Archive: August 2010

2 quick deja vu’s 8/31/10

So just hours after writing about torture here, another torture case, right here in the U.S.A.  A California man is in custody after allegedly holding his girlfriend and her two children (one of them also his child, which makes him also one of those “fathers” that I just wrote about) hostage and torturing her in the presence of the children for four days.  Why you ask?  Apparently because he was enraged after he saw a Facebook message between the woman and another man.

In another, more distant, deja vu, a death-row inmate in California committed suicide (hanged himself with bed sheets) shortly after his sentence was commuted to life in prison without parole (he was found to have an IQ low enough to be considered mentally retarded, and in the 22 years since his murder conviction, the U.S. Supreme Court has prohibited executions of mentally-retarded individuals as “cruel and unusual punishment”).  Apparently no note was left, so the motive is unclear, but it reminds me (yes, of the “Craigslist Killer” who just killed himself a couple of weeks ago while awaiting trial, but that wasn’t my first thought) of serial killer David Maust who killed himself shortly after he was given a life prison sentence in lieu of the death penalty.  In Maust’s case, it’s unclear whether he was being genuine or just attention-seeking, but he did leave an explanation, and it was essentially that he gave himself the penalty that society should’ve given him but didn’t.  We may never know if this California inmate thought similarly or just didn’t want to live out his days in prison.

Mass murder/suicide in Arizona and gruesome torture in Saudi Arabia 8/30/10

Over the weekend in Arizona a 20-something “father” of two showed up at a party where his children were in attendance along with their mother (his estranged girlfriend), her new boyfriend, and some friends.  So this “father” shoots up the place, killing several people including the mother and her boyfriend and leaving another person seriously wounded.  Then he takes off with the two young kids, drops them off at a relative’s house (thankfully he at least didn’t kill them too), and shoots himself in the head.  This case illustrates a couple of things that I’ve been talking about recently.  First, this guy’s history of legal trouble isn’t short, and it includes violating a restraining order as recently as a few weeks ago, yet he wasn’t in jail, so again, whose best interests are we serving by being so weak in our enforcement of the law?  Nobody’s.  Second, this guy and the suspect in the Alicia DeBolt murder case, also a father of two young kids, illustrate how a man can be a “father” in the biological sense without having anything truly “fatherly” about him.

Also over the weekend, we learned the chilling story of a Sri Lankan woman who traveled to Saudi Arabia to work as a maid only to turn up in an emergency room riddled with nails after her Saudi employer and his wife allegedly held her down and hammered nails into her body as some kind of grisly “punishment” or for their own depraved amusement or both.  Workers from throughout the third world travel to Saudi Arabia to work as household staff in what can amount to a modern-day form of indentured servitude (the workers often have to pay fees that are difficult to work off and have very few legal protections as non-Saudi citizens) in the hopes of earning money that they can then take back to their home countries and improve the lives of their families.  It sounds like the woman is going to make a full recovery, at least physically, but if you haven’t seen the x-rays on the web already, think twice — they’re gruesome.  It would take a seriously psychopathic couple to do what this employer and his wife allegedly did to this woman, and while such psychopathic duos are rare, they’re not unheard of.  Thankfully, it sounds like the international media spotlight may have spurred the Saudi government to do the right thing in this case as both have been arrested.

The brewski defense 8/29/10

Did you hear about the 21-year-old male “honor student” who got in a New York taxi last week, asked if the driver were Muslim, and when the driver said yes, started stabbing him?  The driver thankfully was able to escape and lock the white American assailant in the cab until the cops arrived.  The assailant is now being held without bail, charged with attempted murder and a “hate crime.”  (As an aside, I don’t really like the whole “hate crime” concept because I don’t think that there should be a difference in the punishments that we give for attempted murders depending on whether individual assailants did it out of hate or simply to steal someone’s wallet or purse — either way, I want the assailants to get the maximum penalty that we give for that criminal act, period.  In other words, I don’t think there should be anything left to do to an assailant in terms of “extra punishment” if an attempted murder had a hate motive because we should already have given that assailant the max, but I’ll digress on that issue because it’s not the real topic of today’s weigh-in.)  Friends of the assailant are saying that he’s not anti-Muslim and that he’s not at all violent but that he “just” got extremely drunk and started thinking and acting irrationally.  OK, first of all, there’s no “brewski defense.”  If you choose to commit a crime while voluntarily intoxicated, it’s exactly the same as if you committed that crime completely sober (if someone drugged you without your knowledge, so you were involuntarily intoxicated, that of course would be a different story).  In other words, if you choose to impair your judgment, then you still take full legal responsibility for any poor judgment that you make thereafter, period.  (In some states, you could argue that, because of voluntary intoxication, you didn’t intend to commit a criminal act, like if you stumbled and fell on someone and were charged with assault and battery, you might be able to argue that you should be charged with public drunkenness or disturbing the peace or something but that you didn’t have the requisite criminal intent, the “mens rea,” to be charged with assault and battery — which I generally don’t like by the way; I generally want full accountability for whatever the act would’ve been classified as had it been committed sober — but there’s no state that I’m aware of where you could plead “not guilty by reason of insanity,” i.e. that you didn’t know what you were doing or that it was wrong, after choosing to commit a criminal act while voluntarily intoxicated.)  But beyond that, it’s like I said back when actor Mel Gibson tried to argue that a racist rant of his (his tirade was verbal, not violent, and against Jews, not Muslims, but the same principle applies) was “just” alcohol talking, not his true feelings spewing out.  Sorry, but alcohol really doesn’t put new ideas and inclinations into a person’s mind.  All alcohol really does is dis-inhibit someone from expressing ideas or acting on inclinations that the person already had.  So, the assailant in this New York cabbie-stabbing case sounds to me like both an anti-Muslim bigot and a person with violent inclinations, and if his friends honestly don’t think he’s either of those things, then all it says to me is that they probably don’t really know him very well.

Girls in trouble 8/29/10

On Friday night’s Nancy Grace, we discussed the tragic case of Kansas 14-year-old Alicia DeBolt.  The teen went missing last weekend only to be found dead and burned beyond recognition a few days later.  A 36-year-old suspect is in custody after fleeing from the cops in a stolen vehicle.  The girl reportedly had asked for and accepted rides around her small Kansas town from the suspect, and as always, I tried to extract lessons from this tragedy.  Here’s one:  Girls tend to develop the ability to exploit guys’ attraction to them earlier than they develop the ability to recognize when they are the ones being exploited, and the time in between the two is a dangerous time.  For instance, a 14-year-old girl might realize that a 36-year-old man is attracted to her and think she can safely take advantage of that to get rides from him, naively thinking that he’ll be content just to spend a few minutes in his car with her once in a while, when in reality, he’s willing to do anything up to and including killing her in order to have sex with her.  Even girls in their 20’s aren’t good at spotting psychopaths.  Time after time, I’ve covered cases in which a 20-something woman went home from a bar with a man she had just met and turned up dead, only to have it revealed that the guy was a convicted sex offender recently released from prison.  I’m sure that these women thought that they were actually in control of those situations, and while I’m not blaming them at all— they should’ve been able to leave with those guys without having to fear for their lives — their naiveté proved deadly.  If it’s tough for 20-something (and even older) women to spot psychopathic men, there’s no way a 14-year-old can be expected to do it, which is why, once again, it’s absolutely critical for parents to 1) help their teens (girls and boys) to anticipate potential danger at a developmental time when their tendency is to underestimate risk, and 2) know where the kids are and with whom.  The parents’ goals shouldn’t be to make their kids paranoid or to keep them confined to their homes until adulthood, but rather 1) to get their kids to be conscious of the fact that people like DeBolt’s killer are out there, and 2) to get the kids to take that sad reality into account when deciding whom to trust, and 3) to be actively involved in their kids’ decisions about whom to trust until the kids can be expected to safely make those decisions on their own.  At this point, there’s no benefit to Alicia DeBolt or her parents by adding guilt on top of the grief that the parents are suffering, so it’s not my intent to be critical of them here.  My intent is to help the parents of a potential future victim of a similar crime be proactive in preventing it.

Also tonight, another girl in trouble, this one no surprise and far less tragic, Paris Hilton.  Yes, she’s been arrested again, this time for cocaine possession.  She says the purse in which the cocaine was found isn’t hers, yet she reportedly was the only female in the vehicle where the purse was found.  I predicted this, just as I predicted that we’ll see Lindsay Lohan in trouble again soon.  Both young women were given slap-on-the-wrist sentences for previous offenses, and both of their sentences were actually reduced thereafter, so why would either of them actually think that we as a society are serious about not tolerating illegal substance use?  The answer is, they wouldn’t, and while nobody else is responsible for their crimes, we as a society really need to think about whose best interests we’re serving by being so weak.  The answer is, nobody’s.

Quick takes and updates 8/24/10

Lindsay Lohan’s out of rehab — first out of jail early, now out of rehab early.  She was supposed to be off the streets for about six months total, equal parts jail and rehab (the Dr. Brian Russell sentence would’ve been 100% jail, and after serving the entire time, she could’ve done the “rehab” on her own if she wanted).  Now, she’s back on the streets after about a month.  I guarantee you she’ll be back in trouble again soon, and why wouldn’t she be?  After this pathetic display of weakness, why would she think that the State of California’s serious about not tolerating drunk driving, drug use, etc., and after an equally-pathetic display of naiveté, why would she think that she hadn’t completely fooled the folks at the “rehab” place?  Stay tuned.  Sadly, you won’t have to wait long for the this train to wreck again.

More ADHD news:  surprise, surprise, new research shows that talk therapy helps people with ADHD.  Seems they can actually learn to — gasp! — focus their attention, without popping a pill first, if they want to badly enough.  Shocking.  This new study was of adults with ADHD diagnoses, but I guarantee you that the self-control ability exists in kids as well.  I’ve seen it.

And finally tonight, people have been asking me what I think about the departure of Dr. Laura Schlesinger from talk radio.  After dispensing what I’ve always thought was some of the most solid advice on the radio for three decades, Dr. Laura said she would end her show at the end of this year following a widely-criticized exchange with a caller in which the “n-word” was used.  Here’s what happened in a nutshell:  The caller described herself as a black woman married to a white man and asked Dr. Laura for advice on how to deal with extreme resentment toward her husband’s white friends who sometimes use the “n-word.”  Dr. Laura told the caller that the use of the “n-word” by blacks and black comics specifically made it unclear to white people whether the word is really that offensive.  In the exchange, Dr. Laura didn’t say “n-word” — she actually said the word, and even though she wasn’t using it as an epithet (she was mimicking black comics on t.v.), she drew intense criticism from the caller (and quickly thereafter from a number of vocal race-based activist groups) for even uttering it on the air.  Dr. Laura then told the caller that maybe she should’ve thought about how sensitive she was to racial issues before she married a white guy, which drew further criticism of Dr. Laura for appearing to disapprove of an interracial marriage.  Personally, I don’t think she has a racist bone in her body, and I think there’s a real need for her (and to a lesser-known extent, my) brand of reason-based, values-based life-guidance in the mass media.  I think she had a legitimate point, but given her level of experience navigating the environment in which we broadcast (in which people who disagree with us are just waiting for a chance to attack our character), I think she made it in a way that was surprisingly less astute than I’ve come to expect from her (and I think she’d agree).  I’ve addressed the double standard involving the “n-word” in the past, responding to Whoopi Goldberg’s assertion that it’s not offensive to her if a black person utters the word, but it is offensive if anyone else utters it.  Back then, I said what I think Dr. Laura was trying to say — that if you have to see the race of the person who utters a particular word before you know whether you’re offended or not, that’s fine, but in that case, if you end up deciding that you’re offended, I’m not going to lose much sleep over it (i.e. I have a hard time buying that a particular word is really all that offensive to you if its offensiveness depends, in whole or in part, on the race of the person who utters it).  If the word is truly offensive, then I say let’s none of us use it.  That’s easy for me because I don’t use it anyway, but if the goal is that no one use it, then I think we should oppose its use not only by white racists who use it as an epithet but also by black andwhite people who use it for whatever other reason(s).  I don’t know why Laura didn’t make her point more astutely and why she made it in a way that, instead of demanding consideration and an intellectual counter-argument, allowed it to be dismissed as racist.  She weathered a similar firestorm of criticism several years ago when she used the term “biological error” to describe homosexuality.  I didn’t think she was anti-gay back then either — I thought she was just saying that the norm in a species that reproduces sexually is to be sexually attracted to the opposite sex (i.e. to have an interest in reproduction), so the distress of a person who wasn’t attracted to the opposite sex and wanted to be shouldn’t be dismissed as invalid simply for political-correctness reasons.  In that case, she successfully explained herself and kept, even expanded, her audience (around nine million now), including many gay listeners (many of whom I think appreciated the fact that she had essentially endorsed the existence of a biological component to sexual orientation).  I don’t know why she’s choosing not to handle this current flap similarly.  Maybe she was getting burned out and simply took this as the exit sign that she was looking for at age 63.  In any case, I think it’s sad that she’s apparently going to sign off under this cloud because I think she’s helped a lot of people in her time on the air.

The latest 8/24/10

Kicking off a new week with the latest lawpsyc news:

Singer Fantasia Barrino reportedly is now acknowledging that her recent widely-publicized drug overdose was in fact a suicide attempt.  She has a troubled history, reportedly including a turbulent affair with a married man, proving once again how marital infidelity usually ends up hurting everyone involved.  (Speaking of infidelity, Tiger Woods’ divorce is final.)

Cesar Laurean, the ex-marine who killed a pregnant female marine back in 2007 and then fled to Mexico, where he was captured and unsuccessfully fought extradition back to the U.S., has finally been convicted and will spend the rest of his life in prison.

There’s been another mass shooting, this one in Virginia, where a man killed two relatives and wounded four others in an apparent dispute over ownership of some rural land.  When the cops showed up on the scene — reportedly for the second time that day and the 23rd time total — the shooter fired at them and turned his pit bull loose on them, whereupon the cops made short work of both the shooter and the dog.  First of all, this looks like one that could’ve been prevented — 23 cop calls? — I think this guy probably should’ve been separated from his guns by steel bars long ago.  Second, whenever I see people using pit bulls or other notoriously-dangerous pets to intimidate others, I immediately think “sociopath.”  There’s a guy who walks around my town doing that, and every time I see him, I wonder when I’m going to see his face in the paper and what violent crime it’ll be.

Think you’ve got problems?  A group of miners trapped in a collapsed mine in Chile is expected to spend three months surviving on supplies delivered through a small ventilation shaft until a tunnel large enough to extract them can be completed.  It’s great that their physical prognosis is good at this point, but there’s likely to be significant psychological trauma associated with that kind of confinement.

Finally tonight, guess what?  A new large-scale study of ADHD has found that it’s profoundly over-diagnosed (which means America’s kids are also profoundly over-medicated)!  Hmmm, how many times have you heard right here that ADHD diagnoses are bogus much of the time?!  Specifically, this new study examined the dramatically-higher frequency of “ADHD” diagnoses among younger students within the same grade and concluded that parents and teachers frustrated with children’s obnoxious behavior often attribute it to the mental disorder rather than to simple developmentally-normal immaturity and/or lack of structure/discipline.  Sounds like a culture that’s tending increasingly to pursue the “quickest fix” for its problems, whether that involves pathologizing normalcy (as in this case) or normalizing pathology.  (As always, if you know a kid who got a bogus ADHD diagnosis and was then harmed by the prescribed medication, tell the parents I want to hear their story.)

Blagojevich jury in! 8/17/10

Just as I predicted on Sunday, the Blagojevich jury is back with a mistrial on 23 of 24 charges against the ex-Illinois-governor and a conviction on the single remaining charge, lying to the FBI.  You heard it here first!

Deja vu in SC and mosque controversy in NY 8/17/10

Remember Susan Smith, the woman who drowned her two kids by letting her car roll into a South Carolina lake, then claimed that she had been carjacked and the kids had been abducted, then confessed but claimed diminished capacity (unsuccessfully), and is now serving a life sentence with eligibility for parole in 2024?  Well, believe it or not, in an eerie case of deja vu, it’s happened againin South Carolina!  Yesterday, two of a South Carolina woman’s three children were found dead in her submerged car, and almost immediately, the mother’s “accident” story wasn’t adding up — e.g. she somehow escaped the “accident” without getting wet.  Well, the local sheriff is reporting now that the woman has been charged with cold-blooded, pre-meditated murder and that her third child is safe with a grandmother.  Just like Smith, the local sheriff says that this second woman killed her kids to free herself of the financial and other burdens of parenting toddlers.  Stay tuned for a deja vu of Smith’s diminished-capacity claim as well, which should be followed by a deja vu of Smith’s conviction and life sentence!

While I’m here today, people have asked what I think of the plan to build an Islamic mosque near the site where the World Trade Center once stood in New York City.  OK, here’s what I think:  If the owners of the land want to build a mosque on it, they probably have every right to do so.  HOWEVER, do I buy their claim that this just happens to be the best site they could find on which to build a mosque in New York?  No.  I think it’s utterly disingenuous.  I think it’s a “holy” site to these people — certainly not to all or most Muslims, but to this particular subset — because it’s the site of what they see as an Islamic victory over the West (the 9/11 attacks).  Building a mosque there would be akin to an American buying a lot in the center of Hiroshima, Japan, erecting a museum of American military artifacts used in the Pacific theater in World War II, and then feigning surprise when Japanese people, especially those from the Hiroshima area, were disgusted.  Even though an American who would do such an ill-advised thing wouldn’t officially represent all Americans, in the minds of many Japanese he would, and it would therefore perpetuate or reinvigorate feelings of resentment toward the United States.  The same will be true in New York.  They may well get their mosque, and while it may serve as a reminder to them of an occasion that they consider glorious, I think that it will serve more as a reminder to Americans, not just of an event but also of an attitude that, fair or not, will end up being a setback to American-Islamic relations.  Therefore, if these folks truly are concerned about American-Islamic relations, then I think that the best location for the proposed mosque should be reconsidered.  We’ll know what they think when we see what they do, and I’d really like to be wrong.  If I’m not wrong, and if the people behind this particular mosque really are on the radical end of the continuum, then I guess at least it might be good to know where to be watching for potential radicals in the New York City area to gravitate.  It’s kind of like I say when someone proposes that we ban flag-burning — I don’t like flag-burning either, but if people want to burn the flag, I’d kind of like to know who they are rather than forcing them underground by banning it.

Catching up after a busy week 8/15/10

After another week in which more happened than there was time to write about, here’s a quick catch-up rundown:

The second missing toddler in Arizona was found, sadly, deceased.  Unlike the first one, however, authorities there think that this one did not just walk away from his family’s campsite, so an abduction/murder investigation is underway.

The judge in the Lindsay Lohan case has recused herself from future proceedings in the case, reportedly because she was accused of improper “ex-parte” communications (communicating with parties to the case without notifying all other parties and giving them a chance to be present) and didn’t want there to be any appearance of impropriety in future proceedings.

The Blagojevich jury sent the judge in that case a note saying that after a couple of weeks of deliberating, they could reach agreement on just two of some two-dozen counts against the ex-governor and his brother.  The judge ordered them to keep trying for now, but it sounds like they may be headed for a mistrial on most counts.  We don’t know which two counts they agreed on or when those agreements were reached or whether the agreements are to acquit or convict, so it’s tough to speculate, but I would guess that they’re probably convictions on counts that were fairly simple to prove, like lying to the FBI.

Former American Idol star Fantasia Burrino may have attempted suicide by overdosing on a combination of aspirin and sleeping pills.  She survived thanks to early medical intervention, and apparently is now saying that it was accidental.  Burrino reportedly has been involved in an affair with a married man and may be sued by the man’s wife for “alienation of affection,” a legal claim for damages caused by a third-party’s interference with a marital contract (you don’t see it used much anymore, but it’s still recognized as good law in some states).

Speaking of suicide, remember the “Craigslist Killer,” the guy who allegedly arranged, via that web site, to have sexual encounters with women in hotel rooms, where he then allegedly robbed one woman and killed another?  Well, he killed himself in jail this weekend while awaiting trial.  It’s not yet clear how he did it, and inmates aren’t supposed to have the means to do it, so there will be an investigation for sure, but given the evidence that the cops had on this guy, I won’t be losing sleep over it.

A flight attendant apparently got fed up with rude passengers, and while the plane was idling on the tarmac after landing, he opened a door, deployed the emergency exit chute, grabbed a couple of beers, slid down the slide, ran to his car, and drove home, where he was arrested shortly thereafter.  Some are speculating that he “lost it” under the stress of his job.  I don’t think so.  I think this was a calculated stunt:  commit a crime that will draw a lot of attention but for which the punishment won’t be that severe and then end up on a reality show as the unpredictable flight attendant who stood up for fed-up service-industry employees everywhere.  Sadly, it’ll probably work.

Actress and apparent parenting expert Jennifer Anniston essentially announced to the world that a father’s involvement in a child’s life is irrelevant to the child’s chances of developing as successfully as possible to adulthood.  The actress therefore encouraged women who want babies to have them whether they have committed father’s on board or not.  If she really believes that’s a good plan, then she’s an even bigger moron than a lot of Hollywood stars are.  As I’ve said in the past, I’m disgusted by is theselfishness of any woman who goes out and gets pregnant just becauseshe wants a baby, as if they were puppies or something.  Yes, there are mothers out there who become single parents for various unforeseen reasons (divorces, the untimely deaths of their husbands, etc.) and are somehow able to fulfill the roles of both mom and dad for their kids, but those are women who, through extreme dedication, luck, divine help, or some combination of those, beat the odds and prevent their kids from suffering from the absence of father figures in their lives.  That’s great, but I don’t recommend it!  No one should plan for a kid to be fatherless from day one, and if a woman does that,  then she’s not putting the kid first.  She’s putting herself first, and that stinks.  If a woman wants to be a mother and can’t find a husband, there are many orphans out there who haven’t been adopted by married couples for various reasons.  They may not be babies, but hey, parenting is a lot more than pushing a cute, attention-grabbing little “doll” around in a stroller for the first couple of years of its life.  It’s about raising a human being to be as healthy and functional an adult as possible, and the optimal way to do that is with a married father and mother who love each other and the kid, for reasons I’ve explained here many times.  Single parenthood should never be Plan A.  Putting kids first, single parenthood always be Plan B, and should be used as infrequently as possible.  I know that some single women of child-bearing age like Anniston may be offended by this, and I’m sorry about that, but I don’t really care what they want.  I care about what’s best for kids.  Sure, not every marriage works out, husbands die, divorces sometimes have to happen, etc., but that doesn’t excuse anyone from doing everything she can to give a baby the best possible chance of growing up healthy, happy, and functional.  It’s not about you, it’s about the baby, Jennifer.

The serial killer responsible for a series of fatal and near-fatal stabbings in Michigan apparently has been caught.  The suspect is an Israeli national who was trying to flee the country when authorities caught up with him, again demonstrating that he knew what he was doing and that it was wrong (“consciousness of guilt”).  He’s also apparently responsible for even more stabbings than previously thought — some 20 attacks spanning three states.

Tragically, just as one apparent serial killer came off the streets, another one’s apparently on the loose.  Outside a wedding reception in Buffalo, NY a lone gunman opened fire on the wedding party, killing four and wounding four others.  It sounds like someone had been kicked out of the reception shortly prior to the shooting, but apparently there’s still confusion about who fired the shots.  An arrest was quickly made, but after authorities reviewed all of the available video footage, that person was released and no other arrests have been made yet

Finally this weekend, a shocking new study suggests that women’s brains are actually affected by PMS!  No, I’m not making this up.  Being in constant pain for a couple of days can actually affect that person’s brain, perhaps even making that person psychologically as well as physically uncomfortable, perhaps even manifesting in emotionality or irritability.  It’s ground-breaking, I know.  Thank goodness we’re just now finding this out in 2010.  Tell your friends, your female friends especially, and just see how impressed they’ll be with how smart you seem (and just hope that your tax dollars didn’t fund this exercise in the obvious)!

Serial killer on the loose in Michigan 8/8/10

In breaking lawpsyc news this weekend, police in Flint, Michigan have connected 13 knife attacks — no robberies, no fights beforehand, just stabbings — occurring from May up to the present to the same suspect.  He’s a relatively-young white guy who’s approaching generally older black people (12 of the 13 known victims have been black, one white), asking for directions or help with a broken-down vehicle, and then ambushing them with the knife, stabbing them repeatedly and leaving them bleeding profusely on the street.  Five have died, making this a serial killer, albeit a less-sophisticated variant than many better-known serial killers.  Many are speculating that he’s racially-motivated — that he’s racist against black people — which could very well be the case, but the population of the area in which the attacks have occurred is overwhelmingly black, so it could also be that he’s just being opportunistic in the selection of his victims.  He’s obviously full of anger about something because he’s choosing a very personal method of killing — hand-to-hand with a knife, requiring close personal contact — and he’s attempting/committing lots of murders in rapid succession.  He’s also not concerned with efficiency in his killings — he’s stabbing people repeatedly rather than making one or two strikes to lethal areas — nor is he availing himself of opportunities to take material items from his victims.  He’s obviously a coward, too, choosing more-vulnerable targets and psychologically disarming them by first asking them for help (which shows you that despite his anger and whatever else is going on with him psychologically, he knows exactly what he’s doing).  The only upsides for investigators are that he doesn’t seem to be very careful about eluding them (lots of attacks close together even with a widely-publicized description and sketch), nor does he seem to be very careful about minimizing trace evidence (he must’ve gotten blood all over him during these attacks), both of which, hopefully, will make it easier for them to catch and convict him.

[Update on previous post:  Sadly, one of the two missing Arizona toddlers has been found deceased.  Looks like it was a walk-off case rather than an abduction.  The other toddler remains missing.]

See previous post 8/6/10

It’s not every day that “see previous post” pretty much says it all, but today’s the day.  Miss USA 1992 Shannon Marketic was arrested on Thursday for allegedly shoplifting cosmetics.  Deja vu?  If she did it, at age 38, then what I said about the 20-year-old daughter of former New York mayor and presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani, arrested Wednesday for the same thing, goes double for Marketic — see previous post.

Miss-attributions 8/4/10

When lawpsyc news happens, it’s understandable that people search for answers as to why, factors to which they can attribute aberrant behavior so it seems more predictable and thus, more preventable and less scary.  It’s a good intellectual exercise for people to engage in, I think (of course I’m biased), and sometimes in doing it, people hit on important truths.  Today though, I think there are some major misses occurring in the media with respect to a couple of events occurring in the last 24 hours

First, people are attributing the mass shooting at the Connecticut beer distributorship (see my previous post) to racism.  Huh?  Apparently the shooter called his mother before committing suicide and told her that he shot the “racists” who’d been bothering him at work (the shooter was black and the referenced victims white).  Is it possible that someone in that workplace uttered a racially-insensitive comment, perhaps even a slur, at some point?  Yeah, it’s possible, but it’s also possible that no one did, and let’s keep in mind that this guy apparently didn’t decide to shoot the place up until he got FIRED for STEALING, which suggests to me that whatever anybody else’s attitudes may or may not have been, the shooter’s OWN attitude was, by far, the primary problem.  When the workplace may be more likely to have some blame is if it turns out that the guy displayed an antagonistic attitude toward his coworkers prior to yesterday’s shootings, for WHATEVER reason, and nobody did anything.  I’ve been called in to assess the level of risk in just that kind of situation, and in this case, that may have prevented mass murder.

Second, Rudy Giuliani’s 20-year-old daughter was arrested for allegedly shoplifting (why do we soften it by calling it “shoplifting” anyway? — it’s stealing; if she did it, she stole) cosmetics from a New York department store today, and you’ll see people attributing that behavior to the turmoil that she went through when her father left her mother for another woman (with whom he’d already been having an extramarital relationship) back in 2002.  She and the former federal prosecutor, mayor, and presidential candidate apparently have been estranged since then, and people will attribute this shoplifting incident to a desire on her part to strike out against him and his public “law-and-order” persona.  OK, if she were shoplifting back then, I might buy that attribution — rebellion, paternal attention-seeking, etc. — but at age 20, I think it goes deeper than that.  I’m not saying that Rudy Giuliani didn’t do anything that probably harmed his daughter.  I believe he did.  I’m not even saying that he didn’t do anything that probably contributed to the alleged shoplifting.  He very well may have, but it wasn’t just the cheating on and leaving the mother when the daughter was already a teenager.  The idea that you don’t take what isn’t yours gets internalized much earlier in life, like by the early elementary school years.  If that doesn’t happen by the time a child gets out of the single-digit years, then it becomes less and less likely to ever happen, which means you then get a teenager, and later an adult, who doesn’t have much of a respect for other people’s property.  That individual will then make decisions about what to do with other people’s property based on what he/she perceives to be in his/her best interests rather than what’s right or wrong or in others’ best interests.  He/she might do the “right” thing some, even much, of the time, if there’s a high likelihood of being caught and seriously punished for doing otherwise, but it will be to avoid the consequences rather than because of an internalized respect for people’s property rights.  And, if the opportunity presents itself to benefit with relatively low chances of being caught or punished, the person’s likely to seize the opportunity, even at others’ expense.  So, if Giuliani’s daughter — who goes to Harvard by the way, so this probably isn’t just a case of “stupidity + money = trouble” (see the archives, 8/23/07) — is guilty of this shoplifting charge, at age 20, then I think something went wrong well before 2002.  As I discussed on The Joy Behar Show last night (see my previous post), if there’s a causal parental failure here, it may more likely be the parent(s) putting things like career(s), extramarital relationship(s), etc., ahead of the child, not spending enough time on the child’s moral/character development, all the way back then, rather than whatever bad happened in her teenage years.

In other news:

An update on “journalistic malpractice” in Kansas (see my post from two days ago):  No miss-attribution on this one, and no thanks to the local media, a suspect is in custody after a mass shooting that wounded several people at an apartment complex full of college students.  Based on the suspect’s now-evident-but-now-irrelevant ethnicity, it’s clear that there was a calculated decision by local media not to report it, which can only be explained by prioritizing political correctness over public safety.  There was an armed-and-dangerous person on the loose for a while, and the public should’ve known everything that the local media knew about him, hence, journalistic malpractice.

Also, two little boys (toddlers) from different families have disappeared within close succession of each other in the same rural area of Arizona.  It’s not yet clear whether these incidents are crimes (i.e. abductions or “wandering-off” cases), nor is it yet clear whether they’re related (i.e. a single abductor is responsible).  As of yesterday, one boy’s mother reportedly wasn’t wanting the media to publicize her son’s disappearance, which is weird and raises red flags, so stay tuned.

Mass shooting in Connecticut 8/4/10

Nine people including the shooter are dead after a mass shooting at a Connecticut beer distributorship.  The shooter was fired for stealing beer, returned with a gun, and went on a rampage that killed eight, wounded two, and ended in his suicide.  As usual, I guarantee that when the shooter’s history is compiled and reported, we’ll learn that warning signs were missed or ignored.

[Speaking of warning signs, if you missed my appearance on The Joy Behar Show on Tuesday night, we talked about the father of Kyron Horman (the missing Oregon boy whose stepmother is suspected of lying about dropping him off at school) likely missing warning signs that his second wife resented — perhaps violently resented — his children from his first marriage.  The father has essentially said as much, and while I don’t enjoy beating up on a guy whose child is missing, I reiterated the need for parents who are thinking about bringing a new significant other into their lives (and by extension, into the lives of their kids) to put their own short-term wants and needs second and consider, first and foremost, the long-term impact that the new person could have on the children.  We’ll try to get that clip up on the web site a.s.a.p.]

I’m back! 8/2/10

Sorry I’ve been absent lately — for the past couple of weeks, I’ve been in the process of moving, and it’s been crazy.  I’ve had two places that were both basically disaster/construction zones, but the dust is starting to clear, so here’s a quick catch-up before I go back to unpacking boxes:

Actress (I guess that’s what she is — has she acted in anything recently?) Lindsay Lohan spent just 13 days in jail and then was released to go to “rehab.”  She was supposed to spend 90 days in jail, and she should’ve spent every bit of that.  It’s just like I said with Paris Hilton — these slaps on the wrist for serious offenses aren’t helping anyone, not the public and not even the perpetrators.  All it does is make the probability higher that we’ll see Lohan back in trouble.

Same thing with actor Charlie Sheen.  He was sentenced to 30 days of rehab in lieu of jail for threatening his wife with a knife last Christmas (yeah, he also got some probation and “anger management” counseling).  He should’ve spent every bit of those 30 days in jail.  Instead, the State of Colorado is sending him to a place where he’ll sit in relative luxury and be told that he’s a victim of a disease and that he needs to forgive himself.  Besides making me throw up, what do you think that’s going to accomplish?  That’s right, not much.  Look for Sheen’s wrist to need another slapping again soon

Former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich’s fate is now in the hands of a jury.  I won’t be surprised if they acquit him.

Two members of Congress, Charlie Rangel and Maxine Waters, are facing serious ethics charges.  It never ceases to amaze me how often the very people who constantly want to raise taxes on the rest of us, supposedly for the good of those less-fortunate, are simultaneously trying to cheat the system and enrich themselves at the taxpayers’ expense.  Hypocrisy on parade in Washington, surprise.

In a tragic New York case, a mother and her four children were found dead inside their burned-down house, and the woman’s oldest child, a 14-year-old boy who had a history of pyromaniac behavior, was thought to have been responsible for the murder of the family followed by his own suicide.  In a shocking twist, after some good old-fashioned police and fire investigative work, it now looks like the mother slashed the children’s throats (all but the youngest) and then set fire to the house, remaining inside, killing all of the children and herself.  The case is sadly reminiscent of the Andrea Yates case with the added component of the maternal suicide, and yet it still looks like the mother knew that what she had done was wrong because a charred note of apology in her handwriting was found at the scene.

In an egregious example of “journalistic malpractice,” there was a shooting in Kansas over the weekend in which multiple people were injured at an apartment complex filled with college students, and although the obviously armed-and-dangerous suspects remain on the loose, the local media refuses to report their descriptions.  Once again, looks like it’s a case of the media putting political correctness before public safety, and like I said, it’s journalistic malpractice.  And yes, I want to know whom to be on the lookout for whether they look different from me or just like me, so there’s no discrimination on my part here.

As I predicted, Anthony Hayward, the BP CEO who said that nobody wanted the Gulf oil spill to be over more than he did because he wanted his life back is getting his wish.  The leaking well’s not permanently shut in yet, but BP’s wisely not waiting to shut Hayward out.

Ok, that’s it for this brief catch-up rundown.  Not much really has happened during my move in the major cases that I’ve been following with/for you — Drew Peterson, Casey Anthony, Haleigh Cummings (Misty Croslin’s parents were arrested in a drug sting, but that’s really not major news for that bunch), still-missing Kyron Horman, etc. — so it’s back to unpacking boxes now, but I’ll try to get back on a more regular writing schedule as I put my life back in some semblance of order!


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