There’s an old saying that if it looks like a duck and walks like a duck, then it’s probably a duck. Generally good advice. Especially when dealing with someone who’s trying to BS you. But sometimes, what looks like a duck and walks like a duck isn’t actually a duck after all, but is something totally different.
Many people are talking this week about the death of RenishaMcBride, the 19-year-old girl who was killed by a shotgun blast after she went to get help after she was involved in a car accident.
OK…despite the last name of McBride, with a name like Renisha, it’s a pretty sure bet that she wasn’t Irish. I guess you can call that a duck. Apparently, the homeowner who killed her thought that she was trying to break into his house when she appeared at his door at 1.00a. And when you consider that the neighborhood that she was in when she was killed was predominantly white, and that the man who shot her was white, it’s a pretty sure bet that this was a racially-motivated incident. After all, rather than shooting first and asking questions later, he could’ve called 911. Another duck. Another damned white man shoots unarmed black teenager duck.
But wait…as tragic as this is, maybe there’s something else going on. Maybe there’s another explanation.
You see, when I first heard this story, two other stories immediately came to mind. The first was of Yoshihiro Hattori, the Japanese exchange student who was shot and killed in 1992, on his way to a Halloween party, when he accidentally went to the wrong house, and the property owner thought that he was going to attack him and his wife.
The second is the even more tragic story from 1994 of Bobby Crabtree and his 14-year-old daughter Matilda Kaye. Matilda Kaye was shot by her father when she jumped out of a closet and shouted “Boo!” at her parents when they returned home after midnight, not expecting to find anyone home. Her last words were “I love you, Daddy.”
While one might be tempted to say that there was an element of racism involved in the death of Hattori, there is absolutely no way you could say that that was an issue in the death of Matilda Kaye. But there is one thing that all three tragedies have in common: very frightened people who thought that guns would make them safer, and who made split-second decisions that they’ll have to live with for the rest of their lives. Any of these people could’ve stayed safely where they were and called 911, but armed with the best protection they could get, they decided to handle the situations themselves…and tragedy resulted.
Now before the 32% of you who are gun owners think that I’m calling for all guns to be confiscated, let me tell you that nothing could be farther from the truth. I understand that gun ownership is a very nuanced issue, and that “city guns” and “country guns” are two different things. What I’m talking about is the tragedies that occur when well-intentioned, frightened people, shoot first and ask questions later.
So was the shooting death of Renisha McBride racially motivated? You tell me. It certainly looks like a duck and walks like a duck.
But perhaps it was just a very nervous goose, packing heat.
And that’s a recipe for tragedy...no matter what color you are.