It’s a sad commentary that the public has grown familiar with violence between members of rival street gangs. It frequently is met with sighs, shrugs, anger and calls for more police, better parenting and education.
Random violence against the innocent frightens people in a different way.
Fear of random violence is one reason the public shuddered at the attack on an Omaha motorist, which authorities allege was committed by a recently released prison inmate. And why Lincoln residents reacted so strongly to the bat-beating deaths of two random strangers, attacks in which two alleged gang members recently were arrested.
The Lincoln cases appear to come closest to a dismal bit of thuggishness called the “knockout game” that’s grabbing attention in other parts of the country. Authorities have said that the Lincoln men were egged on by rival gang members.
A challenge to “prove” oneself is a common gang refrain. Ridicule, not respect, should follow such senseless acts.
These so-called games are an outgrowth of street thuggery people once called mugging, except they subtract the stealing. It is violence done to unsuspecting victims selected for no purpose other than knocking the target down or out.
Luckily, such random attacks are relatively rare. Omaha police said they know of no such local game- or dare-related attacks.
Crime alarmists sometimes overhype the threat of random violence. But the randomness and unusual cruelty of “the knockout game” and similar, peer-encouraged attacks warrant a serious reply.
They are as bad as they sound, and they should be stopped before they start. A random punch is unacceptable, criminal behavior. Serious assaults through random selection are deplorable. Victims can and have died from such attacks.
The flawed logic of gang thinking cannot easily be remedied. It requires more effective parenting that focuses on acceptable behavior, respect for the law and for others. It needs help from a community of relatives, churches, neighbors and schools. Most of all, it requires something often absent from the minds of thugs — thought.
Nobody deserves to be hurt or to die for a “game.”