Saturday, December 29, 2018

The Punishment and the Crime

Two of the four students who defaced Glenelg High School with “swastikas and other racial epithets” have had their day in court. They will serve weekends in jail. Two more have yet to be sentenced.

I am not a lawyer. I am a teacher and a parent and an appalled community member and I have a lot of feelings and opinions about this. Is this what committing acts of religious and racial hatred amounts to in Howard County? Weekends in jail?

I suppose the logical question would be, “Well, how much is enough?” Again, I’m not a lawyer. As the kids say, don’t @ me.

I’ll tell you what would be enough. Take away the one thing that these young men have relied on all their lives to make the way easier. Take away the very reason they have great legal representation and, very likely, sentences that don’t even remotely match the severity of their crimes.

Take away their white privilege.

It’s white privilege, after all, that fed the hubris which fueled the plan to splash vile and filthy language all over what should have been the safest of places: a school.

Let them live their lives like The Man Without a Country.  Let them watch people lock their car doors, roll up their windows, cross to the other side of the street when they approach. Let store clerks ignore them. Store detectives follow them. When they apply for jobs let their applications be moved to the side. Their mortgage applications will be filled with extra requirements, extra fees. Or simply denied.

Let their places of worship be bombed or burned. Let their children be targeted for harassment.

Let them read every day in the news and on social media that their kind are thugs and bring about the decline of neighborhoods. Let their children be steered into lower level academic programs and disciplined unfairly while others look on, not lifting a finger in their defense. If the four of them get together to commiserate about the sadness of their diminished status, let others automatically assume they are up to no good and call the police on them.

Yes, in white privilege was their plan hatched and through white privilege will their consequences be filtered. Imagine the rude awakening if that assumption of superiority was stripped away.

Too harsh, you say?

That’s precisely the point.

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