Opinion: Columnists

Hotheads and no 'home training'

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Opinion,Gregory Kane,Columnists

For us columnist types, that fracas aboard a Cleveland bus that was caught on video that recently went viral might be the gift that keeps on giving.

In case you're one of those people who values your sanity and seeks to preserve it -- which means you avoid most of what is on the Internet -- here's what happened: Artis Hughes, a 59-year-old bus driver for the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, hit 25-year-old Shi'Dea Lane with a right uppercut that would have done former heavyweight champion George Foreman proud. Under normal circumstances, many -- and I'm hoping most -- people would be adamantly opposed to a man hitting a woman, especially with a hard, potentially jaw-breaking uppercut. But what happened on that Cleveland bus back on Sept. 18 can hardly be described as normal, which is why the incident is chock-full of fodder for newspaper columnists.

Lane boarded the bus and didn't pay her fare. That led to what is called a "beef" between her and Hughes. Lane grabbed Hughes by the neck and spat in his face. That's when he got up out of the driver's seat and cold-cocked her.

It's a sign of the times that there were several on the bus who had their cellphones ready to record the entire incident, which brings me to my first point. The video shows Hughes and Lane threatening physical violence against each other, and the situation was clearly quickly spiraling out of control. Instead of whipping out their cellphones to record the confrontation, why didn't at least one of those geniuses call the police?

That brings me to my second point. Many have expressed sympathy for Hughes, the bus driver. Sorry, I'm not one of them. As a bus driver, his first priority should have been the safety of the passengers. HE's the one that should have called police. And just how did getting out of his seat to pop Lane's face inside-out contribute to passenger safety? Lane is not completely to blame. Hughes did his part to escalate the confrontation, by threatening to bring his daughter and even granddaughter to the scene to beat up Lane. And wisecracking about a scar on Lane's face was completely uncalled-for.

But then we come to my third point: Lane, who's a real piece of work. In addition to threatening to beat up Hughes, Lane called him the dreaded "b" word. Then she called his mother the same thing. After Hughes punched Lane, he threw her bodily off the bus. Lane rushed back onto the bus and continued the fight, ratcheting up the expletives. Hughes was no longer just the "b" word; now he was the "n" word too. Lane told Hughes that her boyfriend -- her "n---a," in Lane's elegant phrasing -- was going to beat Hughes up. Totally ghetto.

Fourth, can anyone say "home training"? Because that's what was completely lacking in this situation. When I was growing up on Baltimore's west side, "home training" was a phrase I heard all the time. Whenever we'd see someone acting disgracefully or inappropriately, we'd shake our heads and lament the offender's lack of home training. "No home training" was how we put it.

Hughes showed little home training, Lane absolutely none. In fact, if home training could be measured on a scale of zero to 10, with zero being no training at all, Lane would send the scale's meter well into double-digit negative numbers.

Still, the main fault lies with Hughes. At 59 years old, his should have been the wiser head that prevailed. He grew up in the era when black Americans (both Hughes and Lane are black) talked about "home training" all the time.

I wouldn't expect Lane, born circa 1987, to know anything about home training. Unfortunately, neither does Hughes.

Examiner Columnist Gregory Kane is a Pulitzer-nominated news and opinion journalist who has covered people and politics from Baltimore to the Sudan.

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