Thank you! 12/25/07
I’m blessed to work and be friends with some really good people, and here on Christmas, I’d just like to publicly thank a few of them who’ve greatly and/or repeatedly helped me out with my work in 2007. (If you did too, and your name’s not listed, it’s not because I don’t appreciate anything and everything you did — it’s probably because you did it back during warm weather, and it’s tougher to recall those times on this first white Kansas Christmas in some years.)
Ron and his staff at Fox News Channel,
Ben and his staff at CNN,
Emily Barsh, media advisor extraordinaire,
everyone at TakeTwo Productions in Kansas City, MO, where most of my t.v. guest appearances were shot,
all the drivers who got me safely to and from the studio for last-minute satellite feeds to New York, and the pilots who got me safely to and from other work,
Amy McClung, friend, filmmaker, and creator of my t.v. demo reel,
Bad Haircut Productions in Lawrence, KS, masters of my website,
Diann and Ian for handling the licensing of my t.v. clips,
Bill and Brooke for continuing to work with me on show concepts for ’08,
Eric Tyson, co-author extraordinaire on a book due out around this time next year,
Kurt Clausing, friend/lawyer/advisor on all matters financial and legal,
Russ, head of our energy investment group,
Rick, George, and John, friends/colleagues/providers of consults, seminar prep materials, psychological tests, and office space,
Chris, first a client, now a friend, for involving me in some very rewarding work this year,
Sam, for inviting me to speak in Las Vegas and giving me some warmer weather to look forward to in the first part of ’08,
Bill, Keith, and Ron at the University of Kansas, for working with me on scheduling so I could continue to have the enjoyment of teaching at KU,
Jen, Allen, Kevin, and Ashley, the best teaching assistants a professor could have,
my friends who took the time to come and speak to my class about their businesses and careers,
Dad, answer-on-the-first-ring-in-the-middle-of-the-night telephone advisor about practically anything,
Greta, who made sure my place was always nice to come home to,
everyone at HH Bar & Grill in Lawrence, KS, who made sure I didn’t go hungry no matter how hard I was working,
and my friends Dan, Yianni, and everyone at Quinton’s Bar & Deli in Lawrence, KS, who made sure I still got out and socialized no matter how hard I was working!
Thanks also to everyone who watched the shows that I was on, read the blog, used my expert or legal services as a client, attended a seminar where I spoke, or took my class at KU this year.
Merry Christmas, and all the best in 2008!
Ramsey revisited 12/22/07
It’s almost 11 years to the day since little JonBenet Ramsey was found dead in the basement of her parents’ Colorado home along with evidence that a male assailant unrelated to the family had been in intimate contact with the girl immediately prior to her death and a note written in what’s been suspected to have been the hand of the girl’s mother demanding a ransom that mirrored an amount of money received by the girl’s father days prior. In the years since, some have speculated that one of the Ramsey parents was responsible for the girl’s death and that Mrs. Ramsey tried to deflect suspicion by writing the ransom note (to make it look like a kidnapping gone bad). I’ve never subscribed to that theory for three reasons: A) because of the unrelated DNA found on JonBenet’s body, B) because I think people have incorrectly inferred responsibility for the murder from the weirdness of Mrs. Ramsey’s zeal for dressing her daughter up like an adult and entering her in child beauty pageants, and C) because, like the suspects in the Natalee Holloway case (see my previous post), the Ramsey parents always came across to me like people with clear consciences rather than people burdened with guilt. In 2006, John Mark Karr was arrested in Thailand and brought back to the U.S.A. after intimating in an Internet chat that he was present when JonBenet died, but DNA testing quickly proved that he was not the unknown assailant. Mrs. Ramsey has since died, and no one has ever been charged in the death of JonBenet. You could Google this topic and find volumes of additional information, theories, criticism of law enforcement, etc., and if you’ve followed the case, you’ve heard it all before, so rather than give any more background here, I’m going to cut to the chase and tell you what I think may have happened. As was the case in my last post, this is just a theory based on what’s been reported in the press, and I have no secret information to confirm or disconfirm it. I’m not accusing anyone of anything, and I could be totally wrong, so think of this in terms of “What if…”:
1) What if the assailant was someone who had been allowed into the house (perhaps a worker of some sort whom the parent(s) let in, or perhaps a stranger whom JonBenet let in — sorry, I can’t even speculate specifically on who the assailant might have been because I don’t know who had access to the house)?
2) What if Mr. Ramsey or both Ramsey parents arrived on the scene of the assault just after it happened, while the assailant was still there, and realized that JonBenet had been killed?
3) What if Mr. Ramsey killed the assailant, not in defense of his daughter, but in a fit of rage?
4) What if, fearing that Mr. Ramsey might face charges for killing the assailant absent the need to defend himself or his family, the Ramseys decided to make it look like the assailant had fled the scene after a botched kidnapping attempt, so Mrs. Ramsey wrote the ransom note?
5) What if the Ramseys disposed of the assailant’s body somehow, somewhere (sorry, I don’t have specific speculation on this part either because I don’t know what options they would’ve had readily available) before calling police?
So that’s my theory. As far as I know, nobody else has ever thought of it, or at least stated it publicly. It wouldn’t explain who killed JonBenet, but it would explain everything else, like why there was unrelated DNA found on JonBenet’s body (because there was in fact an unknown assailant), why Mrs. Ramsey would have written the ransom note, why neither parent seemed (at least publicly) to be very excited about the John Mark Karr arrest, why successive district attorneys never charged anyone (because maybe they’ve suspected something like this and haven’t wanted to go after the parents for the assailant’s death), and why both parents seem to have been at peace all these years (maybe because they’ve known exactly who killed their daughter and that the killer is long dead).
Holloway case closed 12/20/07
Aruban prosecutors have announced that they’re not going charge anyone in the death of Natalee Holloway. So, here’s my theory about what happened to her. It’s just a theory — I have no secret information — but if I had to bet money on what happened, this is what I’d bet:
1. Natalee drank heavily and did drugs with one or more of the three suspects at an Aruban nightclub (she may have been given a date-rape drug as well, but I tend to doubt that).
2. Natalee ignored her friends’ warnings and went with the suspect(s) to the beach.
3. Natalee had sex with one or more of the suspects at the beach and went into cardiac arrest because of the combination of intoxication and exertion.
4. The suspects disposed of Natalee’s body in the ocean because they were afraid either that nobody would believe her death wasn’t intentional or that the person(s) who gave her illegal drugs would be held accountable for her death regardless.
I’d bet that’s basically what happened because throughout the investigation, all three suspects seemed to behave more like people with clear consciences than like people burdened with guilt. I’d bet at least one of them was there when Natalee died and that all three know where her body is (or at least where it was), but I’d also bet they didn’t kill her intentionally. I know some people will be upset because I’m speculating that Natalee was less responsible and more promiscuous than her friends and mother have reported, so let me just remind everyone that I’m not blaming Natalee if she was in fact murdered. As I’ve said before, I just think she probably had plenty of opportunities to avoid being in the situation in which she ultimately died, and for others to learn from her experience seems to me to be the only possible good that can come out of this very sad case.
Stay tuned because this weekend, almost 11 years to the day after the death of JonBenet Ramsey, I’m going to tell, for the first time publicly, right here in the blog, what I think happened in that case (it’s a theory I’ve never heard anyone else propose).
Immoral compass 12/17/07
In the past couple of weeks, I’ve been asked repeatedly why, time after time, people who work so hard to get to positions of leadership seem to bring about their own downfalls by engaging in profoundly thoughtless behavior once they get there. It’s a phenomenon that I’ve spoken about on television (like back during the Foley scandal last year — I think that clip is still on my website) and written about here in the blog, so here’s just an analogy that I think sums it up well: When some people get power, their moral compasses, which are supposed to point toward the right thing, become like that compass Captain Jack had in Pirates of the Caribbean, the one that pointed to whatever thing he wanted.
The case of the monstrous MySpace mom and the eggshell skull 12/12/07
If you haven’t heard about this case, prepare to be truly shocked. A Missouri mother and/or her 18-year-old female employee apparently created a fake MySpace profile, pretended to be a teenage boy, and started an online relationship with one of her daughter’s friends. The point apparently was to teach the girl a lesson – not to make derogatory comments about the woman’s daughter. Once the online relationship had been established, the woman and/or the employee, acting as the fictional teenage boy, apparently broke it off, telling the girl that she was rumored to be mean to her friends. The girl reportedly had a history of emotional problems (which the implicated mother reportedly knew), and believing that she had been dumped by her online boyfriend, she committed suicide. Believe it or not, nothing that happened in this case is a crime under Federal or Missouri law as they existed during the fictitious online relationship (Missouri has since enacted a statute that would allow the two adult women implicated in the case to be charged with misdemeanors). So, the only legal remedy available to the parents of the deceased girl is a civil wrongful death lawsuit for money damages, which I predict will be filed soon. Some have asked whether the perpetrators of this online hoax can be held legally responsible for the death of the girl even though she killed herself and it wasn’t necessarily foreseeable. The short answer is yes, they probably can be held liable for the death of the girl. There’s a principle in the law called the “eggshell skull” doctrine. It says that a person who does something wrong, criminally or civilly, intentionally or negligently, is responsible for all of the consequences of his/her wrongful act, whether those consequences were foreseeable or not. Here’s the example that gives the “eggshell skull” rule it’s name: If someone intentionally hits another person in the head, intending to cause pain but not death, but the victim actually suffers a fatal brain hemorrhage because he happened to have a rare bone disease that caused his skull to be as fragile as an eggshell, the assailant is responsible for the death. So, in the case of the monstrous MySpace mom, if the intent of the hoax was to hurt the girl’s feelings mildly, but it ended up making her suicidal because of her emotional vulnerability, the perpetrators can be held responsible for all of the damage done, up to and including the girl’s death. (It will still have to be proven that the hoax really was what made the girl suicidal, but I don’t think it will be too hard to convince a jury of that.)
Violent year in review 12/11/07
To tie my last three posts together, now that we’re close to the end of 2007, let’s look back on the year. The following are just a few of this year’s high-profile cases, just off the top of my head. In each case, people were killed, and the perpetrators had prior histories of violence and/or threats of violence and/or other serious crimes for which they had received little or no punishment:
Virginia Beach drunk-driving deaths, March (2 teenage girls killed by reported illegal alien with extensive criminal history who was driving drunk)
Virginia Tech shootings, April (32 victims, rather than committing the shooter for mental treatment prior to the shootings, a judge let the shooter enter and leave treatment voluntarily, which preserved the shooter’s ability to buy firearms legally)
Jessie Davis, June (pregnant mother murdered, ex-boyfriend Bobby Cutts in custody)
Benoit family murders, June (pro wrestler killed family and self)
New Jersey schoolyard shootings, August (3 college students dead, 1 critically wounded, suspects in custody reportedly all gang members with records)
Sean Taylor robbery/murder, November (see three posts ago)
Nebraska shopping mall shootings, December (see two posts ago)
Colorado church shootings, December (see last post)
How many of those, and how many other deaths could have been prevented had society gotten tough on the perpetrators earlier? If you think of others that belong on the list, feel free to let me know. Hopefully we as a society will start worrying less about the “troubled” individual and more about his/her potential victims in 2008.
Shocking! (not really) 12/10/07
Guess what? You’ll never believe it. It’s now being reported that the 24-year-old who shot six people, killing four, at two Colorado churches over the weekend had been kicked out of one of the organizations five years ago and had sent threatening letters to members of that organization since then. And was he arrested, locked up, prevented from acquiring weapons, prevented from hurting his fellow citizens? Obviously not. No, you are not having déjà vu, and this is not a rerun of my last two posts. It’s been going on since Columbine, and probably well before that. Yes, this loser reportedly was a “troubled loner” — aren’t they always? (Just look at a picture of the kid who committed last week’s Omaha shopping mall shootings — you don’t need a Ph.D. to see that he was disturbed just from the way he looked and posed in his high school yearbook photo.) And while I totally agree that schools don’t do nearly enough to stop bullying of kids like these, I’m not really in the mood to hear about how persecuted they were after they’ve threatened or gone on murderous rampages. We have got to start getting tough, really tough, on people who demonstrate that they are threats to the safety of their fellow Americans, just as tough as we need to be on threats coming into this country from outside our borders. We should have a zero-tolerance policy in this society for people who won’t live peacefully in it (which of course includes attending school — in fact, if I had a kid, I’d be more worried if I found out that my kid bullied somebody than if I found out that my kid got bullied). Everyone should be expected to go through his or her entire life — the whole thing, start to finish — without violently attacking anyone else. Anyone who threatens violence or becomes violent and does relatively minor damage should be removed from the society (or at least the school depending on his/her age) for a substantial period of time, and anyone who does major or repeat damage should be removed permanently (and conditions during the removal period should be no picnic either). I really don’t think it matters whether these violent individuals are mentally ill or just plain evil. Who matters more to me are the people they hurt, and I’m sick of feeling bad for victims and families of victims of totally foreseeable, totally preventable tragedies in this country.
Nebraska mall shooting, here we go again 12/7/07
I’ve been asked why I haven’t commented on the Nebraska mall shooting. It’s tragic of course, but beyond that, it just makes me mad. It’s yet another instance of a person who was known to be dangerous (yeah, I know, he was “troubled” — don’t really care — he killed people) and was allowed to roam freely among the innocent public. All the signs were there, as they pretty much always are, and the people who were in positions to protect the public apparently were more concerned about the shooter-to-be. Wonder how many more of these it will take before we start erring on the side of public safety.
When are we going to wise up and toughen up? 12/1/07
This one will be short, just a prediction and an observation:
I predict that as we learn more about the man who stormed Sen. Hillary Clinton’s campaign office on Friday, it will become clear that the mental health “system” failed society by not securing his confinement in the face of clear signs that he was dangerous (just like in the Virginia Tech case) more than it failed him by not providing him outpatient services (that he probably could have accessed anyway but probably wouldn’t have solved his problems).
It’s being reported that all of the suspects in custody in the murder of football player Sean Taylor are teenagers with criminal records (just like in the New Jersey schoolyard shootings case). Now, in addition to Taylor being dead, these teens will either have their lives ended early or wasted away in prison. Wonder if we would’ve gotten tough — really tough — on them the first time they broke the law whether they might have been either unavailable or unwilling to rob and murder Taylor.