FRIDAY, APRIL 23, 2021
Anthropological learnings: For starters, we'll tell you this—Kristin Henning isn't some crazy kid.
Henning is The Blume Professor of Law at Georgetown Law School. She's also Special Advisor to the Dean on Community and Justice and Director of the Juvenile Justice Clinic and Initiative.
She got her undergraduate degree at Duke. She received her law degree from Yale in 1995. If only on the basis of age, she isn't some crazy kid.
It's also true that Henning has written an essay at Slate. Her article appears today beneath these dual headlines:
Police Have Killed at Least Five Children in the Past Month Alone
When will it stop?
Professor Henning probably didn't write those headlines. That said, her essay starts like this:
HENNING (4/23/21): Minutes before the jury delivered their verdict convicting a former Minneapolis police officer for the murder of George Floyd, another police officer in Columbus, Ohio shot and killed 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant. Ma’Kahia joins Adam Toledo (13), Anthony Thompson (17), Iremamber Sykap (16), and Anthony Bernal Cano (17) on the list of children who have been killed by the police since the new year began, which includes at least five in the past month alone. Add to that the dozens of children who have been killed by police in the last decade and we have reason to be concerned about the sanctity of American childhood.
"We have reason to be concerned about the sanctity of American childhood?" We'd be inclined to call that the understatement of the year.
Adam Toledo, age 13, was on the streets with an apparent gang member at 3 A.M. when he was shot and killed.
To appearances, Ma’Khia Bryant was about to stab someone with whom she was in a dispute.
Anthony Thompson was shot and killed inside a Knoxville high school which has experienced an ungodly wave of gun violence in the past year, even before police were called to the scene on the day he was shot and killed.
Meanwhile, the Washington Post has spilled with headlines of late about the 12-year-old boy who was arrested for shooting the 13-year-old boy, but also about the pair of girls, 13 and 15, who were arrested and charged with felony murder in the death of a man whose car they carjacked through use of a stun gun.
These are all horrible stories about kids who seem to have been swallowed up by the ugly violence of the culture which surrounded them and which suffuses our repulsive "entertainment" industry. In these and in many other cases, we'd say the sanctity of childhood was under assault long before the police showed up.
Henning's subsequent comments about the shooting of Ma’Khia Bryant strike us as amazingly silly, but that has been the reliable norm in the past few days. We write today to call attention to the list of children she has compiled:
In short, here we go with the culling again!
Henning lists five children who have been shot and killed by police officers this year. She seems to be defining "childhood" as age 17 or below. All five of the names she cites appear at the Washington Post's Fatal Force web site in the "Under 18" age group.
She claims to be upset about this. And yet, she omits these other names which appear in the Fatal Force listing:
Names the professor culled from the herd:
Peyton Ham, 16
Judson Albahm, 17
Farrah Rauch, 17
Peyton Ham was shot and killed just last week, just 50 miles from D.C.!
What explains the culling of those names? We'll offer a very strong guess:
According to the Fatal Force site, eight people under age 18 have been shot and killed by police officers so far this year.
The three children Henning omits are the three children who are "white." The five children whose names she lists are, according to the Post, two "black" kids, two Hispanic kids, and one kid "of Asian heritage."
She names the names of those five kids; the "white" kids had to go. It's hard to believe that anyone would ever behave in this truly remarkable way, but at present almost everyone is!
According to this Georgetown scholar, we have reason to be concerned about "the sanctity of American childhood." How about the sanctity of basic human values? How about the sanctity of everything people like the professor have always said they believe?
Why would Slate post an essay like this? We can't answer that question.
Does Georgetown know that its professors perform such acts of cleansing when they fashion their lists? We can't answer that either.
Regarding the gruesome strangeness of the culling this scholar performed, anthropologists tell us us this:
This is the way our brains are wired. Also, they always have been!
One small tiny point: The police officer chasing Adam Toledo that night would have had no apparent way to know how old he was.