This happened on May 1st so I don't know if it is common knowledge or not.  I just found out about it today and have been reading what articles I could find.  Oh, boy, I wish I could figure out how to put links in so you will have to forgive me.  Just Google Jeffrey Hall and you will get links to the New York Times, ABC News, Slate News, etc.

Jeffrey Hall, the victim, was a White Supremacist who regularly held meetings in his home.  Apparently he was a ranking member of the Southern California chapter of the National Socialist Movement.  By his own admission, before he died,  he taught his troubled child how to shoot a weapon.  He was proud of that fact. 

Ten years old.  I have three boys that at 10 could barely tie their shoes and at seventeen, two of them told me their plan was to get an apartment with  hammocks just like Gilligan and the Captain.  My boys were wildly naive.  Not so much any more, both having done tours in Iraq and one currently in Afghanistan.  But at ten?

So many unanswered questions.  Was a troubled child taught hate and then acted out?  Does he know the consequences?  Did he ever even have a chance?  Can he be rehabilitated or is this child damaged goods?

I would like to think that, maybe, there is hope.  As we all know that early indoctrination is not indicative of how we eventually find our way.  


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Comment by Heather Spoonheim on May 12, 2011 at 2:15am

Unfortunately this is not a completely unique occurrence.  Within that last year I remember reading about a boy of about the same age who fatally shot his mother.  Even if a child of that age acted out of anger, grabbed a gun, and made the fatal shot, I just cannot fathom that they truly understand the profound nature of what they are doing.


I can think back on actions I took at a very early age.  I can even think about the mental processes that went into them.  When I think about those things I am always struck by the absence of 'me' - or at least the 'me' that I know today.  For example, feeble efforts to repeat words that I had observed to elicit laughter, solely for the purpose of discerning if the effect could be repeated - absolutely no concept that I was telling a joke or even why those words had elicited laughter at all.


All I can imagine when I hear of a very very young child fatally shooting someone is that there was just a one dimensional curiousity to observe an effect, in absolute absence of any notion of the context or permanence.  Even the concept of permanence would elude a child at that age.  Unfortunately this will likely be that child's foundational experience establishing his concept of permanence, and I have no idea how that will play out.


I hope that that young boy can come to develop 'normally', although it's tough to say if there are many people who would care to foster that development at this point.

Comment by Janet Richter on May 12, 2011 at 8:06am

I'm afraid that a normal upbringing will be out of the question for this boy.  If convicted he will spend the rest of his childhood in juvenile detention plus several years into his adult life.

Unfortunately, this is a child that was exposed to and taught hatred and intolerance practically since he could form a sentence.  I can't even imagine such a childhood.

As far as the father, he taught his son well and paid the price for that intolerance.  I feel a great deal more empathy for the son than I do for the father, stopping just this side of "he deserved it" which was my gut reaction.

Comment by Robert Karp on May 12, 2011 at 8:36am

Proud of teaching his child how to fire a weapon? Anyone else see a problem with this? I don't want to sounds like a liberal tool here but to me aside from the glaring problem of how hate raised this child, guns remain a huge problem in this society.  Then again, I defer to my friend Hitch for the response:  

                        " Of course guns kill people. That's why the people should take control of the guns"

Comment by Janet Richter on May 12, 2011 at 9:31am

Robert - the NRA is going to put you on its' watch list.  Personally, I don't own a gun, don't want to own a gun and agree with you totally.  I know, how un-American of me.  Somewhere in the back of my mind I can't help but think that our founding fathers could never have imagined the level of fire power that is available today.  I rest easier knowing that statistically I am far safer from dying from a gunshot wound than people who own guns.

I am still stuck on the irony that a Neo-Nazi father who taught his troubled son to shoot a gun and shoved intolerance down his throat was killed by that same boy.  But above the irony, can this child ever overcome the emotional trauma or is he, indeed, damaged goods to be locked away from society?

Comment by Robert Karp on May 12, 2011 at 10:04am
I'm pretty confident I am on their watch-list. Although, I have to tell you, if it would come down to the defense of my family, particularly my children, I think I could kill someone. The thought of I would rather own a gun and no use it, than not have one and need one, plagues my thoughts. Does this make me sound like a hypocrite? Probably. I am just not very confident that this country will not explode soon from within.
Comment by Janet Richter on May 12, 2011 at 12:15pm

If our country was invaded by an entity that wanted to destroy it, I might throw off my pacifist ways.  I don't know.  If someone attacked my family, my children, I wouldn't run.  But that is just a passing fancy.  It is not likely that my children will be attacked, nor I.  It is much more likely that "A" gets angry with "B" for whatever reason and pulls the trigger.  Most often it is a family member or someone they know.  Not a stranger.  Moments of anger and fury. 

About taking a life.  That is something I agonize about.  Recently I made the decision to put my 18 year old dog to sleep, as they say.  I decided to end his suffering.  He was deaf and blind and incontinent but still alive.  And I miss him.  But still, I made the decision to end his life which I am still struggling with.  I really miss him.

What else could we invest in that we may need besides a gun?  How about a defibrillator?  Someone might have a heart attack in front of us and we wouldn't be prepared.  What about water?  Do you have three gallons on hand, just in case of an emergency?  Batteries, anyone?  But a gun.  Yeah, we all need that.

That is what that 10 year old was taught.  You NEED a gun.



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