Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Pasadena's dubious news

Just for the record, I don't know Joe Horn, but we're neighbors. I live in Village Grove subdivision in Pasadena (until the house sells, which I pray will be soon!), Horn lives in Village Grove East, a newer section just a mile or two away. In case you don't recognize the name Joe Horn (and no, I am not referring to the Atlanta Falcons reciever), he's the 61 year old man who gunned down two men who were robbing his next door neighbor's home in broad daylight last week. Here's a link to the story on the Chronicle's website: http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/side/5306638.html
Mr. Horn is white. The two deceased burglars were black. Pasadena has a not-too-distant past of well-documented racism (people my age who grew up here can remember when the Klan's headquarters were on Southmore St.). In addition, the 911 call was released (it can be heard on the link above) and Mr. Horn was urged not to confront these men. He is heard to say, "I'm not going to let them get away" and "I'm gonna shoot them." This of course leads us to believe he was motivated less by fear of his own life and more by a desire to punish criminals on his own.

Reaction has been predictable. Letters to the editor at the Chronicle ( see here: http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/editorial/outlook/5309148.html and also here: http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/editorial/outlook/5312660.html) were mostly supportive of Horn. One guy wrote, "Let's fire the police and hire Joe Horn!" Then yesterday, Quanell X led a protest in Village Grove East. Quanell said if Horn were black and the two suspects white, Horn would be in jail today.

How do I feel about all this? Well, it is disconcerting to know that in our nice middle-class neighborhood, someone would brazenly break into a house in broad daylight. I leave my wife and two kids every day for most of the daylight hours. Frankly, I am glad that these two men, at least, will never break into my house. But on the other hand, I don't like the idea that ordinary citizens can use deadly force when they have no reason to believe their own lives are in danger. Society simply can't abide that, unless we want this to turn into Dodge City in the 1800s. I don't know what should happen to Mr. Horn, but in my opinion, he needs to be charged with something.

Mostly, though, I wonder why everything has to devolve into a political firestorm. Some are already lauding Mr. Horn as a folk hero. Quanell X has predictably turned this into a racial issue. Why can't it just be about the simple question: "How much lethal force is a person allowed to use?" Why does every event in our society have to be an occasion for soundbites and talk-radio vitriol?

So far, Wayne Dolcefino hasn't knocked on my door yet looking for a man-on-the-street reaction story, but I'll let you all know if he does.


Martha said...

I have thoroughly enjoyed the Daniel series, Jeff,(and 30 - 40 minutes isn't too long for good meaty stuff!) Your two parts of the blog - what would the world look like through God's eyes, and the Pasadena shooting situation - are a great contrast. Wonder how God would view the whole thing? We tend to live in fear much of the time, consciously or subconsciously. How much we react usually depends I think on how afraid we are. The Pasadena situation notwithstanding, how much of what each of us does personally (actions, words, etc) is done out of fear instead of out of pure caring? I wonder....

Bob Campbell said...

Jeff--I find your messages to be so applicable to my life. It is like you are preaching directly to me. It is a joy to watch you take the Scripture, explain it, and present it to us for a response. Your Daniel series is very good. I have been getting the ones I missed online at www.wbchouston.org.

As for the incident in Pasadena--I have prayed so often about such matters that are beyond my control. I hesitate to judge anyone, but unless one's life or someone's else's life is in mortal danger, we should listen to the police and hold off using deadly force when specifically told not to so. The shooter should have obeyed the police adminition to stay in his house.

As for Quanel X--God will judge the veracity of his multiple statements.

Jeff Berger said...

Thanks Martha and Bob, for your kind words. I have enjoyed working through Daniel as well. What an inspiring life he lived! Plus they are just downright good stories. Someone should make a movie of his life...nah, they'd only ruin it.

beckyww said...

Hmmm. Think you ought to decide after someone does break into your house in broad daylight.

Anonymous said...

May be posting in the wrong place now, but hey, I've never blogged before.
Professor Bob, if you are still there, how about the best book you could recommend on baptism from the Baptist perspective.
Others suggestions very much appreciated as well.

Thanks. a former intern.