unpopular causes

My mentor once told me, “The crowd is always wrong.” I imagine this sentiment amounts to heresy in a world enamored with democratic ideals, but the flip side of democracy has always been the lynch mob.

I was talking the other day with the mother of one of our parricides. Her husband, she said, was the local telephone man and universally loved by their small community. But at home, he was a monster. The son was unknown to the community, as was what he endured at home.

The jury was out exactly four minutes. They didn’t try to uncover what was really going on. The mob agreed on only one thing: someone must pay. Their decision was made before the trial even began. It was the popular way to think. As a result, a 16-year-old boy received a 99-year sentence in adult prison, with all that entails in the popular imagination. I’m sure the jury thought they’d performed a good deed that day.

Travis TylerThey didn’t. They only made a bad situation worse. That boy was Travis Tyler, and he has been incarcerated since 1995—19 years—only two years less than I have been mourning the death of my wife (which has been forever). I thought I had it bad, but this young man’s fate is far worse.

Who would blame me if I were to turn my back on Travis? Certainly few people in the town of Tuleta TX (a small place—population 288—59 miles from Corpus Christi). Certainly few of the people in the town’s 84 families or 119 households, or who work for the oil companies in the area, the grocery store, the water well service, the community center, or who attend the Baptist church.

They banished a murderer from their midst. That’s all they know or care about. Learning what really happened creates a mental strain. It’s hard. It involves stepping out of one’s comfort zone. Exercising understanding and compassion is beyond them.

I don’t care what unthinking people like this think of me.

When I first took on the cause of Jordan Brown five years ago, it seemed that the whole town of New Castle PA was against him. I know that this was not literally true, but the people who were not allowing themselves to be manipulated by the victim’s vengeful family, a corrupt county prosecutor, and dishonest police were hanging in the background. I think I was the first writer to have defended the 11-year-old, and though the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has still not treated Jordan justly, Jordan has won every appeal since he was unjustly incarcerated, and the boy is still able to hold his head up high as one who has defied mob rule. I am proud to have played a small part in lessening his ordeal.

Yesterday I was abandoned by a journalist who, as it turns out, has been fielding the comments of people close to her of the futility of taking on parricides as a cause. Some even suggested that this mission is a scam (I have been scammed, but have never made a promise to my parricides I haven’t kept). I think the demoralization she feels as a result of the resistance she’s encountered is just a temporary thing, and that I will possibly hear from her again. But maybe not.

These parricides need somebody who will never give up on them, even for a day. That is my function, even if I take a beating from the people of New Castle or Tuleta or a hundred other places in America.

I may bend in the wind, but I won’t be uprooted. Reverses will happen, but they don’t matter in the long run. You and I are here to stay.


Groove of the Day

Listen to Kiprich performing ” Loyalty”


4 Responses to “unpopular causes”

  1. 1 Dusty
    July 16, 2014 at 1:16 pm

    Danny –
    Danny – This is for you a true ‘ Warrior of the Light ‘

    “Every Warrior of the Light has felt afraid of going into battle.
    Every Warrior of the Light has, at some time in the past, lied or betrayed someone.
    Every Warrior of the Light has trodden a path that was not his.
    Every Warrior of the Light has suffered for the most trivial of reasons.
    Every Warrior of the Light has, at least once, believed he was not a Warrior of the Light.
    Every Warrior of the Light has failed in his spiritual duties.
    Every Warrior of the Light has said ‘yes’ when he wanted to say ‘no.’
    Every Warrior of the Light has hurt someone he loved.
    That is why he is a Warrior of the Light, because he has been through all this
    and yet has never lost hope of being better than he is.”
    ~Paulo Coelho

  2. 3 Mike
    September 17, 2014 at 10:24 am

    The person who Travis Murdered was my uncle with whom I was very close. I grew up staying at my grandmothers home for lengths on end ( which was approximately 200 yards away from my uncles home). I watched Travis grow up, I had visited my uncles home numerous times and had been around Travis numerous times. I can tell you first hand that Travis was not in any way, shape or form abused by his dad. My siblings and I used to be in “awe” of all of the things that Travis had growing up: Room full of toys, go carts, motorcycles, etc. etc. Ii have seen and been around my uncle throughout my life and have NEVER seen him even come close to abusing Travis, either verbally or physically. Look at the facts of the case, the kid (Travis) loans a gun to a friend who accidentally shoots another person. What was my “abusive” uncles response ? A beating (physical abuse) ? No. His response was to retrieve all of his guns as a punishment. I know that you talked to the mother (which I question her sanity) about how family life was, but do the research and get her background as well. Ask yourself, why did he take shots at her, too? Because of the dad? No. Ii understand that you have only heard one side of the story and yes the jury took 4 minutes to convict for murder (was there any doubt as to who did it ?) To me 4 minutes was too much time. The jury did deliberate on the punishment for 3 hours which means they did look at aspects of age. They did give him the ability to be paroled after 30 years which is about what quality time my uncle would have had, had he not been murdered. A murderer is out of the midst of Tuleta for a while and I believe the punishment was fair and suits the crime.

    • 4 Laura
      October 9, 2014 at 7:59 am

      Mike I am very eager to talk to you about Travis. If you want to email me please do and i’ll explain in any email why I am so.

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