Sunday, September 11, 2005

esmie chronicles: flip flop

got an interesting comment on my first post about Esmie Tseng, the girl who's accused of killing her mom:

This is something that is out of cold blood. She was mad and like all other teenagers that get mad, they feel like they want to kill their parents. Just like some that feel like they want to kill their fellow classmates...

They think they can get away with it because they are a minor. I'm glad she's being tried as an adult.

She was "beyond her years" and knew what she was doing was wrong. Killing is wrong and she understood that when she killed her mother, her mother was dead, never to come back again.

She did this because she couldn't take it anymore. She had an easy life. A lot easier then the rest of us. She was "bright," she was "intelligent," she KNEW BETTER and you can't tell me otherwise.

Burn baby burn.

The "burn baby burn" part is a little much, but I've been having similar thoughts ever since I posted about my bias on this situation. I started doing some research on Kansas's juvenile justice laws, and the general phenomenon of charging minors as adults, and I found myself losing sympathy for her. Like, what makes her so special? Should she get special treatment for being middle class and smart? Or just because the murder is an anomoly in her life?

Honestly, I'm feeling embarrassed about my earlier posts and my interest in the case.

Yet I'm picking up some interesting threads, all of which I want to explore:

1. In Kansas, kids as young as 10 years old can be tried as adults for any crime.

2. The person who started Friends of Esmie, a group that's launching a full-on campaign to have Esmie tried as a juvenile, has never even met her -- his kids attended camp with her a couple of years ago and had stayed in touch via the Internet. He told me he was shocked by the situation and simply got sucked in.

3. There's a Chinese community in Kansas City, and this murder has really affected it. I know I sound like an idiot, but I honestly didn't know we had a Chinese population significant enough to support a news website. With its three-part series on the case, Kansas City Chinese offered by far the best coverage. In the final installment, the reporter, Anthony Tao, wrote:

"I don't know how many of the parents thought of [the Tseng] incident as a wake-up call, but some of them probably thought, 'If this could happen, then anything can,'" said Abigail Chang, former president of the Greater Kansas City Free China Association.

Chang said that it might be helpful for one of the Chinese organizations in Kansas City to create a counseling service or hotline to deal with problems that may arise between parents and their children. She stressed that communication is essential for a healthy parent-child relationship.

Johnny Kung, president of the Chinese Club of Greater Kansas City, said his organization would consider organizing a discussion group for people to talk about the incident in a formal setting.

"It's such an interesting case because it gives an image that is the antithesis of the minority image that we have," Kung said. "I think her being Asian, it happening out in the Blue Valley school district, where it's a 'safe' place..."

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