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A Side you never hear., Violent children and video games
Knightsword
post Feb 22 2007, 09:05 PM
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Master of Blades and Rakes
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First read this http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/02/19/homeless.attacks/index.html

QUOTE
By Ashley Fantz
CNN
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MILWAUKEE, Wisconsin (CNN) -- All Nathan Moore says he wanted to do was smoke pot and get drunk with his friends.

Killing Rex Baum was never part of the plan that day in 2004.

"It all started off as a game," Moore said.

The 15-year-old and his friends were taunting the homeless man -- throwing sticks and leaves -- after having a couple of beers with him.

No big deal, Moore says, but he's sorry for what came next.

It was a mistake, he said, a sudden primal surge that made him and his friends Luis Oyola, 16, and 17-year-old Andrew Ihrcke begin punching and kicking Baum.

"Luis says 'I'm gonna go hit him,' We're all laughing, thought he was joking around,'" but he wasn't, Moore concedes. "We just all started hitting him."

They hurled anything they could find -- rocks, bricks, even Baum's barbecue grill -- and pounded the 49-year-old with a pipe and with the baseball bat he kept at his campsite for protection.

Ihrcke smeared his own feces on Baum's face before cutting him with a knife "to see if he was alive," Moore said.

After destroying Baum's camp, the boys left the homeless man -- head wedged in his own grill -- under a piece of plastic where they hoped the "animals would eat" him.

Then, Moore says, they took off to grab a bite at McDonald's.

Baum's murder was indicative of a disturbing trend.

A National Coalition for the Homeless report says last year, there were 122 attacks and 20 murders against the homeless, the most attacks in nearly a decade. (Coalition report on 2006 homeless attacks)

Police found Baum's body two days after the teens attacked him.

They bragged about it around town. Police picked them up and they described what happened.

Ihrcke told police that killing "the bum" reminded him of playing a violent video game, a police report shows.

All three teens pleaded no contest to first degree reckless homicide charges and went to prison.

Moore recently turned 18 at Columbia Correctional Institution in Portage, Wisconsin, where he is serving a 15 year sentence.

"When [the beating] stops, you say, 'What did we just do?'" he told CNN. "There's no rational explanation." (Watch teen explain how "game" became tragedy Video)
Teenage 'amusement'

"It's disturbing to know that young people would literally kick someone when they're already down on their luck," said Michael Stoops, the executive director of the Washington-based National Coalition for the Homeless. "We recognize that this isn't every teenager, but for some this passes as amusement."

Criminologists call these wilding sprees "sport killing," -- largely middle-class teens, with no criminal records, assaulting the homeless with bats, golf clubs, paintball guns. (Watch how nights are cold, fearful for Milwaukee homeless Video)

Some teens have even taped themselves in the act. Others have said they were inspired by "Bumfights," a video series created in 2002 and sold on the Web that features homeless people pummeling each other for the promise of a few bucks.

A segment called "Bum Hunter," hosted by a Crocodile Hunter-like actor wearing a safari outfit, shows him "tagging" homeless people by pouncing on them and binding their wrists.

The distributors of "Bumfights" have claimed they've sold hundreds of thousands of copies.

But the company has had to deal with a couple of legal issues unrelated to the Baum case.

Last year, three former homeless stars of "Bumfights" won a civil suit against filmmakers. Santa Monica attorney Mark Quigley, who represented Rufus Hannah, known as "Rufus the Stunt Bum" to series' fans, said he is unable to disclose the amount of the settlement.

Also, in July 2006, a California judge ordered "Bumfights'" producers Ryan McPherson and Zachary Bubeck to spend 180 days in jail for failing to perform community service related to guilty pleas they previously entered to charges of staging illegal street fights.

"Bumfights" directors did not answer CNN's request for an interview.
Attacks across the nation

Incidents of teen-on-homeless violence dotted the map last year. Florida racked up at least six such attacks in 2006. (Homeless attack across U.S.)

In Lauderhill, four teens were arrested after they allegedly videotaped themselves beating, dragging, and stealing from a homeless man.

The victim has not been found, but the four face one charge each of strong-armed robbery.

Earlier this month, teens in Corpus Christi, Texas, videotaped themselves attacking a homeless man.

Commander David Torres said police arrested a 15-year-old and are looking for at least one more teenager and a 22-year-old who described on tape what they were about to do before they jumped on the man. (Read full story)

On the other side of the nation, former Oregon State University student Joshua Grimes stands accused of shooting and injuring a homeless man from his perch in a fraternity house window.

He has not yet entered a plea, but, according to a police report, he cried to detectives after the October shooting, telling them, "I didn't mean to shoot him."

At least three homeless people in Kalamazoo, Michigan, reported being attacked by teens on bicycles during a 10-day span in October, according to the homeless coalition.

In Huntsville, Alabama, six teens -- one of them 13 -- beat a homeless man with golf clubs, the coalition reported. But perhaps the most shocking of these examples was 2006's first recorded case of teen-on-homeless violence.

On January 12 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, a surveillance camera captured two teens beating a homeless man with bats.

Prosecutors say 17-year-old skateboarder Tom Daugherty, 18-year-old Brian Hooks, a popular hockey team captain, and a third unseen teen, Billy Ammons, a high school dropout, assaulted two more homeless men that night.

One of them was 45-year-old Norris Gaynor. A witness, Anthony Clarke, told police and CNN last year that he saw the three teens approach Gaynor as he slept on a park bench. Daugherty began whacking Gaynor with a bat, Clarke said. (Watch two teenagers beat a cowering homeless man with bats Video)

As Gaynor lay dying, Ammons shot him with yellow paintballs, later remarking that the beating felt like "teeing off," police said.

Gaynor was beaten so badly his own father didn't recognize him. Facing life in prison, the teens face trial for murder later this year. They have each pleaded not guilty to one count of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder. (Read full story)
Lingering questions

Stoops and Brian Levin, a California State University hate crimes expert, say common themes run through teen-on-homeless violence. The attackers are almost always boys, peer pressure and mob mentality sweep away caution, and parents don't suspect their children could be capable of such actions.

Laura Simpson didn't. Her son, Justin Brumfield, is serving an 11-year prison stretch in California.

In August 2005, Brumfield and William Orantes, both 19, beat 56-year-old Ernest Adams with bats. Adams emerged from a coma three weeks later with dents in his skull, permanent scars and no vision in one eye, the Los Angeles Times reported. Orantes is serving a three-year sentence.

Simpson, a sixth-grade teacher, says she is still tormented by her son's actions and wonders if her son's irritability was more than typical teenage moodiness.

She has other questions: Was her son, a natural follower, just succumbing to peer pressure? Was he that into "Bumfights"? Did he see the fear in Adams' eyes when he raised the bat to strike him?

In a sad irony, she had adopted him; his mother was a homeless drug addict, a revelation he had learned not long before the beating and which his attorney used to explain his rage.

Her son has told her he is sorry for what happened, but her questions remain unanswered.

"As a parent, of course you're going to question yourself," she said. "It was just hard to comprehend. The first thing was, 'Not Justin. There has to be a mistake,'" she said. "You think you know everything that's going on and you don't."

When the mob mentality takes over, even the perpetrators may not comprehend what's going on.

Back at the prison in Wisconsin, Nathan Moore seems baffled by his own actions. Killing Rex Baum now registers like a "blur" or "dream," he says.

Moore and his friends knew Baum from around town. Life had been painful for the homeless man from the start; alcohol eased it. As a kid growing up in Milwaukee, when his home life became too rocky, a neighboring family took him in. He drifted through school and a brief stint in the military, his friends say, a wanderer, a loner. (Audio Slide Show: Remembering Rex Baum)

Homeless for years, he defied Wisconsin winters by constantly walking around the city, bundled in a coat patched with duct tape. For a few dollars, he pumped gas, shoveled snow off driveways, and walked neighborhood dogs.

More than 100 people came to Baum's funeral. Someone sent a newspaper clip of the story to Moore in prison.

"Every day I wish I could take it back," he said. "I seen [the] repercussions among everyone. I didn't think about any of this when [the beating] was going on."


Now this http://www.penny-arcade.com/2007/02/19

QUOTE
You might have seen this story on CNN about the teens that murdered a homeless guy and then equated it to the sort of thrill one might get from a “violent video game”. There will be plenty of articles focusing on these kids and their crime. I’d like to take a second and talk about the parents of these teenagers instead. It is the job of a parent to teach their children certain rules. Obviously the rules themselves and the emphasis each family places on them will vary, but there are certain universal constants that these parents obviously failed to pass on.

Things the parents of these kids failed to teach them(in order of their severity):

1. Don’t drink until you’re 21.

Now this is a tough one. The 15 year old boys have admitted they were sharing beers with the homeless man. This is a difficult rule to enforce with many kids and that’s why I’ve listed first.

2. Don’t do drugs.

In addition to their beers these lads told investigators they had just finished rolling some phat doobie blunts, or whatever it is they do these days. This is an important one but also very difficult to enforce. I’d say it’s a notch above drinking but we’re still dealing with pretty common teenager issues.

3. Don’t murder people.

Ah here’s a big one. I wonder, did the parents simply avoid the “don’t murder people” talk the way other parents might avoid the “sex” talk? Maybe one day as the father was running off to work the mother called behind him,” Don’t forget, you promised to talk to Chris about not murdering people today!” The husband already half way out the door would holler back “Yeah yeah, I’ll do it when I get home tonight.”

4. Don’t take shit out of your butt and rub it on the hobo you just killed.

To me this seems like the easiest lesson of all. My son is only two and already he’s coming to understand that “poops” belong in the potty. How did this kid get to the age of fifteen years old without learning this? Here’s how easy this one is:

Hey son, come here real quick.

Yeah Dad?

Don’t take shit out of your butt.

Sure thing Dad.

Done! How hard was that? What kind of crazy fuck takes poop from his butt and rubs it on someone? I’ll tell you right now I’ve never seen that in Grand Theft Auto. These kids were twelve kinds of nuts and that’s a fact. Their parents either made them nuts or weren’t paying attention while they went nuts on their own. I don’t know which scenario is worse.

-Gabe out


And finally this http://www.penny-arcade.com/2007/02/21

QUOTE
Yesterday I made a post about the teenagers that murdered the homeless guy and then blamed it on violent games. These kids have given the media their angle and just like all the other cases where games are mentioned no one will ever look any further. No one will ask what their family life was like, what their parents were like, what the kid was like before all this happened. Games did it and that’s the end of the story.

In my post I took the absolute extreme opposite approach. I laid blame completely on the parents and that was intentional. Penny Arcade is a satire site and people come here to laugh or get angry and that’s what we try to provide. I will admit that deep down as the father of a two year old I also want to believe that I as a parent can shape my kid into a decent human being. If I don’t believe that then…well I just have to believe that right now.

With that said I’m perfectly aware that the reality of the situation was somewhere between the two extremes. I know full well that violent games did not create this killer and I also know that his parents did not make him a murderer. Nothing outside of a comic strip and a goofy blog is ever that simple.

The sad truth is that the reality we’re talking about here would probably never actually see the light of day. The media will tell the story they want to tell regardless and that story will be about violent games. The parents of these kids will be lucky to get two lines in an article about the crime. If they tell a reporter that their son hardly played games or that he was fucked up long before they bought a Playstation do you really think that will make it into the final article? You’d never see that side of the story, not in a million years.

But you’re about to.

I am about to share with you an email I received from a Penny Arcade reader. She also happens to be involved in this case but obviously she’d like to remain anonymous. She has agreed to let me share her email with all of you and I can’t thank her enough for that. Like I said before, I know why most people come to Penny Arcade. You come every other day looking for a joke and a laugh. What you’re about to read isn’t a joke. It’s an extremely personal email sent by a very brave woman and I’m honored to share it with you.

Gabe,

Your news post about the kids and the homeless man yesterday made me sick to my stomach, before I even read the CNN article. I knew what it was going to be about before even reading the article. It was not the article itself, or even your post that made me sick, it was the fact that I know this boy. Or, rather that I could be considered one of the “parents” of this boy.

The boy’s father and I have been together for almost seven years, and I had what I guess could be called a “stepmother” relationship with the kid. To say that living with this kid was hell would be a complete understatement.

I don’t think I have ever actively hated anyone in my entire life, but this kid just makes my blood boil.

As I write this, my teeth are clenched, my hands are shaking, and my whole body is seething with the hatred I feel for this kid and what he has done. Seeing the article brings back all the horrible memories from when he lived with us.

He was constantly in trouble in school, with the cops, with us, with his mother, and with anyone else who was an authority figure. Not a week went by that the school or the cops wouldn’t call us for something. His attitude was basically “fuck you, I don’t have to listen to you” said with a shrug.

We tried absolutely everything we could think of to get him to behave like a normal human being… we tried groundings, negative reinforcement / punishment, positive reinforcement, counseling, and anything and everything the counselors suggested. We tried to get him interested and involved in extracurricular activities, like hockey, drama, music, art, anything, but he got himself kicked out of every group he was in with his “make me” attitude. When we would ground him, we took away everything. No TV, no computer, no phone, no leaving the house, no snacks or junk food…. Everything. When he was grounded, he was only allowed to sit in his room and read or draw. He was actually a pretty good artist, and we tried to encourage him to spend his time working with his talent. He would just sit there and take it… the groundings had absolutely no affect on him at all. Most of the time, he didn’t even remember why he was being grounded. At the end of it, we would ask him if it was worth it to have everything taken away in exchange for what he did… he usually just shrugged. He could be grounded for weeks, or a month at a time, and then the very next day would do something to get back in trouble again. Most kids get grounded or punished a couple of times, and then they want to avoid having to go through it again… not this kid, nothing seemed to phase him.

And we’re not talking the usual teenager stuff, like coming home late, or refusing to do the dishes. We’re talking stealing cars, setting fires, drinking, getting picked up for drugs, beating up handicapped kids at school (yes, really) stealing things out of our house… all with this “I’ll do whatever the fuck I want” attitude.

We had absolutely no idea what else we could do. We already had him in counseling, and we did everything the counselors suggested. We tried rewarding his good behavior (what little there was) to try to get him to see that when he behaves like a normal human being, things are good and people enjoy being around him. Nothing phased him at all.

Then, things took an even worse turn when he decided that whenever he didn’t get his way, or we did something he didn’t like, he told his counselors and teachers that we were abusing him. (Never happened.) And for some inexplicable reason, everybody believed him. I understand that child abuse is a very serious situation, and that they have to take every possible case seriously, but this was clearly a case of him manipulating people to get what he wanted. We had people from the school, cops, and social services over at our house or calling us on a weekly basis stating some new abuse that he had made up. At 14, the boy was already 6’3” and over 200 pounds. Of course, there was never a mark on him, because no such abuse ever took place.

One particular night (cops involved, as always) he decided that he didn’t have to listen to anything we said, and that he wasn’t coming home. He went to live with his mother, where things got worse by the day. He stole everything out of her home and sold it. He invited gang-bangers and drug dealers to her home, and she feared for her safety constantly. She called the cops numerous times because she feared for her safety, but again, the boy said that she abused him, and the cops always took his side. (For reference, the mother is about 5’3” and barely clocks in at 115.) He planted a loaded gun in her room, called the cops and told them that it belonged to the mother’s boyfriend. The boyfriend actually ended up serving time because of this fucking bastard kid. She had two other young children in the house, and the gun and the abuse charges were an intentional plot to get the other two kids taken away from her. She tried restraining orders against the kid, but since he was a minor, they wouldn’t allow it. Every time he got picked up, she pleaded with the cops to take him to jail, maybe that would finally get though to him, but they just kept bringing him home to her. I don’t understand why everyone who was involved with this kid just blindly took this juvenile delinquent’s word over all else!

The night that he and his friends murdered that poor homeless man, the mother said that he was acting particularly cocky. Then he threatened to kill her. We had absolutely no idea of what he had done until they found the man’s body. He was immediately waived into adult court (at 15) and sentenced to 15 years. We were all absolutely sick with grief for this man.

We were also sick with guilt… “What could we have done differently?” was a constant question in all of our heads. After the kid was sentenced, all the cops, counselors, social workers, and people at the school that had been dealing with him contacted us and his mother and apologized for not taking us seriously. They are all trained to take all accusations of child abuse seriously, and as a part of that they blindly took the kid’s side for everything, and dismissed us as “the lying abusers”. Many of them told us that they wished they would have taken our pleas for help seriously. Everyone thought we were exaggerating about how fucked up this kid was.

I completely agree with your statement of “These kids were twelve kinds of nuts and that’s a fact.” But the reason I am writing this to you is that, after reading your news post yesterday, I felt that I needed to defend the boy’s parents. His mother and father and I did absolutely everything we could think of to try to keep this kid in line. Even the kinds of things that normal teenagers get in trouble for would have been a blessing compared to what we’ve been through with him.

What I gave you today is a very small sampling of the kinds of things we were dealing with every single fucking day with this kid. When people hear about what he’s done, I can always sense the “I’m sure there was something you could have done” comment coming up. What would you have done? How do you deal with a kid like this? Like I said, we did everything the counselors suggested, and nothing seemed to matter.

If you want to add another element to the “nature vs. nurture” idea, this boy has a brother. Both boys were raised in the same house, with the same values. The brother has developed into a kind, considerate, responsible, and independent young man. He is currently working his butt off right now to save up money to go to school for architecture. The only thing I regret is that we spent so much time and energy dealing with the bad kid that this boy missed out on having a normal family life with a normal sibling relationship.

I am sorry this got so long. I have been reading PA since the very beginning, and I feel that both of you are very much like me. I think we are the same age (29) and I have been a lifelong gamer like the two of you. I can’t stand hearing about the so-called correlation between games and real-life violence. Video games DID NOT make this kid who he was, and it’s unfortunate that the correlation is there.

The thing that really gets me with this whole thing is that the kid knows full well that by equating what he’s done to a video game, that he will generate controversy and media coverage. It makes me sick that the media is jumping all over this, because that is exactly the result that he wants.

The only good thing (if there is such a thing) that has come out of this whole ordeal is that the kid is behind bars. That is exactly where he needs to be.

Again, I’m sorry about the length of this. Thanks for allowing me to “tell my side” of the story.

So there you go. There’s the other side of the story. He’s decided to use videogames as a scapegoat because as crazy as he is, he’s not stupid. He knows exactly what he’s doing. The sad thing is that it will probably work.

-Gabe out
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Retehi
post Feb 22 2007, 10:03 PM
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Wow.

tl;dr


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Wiryu
post Feb 22 2007, 10:26 PM
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little bastard....
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Vitamin D
post Feb 23 2007, 09:39 AM
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IS MAHVEL BAYBEE!
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That email was really sad to read...


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Zorya
post Feb 25 2007, 10:28 PM
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I don't know what to say. That poor woman, dealing with that little fuck day in and day out. Makes me glad I don't have kids.


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