Still Pissed Off About the Hawley-Smoot Tariff

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Sometimes People Get What They Deserve

On the front page of the newspaper today, there is a story about a kid who was murdered last November 23d. Given that I live in New Orleans, you might legitimately wonder why this made the front page. And given that it's a black kid, you might wonder why it's on the front page. And given that he's 19 but never graduated from High School, and that he grew up in probably the most dangerous part of the city, and that the story suggests his father wasn't a part of his life (there's no indication of whether he even knew his father), and that it also implies he had something of a criminal record ... well, even the most cynical among us, on the facts I've given, might wonder why that's on the front page. Sure, a murder is a bad thing, but when it's so common, it's easy to get desensitized, right?

I'm writing this post mainly because of desensitization. But unless you live in New Orleans, you probably have no idea what I mean by that yet.

Toree Donsaldson was "mentally challenged" (the story gives no other information), and failed his LEAP test last year, but he was taking remedial classes with high hopes of passing it this year. He wasa shy and soft-spoken. The criminal record I mentioned? "This gentleman had virtually no criminal record," according to Lt. Bruce Adams. "He was not involved in narcotics. He's not what they call a 'street player.' He was just walking down the street minding his own business."

Walking down the street at first, perhaps, then running. Two men decided to hunt him down and kill him, for no other reason, it would seem, than sport. It was 11:00 a.m. The terrified boy ran for nearly five city blocks, screaming for help, pounding on doors, in the middle of the day. The .223-caliber assault rifle they used to riddle his body with bullets, according to Adams, causes a booming sound that echoes for blocks.

But no one helped him. And after they shot him, "ammunition from his attackers' high-powered assault rifle repeatedly ripp[ing] through his head and body," no one identified the attackers to the police.

Perhaps you wondered at some point why I titled this post "Sometimes People Get What They Deserve." Toree Donaldson didn't get what he deserved last November, although I'm sure he's getting what he deserves now (and it's a lot better than anything he could have hoped for here in this lifetime). But the people in the Ninth Ward, it seems, those who left their doors closed, and who now refuse to help police - how can they now complain about their crime rate? If you won't protect those among you who need it most, what will you say when the killers come after you next? How is your neighborhood anything less than what you deserve?