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A Garden Variety Tragedy

When I was in my early teen years, a new family moved two doors away. They had a daughter a few years younger than myself. Her name was Shirley, and she was challenged with Down Syndrome. Like most all victims of that terrible disease, she was invariably happy and friendly. My parents always insisted that I treat her normally. In fact, my father insisted I protect her from anybody who would mistreat her, which I seldom had to do but never hesitated.

Last week, I followed the case of another mentally-challenged person being killed in a NY subway by a former Marine.

Certainly, a mentally-challenged person sucks the oxygen out of most any room, which can be tedious. If I’m sitting in a subway-environment, I like to keep my oxygen to myself and ignore anybody else condemned to riding the subway. Just ignore me, and I’ll ignore you. I don’t need or want any more friends, thank you.

Apparently, the mentally-challenged person in the NY subway crossed some line, and passengers decided to take back their oxygen and/or privacy. So, some former Marine put the mentally-challenged person into a “chokehold” to subdue him but unfortunately killed him.

I’m confident the ex-Marine didn’t want to kill him. If he had, he would have used a “rear-take-down” which breaks their neck, not a “chokehold” which merely incapacitates a person . . . for awhile. Of course, if the Marine was a mere beginner using “close-order combat” for the first time, he may have forgotten the necessity of allowing the mentally-challenged person to catch a breath occasionally before dying. (Think: George Floyd)

Are there limits of how nice and accommodating we must be toward the handicapped? Of course, but who decides and when? And, how decides how much responsibility/guilt a veteran must carry for how long?

My opinion is that the Marine’s training was inadequate. I salute him for rising to protect his fellow passengers but condemn him for excessive protection. His heart was in the right place but not his mind.

Some observers want to condemn “leadership” for the tragedy, e.g., train-driver, subway manager, subway executive, transportation department manager, and maybe even city manager.

In addition to some “leadership failure”, there is also some educational failure by the Marine instructors, who failed to teach him responsibility for his ability to kill. The same could be said for the religious leaders in his life. And, what about his parents? Maybe, it is just too complicated for mere human lawyers?

As I’ve said before — the only truly profound thing I’ve ever read was on a bumper-sticker that said . . . “Crap Happens” or something like that . . .