, you'll realize that many of the neighborhoods here have vastly approved in recent years, that the city has addressed some of the root problems of decay, only to be beaten down by the suburban residents who vote for candidates who promise to cut taxes more.

The same taxes that would go towards funding pools, park maintance, rec programs, etc. The things that give people outlets on hot days, or reasons to live outside of violent cliques.

Someday I drea of running for office just to say, the other candidates think you are all idiots, they think you're more concerned with what's in it for you than what would be best for the world.

Someday...
posted by drezdn at 12:25 AM on October 2, 2002


There is a common underlying tone to most of the posts on this thread, of shocked and almost incomprehending outrage. "Where is their moral compass?" "What animals!" (subhumans, that is) "They don't know right from wrong!"


I won't offer an easy solution, but the many "fry their asses" or "lock them up and throw away the key" or even "hunt them down and shoot them like the animals they are" solutions offered in this thread make me sad, for they betray a complete incomprehension of the levels at which we are all somehow complicit creating, or allowing to occur, the conditions which lead to such brutality. I've had a shotgun leveled point blank at my head, in the inner city, by a gang of teens and I'm lucky that the swarming hundreds of alley rats - which people would use for target practice in the alley where my little garage was - weren't given a chance to gnaw on my splattered brains.

But I know where that sort of behavior, and worse, comes from.

The pathology of America's inner city has many roots. Racism is the oft-cited cliche, but I would give more credit to structural factors which sucked money, jobs, and affluent members out of American cities - especially the drastic decline in good industrial jobs starting in the 1960's, and the rise of suburbia itself.

And then there are the darker causes - the 1980's explosion of crack culture (See Gary Webb's "Dark Alliance" website for the story - which the US CIA (on it's website) partially admits to - of how the CIA, or elements within the CIA, orchestrated the introduction of crack cocaine into America's inner cities.), and the grotesque disparities in criminal sentencing and drug penalties which allow affluent suburban cocaine users light (if any) sentences but give years of hard prison time to the crack users of the inner city.

The kids who participated in the Milwaukee beating - all such inner city kids - know that they don't have a rats ass chance in hell of participating in the affluent world they see on TV or from rare glimpses of the affluent suburbs they know they will never live in.

Why should they care? They know they don't have a chance. They don't have a chance because of the constant violence and mayhem around them, because their parents are on crack or dead, because their homes are filled with a rolling party of strangers, drugs and sex, because their schools are violent and underfunded, because the cops look at them - correctly so - as the next generations of criminals, because American society at large views them as animals.

A friend of mine who teaches in Baltimore city cannot give his students anything even marginally valuable, even simple educational materials they lack because -- the kids tell him -- anything of value will get stolen at home. They ask to leave their stuff at school. Think about it........anything valuable they own will get stolen -- at home. And their parents wouldn't steal it, for most don't have "parents". One parent if they are lucky (and maybe that one is on crack), or a grandmother trying to somehow keep things together.

Many of these kids (from inner city Baltimore) had never been out of the city. They had never actually experienced, firsthand, "forests" or "rivers" or "mountains" or animals other than rats.

My wife tells me that the inner city kids from Boston actually have parents (plural) who go to parent-teacher meetings. Not so in Baltimore, where the inner city pathology is far worse. And I suspect that Milwaukee may be worse than Baltimore. One step down comes Rio, where there are several million abandoned kids sleeping in alleys, eking out a bitter life on the streets through petty crime, and huffing gas or paint when nothing else is available - just to blot out the misery of existance. Shopowners in Rio have taken to hiring hit men to kill these children or even (this is true) massacre them in large number with automatic weapons as they sleep. You can see the plight of Rio's abandoned kids chronicled in the documentary "Pixote". It's worth a viewing.

Do you think you are somehow genetically superior to kids who grow up amidst such chaos and squalor? If not, you must acknowledge that, in their place, you would behavior in a similar lawless fashion. Do you think that your sense that killing is wrong is innate, imparted from the ether, from some medieval "humour" or "phlogistan" which exists only in the suburbs? No. Our sense of morality is both created by and inextricably bound up in our investment and participation in the social order. We grew up, most of us, in relative social order. We took it for granted. We felt safe. Inner City Milwaukee? Life there is cheap. One step down is Mogadishu, ruled by heavily armed warlords.

On the Harlan Ellison link posted above on this thread, I read this eloquent testimony, from K.C. Locke of San Fransisco - who came from the inner city street violence culture and, as a teenager, went into a decade and a half in the prison system:

"We build our children. We build them as much as we build our government and our institutions for the maintenance of order in our society. They are not perpetual motion machines, not self-cleaning ovens; they require care and maintenance and attention. They arrive among us as unfinished products — physically complete, yes, but there's more to them than that. The body is the easy part — the minds and hearts and spirits continue to grow, and they require food and light and exercise as much as the vessels that house them.

I have never met a juvenile delinquent who has read TREASURE ISLAND or SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES. I have never met a child who thought he or she might dare to dream of better things that possessed that coldness behind their eyes.

We might call it "attention," or "quality time," or "a chance," but that seemingly elusive term we're looking for is "soul." And I have yet to meet a soulless child who would not create unspeakable mayhem to get one."

These "soulless" children will, one day, show us all the mercy which we, in our time, showed them. Amen.
posted by troutfishing at 7:35 AM on October 2, 2002


good post troutfishing, but not to split hairs... Pixote was not a documentary. It was a social commentary and brutal in it's showing street life (which is more than likely true) but still just a drama.
posted by oninochuck at 8:44 AM on October 2, 2002


Ok, fair enough. Thanks for the compliment. I relied too much on my sorry memory. The director of Pixote (whose name I can't remember!) has also, I recall, followed up with a sequel (which I also *can't remember*). The story of Rio shopkeepers paying to have Rio kids machine gunned isn't a fiction though.
posted by troutfishing at 10:07 AM on October 2, 2002


Follow-up: Charlie Young Jr. died Tuesday night as a result of the injuries he sustained.
posted by aine42 at 4:35 PM on October 2, 2002


Why should they care? They know they don't have a chance.

That's just outright bovine scatology.

If you are aware enough of your situation to assess that you "don't have a chance" you are aware enough to do something to change your destiny. People have risen out of poverty and misery since the dawn of damned time, because they've made the choice not to let their lack of money, or decent parenting or the pressure of their more shiftless peers dictate their lives.

I've got lists and lists of names if you'd like them, kids who grew up in situations as depraved and pathetic as inner-city Milwaukee, who pushed through, got a high school diploma, got jobs, avoided the trap of teen pregnancy, are working their ways through junior college or are saving up for university. From an outsider's perspective, their lives were as miserable and hopeless as that of the killers of Charlie Young.

The difference is that they made the stand not to succumb to what was around them. When they had the choice between picking up baseball bats or picking up books, they chose the latter. They used their brains. That's the choice that everyone - regardless of their circumstance - has, which this mob decided was just too much work. Or, as my mother is fond of saying, too much like right.
posted by Dreama at 7:00 PM on October 2, 2002


Only in my state... I swear. Keep in mind we were also the home of Jeffrey Dahmer.

Wisconsin.. land of beer, cheese, and very strange people.
posted by Logboy at 7:09 PM on October 2, 2002


Okay. Sorry for the late entry but I didn't see this until today.

First a little background: I was born in Milwaukee and lived in the "inner city" for the first twenty years of my life. I've been going to an out-of-state college for the past few years, but the bulk of my relatives remain there. I went back to visit for a couple weeks no more than two months ago. I don't think think it's unfair to say that I probably know more about that particular part of the city than anyone else who has posted here.

So after reading both the article and the thread, I have to ask: where the hell are you people getting the wild generalizations you're posting here? You did read the article, right? Uh, rocketman, jnthnjng-- care to back your statements up with any sort of proof? Cause I've wandered through all parts of the city at all sorts of times over the years without my spidey-senses picking up on any 'tension,' without being sodomized or having my dog killed, without being threatened with those things or even hearing of anyone being threatened with those things. Ever. I dunno, maybe I've just been hanging around the wrong people?

It's a deplorably brutal and horrible crime, to be sure, but I don't understand how so many people in this thread have come to accept it as the neighborhood norm and not the deviation. Really, did I read a different version of the story?

"'Incidents of mob violence are "tragic, unexplainable events' and extremely rare, said Stan Stojkovic, associate dean of criminal justice at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee."

Stupid unsupervised kids out past curfew throw eggs at a stranger. Said stranger then chased kids down, punching one fourteen-year-old hard enough to knock out a tooth. Stupid kids then retaliate by attacking the man with bricks, bats, and whatever blunt objects they could lay hands on. How exactly did we go from this abhorrent yet isolated incident to broad generalizations and "the Negroes must be destroyed" remarks? (I really must remember to chime in with calls for the culling of your family the next time there's a crime post from your neck of the woods, Perigee. It'll be hilarious, I'm sure.)

Gang warfare? Please. "[A]ll the evidence points to a conclusion that investigators have already reached - the beating was a random act and not orchestrated by a gang." Just stupid unorganized kids who should've had better supervision. Anyhow, as for punishment, like ROU said, Wisconsin is one of the twelve or so states that go without the death penalty, so that's quite beyond the question.

Not that I'm against any punishment for these kids; it's just that threads like these tend to spin into half-assed stereotypes so fast that I spend more time mentally correcting errors than actually considering the facts of the case. I really don't understand the whole "what kind of animals people would behave in such a way" vibe from some of the posts in here. I'm certainly not trying to justify those kids' actions, but anyone who's heard of the Kitty Genovese slaying and Stanley Milgram's obedience experiment should already know that idiots in groups frequently do senseless things with impunity-- "everybody else was doing it"--and that it is by no means isolated to whatever imaginary ghetto you've conjured up in your minds. I mean, the neighbors did call the police. What more could they have done?

In conclusion: an admittedly terrible and sad incident still gets distorted here. "MonsterFilter." Heh.
posted by tyro urge at 10:06 PM on October 2, 2002


Re: Tyro Urge: thanks for the great post, especially for refreshing my memory of the Milgram Experiment! In this thread, the eruption of nasty stereotypes and calls for savage, violent, draconian "solutions" to the misbehavior of inner city kids makes me wonder about the persistence of such timeworn whipping boys as inner city kids (or welfare mothers, or....I'm sure you can cite many more). You sum up the major distortion in this thread nicely: "anyone who's heard of the Kitty Genovese slaying and Stanley Milgram's obedience experiment should already know that idiots in groups frequently do senseless things with impunity-- "everybody else was doing it". I would add that this is true not merely of idiots but of most people, and that it is the exceptional few who stand up against group violence: also that this fact is most likely rooted in our instinctual inheritance from our primate forefathers and that the current American acquiescence to the Bush Administration push for war may be yet another expression of our instinctual inclination towards group violence.

Re: Dreama's post -- "That's bovine scatology....People have risen out of poverty and misery since the dawn of damned time, because they've made the choice not to let their lack of money, or decent parenting or the pressure of their more shiftless peers dictate their lives...I've got lists and lists of names if you'd like them, kids who grew up in situations as depraved and pathetic as inner-city Milwaukee"

That's an odd hobby, collecting such lists of names. You don't, perchance, work for a right wing think tank, do you?

Sure, "People have risen out of poverty and misery since the dawn of damned time." Are you asserting that the poverty and dysfunctional culture in the inner city plays no role in shaping the attitudes of children who grew up there? That lack of parenting (or parents) is insignificant, trivial? That the children of the inner city are unaffected by the very common view (as expressed in this thread, for example) that they are animals, animalistic, even somehow subhuman? Or that those inner city kids who are black are unaffected by the racial profiling which has led to the phrase "-----ing while black (complete phrase by adding your verb in the blank space)? You mention exceptions; the exceptions prove the rule. This seems to imply that the majority of inner city kids are just "no damn good". Is this what you mean to say?

If the attitudes evinced in this thread are even somewhat representative of America at large, why should inner city kids care about society? It seems to have very little regard for them.
posted by troutfishing at 10:02 AM on October 6, 2002


Way to put words in someone's mouth troutfishing.

Based on some of your declarations about the harshness of inner city life (and nobody disputes that it sucks), you would think nobody ever got out of the situation. Yet, people do. All the time. Certainly, society at large plays some role in the development of these kids - but I feel as little guilt for a 10 year old black kid who kills in the city, as for the two teenage white kids who killed innocents in the suburbia of Columbine.

Just cause your black, and even if you live a sucky lifestyle, doesn't excuse your need to run out and kill people.
posted by owillis at 1:59 PM on October 6, 2002


That's an odd hobby, collecting such lists of names. You don't, perchance, work for a right wing think tank, do you?

No, I work with inner city kids in a mentoring program which I also help to administer. I have been a part of this group for the better part of the last decade, and in that role, I have fought desperately to help "my kids" know that there is nothing that is unattainable to them because of the situation into which they were born. I, and the other mentors in the program do everything we can to let our kids know that whatever they set their minds upon acheiving can be acheived. I've seen dozens, quite literally, dozens of kids manage to rise up out of hell on earth to have something better than they knew that they could have. We haven't done it for them, we haven't even opened doors, all we've done is say "it's possible" and the kids have done the rest.

Are you asserting that the poverty and dysfunctional culture in the inner city plays no role in shaping the attitudes of children who grew up there? That lack of parenting (or parents) is insignificant, trivial? That the children of the inner city are unaffected by the very common view (as expressed in this thread, for example) that they are animals, animalistic, even somehow subhuman?

I am asserting that the poverty and dysfunctional culture in the inner city shapes attitudes in a variety of ways. While it may serve to deaden the spirit of some, it works in the exact opposite way for others. No one monolithic mindset arises from living and surviving in these circumstances, though you to seem to believe otherwise. That which breeds helplessness and hopelessness can also breed determination, fiery ambitious anger and unrelenting drive.

And yes, the children in the inner city are rather unaffected by that "common view" that they are lesser creatures because by and large they're not aware of it -- until, of course, some horribly malevolent idiot deigns to tells them all about it.

You mention exceptions; the exceptions prove the rule. This seems to imply that the majority of inner city kids are just "no damn good". Is this what you mean to say?

That's not what I meant to say, nor is it what I said. The examples I can provide aren't just exceptional with regard to their own communities but overall. They prove nothing other than the ability of humans to chart their own course and to strive to attain their goals regardless of their circumstance.

If the attitudes evinced in this thread are even somewhat representative of America at large, why should inner city kids care about society? It seems to have very little regard for them.

They should care about society because we all should care about society. They should care because they are not exempt from the obligations of humanity. They should care because in doing so, they can make things better for those who will come after them. They should care because that provides them a great opportunity to shove the lack of regard that some might have for them right back into their detractors' faces. What's the option, to just say "to hell with everything?" That may work for some, but it's not the common mindset, not by a long shot.
posted by Dreama at 3:52 AM on October 7, 2002


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