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Archive for the ‘Murder and murderers’ Category

Richard Steeves has killed six people, yet he believes that he should be a free man. The last time he was released from prison was in 1984. He had gone on a three-state killing spree that maxed out at five victims. It appeared that he had regained his sanity and was sufficiently rehabilitated to be out on his own. Less than six months later he killed a shopkeeper in Maine, his final victim. Wheelchair bound and 75 years of age, he’s asking to spend his final years in freedom. What do you think? Personally, I’d rather just see someone take him out in a field, give him three deep breaths of fresh air and then put a bullet in his head…but that’s me. Six people? You do not deserve to breathe the air that your victims never got a chance to breathe.

Our legal system is flawed. It always has been and it always will be. There are innocent men and women locked up for crimes they did not commit. There are guilty people roaming the streets who will never be caught and convicted. We try to do the very best we can, from the police who catch them to the district attorneys who try them to the defense lawyers who attempt to defend them to the judges and juries who listen to the cases and attempt to be fair and impartial. One prosecuting attorney once told me, “It depends entirely on whose whores you believe, those of the prosecution or those of the defense.” Wow, that’s a tough call.

No, our system of justice isn’t really fair and impartial. It’s because our justice is dispensed by people, and people aren’t fair or impartial. Oh sure, most of us will say that we are but, truth to tell, we’re only people and we have chinks in our own armor, whether we admit it or not. In my personal experience, which is somewhat limited, I believe that 86 percent of law enforcement people have untouchable integrity. There is always that fourteen percent that are questionable, and most folks I’ve met in law enforcement will admit to that. Jurors, too, generally find some axe to grind during a trial, and while they may try their damndest to be fair, there is always something in their mind that niggles away until they swing one way or another.

Steeves is not the only one who has been freed only to kill again. After a bit of research, I found that a number of convicted killers have been released and gone out only to do the same thing over again. For example, the case of Dwaine Little. In 1964, he was convicted of raping and murdering a 16-year old girl and received a life sentence. Ten years later, the State of Oregon granted his request for parole. Good old Dwaine went right back to work and it is considered highly likely that he murdered a family of four while they were on a camping trip. He was never tried for the murders but went he went back to prison on a parole violation, the skeletal remains of the family were finally found. Three years later, Dwaine was once more on parole and out on the streets. This time he waited until 1980 before he raped and killed a pregnant hitchhiker. He is now serving two life sentences, so the likelihood of his being paroled a third time is rather unlikely.

Cases such as those of Steeves and Little really give me pause to wonder why the death penalty has been abolished in so many states. Between them, it is highly likely than ten people paid the ultimate price for their being free. We have a problem with prison overcrowding. People who have been convicted on more than one murder, should themselves be removed from our population. I’m pretty liberal on most things (as many of my former students would tell you), but the senseless killing of others assures me that the murderer has forfeited his or her right to continue to live. Take the case of Howard Allen. He beat 85-year old Opal Cooper to death while robbing her. That was in 1974. A decade later, the State of Indiana granted him parole. He made it until 1987 until he really began to kick up his heels. In August of that year he was linked to twelve robberies and assaults on the elderly as well as two new murders. Although sentenced to death, that sentence was vacated after it was determined that Howard was mentally ill…excuse me but what does his mental illness have to do with whether he lives or dies. Perhaps Opal Cooper and another victim, Ernestine Griffin, might just have something to say about that.

Had enough? Staring to feel a bit nauseous? Allow me the privilege of telling you about one more serial killer who was paroled and went on to lead a less than exemplary life. John McRae was only 16 when he slashed the throat and genitals of eight-year old Joey Housey in 1950. He was sentenced to life but Michigan governor, William Milliken commuted his sentence and in 1972 John was paroled. He married, had a son, and – get this one – became a prison guard in the state of Florida at a facility for youthful offenders. Over the next several years, McRae tortured and murdered four more boys before being caught and convicted and sentenced to life in 1998. In 2005 his sentence was overturned, but, fortunately, he died in prison the same year.

These are not isolated cases, but neither are they a majority. For the most part, our justice system, for all its perceived failures, does it right. Nancy Mullane, author of Life After Murder, said that, “…she was able to determine that 988 convicted murderers were released from prisons in California over a 20 year period. Out of those 988, she said 1 percent were arrested for new crimes, and 10 percent were arrested for violating parole. She found none of the 988 were rearrested for murder, and none went back to prison over the 20 year period she examined. I guess there’s hope after all.

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“Christians want to save all refugees.”  Yes, that was the title on an e-mail in my SPAM folder tonight. I didn’t open it, nor do I have any idea of the message. My answer is simply this: “I’m a Christian, and I don’t wish to save all refugees. Some of those refugees are merely ISIS fighters taking advantage of the opportunity to infiltrate another nation until they can create an incident such as happened in Paris. Thank you, but no thank you.

So far, terrorists have attacked office buildings and the nation’s top military installation in the United States. They have brought down a plane holding 224 Russian citizens returning from vacation. They have brought down a U.S. bound plane over Lockerbee, Scotland. They have bombed trains in Spain; busses in London, buildings in Beirut, and I don’t even know what the hell else they’ve been responsible for bombing or how many people in total they have killed. No, no, no, no, it is time that this is stopped…permanently.

The thing about ISIS or ISL or Daesh, or whatever you may wish to call these people, the only true description of them is that they are world terrorists. Whereas most people don’t really look forward to the prospect of death, these idiots appear to welcome it because they believe it will make them martyrs, and they are wrong. What it will make them is dead. Now, I believe in a merciful and loving God. They believe in Allah which, from what I can determine, is merely another time for a single God. However, my loving God has a bit of a temper. He has a commandment. I’ve seen it listed as high as five on the commandments chart, but it could even be six or seven; it goes, “Thou shalt not kill.” Now, in war…real war, not this bullshit war that’s killing and maiming innocents as well as military, and by people who are as crazy as bedbugs on steroids, God sees a meaning. He wasn’t too keen on the Germans in WWI or WWII, but this he could understand. The current war…mmm…that I believe is pissing him off, particularly at the bedbugs. They may think of themselves as martyrs; I believe God sees them as bedbugs…He doesn’t like bedbugs. ‘Nuf said?

As Christians, most of us have turned the other cheek enough times that we’re really getting a bit tired of it. For us, this is just another infestation that must be exterminated. Problem is that they’re all over the place in the Middle East. They have, however, made a couple of mistakes. The first and most critical of these mistakes is that they have pissed of President Putin of Russia. This former KGB headhunter is not one you should piss off, but they claimed to have brought down the homeward bound vacationers heading for St. Petersburg, and that didn’t sit too well with Prexy Putin. Then, they pissed off the French, and that really didn’t sit all that well with the French. Other than the March, 2011 shooting at Frankfurt Airport and a single individual with a knife – he died – Germany gets an ‘A’ for seeking out and thwarting threats in its own country. Anyway, it would appear that most of the civilized world is really upset with these people who think martyrdom is a good thing. As a consequence, it seems that we’d be doing them a favor by having the air forces of every nation just bomb the daylights out of them 24/7/365. Would some innocents die? Of course they would, but which is worse, death as an innocent and welcomed into heaven or living under a regime for which “cruel” is far too polite a word?

These people are not going to stop until they are stopped completely. The United States is a big country. Its major cities are on high alert for terrorist threats. These terrorists are not stupid; they know this to be true. They also know that the borders of the United States are about as porous as a sieve. It cannot all be guarded, and we will not build walls to shield ourselves; we are an open society. Just as there were multiple attacks in Paris, I envision multiple, simultaneous attacks on small towns as the next step in the terrorist playbook. They may not have the power to kill many people, but these attacks would scare the living daylights out of the general populace. I’m not trying to give terrorists any ideas, but I sure would try to listen to everyone in my community when he, she, or they say something doesn’t seem right, or a stranger has been looking around the town. You see, this particular …what did I call it…oh, yeah, this bullshit war, is not being fought on one front. It’s being fought in every corner of the known universe. It’s being fought wherever terrorists believe they can do just that…create terror. Those who believe, “Oh, it can’t happen here,” have their heads tucked deeply in the sand. That’s too bad because when it does happen “here,” they will become terrified sheep rather than pissed off lions. We live in different times. The days of sitting on our hands, believing that it won’t happen to us are over. It’s time to wake up and smell the cordite.

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So, Dylann Roof was afraid that black people were taking over the world. Well, maybe that’s just not such a bad thing after all. I can hear the screams now…”Are you out of your friggin’ mind?” “Oh, come on, you can’t be serious!” “Didn’t you see all of those shootings in Dorchester and who committed them?” “Yeah, right, and all those black gangs would be taking over our neighborhoods and killing all the white people; that’s what would happen you idiot.”

Yep, possibly true. But why is it true? It’s true because a minority of the minority make all of the headlines because of their actions. I have seen the riots; I have seen the black banners; I have heard the yelling and screaming, and; I have seen the way in which we ‘educated’ whites have treated “uppity n___as” for over 200 years.

Despite all of our legislation; despite all of our efforts to integrate blacks and whites, nothing seems to be working. In one of the most advanced civilizations in history, we cannot overcome something as seemingly simple as two races living together in some kind of harmony. Even when we elected a black president, there was sufficient racism in the legislative branch – and other branches – to stop any kind of progress from being made. Anyone who tries to tell me that racism isn’t behind the gridlock in Washington is a goddamned liar! “We won’t let him get anything passed in the House.” Those are as close to an exact quote as I can remember from one Representative. “Him,” the word was “him,” and who was “he?” He was the first black President of the United States.

America was not ready to accept anything other than a white person for the Presidency. It is doubtful that America will ever be ready for anything but a white presidency. It’s too ingrained in us over our two hundred plus year history to accept anything else. We are creatures of habit; we are NIMBY’s such as there has never been. We talk of how we have advanced our civilization by trying new things, and that’s true, we have. But we sure as hell don’t want to disturb the status quo when it comes to the who of how we govern. Someone said to me, “When the Obama’s leave the White House, they’ll take all the china and silverware.” The person was only half joking. Why? Because that is the impression too many of us have of men and women in the black community. Wait a minute; who gambled away the White House china? Why it was President Warren G. Harding. How many alcoholic white presidents have we had? Too goddamned many. How many wheeler-dealer crooks have we had in the White House? Too goddamned many.

I have no sympathy for Dylann Roof; don’t get me wrong. Certainly, trying to start a race war is not the answer to bringing this country together. He deserves to pay the ultimate price for his actions. My gut feeling is that if he has already confessed to these murders, there is no reason for a trial. “That’s not the American way!” Bullshit…why isn’t it the American way? Why waste time and money to satisfy the blood lust that the media will create over this senseless and heinous act? The same should have been true with the Marathon bomber, the theatre killer, the one who shot Gabby Gifford and others, as well as Edward Hinckley. You did it; we saw you; you pay for your actions in the same manner as your actions. Within 24 hours of your capture, you are on your knees with two shots behind the ear. “Oh, my God, how brutal; how you can even think such a thing; this isn’t China where they do that. This is America; we’re not savages@” Oh, really, what would you call the people I’ve listed above…preachers of God?

Over the past 15 years I’ve watched this country begin to come apart at the seams. Statisticians tell us that crime is going down…and we’re supposed to believe their bullshit! The FBI, the Justice Department, this one and that one tell us how we’re better off than we were a couple of decades ago. Guess what, I don’t believe them. I think they are covering their butts and lying to us. Perhaps it’s because when something like Charleston or Newtown happen, it makes a big splash. Perhaps the media is doing a “better” job of covering the sexual assaults that are taking place on our city and suburban sidewalks and homes. I don’t know what it is, but things sure look pretty fucked up to me.

So what are we looking at for the future? Dylann Roof will go on trial, be convicted and when his execution date comes – somewhere in the next 10 years because of all the automatic appeals – the whole thing will be rehashed and America will once more be told that we cannot tolerate this kind of behavior, the population will be up in arms once more. Will any action have been taken to sort out the potential Dylann Roof’s in our society? No! Will any action have been taken in an attempt to control who and how guns are distributed? No. Will the NRA still own Congress? Yes. Will people still be going on rampages of killing children, classmates, adults of all colors? Yes.

Do I have reasonable solutions to all of these problems? No, not to all of them, but I have a few thoughts:

  • Any member of Congress who takes money from any lobby should be immediately ousted from his or her seat in that law-making body.
  • Members of the House of Representatives should not be allowed to serve any more than six terms. If they cannot get the job done in twelve years, it’s time to go.
  • Senators should be allow to serve two terms in office. Once more, twelve years in Congress is quite enough.
  • Certain lobbies are so powerful that they should be disbanded in some way, shape, or form. These include the tobacco, public utilities, pharmaceutical, gun advocacy, and several other vote-buying bastards who serve no useful purpose in our government.
  • Certainly our jails are overcrowded. We do not possess the laws to discourage crime. Opponents of the death penalty maintain that the threat of such punishment is not a deterrent, and they may well be right. However, have we ever really tested this? One execution every ten or twelve years is not testing. Executions every day for a couple of months might get a few bad guys to change their minds about committing a serious crime.
  • The Second Amendment, at least to me, means that if you own a gun, you do so to protect yourself and your home and that you are a part of a militia to guard the country. Fine, let’s put you to the test. If you voluntarily purchase or possess a gun, you will be trained and sent to wherever the United States is engaged in a ‘police action,’ or whatever we’re calling our conflicts these days. You will serve one year in a front line unit. If you survive, you will be allowed to keep your weapon when you return. However, you will not be allowed to keep an automatic weapon or more than 100 rounds of ammunition.

These are very rough plans and will have to be worked out…by whom? Aha, therein lies the rub. Who creates and who enforces these rules and regulations? Won’t be me; I plan to be dead. Good luck, America; you’re going to need it!

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There we were, having one of our after breakfast “He said; she said,” conversations about what is bad and what is…what, you don’t know what a “he said, she said” conversations is? You’re kidding, right? Oh, okay, this is the type of conversation where you begin with a fact…in this case, “Can something or someone be bad without being evil?” Once you run out of facts to justify your position, you then begin pulling things out of your ass for which there is absolutely no foundation in truth. It’s at this point that it becomes a “he said, she said,” and you are free to use glass hammers and sky hooks, along with left-handed paint brushes to prove your case. Since there is no or are no judge or judges, this discussion can go on until someone decides that one more word and they will pee their pants. At this point, both contestants storm off into walls [that weren’t supposed to be there] and the discussion reaches its conclusion.

Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion about any subject [until it differs from my own], even whether or not Oscar Pistorius intentionally murdered his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, or whether the Ray Rice elevator video was actually an outtake of a Mike Tyson confrontation with a reporter. Neither of these cases is subject to be discussed with humor. Both are horrific crimes. How Pistorius has gotten away with murder and why Rice is not sitting in a jail cell are both beyond my comprehension, but I guess that’s the manner in which people with big names and big reputations can get away with things for which the average citizen would find himself doing hard time in a lockup.

Given the circumstances, are these two men bad or are they evil? Anyone in their right mind must conclude that their actions were those of an evil belief, ie, that it is acceptable to murder someone, even through a closed door [did she scream after being hit by the first bullet?} or that it is acceptable to coldcock a woman because she spits at you. Can we say that these evil beliefs are individual behavior or are they, in fact, the beliefs of the tribe to which these two men belong. Think about it for a moment. O.J. got away with murder. The Green River killer, the Zodiac killer, BTK, and even Whitey got away with murder for decades before they were caught. Pistorius is a hero in South Africa. Why shouldn’t he believe that he can do anything and not be severely punished? Ray Rice is engaged in a profession that encourages violence; demands violence as part of the road to success. If I can drive you into the ground hard enough that they have to carry you off the field on a stretcher, which provides a greater opportunity for our team to win and for me to make more money. Is it so difficult to understand the transition from opponent to someone who is being aggressive toward you anywhere else? Lacking a degree of maturity, I can certainly see it happening. Do I agree with it? Hell, no, I think it’s appalling but that is not to say that I don’t see where it comes from.

Domestic violence of any kind, whether it’s by gun or knife, or by foot, fist, or elbow has no place in a civilized society…and the excuse of “she pushed my buttons,” is no excuse at all. Every 9 seconds, a woman is abused somewhere in the world. In America, I believe it’s every 15 seconds. What does that say about us? Basically, it says that we should not be allowed to call ourselves “civilized,” because civilized people don’t do that. Here are a few facts from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

  • One in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.
  • An estimated 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year.
  • 85% of domestic violence victims are women.
  • Most cases of domestic violence are never reported to the police.
  • Almost one-third of female homicide victims that are reported in police records are killed by an intimate partner.
  • Boys who witness domestic violence are twice as likely to abuse their own partners and children when they become adults.
  • Approximately one-half of the orders obtained by women against intimate partners who physically assaulted them were violated. More than two-thirds of the restraining orders against intimate partners who raped or stalked the victim were violated.

The facts and figures go on and on. Children, particularly males, are twice as likely to abuse their partners when they become adults. Kids are also at risk of being abused if they live in a household where abuse is a fact of reality.

There is an unprecedented opportunity in the courtroom in South Africa and in the offices of the National Football League to make a genuine impact on domestic violence. Judge Thokozile Masipa may have cleared Pistorius of murder but she can still nail his hide to the wall with a charge of culpable homicide, discharging a firearm, and being in possession of ammunition, all of which carry serious jail time for this defendant. The NFL can ban Ray Rice for life, thereby sending a message that his type of behavior will not be tolerated under any circumstances. Is this taking away his livelihood? Yes, it is, but in theory he earned a college degree. Let him use it. If not, let him spend some of that money he’s received from the Baltimore Ravens to educate himself for another line of work.

Domestic violence is indefensible, no matter the reason. It’s indefensible for husband against wife or vice versa – yes, men are also victims of domestic violence – or whether it’s same sex violence, or violence of any kind against a partner, friend, or acquaintance. Crime of any kind is unacceptable, but, just like domestic violence, it will continue, and people like me will rail against it by our writing, take classes to become counselors and attempt to help in that way…but it will go on. It will go on because in some form, in same way, in some dark recess of our minds, we make it acceptable and we allow it to happen…and we should ashamed of ourselves.

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It appears that no matter how hard I try, I find it impossible to understand why people kill. War is one thing; the objectives of war…to obtain mineral rights; to expand your own nation; to right a perceived wrong or insult, this I understand. However, to kill someone you love…a wife, a husband, your own child, someone who cheers for a different team; for a pair of sneakers or a jacket you admire…these things are beyond my comprehension.

“You will never understand murderers,” people tell me. “You’re mind is not their mind; your anger isn’t the type of anger they are capable of feeling,” they say. “You’re incapable of understanding the kind of violence that is within them because it’s not within you.” I’m not certain that I can accept those statements. I believe we are all capable of killing, particularly to protect those we love. Would I kill because of an insult? Man, I have been insulted by professionals. There is so little that can be said to insult me, it’s pathetic. Insults merely show the ignorance of the person delivering them; remember that, and you’re protected.

I don’t stay up late enough to watch the nine, ten, or eleven o’clock news. Hell, by eight, these old eyes are thoroughly closed and gathering sand, sounding like a freight train, and incapable of being roused other than by the thunder after a direct lightning strike on the other side of the bed – Juli’s till up at that hour so I know she would be fine. However, back to the news; psychologists will tell you not to watch the news as the last thing you view before going to bed. I don’t know whether these broadcasts are intentionally designed to send you to bed with visions of bodies in the streets or cars wrapped around telephone poles or this murder or that killing, but they say that watching this stuff is just not good for the psyche as you’re heading off for dreamland. I believe it!

Movies are movies. Action movies with folks like Arnie, Sly, Jason, Jet, Chuck, or Jackie will kill hundreds – I once heard that the record was held by Schwarzenegger at 500 killed in a single film…I think Arnie had a scratch on the back of his hand. I mean, come on. I’m not against a little violence in a movie but one person killing that many…hell, that’s a comedy!

One of the people to whom I turned for information on the mind of a killer was Professor Jim Fallon, who teaches neuroscience at the University of California Irvine.  A synopsis of his biographical information says that, “Through research [Jim} explores the way genetic and in-utero environmental factors affect the way the brain gets built – and then how individuals’ experience further shapes its development. He lectures and writes on creativity, consciousness, and culture, and has made key contributions to our understanding of schizophrenia, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.” A relatively new part of Fallon’s research has been devoted toward the subject of psychopaths — specifically those who kill.

Fallon has studied nearly 100 brains, some of which have been those of serial killers. He concludes that a gene, passed from mother to son, brain damage, environmental exposure to violence, e.g., living where a war is taking place are all contributors, are all contributors to the development of a psychopathic killer. According to Fallon, because the gene is passed only from mother to son is the contributing factor that makes psychopathic killers predominantly male.

Another “student” of murderers is Jonathan Pincus, chief of neurology at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Washington and a professor at Georgetown University School of Medicine. Over the past 25 years he has examined, through questioning, 150 murderers. Like Fallon, he has concluded mental illness (gene) neurological damage (violence) and abuse (environmental/family) are the contributors for creating killers.

This began as a simple essay. Research proves that the subject is really deep and far beyond my scope of understanding, Whether it’s reading the FBI study on serial killers, listening to Professors Fallon or Pincus, or examining any number of articles about murderers, I’m glad that it’s early morning when I’m writing this…it may be time to go watch the road runner or Tom & Jerry!

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The fact that there is a great deal of pissing and moaning over the remarks made by Phil Robertson in GQ Magazine is not necessarily a bad thing. In his comments to People Magazine, he is quoted as saying, “I will not give or back off from my path.” That sounds like a man with the courage of his convictions, and no matter what the Arts & Entertainment network might feel, courage and conviction are two things that this country has been sadly lacking for the past decade or so.

 

Robertson believes what he believes. The backlash toward A&E would appear to indicate that there are a helluva lot of people who might darn well feel the same way or, at the very least, believe that the man has the right to free speech under the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” Obviously, yelling, “Fire” in a theatre is not free speech because it infringes on the rights of those in the theatre. If this ‘free speech’ liable or slanders another party, that is an infringement on their rights. In these and other cases, freedom steps aside and prosecution steps in to take control.

 

Whose rights did Robertson trample? I’m not so certain that he did anything except to express his own personal beliefs. This is how he views the world and he’s willing to stand by his views. There are so few people today who, if put into a situation such as he was, would answer so honestly and candidly. Take any member of the Congress of the United States. If anyone of them were to be asked, “Do you believe that homosexuality is a sin that will preclude those practicing it from getting in to Heaven,” they would hem and haw and you know you would never get a straight answer. If President Obama was asked, “Do you believe that the Affordable Care Act is the proper document for all Americans?” do you honestly believe you would get anything but gobbledygook? Of course not.

 

President Harry Truman was a straight talking person, often called a son-of-a-bitch because of his no nonsense honesty. The same could be said of General George Patton, as well as Osama bin Laden. “What, are you nuts?” you ask. No, bin Laden spent his life trying to destroy America; he made no bones about this; he was focused, and when he spoke out, his words were to the effect that he wanted to destroy America. He didn’t equivocate; he did not give long and convoluted speeches. He knew where he stood and he made damn certain that we knew where he stood. We finally realized that his continued efforts were not in the best interest of America and therefore, he was dispatched. Some say he was martyred. I prefer to think of it as eliminating a potential danger to the citizens of the United States. The unfortunate thing is that too many of his disciples are not committed in the same manner that Obama was. Too many of them are not jihadists but just out and out murders wearing the disguise of jihad.

 

Truthfully, I don’t watch Duck Dynasty. It’s just not a program in which I have an interest…until now. I may have to start watching it to get a genuine conservative view. Robertson’s comments to Bible study group recently were fascinating: “…over the last 2000 years, “the sins are the same” and “humans haven’t changed. We get high, we get drunk, we get laid, we steal and kill,” he stated. “Has this changed at all from the time God burnt up whole cities because their every thought was evil?” The man makes a damned good point. If there is one person out there who has not broken at least one of the Ten Commandments at some time in his or her life, I want to meet them. People lie, cheat, and steal. Others take the name of the Lord in vain; still others covet their neighbor’s wife, and sometimes commit adultery. Ask a 13 or 14 year old what he thinks of his parents and he or she will tell you their ‘dorks’ or something worse; seems to me that a commandment just went out the window on that one.

In church, we’re told to obey the commandments of God. We’re told to lead good lives; to love thy neighbor as thyself. All of the things we’re told will get us into heaven. How do we know that? How do the priests, ministers, rabbis, and imams know this? Have they been there? Have they talked to God? I don’t mean to be heretical here, but please, don’t be so hypocritical as to pretend to know the entrance into Heaven. Sure, I could be wrong…but what if I’m not. What if there is no right or wrong way to enter into Heaven? What if the sinner who did one good thing in his or her life is just as welcome as the person who lived just a mundane life of doing no good or no bad?

I believe Phil Robertson has opened a few eyes. I believe his honesty, while perhaps shocking, is also refreshing. He has said exactly what he believes, broken now laws by doing so, offended the hell out of a large group of people, but he sure didn’t beat around the bush!

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Let’s talk about slavery. I’m not talking about slavery in America pre-1800s. I’m speaking of world slavery; of slavery that’s been around since the beginning of civilization; since man first rose up on two legs, found a weaker individual and turned him or her into their own personal property. Think about it; slavery has been with us for so long that most of us can’t even comprehend a time when there wasn’t a question of slaves, slave ownership, slave rebellion, slave emancipation and then, slavery again in some different form and by some different name.

Isn’t it strange to say that something so uncivilized has been around since the dawn of civilization, and yet if we are to believe the Bible, murder has been around just as long. According to Discovery Education, “…In ancient civilizations, slaves were usually war captives. The victors in battle might enslave the losers rather than killing them. Over time, people have found other reasons to justify slavery. Slaves were usually considered somehow different than their owners. They might belong to a different race, religion, nationality, or ethnic background. By focusing on such differences, slave owners felt they could deny basic human rights to their slaves.” In the Bible we read in Leviticus, “…you may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you.  You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land.  You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance.  You may treat your slaves like this, but the people of Israel, your relatives, must never be treated this way.” Therefore, we may assume that civilization has been built by strong backs controlled by stronger wills and minds.

Officially, slavery began in the America in 1619. A Dutch slave ship stopped in Virginia and traded 23 African slaves for food and drink. Many historians prefer to talk about indentured servitude where a craftsman or other person paid their passage to the New World by serving for a certain number of years until their debt had been paid. According to one of my late relatives, George Soule, one of the signers of the Mayflower Compact and a relative, came to this country as an indentured servant. Ironically, William Bradford, the first governor of the Plymouth Colony is also part of the family. How the hell that happened is anyone’s guess, but that’s history for ya.

As an institution, slavery still exists. Although it is underground, few will deny the slave trade that exists in the kidnapping of women to be used as sex slaves. We have to look no further than Cleveland and Ariel Castro to see slavery in the U.S. and don’t bet the farm that there aren’t other people out there who aren’t doing the same thing…they just have yet to be caught.

It’s difficult to believe but slavery existed elsewhere in the world until 1981 when Mauritania became the last country to formally abolish it. However, even in this African country, it did not become a crime until 2007. It may be illegal in Mauritania, but the dictator controlled country still tops the slave list with nearly four percent of its people living in slavery. Despite the fact that slavery is now considered illegal the world over, The Global Slavery Index, published by Australia’s Walk Free Foundation, lists India as still having nearly 14 million people enslaved. They are followed by China with 2.9 million and Pakistan with 2.1 million. Globally, the Index says that 30 million people around the world are live as slaves.

Despite the Civil War, War Between the States, or War for Southern Independence – however you wish to label it – and all of the legislation that has followed to end slavery and allow everyone to have equal rights, slavery still exists in America in 2013. If you don’t believe me, ask the local prostitute whose master we call a pimp. Ask the migrant worker who picks peaches or harvests lettuce or whatever. They all know what slavery is and how bad it can be. They know because it’s better here than where they come from and that’s not saying a hell of a lot. Ask the victim of domestic violence who is terrified of leaving but remains as a slave because she doesn’t know how to get out of an abusive relationship. Ask the Division I college athlete who is a hell of an athlete but whose parents could never afford to send him or her to college. What, you don’t call that slavery? What the hell else would you call it? I recall one scholarship athlete at Penn State whose coach used to wave her scholarship papers in the air before this kid’s swimming event; in other words, “Win or else!” If the “or else” happened; if that kid’s scholarship had been pulled, no way could the family have afforded to keep her in school. Ask the immigrant who is working for less than minimum wage in a drudge job that “Americans” wouldn’t do for love or money. No, slavery is not dead. It lives on throughout the world, even in the land of the free and the home of the brave, as tragic as it is.

We’ve probably all heard someone say, “Oh, he’s a slave to his job,” or something similar. There are jobs where that’s not so far off. One definition of “slave” is “a person entirely under the domination of some influence or person.” In addition, we’ve all known or had bosses like Simon Legree from Uncle Tom’s Cabin, those who manage by fear and intimidation. We call them bullies, but if they control whether or not we hold a job, receive a salary, continue to be able to feed our family and have a roof over our head, are they really less evil than the old slave masters?

Since time immemorial slavery has existed. Biblical references abound in both the Old and New Testaments. As unfortunate as it may seem, it there is not one country in this world that deserves to call itself ‘civilized’ as long as slavery exists in any form. How far we have come in so many ways; what a pity we’ve advanced in so many other areas of life.

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The time has come for me to make the big apology. So, to you Aaron, Beshamai, Donnell, Ernie, Jaime, Julian, Tanya, and to my other many Black friends, I’m sorry. I’m sorry because I guess I can now officially call myself a ‘racist.’ I am so pissed off at the gangs of Black, yes, Black teenagers who are trying to prove their manhood by knocking out unsuspecting civilians with one sucker punch that I’d like to kick the crap out of all of them. “Oh, wait a minute,” you say, “it’s not all Black teenagers who are doing this.” Let me answer that one in this manner: “Not all Black teenagers who are doing this but the only documented cases that I have seen, read, or heard about are when a Black teenager assaults a Caucasian person.” If a child of one of the people mentioned above ever did that, God help that child.

The game being played has a variety of nom de plumes…”One-hitter quitter,” “knock em’ and drop em,” “point em’ out, knock ’em out” and “punch a Jew” are just a few of the names given to this deadly game where a gang will walk past an unsuspecting subject, then one will turn and hit the person on the side of the head. The intent is just what it says, knock someone out. It’s vicious, violent, dangerous, and has proven fatal in cases in Syracuse, St. Louis, Chicago, and Hoboken, New Jersey. Everyone who has been arrested has been a person of color. Boys — seen in video from a security camera after the incident — have been charged with the murder. They are just 13 and 14 years old.

As New York State Assemblyman, James Tedisco freely admits, “I know that many of these kids come from bad situations and that the gang is their family. That makes no difference. This isn’t some television show where the person assaulted is going to get right back up. This is dangerous and deadly.” He added “Killing or injuring a person with one punch is no game and the state’s criminal penalties to prosecute these dastardly individuals should not be a joke. These twisted and cowardly thugs are preying on innocent bystanders and they don’t care if the victims are young, old, a man or woman. Life isn’t a video game. These are real people whose lives are not only being put in jeopardy but in many cases destroyed,”

Tedisco has announced he is introducing new legislation, the “Knockout Assault Deterrent Act”, to protect innocent bystanders from being victimized by the so-called “Knockout Game” – a brutal new trend whereby gangs of youths target unsuspecting people and sucker-punch them in an attempt to make them unconscious. The bill would amend New York State’s penal law to make any person regardless of their age who is convicted of knock out game individual assault or gang assault to face up to 25 years in prison (currently it’s between 4-15 years depending on the age of the defendant). The legislation would ensure that youth who “play the Knockout Game” are sentenced as adults. Those who are there and take part in the action also would be held liable.

The time will come and probably not in the too distant future when someone will be ready for such an assault. As the gang member turns, he will be facing a loaded gun. When he and several of his friends are “Goetzed,” Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and the rest of the usual crowd will start screaming “racism,” when the fact of the matter is that these gang members are the original racists because of their actions.

According to CBS This Morning, the victims are always alone and stand out as being an “other,” the name given by the gangs to an unsuspecting person. In a USA Today story, Will Marling, the executive director of the National Organization for Victim Assistance, says this trend is not an epidemic.

“But it could be the start of one,” he says, because the attacks have a social media component that could go viral. “As experience shows, other kids will see this is an easy thing to do and then it becomes group think.” He says the attacks are an example of why there is a need for a deeper conversation with young people about respect.

Michelle Boykins, a spokeswoman for the National Crime Prevention Council, says what is so disturbing about the trend is that it is so random and the intent is to hurt someone seriously. She says that the instances often involve someone walking alone, so she suggests the tried-and-true ways to stay safe: walk with a friend and always remain aware of your surroundings.

Dr. Fahd Ali, a trauma surgeon at Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse, says troubled children often don’t understand the real consequences of acts of violence. “These kids don’t see the victims who never wake up,” Ali said in an interview last year. “They don’t see the people on ventilators or the people who die from bedsores or pneumonias that eat their lungs out because they can’t breathe. They don’t see the kids long forgotten by their friends on the streets, the ones who’ve lost the ability to wipe the corners of their mouths when they drool.”

Thomas Sowell, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, points to the fact that the “knockout game” has racial underpinnings that the “mainstream media” has failed to describe. The game, which “has been played for years,” often targets Jews, “whites in general or people of Asian ancestry,” he said in an op-ed for the New York Post. He describes an attack in Milwaukee where attackers were heard saying, “White girl bleed a lot.” In Illinois, the game is often called “polar-bear hunting. ”For Sowell, the key is to stop the attacks altogether, fearing they will spread.

“Some in the media, as well as in politics, may think that they are trying to avoid provoking a race war by ignoring or playing down these attacks. But the way to prevent a race war is by stopping these attacks, not trying to sanitize them,” he wrote.

Finally, I must include a response that appeared at the end of one article I read: This is just plain ignorance; these innocent people doing nothing but living their lives are being hunted as if they are prey. This gives credence in my opinion to the stand your ground laws, as these idiots are hitting with deadly force thus we need to fight back with deadly force. I am a Black woman and all I have seen thus far are young Black males walking up to people mostly Caucasian and knocking them out. I hear excuses being made for this type of behavior, I am not making one excuse these are nothing more than wild worthless pieces of feces who should have been sewn back into the women that bore them and never let out to become the curse on society that they have become. They are useless waste of life and where is the liberal media, where is Sharpton, Jackson and the rest of these so called self appointed idiots that claim leadership of the Black community, I would never allow any of those idiots to lead me nor would I ever follow them. Why are they not speaking out, the President can force healthcare down Americans throats but not say anything about this while he has gotten involved in other areas like Trayvonn Martin and who can forget the beer summit yet he is silent on this one why because he can’t stand up and lie to America about it? It’s time for stand your ground laws.”

So, my friends in the Black community, perhaps you may think of me as a racist for opening this can of worms. Then again, if I know all of you as I think I do, you’re just as pissed as I am…so maybe it’s not racism that fuels this writing, just the fear that it could happen to me or members of my family.

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“I would like nothing better than to see you die …..”

“However, this is the time to begin the healing process. To show mercy to someone who refused to show mercy.”

Dennis Shepard spoke those words in a Wyoming courtroom several years ago. He spoke them to one of the killers of his 21-year old son; a killer who, joined by his fellow bully, had beaten and tortured Matthew Shepard, tied him to a fence and left him to die, naked, in the freezing cold.

What kinds of people do this? How deep is their hatred of someone with an alternative lifestyle that they believe killing them…and not just killing, but torturing them to death…is the only answer? Is it possible that they believe they are doing something good to prevent the rest of the world from being exposed to those who don’t think as they do? Can they consider themselves ‘good guy’ vigilantes? I rather doubt it. My personal belief is that they are cowards. They are afraid of anything that is new; that is the opposite of what they were taught at home. That’s right, taught at home. Hatred is taught; it is learned behavior. They certainly don’t teach it at school. “Queers must be killed” is not part of the first grade writing curriculum, nor is it found in Dick and Jane. Therefore, where else do we learn?

The concept of aggressive and bullying behavior begins in the first two years of a child’s life. It seems awfully young, doesn’t it? However, it’s true; if there is an environment that fosters violence, the child absorbs it. The next three or four years are spent refining it, so that by the time, the child is off to school, it is acceptable to take what you want and to kick the crap out of those who don’t wish to give up what you want. Bullies don’t have to be big; they just have to want what another child has and be willing to take it. Once they learn they can do such a thing, they will do it until they are stopped.

While we normally think of “the school bully,” there is some evidence to show that those who were either bullied or were bullies in their youth are more likely to be involved in domestic violence situations when they reach adulthood. One research report concludes that, without intervention, bullies identified by age eight are six times more likely to be convicted of a crime by the age of 24 and five times more likely than non-bullies to end up with serious criminal records by the age of 30.

If you are as concerned as I have been about the problem of bullying in this country, continue on; if not, stop reading and go back to what you were doing.

When I was giving bullying workshops, I used to break the audience into teams and give them a case study on which to work…here’s yours:

The following case contains language that might not be considered appropriate for all readers. The author makes no apology for this, and in an attempt to make this case as realistic as possible, the language will remain. Bullying is a worldwide problem. It has been defined as “repeated systematic attacks perpetrated by groups or individuals.” Anyone who has ever been the victim might not be so charitable with his or her definition.

Nathan Barnes was nothing special; just a good-looking 14-year old boy of somewhat above average intelligence. His home life was great, with a loving mother and dad…almost too loving, Nathan might have told you. He never, ever wanted them to know anything negative, and he’d go to great lengths to ensure that they weren’t aware of his little “secret.” He liked riding his bike to school everyday, feeling the wind on his face and seeing the beauty all around him. He enjoyed science and math; was fairly good in English and the social sciences, but absolutely couldn’t stand physical education. Nathan wasn’t strong physically, had little interest in organized athletics or games in which physical domination was the key to success. He felt that his mind was his weapon. Unfortunately, at 14, others didn’t quite see it that way. You see, Nathan Barnes was the victim of bullies.

It had always been easy for bigger kids, tougher kids, kids looking to “make a name,” to do it by abusing Nathan Barnes. Pushing him around, taunting him with names, playing practical jokes on him, and even taking his personal possessions became sport for the bullies. Nathan wouldn’t tell. Nathan was “chicken.” Nathan was a wimp, a nerd, a whatever-the-popular-derogatory-term-du-jour happened to be for that school year. Nathan was terrified. Although he liked them, Nathan had trouble in his relationship with the opposite sex. Girls found that going out with “the Barnes kid” was an invitation to be the center of controversy at some Mall encounter when the bullies might find them together. Nathan either wouldn’t or couldn’t defend himself so how could a girl expect him to defend her? As a consequence, several of the girls his age also took up the taunting.

Near the end of his 13th year, Nathan happened on what he hoped was a cure; he developed stomachaches. They kept him home from school on days that he had physical education or, when that began to become obvious, he developed them shortly before gym and would go to see the school nurse, Miss Caruso, asking to be excused. She was pretty good about it, too, usually, not always but usually, buying his psychosomatic illness.

This time, it hadn’t worked. Miss Caruso wasn’t buying. “Nathan, this is the fifth time this month you’ve been in here. You say that your parents want you to go to the doctor,” she added, “but you haven’t. I ask you to bring a note from your parents, telling me what’s going on, and you don’t. I’m sorry, Nathan, you will go to gym today.”

And he had gone. He’d gone and gotten tortured, first by Coach Ryan, not only the head football coach, but the physical education instructor as well. “Don’t know what we’re gonna do with you, Barnes,” he’d said. “Even my 10-year old daughter can climb ropes better ‘n you.” Ryan’s pet, football captain, Billy Johnson, had picked right up on it. “Yeah, c’mon wimp; up the ropes; what a freakin’ girl you are…c’mon needledick.” The humiliation was bad enough, but after gym, when Johnson was telling others who hadn’t been there…well, that was that. Mary Arnold and the other cheerleaders had been merciless in their harassment. It hurt; it really hurt. He’d show them. He’d show them all. They’d be sorry.

They found Nathan two days later…in the old cabin in the woods…about two miles from the school. His book bag was on the three-legged table in the corner. The chair he had stood on was kicked off to one side. He’d left his bike in the corner, near the hot water heater. Although his hands were untied, it appeared that he made no attempt to free himself when the rope tightened. Nathan Barnes was 14 years old. Nathan Barnes had been driven to kill himself by bullies.

The Parents

Nick and Katherine Barnes couldn’t say why Nathan had killed himself. They thought they knew their son. They knew him to be a “great kid,” with a happy home life. “His room was always picked up. I never had to say a word about it to him,” Katherine told the doctor. “He was just a joy to be around.” Katherine went on to add that Nathan had been a good student…but that she had noticed lately that he didn’t seem to have much interest in school. “He seemed to be getting a lot of stomach aches that would keep him home from school,” she said, “but I thought maybe he was just eating…oh, I don’t know what I thought.”

With Nick, it was pretty much the same. “Oh, sure, there were times when I had to tell him that the lawn was getting kinda long, but you know, the kid would jump right on it.” He was great that way.” School? Yeah, yeah, I guess he liked school. I mean, he wasn’t into sports the way I was – you know, three years all-state cornerback – but hey, we all do our own thing.”

The Classmates

 At school, Nathan’s “friends” told an entirely different story. “What a fuckin’ wimp,” Billy Johnson, the football co-captain said. “The kid was always wimpin’ outta gym ‘n stuff. If it was somethin’ physical, Barnes didn’t want it. We took to calling him ‘needledick’ because he’d never go in the shower. Some of the guys liked, you know, liked to shove him around a bit. We thought he could take it, ya know?”

Mary Arnold’s story was not much different. “He really didn’t know how to behave around girls, like, ya know,” she said. “I mean, he couldn’t really make a conversation…and, well, he just wasn’t with it, ya know.” Other classmates disagreed. Paula Anderson said, “I liked Nathan. He was kinda quiet, but he was really nice, considerate. We went to The Mall together a few times and just hung out. We weren’t goin’ together, ya know, but I kinda liked him. This really sucks.”

“Nathan wasn’t a wimp,” Tommy Baron told us. “Anyone who said that doesn’t – I mean, didn’t – know Nathan. I’ll bet it was one of the jocks told you that. They think they’re such studs. They tried that shit with me til I got one of ‘em alone. They never did anything to me again. Nathan wouldn’t be like that, though. Nathan didn’t want to hurt anybody; he just wanted to be left alone or be your friend. They couldn’t understand that.”

Nathan Barnes, “boy wimp,” wasn’t “with it,” “really nice,” “just wanted to be left alone.”  The tormenting of his classmates, perhaps not measuring up to his father, and too intimidated or terrified to ever mention his concerns to anyone…Nathan Barnes took what he considered the path of least resistance. He ended his life.

The Faculty

“Nathan was a good kid, intelligent, hard working,” Louise Gagnon, his science teacher said, echoing the statements of most members of the faculty. “Oh sure, he was a bit less outgoing than some of his classmates, but I thought that a lot of that had to do with his maturity level. We see a lot of that in kids. Then, when they turn 15 or 16, they’re completely different.”

School nurse, Nancy Caruso, told a different story: “Nathan was coming in a lot lately, asking to be dismissed from any physical education activities. He always presented with symptoms that were pretty vague and yet, not the type of thing you wanted to ignore. I asked if he had spoken to his doctor and he said he was going to get around to it.” Becoming somewhat more emotional, Caruso went on. “Dammit, I should have seen this. I should have dug deeper.”

The Follow-Up

Although he appears, in this brief synopsis, to be capable of talking about his son’s death openly and candidly, it should be noted that two years later, Nathan’s father selected the same method of suicide, leaving a note in which he blamed himself for the death of his son.

The Assignment

You are a concerned community leader. You might be a member of the school committee, a police executive, or even a parent with a little clout. You wish to make certain that bullying in your community is eradicated.  You can’t do it alone. This is a team effort. Assume that you have sought and received a one-year grant of $15,000 to examine the problem in your community and to develop a plan to combat it. Here are some questions you are being asked to answer in detail.

 

  • At the very onset of this case, you were given one definition of bullying. How might you modify that definition?

 

  • List the physical, cognitive, emotional, and behavioral signs you might notice related to a bullying victim? To a bully?

 

  • Develop a budget for the allocation of the one-year grant of $15,000. Once that grant is spent, what are your alternatives for future funding?

 

  • Questions concerning the team:
  1. Who belongs on your team?
  2. Why have you selected these team members?
  3. Identify the skills required of your team.
  4. How will the team be drawn together?
  5. How often will the team meet?
  6. How will team members communicate with one another regarding issues that affect the entire team?
  7. Will you serve as team leader or will you appoint another party? On what factors do you base your decision?

 

  • Justify the composition of your team by the skills required to create a workable      anti-bullying plan.

 

  • What are the elements contained in your anti-bullying plan?

 

  • Present an outline of the overall anti-bullying plan that your team will be implementing.

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What must the people of many other countries think of Americans? I guess we can now add Australia and its citizens to the list of nations’ citizenry who believe we still ride around with six guns in holsters strapped to our leg and ready to be pulled at the least provocation or just for shits and giggles. Last year I met a massage therapist whose husband was a post-doctoral student at MIT. They had a couple of school-age children, and she was terrified whenever the kids left for school. These people were from Prague in the Czech Republic. She thought that America was beautiful when they first arrived. She told me before they left that she thought it had to be one of the most frightening countries on earth. Gee, that made me feel really proud…NOT!

We have a court system in this country that is completely out of touch with reality. It’s little wonder that police are hesitant about going into domestic violence situations when the judges treat the crime and the criminals in such a cavalier fashion. Getting a restraining order is just about the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard of. Restraining orders will not stop a knife or a bullet or a baseball bat.

“You’re disobeying this restraining order so get out!”

“Here’s what I think of your restraining order, bitch!” Bang, bang, bang.

There’s another side to that coin and it goes something like this…

“…Oh, don’t arrest him; it was my fault.” Real meaning equals “If you arrest him, there goes my meal ticket. He may kick the crap out of me, but he pays for the food for my kids…and our booze and drugs.

My solution is that the first time there is a domestic violence situation, the perpetrator or both get a week in jail and the kids go to social services. If booze or drugs are found, it’s a month in jail for both parties. The second time around is a year in jail and the kids are removed from the home permanently. If there is a third time, it’s a ten-year stretch for both. This is all explained the first time the parties go to court.

Is there another solution? Of course there is. There are many solutions, each of them with their own set of pros and cons. However, the worst solution of all is that piece of paper called a restraining order. It means absolutely nothing. Just ask the thousands of women who have been killed while their restraining order sits on the night stand or the kitchen table. Oh, that’s right; you can’t ask them because they are dead! The cops did their job; the courts failed the complainant.

Years ago, I was going to Nantucket to give a workshop to the police department. The chief picked me up at the airport and as we were sitting outside my hotel chatting, He noticed a couple coming out of the hotel’s lounge. The chief excused himself, saying that both the man and the woman had restraining orders against the other, and he’d better get them straightened out…again…before things went south.

Judges say that the prisons are overcrowded so they have to be careful with the sentences they pass down. Meanwhile, there are over 3,000 people on death row in American prisons. My own state, Massachusetts has abolished the death penalty. Isn’t that rather like giving a license to kill? “Hey, you’ll get three squares and a bed; what’s wrong with that?” Other than the fact that you’ll probably become someone’s bitch inside a month and get the crap kicked out of you regularly, sounds like a sweet deal. Yeah, right.

Are any of these 3,000 plus inmates innocent of the crimes of which they have been convicted? It’s a possibility, depending with whom you speak. The ACLU will tell you that many of them are. The police who caught them will tell you that none of them are. The courts will say that they have received a fair trial and been found guilty and sentenced by a jury of their peers. Who can say with 100 percent certainty who is correct. There are times when democracy just doesn’t seem to be able to make up its mind. In our efforts to be fair, we have become to quote the Spanish, “Que sera, sera,” what will be will be.

If our prisons are too crowded now, what will happen in 50 years, a hundred, pick a number? Will we just keep building more and more prisons? Will we continue to spend billions upon billions to keep our criminal class incarcerated? When will we wake up to the fact that it’s not nice to be nice all of the time? There comes a time when examples have to be made that will scare the crap out of the rest of the criminal population in this country. You may not get the death penalty for jaywalking, but you spit on the sidewalk…bye bye!

I can hear the screams of outrage already, “You can’t do that!” “It’s not right.” Prisoners have rights too.” Oh really; what about the rights of their victims or don’t they count? Perhaps they shouldn’t have been walking to school when the drunk driver plowed into them and killed two or three. Perhaps they shouldn’t have been home when the burglar broke in. Perhaps they should have been making deposits in a different bank when the robbers came in with AK47’s. The job of the police is to preserve and protect the citizenry of their area from people like those above, and for the most part, they do a hell of a job. The job of the courts is to put the criminals away where they can do no more harm. The job of the prisons is to keep the real assholes separated from those who might have a chance of never doing it again…probably the toughest job of all. Oh, and don’t kid yourself, many of the correctional officers in these prisons are just a very thin line from being on the other side of the bars. In sum, our entire judicial system, from the cop on the beat to the justices of the Supreme Court, have not moved into the 21st Century as quickly as those on the other side of the law.

The American State Department issues warnings to its citizens on a regular basis: “Don’t travel to this country or that.” Is that where America is headed? Will we become a nation that is called too dangerous for foreign visitors, scholars, or athletes? Truth to tell, incidents of foreign nationals being killed in this country becomes a huge news story (a) because it’s quite infrequent, and (b) the manner in which these murders happen are usually spectacular in some way. Several years ago, Florida was being called a place of slaughter by some foreign newspapers. That was when nine tourists were killed in one year. I don’t know about you, but I don’t hear of that happening any more. The case of Australian Chris Lane is just another murder, horrible as it may be. The fact of his citizenship has little to do with what these three kids were out to do. Lane just happened to be the unfortunate recipient of their diabolical idiocy.

Will white people come out and demand the death penalty for these three Black teenagers. Will Jesse and the Reverend Al appear on the steps of Congress and call for justice. Will Chris Lane’s parents come to America and hit all the talk shows? Probably none of those things will happen. I’ll leave you to figure the answer to that one.

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