Remembering Yoshihiro Hattori

Earlier this week, an Atlanta homeowner shot and killed a young man who had pulled into his driveway by mistake. Something very similar happened in Baton Rouge more than 20 years ago. Some of you may remember this.

Yoshihiro Hattori was a 16-year-old Japanese exchange student who came to live with a Baton Rouge family in 1992. He and a young man from his host family were going to a Halloween party and mistook another house for the party house.

The boys went to the door and rang the doorbell, and when they got no response they turned to walk back to their car. But then the homeowner, Rodney Peairs, stormed out of his house with a .44-magnum revolver and yelled, “freeze!” Yoshihiro, probably not recognizing he was in danger, turned toward Pearis and said, “We’re here for the party.” Pearis fired his gun into Yoshihiro’s chest and ran back into his house.

Webb Haymaker, the boy with Yoshihiro, ran to a neighbor house and asked for help. The Pearis family did nothing, but remained in their house. An ambulance came, but Yoshihiro died before reaching the hospital.

At first, the Baton Rouge police declined to press charges against Pearis. Possibly only because of widespread outrage in Japan and pressure from higher officials was Pearis finally charged with manslaughter. At the trial, the defense portrayed Yoshihiro Hattori as scary and Rodney Peairs as just a regular guy defending his family. The defense pointed out that Yoshihiro was a 130-pound boy (dressed as John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever) who had just rung the doorbell — not exactly the usual behavior of a home invader. But naturally, Peairs was acquitted.

Now, as I remember it, the story got a lot of attention, and a lot of people thought it was outrageous, although many others defended Pearis and thought he was justified to shoot Yoshihiro. But there also was a widespread resignation about the acquittal — that’s just the way things are in America, especially in the South. It stinks, but nothing can be done.

This week’s shooting in Atlanta isn’t getting nearly as much attention, but the shooter was charged with murder pretty quickly. So far I haven’t heard anyone say the shooter, Phillip Walker Sailors, was justified in shooting a young man for the crime of pulling into his driveway. Perhaps someone has, and I’ve missed it. It will be interesting to see how and whether justice is served. I would also like to gauge if public reaction to this week’s shooting is different in any way from the reaction to the shooting in 1992. Have we progressed at all?

Related — here’s a gun control ad made to air during the Super Bowl.

15 thoughts on “Remembering Yoshihiro Hattori

  1. Pearis had a .44 magnum with a laser sight…The Laser sight identifies that intangible element of mental illness that is so hard to describe, yet exists in so many wannabe men. It goes beyond the penis extention to express a desire to kill..Pearis found out what it’s like to detach from humanity and he was all boo hoo about it..He got what he wanted, but didn’t want what he got. He said he’d never own a gun again…why? doesn’t he want to defend his family anymore.

  2. Swami – OY!
    What a GREAT comment!!!

    FSM, I remember that horrible story.

    And I can’t help but wonder what, if any, correlation there might be, between gun owners, and Fundamentalist Christians?
    My suspicion is that they’re swimming around in the shallow end of the same gene pool.

    They’re both Manichean absolutists, who revere and worship a power greater than them – Jesus, and/or guns.

    I suspect it’s the same mindset, the same group-think.
    Though why the followers of “The King of Peace” would want to run around with military assault weapons escapes me.
    Still, I can’t help but wonder if it’s not pretty close to a 1 to 1 relationship?
    That, Jesus = Gun-owner.

    Anyone know any statistics, regarding this possible relationship, between the Christian faithful, who spend the day thinking and talking about their “Lord,” and people who feel the need to have guns around with them all of the time?

    Again, to me, it shouldn’t make any sense for Uber-Christians to be packin’ all of the time, since, if you believe you’re one of God’s chosen people, why would you need to always be within easy reach of a gun, since you’re sure you and yours are on the express train to Heaven? Why put off your ultimate goal?
    But still, I can’t help but wonder…
    That if you get killed in a robbery involving a “Blah” or Hispanic person, that God and Jesus cancel will your express ticket to Heaven?

    Religion and guns.
    Both, to me, imo, seem like crutches for fearful and mentally unsound people.

  3. Sort of OT, espcially on a serious post like this, but here’s the LOL “Enemies List” from the NRA, according to TPM:

    Basically, that list boils down to nearly every single person in America who’s not in the NRA, and the NRA itself.

    Plus, they REALLY know how to carry a grudge, since some of those folks have been dead for quite a while now.

    And the gun nuts say that they’re NOT paranoid?
    How can they not be, when the organization they revere and belong to, is?

    An “Enemies List?”
    Nixon was a piker, compared to Wayne LaPecker’sTooTinyPierre and his very motley crew.

  4. gulag – The connection between (some) gun owners and fundamentalist christians is the compulsion to separate good and evil – and to punish evil while rewarding good.

    In the bad ‘ol days, the way the US military identified Viet Cong was the following 3 criteria. If the y are a) dead b) asian and c) perforated by US projectiles – that made them VC. In that situation – evil vanquished by good.

    With fundies and libertarians, wealth equals virtue. The great makers of the age have great wealth – if you have wealth, that proves you are a ‘maker’. The concept of a rich person who got rich by fraud is automatically rejected.

    And I return to the topic of guns. When you talk to the fringe nut gun owners – they always simplify the issue to a good person with a gun vs a bad person with a gun. If you are a good person (and who doesn’t see themselves as good) and you have a gun, you become a power against the dark forces. Very rarely is it that simple.

    The shoot – don’t shoot decision is often complex and owning a lethal weapon does not imbue the owner with wisdom or discretion. It magnifies the consequences of a mistake. Recognizing the enormous responsibility you inherit with a pound of steel is what separates a nut from a responsible gun owner.

  5. Doug,
    You’re right – it’s never that simple.
    Though, “stand your ground’ laws try to simplify what can be, and frequently are, complicated situations.
    Just because an individual feels threatened on account of someone they didn’t expect coming and knocking on their door, or mistake their address for another, should not give them the right to ‘shoot first, and ask questions later.’
    And like with Amerca’s uber-Christians, gun owners always want people to see their side of the argument, while completely and totally ignoring any counter-argument. As well as my right to not believe in their Jesus, or to live, work, and play, in gun-free environments.

    To me, their’s a certain sense of fanatisism involved in both religion, and gun-ownership.
    Both Jesus-freak and gun-owning groups try to proselytize, attempting to convert the ones who don’t believe in what they believe.

    You believe in Jesus?
    Good for you. Pray away.
    You believe you have the right to own guns?
    Well, fine. But, unlike simple prayers, bullets can be immediately lethal.
    Damage from being overly-religious, happens in a much longer time frame, than firing a gun.

    No one is trying to take prayer away from religious people.
    No one is trying to take guns away from people who feel the need for guns. The issue, again, and listen-up gun-nuts, is military assault weapons and uber-large magazines.

    People who feel the need to run around praying 24X7, and converting others, have a whole host of issues, I suspect, but I can’t help thinking that people who feel the need to carry weapons 24X7, are either mentally unhinged, or pussies – or both.
    And I don’t use the word “pussy” in any derogatory sense here, sexually – it’s just that in today’s America, that word – PUSSIES! – best describes the level of fear, hatred, paranoia, and, probable feelings of sexual inadequacies, these people have.

  6. Just read this….

    (CNN) — A former Navy SEAL who said his 150-plus sniper kills prompted Iraqi insurgents to place a bounty on his head was fatally shot at a Texas gun range, authorities said.

    Chris Kyle, 38, was one of two men killed Saturday afternoon in Glen Rose, southwest of Fort Worth, the Texas Department of Public Safety said. Chad Littlefield, 35, was also shot to death.

    Police arrested suspect Eddie Ray Routh, 25, after a brief pursuit ….”

    This should, but won’t, end the fantasy about how a good guy with a gun can stop a bad man with a gun and it’s more effective than regulating access. I have no doubt Kyle was as proficient as anyone you can find. But an idiot with a gun took him out, and another man in a place full of ‘good’ guys with guns. None of them took out the shooter.

    I’m not arguing against the right of self-defense, or the right to keep a weapon for self-defense. But the argument that a good guy with a gun will triumph against a bad man with a gun – ergo – no gun regulation can work as well has been finally and absolutely vanquished. The question is simply WHAT regulation will be effective (without being excessively invasive of individual rights).

  7. When I hear the old “an armed society is a polite society” schtick, I think of scenarios like this, when apparently it is polite to shoot someone because they intend to ask directions.

    That being said, I knew someone personally who was shot when he was a teenager because he was attending a party and parked at the curb with a pair of tires on a neighbor’s lawn. He was paralyzed and had a TBI.

    I told the story of having a gun aimed at my solar plexus. The woman with the gun was upset because “someone had knocked on her door.”

    I suppose we’ll need some updates to those old Emily Post books if the NRA has its way.

  8. Notice how some of the Christians area always “giving it to God” when they face a difficulty or offering to pray for the troubled? What is the deciding point for them when to shoot and when to pray? “Put it in God’s hands” is a popular phrase, but putting a gun in their own hands is pretty un-Jesusy. The degree of “otherness” they can ascribe to anyone else has to be a factor in picking out praying issues versus shootin’ situations. The Beckian, Bortzian, Limboufhoon crowd has what I call “convenient Christianity” that makes everything they do blessed and sanctified.

    And on a lighter note, since I think this might be Super Bowl Sunday (Don’t know, don’t care” here is a funny video about one of the commercials:

  9. Yeah, maha, but whether I call one of them a “weeny” or a “pussy,” I’ll still end up dead, or at least shot, if I say it to their faces.
    No one likes being called out for what they really are – fear and hate-filled cowards, with mental issues, and probably sexual ones as well.

    If I have to go, I’d rather go after calling them ‘pussies.’ it stings just a bit more.

  10. I expect backlash from a gun control ad during a violent sporting event – Ad isn’t showing up for me, so I’m not sure about its effectiveness.

  11. Let’s end this charade once and for all (good luck with that, eh?):

    “Fundamentalist Christians” are no more christian than current-crop Republicans are conservative or “Fundamentalist Muslims” are Muslim. The are Fundamentalists: people who absolve themselves of all personal responsibility and transfer that responsibility to their personal guru, who almost always is a politician-in-disguise, out to use (usually-) his cultists for money and the personal political power (and often fame) it brings.

    In the words of a great song: “You just can’t ‘kill for Jesus’.” [emphasis mine]

  12. “All have officially endorsed anti-gun positions.”

    This is, of course, the BIG LIE. I would bet large sums of money that less than a couple of percent “…officially endorsed anti-gun positions.”

    But, a nut-job takes pride in the enemies he or she can produce!

  13. I have some very good friends (in their 7O’) who are devout episcopalians, they have a shot gun, do not promote gun ownership, and do some very good work through their church with prisoners. Then there is a guy I work with who is so twisted religiously that he boasts he is a Christian and carries his Bible and Gun where ever he goes.
    So I have to agree that the fundies are loons at best.

    Here’s something interesting; this weekend, I’ve been scrapping out my tired old work barge. The scrap yard REQUIRES a photo of your licesne plate, your driver’s license, a photo of the individual, and a thumb print to sell scrap steel. For non-ferrous metals, you have to produce proof of where the metal came from.
    So its way easier to buy a gun than it is to sell scrap metal. I’m thinking it should be at least as difficult to buy a gun.

  14. Forgive my language, but that case in Atlanta just blew me the f*ck away (ok, I changed it). I mean Jesus, it’s the first time I’ve reached the point where I’m literally afraid to leave my house. If a f*cking u-turn can get you killed what can’t?

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