Season’s Greetings!

Before Thanksgiving, I was irked to see more than one reference in the media to a supposed “need” to combine gratitude for the blessings that we collectively (as a nation, as families) and individually enjoy here in America with acknowledgments of shame for our nation’s historical mistreatment of indigenous people.  That’s ridiculous.  Yes, our nation has mistreated people in its history, and those shameful instances are worthy of study because we can learn from them (as we clearly have — no nation that I’m aware of has done more than ours, like literally tearing itself apart and putting itself back together again in a terrible Civil War, to repair wrongs that have occurred here).  But that has absolutely nothing to do with Thanksgiving — the first Thanksgiving feast was actually a celebration of the kind of peaceful coexistence between European settlers and indigenous people that we all wish had been more universal in our nation’s history.  This idea that we need to combine critical reflection on national disgraces with celebrations of gratitude on Thanksgiving Day is nuttier than your grandmother’s pecan pie (it diminishes the value of both the critical historical reflection and the present celebratory holiday).  So, I hope that none of you bought into it and that you all proudly and gratefully enjoyed both the day and the pie!

As of the day after Thanksgiving, the Christmas shopping season is officially on, and if you’re as incredulous as I am when you see people heading out to stores at 5:00 a.m. in search of bargains, you might enjoy a column that I wrote back in 2008 entitled “You Call This ‘Christmas’ Shopping?”  You can find it here:

So, as we say goodbye to November and head on into the holiday season, here are some recent developments in Lawpsyc news:

Conrad Murray, the doctor convicted of manslaughter in connection with the death of singer Michael Jackson has received a four-year sentence.  Keep in mind that it’s in California though, so don’t be surprised if it’s more like four weeks.

Speaking of medical professional misconduct — which I investigate frequently as an expert on behalf of licensing boards around the country — a “woman” (actually a man who apparently has undergone some surgery to make him into a woman) has been arrested in Florida for allegedly posing as a plastic surgeon and making cosmetic surgical “house calls” in which she/he “enhanced” patients’ buttocks by injecting them with various substances including…cement.  I’ve actually been an expert in cases just about this nutty, and the moral of these stories is:  Do some homework on your doctors, and then have your surgical procedures, anesthesia, etc. done in a properly-equipped surgical facility, not in your house.

The gunman who shot and killed dozens of students after setting off a bomb in Norway earlier this year has been ruled incompetent to stand trial, meaning that he’s likely to end up in a Norwegian mental institution for a while, which is even cushier than Norway’s “rehabilitative” prisons, before being released back onto Norway’s streets, where he’ll probably kill more Norwegians.  I think even California might, maybe, be tougher on this guy, maybe.

The American man whose female traveling companion mysteriously went missing in Aruba earlier this year is set to be released by Aruban authorities and allowed to return to the U.S. for lack of sufficient evidence to move forward with a prosecution at this time (remember, he claims she just “washed out to sea”).  Whether he’ll be able to claim her $1.5 million in travel insurance naming him as the beneficiary remains to be seen, but it’s not at all out of the question.

Authorities have named a suspect in the case of that young mother who disappeared just prior to Thanksgiving and just after appearing on The People’s Court in a dispute against her ex.  Surprise, surprise (actually, it’ll be no surprise if you’re a regular reader/viewer or even just a general crime-news junkie)…the ex.

And finally, right here in Kansas, a couple is being sued by a man who (now this will be surprise)…invaded their home and held them hostage.  That’s right, the man, a fugitive from Colorado, reportedly burst into the couple’s Topeka, KS home wielding a knife back in 2009 and held them hostage while attempting to elude pursuit by law enforcement.  They reportedly gave him some food, and when an opportunity presented itself, fled the home to safety.  Law enforcement then closed in on him and took him into custody.  Now, from his Colorado prison cell, this guy has filed a handwritten petition alleging that the couple breached an oral agreement to hide him from law enforcement in exchange for a cash payment from him (i.e. an unenforceable “agreement” to aid and abet a fugitive, not to mention an “agreement” made under extreme duress, if it was ever even made, which, according to the couple, it wasn’t).  He’s asking for over $200,000 in supposed damages from the couple, in part to compensate him for gunshot wounds that he sustained in the course of resisting arrest!  No, this isn’t a joke, but yes, it will be dismissed in short order.  Thankfully, this isn’t California.

Season’s Greetings!


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