That’s not a valid excuse

I note, with no surprise whatsoever, that the brother of the gang-banger who was shot dead in New Orleans by criminal rivals this week (along with two innocent bystanders) is making excuses for him.

“He’s being characterized as a gang member, a killer. I feel like it’s a slap in the face … like he got what he deserved.”

The brother of the man who was targeted in a shooting on Claiborne Avenue that left three people dead and seven others injured is speaking out against the way his brother has been characterized by police and the media.

. . .

NOPD Chief Michael Harrison has said the shooting was gang-related, and multiple news outlets have since reported on Lee’s criminal past.

Speaking at a vigil Tuesday evening in the same parking lot where 10 people were shot days earlier, Jamil Hill, Lee’s brother, said “I’m frustrated with the press that my brother is getting.”

“He was a product of his environment,” Hill lamented. “We can’t control what neighborhood we grew up in. We can’t control any of that. I think they’re focusing too much on the victims and not the actual problem, which is crime in New Orleans.”

. . .

“They’re looking at his record and holding convictions from four or five years ago,” Hill said. “There’s nothing for these kids to do … but look up to the neighborhood drug dealers. His mother is very affected by the way he’s being characterized.”

There’s more at the link.

The thing none of these apologists ever mention is that a great many people grow up in the same suburbs, under the same conditions, who do not become gang-bangers.  It’s not the environment that makes the criminal – it’s the individual’s personal choices.  Those choices may be made more difficult by the absence of a suitable father figure as an example, or a greater prevalence of crime in the neighborhood – but that doesn’t mean they can’t be made.  Many people make the right choices in spite of those problems.

When I worked as a prison chaplain, I met dozens of convicts who were of above-average intelligence, had an interesting family background, and had plenty of opportunities to make a success of their lives.  Instead, they chose to fly in the face of all those advantages, and turn to crime.  I remember one man in particular, convicted of bank robbery and facing thirty-plus years in jail.  He was still a relatively young man when I met him.  His family had loads of money;  in fact, while I knew him, one of his relatives died and left him a substantial amount in her will.  (This may not have done him any favors:  it resulted in his being transferred to a higher-security prison, because he now had sufficient funds at his disposal to pay for a prison break attempt, if he so chose – a real security risk.)  He could have been anything and done anything that he desired, but he chose bank robbery because “it was exciting, like a drug, man”.  He won’t be out of prison until he’s in his fifties.  A life thrown away, because he chose to throw it away.

Last year, we saw another example of this when New Orleans rapper Donovan “Dula” Chopin tried to rob a gun store in Georgia.  I put up security camera footage of him being shot by the store owner – and then, a week later, pointed out that his family was trying to crowd-fund money for his funeral, emoting about how he was a good boy who was “called home”.  (The blunt, sometimes very rude comments from those who knew the facts have since been “sanitized”, and can no longer be viewed online.  No surprise, that.)  The same lack of focus upon his criminal choices was evident in his family’s and friends’ comments.  It wasn’t his fault – it was his environment, or that he was “led astray” by others, or whatever.  Never any recognition that his own bad choices led to his death.

(EDITED TO ADD:  Courtesy of some sleuthing by reader Andrew Smith, you can read the crowd-funding appeal for Mr. Chopin’s funeral – and the less than polite comments left in response – here.)

As long as people refuse to face up to the reality of personal responsibility for our choices, this sort of nonsense will continue.



  1. That same attitude is prevalent with antigun forces. They blame the guns for crime, and not the criminals.

    Also the same with illegal immigration. It isn't the person who illegally entered the country, they are just trying to better their lives, and anyone who demands that they comply with the law is just a racist.

  2. I respectfully disagree. I think that if you did a study you'd find that there is indeed a very strong correlation between stupidity, poverty and crime. The 'Dindu' culture is just another facet of it.

    If you could do an objective study on the white collar criminals you'd probably find that the majority of them have clinical psychological issues more often than not.

    1. I've worked with psych patients, and have had more life exposure to people with clinical psychological issues than I care to discuss.

      My considered opinion is that many psychological issues are better described as evil.
      They are a willingly chosen pattern of behavior, not a measurable anomaly in neural structure or electrical activity.
      They require repentance more than medication.
      It is deliberately misleading to conflate schizophrenia and psychosis with borderline personality disorder and alcoholism. These are not even remotely the same types of things.

  3. The new mayor has a big problem. This, then a shooting on I-10 in NOLa East and 2 burned bodies in Algiers.

  4. I watched a "First 48 Hours" episode where the family members of the dead thug murdered by other thugs over drugs was lamenting about how was the family going to survive now? He was a good boy and funded the whole extended family through his criminal activities.

    Of course, when whacked, it came out that his favorite criminal activity was raiding other dealers and he was currently wanted for 1 murder and was under the suspicion of several others.

    But… He was the breadwinner of the family, he was a good boy!

    Yeah, no, no sympathy felt towards him or his family, none at all. Wife and I call it the "They Eat Their Own" syndrome.

  5. As Unknown at 1:16 noted: Evil is amongst us.
    Some folks enjoy killing/hurting those that are weaker than they.

    Others, who have marinated their thoughts with reality while in prison for protracted periods of time, will tell you that if they had been firmly corrected (read as: butt- kicked, willow-switched, embarrassed, punished to the fullist extent of the law) at their first offense that there would not have been a second escalating offense.
    The more times they got away or were lightlty punished for a crime the more they were encouraged to commit additional and more grievious crimes.

    Evil and the pedophiles aside (but, I repeat myself) there is hope when people are held accountable for knowingly harming others.

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