Amy Roberts: Only in America |

Amy Roberts: Only in America

Amy Roberts, Park Record columnist

Several years ago I spent a significant amount of time in Uganda. I volunteered at an AIDS orphanage, teaching English to children with no money, no family and even less hope.

There were a few Westerners in my village — we’d come from a variety of first-world countries hoping to make a difference. At night we’d get together and often scratch our heads over our new, albeit temporary, country of residence. There were a lot of things about life in Africa that just didn’t make sense.

For example, we all found it odd the fishermen would tie the day’s catch together, and hang the fish from their car’s front bumper. They’d drive home in 100-degree heat and spend hours in traffic as the exhaust from the tailpipe in front of them would blow right onto the fish they’d later hope sell and eat. We couldn’t figure out why they didn’t just keep the fish in the car with them. Surely you’d get paid more for fish that hadn’t spoiled in the afternoon sun and weren’t coated with toxic fumes.

We also found ourselves befuddled about the airport’s traffic control system. On a trip to a neighboring country one weekend, we waited for our flight on the tarmac. As our plane arrived, the pilot tossed a rope ladder out the cockpit window and instructed us to climb up. We then waited several minutes while a child on a bicycle with no pedals cleared the "runway" with a broom — shooing away the zebras. Why not just run if your bike doesn’t have pedals?

These were the types of moments when we’d look at each other, shrug our shoulders and say: "OIA, man. OIA." Which is the abbreviated way to say: "Only In Africa."

It’s a phrase we used when there really was no explanation, or words to describe the madness. It’s just how they did things over there and that was that.

After the news last week, I have to wonder if anyone overseas shakes their head and says, "OIA, man. OIA." Translation: "Only In America."

I’m talking about the 80-year-old Southern California man, Tom Greer, who boasted he shot and killed a woman in an alley, a woman he admits was running away from him at the time. According to his own account, the woman said, "Don’t shoot me, I’m pregnant! I’m going to have a baby!" Then he proudly told reporters, "And I shot her anyway."

The woman and another man were burglarizing Greer’s house. They assaulted him when he came home, but Greer grabbed his gun and scared them off. The pair fled into a nearby alley, where Greer chased them and fatally shot the woman, twice in the back.

The thieves were 100 percent in the wrong for robbing Greer and attacking him and should be penalized for their actions. And while I absolutely agree Greer had a right to protect himself, the pair had fled and he was no longer in immediate danger. Defending yourself is one thing, but exacting revenge is quite another. And in this country, we don’t sentence thieves to the death penalty.

But even more disturbing than this man smugly thumping his chest and saying he had "no regrets" about killing a woman who claimed she was pregnant (an autopsy later confirmed she was not), was the overwhelming support of this man on social media and comment boards found on news websites.

I was shocked to see so many people give Greer a virtual high-five. Admiring him for killing a woman who was running away from him. The overriding theme seemed to be: "Good for him. One less thief on the streets."

Before it was confirmed the woman was not pregnant, many commenters said they were pro-life, but the shooting was justified. "It’s OK because this couple was not going to raise a productive member of society," one person, who identified him or herself as a "God fearing Christian," wrote.

So I guess one way to get rid of protesters in front of a Planned Parenthood is to tell them you don’t plan to raise a productive member of society.

Only in America.

Amy Roberts is a longtime Park City resident, freelance writer and the proud owner of two ill-behaved rescue dogs, Boston and Stanley.