In late February in Chardon, Ohio, a teenage student of Lake Academy Alternative School, opened fire in the Chardon High School cafeteria, killing 1 and wounding 4. The teen gunman was chased out of the building by the assistant football coach, where he was later identified and arrested. In late December, the gunman updated his Facebook status with a dark poem, which ended with “Die, all of you.” School and town officials are shocked at the tragedy
What should happen to him? What if that student had been your little brother or sister? What if the shooter had been your little brother or sister? Tragedies such as this bring out the candlelit vigils and moral outrage of society, particularly when the victims or perpetrators are acquaintances. How could this teen monster be allowed in our school? How did he get a gun? How did no one see this coming? People grab their torch and pitchforks and seek retribution, while others link arms and pray for the shooter’s mental health, each a unique perspective on justice.
On the mercy scale, where do you fall? Do you push for the death penalty, indefinite imprisonment, mental rehabilitation, counseling, what? When you break down the situation, you have one human killing other humans. Consider an escaped convict taken a mother and her children hostage, killing all of them in attempts to resist police. What’s the difference between these two tragedies? The convict is clearly more likely to evoke a call to far more brutal punishment, but what element evokes the call to arms? How many people have to be killed, how young does the shooter have to be, how brutal must the crimes be to tip the scales of mercy?
No trial date has yet been set, nor much more information released, but crimes like this challenge the public to examine their beliefs: Where do you stand on capital punishment, and what does it take to push you from mercy to more drastic forms of retribution?