The three Oklahoma teenagers were, according to official reports, "bored." So they decided to do something: kill the guy who jogged past them. They got in the car, followed him and did just that.
The district attorney described the youngest, the 15-year-old, as having treated the murder as a "joke." He reportedly danced as he was booked. The 16-year-old, supposedly the one who pulled the trigger, showed no emotion when he was charged with first-degree murder. Only the 17-year-old, who is supposedly cooperating, broke down — and only when the prosecutor referenced the "very, very lengthy prison sentence" he is facing. "I didn't pull the trigger," he said. So what?
Okay, I'll play carefully. Assuming the facts presented without contradiction to the court to be true, these boys are evil and should rot in hell for what they did.
Now, to get even uglier. The (alleged) killers are African-American. The victim was a young Australian baseball player who attended college in Oklahoma and had just visited his girlfriend. He had a bright future.
The three beasts (again, assuming these facts to be true) are not star athletes and college students. Their lives, I'm sure we will be told, are empty and hopeless.
I don't know whether you call this a "hate" crime or not. That would turn on whether epithets were uttered, whether the victim was selected because of his race, all of that. It really doesn't matter. It doesn't get much uglier than the unprovoked, cold-blooded murder of an innocent victim chosen at random.
Anyone who was the least bit outraged by the killing of Trayvon Martin should be screaming bloody murder right now.
What makes me wonder whether they will?
Mr. President, some thoughts, please? Can you identify with the parents of the kid who went for a jog and ended up dead? No, he doesn't look anything like you would have at 15, at least judged from the color of his skin, but that isn't what matters, is it?
The real point is that these hooligans — the 15-, 16- and 17-year-old — also bear no relationship to our president when he was that age.
Evil comes in all shapes and sizes and colors, and when we see it, we need to call it for what it is.
News accounts say the two younger boys have had hard lives. The mother of the 15-year-old is in jail. Last year, the 16-year-old lost both his stepfather and his brother. Illness? Murder? Plainly, loss did not make them better people. Perhaps the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Is that cruel? Sure. But we are talking here of pure evil.
Plenty of kids grow up surrounded by all forms of depravation, and yet they would never kill a person to fill a boring day. They know, deep down, the difference between good and evil. Plenty of kids grow up with bad parents and bad families and bad problems, but they don't go shoot a baseball player out for a jog to make their day. It's not black or white. Evil doesn't have a color. Evil is evil.
Then there's the guns issue. An Australian politician and gun-control advocate is already calling for a boycott of tourism to America to protest the killings. It is important to know how these beasts got the gun or guns they used. (According to authorities, they were on their way to another home to commit another murder when they were apprehended.) No responsible gun owner could possibly agree that these beasts had any right to possess a weapon.
But at the end of the day, they did. And they should pay for it for the rest of their lives.
(Susan Estrich is a professor of Law and Political Science at the University of Southern California Law Center. A best-selling author, lawyer and politician, as well as a teacher, she first gained national prominence as national campaign manager for Dukakis for President in 1988.)