The current Internet story of the day involves Joe Horn.
For those Gentle Readers who may be living under a staircase somewhere, Mr. Horn is the South Texas gentleman who discovered two men breaking into his neighbors house.
He then dialled 911 and had a conversation with the dispatcher in which he told the dispatcher some stuff he probably shouldn't have, before going outside and killing both men.
Now, I'm not going to get into whether Mr. Horn was justified or not in taking those men's lives -- this is Texas, and a Grand Jury of twelve good men and true will determine if Mr. Horn was justified or not.
No, what I am interested in is that during his conversation with Mr. Horn, the dispatcher told Mr. Horn that killing those men "wasn't worth it".
Some folks on the Internet have a bit of a problem with that. There's some thought that this wasn't the dispatchers business.
You know, near as I can tell the only person who has a right to say if it was the dispatchers business to beg Mr. Horn not to go outside ... is Mr. Horn.
Mr. Horn's lawyer and his family state that he "is crushed". The New Black Panther Party and the Millions More Movement are protesting outside of his house. Mr Horn's face is on the TeeVee and in newspapers around the world, where people Mr. Horn doesn't know -- and will never meet -- are calling Mr. Horn a murderer and demanding his arrest.
The local Houston paper reports that their poll finds that 60% of their readers feel Mr. Horn was justified in his killing of the two men.
Sounds good, yes?
60% means that 40% think Mr. Horn wasn't justified.
Two out of every five people he meets think that he is a murderer -- and that's a lot of people. That amount of ill-will can weigh on a man's mind.
Killing another human being is the ultimate taboo. To take the life of some mother's son leaves a stain -- no matter how small -- on your soul.
And everyone -- no matter how foul a critter -- was, at some time, some mothers baby. Don't think that this seemingly irrelevant fact won't jump up and steal your breath in the long hours spent wrestling with your conscience afterwards.
The guilt and self-doubt that can plague a man for even the most justified of killings can be overwhelming.
It is possible -- even likely -- that a man who has been forced to take a life in the most justified of circumstances; circumstances such that no one can find fault in his decision -- it is possible for that man to be wracked by guilt and self-doubt regarding his actions; it is possible for him to spend the darkest hours of the nights torturing his soul with 'What I Could Have Done Differently' questions.
Unfortunately for Mr. Horn, his shooting wasn't so clean. There is some doubt as to his justification; nearly half the people who have heard of this event are finding fault and are naming him 'murderer'.
No matter how stoic you are, each whisper of 'murderer' will lodge itself in your psyche.
Mr. Horn is going to be bombarded with the grief of the dead men's loved ones. False or not, that grief and those tears are all over the TeeVee, and false or not, each tear becomes a burden, if only a tiny one.
Some of the people who believe that Mr. Horn wasn't justified in his actions are going to uncork their vitriol and their loathing for Mr. Horn through phone calls, speech, and the printed word.
His own conscience is liable to replay the faces of those dead men at three in the morning.
Seeing as how these men were minorities, the powerful minority lobbies and national civil rights organizations will probably supply the funding and the lawyers for any resulting Federal lawsuit.
Against these lobbies and these organizations, Mr. Horn will have ... his retirement? Donations from family, friends and strangers?
Whether Mr. Horn was justified in his actions, or not, will be decided by a Grand Jury.
Whether the dispatcher was justified in advising Mr. Horn not to proceed -- is up to Mr. Horn.
And I think his answer today, or next month, or next year might be different than his answer on that fateful day.