``What can be said about young people who say such things as `I feel like killing someone' and then act on this senseless impulse? We cannot tolerate this counterculture. And I tell you we will not.''
So spoke Sharon Pratt Dixon, the mayor of Washington, D.C., outlining a program for fighting crime in the nation's crime-ridden and violent capital.
The rhetoric is heartening. The only problem is, can the mayor and others prone to such pronouncements back it up?
Debbie Price of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram recently told about the first murderer she ever interviewed. He was 14 years old and had shot two women during a convenience store robbery. He fired into one of them as she lay on the ground begging for mercy.
``He knew her, he said,'' Price writes. ``That is why he killed her. He told me he wasn't sorry."
One need not go to New York, Washington or Fort Worth to find such grim, cold-blooded youngsters. And not all of them are confined to this time period. It was about 20 years ago that a Lawrence junior high-age youngster viciously stabbed, and killed, a local woman who had befriended him, and then went back to school and openly bragged about his crime. There have been other teen-age murderers here since then.
There are a lot more sociopaths, young and old, like this in our society now, and while we talk about cracking down on them, will we really do so, or can we be effective in today's permissive climate?
With drug trafficking so prominent, 12-and-up killers are common among us nowadays, carrying rapid-fire guns to school in book packs. We've had gun incidents in Lawrence schools, and Kansas City and Topeka have had many more.
Price of Fort Worth notes that such youngsters ``gun down anyone who gets in their way. They kill for `dissing' disrespect in the parlance of the street. They kill for designer eyeglasses and gold chains and leather jackets. They do not seem bothered by it at all. And that part is frightening as hell.''
It is, indeed, and there is no substantial letup in sight, no matter how firmly public officials verbally address the problem and promise it will be alleviated. Until some miracles in social readjustment occur, the best advice to everyone seems to be the old military warning: ``Watch your back!'' . . . and front, sides, above and below.
There is no hiding place from the kind of crime that we're seeing more of in this day and age.