Are Americans responsible for other Americans?

Aug 22, 2013, 1:08 AM | Updated: 7:19 pm

A 23-year old Australian baseball player dreamed of attending university in America and pursuing a baseball career. He was doing just that when three Oklahoma teenagers randomly chose him for murder.

The motive? They were “bored.”

The American media and every decent U.S. citizen were quick to label Christopher Lane’s death another senseless killing. But this time, some Australians aren’t buying our remorse.

Stories describing the decency of the average American don’t make the front page or the local newscast in Australia, but stories about terrorists bombing a marathon, a maniac shooting up a packed movie theater and a fellow Aussie being murdered for reasons of boredom certainly do.

And because of it, we Americans are being held partly responsible for the actions of other Americans.

“It’s another example of murder mayhem on Main Street,” former Australian deputy Prime Minister Tom Fischer told CNN’s Piers Morgan. “It is a statistical fact that you are 15 times more likely to be shot dead in the USA than in Australia per capita.”

Some Australians have gone as far as demanding a tourism boycott of the US, as if a trip to America is now a death sentence. And the Aussies are not alone with their perceptions.

I spent some time in New Zealand in 2010. While I was there I had a conversation with a Kiwi. He asked me, “So, in America, are you always afraid for your life?”

“Excuse me?” I asked.

“Aren’t there a lot of people that just walk around with guns?”

“Kid, you’ve watched too many movies,” I said.

I think he was actually a little disappointed to learn that the average American’s existence doesn’t resemble “The Fast & Furious.” And then I truly sent him for a loop when I informed him that not every American weighs 350 pounds either. But the sensational news is what those on the other side of the world read and see. Therefore, there is a growing international belief that America isn’t a safe place to be.

Are we okay with this?

I’ve lived 42 years as an American. I personally don’t know anyone who’s shot and killed another person (soldiers excluded). And yet, as an American, I not only feel terrible for victims like Christopher Lane, I feel embarrassed.

What’s more? There doesn’t seem to be anything we can do to fix our growing notoriety as killers and thieves.

Any possible solution for curbing American violence inevitably tramples on the sacred beliefs of one group or the other.

It’s easy to shrug one’s shoulders and chalk the actions of bad people up to bad parenting, but of all the laws we could draft, a “bad parenting” law just isn’t possible.

Some say we have too many laws to begin with? Yes. But until people stop trying to circumvent the laws we have, how can we stop pursuing attempts at safeguards?

And let’s face it, these three rats from Oklahoma were so far removed from decency, they could have cared less if they got caught and were sent to prison for life. How the hell do you defend against that?

America is by far and away the most charitable nation on Earth. A tragedy like Yarnell occurs, and you watch America at its best. An entire community, an entire state, an entire country rallies to lend support.

But have schoolchildren gunned down by a local pyschopath or a young Australian get cut down in the streets by three teenagers who’ve somehow not learned to value life and just watch how America does nothing.



Paul Burkett

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Are Americans responsible for other Americans?