The Indianapolis (Ind.) Star, on the Aliahna Lemmon murder (Dec. 28) — Aliahna Lemmon was only 9 years old and it was only three days before Christmas when she was murdered in a series of acts so horrific that it strains the bounds of good taste to describe them in even general terms.
Police say a neighbor in a Fort Wayne mobile home park — entrusted to care for Aliahna and her younger sisters because their mother was sick — has confessed to beating to death the little girl and then dismembering her body.
It’s natural in such cases to ask questions of how and why.
How can someone do something so heinous to a child? Why is such violence so common, even against the youngest and most vulnerable members of our society?
The responses to such questions are unsatisfactory by their nature because no answer can adequately account for humans’ incredible capacity to hurt one another.
The better questions begin with what and who.
What can we do as individuals to help families and children in need?
Who is living in hurt and isolation near our homes, places of business and houses of worship? Who is in need of neighbors they can truly trust? What steps can we take as a community to better protect children and to help meet their families’ needs? Who needs our help today?
How we answer such questions — and whether we even ask ourselves such questions — helps define us as a society and as individuals. We can read of cases such as Aliahna’s and either turn away in horror and disgust, or vow to get involved in helping others in need.
A terrible crime was committed against a child in our state. That crime should only deepen our resolve to help nurture and strengthen the children around us.
Today, we grieve with Aliahna’s family, her friends and her community.
The Joplin (Mo.) Globe, on being in the national spotlight (Dec, 27) — Joplin continues to be in the spotlight some seven months after the May 22 deadly tornado. This time, the story of the tornado has been ranked Missouri’s top story by all editors and publishers responding to The Associated Press’s annual Top 10 survey.
Wouldn’t it be great if a year from now Joplin was still in that position, with the focus on recovery? As we wind down the year and take stock, we continue to have high praise for those who led us through this devastating event and those in our community who have helped pick up the pieces.
But, 2012 looms large. As a community, we should set two goals: Get people back into homes and apartments — and make sure those dwellings are built to a code that provides residents with greater safety. ..
While we rank No. 1 in end-of-the year polls, we simply cannot afford to be yesterday’s news.
The Leader Herald of Gloversville, N.Y., on national security documents leaked to the Wikileaks website (Dec. 21) — Army Pfc. Bradley Manning had provided ample evidence he was a risk before he leaked thousands of national security documents to the Wikileaks website. Yet his superiors did not limit his access to the information.
That came out Sunday during an Army hearing for Manning, who is accused of a variety of crimes. Manning’s defense attorney related several stories of out-of-control behavior by his client during the months before the crimes occurred.
In at least two fits of rage, Manning overturned furniture. In another, he fought with another soldier after she confronted him over playing a video game while he was supposed to be working.
Finally, after the fight, Manning was banned from his workplace. But it was too late. He already had begun sending out classified information.
His attorney brings up a good question: Why did none of Manning’s superiors take action against him sooner?
It is the same question critics have asked about the Army’s treatment of Major Nidal Hasan, who killed 13 people and wounded 29 others in a massacre at Fort Hood, Texas, in 2009. Despite ample evidence Hasan was a threat to others, the Army did virtually nothing to prevent his bloody rampage.
With more than a half-million troops, the service is bound to have a few who need to be spotted as problems and dealt with effectively. Obviously, the Army’s top brass needs to take a new look at disciplinary procedures.