Major Lessons in Major Stories

Sons of Anarchy Murder/Suicide

Sons of Anarchy actor Johnny Lewis reportedly murdered his landlady before killing himself last week, and now, sources who were close to Lewis reportedly are saying that he became irrecoverably psychotic after one use of an indeterminate recreational drug earlier this year.  Okay, yes, that’s theoretically possible, and it should stand as a cautionary tale for anyone who’s thinking about using “wet,” “bath salts,” or any of the other unpredictable drug concoctions available these days (even marijuana can be laced with other chemicals unbeknownst to users).  At the same time, though, Lewis also reportedly continued abusing drugs after that event, purportedly to “self-medicate” the effects of the unspecified-drug-induced psychosis.  And regardless of how psychotic he was or the extent to which drugs caused his psychosis, he still may have been held fully legally responsible for his murderous actions had he lived (particularly in light of the apparent fact that all of his drug experimentation/abuse was voluntary).  I’ve said it many times, but it bears frequent repetition to young people:  There’s one way to make sure that you never get in over your head with drug and alcohol abuse — don’t start.  

Minnesota Workplace Murder/Suicide

A recently-discharged employee returned to a Minnesota signage company late last week with a gun and murdered the owner and four other people before turning the gun on himself.  This may seem obvious, but given the frequency with which we keep hearing basically the same scenario play out, it bears spelling out:  When someone is fired, it’s a good idea to be extra vigilant (e.g. to put someone on the lookout) for that person’s attempt to return to the workplace in the hours and days following his/her termination.  If he/she attempts to return to the workplace uninvited, there’s reason to be highly concerned about his/her intentions, refuse him/her entry (e.g. maybe lock the doors when he/she drives into the parking lot), and if in any doubt whatsoever, call the police before shots are fired.  And as I often say, but which again bears repeating, there usually are signs of potentially-volatile instability before a person is fired and goes on a murderous rampage in the workplace.  Evaluative consultation with a qualified risk-assessment professional at the first signs of potential problems can save lives, but it’s extremely under-utilized, especially in small-mid-sized businesses.  Another case in point: Two Wisconsin 13-year-old boys are in custody and charged with adults for the grisly murder of one of the boys’ great-grandmother, after which they allegedly stole money, jewelry, and her car, which they drove to get a pizza.  I guarantee you that there will have been a whole panoply of ignored warning signs that these boys were dangerous, just like there were in the Columbine High School case, when two boys perpetrated a mass murder/suicide at the school.

Americans Underestimating the Iranian Nuclear Threat

Also last week, the heads of state of Iran and Israel both spoke at the United Nations General Assembly in New York City, and I find it alarming how many Americans didn’t even seem to be paying attention, let alone appropriately alarmed.  In addition to being distracted by domestic economic concerns, I think there’s something of a “wolf-crying” phenomenon occurring among the American people with respect to the Iranian nuclear threat.  A decade ago, they were told that we had to go to war in Iraq over weapons of mass destruction that never materialized, so I think they’re sort of discounting the imminence and seriousness of the Iranian threat now, even though the two situations are not highly analogous.  Right now, there are no obstacles on Iran’s road to nuclear weaponry.  The only obstacles that could realistically be placed on that road at this point are:  #1, a threat of a U.S.-executed/sponsored strike that’s credible enough to change Iran’s calculus, and/or #2, a crippling strike by Israel and/or the U.S.  In my opinion, a U.S. president who’s willing to actually make #1 happen is the only hope of ending (or indefinitely postponing) Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weaponry without a military strike at this point.  Accordingly, the American people need to wake up to the gravity of this situation, determine which candidate Iran’s leadership hopes to win our presidential election in November, and then vote for the other candidate.  Otherwise, I’m afraid that the emboldening of our enemies by a foreign policy of appeasement isn’t likely to end with the murders of one ambassador and three consulate staff members.

Arrest of Anti-Islam Video Producer

And speaking of appeasement, the guy who produced that anti-Islam YouTube video — the one that was briefly purported to have sparked what we now know were the terrorist attacks that killed our diplomats in Libya — was jailed in California last week for probation violations involving accessing the Internet without prior permission.  Now, while I’m generally all for jailing probation violators, I’m concerned about the timing, if not the basis, of this particular law-enforcement action.  The last thing we need to do, as a nation, is to appear willing to back off of our ideological and historical commitment to freedom of speech in response to terrorism.  All that would do is encourage more terrorism.  The idea that America’s likely to make its citizens safer by appeasing and apologizing to terrorists makes about as much sense as the idea that you’re going to talk a rabid pit bull out of attacking you in your front yard — if you want to be able to go out into your front yard, then you’re either going to have to keep the rabid pit bull out of your yard, or you’re going to have to neutralize the rabid pit bull.  As I’ve said in the past, I think that we really need to go back to President Theodore Roosevelt’s mantra:  “Speak softly, but carry a big stick.”  I know, some of you thought that President George W. Bush relied too heavily on the “big stick” and didn’t “speak softly” enough, but I think that the current Administration has relied far too heavily on “soft speech” and hasn’t carried much of a “stick” at all — the latter, in my opinion, is more dangerous.

Schwarzenegger Tell-All

Actor and former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is poised to release a tell-all book in which he reportedly reveals details of his extra-marital affair with a housekeeper, producing a child that Schwarzenegger apparently took forever to acknowledge as his own.  What a classy (make that cowardly) guy!  Who knows how he thinks it’s going to be helpful to anyone, least of all the children, of two mothers, to publish this trash (oh — wait — that’s right, he apparently has a history of not worrying too much about the effects of his behavior on his children), but I wish no one would buy it.  I’ll go ahead and give you the general lessons of it (which Schwarzenegger apparently still hasn’t fully learned) right here:  1) Don’t cheat on your spouse — as a psychologist, I’ve never seen an extra-marital affair be a net positive for the people affected by it, and 2) if you hurt someone, take responsibility for your behavior, right then, and try to repair what damage you can — definitely don’t do anything that might compound the damage, like writing a book about it for all your kids’ and ex-wife’s friends to read).

James Holmes Update

And finally this morning, continuing proceedings in the Colorado movie theater massacre case actually revealed little “bombshell” information last week.  Apparently, Holmes’ banishment from the University of Colorado campus was in fact the result of a threat or threats that he made against a professor or professors as his academic career there crumbled in early-mid 2012.  As I’ve said before, bits and pieces of what happened in this case will be trickling out for months, and many of them will be relatively minor confirmations and clarifications of the basic story that we already know.  I can report that at least Holmes’ freakish orange hair was gone as of last week.  In his most-recent pictures, he has a closely-cropped brown haircut, beard, and mustache (and he looks to me like he’s still playing to the cameras, which isn’t that surprising either, given my theory about what’s really going on with him — see previous posts on that topic).  And while I’m on the subject of mass-murdering monsters, the younger of the two “Beltway Snipers,” now age 27, has made a public statement from prison, acknowledging that “I was a monster” during the murderous shooting rampage that terrorized the Washington, D.C. region a decade ago.  My recommendation:  Read that statement as though it said “I am a monster,” and don’t buy for a second that this is a changed guy.

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