Archive Opinion The Orion

Buis’ Bits: If tomorrow never comes

August 1, 2005

The bus stopped by the Butte County Courthouse last Monday because of a delivery truck out front. As it edged forward, I noticed a sign on the side window of a black Dodge Dakota.

A few feet later, I was lined up perfectly across from the SUV right outside my window with the license plate “MATT 05.” I forgot it was the one of the last hearings before the trial of the former Chi Tau members who were connected to the water intoxication death of Matthew Carrington.

Those poor people.

No, I’m not talking about the Carrington family. I’m talking about the men on trial. Think about how much their lives have changed in the last eight months. All it took was one night of doing something that was stupid, pointless and irresponsible, and now their lives are forever screwed.

The only problem is it’s not as simple as pleading guilty because they did something wrong. The law has to be carried out properly and these men deserve a fair trial. This is all in Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey’s hands now.

It sounds like a good idea, admit it.

Think about what is must be like in their shoes. This will require you to not fold your arms and say, “I’d never do anything like that.”

One morning you wake up and go to week two of your classes. That night you plan to work on initiating two guys who you hope will become new friends and brothers to you. You go to sleep eventually, thinking they’re both fine. After all, the big worry was alcohol and it was only water they drank.

The next morning, one of them is dead.

Honestly, before Feb. 2, how many people were aware that someone could die the way Matthew Carrington died? Is that an excuse to get off scot free? No, but it’s a reason for understanding.

People just don’t realize how much of a plot twist tomorrow can be. The number one rule of life is to expect the unexpected.

Need proof? My dad and my oldest brother went for a hike around Feather Falls. Skip to part-way through when the father-son camping trip changed and my brother fell.

Off a waterfall.

Don’t worry–he’s alive. Luck was on his side, and he became Enloe Medical Center’s first flight rescue. Without that helicopter, he wouldn’t have survived.

Still don’t believe he was lucky? He ruptured his spleen, but he had another spleen growing underneath it.

Expect the unexpected.

Those seven men draw the ire of practically every person at Chico State, Butte County and a few more throughout the nation.

However it’s also important to realize that all seven of them have been charged with hazing and four face involuntary manslaughter charges. They aren’t out roaming the countryside. They aren’t baiting people to pledge to an unrecognized fraternity, then switching it with dihydrogen monoxide intoxication.

It’s too easy to call for blood or, to borrow a phrase from Charlie Daniels, “Take those rascals out in the swamp/Put them on their knees and tie ’em to a stump/And let the rattlers and the bugs and the alligators do the rest.”

“In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State.”

Let them enjoy their Sixth Amendment rights.

It’s more fun to watch when the law cold-cocks the guilty into a jail cell.