Being of Sicilian descent, it’s a given that there were Catholic influences in my childhood. Somewhere along the line, we joined the Episcopalian tribe for reasons that are still not clear to me. At any rate, the moment I didn’t have to go to church anymore it quickly became a memory. I’m certainly not overtly religious at age 52, my cynicism gets in the way. But like many people who display a reticence towards organized religion, I claim and insist that I do have a spiritual side. I admire those who are “re-born” or outwardly Christian. Whatever it takes to get you through the mire and still maintain some human decency is fine by me.
One of the great hurdles for me when it comes to religion is the unconditional forgiveness clause. I see and read about too many things that are just unforgiveable. I’m reminded of one of my favorite Lyle Lovett songs in which he despairs over a cheating sweetheart and wrestles with his inability to forgive. It has a typical Lovett tongue-in-cheek prose. “God will, but I won’t…God does, but I don’t, and that’s the difference between God and me…”. Thank you, Lyle.
Our community is once again wrestling with that theme in the wake of one of the most stunning acts of arrogance that I have seen in recent years. The decision by the Souhegan High School administrators to include in their 2010 yearbook, the pictures of two teens involved in the horrific Mont Vernon home invasion and murder. Glover and Marks are already notorious in this community, one of them having already plea-bargained out in exchange for testimony against the other three. One of them, though not tried, is clearly guilty of murder. I know…I know…this is America. Innocent until proven guilty. And as far as the legal system and the doling out of punishment, he is.
But I’m a pragmatist and have read, as painful as it was, the legal documents that were made public just a few months after the arrests. In the those documents there are statements made by the four that clearly indicate who did the machete work on Kim Cates and her daughter Jaimie. It is also clear that there was, and is, no remorse. Not even the slightest hint of it. Indeed, just hours after the crime they were hawking Kim’s jewelry at a “cash-for-gold” store. The details of the crime are too horrible to repeat. The young girl was treated like trash, beaten and cut and left for dead.
Now comes the liberal elite that “administer” the Souhegan High School which is so far ahead of the rest of us that they don’t use grades, attendance is optional, and teachers are addressed by their first names. You know the type and at this point I don’t bridle at all at the notion of calling “them” a “type”. Yes…I’m profiling. I’m stereotyping. You see, at this point, I’ve seen enough of this type of thinking and can tolerate it easily when the ramifications of it don’t waft into my life. When it affects me, then it’s a different story.
These are the same people who want easy, or no, punishment for child predators. We should “heal” them instead. It took a public outcry, a letter from David Cates himself, and a media frenzy to even elicit a semi-apology from Souhegan High School. It could have been a form letter. The usual “we gave the matter much thought and consideration” to the whining that the two boys are continuing their education from behind bars while they await trials. One of those apologies that is deliberately vague and without passion. In other words, a little worse than no apology at all.
While they may have given the matter deep consideration they gave no consideration to the Cates family of Mont Vernon or the memory of Kim Cates. They gave no thought to the small community of Mont Vernon, New Hampshire, and the surrounding towns. Thousands of people were affected by this. The ripple effect was astonishing. David Cates, who has shown absolute class since this tragic event, not giving interviews and doing Good Morning America with his daughter, but quietly trying to resume some normalcy for himself and his daughter, was forced into writing a letter, a painful process, I’m sure. He is owed a face to face apology, but don’t hold your breath.
But the pictures will remain and the rest of us will just have to live with it. But within this story is yet another red flag, another reminder to all of us who remember a different America, a different culture. A time when people were demure, or at least knew the meaning of the word, and had less proclivity towards breaking social envelopes. Now? Well, now, it’s all about breaking the envelope. Make you wonder where we are headed, doesn’t it?