In my new home of Ashland, Ohio, there is a sign that welcomes all comers to “The World Headquarters of Nice People.” It seemed to me as if the entire town conspired to make my move as pleasant as could be. This is “Midwestern Nice” in a nutshell.
But I’ve found the flavor of American hospitality can, like complacency, kill. Too much of it is like a slow poison. It enables when it should proscribe; stays its hand when it ought to punish. It renders good people vulnerable to the fever dreams of ideologues and the schemes of a cynical managerial class.
Desiree Lomax offers a case in point. Lomax landed her first felony conviction in 2011. She lied to police about the whereabouts of Joseph Hampton and provided him with clothing, food, and a vehicle after he shot dead a man in Zanesville, Ohio. For all this, Lomax received the accommodative mercy of probation.
After she violated her probation twice, Lomax was sent to Muskingum Behavioral Health for “treatment.” Rather than turning her life around, however, she used the program to network. In her mind, rehab was the perfect place to find drug buyers, and it was here that she met Kevin “Taylor” Strang. After a relapse, Strang wound up at Muskingum Behavioral Health, making him easy prey for Lomax.
On Aug. 31, 2018, Strang didn’t show up for work. His fiancée, Georgia, called Strang’s...