Letter to the Editor: Understanding T.J. Lane

Shelby Mills

Perspective is lacking. Compassion is absent. I cannot comprehend how people are harsh on T.J. Lane’s case. Words, thoughts and attitudes toward Lane are ugly.

I agree that his attitude and his presentation during the court hearing were inappropriate, but I think that to look at him with blind assumptions is also wrong. I cannot help but to ask myself what would drive a person to the point of crying out through murder and jocular attitude on his choice. What happened in T.J.’s life to make him choose to enter a high school and shoot numerous students, disregarding his discretion between right and wrong? For those watching the news and reading the newspapers, maybe looking past the words on the page could be surprisingly enlightening.

Society and legislation in America states that murder is wrong. Yes, there are occasional incidents in which the crime is committed. But killers don’t just wake up one day with the grandeur idea that they are going to pick up a pistol from the local gun shop, and a clip or two of rounds, and enter the nearest building full of unsuspecting victims. It takes unfortunate circumstances to drive a person to become a criminal. A life full of hatred, rejection and struggle undoubtedly produce more criminals than those who live privileged lives.

Seeing the way some people react in such hateful ways gives me heartache. I overheard someone speak their opinion of Lane, and the words were ugly: “He needs a life of ass-raping.” Hearing that sentence made me grit my teeth. I didn’t know whether to cry or get angry. The media are also guilty of bullying Lane: newspapers, social networks, newscasts. To be crudely critical is easy. Ignorance of the situation’s complexity combined with an unthoughtful opinion creates a mean, ravaging, out-of-control beast.

I firmly believe that people should be held accountable for their actions. I have been raised to understand that actions have reactions and that my life will be shaped by the choices I make, but there is something else I have learned. Love and forgiveness are powerful. An open heart and kind smile can do miraculous things. It sincerely hurts my heart to see a court case such as this get blown out of proportion, and the heat of debate, hatred, criticism and arguments arise from the crime.

I ask that you stop and think before making hasty and blind decisions about topics that you are ignorant to. Be mindful to those around you; things are not always as they appear. Don’t let the dense fog of misconception cloud your mind. Open your mind to new perspectives and walk in his shoes for a day. Maybe you would experience something that is completely foreign to what you have ever known, something that would enlighten you to a greater understanding of this situation that has the attention of national media.

-Shelby Mills, post-secondary student