A positive development on the campus safety front 3/29/08
Finally, the leadership of at least one major university seems to be prioritizing concern for the safety of the majority of students above concern about the problems of individual students. A “threat assessment group” consisting of administrators, faculty, campus police, and mental health professionals has been formed at the University of Kentucky. The purpose of the group is to share information about students whose behavior has indicated a potential for self-harm or violence toward others and to make decisions about what official action is in the best interests, not just of the troubled students, but more importantly, of the majority of students on the campus. The group, called “Students of Concern” will maintain and regularly review a “watch list” of students who’ve been identified by university personnel or fellow students as exhibiting disturbing, disruptive, or threatening behavior and will make recommendations to university administrators ranging from offering students professional assistance to expelling students from campus. The formation of this group is a step in the right direction and every college campus should follow Kentucky’s example. As I’ve said many times, a shooting rampage is never the first alarming thing a person does, and there never has been a campus shooter who didn’t exhibit warning signs long before opening fire. It’s almost as if administrators at the University of Kentucky have been watching me on t.v. or reading my blog, but regardless of their inspiration, they’re doing the right thing, and it’s nice to be able to report a positive development on the campus safety front.
More Manson murders? 3/17/08
Investigators in California announced over the weekend that they are searching for the unmarked graves of possible additional murder victims of the Charles Manson gang dating back to the 1960’s. Makes sense to me. As depraved and bloodthirsty as Manson and his followers were, it’s unreasonable, in my opinion, to think that every murder they committed has been discovered.
See, I told you so (regrettably) 3/16/08
I don’t know whether Lauren Burk, a freshman at Auburn University, or Eve Carson, Student Body President at the University of North Carolina, was Irish, but on the eve of St. Patrick’s Day, we know it wasn’t for lack of luck that the two young women are dead. No, they are dead primarily because cold, calculating killers wanted what the women had, but as I’ve pointed out in tragic case after tragic case, our justice system had opportunities to save these women’s lives and failed them totally. How? By passing up opportunities to lock the accused killers up and punish them severely enough for past offenses that they might not have risked committing robbery, let alone rape and murder, when they finally got back on the streets. Courtney Lockhart, age 23, is accused of robbing, kidnapping, attempting to rape, and murdering Lauren Burk. He’s also accused of several robberies in the Auburn area. In January 2007, Lockhart was convicted of assaulting an officer and threatening to kill not one, but two officers in the U.S. Army. He was sentenced to just seven months in a disciplinary barracks, which was later reduced, and a “bad conduct” discharge. While Lockhart’s mother extended her sympathies to the Burk family, she also implied that military service in Iraq had turned her son into a criminal and a murderer, which is a complete crock and an insult to the vast majority of U.S. military veterans who are honorable, law-abiding citizens. Alvin Lovette, age 17, is one of the two men accused of robbing and murdering Eve Carson. In January of this year, he was convicted of breaking and entering and larceny. He was sentenced to two years — of probation. Two days later, authorities say he participated in the murder of a graduate student at Duke University (with an accomplice who had been released after serving just two months in jail for two felony convictions), followed just weeks later by the murder of Eve Carson. Demario Atwater, age 21, is the other man accused of robbing and murdering Carson. In February, 2005, he was convicted of breaking and entering and larceny. He was sentenced to three years in prison, but his sentence was suspended, allowing him to remain free. Then in 2006, Atwater was convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm. Was he immediately taken into custody for the imposition of his suspended prior sentence? Of course not. Instead, two years were added to his sentence, and he was allowed to remain free on probation pending a hearing, scheduled for the end of this very month, to determine whether he belonged in prison. Whether? Each of these men should have been in prison when the Duke graduate student, Lauren Burk, Eve Carson, and possibly others were murdered. Lengthy, arduous prison sentences for their prior crimes likely would have saved at least three lives and might also have given the three accused murderers chances to avoid the life, if not death, sentences they likely will receive now. People who make it to their late teens and early twenties still so sorely lacking consciences that they would rob to get money, rape to get sex, and murder to escape responsibility are not going to change in response to slaps on their wrists. Sadly, they are unlikely ever to develop true consciences, whereby they think in terms of right and wrong and truly respect the rights of others. These people think purely in terms of what they want, and therefore, the expectation of imminent, severe personal suffering is about the only thing that will modify their behavior. They need massive wake-up calls; a series of small ones won’t do anything but encourage them to escalate their behavior, usually until someone’s dead. Some people think it’s only the rich and famous who receive short probationary periods and small fines for first offenses, slightly-longer probationary periods and slightly-larger fines for second offenses, a weekend or two in jail and some community service for third offenses… . But no, that’s the norm in most jurisdictions across the U.S.A., and it’s killing people. I know, I know, maybe Courtney Lockhart’s parents never disciplined him. Maybe Alvin Lovette’s parents abused him. Maybe one or both of Demario Atwater’s parents weren’t around. That would all be sad, but it wouldn’t really matter. All three, Lockhart, Lovette, and Atwater, have brains that appear to be developed enough to plan crimes and elude law enforcement, which means that they also have the ability, and they must be held responsible, to use those brains to distinguish right from wrong. Lovette should be tried as an adult, and if convicted, sentenced to the maximum penalty along with Lockhart and Atwater. But what if he, Lovette, had been sentenced back in January to spend the next three-to-four years, until he reaches the age of 21, in a facility where he would have been forced to work — hard — and to attend classes toward the completion of a high-school equivalency diploma, with no television, no air conditioning in the summer, no workout equipment, and very basic meals? He might have emerged from that experience never wanting to repeat it. He might have chosen to at least attempt to become a productive American. One thing’s certain — he wouldn’t have been available to participate in the murders of the Duke graduate student and Eve Carson. Sure, Lovette still might have ended up murdering someone. But it’s kind of like when I asked whether people really would choose not to arm the professor at Northern Illinois University if the clock could be turned back to one second before a massacre occurred in his classroom last month — wouldn’t my approach at least have been worth a try? Seems to me that it couldn’t have turned out much worse than it did.
“Girls Gone…Lesbian”? 3/14/08
Spring Break 2008 is upon us, and with it will come the requisite news footage of college students indulging in all manner of (what should be) embarrassing behavior on America’s beaches. That footage is sure to include scenes of young women kissing, groping, and grinding on each other, which inevitably will prompt someone to ask me whether lesbianism is on the rise among America’s young people. The answer: No, exhibitionism maybe, but not lesbianism. The vast majority of the girls who appear to have gone lesbian will be straight girls attempting to attract decidedly-male attention by appealing to a male fantasy in which two women are aroused at the same time (which doesn’t make a lot of sense by the way because two women who truly were aroused by each other probably would have no desire to involve a dude). This time last year, I heard an “expert” say on the air that such public displays were attributable to low self-esteem. I understand the point — that the young women don’t value themselves and their reputations highly enough to care about how their behavior is perceived — but I disagree. As I said in my post “Girls (and Boys) Gone Narcissistic” a year ago, I think the opposite — that the young ladies’ self-esteem is actually too high, so high in fact that they think everything they do is cool and cute, and they don’t even realize when they should be ashamed of themselves. So, if you’re a college girl, or guy, headed off on spring break, have fun, but try not to go too wild, and remember what we’ve learned in the past year or so from the likes of Antonella Barba and Vanessa Hudgens — that a picture’s not only worth 1000 words, but it also can end up on 1000 (or 1,000,000 or more) people’s computers in about one second. Going wild when there’s a camera around, which is just about everywhere these days (see my previous post “Cameras in the bedroom?”), makes good footage for us to discuss on television, but it’s probably not so good for you.
Spitzer’s “sense of right and wrong” 3/12/08
Before New York Governor Eliot Spitzer announced that he’s resigning in the wake of a prostitution scandal, he said, “I’ve acted in way that violates my, or any, sense of right and wrong,” and I just want to point out what a crock that is. If hiring prostitutes violated Spitzer’s sense of right and wrong, he wouldn’t have (allegedly) done it. In my estimation, he’s sorry only that he got caught, and he’s probably also enraged, not at himself, but at the people who caught him — classic malignant narcissism on parade in New York this week.
A guarantee and a flashback 3/10/08
I guarantee you we’re going to find out that the human debris responsible for the murders at Auburn and UNC last week had enough prior offenses that they never should have been out on the streets at the times of the murders. As long as we tolerate criminal behavior from people in this society up until the point where they kill somebody, we have to expect senseless murders like these to continue happening regularly.
It was announced today that current New York Governor and former New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer has been involved with prostitution. If you’re interested, as I am, in why some people who work so hard to enforce the law on everyone else feel so entitled to break it themselves, there’s a clip on my website (for a few more days) of me discussing that phenomenon with Nancy Grace back during the Mark Foley scandal in 2006, and there’s also my previous post “Immoral Compass” that I wrote after Kansas Attorney General Paul Morrison resigned amid a sex scandal just a couple of months ago.
More signs of bad times? 3/3/08
If you read my previous post “Isolated incident or sign of bad times?” (2/11/08) about a shooting by a female student at a Louisiana college, here are some recent incidents to consider in that context:
Several middle and high school girls in Indiana have been using their cell phones to take pornographic photos of themselves and send the photos to male classmates. What’s more, a majority of the girls’ parents have expressed outrage, not at their daughters’ behavior, but at police for making too much of it.
A female high school teacher in Missouri has resigned and is under criminal investigation for sending pornographic text messages of her own, to students.
And worst of all, a 16-year-old girl in Texas is in custody along with three of her friends, another girl and two boys, for allegedly stabbing and shooting her two brothers and parents and then burning the family home to the ground (only the father escaped death despite being shot in the head), reportedly because she was angry at her parents for forbidding her to date one of the male accomplices.
At the end of “Isolated incident or sign of bad times?” I said to stay tuned to see whether we would continue to see signs of bad times for femininity in our culture, and just a short time later, we ended up with these stories. Doesn’t look good, does it? Seems like girls and women are proving increasingly that they can behave every bit as vilely as boys and men. Wonder how hard-core, militant feminists (not the ones who believe in equal pay for equal work — every reasonable person believes in that — I mean the ones who get offended if a man opens a door for them) feel about that. Proud?
Odds and ends from the week that was 3/2/08
First, the odds:
A new study warns parents that spanking children will cause the kids to become…gasp…sexual sado-masochists (screwed-up people who derive pleasure from inflicting and experiencing pain during sexual activities)! Be afraid. Be very afraid. Now I’m not a big advocate of spanking, but it’s been going on in billions of households for quite some time, and we’re not seeing billions of sado-masochists running around. I think it’s a messed up study because households where there’s a lot of violence (which leads to all kinds of problems later in kids’ lives because the parents are obviously screwed-up, horrible examples) aren’t clearly separated out from the households where there are the occasional smacks that you and I probably got when we were about to run out into the street at age two and wouldn’t have understood the “rationale” for not doing that if our parents had decided to “talk” to us instead.
Another new study warns that those snowflakes we’ve been catching on our tongues all our lives are actually laden with…gasp…bacteria! Be afraid. Be very afraid. Are any of us seriously going to stop with the snowflakes on the tongue thing?
And now, the ends, just one end really, from the past week:
Bobby Cutts was spared the death penalty for the murder of Jessie Davis and her unborn baby last summer. Cutts got life in prison with the possibility of parole in 30 years. In a twist that might belong up in the “odds” section of this post, Davis’ mother used part of her victim impact statement to say that she forgives Cutts and hopes he gets out of prison someday.