Wednesday evening, friends and family held a wake for Ricardo Portillo, a Utah soccer referee who died from a blow to the head he received during a game.
The blow was delivered by a 17-year-old player who'd just been issued a warning for shoving another player. He didn't get kicked out, mind you, just a warning, but this apparently angered him so much that he punched Portillo, 46, in the jaw, causing an injury to which Portillo later succumbed. The teen is now charged with homicide.
In December, three teens in the Netherlands were similarly charged after they beat and kicked a soccer ref, who also later died from his injuries.
The violence is not confined to the soccer pitch. In Ohio, three teens are charged with killing a man in his 40s near their middle school. In Arizona, a teen is in jail after a housekeeper found a bomb in his room. In Calgary, when police finally stopped a stolen truck they'd been chasing, they found a 15-year-old behind the wheel. In New Mexico, two teens and a 20-year-old are behind bars, accused of killing a man for his car. Here in Georgia, two teens allegedly killed a baby during an attempted robbery. Here in Gwinnett, a Grayson student was killed for his shoes.
In Mississippi, it's drug possession. In Florida, it's rape. And in Boston, it's mass homicide. And that doesn't just include the 19-year-old bomber. Fellow students are charged with taking evidence from his room and then disposing of it, according to agents, so Dzhokhar Tsarnaev wouldn't get into trouble.
This is a person who had just killed several people and maimed dozens. And his buddies didn't see the need to contact law enforcement. Maybe they played too much "Grand Theft Auto" and saw the police as the bad guys.
I would ask what kind of world we're living in, but I already know the answer: One that is raising a generation of narcissists and socipathic criminals.
Narcissists, of course, are completely self-absorbed and hold themselves in higher regard than anyone else. Sound familiar, social media generation, obsessed with taking "selfies?"
Socio- and psychopaths are people devoid of emotion, fear or remorse. They are often the sadists, torturers and serial killers of the world. One of their hallmarks is viewing their victims as objects -- making it much easier to hurt or kill them when they have no more value than a piece of furniture or an old shoe.
The epidemic of cyber-bullying shows how this behavior isn't just limited to houses of horrors anymore. The more people look at each other on screens, the more they're just a collection of pixels or bits of data or text, and the easier they are to criticize or bully or hurt.
Two of the most high-profile cases are Phoebe Prince and the victim in Stuebenville, Ohio. Prince is the 15-year-old who hanged herself after relentless cyberbullying, bullying that didn't stop after her death, when comments were still being made on social media. One, allegedly, was along the lines of "mission accomplished."
The Stuebenville victim is the girl -- 16 at the time -- whose sexual assault by two high school football players was documented by at least a dozen different people on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and text messages and even included a YouTube video bragging and joking about the rape.
Folks, I know there are plenty of good teenagers left in the world. But these incidents are most certainly not isolated, and if you think the bullying and the objectification is not getting worse, just pick up your teen's phone or look at their pages on social media. Even if they're not doing it, I guarantee they're only a click or two away from kids who are.
We simply have to start demanding that the younger generation interact with each other. They have to put the phone down. Step away from the computer. Go talk to someone. Look someone in the eye and swap stories of hopes and fears. Find the humanity in them. Our kids have got to learn that people are not just a collection of electronic data that can be manipulated.
Email Nate McCullough at firstname.lastname@example.org. His column appears on Fridays. For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/natemccullough.