Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The bad seed...


The young man who stomped and beat a young girl to death when he was twelve has now been arrested for armed robbery while out on parole for this evil crime.

This raises the usual debate about what to do with juveniles. Conservatives say lock them up. Liberals say set them free after a few years of detention. Is it nature or nurture? Perhaps a little of both?

After about ten years in the classroom I have come to view efforts to reform kids who are violent and dangerous differently. Everybody wants to believe in second chances. Everyone wants to believe there are things we can fix. But from personal experience, I can only say that most of kids understand quite well what they are doing, and make conscious choices. Perhaps there is something to be said for Arendt's thesis after all. There is a certain ordinariness of evil that I used to see on a daily basis. There were always a few kids who would laugh at a particularly bloody moment during a movie, and that would disturb me deeply. What happens to people in the urban environment that this evil laughter can be looked upon as honorable?

The point of view I can only take is that of a victim, and I don't believe most of these kids should be given a second chance any more than most of these felons should be. The rates of recidivisim are high enough to call into question how safe we are on the streets.

That brutal murderer should have never been let out again. The pizza guy is lucky he is alive.


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