The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

August 22, 2013

What’s a life worth? To some, nothing at all

By Jeff Mullin, columnist
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — What is a human life worth?

There is a website, humanforsale.com, that attempts to put a dollar figure on a human life. By answering an exhaustive series of questions, you can put a price tag on your own head, so to speak.

According to that, I’m worth $1.64 million. Any takers?

A 2008 Time magazine article said the value of a life is $129,000.

Businessinsider.com calls it $7.4 million.

Livescience.com says it is $5 million.

There is, of course, no way to put any kind of monetary value on a human life.

Each of the planet’s more than 7 billion people has intrinsic value, no life worth more than another, each one priceless — or at least most people seem to see it that way.

For some, human life seems of no more value than a discarded newspaper or a crumpled pop can.

This seems the case with three Duncan teenagers, James Francis Edwards Jr., 15, Michael Dewayne Jones, 17, and Chancey Allen Luna, 16.

They have been charged with the murder of East Central University baseball player Christopher Lane, a 22-year-old native of Australia.

The trio allegedly followed Lane as he was jogging through the streets of Duncan, and shot him in the back, killing him.

The boys apparently did not know Christopher Lane, and he had no idea who they were. There was no beef between Lane and the boys, no bad blood.

Christopher Lane apparently died because the three boys were bored and decided to kill someone to alleviate their ennui.

Death comes for any number of reasons — advanced age, illness, accidents and, yes, acts of violence. Likewise, there are many things that drive one person to kill another — fear, anger, pride and lunacy among them.

But boredom? That’s a new one.

At its core, every violent death is basically senseless. But killing someone because you have nothing better to do? What kind of a society raises children with no more regard for human life than that of a bird or a bug?

Oklahoma once again finds itself on the world stage, this time for all the wrong reasons. The violent tornadoes that ripped through parts of the state in May attracted the world’s focus, as did the overwhelming response in the storms’ aftermath.

The storms were a tragic act of nature, the response a testament to the indomitable spirit of Oklahomans and the giving nature of those who traveled here from throughout the country to provide aid and comfort.

Oklahoma is topping world headlines again, but because of the unthinkable slaying of a young man with his entire life ahead of him, because of a heinous, thoughtless act.

America’s gun culture will undoubtedly come under scrutiny again as the result of Lane’s killing. Guns play a role in about 70 percent of all homicides in this country, according to the most recent FBI statistics. Gun deaths in the U.S. have dropped 39 percent since 1993, but that is cold comfort to the parents of Christopher Lane, who sent their son to the United States, to Oklahoma, to go to school and to pursue his love of baseball. They never expected to be sending him to his death.

The boys allegedly threatened to kill another youth, and were caught after a man called police and reported them outside his house, carrying guns.

Christopher Lane happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, but it could have been anyone.

It could have been a mail carrier, a child, a grandmother, anyone who happened to cross the alleged shooters’ path when they decided their level of boredom had escalated to the point they felt compelled to take the life of another human being.

If they were so bored, why didn’t they turn their guns on one another? Then the world would have been better off.



Mullin is senior writer of the News & Eagle. Email him at jmullin@enidnews.com.