Police seek leads in torching of homeless man

‘cul’ at ratboy’s anvil dug out a horrifying story that is surprisingly unsurprising.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Police searching for leads turned to local news stations for help Thursday, asking them to air a videotaped torching of a homeless man who was sleeping on a bench. The videotape of the Tuesday night attack is of poor quality but shows six to eight people get out of cars, approach the sleeping man, then flee after flames appear.

“Then you see our victim kind of running around in a circle, flailing his arms and trying to put himself out,” Corpus Christi Police Lt. Rocky Vipond said.

Three stations in Corpus Christi aired the footage.

Lucas Adama Wiser, 21, remained in an intensive care Thursday with third-degree burns.

“We’re hoping someone might recognize that vehicle and possibly the group of guys,” Vipond said. “I don’t know if this was a joke that they thought they were playing on somebody or what their mind-set was, but it was a pretty sick joke.”

Police could not read the license plates or determine the approximate ages or ethnicities of the attackers. Investigators said they had not yet questioned Wiser because he was on heavy painkillers.

Vipond said there had been a few reports of other assaults on homeless people in the city, but it was premature to say if they were related.

The attack was caught by a video camera outside Corpus Christi Metro Ministries, a private charity.

The Rev. Robert Trache, director of Metro Ministries, said the incident was at least the third against homeless people in a 24-hour period. He said one person was dragged along the street, another person was beaten with a belt buckle. He said both incidents involved “groups of young people.”

He said it prompted an emergency meeting Wednesday of caregivers around the city.

“We were concerned this was beginning to be a pattern,” he said. “My gut feeling is that there are people who sometimes decide that they will become vigilantes and attack people … and view this as a civic good when it’s really a crime.”

He said there were an estimated 5,000 homeless in the city of about 300,000.

This comes via Phaedrus at No Fear of Freedom, of course, and, of course, he wrote a piece on the evil event that I can’t improve on.

In order to claim that progressive taxation is theft, you have to insist that everyone earns everything that happens to them. The poor are poor because they’re bad people who make bad decisions. The rich are rich because they’re really good people who make really good decisions. The effects of luck and society are negligible at best. If you can’t assign to the individual total responsibility for everything that happens in his life, then you can’t assert that the rich have an absolute right to keep their money.

You have to insist that this is as just a society as it possibly can be. This is critically important. If all of this isn’t true, then it’s easy to morally justify a progressive tax in order to redress injustice.

I don’t know what happened in this individual case of course, but there have been many attacks on the homeless and other poor and immigrants and what have you. Do I think that David Brooks or Rush or the Savage would torch a homeless man? To tell you the truth, it’s not something I spend a whole lot of time thinking about, but I suppose if one of them did I’d be very surprised. However, most, if not all, human behavior exists on a continuum, with the Mother Teresas and Ghandis near one end, I suppose people like Torquemada on the other. Brooks is at least a little bit mean, Limbaugh meaner, Savage meaner than that.

Some people are so mean that they’d torch a homeless person purely for fun regardless of the social atmosphere. But some people are only mean enough to do it if they think homeless people are bad people. And the right is telling them that the homeless are bad people.

Far as I’m concerned, the right is sacrificing the poor and homeless on the altar of Mammon. I really hope they have to explain that to their vengeful God one day.

Amen.

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