Violence and Contagion: "We were bored"
The Cincinnati Enquirer reports today about a group of six young teenagers who "attacked and robbed" a man simply because they were bored.
The boys, ages 13 and 14, face felony charges of aggravated rioting and felonious assault, North COllege Hill police said today.One could take this as a rare one-off event, a freak moment of peculiar violence. Yet, if you think about it, there's something deeply troubling about this. Being bored can lead to a host of activities: a pick-up game of baseball, riding bikes, some form of video game tournament. What, then, would the thought-process had to have been in order to suggest randomly lynching a man walking home from the store? What did one child say that ignited the passions of his friends to go after this person? What words could have been shared so quickly to lead to such violence?
The sixth and final suspect was arrested Wednesday.
When police rounded most of the teens up, took them back to the police station and questioned them, they said they attacked the victim, identified as Pat Mahaney, because "they were just bored and were looking for something to do," the report states.
They also admitted he had done nothing to provoke being kicked and punched repeatedly in the face while he was helpless on the ground.
Teenage boys are, generally, thoughtless creatures. They are impulsive, they do no consider consequences, and they are often surprised that their spur-of-the-moment actions are met with disapproval. For many, their mantra could well be "well, it seemed like a good idea at the time." Yet it is hard to imagine how the idea to jump an innocent, even one born out of the most terrible boredom, could gain enough traction to lead to its actualization.
In short, there seems to be some sort of Violent Pathogen whose contagion (1) breeds violence and (2) anesthetize us from feeling its full effect. The irony of the whole disease should not be missed: it is violence that blinds us and numbs us to violence.
I wish I had an antidote for this, a ready-made inoculation against the violence and indifference, the Darkness, that seems to be be gaining strength in our world. Before we can reach for a cure, however, we have to acknowledge that there is a problem. We need to open our eyes now so that we can turn on the news and not find yet another story of ratings-grabbing, attention-holding violence that captures our attention. While our attention is held captive by the news, the contagion spreads ever further and insinuates itself ever deeper...and it's happening right before our eyes.