In My Opinion

Fabiola Santiago: These brats need a hard lesson

 

fsantiago@MiamiHerald.com

The break-in at the Coral Gables home of Miami Heat guard Ray Allen and his family matters on a slew of fronts.

The case holds up a mirror — and what one sees is troubling: What kind of society raises college-bound 18-year-olds who think that it’s okay to break into someone’s house because it looks empty and they’re “curious” about how a basketball player lives?

Ours does. Let’s, at least, face that fact. Some of us have raised a generation of self-entitled brats.

What’s mine is mine — and what’s yours is also mine, including others’ privacy and peace of mind. They lack boundaries and have a skewed sense that they can have anything their hearts desire. Their moral compass is low on batteries.

You don’t hear these seven — Ernesto Romero, 18; Jonathan Ramirez, 19; Kevin Ramos, 18; Alana Garcia, 18; Christian Lobo, 18; Angel Sanchez, 18, and Jorge Guerrero, 18 — owning up to their crass behavior and apologizing to the Allens.

Nope, they’re off to college.

Who cares if the violation of Allen’s home — where a sleeping mother and her children are awakened and rattled by noises and flashes of light in her bedroom — crosses from the realm of prank into criminal behavior?

No apologies, no charges yet filed for their deed — in the best light, trespassing, a misdemeanor. Police only identified them under pressure from the media and the attorney Allen hired to get some law enforcement attention and respect.

Why would a homeowner need to hire a lawyer to get police and prosecutors to pay attention? Since when did it become legal to enter someone else’s home without permission?

What kind of society blames the victim for a break-in — the lock on the French doors was faulty and didn’t properly secure the home, the alarm wasn’t activated, there were no security cameras — further victimizing the violated?

Once again, this community seems poised to quickly absolve young people when they look a certain way or come from the right background. These are not rich kids getting a pass — only the teen who hosted the party was wealthy and she didn’t participate in her guests’ dalliance — but the trespassers got a break because they were college-bound.

“Good kids” doing something “stupid,” the rich girl’s mother excuses them to police.

But law enforcement sure gets tough — sometimes deadly tough with a Taser — when the offender is a confused budding artist annoyingly marking up a wall.

Both Coral Gables police and the State Attorney’s office initially ruled, too quickly, that a crime had not occurred because the teenagers’ intent was not burglary but self-indulgent curiosity. (And I would add, boredom; apparently, it wasn’t enough to be soaking up the night at Tahiti Beach, one of the most exclusive gated communities in town).

One can only wonder: what if Shannon Allen had pulled out a weapon and responded to the intruders with gunfire to protect her children?

By letting these teenagers get away with trespassing without consequences, the authorities put the official stamp of approval on their sense of entitlement.

Let’s hope their college education comes with life lessons.

They certainly didn’t get one here.

Read more Fabiola Santiago stories from the Miami Herald

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