There's something about the author's portrayal of the kids that makes me angry. I would never want to blame the victim, and I'm sure what happened to him was frightening. But his characterization of the kids -- even before the attack -- makes it sound like to him, they're already junior prison inmates. His reference to them "counting chin-ups on the crossbeams" makes it sound like that activity isn't something any teenage boy would do given the proper terrain, but rather some sort of foreshadowing to the prison yard.
The image that accompanies the column shows a bunch of students with no faces, just nondescript clothing and hoodies. I walk around that same area every day and have never seen anything resembling what he describes.
That this man feels this way is one thing, but that the NY Times publishes it is another. I find it particularly disturbing following a recent conversation with a student who wasn't feeling well. I asked if he thought he'd have to go home.
"It depends on if I feel like getting picked up by Truancy."I couldn't believe it when he said they take kids to the precinct for not being in school. To me this seems very, very wrong. Yes, truancy is a problem, but is the answer to give kids practice in what it feels like to be arrested? To treat them like criminals?
"Truancy -- the cops that pick you up if you're not in school."
"Do they take you back to school?"
"Well, if they don't like your attitude they'll take you to the precinct and your parent will have to come get you."
Meanwhile, the adults all around them treat them like they don't belong in the same vicinity as the Time Warner Center. The author of this column is so afraid he fantasizes about buying a switchblade and "gutting" the teenagers who messed with him. How could you have such a thought about a group of kids unless you barely thought they were human?