News stories about mass murder have become so common on the 24-hour news channels that we almost take them for granted. But when it happens close to home, and you know one of the victims, it becomes much more personal.
I had met Ben Teague on a number of occasions while covering art events around northeast Georgia. I did not know him as a friend, but as someone that I would recognize and speak to when we happened to be at the same place. I was also somewhat familiar with the Town and Gown Players. On several occasions I had made publicity pictures for one of their productions. I was just close enough to feel the shock of the vicious attack on three members of the organization.
This led me to question the frequency of such crimes. Are there more of them than in the past, or does the appetite for news stories by the 24-hour stations create more coverage?
The latest complete figures on violent crime I can find is 2004. That year we had a small decrease in the violent crime rate nationwide. And the partial figures out for more recent years do not show a dramatic increase. Therefore, I must assume that these attacks were occurring all along, but we only heard about the ones in our region, and not those from more distant sites.
It is good that we are hearing about all the attacks around the nation, because the more aware we become of this problem, the more likely we are to start seeking a solution. Naturally, I have an opinion about this, but then again I have an opinion about most things. So please take this for what it is, my opinion and nothing more.
The basis for our society was personal responsibility. People grew up knowing that they would have to take responsibility for themselves and their families. They were taught this in the classroom, in the church, and by the senior members of their community. If you made a mistake, you were expected to be held responsible for that mistake. But that is no longer the case. When bad things happen today, everyone concerned starts looking for someone or something to blame other than themselves. “It’s not my fault” is the immediate response. People blame the economy, society, their childhood, anything but their own failure.
And in nearly every case, they expect government to fix their problems. And when government cannot compensate for their own inadequacies, they strike out in anger. You see rally after rally and hear speaker after speaker calling for “civil rights” and “human rights” and “poverty rights.” What you almost never hear is someone urging people to assume responsibility for their own lives. And when someone does, like Bill Cosby, he or she is instantly vilified.
I am convinced that if Professor George Zinkhan had been well grounded in individual responsibility, Ben Teague, Marie Bruce and Tom Tanner would still be alive today.
But then again I am nothing more than a half smart, semi-self educated Georgia redneck. What do I know?
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. His website can be accessed at http://frankgillispie.tripod.com/