Media Lining Up to Defend Black Teen Shot in Carjacking, Attempted Murder

What's it like to feel powerless?

A lieutenant in the Chicago Fire Department may find out.  The fireman committed the grave sin of defending himself and his property from an aggressor.  Now he is the target of a social media campaign to ex post facto punish him for having the audacity to protect what is rightfully his.

Last summer, the unidentified firefighter left his Jeep idling on the West Side of the city (admittedly, not a bright thing to do anywhere in Chicago) when it was carjacked by 17-year-old Charles Macklin.  The lieutenant, who is Hispanic, attempted to stop Macklin, a black teen, from taking his vehicle by jumping in front and yelling, "Get out."  Macklin refused.  According to the police report, Macklin then "tried to run [the firefighter] over," at which point the threatened lieutenant pulled his concealed handgun and shot the teenager in the chest, killing him.

After investigating the lieutenant's actions, the Chicago Fire Department found no rule violation or wrongdoing.

That wasn't enough justice for Macklin's sister, Janique.  In a glowing profile that reads more like a KCNA summary of Kim Jong-un's latest trip abroad than a real news account, the Chicago Tribune provided a platform for Janique's feeling of unfairness.  "When has it ever become legal to shoot someone because they're pulling off in your car?" she asks, either unaware that her brother tried to run down the owner of the car he was jacking or dismissing the official police report entirely.

Then comes the most revealing quote: "Even if [Macklin] did that, if he did steal the car.  You've got insurance – let him go to jail.  I would've rather had to get a call to go bail him out of jail than to get a phone call that he's dead."

This is an abhorrent mix of demanded obeisance, willful duplicity, and wishful thinking.  Macklin wasn't just stealing the car; he made an attempt on the owner's life.  And why is it assumed that Macklin will only go on a joyride?  Why does she conjecture that the worst thing that will happen is her numbskull brother will go to jail?  What if Macklin had used the vehicle to commit another theft or, worse, a murder?

Janique tells an innocent story that assumes the best of her larcenist sibling.  But the underlying moral of her story is much darker: the firefighter not only should have let Macklin steal his car, but should have dutifully suffered whatever injury may have resulted from their altercation, allowing his assailant to trample all over him like a doormat.

We've seen this reaction before, particularly by leftist activists pretending to be victim advocates.  When George Zimmerman confronted Trayvon Martin and was getting his head pounded against the sidewalk like a flesh basketball, left-wing pundits acted as if Zimmerman should have taken the abuse and possibly died that fateful night.  When Michael Brown charged police officer Darren Wilson and attempted to take his gun, the same voices claimed that Wilson was somehow in the wrong for protecting himself with lethal force.

The rejoinder in all these sad situations is always some version of "He shouldn't have done that, but..."  The weight of a human life is often put on the small conjunction "but," and it ends up obscuring the clause preceding it, which is where true moral value lies.  So when Janique Macklin says something akin to "Yeah, my brother shouldn't have stolen the Jeep, but he shouldn't have been shot dead for it," we should trace the fatal consequence back to its provenance: a choice.

Unlike media scribes blindly sympathizing with Ms. Macklin's message, I'm going to do something different: treat her brother like a real human being with agency.  His choice to steal a running parked car directly resulted in his death.  It was his choice because he's a person, not an animal.  We live, or sometimes don't live, with our choices.

There's a time for no-exception rule enforcement and a time for reasoned discernment.  Had Macklin been screwing around in the car, stealing CDs or change from the cup-holder, I'd be more skeptical of using fatal force to subdue him.  But that's not what happened.  He attempted to steal a two-ton hunk of steel and use it as a battering ram against someone trying to recoup his property.  "[T]here should be a proportion between the severity of the crime and the severity of the punishment," wrote K.G. Armstrong.  An attempt on a life warrants lethal defense as a deterrent.

Anyone who says the lieutenant should have remained in place lest he be run over by his own car is saying one thing: he should have sacrificed his life for mere delinquency.  That's a sick way of thinking.  It elevates some people's moral standing while lowering others', a verbal game of excusing murderous behavior.

Macklin had a choice.  He didn't have to steal the vehicle.  He didn't have to threaten the lieutenant's life with his own vehicle.  He didn't have to die.

That he did, and that there is credibility being lent to his sister's dubious narrative of events, shows just how debased our conception of human life has become.  Asking someone to lie down and die for the sake of another's choice isn't sympathy or understanding – it's crude barbarity disguised as false compassion.

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