Thursday, November 15, 2007

An American Tragedy

I was doing the blog-run this morning, and ran up on this unspeakably horrible story via Protein Wisdom and Sister Toldjah....

His name was Josh Evans. He was 16 years old. And he was hot.

"Mom! Mom! Mom! Look at him!" Tina Meier recalls her daughter saying.

Josh had contacted Megan Meier through her MySpace page and wanted to be added as a friend.Yes, he's cute, Tina Meier told her daughter. "Do you know who he is?"

"No, but look at him! He's hot! Please, please, can I add him?"

Mom said yes. And for six weeks Megan and Josh - under Tina's watchful eye - became acquainted in the virtual world of MySpace.


She loved swimming, boating, fishing, dogs, rap music and boys. But her life had not always been easy, her mother says.

She was heavy and for years had tried to lose weight. She had attention deficit disorder and battled depression. Back in third grade she had talked about suicide, Tina says, and ever since had seen a therapist.

But things were going exceptionally well. She had shed 20 pounds, getting down to 175. She was 5 foot 5½ inches tall.

She had just started eighth grade at a new school, Immaculate Conception, in Dardenne Prairie, where she was on the volleyball team. She had attended Fort Zumwalt public schools before that.

Amid all these positives, Tina says, her daughter decided to end a friendship with a girlfriend who lived down the street from them. The girls had spent much of seventh grade alternating between being friends and, the next day, not being friends, Tina says.

If you're one of those whose faith in humanity is the least bit shaky, be warned that story isn't going to do a thing to restore said faith. I am well aware that Homo sapiens can be unspeakably cruel, but every now and then there's a display of said cruelty that sets the bar at an even lower level. And this is just one of these displays. Like Megan Meier, I wasn't one of the cool kids in school, and I had people make fun of me now and then at that age for varying reasons, but I was blessed in that it was nowhere near that level. I do hope and pray that the Lord had mercy on little Megan's soul and that she found peace in the next's all too obvious she couldn't find it in this one. You'll see that there is no mention of the names of the vile creatures who did this, ostensibly out of a desire to protect the little girl in the family. I understand where they're coming from, but at the same time I can't help but agree with this comment at Sister Toldjah's place, so much so that I had to quote it in its entirety:
I hope these awful people’s names are well known in their community so that they can be properly shunned. In my opinion, shunning should be used much more than it is in modern society.
There is no law against what these people did. But we don’t always need the law to enforce social norms. Nor do we need to resort to destruction of property and physical attacks. Shunning should not be used for every minor social infraction – only for the most egregious cases. This case certainly qualifies.
I understand people don’t want to hurt the kids of the offending family. Sorry kids - it is your own and your parent’s bad behavior that caused you to be pariahs in your town. You can remain where you are and feel despised by everyone everyday - or you can go away. Move far away where people don’t know you. Start over again in a new place. That will be difficult and painful. Yes - and it should be. You can build a new life. If you act decently you can be welcomed as respected members of your new town. But you shouldn’t have the happy comfortable life you had before - you don’t deserve it and you old neighbors don’t deserve to have to look at you.
Maybe then the whole family will learn a lesson. It will also serve as a lesson for generations in the town they are driven from. Harsh? Damn right - and certainly no less than they deserve. Unchristian? Perhaps (forgiveness has never been my strong suit) but not entirely. As long as those people remain in that community a festering wound will never heal. And if these heartless people feel compelled to leave town the family of this poor girl can perhaps feel that some justice has been done. Some significant punishment should be meted out. The law can’t do it. The people of the community should take it upon themselves to, lawfully, execute justice themselves. Shunning is perfectly suited to this situation.

A-yep. I must admit I found it quite interesting that the names were left out for the desire to protect these people's privacy, when on the other hand so many media outlets seem to be chomping at the bit to -- just for a topical example -- publish the names of concealed-carry permit holders. Seems privacy concerns go right out the window there. Notwithstanding that, though, I am sure the names of the offending parties can and will become quite well-known -- ironically enough, one way for that would be through the medium that played such a part in little Megan's death. I don't know that her parents would want that, but I'm sure there are others in that town who will take that ball and run with it. I can't help but hope they do, too.