Some unwelcome news radiating from the long July 4th holiday involved a Philly teen shooting two other teens near the Parkway festivities and New Jersey’s governor shooting off his mouth — again.
Last Wednesday evening teen shooter, Nafis Scott, 16, of Germantown, reportedly got into a tiff in Center City resulting in his [allegedly] shooting a 17-year-old and a 19-year-old, both in the legs.
Scott fled the shooting but while fleeing Scott [allegedly] fired at pursuing police who shot him, taking him to a hospital under arrest.
A day later, N.J. Governor Chris Christie, while on a Jersey shore vacation, reacted angrily to a man criticizing his controversial educational policies with yet another angry-toned outburst that landed as a video on national television.
Christie’s latest verbal assault came days after he called a reporter an “idiot” for asking a question Christie didn’t like, a more than a week after Republican Christie called Democratic legislators “liars” and four months after Christie verbally drop-kicked an Iraq War vet for questioning a controversial college realignment plan Christie endorsed.
Christie is the same political bully who relishes receipt of conservative praise for his verbal beating-downs on female teachers who raise legitimate questions about his falsehood-filled postures on public education.
Typical of perversions rampant in today’s society this latest temper tantrum from Christie drew ever-more cheers in circles that routinely applaud his indignant political style while Scott rightfully received condemnation as out-of-control needing incarceration.
Yes, these perversions result in the bombastic N.J. Brawler and the [alleged] teen shooter eliciting different societal responses despite both exhibiting the same symptom: individuals unable to control themselves unleashing a hair-trigger contempt against anyone perceived as challenging them.
While there is no comparison between shooting someone with a gun and someone shooting off their mouth, there is no denying some impact on impressionable youth from seeing political officials like Christie exult in piggish behaviors.
Politicians, particularly conservatives like Christie, love to lecture teens (especially non-whites) about the need for talking things out instead of resorting to confrontations.
Yet, those same politicians see no duplicity in their publicly engaging in confrontations that ooze lack of civility — confrontations contributing to teens acting in similar ways.
American politicians love to act tough, particularly against the powerless and poor.
For the past three decades too many American politicians have fallen over each other in their rush to be tough by enacting stiff punishment for teens under the charge of holding kids strictly accountable for their actions.
That strict accountability standard interestingly is not applied to corporations that commit crimes, even crimes causing deaths.
America, for example, was the only nation on earth to sentence juveniles to life-without-parole prison terms for involvement in fatal offenses (even remote involvement) until late last month.
A few weeks ago the U.S. Supreme Court ended the outrage in over two dozen states and the federal system of burying teens in prison when it ruled that mandatory life-without-parole sentences for juvenile offenders violated the U.S. Constitution’s ban against cruel and unusual punishment.
Given the pervasive race bias in America’s criminal justice system it’s not surprising that most of the 2,500-plus teen lifers in the U.S. are African-American.
In Pennsylvania — the state with the largest teen-lifer population — 70 percent of the juvenile lifers are African-American and nine percent are Hispanic.
The teens who politicians hold strictly accountable cannot even reason rationally according to scientific evidence about juvenile brain development now recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court that utilized that evidence when recently outlawing juvenile mandatory life without parole and previously outlawing juvenile life for non-homicides and the death penalty for juveniles.
Contrast this hard-line on teen crime with the soft-peddle given crimes committed by corporations.
Now when corporations want to overwhelm the electoral process with their enormous money conservatives want corporations legally considered as ‘persons.’
However, when corporations commit crimes those same conservatives contend real persons responsible for that corporate misconduct should not face personal responsibility for crimes.
Such soft-peddling on corporate crimes further perverts America’s bedrock principle of equal justice under law — the phrase written above the entrance to the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C.
This month federal authorities fined pharma giant GlaxoSmithKline a record $3 billion for breaking U.S. laws against promoting unapproved uses of certain drugs yet no executive behind that misconduct faced criminal prosecution.
Those highly paid Glaxo execs who escaped prison cells for their misconduct certainly received lavish bonuses from the $27.9 billion in combined corporate profits on three of the drugs at the center of the record fine.
To corporations, such fines (even large fines) amount to chump-change falling far short of profits from the misconduct.
Further, those fines get passed along as increased costs to consumers and taxpayers stuck with cleaning up messes from corporate misconduct.
Remember, corporations that often engage in misconduct, the large law firms that defend corporations and the lobbyists who convince politicians to protect corporate interests routinely permit gross employment discrimination within their ranks.
And that discrimination contributes to 14.4 percent Black unemployment rate for June 2012 — a rate nearly double America’s unemployment rate for whites.
Black teen unemployment last month reached nearly 40 percent according to federal figures without either party on Capitol Hill voicing alarm.
Problems with America’s young will persist as long as corporations and politicians like N.J.’s Christie engender applause for petulant behavior.
Linn Washington Jr. is a graduate of the Yale Law Fellowship Program.