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VICTOR JOECKS: Las Vegas cyclist killing spotlights societal decline

Rarely does a single occurrence appear to so fully encapsulate the decline of so many foundational societal institutions.

Last month, a car plowed into retired Bell, California, police chief Andreas Probst while he was riding his bicycle. Police believe the driver was Jesus Ayala, 18, but 17 at the time of the crime. A disturbing video later showed the driver purposely ran down the bicyclist. Police believe that Jzamir Keys, 16, filmed the hit-and-run while riding in the passenger’s seat.

Police think the Probst killing was part of a string of crimes that included stealing multiple vehicles, intentionally causing car crashes and hitting another cyclist. Police have arrested both Ayala and Keys.

What stands out is the unspeakably callous disregard for human life that the video reveals. “Ready?” one said as they drove toward Probst. “Hit his ass,” said the other just before the video captures the crime.

This is what unrestrained evil looks like. Limiting such behavior is a pressing societal concern, especially if you believe, as I do, that human nature is unchanging.

There are two popular and competing explanations for this heinous crime. The first blames society at large. Critical race theory is one trendy iteration of this worldview. Under this outlook, evil stems from the institutions, systems and social structures that benefit white people and oppress Black people. Outcomes and morality aren’t determined by individual choices, but group identity. The solution is revolution. Destroy society’s foundational institutions and rebuild.

Crimes such as this expose the untenable foundations of this philosophy. Society didn’t force these young men to commit these crimes. They had a choice and chose to engage in unspeakable evil. The responsibility is theirs alone.

The other explanation is far more traditional. It comes from the Bible. Human beings are fundamentally evil. God — or nature, if one believes this all developed by chance — provides institutions that mitigate against this natural inclination. They steer the human heart toward endeavors that benefit the individual and their community. These institutions include a functioning criminal justice system, marriage and a religious faith.

For decades, the left has successfully waged war on those institutions. See how that worked out.

“You think this juvenile shit is gonna do some shit? I’ll be out in 30 days. I’ll bet you,” Ayala told police after being arrested.

Everyone, even teenagers, respond to incentives. The justice system is supposed to punish lawbreakers. That’s just, and it also deters people from committing crimes. But based on concerns about racial disparities, progressive Democrats gutted criminal penalties, while liberal district attorneys won’t prosecute many criminals. As this societal institution crumbles, crime soars.

Marriage was once considered the building block of civilization. A man and woman made a lifelong commitment to each other and, by extension, their offspring. Boys especially benefit from an involved father. It wasn’t perfect, but it produced better outcomes overall. Statistics show children with married parents do better in a host of areas, including education, earnings, health and avoiding incarceration.

While the media have identified the boys’ mothers, there has been no mention of their fathers.

Finally, society abandoned God. Instead of teaching there’s a transcendent moral code that should guide humans, kids learn moral relativism and to prioritize their feelings. Then society is shocked when teenagers do just that, chasing approval from peers, not God.

Traditions are the solutions to problems we’ve forgotten about. The key to preventing more occurences like this is rebuilding these bedrock institutions.

Contact Victor Joecks at vjoecks@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4698. Follow @victorjoecks on X.

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