"Our society must make it right and possible for old people not to fear the young or be deserted by them, for the test of a civilization is the way that it cares for its helpless members."

On the eve of our Thanksgiving holiday, these are fitting words from Pearl S. Buck, the 20th century author who won a Pulitzer Prize for her classic novel "The Good Earth." The many charity groups and churches offering holiday meals to the needy are a good example of local people reaching out to the "helpless members" around us.

Unfortunately, some disturbing stories have surfaced in recent days that are examples of the worst elements in society. An inner city street "game" called "knockout" is making news, whereby a young black thug sucker punches a stranger on the street so hard that it renders the victim unconscious. It is also called the "polar bear" assault which comes from the fact that the victims are white.

This violent game has been linked to assault reports in at least six states, and three people have been killed in the attacks. One recent assault caught on video shows Amrit Marajh, 28, a Brooklyn man, punching a 24-year-old Jewish man in Brooklyn. The victim told police he heard his alleged attackers daring each other to punch him out minutes before the assault.

Another New York state victim, a 78-year-old woman, was reportedly attacked in broad daylight by a young man who walked up, punched her, then ran off. Robbery was not a motive, and the victim's daughter called it "a wanton act to hurt another human being."

Other attacks have occurred in New Haven, Conn., Washington, D.C. and suburban Philadelphia.

Jim Tedisco, a New York assemblyman from Schenectady, has introducing a bill that would make the knockout game a gang assault, and require youths to be charged as adults. It would carry a maximum sentence of up to 25 years.

"They want to be big shots and big men ... so they should have a big law to protect the innocent law-abiding citizens," Tedisco stated. "Clearly, these are not young gentlemen they're punks, they're thugs, they're cowards."

Tedisco is correct. These are not youth offenders but thugs who deserve to be treated like other criminals by our justice system.

By Jim Zbick

editor@tnonline.com