Murder in Tennessee

December 1st, 2016 Posted by Susan's Musings 39 comments

I was heartbroken, as indeed every decent person should be, at the murder of six Tennessee schoolchildren last week. Unfortunately, there is no shortage of heartbreaking news and this quickly disappeared off the national news headlines. This specific incident, though, haunted me. I was also angered at how little attention it received.

Here are the basics. A speeding Chattanooga school bus was driven off its designated route; it overturned and slammed into a tree. So far six children have died with many others injured. Going back months, there are numerous records of parents and students lodging complaints against the driver, Johnthony Walker, for reckless driving as well as for cursing and threatening the students on his bus. The school’s principal also brought her concerns to the attention of school officials. Walker, too, made numerous complaints, clearly showing himself to be unhappy with his work.

I understand that in legal terms the driver is being charged with vehicular homicide, reckless endangerment and reckless driving, rather than murder. That doesn’t cut it for me in human terms. We have an extremely unsatisfactory situation that was kicked down the road until it exploded in tragedy. Now, after deaths and injuries, it received its ten minutes of media attention, producing no outcries from President Obama and evading the interest of the chattering media class. The parents, the teachers and the principal who saw how unfit the driver was are surely guilt and grief-stricken. This will haunt them for the rest of their lives.

What about the rest of us? Why did this move off the front page so quickly? Does anyone doubt that had the driver been white, the president and press would be shouting from the rooftops about how racism (and Donald Trump and the Republican Party) were guilty of these deaths? If the driver shot the children instead of causing the bus to crash, the president and press would relentlessly focus on this incident.

Yet, because the liberal hobgoblins aren’t found in this case, this isn’t worthy of attention. Shouldn’t we be asking how it is that someone who should have been immediately fired when the complaints against him were verified was still entrusted with children’s lives? Shouldn’t we be asking if he was still driving because of union rules, fears of lawsuits or any other legal handcuffs placed on the wrists of the school district? Shouldn’t we be telling parents that in the final analysis they should not place their trust in teachers, principals and schools but need to protect their children themselves? Shouldn’t we be demanding to know what requirements exist for anyone working in the public school system whether as a bus driver, janitor or teacher? Shouldn’t the Black Lives Matter protesters who have all the time in the world to object to November’s election results, claim that the six lives of these Black children matter too? Shouldn’t we ask whether there are tools that parents in a wealthy district would have had at their disposal had a  similarly unfit driver been uncovered?

Millions of parents around this country entrust their children to the government educational system. All too often they get little education. Is it too much to ask that at the very least their physical lives should be protected?

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39 comments

Stephanie Hart says:

Thank you for writing this. I was wondering about this myself. You certainly cannot trust the schools anymore with our children. My husband applied to our local school district for a job as a school bus driver and was rejected because he had a fender bender two years ago. This man should have been let go after the initial complaints. Race has become an ugly crutch, excuse and weapon now in our country.

Susan Lapin says:

My uneducated guess, Stephanie, is that there is not a national standard but rather local ones. I agree with local control. But that means that the local parents have to take the responsibility of stepping up when something so wrong as an abusive and dangerous man is left with their children. That is not the time to ‘go through the proper, bureaucratic channels’ but the time to assert oneself and pull out all the stops.

Carl from South Carolina says:

YOU ROCK GIRL, have YOUR husband give u a BIG HUG of gratitude for ALL YOUR WORK, and give him a HUG for his work!!!
From both your teachings, though my WIFEY does not listen/or read any of your posts etc, SHE is grateful for what I practice from what I learn. I miss the ‘worth getting up for’ program from SF, but am thxful for finding it out there when I worked there…..HVE a GR8 DAY!

Susan Lapin says:

One of the San Francisco early risers! Thanks for being in touch.

Cynthia Maddaluno-Ciancutti says:

Thank-you Susan for this much needed message! I too wondered where the media has been in all of this! I was also outraged that this person whom I wouldn’t leave my dog with, was given charge over these innocent angels. Not to be charged with murder on six counts is absolutely unacceptable! Where are the black community leaders? Oh , I know….

Susan Lapin says:

That poor mother who complained and trusted that her warnings would be taken seriously. She deserves to hear why they weren’t.

BB Taylor says:

Hello Susan, I could not agree with you more. I am the grand mother of 10 grand children and 4 great grand children. What happened in Tennessee is nearly unforgivable. And the way the media dropped reporting on this situation begs many questions. I believe fear in general and legal consequences in particular played a significant role. The moral decline evidenced in our nation is no small factor here. You may have the platform to pursue focus on this case and hopefully justice may be served. I wish you blessing in your endeavor.

Susan Lapin says:

I wish I had the platform you credit me with. The people with the power here are all parents who send their children to government schools who need to demand much more from the schools and their elected officials.

TMay says:

You are right. The story was overlooked. I looked up the age of the driver and he was 24. The internet says the average age of a school bus driver is 42. I looked up the age of people drafted when we had the draft and it was 28 to 26. That was because the military wanted risk takers and that age group were risk takers. (As a side note, it is dangerous to use marijuana in terms of increased serious lifelong schizophrenia up to age 26 .5 because the brain is not fully developed until 26.5 plus other negative side effects). Being a school bus driver, one needs experience not only in driving but in life, and one also needs experience with dealing with frustrating situations.

TMay says:

It should have read “18 to 26”, an age group that takes risks.

Russell says:

The article is timely and pinpoints a societal problem of enormous importance. WE NEED TO RETURN TO A SOCIETY THAT VALUES RIGHTEOUSNESS !!!!! That’s Right !! The word is RIGHTEOUSNESS !!!! Let’s go down the list…..Just what does it mean???
I’ll do a mental stream here…..to be Right…to do Right….to be Just…to be Lawful….To behave with Right Conduct….To be Just…To Value Justice….To behave properly….To value Propriety…..To value Fair Treatment….To know the difference between right and wrong…..To be Correct….To behave Correctly….To be Ethical…To value Morality…..To be Virtuous….To Value Lawful behavior….IT MUST BECOME FASHIONABLE AGAIN TO BE RIGHTEOUS, TO OBEY THE LAW, TO BE RESPONSIBLE, TO RESPECT PROPRIETY….IT IS LONG OVERDUE…..FREEDOM HAS TURNED INTO REBELLION, DISOBEDIENCE, UNLAWFUL BEHAVIOR, AND UNRIGHTEOUSNESS…..IF WE WANT ANY FORM OF ENDURING SOCIETY THAT WILL NOT SELF-DESTRUCT….WE MUST HONOR GOOD BEHAVIOR, BE RESPONSIBLE AND SPEAK UP WHEN RIGHTEOUSNESS IS NOT HAPPENING….OR WATCH WITH HORROR A SOCIETY OF COMPLETE SELF-DESTRUCTION !!!!!…..p.s….A return to respect and praise for the true Eternal Diety will make all of this a lot easier !!!

Anne says:

Mrs. Lapin, I couldn’t agree with you more. I haven’t looked at it from this angle. You raise some very salient points.

As a retired teacher, I can assert that the system for protecting children in the schools is broken. Fear is rampant among fellow school employees and elected school board members when it comes to rules and regulations. Some are written in union contracts, some in peer pressure, most in our broken justice system. And unfortunately, children are powerless to defend themselves from the abuse and negligence of the adult perpetrators and the adult bystanders. The Progressive movement is willing to sacrifice the rights of children, born and unborn, for their particular political agenda. As a society and in particular schools and sports organizations, we must protect the physical and emotional lives of our most precious and vulnerable children–political correctness be damned.

Susan Lapin says:

Thank you for your from the trenches comments.

James says:

Yeah, we cannot prosecute this murderer because the demon might be black, female, LGBT, SQRZ, or whatever. Somebody might come along and feel persecuted or even insulted. And with this kind of thinking our society flushes down the sewer with the dregs of society. Enforced political correctness and its wicked aftermath bring to mind the saying of Ralph Waldo Emerson: ‘The Devil can have his way if enough good men do nothing.’

Susan Lapin says:

I am not a lawyer but I think the legal prosecution here likely has to do with legalities, not because he’s a minority. I think the media ignoring of this event is due to racism; the Black community is only useful when it advances liberal causes and otherwise the Liberal establishment has no time for them.

Jean says:

With all due respect, the spectre of affirmative action may have played into the administration’s reluctance to let this driver go. Sad to say, if he was hired to fulfill a quota, then terminating him – even with just cause – may have triggered a discrimination suit. The continual cry of “racism” regardless of facts has cheapened the term to a point at which it is meaningless. It’s also dulled people’s sensibilities to the point where genuine racism isn’t clearly identifiable.

Susan Lapin says:

The truth is that may or may not have been the case here. He may well represent the pool from which drivers can be drawn in Chattanooga. But without keeping a spotlight on this case, we won’t know. My bottom line: parents need to take responsibility. The idea of ‘handing your child’ over to the state and expecting the state to care for them is naive. If the state offers you bribes – otherwise known as entitlements, they come at a cost. Free public education worked while a certain ethics, both in families and in the general public, prevailed. Historically, those ethics did discriminate against the Black population in many places. But along with or following the correction for that wrong, came the removal of standards and values from the educational system which is no less harmful than those policies.

TMay says:

Regarding the pool from which drivers can be pulled, IMHO I disagree: “Record 94,708,000 Americans Not in Labor Force; Participation Rate Drops in May”, only 62.7% of the US population is in the work force. I am sure they could have gotten a more mature person to drive even if they would have had to advertise asking for people to take the course in order to be certified. The head of that private bus company says their buses travel over a million miles a year.

Susan Lapin says:

I hear your point. I don’t think there is one problem here but a systemic failure in the public school system and everything connected with it, especially in poor areas.

James says:

You may be right, yet still I wonder, as the intensive investigation continues, whether the charges may be upgraded to murder down the road.

Susan Lapin says:

Could be.

Irritated says:

“The black community is only useful…” What a harsh statement to make. Susan you are making this about race and the Presidential election. This tragedy has nothing to do with it. Families on both sides lost loved ones during the holidays. What have you done for the families to help out during their time of grief – send a card, donate to burial funds, write to the President to demand he make a statement, write to the “Black Leaders” and demand they do something? No, you sit behind a computer, write on a blog, complain, and make this about race and Presidents. Can we stop the race chatter and move towards peace.

Could it be the school board/bus company did nothing because the students/parents complaining were – (gasp) dare I say it – black.

Susan Lapin says:

I appreciate your sharing that my blog irritated you. I’m not sure if I expressed myself badly or you misunderstood what I said. The parents and students were Black – that was part of what outraged me about the President and Black Lives Matter people staying out of this. Why weren’t they upset enough to chime in? Considering that this happened in Chattanooga, I actually assume (though I didn’t research) that the bus company management and school board are at the very least racially mixed. The sentence you are quoting isn’t in my Musing; it’s from a comment responding to a comment. The point I was making is exactly the point of your last paragraph. I see how being read on its own it could be misunderstood, but I think I said exactly what you are saying.

Peter B. says:

@ James,
It may be that Ralph Waldo Emerson was reprising another great thinker and writer who said:

“All that is necessary for the forces of evil to win in the world is for enough good men to do nothing.”
— Edmund Burke (1729 – 1797)

and then there’s my favorite Burke maxim:

“There is no safely for honest men but by believing all possible evil of evil men.”

James says:

Hi Peter…

The sources of Emerson may be spot on. BTW, you may be the very same Peter from the Rabbi’s radio chat room last year or so…Are you? If so, I am happy to hear from you!

Joyce Redos says:

May I suggest that these are all awesome sentiments. But what is needed are simple but brave actions like parents not just complaining to school authorities when they observe a problem but speaking out publicly at school board meetings, in letters to the editor of local newspapers, of courage to take legal action if necessary- there are many public interest law firms who will act on behalf of concerned parents. Landmark Legal Foundation, American Famile Association, American Center for Law and Justice are just a few organizations that have resources to help parents deal with issues like these or can at least refer parents to such resources. Many will do the work for free.

Susan Lapin says:

Joyce, you are right. Unfortunately, too many people who need the help of these organizations believe that they are evil, racist hateful groups. That’s what they are told. I do think this comes down to parents acting together.

Victor says:

I had been saying all along: Labor Unions are from hell and are used to destroy the Nation. Nobody wants to listen. The clowns who have never ever been able to build even a small business are controlling those who can do something? LU are nothing but mafia cover: Same goals – their own interests only, at any cost; same methods – threats and manipulation; same results – normal people can’t function without fearing LU at every step… LUs should be outlawed worldwide! If not, more killings will be there – mafia never stops when it hides, moreover so when legalized as LU…

Susan Lapin says:

Victor, I do not know that he wasn’t fired because of labor unions. It was a conjecture. Now, teacher’s unions are another issue when there are teachers who should never be around children.

Marie says:

I hear what you are saying however, these jobs are hard to fill. In Illinois they are always looking for drivers because of the stringent regulations and background checks. Most of the black men here don’t have drivers licenses let alone for CDL. This is a low paying job with 2 to 4 hours a day. The children have behavior problems actually, they are just down right out of control. We have to have bus monitors because of their behavior. I was asked to drive the bus when I was in between jobs. There is NO WAY I would deal with those children attitude while trying to drive a bus. Now, I’m not saying he’s justified in what he did to those children. I’m saying he shouldn’t have taken the job in the first place or he should have quit when he realized he could no longer deal with the behavior of the children. As for the silencing of the media on this shooting, well you answered it earlier, he doesn’t fit their talking points. They are treating it just as they would a black on black crime. Nothing!

Susan Lapin says:

Marie, you are right that in many areas it is probably very difficult to fill this job. And student behavior in many cases can make it a terrible job. However, better that a school district says that they cannot supply transportation than that they hire or retain drivers who are unsafe. And I agree with Russell below that an entire revamping of our society is needed so that students who want to learn can and kids who choose not to behave don’t stop them from doing so.

Frank says:

I posted your article and more facts on my Facebook page… the best thing to do is keep this in the public eye and keep posting about it. Frank

Susan Lapin says:

I agree. Thank you.

Peter B. says:

Susan, I feel your passion in writing this week’s Musing. As I read all of the comments (and every one of them terrific!), I can’t help but suggest a fabulous book on the overarching subject, the “elephant in the room”. It’s time somebody took the lamp and the doily off of this elephant and called it for what it truly is. I read the book earlier this year immediately after it was published and I highly highly recommend it to you and your entire readership. The book is Titled: The Black Book of the American Left – Volume VI: Progressive Racism, by David Horowitz.

For those who may be unfamiliar with Mr. Horowitz, he is a septuagenarian former man who, in the early – mid 1970’s had an awakening. Since then, it has been his life’s mission to expose the left, and his writings are some of the most powerfully illuminating of any I’ve read. Progressive Racism is a history book, a political science book, and an expose of leftist-socialist thinking as it applies to the subject of race in America.

“All that is necessary for the forces of evil to win in the world is for enough good men to do nothing.” – Edmund Burke (1729 – 1797)

Peter B. says:

former “man of the left”, I meant to write

Susan Lapin says:

Peter, David Horowitz is actually one of the people who helped us realize how important being involved in politics was. His personal background is fascinating and makes it important to listen to him.

Lisa Beausay says:

Thank you Susan for not forgetting the children in that bus. Some died many were hurt and all were traumatized. Our media is a scandal right now and we all need to toss out the owners and editors and reporters. I find we have nothing but a leftist media filled with slaves and robots. When Israel was burning from one end to the other I heard NOTHING on it from the USA. It is, like you said, unacceptable.

Susan Lapin says:

Do you think, Lisa, that a Trump presidency will force the media to change somewhat or to become completely obsolete? They certainly got a whacking in this election.

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