Shame as justice

On Friday evening something happened on the Red Line here in Los Angeles for the first time in the subway’s modern history. Someone was murdered. I was a little surprised. But then not. Our MTA rail is relatively sane and sedate. Of course there are some goofy insane people and the assorted hostile-looking latent criminals fluttering through the trains, but for the most part our subways are rather peaceable public vehicles and the threat of assault does not seem near when you’re a passenger. It’s amazing that for a public transport in such a heterogeneous and vast city there isn’t more crime. Friday night this apparently ended. I don’t know how widely this relatively small and inert story has been covered across the country, and in fact, it hasn’t exactly been screaming out the headlines locally either. It’s a curious story for those inclined to like this sorta random whodunit stuff. The other portion of the public to take great interest is probably the Red Line travelling public, me included. In fact, the crime apparently culiminated at the Hollywood and Vine station which is where I exit and board. It seems the stabbing occurred on the northbound Red Line (my description, the MTA calls it eastbound, which is also accurate) and began as an altercation between an Asian man in his 20s carrying a couple of skateboards and a 59-year-old passenger as they stood near the doors of the crowded car. Further details:

Los Angeles Times
LA Times reporter firsthand account

I won’t elaborate because the crime itself is not the motive for my post. This is not to say the incident is not intriguing in its LA criminal noir randomness.

A random altercation between random train passengers ending in an equally random murder. Now, police digging up video footage from embedded cameras on the train and the surrounding area, including the W Hotel which is a veritable videofest of surveillance owing to all the moneyed interests that flow in and out of that trendy haven. Yes, this is Hollywood and all dramatic and deadly excursions promise intrigue and mystery. This might very well be droll on the surface, but why did the Asian kid stab the drunken man with the chain? Why did they argue? Why did the old guy have a plastic chain attached to his clothes and begin waving it about in a farcical threatening manner?

Better yet, was the kid Japanese, Chinese, Korean or Filipino???

And most intriguing:

Why did two (apparent) strangers find the gall to become involved and bark verbal support and advice at the killer just moments after he began pleading with the passengers for understanding and testimonial support?

From KTLA:

Witnesses said the young man was distraught after the stabbing, asking them if they saw what happened, wondering why the older man fought him.

From the Los Angeles Times:

Los Angeles Times music writer Todd Martens, who was taking the subway home from work, said the young man and Garay were standing near a door on the crowded, rush-hour train. An argument broke out, he said, and the older man began flailing a chain attached to a jacket or bag.

“He wasn’t hitting [the young man], he wasn’t punching or fighting, he was waving his arms in a really fast motion,” Martens said. “It just wasn’t a normal way to fight somebody …. He seemed a little left of center.”

The young man took a few steps backward and pulled a knife from inside his jacket, Martens said. Authorities allege that he hit Garay in the head with a skateboard and then stabbed him in the chest. Passengers, including a father and his crying son, rushed to the back of the train as blood began running down the center aisle, Martens said.

“He said, ‘I can’t believe he made me do that,’ ” Martens said. ” ‘Everybody saw it, it was self-defense right?’ ”

When none of the passengers answered, the young man began lamenting that there was no way to elude capture because police would be waiting when the train pulled in to the station. Two young women said otherwise, Martens recalled.

” ‘You don’t know that,’ ” Martens quoted the women as saying. ” ‘Keep it together, you have to be ready.’ … They were giving him a pep talk.”

At the women’s suggestion, the assailant pulled a bright blue T-shirt out of his canvas bag and exchanged it for his bloodied gray one, Martens said. There were no officers waiting when the train stopped, he said. The young man ran west on Hollywood Boulevard, authorities said.

I’m here to comment on what I highlighted in bold type.

I’m presuming these little girls who acted as if they were watching reality TV garbage were not acquainted with the stabber. I’m presuming they were of intellectually normal development. These assumptions also lead me to believe they have thus far lived their lives woven in a daily fantasy of exaggerated persona lightened by mega doses of lack of accountability. Most news reports say the car’s passengers scurried fearfully from the scene and didn’t engage the desperate stabber who asked them all for some sort of demented forgiveness. Not these chicks. They felt bold enough to stick around and coach the killer into changing his shirt, and according to another account I read this morning in the physical L.A. Times, detailed physical escape plans for him.

Fine girls, fine youth.

This is the kind of garbage our pop culture and its ubiquitous “reality entertainment” breeds in young kids, who shielded from life, lose the ability to differentiate from MTV garbage and reality. Real Life reality. These girls might as well have been sitting home on their couches and rooting on disconnectedly as the hot TV villain sought a way out of his jam. A miniscule snippet of deranged life from the murderous confines of L.A.’s underground.

I don’t believe that the girls, if apprehended, should be tried. They should be released into the wild and allowed to fester further on the decayed moral flesh of modern civilization.

However, their faces and names should be splashed across the media with a concise description of their actions noted in bold print.
And if they are minors, then their parent’s or adult custodians should have their faces splashed across the media with actions of their children in bold print.

This is the Facebook era of non-humanity.
The ultimate punishment now is public shame.

Edit/addition, 8/22/11 7:45am:
More on the onlooker’s escape plans that were offered to the stabber.

“It was actually really depressing to me,” Martens said. Although the women did not appear to know the man, “they advised him how to get out of there,” Martens said.