“I read the news today, Oh Boy”: Murder, Swindling, and Cheating
Another school shooting. . . The trial of a young woman who murdered her
two children. . . Political kickbacks. . . Intrigue in the workplace. . . Elderly people abused or manipulated. . .The moral corruption continues throughout the news media and in our personal lives.
Some people shudder when I use the term “moral.” Please understand that I am not some prude. No, I realize that moral values often vary with a person’s background, religious upbringing, or cultural perspective; however, most sane people probably can come to some agreement regarding ethical conduct that encompasses shared values. If we agree, let me ask this question: When did we all become so damned crazy? If you don’t agree, tune me out, but I think many of us will agree that we live in a world that has derailed or that turns limply on its axis. Today’s news was full of crazy, often sick people. The New Orleans Advocate ran a front-page story on a young woman who murdered her children so they wouldn’t grow up as she did—struggling in the grip of poverty. The newspaper depicted a jury entranced by the confession she provided a New Orleans police detective, hanging on the gory details of the case. What will happen to that young woman, so clearly disturbed? We can all judge her. Surely we would never kill our children and described the murder in such coherent but irrational lunacy to a NOPD cop. The woman must be a freak or cold-blooded murderer, or—MAYBE, just maybe she was a person without hope, living in a roach-infested home in Gert Town with two children she could barely feed. Remember Sethe in Beloved? She’d rather her kids die then live in slavery. Maybe the poverty to which this young woman was consigned was akin to the kind of slavery facing Sethe, the escaped slave.
Then, yet another school shooting dominated the later headlines of the day. A disturbed young man opened fire in a school cafeteria, killing one young girl before turning the gun on himself. Sweet Jesus, I remember Columbine and Newtown. The faces of Newtown’s children and Columbine’s teens--of hero teachers that look like kids themselves--still haunt me. When did we get so crazy that we had to take a gun to people who disappointed us or hurt us? My mother used to tell me of strict nuns who put the boxing gloves on the boys who had conflicts and told them to settle it before coming back to class. Hell, I respect those old nuns. Fight out your problems according to the laws of boxing, settle it, and return acting like gentlemen. Even in my days at school, students fought like dogs, but we didn’t use guns. In fact, in a few hours, we soon reconciled. When did our society so fail children that they now feel the only way to resolve a dispute is with murder? Did we give them so much that they can’t stand failure? Did we take away their work ethic so that the minute they no longer had what they wanted, they reacted not only like brats but also like killing thugs?
Of course, not all types of moral corruption end in murder—at least not directly. In Louisiana, one politician is currently under scrutiny because he allegedly was too rough in the sack with his soon-to-be-ex-wife. Still, others say the whips and chains were consensual and the wife only wants a big payday. Who’s lying? Who knows? Frankly, who cares? This whole sordid story is an example of mini-murder—of people so consumed with themselves that truth, privacy, or compassion have fallen victim to greed and lust.
But are these tales of murder and mayhem any different from the stories we hear of people who manipulate or defraud others through intimidation or fear? Are they ultimately different from the murderers or rapists when these cheaters use or intimidate lonely, elderly people into submission, reaping the monetary rewards of their dishonesty? Are the murderers and rapists motivated by a different mentality than those employers who abuse their employees? Are they different from opportunistic, younger employees who hope to oust older people from their jobs, starving them in the process? Yes, I know these crimes are different in degree. Some can be classified as minor and some as capital, but my point is that the motivation is the same. Too many people are motivated by selfishness and the desire to remove anything or anyone they see as inconsequential, mere bugs on their way to success or comfort. Too many are willing to brainwash or manipulate others into their way of thinking, even if it means people suffer.
I read the news today, oh boy. . .