Archive for December, 2015

We’ve had some disagreements on this site about what constitutes a thug.

In the view of our most prolific commenter (that’s you, John) it seems to boil down to anyone resisting arrest or even a defiant, 16-year-old girl who was yanked from her desk and dragged out of a South Carolina classroom by a school security officer after refusing to leave the classroom.

I countered the comment about the recalcitrant student with my own definition of a thug:

“One who who beats people up, mugs ’em, kills ’em, robs ’em, engages in cowardly assaults and shows no mercy.”

Well, I think I’ve got an individual who we can all agree qualifies as a thug.

Robert Michael

I hate to judge a person on his (or her appearance), but I believe most of us, if we saw this guy walking toward us on the sidewalk, would slide over to the other side of the street and hope he didn’t follow suit.

The name of our facially decorated subject is Robert Michael. He’s 31 and has been charged in Jackson County with first-degree attempted robbery and armed criminal action after he allegedly grabbed the keys of a pastor’s truck and demanded money.

The Star’s Brian Burnes wrote about the incident in today’s Star.

According to court records that Burnes cited, Michael appeared at the door of the pastor’s Oak Grove church on Nov. 19, saying he had problems and wanted to talk. Naturally, the pastor — he’s a pastor, after all — admitted him.

Burnes’ story said Michael and the pastor talked for about 30 minutes — must have seemed like an eternity to the good pastor. Among other things, Michael said he had family problems and finally told the pastor he needed a ride to Independence.

The only clue Burnes gave that would indicate the pastor was unnerved is contained in this line: “The pastor decided the only way to get Michael to leave was to give him a ride.”

During the ride, Burnes went on to say, the pastor “grew nervous” after Michael told him he had served 10 years in a Texas prison.

Nervous? I’ll bet that pastor’s hands were trembling and his mind whirring as he considered various scenarios of how he might get away from Michael or what he would do if Michael tried to assault him.

…Now, back to Burnes’ account:

“The pastor said that after he stopped the truck outside a home near Independence Square, Michael tried twice to steal the keys from the ignition. On the second try, the pastor grabbed the keys and began to leave the truck. Michael demanded all the pastor’s money while holding what the pastor thought was a knife. The pastor left the truck, flagged the driver of a passing car and told her he was being robbed. The driver called 911 as Michael walked away from the truck. The pastor gave officers a description of Michael’s clothes and the tattoos covering his face. Officers soon arrested Michael.”

…You have to understand that when they are going by “court records,” reporters generally don’t have the ability to report the emotions involved in situations. Police reports and court records usually don’t reflect them; they just contain the bare facts.

The story would have been a whole lot better if Burnes had been able to contact the pastor to get his first-hand account of what happened. I don’t know if Burnes tried to reach the pastor; I suspect he didn’t, or he would have said something like, “The pastor could not be reached for comment.”

So, we’re left with a dry but nevertheless remarkable story about an incident in which an opportunistic criminal targeted a man he knew would probably invite him inside. We have to admire that pastor for doing what the Gospel would have him do. Because of his calling, the pastor really didn’t have the discretion to be as discerning as the rest of us would be if a guy looking like Robert Michael rang our doorbell.

The highlight of the story, of course, is the photo, which was scary enough as a black-and-white mug shot in the newspaper…Looking at this photo, it is reasonable for anyone to conclude that Robert Michael is most probably a thug.


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