Has the use of the word “teenager” by the old media given criminal teens a sense of immunity? You see it again and again. Trayvon Martin is constantly referred to as a just a teenager, as though that somehow absolved him of his crimes. Most male children who are brought up in intact families, do not become predatory creatures in their teens. But for those who do not have strong moral, male role models in their lives, especially if this is the default position in their community, predation is common . . .

In a recent home invasion in Georgia, the homeowner grabbed his gun when his door was broken down. As he confronted the three invaders, they begged for mercy.

From wrdw.com:

“The first thing he hollered, we is teenagers, don’t shoot me,” Green said.

Green said he didn’t care what age they were, they were breaking into his home.

“If you are old enough to do a crime, age doesn’t matter. Doesn’t matter whether you’re a teenager, you’re grown. If you can do the crime, your punishment, it shouldn’t matter. I had my gun in my hand and I just started firing at them,” Green said.

A six foot plus 17-year-old can be every bit as dangerous as an older criminal, maybe more. As I read media reports, it seems the belief is that being 17 should give some special sort of invulnerability to ballistic responses and incarceration. And while the juvenile justice system may provide some invulnerability to jail for a time, words do not stop bullets.

The “progressive” position seems to be that “children” are inherently good. That is not true. Children are inherently selfish and amoral. In Christianity, this state of being is recognized as original sin. Each child is a wild animal that must be civilized and taught moral virtues. That is much harder to accomplish in a single-parent home. If teenagers are told that they’ll be excused when breaking the law — as many media reports seem to imply — and that get special consideration if they’re only teenagers, we should not be surprised when large percentages of them become actual criminals.

©2014 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
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78 Responses to “We is teenagers, don’t shoot me!”

    • Yes, Very much agree.

      I know exactly how fast and strong I was when I was 17. While I’ve kept in good health in the several decades following, I wouldn’t stand a chance against my younger self in a stand-up fight (barring treachery on the part of my older self, heh).

      Add a complete lack of human empathy that these thugs exhibit, and I am far more fearful of a group of teen thugs in my house than a group of adult criminals.

      • Since the male of the species achieves is maximum physical strength in his late 20s you must have become a couch potato. I could still beat the crap out the 17 year old when 60 and I am pretty sure I could still stand a fighting chance at 65. I remember one altercation I had with my dad when I was 16 and he told me to go off and hit him. I was on on the ground before I knew what hit me. He was 57.

        • That is why the physical fitness standards in the military get harder and harder as you age, and most pro athletes are in their 50s and 60s.

        • tdiinva, the article is referring to ‘teenagers’ not 20 somethings. At 17 I was a competitive varsity powerlifter, a varsity fullback, and competitive in Judo. I was not a skinny, gangly teen.

          Yes, I got even stronger when in college, continue to compete (with a partial scholarship for Judo), and continued to gain strength and skill in the years that followed, eventually becoming a defensive tactics instructor for a LE academy.

          At 50, maintaining the same level of speed and flexibility I had when 17 (teenager, remember) is not possible. While I still lift heavily, run, rock click, and keep my standing in Judo, things do, eventually, start to break down a bit as you age. I am stronger (still) than I was at 17 (but less so than I was at my peak in my late 20s). Keeping that strength, and working on speed and flexibility takes much, MUCH more effort at this age than it did 3 decades ago. And my reaction speed will never be what it once was.

          So, yes, I’m older (a bit stronger), but slower and less flexible than I was as a teen. That speed/reaction time of my younger self would be able to take me one-on-one in a Judo match. In a out-and-out fight, only experience and pure meaness would be an advantage to the older me.

          On the other hand, perhaps you were very athletic in your teens and have miraculously managed to do nothing but improve into your 50s. If so, please share whatever it is you are drinking, because keeping it all together the hard way take a great deal of effort that only gets harder after about 35.

      • I was a fairly muscular heavier built athlete when I was 18. Yes, I could beat the crap out of men older than I was.

  1. The author of this piece appears to misunderstad what “original sin” is. Although visiting upon the descendants of a wrongdoer the punishment merited by the wrongdoer always seemed questionably just to me, original sin is the passing down to all of humanity of guilt for the misdeed committed by Adam and Eve when they disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden. But I agree that children are not inherently good; their sense of right and wrong appears to arise from what they are exposed to as they are reared.

    • Respectfully, there are a number of ways in which the church might characterize the doctrine, and the author’s is a valid one.

      • The author’s notion of original sin is not biblical. God meted out a specific punishment for the original sin and was done with it. God created man in his image. God gave man free will, but God did not put evil in man. As I said elsewhere, anyone who thinks man is inherently evil or depraved (or born a wild animal) should spend some time thinking about what that says about God.

        • Thanks for your comment. The author conflates the fact that children simply need to be taught consideration for others with the erroneous idea that all we are all guilty and depraved just because the first two people who ever lived decided to disobey God once.

          Not only is there nothing scriptural about “original sin,” but Jesus makes it pretty clear that children are generally more fit for His kingdom than adults are – that WE are the ones who need to be more like children. To turn that doctrine on its head is the height of arrogance and apostasy.

          Considering that the family is a heavenly heavenly institution, why should we be surprised that the breakdown of the family correlates with the breakdown of the biblical concept of how special children are, and with “children” who grow up to become thugs?

        • “…anyone who thinks man is inherently evil or depraved (or born a wild animal) should spend some time thinking about what that says about God.”

          The idea that man being born with a sin nature somehow reflects poorly on God ignores the reality of the Fall. As Jeremiah says, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:9 (NASB) Furthermore, you claim the doctrine that man is born into a sin nature is based on a “distortion and exaggeration of Romans chapters 5-8”, but what distortion or exaggeration is there? Rather, I would claim that the doctrine is drawn, in part, from a clear, straightforward reading of the passage.

          I would caution that how one views sin and its origin can have a serious impact on how one views Christ’s role in salvation. While we certainly do make the choice to sin, to claim that our nature plays no role is to imply that our choice is mostly (or entirely?) our upbringing. This could lead one to conclude that a person could, by simply never choosing to sin, have no need of a savior and would instead earn his way into Heaven, which is dangerously close to works-based salvation. The fact is that because of Adam’s sin, all of us are born already fallen short of the glory of God, and need a redeemer to bring us back.

        • The distortion and exaggeration comes from elevating bits and pieces of Paul’s words in his letter to the congregation in Rome above anything God said or did and, more importantly for this topic, what Jesus said and did, while at the same time ignoring Paul’s broader message. Paul even counters his own idea that Adam’s sin caused man’s propensity to sin by explaining that Jesus’ sacrifice can absolve that sin. See Romans 5:15-17.

          My broader point is there is no biblical basis for the idea that children are wild animals, and I don’t like it when someone tries to pass that off as Christian.

        • I would caution against accusations of “elevating bits and pieces of Paul’s words in his letter to the congregation in Rome above anything God said or did and, more importantly for this topic, what Jesus said and did”, as according to II Timothy 3:16, ALL Scripture is what God says, regardless of whose pen He was guiding at the time.

          Further, I am a little confused as to your reference to Romans 5, which seems to underscore, rather than undermine, the idea of original sin. For instance, in verse 15 I see, “For if by the transgression of the one the many died…” (NASB) This would seem to indicate that Adam’s sin affected many, not just himself. To know what this says about God, we need to go back to Genesis. We find that God created the world, and it was “very good”. Adam and Eve, too, were initially sinless. However, they disobeyed God and became sinners, creating a spiritual divide between them and God. God would have been justified in leaving the situation like that, but instead He loved us enough to enter into human history as a man, pay the penalty for our sins, both imputed and personal, and thus redeem us so that we may again have a relationship with God.

    • The author’s point stands. It wasn’t a theologian’s definition of original sin, but a usable example of it. Maybe even an example of total depravity too. “Lord of the Flies”, sort of. Kids need fathers, not gang leaders to learn manhood from. The cost of going wrong might be a homeowner’s bullet in the belly. Hard knocks, the toughest school.

    • “Original Sin” in a religious context is just mythology. The author’s interpretation is one proposal as to why that mythology developed.

      • Nicholas, is there any other context other than a religious one in which the concept of “original sin” is deemed to be even worthy of discussion? And I trust that nothing I wrote compelled the inference that I view the concept as anything other than a myth, or, more bluntly, balderdash. There are, however, those who take it quite seriously.

  2. “Ty’Qua Zhan’Trez Walker”

    Seriously are they using some sort of Klingon name generator or what?!

    The link Bob Wall provided is great, the video is probably the most enlightening thing of all.

  3. I’ve known freshmen in highschool, heck 6th graders and 7th graders who would need nothing more than their bare hands to kill or severely injure an adult, even a fit one. I dont like this “teenagers” as an excuse for violence, stupidity, and hooliganism. If anything youths are more dangerous because they are young and immature and have no concept of their own strength, and no (or at least very little) common sense when it comes to using their strength, they lack a lot of maturity needed to understand the outcomes of their actions. In real life if you punch someone in the head at full strength they are likely going to the hospital with life changing brain injuries, they might even die, but to a kid their concept of force comes from movies or television where the good guy takes a Louisville Slugger to the face and still manages to fend off his attacker.

    If someone is strong enough to kick in a door, they are plenty strong enough to maim and or kill me regardless of age, and I will respond accordingly.

    • Absolutely. I’ve had to go hands on with many teenagers throughout the years, especially in ER’s and psych units. I remember one very large, bearded, seventeen year old that was almost lifting my partner and I as we tried to control his arms in an attempt to escort him to his room. I attempted to take the fight out of him (and divert his attention) with at least three knee strikes to his lateral thighs. He just said, “who’s kicking me back there?” We finally got him to the ground and were able to catch our breaths. He chilled out while he was on the floor, thankfully.

      So yeah, from personal experience I will tell you that teenagers can be a grave threat to your safety. Yes, their brains aren’t fully developed and there are reasons to treat them differently once they get to court. But in a self-defense scenario, don’t give me that I’m a poor little teenager BS.

    • Just once I’d like Hollywood to show what a real fight looks like. Especially the “lone assassin” vs “squad of armed security guards”.

      Indiana Jones showed it best

  4. Billy the Kid. Young Capone. Young Meyer Lansky.

    I cannot recall a major outlaw that did not begin their career of violence as a teenager. I’m sure there are a few, but they are rare. People who find violence against innocents an acceptable tool to make a buck usually start young.

  5. I was raised in a household with a weak, amoral male role model (until he left for another woman) and turned out just fine.

    I know lots and lots of us raised in similar circumstances, so I’m not sure I concur with your “But for those who do not have strong moral, male role models in their lives, especially if this is the default position in their community, predation is common” statement.

    It’s America’s criminal class culture that I blame for this predatory behavior. Not single-parent upbringings absent a strong, moral male.

    John

    • +1.

      I’ve never bought into this argument. I think its faith-based and a bit paternalistic. As you suggest, sometimes it might be better if the male is not around.

      • Holy crap!

        Just now noticed that! Probably done by someone with an education degree and ZERO mechanical engineering exposure…

        Have some fun and take it to a school board meeting and ask them if they see anything wrong with it.

        The blank looks would be priceless…

    • Apologies for the language

      Chris Rock: A bunch of girls think that you don’t need no man to raise no child… shut the fuck up with the bullshit! Yeah, you can do it without a man, but it don’t mean it’s to be done! Shit! You can drive a car with your feet if you want to; it don’t mean its a good fucking idea!

      • See what happens if those same sentiments come out of the mouth of say, an older white rancher? Of course outside of comedy where the targets can laugh it off and say “oh! He so crazay!” Black people sharing the truth as they see it tend to catch as much flack these days. No, if you want to make in black entertainment today it’s back to black face and sycophantic asshattery lest you strike that nerve.

    • Sure John. Not every one poor is a criminal. Nor every single mother lives in poverty. But a higher percentage of poor people are criminals; more single mothers live in poverty than married couples and more children from single parent families living in poverty are involved in destructive drug use, dangerous sexual behavior and are more often involved in criminal activity.

      Having a two parent family, married or not, is demonstrably better(percentage wise) for the children.

  6. Where is Al Sharpton right now about this injustice?!?!?!? I mean “we is teenagers!” I mean, come on, they are just kids, and they didn’t deserve to be shot at! The homeowner didn’t take into account that they might have had a bad childhood or grown up poor? How would you like to be a kid just having a night of fun and have some homeowner feel like he can just shoot at anyone that burglarizes his home? They really don’t mean no harm cause “we is teenagers!”

    I bet if this homeowner had been white, real justice by Sharpton would be served. I mean, unlike Michael brown, this kid is nowhere near 295 lbs . . . We also need more gun control! If that homeowner had been restricted to a single shot, he couldn’t have possibly fired 3 rounds that quick! It would have prevented this real tragedy of another kid being shot because he was black. He really is a good kid . . .

    • This blog covers real world Defensive Gun Uses (DGUs) so often that they have an acronym for them. Have you ever read it before?

    • An even better question: Why do nonsensical trolls continue comment here on the topic of what is posted?

      Geez. If you can’t imagine the relevance of a DGU and its subsequent social commentary follow-up to a “Gun Site,” there is, quite frankly, no hope for you at all.

      Just wow.

  7. Ugh please shit the hell up with the religious “children are selfish and wild animals” original sin bullshit okay?

    Infants have been shown to show empathy for others because empathy is an innate human trait and why we slowly move toward more peaceful societies.

    The difference is progressives insist on not holding children accountable for their actions, which is a terrible idea.

    However, children are not innately “good” in the victorian sense and least of all teens, who are god damned adult humans by any scientific standard.

    Teens were considered adults just over 70 years ago. As a society we have infantilized them and have created generations of bratty, immature, selfish, soft spined fools.

    Don’t send your kids to public schools, it is the biggest propagator of this.

  8. There has been a spate of horrific crimes perpetrated by quote children unquote of late. Deadly “knockout” games, some of them with robbery, some without. Home invasions. Burglaries, both hot and cold. We’re waiting to see if the Michael Brown incident will result in a SECOND spate of riots and looting when the townspeople don’t get the answer they want from the grand jury. If the grand jury DOES hand down an indictment, we’ll be waiting a third time for violence when the verdict comes down, and it isn’t the answer they want.

    A common thread has been that identifier: “teenager”. Trayvon Martin had his 12 year old picture used across the country, even though he was 17, nearly 18, when he was shot, trying to pound Zimmerman’s head through the sidewalk. Mike Brown was 18, and has been repeatedly called a “teen”.

    The “teen” particle in their age is worse than irrelevant in many cases, and prejudicial in nearly all. It gives the impression that the subject of the phrase is between “child” and “adult”, an adolescent. Our minds automatically associate that with between 10 and 15, when puberty is first whipsawing a kid, and they’re not really being held responsible for their acts. But at 16, we start giving kids drivers’ licenses, a major responsibility. At 16-17, even though not truly adult, many states consider them able to consent to sexual activity, and under some circumstances (such as marriage) can even be manumitted from their parents and considered to BE adult on the basis of their actions, if not their years.

    But at 18, we consider a young person an adult. They are responsible for their contracts. They can join the military. They can vote. They can buy some firearms. The only things we hold back are the ability to buy handguns and to drink alcohol — but in all other things, they are considered to be adult. 18 and 19 are NOT still in the “adolescent-near-child” condition anymore, they are adults, supposedly responsible for their actions. But the media is selective. If they want to hold someone responsible, they’re a “young man” or “young woman”. If they DON’T want to hold them responsible, they’re a “teenager”.

    I don’t buy it. If you’re 18 or 19, they’re adult. Don’t use misleading terms that yank at our protective feelings for children.

    The homeowner was right — if they’re old enough to break in a door to rob a place, they’re old enough to get shot as a home invader. A lot of home invaders yell out things to keep from getting shot, from “I’m unarmed!” and “I’m just a kid” to “Police!” or “SWAT!”. It’s just bluster. If you pause and lower your guard, they’ll kill YOU.

    The homeowner probably blathered on too long. I wouldn’t have flapped my jaw, explaining things. If it were me, and they yelled “I’m just a teenager! Don’t shoot!” I would have yelled “Get on the floor and FREEZE! If you approach, I will shoot!” If they continued to present a threat (i.e., didn’t get on the floor or continued to move into the house), I would shoot them until the threat was gone. But giving them a philosophy lecture before opening fire might give a prosecutor ideas.

    • A spate? An honest to god spate!! While over all violent crime continues to drop? When the “knockout game” is known to be over hyped tripe from the same media that brought you “guns baaad!” ? Did you just hit male menopause? That magical time in a mans life where his childhood becomes unblemished and idealized while the here and now is supposed to be an amoral cesspool. I hate to tell you this but your father grandfather and greatgranpappy all went through the same thing, your perspective and judgement are now highly suspect.

  9. Ok, after watching the video a second time, I see that it wasn’t Mr. Green giving the lecture. It sounds like he just opened fire. The reporter made it sound like he started giving a lecture on age.

  10. “We is teenagers, don’t shoot me!”

    Well, teenagers, here’s some choice advice. Don’t go breaking into a man’s house, don’t try to punch out a cop and don’t jump a white Hispanic in an alley and you should be okay.

    “Okay” meaning the only people who will be likely to shoot you are your friends, or your enemies who wear a different color bandanna.

    • I believe in urban street parlance they are known as “frienemies” seriously, you need to brush up on your Ebonics.

  11. Thank God the victim wasn’t a grammar Nazi. He might still be diagraming sentences and lecturing them at gun point.

  12. Yup… also love when a 19 year old is referred to in a headline as a “Teen”. Sorry, that’s an adult. The Chicago Tribune is especially bad about this.

    “Teen arrested for murder” or “Teen assaults police officer”. Then you read the story and it’s an adult who is 18 or 19 years old. So lame

  13. seems like our justice system and the country has forgotten almost ALL serial killers started killing as teenagers. Dahmer, Kemper, Bundy, it goes on and on. and guess what? very few of them used guns.

  14. Working in the public schools I can tell you that the majority of High School students have no fear of consequences at school because there are practically none unless they’re found with blood on their hands or drugs in their possession.

    Kids have always been testing their boundaries. Though there practically is no boundary anymore.

    You’d be amazed and what is going on in schools (crime/disrespect) and what is not (education).

    Kids commit the crimes, parents back them up and administrators fold. The only people held accountable in school are the teachers.

    • Unless they eat a poptart, take a picture , wear a t shirt, shoot imaginary lazer guns or defend them selves or others from physical beatings. Sorry, that’s just my OCD tendency to fill in partial lists !

  15. Hey I weighed nearly 220 and could lift 300 pounds over my head at 17. I could kick my dads a## at 15( he was old and fat). But I didn’t. I was raised in a 2 parent household with Christian values. As my kids have been. Extremely well behaved and respectful. I can’t believe the crap we allow to happen. Commit adult crime-do adult time. And get shot in the gut homie…

  16. Absolutely.

    I’ve had this thought ever since I read A Song of Ice and Fire and was reminded of how, back in the olden days, “teenaged” meant that the expectation was you could be the adult of the house if the actual adults weren’t there, and take on all the reponsibilities of such.

    And then Zimmerman happened, and I became aware of how “teen” is such a useless descriptor of age that there is literally no good reason to use it in any sort of journalistic context.

    I am somewhat convinced that the delay of responsibilities until after teenage status is one of many reasons why American youth tend to underperform compared to their peers in many other countries.

    • Sigh, how many “kids” operate a vehicle for the very first time at 16 weeks or days before being unleashed on the world? How many never manage a cent of their own money before entering the work force? He’ll! How many never work a day before entering the workforce?

  17. I own a teen who is 6′ 3″ 240 lbs. He wrassles and plays football. He might be able to take me. 🙂 Luckily he’s a sweet kid. Age doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with physical ability.

    Big is big.

    This ain’t Leave it to Beaver out here anymore, if it ever was.

  18. “The “progressive” position seems to be that “children” are inherently good.”

    Actually no. The progressive position is that children a blank slates and that any bad behavior is wholly attributable to their environments – hence the presumed lack of responsibility for their actions and a liberal government’s insistence on social welfare and State control of education.

    While Christian conservatives tend to believe man is born evil and can only attain virtue in life through Christ.

    Both excuse the individual…but i digress.

  19. I was a foster parent for juvenile offenders. When discipline is missing the child goes off the rails. Doesn’t matter if your child is from Watts or Beverly Hills. The same crazy appears. Now if you’ve got more cash legal issues are a minor hurdle.

    Some of the strongest moral parents single or otherwise are among our nations poor. We are Americans. Wow if this article was about welfare check meth head whites in the southwest ignoring their children, I wonder…. Do you have the brass pair to criticize everyone who fits the bill? Or let’s paint the only problem as black. Come on.

    People of the Gun, stop fulfilling the stereotype the antis paint you with. They see themselves as better than you. That you are not smart enough to own guns. Stop thinking and saying stuff that helps their cause.

    Some blacks are predatory. Some whites are predatory. A greater percentage of black homes are single parent. A greater number of white homes are single parent. Isn’t it a tragedy all around?

    What are we doing to change this?

  20. This post annoys me to no end. I’m going to break it down in the style of a certain TTAG commenter, quoted line by quoted line.

    “Has the use of the word “teenager” by the old media given criminal teens a sense of immunity?”

    Really? Teen criminals are perusing the news and deciding that because the media calls them teens they won’t get shot or put in jail? Weingarten really thinks any teenagers think this way? Moreover, the teenager in the picture is 17. What else was the reporter supposed to call him? Would Weingarten have preferred calling him a child? He’s not an adult, by definition.

    “Most male children who are brought up in intact families, do not become predatory creatures in their teens.”

    Guess what? Most male children who are brought up in “broken” families do not become predatory creatures in their teens either. Or at any other time, for that matter. In fact, most children of either sex brought up in any environment anywhere do not become predatory creatures.

    “Children are inherently selfish and amoral. In Christianity, this state of being is recognized as original sin. Each child is a wild animal that must be civilized and taught moral virtues.”

    Many Christian disagree with this. As a Christian, I do not appreciate this blanket statement. Personally, I do not think this view of original sin has a sound biblical basis. In my opinion, it is a distortion and exaggeration of Romans chapters 5-8.

    The original sin is described in Genesis chapter 3. It says nothing about children being selfish and amoral or wild animals. The original sin was defiance of God. God punished Adam and Eve and imposed the same punishments on their descendents too. Original sin does not mean man (or babies or children) is inherently evil or depraved or born that way.

    God gave man freewill, but God did not put evil in man. At some point in life, every person (some with more frequency and severity than others) will use that freewill to sin. But the idea that all men are flawed is very different from the idea that man is born depraved (like a wild animal) and must claw his way out of that depravity with God’s help. I believe God’s creation is better than that.

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