Snapshot of a Sick Society
We protect the evil living and dismiss the innocent dead.
Quite often a brief news story sums up the collective pathologies of postmodern American society. Here is a recent tragic news item from my local paper, followed by some commentary:
Police call slaying of Hanford woman a random act
Posted at 06:04 p.m. on Thursday, July 28, 2011
By Paula Lloyd / The Fresno Bee
A woman found slain at a Hanford car wash this week was killed randomly when a 17-year-old gang member happened to see her while taking a walk, Hanford police said Thursday.
Denise McVay was washing her car — something she did several times a week — early Tuesday morning before work.
The teen was wandering the streets after leaving a party when he saw McVay at the Royal Car Wash on Garner Avenue at about 5 a.m. and decided to kill her, police said.
The teen “simply wanted to kill somebody that night” and McVay, 49, was “in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Capt. Parker Sever said. “It was a purely random act.”
The teen stabbed McVay several times and slit her throat.
The teen took McVay’s money and her car, Sever said, and drove to the home of a fellow gang member, Mauricio Ortiz, 18, of Hanford. Sever said the teen was covered with blood and told Ortiz what he had done.
Ortiz helped him ditch the car at Tachi Palace Casino and went with him to Visalia Mall, where the teen used McVay’s money to buy clean clothes, Sever said.
The teen, whose name was not released because of his age, was booked into the Kings County Juvenile Center on suspicion of murder. Ortiz was booked into the Kings County Jail on suspicion of being an accessory after the fact.
In our present society, an able-bodied young man of 17 has leisure to walk about at 5 a.m. after a night of partying, while a hard-working woman squeezes in such an early morning moment to wash her car in order to appear presentable at work.
Note, furthermore, that our society has no compunction about letting the world know the identity of Ms. Denise McVay, who was horribly murdered and left dead on the pavement of a car wash. But it is worried that we might learn the name of the “17-year-old gang member,” also known as an anonymous “teen.” Yet why are we, as a society, more sensitive to disclosing the identity of a gang-member and suspected killer than of a slain productive worker?
In the transition from a shame culture to a guilt culture, America has become a confused society that values the sensitivities of the felonious living far more than respect for the law-abiding dead...
I have no doubt that in the next two years a good deal of society’s capital will be invested in this unidentified youth and his named accomplice. Preliminary hearings, state-paid public defenders, an array of psychiatrists, and periodic proclamations from the defense team about particular childhood traumas suffered by the killer — all to be followed by years of legal counsel, further psychological examinations and treatment, and of course, if there is a conviction, nearly $40,000 a year in incarceration expenses — as our fast-paced society races onward and upward, without much thought of one productive citizen, Denise McVay, washing her car in the early morning on her way to work. None of us are exempt from such terrible arithmetic, and we now must live with the realization that tomorrow morning any one of us could be written off as either unlucky or unwise in our demise, while the rights of our killer would be obsessed over.
You see, it is characteristic of a morally bankrupt society to be absorbed with the evil living without much remembrance of the more noble dead. The former gang member and his family by all means must not be embarrassed; the dead woman is reduced to being “in the wrong place at the wrong time.”Enough said.
I'm not going to invoke the Christianity/atheism debate here except for this point: civilized society is based on personal and cultural morality, and cannot be maintained effectively merely by law. Strict laws and locking up criminals can help-- witness the dramatic reduction in crime rates in the 90's when we took a stronger law-and-order approach compared with the idiot liberal 'rehabilitation' approach to violent crime of the 60's and 70's.
But a free society can only be a safe civilized society if there is a bedrock of moral values at the most basic level-- the individual and the family-- that transcends statutory law. There is little doubt that this teen killer had minimal formative instruction and examples of basic morality from his family, or his school, or anywhere. How much do you wanna bet that he grew up without a father in a family in which no one worked and support came from government checks?
The rate of family disintegration in our society is catastrophic, and accounts for a very large fraction of our crime and misery. The fading of a widespread conviction that morality is objective, rather than a matter of personal opinion, adds greatly to the breakdown. Christians have been fighting these plagues for a long time, because they know that integrity of the family and respect for objective morality is the cornerstone of civilization.
We are losing our sense of sin. If anything, nowadays our only sin seems to be... to believe in the reality of sin. It's almost diabolical.