Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A Killing on the Streets of Houston

by Katherine Scardino

There really is not much surprise in a killing on the streets of Houston. That happens almost every day here. Texas, probably not unlike a lot of states in America, has many parts where the old violent "West" still lingers. Only, now - it is not so quaint nor the violence so understandable. In 1800 plus years, the people here fought for causes - like freedom from Mexico and our last stand at the Alamo. We fought to keep rustlers from stealing our cows and horses, because we needed them to eke out a meager existence on the plains. We fought the Indians - sometimes rightly, but mostly not justified but always with some reason. We hunted animals to kill to eat now or to eat during the cold Winters when the weather was so cold one could freeze if we stayed outside too long and the dirt was as hard as our concrete parking lots. The western garb has been replaced with baggy pants falling just one zillionth of an inch above the critical part of one’s behind, and oversized t-shirts with some rap singer’s picture on it.

Last Sunday, on a muggy day in Houston, a good man - a Houston police officer - was gunned down while he was doing his duty. By all accounts, Timothy Abernethy was a highly respected police officer, family man, and citizen who did nothing to deserve the death he received at the hands of a thug. No citizens like to hear of killings of any type - but when it is one of our police officers who risk their lives every day to be sure that we are kept safe and sound in our homes - we tend to get a bit aroused. And, not only was Timothy Abernethy killed during a routine traffic stop, but he was killed by a man with a criminal history. The public wants to know why was this man on the streets of our city? Why was he not in prison? Why was he paroled from prison early?

The man who was arrested and charged with capital murder is hated in this city now. He is the felon who was walking our streets and shot a man who was helping us; a family man, a cop. Some of you may be surprised to hear me talking like this...what if I were to get a call to defend this person? He couldn’t be less popular around here if he were Satan himself.

You know what my answer would be? Yes, of course I would defend this person. I would visit with him in the jail. I would make sure that he was being taken care of just like any other inmate in the jail. I would be sure that he received all his constitutional rights. And, I would fight like a tiger if one of his rights were violated. Oh yes, I know - what about Timothy Abernethy’s rights? He certainly had his rights violated, and that he did. Drastically. So much so that he is no longer around to complain about it. But, I do not represent Officer Abernethy. I would represent the accused person. And YOU and your family - We want to be sure that these same rights stick around. We do not want different rules for different people. The rules are the same - whether you are the killer of a police officer or whether you stole a dollar from the convenience store - or whether you were arrested for driving erratic on the way home from work one afternoon after a beer with the guys or girls....

But, this incident begs another question. Why do we have someone like this young black male who is accused of killing this officer? Why has he been in prison twice and jail multiple times? Why is he not in school? Where are his parents? Where is his incentive to work, to be educated, to have his own family?

I believe that we have allowed a culture of people to exist alongside us who live by a different set of rules. We get upset when one of those people break one of "our" rules. But, they laugh at us. They do not live by our creed or ethics or laws or rules. They have their own. And, we engender this manner of existence by throwing money at them for "disability" payments, to pay for their fifth baby born while unmarried or to buy their groceries because they will not get a job. And, PLEASE, do not write me about being racist or sexist. I am neither. I do not care if you are black, green, yellow or purple; I do not care if you are male, female or a combination of the two. If your world is one where you can justify murder because you don’t want to go back to jail, or you can justify selling drugs on the street because you just need a little "extra cash", or you can justify not working for any million reasons, but the real reason is that you just do not want to, then you are one of those people I am talking about.

I want the world back that I remember as a kid. I want a world where the adults work, bring home a paycheck, pay bills, get married, have children, and live by a set of rules. Was that so bad? A world where you really did not have to lock your front door. There was not much crime anywhere. I want that back. Yeah, right.....


Anonymous said...

I work with a woman who used to date the type of man who killed that police officer. She thought nothing of spending her boyfriends drug money on things she wanted. When I asked her how could she do that, how her conscience would allow it, she just shrugged me off and told me I just didn't understand that lifestyle. It was nothing to them to to do that, and there was obviously no stigma to it. This is an educated woman, who had children. No remorse, it was justified in her eyes.

Very sad that we have people in this country who think like this.

Anonymous said...

I would love to have that world back. A world where your grandchildren had some respect for people and their property. A world where to get something you knew you had to work for it! The sense of entitlement I see in the young people of today is so scary to me. The lack of respect for human life is even scarier!

jigmeister said...

Who has kidnapped the real Katherine Scardino?

Mia said...

Amen. I've worked in state prisons and hospitals all my life.. I know of what you speak :)

Rose C said...

Great post! Did you guys hear that the man who killed Jana shearer was killed in prison?

A Voice of Sanity said...

You know what my answer would be? Yes, of course I would defend this person.

Given the opportunity I would kill the criminal to protect the officer. But when the state wants to punish the criminal it must follow all of the rules it has set for itself - otherwise it is a vigilante seeking revenge, and not a legal system seeking justice.

Kat said...

Unfortunately it seems as if a majority of Americans want handouts. This is the real crime in our nation - and it isn't going to change anytime soon.

The election of Barack Obama, as historic as it was, the end of any chance we have of going back to people wanting to earn a living. He encourages this kind of entitlement instead of encouraging people to make their own way in the world. The woman interviewed during the election who said that once Barack was elected, she wouldn't have to worry about paying for her car, her gas or her rent was typical of a large chunk of his supporters. These folks wouldn't know hard work if it bit them in the ass.

We need to start instilling work ethics in our kids, let real discipline back in the school and stop encouraging people to have kids outside of marriage. CHildren born out of wedlock hurt us all in the end.

A Voice of Sanity said...

Kat said... "... once Barack was elected, she wouldn't have to worry about paying for her car, her gas or her rent ..."

Car prices, gas prices and home prices have all fallen and it is now a renter's paradise in many places! However what she clearly meant was that Obama would guide the country to a place where a person could afford a reasonable living on their earnings, and even families with two incomes would not have to live in their car.

Joni Rodgers said...

Kat, re your comment: "The woman interviewed during the election who said that once Barack was elected, she wouldn't have to worry about paying for her car, her gas or her rent was typical of a large chunk of his supporters. These folks wouldn't know hard work if it bit them in the ass."

I suppose I could retort with "A large chunk of Obama detractors are ignorant, bigoted goose-steppers who get their information from AM hate radio." But I think I'll take the high road and point out that actual statistics reflect that the vast majority of Obama supporters are people like my husband and me: white, middle class, employed, centrist, college educated people. We've both worked since we were 15 yrs old, but we were bankrupted by my cancer treatment several years ago. Having lost our savings, we're now struggling to put our kids through college and recoup some shred of retirement, but frankly, we're grateful for what we have. I can't imagine what we would have done if we'd faced that crisis without money, education, or insurance. What chance would I have had for survival or our children for an education?

I share Katherine's nostalgic longing for a simpler time, but how did 8 yrs of conservative policy encourage that culture of respect for families and hard work? By grinding the working class further into the dirt, leaving them desperate? By changing bankruptcy laws so that a family wiped out by cancer had no chance of ever becoming solvent again? By starting a needless war that squandered resources we should have devoted to education and infrastructure? And which conservative icons would you like to hold up as the family values prom royalty? A guy who footsies for sex in an airport bathroom? A "hockey mom" who goes back to work three days after the birth of her special needs child and shoves her pregnant teen into the global spotlight?

Katherine's perspective as a criminal defense attorney offers her unique insight. While most of us mourn the fallen officer, she can't help but see -- and grieve for -- the lost life of the killer. When we see it that way, we also have to mourn the culture we've engineered. A culture in which money is God and family is an inconvenience. Liberals didn't invent that, hon. Blame us for Crocs, Starbucks, and alternative rock, but the degradation of the American family -- that's the direct result of "trickle down economics", which is a nice way of saying "power to the privileged few and piss on the rest."

I believe a thinking president is going to take us in a better direction.

Anonymous said...

I can understand wanting to live in a country were adults bring home a paycheck and pay bills...but one where everyone gets married and has children too? Ugh. What is this? The 1950s? You really believe that in order to be respected one has to get married (most of which end in nasty divorces, domestic violence, or killings of the wife it seems anyway) and breed? I think I'm going to be sick. And I thought this was a feminist blog.