Photo: Jimmy Mizen's funeral in June 2008 in South London
Lawrence Auster has rightly drawn our attention to an unbearably tragic murder of a 16-year-old boy named Jimmy Mizen. It happened last year in a London bakery of all places where Jimmy and his older brother were standing in line to buy sausage rolls--a small homey detail that somehow hurts to read. A 19-year-old piece of scum named Jake Farhi barged into the line, and Jimmy told him:
"Some manners would not go amiss."
Some manners would not go amiss. This courtly, almost archaic locution sent Farhi into a rage which didn't end until he had hurled a heavy glass bakery dish at Jimmy's head. The dish shattered, severing Jimmy's carotid artery and his jugular vein. He bled to death on the floor of the shop in his brother's arms.
I recommend that readers put themselves through the painful details of this story, copiously reported in the Daily Mail here. It is a story of two boys, one good and one evil; but in another way it is also a larger story of what has happened to a good society that has allowed evil full run. I am not getting allegorical here. The fact is, Jimmy was an altar boy and his killer, a comfortably well-off thug with a rap sheet, was "a cannabis-smoking bully obsessed with violent rap music." Farhi's hero was Tupac Shakur and, according to the paper, he "aspired to a ‘gangsta’ lifestyle of easy money earned from selling drugs, and treating any disrespect with extreme violence – including attacking women."
I couldn't stop thinking about this story today. It came back to me again as I passed a neat and well-kept local Catholic high school where schoolbuses and parents in SUVs were lined up at the curb to pick up some of the uniformed teenagers coming out. Across from the entrance a teenaged boy stood by what appeared to be his small jeep, rap music blaring. And it was all right, of course. It didn't matter what thuggish message was being broadcast into the clean spring afternoon. It is tolerated. No, it is accepted. It is even embraced. I'm sure some of the parents still carting teenagers around will be playing it on their car stereos.
I am not blaming rap music for Jimmy's death; Jake Farhi is responsible for Jimmy's death. I am simply noting that society makes plenty of room, plenty of allowances for this and many other violent and brutish influences, which is partly why society has become a a violent and brutish place.