City of Cleveland: 12-year-old Tamir Rice caused his own death by failing to ‘avoid injury’
This is all a story of how times have changed in our shiny new, modern world. This boy is alleged to be responsible for his own death at the hands of police because he was playing guns in the park.
I say, "playing guns," as though everybody knows what that even is anymore. In the 1950's, all boys played guns, extensively and enthusiastically, sometimes with real guns that our dads had brought home from the then recent war. More likely with more or less realistic cap guns. We ran around the neighborhoods, or the park, and we played variations on war, cops and robbers, cowboys and Indians, different scenarios, but all included us running around with pretty realistic looking guns and "shooting" each other. To my knowledge, none of us were even so much as scolded for such behavior, much less shot by police, or shot by neighbors "standing their ground." So many of our parents or uncles had been so recently off somewhere actually shooting people with real guns, or more likely facilitating the shooting of real people, that it all seemed very normal. No one ever called the police to report an armed gang roaming the area. It was normal for us boys too, somehow. I'm not here to judge it now.
This game of "guns" may have died out by now, but it's not that long ago. In the 1980's in Los Angeles, the most popular game on my block was "Hide and Go Seek Guns." My own sons played, with lots and lots of other boys. I chose that block because there were already a vast hoard of boys the same age as my boys on the block before we arrived. They played with realistic guns, and some of the boys wore camo fatigues too. It was, perhaps, a bit odd by then, but still more or less normal. Boys play guns, it's a fact! Get over it! If you try to prevent a boy toddler from playing any kind of gun games he'll pick up a piece of spaghetti and it will magically become a gun . . . and he'll shoot someone with it. It's a boy thing. A few of the boys on the block later played a lot of paint-ball; most of the boys gave up all aspects of the activity with no prompting from parental units whatsoever.
But now, in our glorious, exceptional! post 9/11 world, in our "let's make everything illegal and let the District Attorneys work it out" world, in our "let's be so afraid of a vast laundry list things that we can hardly function" world, in our Brave New World of takers and makers, it has somehow become a Capitol Crime to be a boy, to be interested in Boy Things. Now, the simple act of "playing guns" can easily lead to a boy "causing [his] own death" by "failing to avoid injury." ESPECIALLY IF THE BOY IN QUESTION IS BLACK.
So yeah, our shiny, new modern world. How safe do you feel? How safe are your children? Where do your kids hit the Bag Test? These are important questions. This kid in Cleveland, doesn't he look like a sweet boy? As they say in the newspaper business: who, what, where, why and how.
We need to ask ourselves who is at risk of what right now, and why, and we need to know ASAP, and how! The only thing that we know is where, and that's EVERYWHERE.