Hard to believe stuff like this still happens

Published 10:35 am Thursday, February 21, 2013

Column: Thanks for Listening, by Scott Schmeltzer

Joe Rickey Hundley faces a federal charge for simple assault on a minor during a Delta flight from Minneapolis to Atlanta on Feb. 8.

Hundley, a 60-year-old business executive is accused of drunkenly slapping a 2-year-old and referring to him with a racial slur. Hundley was sitting next to Jessica Bennett, 33, and her son Jonah who began to cry as the plane descended into Atlanta.

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According to a probable cause statement from the FBI, Hundley “told her to shut that [‘N word’] baby up.”

Bennett said Hundley “then turned around and slapped Jonah in the face with an open hand, which caused the juvenile victim to scream even louder,” at which point other passengers came to her aid.

“Herein lies the tragedy of the age; not that men are poor … not that men are wicked … but that men know so little of men.” — W.E.B. Dubois

W.E.B. Dubois wrote this phrase in 1903. It rings so true again in this month of February that has been dedicated as Black History Month in America. To think that in 2013, we still have men that will not only slap a baby, but to call him a name that is a racial slur. It has been 49 years since the historic 1964 Civil Rights Act guaranteeing voting rights and outlawing discrimination in hotels, motels, restaurants, theaters and all other public accommodations, and we are still dealing with racist slang and racist people.

“Men know so little of men,” means to me that as a country and as intelligent caring people we need to study what makes up a person before blindly judging them. Martin Luther King Jr. said to our nation that his dream was to live in a nation where his children “will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

Judging a person by the content of their character. What a brilliant idea. Do not judge by color, but rather the whole of a person. How many of us would like to be judged by our character and not judged by our size, religion, sexual orientation, sex and color. Taking time to understand another person, another culture, another way of life. How amazing would that be?

Forty-nine years and in some ways, some people have not matured even one year over “the way it used to be.” Time to grow up people. We need to mature as a country and be better each day, each year.

Joe Rickey Hundley, you have many lessons still to learn. You sir, are not a man.


Tribune Publisher Scott Schmeltzer’s column appears every Thursday.