Deadly weeds

Callous disregard for human life is eroding civilized society's fabric
Antonio Santiago smiles during his first Christmas in this December 2012 photo. Antonio was killed March 21, six weeks after his first birthday.

This editorial space could be filled with what the public doesn’t know about the shooting of 13-month-old Antonio Santiago.

We don’t know if 18-year-old De’Marquise Elkins really shot a baby sitting in a stroller on a Brunswick, Ga., street. That’s what a trial beginning this week in Marietta is expected to reveal.

Other trials will answer other questions. How was Elkins’ 15-year-old friend involved in what has been described as a robbery gone wrong? Dominique Lang is expected to be a key witness.

Did Elkins’ sister and mother try to conceal the crime by trying to dispose of the purported murder weapon, as they’re accused of doing?

And what of the assertions from Elkin’s lead defense attorney – that gunshot residue was found on the hands of both the toddler’s parents, even though the child’s father reportedly wasn’t even at the scene of the shooting?

A pretrial motion from the defense has implied that someone shot the boy between the eyes, point-blank, to cash in on a life insurance policy.

The unfolding trial has much to reveal. What we can tell you is what it already has revealed about our society – a further sickening devaluation of human life.

Regardless of who killed Antonio or for what twisted motive, it is a morally broken culture that can spawn the kind of person who would stoop to taking the life of a defenseless child.

Do you need more examples of modern callousness? Can you stomach more examples?

We’ll leave you with just one: In Oklahoma, three boys ages 15, 16 and 17 are in custody in connection with the slaying Friday of 22-year-old Christopher Lane, an Australian attending college in America on a baseball scholarship.

Duncan, Okla., Police Chief Danny Ford said the 17-year-old has given a detailed confession.

“They saw Christopher go by, and one of them said: ‘There’s our target,’” Ford said. “The boy who has talked to us said: ‘We were bored and didn’t have anything to do, so we decided to kill somebody.’

“They followed him in the car to that area, shot him in the back and drove off,” Ford said.

If this account is true – that the kids “were bored and didn’t have anything to do” – how did their bent minds get to a point where an antidote to boredom involves slaying an innocent man?

A lack of morals. A lack of guidance. A lack of structure. A lack of attention. A lack of love.

Dare we say a lack of a strong family?

Talk about an antidote – that’s a proven cure right there for so many symptoms of a sick society: a strong, loving, traditional family.

Did those three teens have that? Did De’Marquise Elkins? Will the next teen facing a charge of murder? None of them are honor students or Eagle Scouts or altar boys, we’re willing to bet.

The seeds of family breakdown – sown over several decades in the soil of government-enabled poverty and moral decline – are sprouting around us every day, in the form of these kinds of deaths.

They’re like weeds – and they’re choking us.

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