America’s caste system when it comes to mass murder

The caste system to which I refer in my post title is not the shrieks and threats arising from the media’s trial, judgment, and conviction of George Zimmerman.  Instead, I’m talking about the way in which the media and establishment have different expectations depending whether Muslims are accused of killing non-Muslims, or non-Muslims are accused of killing Muslims.  I didn’t come to this realization myself.  Instead, it was part of an email that has been forwarded several times, to the point at which the original author’s identity has vanished:

After reading the headlines about SSgt Bales, the US soldier who shot up Afghanistan civilians, I couldn’t help noticing an irony. There is all this clamor to try this guy quickly and execute him, never mind his having suffered a traumatic brain injury.

Yet this Major Hasan, who shot up Fort Hood while screaming Allah akbar, still hasn’t stood trial and they are still debating whether he was insane even with the clear evidence regarding his motive: slay as many infidels as possible.

So we have a guy in a war zone who cracks, and he must be executed immediately. But this Muslim psychiatrist who was stateside in a nice safe office all day murders 13 and wounds 29 of our own guys and they try to argue the poor man suffered post-traumatic stress syndrome from listening to real soldiers who had actual battle experience.

Two and a half years later, they still haven’t tried the murderous bastard.

Whether you’re 14, 19 or 90, you can defend your home against armed intruders

I’ve got a new post up at the PJ Tatler:

For the past few days, the internet has been buzzing about two amazing self-defense stories, each involving young people.  The first to hit the wires was the story of 19-year old Sarah McKinley.

On Christmas Day, McKinley’s 58-year old husband died of cancer, leaving her alone with their three month old baby.  When two knife-wielding men attempted to break into her home to steal her late husband’s painkillers, McKinley grabbed her guns, called 911, and asked for help.  In a polite colloquy with the 911 operator, McKinley asked if it was okay to shoot the intruders if law enforcement, which was still several minutes away, didn’t arrive in time.  The operator said McKinley, who fortunately lives in a state giving homeowners the right to armed self-defense, could do what she needed to do to protect her baby.  McKinley did just that:

Read the rest here.

A perfect example of self-defense, and sound good sense

Not only is this a beautiful example of self-defense (watch Derek Mothershead move in smoothly, disable the robber’s gun hand, and throw a powerful left hook haymaker at the robber, landing him on the floor), I just love Mothershead’s money quotation about this serial criminal:

If he wants money.  Get a job.  Work, like everybody else in this world.

Child rape: high standards and zero tolerance *UPDATED*

I never thought there’d come a day when I’d agree with Andrew Sullivan, but I just saw a pig fly by outside my window, so this must be the day.  He and Megan McArdle have differing views about the appropriate response when you see your boss raping a child.  Here’s Sullivan’s response to someone’s suggestion that it’s perfectly reasonable to be passive if you respect your boss (or if the rapist is an uncle or father or friend):

If you see anyone – even your own father – raping a ten year old in the showers, the first thing you do is stop it yourself. You don’t even call the cops right away. You clock the rapist in the head or drag the boy out of his clutches. I’m so sick of these excuses for the inexcusable. McQueary is as depraved as all the others who stood by and did nothing.

Well . . . yes.

McArdle, however, takes a more nuanced approach.  According to her, we should appreciate the McQueary was looking at someone he liked and respected, and that was obviously going to temper his response:

I have been thinking some more about the Penn State case, and why McQueary and Paterno did what they did.  And I have come to the conclusion that most commentators are overlooking a rather obvious contributing factor: they liked Sandusky.

[snip]

Think about what that really entails: overcoming all the shock and horror, the defensive mechanisms that make you question what you’re really seeing. The total destruction of a long relationship as soon as you name it out loud and accuse him to his face. The actual physical logistics of grabbing a naked sixty year old man, detaching him from that child, and then pounding on him for a while as a ten year old you don’t know watches. The fact that the minute you go to the police, you will have utterly ruined this man’s life: he will be jobless, friendless, and branded as the worst sort of pervert by everyone in the country–oh, and also, in protective custody so that the other inmates in jail don’t, like, kill him.

[snip]

When you find out that someone you know is a pedophile, that doesn’t erase your knowledge that they’re also a human being. It does in the public mind, of course, but it’s very different when you know them.

We are evolved to live in small groups, with very deep loyalty to the other members. In most situations, this is in fact a completely laudable sentiment. But this is the dark side: it is very hard for us to betray the members of those small groups to which we belong, particularly if we have strong emotional bonds to that person. There is a scientific name for people who are not bound by these sorts of ties: sociopaths. And as I understand it, they do not, in fact, make excellent agents of justice, because they don’t care about the victims, either.

Etc. I especially like it the way McArdle, in the last paragraph I quoted, manages to suggest that turning on someone you know, if that someone is in the act of committing a vile, immoral crime, makes you a sociopath.

I’ll concede here, solely for the sake of argument, that everything McArdle says is probably correct factually, but nothing she says excuses McQueary’s conduct.  While reacting instantly when you see a man you’ve respected doing something terribly wrong may be difficult, it’s still the right thing to do.  You’re not a sociopath if you uphold moral standards.

Nor are you a sociopath if you overcome your fear of doing the right and necessary thing.  Can’t you just see the Marines or the Army or the Navy having a new “most people” standard?  “Well, most people would run away if someone was shooting at them.  Heck, they wouldn’t even hide.  They’d keep running until they were in the next country.  So, guys, if someone shoots at you and you run away, no worries.  You get a pass.”  It is to laugh!

The law does have a “reasonable man” standard, which means that people are not expected to conform to entirely unreasonable behavior.  McArdle is trying to craft such a standard for McQueary.  Indeed, with that sociopath reference, she’s trying to say that all reasonable men, seeing a child being raped by a figure of respect would sneak away.  The problem with this is that the universal revulsion towards Sandusky’s conduct, as well as the universal condemnation towards McQueary’s response, says she’s way off base about the average/reasonable person’s response.  The reasonable man, confronted with the same situation, believes that the right and moral thing to do is to rip the child rapist off the child, not to sneak out and call Daddy.  To analyze McQueary’s probably fears and doubts is merely to offer reasons for his behavior that don’t rise to the level of valid excuses — and that’s true even if many of us would have the same problem in the same situation.

UPDATE:  David Brooks makes precisely the same point McArdle did, which boils down to “I bet you wouldn’t have behaved any better than McQueary if you were in his shoes.”  He’s also just as wrong as she was.  As a society, we have to believe that each of us would have behaved better.  We cannot allow McQueary’s conduct to stand as the appropriate response to witnesses a man rape a young boy.  Incidentally, those of you who have children know that a 10 year old boy cannot be mistaken for an older child.  A ten year old is little.  He’s a boy, not a man or even a proto-man.

In order to have something reasonably approximating a moral, functional society, all of us have to believe that we would be proactive in rescuing the child, and we each have to have a mental image of ourselves acting so that, should the situation arise, we have a moral and practical template to follow.  That some of us, indeed, many of us, might pull a McQueary and choke when the moment comes is NO EXCUSE.

Penn State and the slow death of American self-reliance

In the wake of the horrific child abuse scandal roiling Penn State, many have been trying to understand how Sandusky’s predatory behavior could have continued unchecked for so long.  The focal point of this “how could this happen” question is the fact that Mike McQueary actually witnessed an assault.  Rather than rearranging Sandusky’s face, McQueary slipped out quietly, called his Daddy, and than made a chain-of-command report.  As far as he was concerned, he’d then done what he needed to do.  Paterno did exactly the same:  chain-of-command report.  And so on, up the ladder, with each person punting the problem higher, and each higher level official diluting the story so that it transformed from child rape into inappropriate behavior — and we all know that inappropriate behavior needs to be dealt with tactfully and in a way that doesn’t embarrass the institution.

So, again, we have to ask why?

Because — and this is not an idle boast — I have some of the smartest readers in the blogosphere, I can take a good stab at an answer.  In an open thread about Penn State, my readers chewed over the fact that in Pennsylvania, the law allows employees who witness a crime to go up the chain of command, whereas in Texas (for example) the law requires that every person has the responsibility to report to the authorities cases of suspected child abuse.  In other word, the culture is different in the two states, with one allowing people to pass the buck, and the other mandating that people take independent action.

There are already demands that Pennsylvania change its laws about reporting child abuse in order to bring them closer in line with the Texas standard.  While that wouldn’t be a bad idea, it would be a small bandage over a gaping wound in the American psyche:  the death of self-reliance.

Agrarian and frontier societies are, of necessity, self-reliant.  (Yes, even Europeans once knew how to make do.)  Right up until the 1960s, what separated America from other nations was that, until very recently in historic terms, it managed to be an amalgam of Western intellectualism and frontier self-reliance.  This meant that, even as increasing population density and industrialization made it unnecessary for an American family to be almost completely self-sustaining, our Judeo-Christian heritage was sophisticated enough that we nevertheless enshrines as a virtue that personal independence.

And, by gosh, if self-reliance is the standard, those pioneers were virtuous.  Here, from one of my favorite books, No Idle Hands: The Social History of American Knitting, you can get a good thumb-nail sketch of how a family prepared to leave East Coast civilization to head for the Wild West:

Once a conveyance was determined, the woman cut and sewed the double-cloth wagon tops and sides . . . with muslin on the inside and heavy linen on the outside for extra warmth and protection . . . and attached pockets or “pouches” so that items such as knives, firearms, cooking pots, mother’s sewing and knitting basket and essential toilet articles could be tucked away safely.  [Snip]  Each item — all the food, tools, bedding, clothing, a veritable pharmacopoeia of medicinal roots and herbs, axle grease, spare wagon parts, furniture and so forth — was sharply scrutinized to make certain that it was critical to the survival of the family, the wagon and the animals both on the trail and for the first homestead.  (p. 73.)

After the pioneers finally reached their destination (and truly, only the strong survived the journey), Dad (and sons and neighbors) began the backbreaking work of hunting and farming so as to tease food out of the land, while Mom (and daughters and neighbors) kept the home fires burning.  In No Idle Hands, one can read in their own words how the children of these pioneers remembered their mothers’ accomplishments:

“Mother bore and cared for the babies, saw that the floor was white and clean, that the beds were made and cared for, the garden tended, the turkeys dressed, the deer flesh cured and the fat prepared for candles or culinary use, that the wild fruits were garnered and preserved or dried, that the spinning and knitting was done and the clothing made.  She did her part in all these tasks, made nearly all the clothing and did the thousands things for us a mother only finds to do.”

[snip]

Another mother, in addition to her regular routine of “water carrying, cooking, churning, sausage making, berry picking, vegetable drying, sugar and soap boiling, hominy hulling, medicine brewing, washing, nursing, weaving, sewing, straw plaiting, wool spinning, quilting, knitting, gardening and various other tasks,” found time to exchange work with other neighbors when they gathered together to spin and knit, skeining yarn for immediate use by simply winding it from hand to elbow and hanging it from her arm while she knit.  (p. 87-88.)

I am not advocating a return to that level of self-reliance.  My family and I would be dead within week if that were the case.  I am pointing out, however, that this was normative for large chunks of America only a century and a half ago, and that, even more importantly, this level of competence became part of America’s self-image.  We were the can-do generation.  While the Roosevelt administration, in the 1930s, jump-started the notion of a comprehensive welfare system, the generation that scrabbled through the Depression and World War II did not succumb to the cultural inertia of the socialist state.

It took the 1960s and beyond to change us into a don’t-do culture.  The “why” of that change would take a whole post (no, make that a whole book), but one can target lots of wealth, lots of youth, and a media and academic establishment that relentlessly propagandized both the virtues of socialism, while simultaneously denigrating traditional American culture and playing up the dangers of America’s home grown self-reliance ethos (“So it’s not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”).

Whatever the root causes (I can speak Marxist-speak just fine, myself) the end result is that Americans are slowly put surely slipping into the type of passivity that characterizes people living in an excessively bureaucratized, government-heavy society.   Some like this.  At a recent speech to financially powerful supporters, President Obama warned that, if he’s not re-elected, Americans might have to leave the comforts of government dependence and enter a dangerous era of self-reliance:

At a million-dollar San Francisco fundraiser today, President Obama warned his recession-battered supporters that if he loses the 2012 election it could herald a new, painful era of self-reliance in America.

“The one thing that we absolutely know for sure is that if we don’t work even harder than we did in 2008, then we’re going to have a government that tells the American people, ‘you are on your own,’” Obama told a crowd of 200 donors over lunch at the W Hotel.

“If you get sick, you’re on your own. If you can’t afford college, you’re on your own. If you don’t like that some corporation is polluting your air or the air that your child breathes, then you’re on your own,” he said. “That’s not the America I believe in. It’s not the America you believe in.”

Nothing could more neatly distill Obama’s hostility to the classic American dream, one that believed it was a virtue for people to make it on their own.  That the reality didn’t always match this cultural image, since many failed to make it at all, while others made it with substantial government help, is irrelevant.  What matters is that, for ordinary people, growing up, working, raising children, personal accomplishment was the cultural paradigm.  By contrast, Obama’s American dream, the one that he desires as the overarching cultural paradigm, is one that sees people utterly dependent on the government.  It’s impressive that Obama so resolutely clings to his dream, even as the Europeans actively prove that, during the waking hours, the dream is a nightmare.

As more and more people, with media and academic help, enthusiastically turn the government into their paterfamilias, and as more and more rules and regulations mandate that people abjure individual action, we get a rash of stories, culled from headlines in both England, where the dependency rot runs deep, and America. Watching people drown is getting to be an ordinary day’s work in dependency cultures. This story comes from the San Francisco Bay Area:

The Oakland Tribune (via Mercury News) reports on a tragic story of a 57-year-old man who drowned in the bay in Alameda on Monday after wading chest-high in the water fully clothed for nearly an hour before rescuers could reach him.

Witnesses told the Tribune that police and fire crews responded quickly to the scene, but because the Alameda Fire Department is not certified in land-based water rescues, they had to wait for the United States Coast Guard to arrive.

The Coast Guard reportedly responded within 20 minutes with a rescue boat, but because the man was in fairly shallow water, they had to wait for a helicopter instead. The helicopter took 65 minutes to arrive because it had been out on another mission and needed to refuel.

In the mean time, a woman in her late 20s who’s trained as a water rescue nurse, was able to pull the man out when he was about 50 yards from shore. Unfortunately, rescuers were unable to revive him, and he was later pronounced dead at Alameda Hospital.

One can argue, as a surprising number did at the time, that the guy in Alameda wanted to commit suicide, thereby justifying the fact that rescue work suddenly became a spectator sport.  That’s not always the case, though.  In a surprisingly similar story from England, the person wasn’t committing suicide, but rescuers again stood by, watching:

More than a dozen emergency workers refused to pull a man from a waist-deep boating lake because of ‘health and safety’ fears.

For half-an-hour charity shop worker Simon Burgess, 41, was left face down in the shallow water as they waited for a specialist rescue crew.

Mr Burgess, who had gone to the lake to feed the swans, was pronounced dead at the scene but friends claim that if rescuers had waded straight into the water he could have been saved.

The crews of two fire engines, two police cars, two ambulances and an air ambulance were told not to enter the lake, which is no more than three feet (one metre) at its deepest point, in case they ‘compromised their safety’.

That’s just two stories, right?  What if I add a third, again from England?

A jobsworth ambulance boss refused to allow his staff to enter six inches of water to treat a man with a broken back – because it breached heath and safety.

Stricken Brian Bendle, 45, suffered the agonising injuries as he stood in shallow water at a leisure lake in Somerset.

He was waiting to take his £10,000 jetski out onto the water when he was hit by another rider travelling at around 50mph.

Shocked onlookers immediately ran into the lake as Mr Bendle, from Bristol, lay face down in the water.

They floated the dad-of-three in the six inch ankle-deep water, where they supported him until an ambulance arrived amid fears moving him would aggravate his back injury.

But they were stunned when a paramedic arrived and refused his pleading staff to enter the water – because they weren’t trained to deal with water rescues.

They had to slide a spinal board under him themselves and carry him to ambulancemen, who were stood on the bank just 6ft away.

At least in the story above, onlookers weren’t so shocked that they became incapable of saving the man themselves.  It’s good to see that some initiative survives.

(I would be remiss at this point if I didn’t note that we here in America have a long and surprisingly honored history of an individual cavalierly walking away from a person trapped in water.)

Passively falling back on regulations when the situation demands immediate individual action isn’t just a water-related activity.  Here’s a recent story about someone who watched an atrocious act, did nothing at first, and then acted in the most passive way possible.  No doubt his superiors approved, as they engaged in behavior that was either just as passive or, worse, actively complicit:

[Mike] McQueary, according to his testimony in the grand jury report, witnessed Sandusky subjecting what McQueary estimated to be a 10-year-old boy to anal intercourse in the showers of a football building on campus in 2002. According to his grand jury testimony, McQueary, upset, went to his office and phoned his father, who advised him to go home, according to testimony. The next day, McQueary reported what he had seen to Paterno, according to the grand jury report. Paterno passed information that an incident of “a sexual nature” had occurred to athletic director Tim Curley and vice president of finance Gary Schultz. Curley and Schultz were charged with counts of perjury and failure to report.

I’d like to think that, had I been there, Sandusky would have received some immediate, albeit crude, facial reconstruction.  I’m small, but I’m game — and a child was involved.

Looking at these few examples, I can’t help but think of another culture that allowed itself to lapse into such a bureaucratic mindset that citizens either passively watched or actively engaged in the most heinous acts.  I’m thinking, of course, of the Nazis.  If one subordinates people completely to the state, can one be surprised if they lose both will power and moral strength?

As many of you know, I’m an enthusiastic amateur martial artist.  (If only my skills were equal to my enthusiasm….)  I do martial arts because I really like it — but I also do it so that I can act.  After a long hiatus to have children, and then to moan about how having children prevented me from exercising, I read a story in the papers that send me off like a rocket to the nearest dojo.  Back in 2008, a man stomped his child to death in front of myriad witnesses, none of whom intervened.  All of them fell prey to analysis paralysis, shock, denial (“this can’t be happening!”), etc.  I’m willing to bet, though, that a fair number of them were waiting for someone else to take care of the situation.  I go to martial arts so that I can be that someone else.

Fortunately, despite socialist government’s best efforts to mandate inaction (or, at least, to give people an excuse for failing to get involved), all is not lost.  There will always be decent people who do get involved.  As I pointed out above, in the case of the man hit by the jet ski, even though the bureaucratized aid workers refused to do anything, bystanders willingly rescued the injured man.

I doubt, too, that many of us have forgotten the story of the bridge crew that acted with incredible speed and ingenuity to rescue a drowning woman:

“They just harnessed me up and dipped me down in the water and I grabbed her and the crane drug her to the boat and that’s it,” Oglesbee said. “What are you going to do if she’s like that? It’s no big deal. The whole crew did it.”

So spoke Jason Oglesbee after being the last man in the chain that daringly rescued a woman who got swept into a dam. The story says so much about the ingenuity and courage that we like to see in the average American.

Recently, a motorcyclist trapped under a car was lucky enough to find himself in the presence of proactive people, unconstrained by analysis paralysis, government regulations, or career worries.  At great risk to themselves, these people acted:

Penn State is a tocsin, warning us what happens when our cultural paradigm encourages us to pass the buck.  The nation, as a whole, hasn’t yet reached the moral abyss that is the Penn State athletic department, but Barack Obama has stated clearly that his goal is to create precisely the bureaucratic, dependency culture that makes Penn State’s (and Nazi Germany) possible.  This is not to say that Barack Obama and his team have as their goal mass child rape, genocide, crime waves, etc.  It is to say, though, that once one creates a government system that turns people into mindless, amoral automatons, the possibilities are endless for mass evil, unconstrained by individual morals.

photo by: a

I got confused when I saw the headline

The headline was “FBI lists Juggalos on gang watch list.”  I was very confused.  The FBI put a song on a gang watch list?!

A little investigation, revealed my error.  “Juggalos” is not the same as “Juegalo.”

The latter is a great song:

(Or see here.)

The former is a group of young people who paint their faces like clowns:

The Juggalos, a loosely-organized hybrid gang, are rapidly expanding into many US communities although recognized as a gang in only four states, many Juggalos subsets exhibit gang-like behavior and engage in criminal activity and violence law enforcement officials in at least 21 states have identified criminal Juggalo subsets, according to NGIC reporting

Most crimes committed by Juggalos are sporadic, disorganized, individualistic, and often involve simple assault, personal drug use and possession, petty theft, and vandalism however, open source reporting suggests that a small number of Juggalos are forming more organized subsets and engaging in more gang-like criminal activity, such as felony assaults, thefts, robberies, and drug sales social networking websites are a popular conveyance for Juggalo sub-culture to communicate and expand.

I’ve never liked clowns — I think those painted faces are creepy — so I can’t say I’m entirely surprised to learn that young people with evil intent hide behind those painted smiles.

“I” conflicted

The Obama administration is headed for a big showdown with judicial accountability next year. Let’s look at the dance list thus far:

1. The “Fast and Furious” gunwalker scandal, involving potential collusion from the top of our government to funnel automatic weapons and explosives to drug cartels operating within and actively undermining a friendly government. Democrats lied, people died.

2. Solyndra: potential crony capitalism whereby more-than half a billion dollars of public monies disappeared and remain unaccounted for within a private company, actively supported by Obama administration officials, that went bankrupt. Who benefited? Where did that money go?

3. Lightsquared: a privately held company in which the President of the United States was a shareholder, that potentially benefited from tainted government testimony to implement a technology that may have put our defense systems at great risk.

Something tells me there will be other scandals to surface as well.

Put it all together and the Obama Administration may find itself in a maelstrom next year… just before election time.

As even major media outlets are acknowledging, this reeks of crony capitalism and the “Chicago Way”. Unfortunately, I fear that the details will go over the heads of most Americans, many of whom would prefer to avoid the facts altogether and worry about their personal economic lives.

Here’s my dilemma: if real crimes were committed, there has to be accountability. If not, crony capitalism and 3rd world corruption will become the new norm and, as Bookworm pointed out, we will inevitably evolve into a fascist state. However, to have accountability, we would need impeachment hearings to get out the truth.

The atmospherics for this would be terrible.

I suspect that most Americans are still emotionally and mentally exhausted from the Clinton impeachment hearings. Now, in the midst of a depression (let’s not kid ourselves otherwise) and a world spiraling into a new round of economic disasters and global conflicts, the American electorate would again be subjected to the divisive, gut-wrenching politics of impeachment hearings involving America’s first black president and attorney general.

Whether or not the Obama administration skates or we engage in impeachment hearings, I see either scenario as lose-lose-lose: for the Democrats, for the Republicans and for the country. We would end up at each others throats and it could tear our country apart.

Does anyone else see it differently? If so, please enlighten me, because I find this prospect to be so very depressing…either way.

Who knows what evil lurks in the heart of man?

Pedophilia is an up and coming subject, as pedophiles strive to become mainstream.  In an article about Dr. Earl Bradley, a convicted pedophile, Fay Voshell makes an incredibly important point:

Dr. Bradley’s behavior is illustrative of the sort of things a pedophile does to his victims, including sometimes killing the child he rapes, sodomizes, or performs oral sex on; and it is why the American public holds such people in odium.  Pedophilia is not a matter of innocent hugs and kisses, or thanking heaven for little girls, or just plain loving kids in general, but of perversions so frightful that to put words to them scorches the page and makes angels weep.

As prominent twentieth-century theologian C.S. Lewis said when writing about sexual perversions, “I am sorry to go into all these details, but I must.”

Knowing what it is pedophiles actually do is the reason there are severe restrictions on their movements, on where they live and where they may walk among the rest of society.  Such perversions have so distorted their souls that the likelihood of cure is quite low while the reversion to their vile practices remains quite high.  That is because, as Lewis remarked, “perversions of the sex instinct are numerous, hard to cure, and frightful.

This is a point to remember when you think about other efforts to mainstream behaviors that traditional Judeo-Christian societies frowned upon.  Rather than being less open-minded than we are, those societies might merely have been less innocent.  As the oh-so-sophisticated post-Edwardians said, “Victorians have minds like kitchen sinks.”  It was true, too, because the tightly constrained Victorian era was a response to the unrestrained licentiousness that characterized large segments of late 18th and early 19th century British culture.

The Obama prison blues

I was thinking about prison yesterday.  Someone was telling me that his son, a student at San Francisco State University, had a teacher who announced, “I’m not going to make any pretense of being unbiased,” and then handed out a book about the evils of prison.

My response was that, while prison isn’t a great place to be, at least its residents are there through due process.  If one does away with prisons, however, the whole society becomes a giant prison, with the bad guys as the guards.

And while we’re on the subject of prison, a friend sent me this great video:

High School Daze

My daughter started high school at our local public high.  It’s a great high school.  It’s got a beautiful facility, high quality staff, all the bells and whistles you can think of, an involved parent body, and a whole lot of very nice kids.  I always knew all that, but I had that information reinforced when I attended my first PTA meeting.

I learned something else at the local PTA meeting:  drug and alcohol use are “rampant” (their word, not mine) at this high school.  By the time the kids are juniors and seniors, there’s a “culture” of abuse.  It’s part of “the fabric” of the students’ social lives.

Part of the problem is the curse of affluence.  The kids have the wherewithal to buy high quality fake IDs and the money to spend on drugs and alcohol.  The other part of the problem is something that never occurred to me — parents.  As I confirmed with some internet searching later, there’s a trend amongst parents to host pot and alcohol parties for their children.  The theory behind these illegal parties is these parents’ belief that, if the drug and alcohol use is done under their aegis, they can keep it “safe” and “responsible.”

Plain common sense tells how wrong this attitude is.  I confirmed my common sense by speaking with my daughter when she came home from school.  I told her precisely what I’d learned, and warned about parties where parents offer alcohol.  She said, “If we hadn’t talked about this, and some parent offered me a glass of wine, I would have thought it was okay and taken it.”  It’s that simple.  If authority figures say something is okay, then it must be.

Amazingly, Disney (Disney!) handles this issue of parental approval surprisingly well in 17 Again.  The plot device is that a man is suddenly transformed into a 17 year old (played by Zac Efron), and finds himself in school with his own children, a boy who is being bullied, and a girl who is dating the bully.  This scene is about condoms (and ignore the execrable Margaret Cho as the sex ed teacher), with Efron’s character watching in horror as a basket of condoms is handed to his own daughter:

Although the movie doesn’t come out and say so, I do believe that someone at the Disney studio disapproved of a high school teacher saying, “To hell with abstinence.  You guys can just have condoms because we’re too weak to stop you from hurting and demeaning yourselves.”

But back to the drug issue.  I also learned that, if my kids throw a wholesome party (a few vetted and trusted friends) and that party is crashed by drug/alcohol users, if those gatecrashers get into trouble after leaving my property, I’m still liable.  (As a lawyer, I knew this; as a mother, I had refused to recognize it.)  The way to short circuit liability is to call the police.  The police representative at the school said kids should know this too, as these events often happen to hapless kids when their parents are away for an evening.  The host kid should feel no compunction about placing a non-emergency call to the police, especially since our local police are extremely nice people.

I thought this was good advice, but I added my own warning to the kids:  If any kid ever uses drugs or alcohol on my property, in the house or in the yard, I will rip that child’s head off and celebrate as I watch the blood splatter on the ceiling.  The kids laughed, but I think they got the message.

 

I’ve got friends in high places

This is quite the Saturday.  Not one BUT TWO of my friends have been published today at American Thinker.

Navy One, who blogs at The Mellow Jihadi, and has for years been a Bookworm Room visitor, has a great piece there, a rumination (and book review) about Navy life, non-Navy life, and dogs.  In keeping with his other writing, it’s a gentle reverie that makes some excellent points.

Sally Zelikovsky, who started Bay Area Patriots, writes about the way in which our culture encourages young women to engage in dangerous behavior that gets them killed.  It’s not a blame the victim article, it’s a blame the culture article.  Every parent should read it, as should every young woman.

If you respond to an ad for S&M sex, how credible are rape claims?

It turns out that one of San Francisco’s premier sexual harassment attorneys enjoys a little S&M fun on the side.  So much so that he likes to run Craig’s List ads seeking women who like it rough:

His lawyer, Stuart Hanlon, said the women had all come to Hoffman’s Van Ness Avenue apartment to engage in what his ads in Craigslist’s “Men Seeking Women” section billed as dominant-submissive sex.

“His ad clearly said he was seeking dominant sex with submissive women,” Hanlon said. “It talked about getting controlled, getting hit and getting their hair pulled.”

Fine.  Each to his own taste, as long as it involves consenting adults.  The problem for attorney Robert Michael Hoffman is that some of the women who responded to the ads seeking abusive sex and who, in fact, participated in the abusive sex, are now crying rape:

A San Francisco employment lawyer who specializes in sexual harassment cases has been charged with rape and other crimes for allegedly attacking three women who came to his apartment in response to his Craigslist ad for rough sex.

[snip]

In at least two cases, the women had sex with Hoffman voluntarily before the incidents in which they accused him of sexual assault, Hanlon said.

The lawyer is now being held in jail, with bail having been set at $3 million.

Perhaps I’m simply too naive to understand the nuances of a situation in which women show up at a stranger’s apartment in response to an advertisement promising them violent sex, but it seems to me that they run the risk of having sex with a man who sees their protests as part of the agreed-upon game.  In other words, is Hoffman guilty of rape if the women, by showing up in response to his ad, tacitly or explicitly agreed to violent, abusive sex.  If they’re screaming “No,” how in the world was he supposed to understand that they meant it, when they’d already agreed that he was going to hurt them and enjoy their suffering.  And presumably, they in turn, would get pleasure out of that pain.

It all reminds me of a terrible old joke:

The sadist and the masochist get together.  The masochist grovels on the floor:  “I want to suffer.  Make me miserable.  Hit me!  Hit me!  Hit me!”

The sadist sneers down at him:  “No.”

Moral figures without moral authority

There is a story that Josef Stalin, hearing mention of the Pope, asked dismissively ““How many divisions does the Pope have?”  The quotation, if true, is compelling, because it perfectly illustrates the Leftist viewpoint that the only power is that which comes at the point of a gun.  The notion of moral behavior and moral authority is utterly alien to the statist.

An interesting question, therefore is what happens to a figure of supposed moral authority who is the product of a statist society?  JKB sent me the answer to that question, which is that the person recognizes that moral dimensions exist in a given situation, but is utterly incapable of believing that there is a way to use his authority to enforce that morality.  The following quotation comes from a long, stream-of-consciousness description a British man of the cloth wrote about the riots in Salford:

My clothes stink of smoke and I want to weep with rage at a society that has disenfranchised so many for so long whilst brainwashing two/three generations of children to want, want, want!  I can still hear the sheer joy in that lads voice, ‘X-boxes! iPhones! You can get whatever you want!’  All of his empty dreams being fulfilled – well temporarily anyway.

I also feel a kind of empty, shocked sorrow that I heard young children being taught to hate the police as they arrived, that parents would send them into dark, dangerous buildings to loot to feed their own greed, happy to teach them that stealing and looting and robbing and mindless waste and destruction are ‘funny’, because if I heard that once I heard it a thousand times tonight.  ’I just think it’s funny!’

I saw the faces of police personnel, hardened with concentration for the task at hand, while people laughed at the potential damage they would inflict on somebody else’s wife, son, daughter, mother.

The trouble is, we do have a two tier society without a doubt, and while bankers have been allowed their bonuses having stitched us up every which way, we will continue to pay for this in more ways than one, and tonight is just one of them.  With the cuts aimed primarily at the poor and the needy and the disenfranchised, things can only get worse.

And what will we do?  Continue to promulgate the values that have created this deadly cocktail of haves and have-nots, faithless, hopeless people who have been taught that consumerism is a recreational right and all moral and religious education completely nonsensical?  Surely THIS is nonsensical?!  [Emphasis mine.]

I don’t doubt at all the despair or moral decency of the person who wrote that plaintive cry.  What concerned JKB, and what concerns me, is his helplessness. Even as he carries on him the smoke from his burning country, and even though he is a man of the cloth, he sees the problem solely in statist terms.  While he mentions the words “moral” and “religion,” he doesn’t seem to see either morality or religion as answers.  Instead, the problem, in his mind, is the usual pap about “haves and have-nots,” with the answer being to use his moral authority, not to inculcate morality, but simply to decrease consumerism. Without inculcating values in people, though, the only way to decrease consumerism is the Stalinist way — at the point of the gun, and we’ve seen lately just how well that works.

 

God acted swiftly a few days ago

A man died while in the act of raping an elderly woman:

The Refugio (reh-FYOO’-ree-yoh) County Sheriff’s Office identifies the man as 53-year-old Isabel Chavelo Gutierrez. Sheriff’s Sgt. Gary Wright says the incident happened June 2 after he rode two miles by bicycle from his home to that of his 77-year-old victim in the tiny coastal community of Tivoli.

He says the man, weighing between 230 and 250 pounds, sneaked into the woman’s house and raped her at knifepoint. During the attack, he said he wasn’t feeling well, rolled over and died. His body was sent to the Nueces County medical examiner in Corpus Christi for autopsy.

Will it surprise you to learn that the man had a long and sordid history of sexual assaults, including child indecency?

Assuming an afterlife, I have my guesses as to that man’s destination.

Spot what’s wrong with the picture

You guys are all connected to the news, so I know that you already know about the Supreme Court decision forcing California to release up to 46,000 prisoners because of the appalling conditions in California prisons.  As a California resident, I’m less than thrilled about the fact that people who ought to be behind bars will be unleashed and prowling.  Alana Goodman is concerned about the burden this will place on the Federal healthcare system (e.g., Medicare), since California has bankrupted itself and can neither afford to house these people (in prison) or care for them (outside of prison).

But I want you to tell me what’s really wrong with California — and the hint I’ll give you is the picture in the Goodman article.  Something about that picture struck me right between the eyes and speaks of a much deeper, more tragic and more economically destabilizing than just the prison system problem.

You can’t fix stupid

Britain, apparently, has solved the puzzle of criminal recidivism (H/T Melanie Phillips of the Spectator).

I know that this story provides us with a most important clue as to the greater disease that afflicts Western Civilization.

I really just don’t know what to do with this story, so I am passing it on to all of you greater intellects and other Bookworm Room habitues for a more proper fisking while I try to reorient my conceptualization of the “real world”.

We are doomed!

Why people hate lawyers (and the traitors they represent)

Bradley Manning got into some unknown type of dispute with his prison guards and ended up having to sleep in the buff for seven hours!!!  Are you outraged?  Or, like me, are you giggling at the fact that this story actually made the news?

The lawyer for an Army private suspected of giving classified material to WikiLeaks says it’s inexcusable that that his client was forced to sleep naked in his cell at a Marine Corps brig in Quantico, Va.

The Marines confirmed Friday that Pfc. Bradley Manning was made to relinquish his boxer shorts for about seven hours Wednesday night due to what 1st Lt. Brian Villiard calls a “situationally driven” event.

And yes, I know that Manning isn’t a convicted traitor, he’s merely a “suspected” traitor.  Considering the information available, I’m pretty damn sure that this little guy, in a fit of pique, tried to use his access to classified information to bring America to its knees.

My object all sublime . . . to let the punishment fit the crime, the punishment fit the crime….

If you’re a Mikado fan, you know the source of my post title:

The song came to mind because of two stories today, both of which left me wondering whether the punishment fit the crime.

One story you may already have read:  an Iraqi living in Arizona was convicted of 2nd degree murder for intentionally running his daughter over with a car because she had become too “Westernized.”  (Of course, if he was worried about that happening, a logical person might ask why he decided to move to the West in the first place.)  A second degree murder conviction carries with it a sentence that can be as long as 22 years.

The other story just broke recently:  the former head of a California mental hospital was sentenced to 248 years for sexually abusing his adopted son over an eight year period.

Both are heinous crimes, but does it seem to you that a deliberate murder is being treated more lightly than it should be?

When I was back and law school, a Crim Law professor liked to make a big deal out of two murder cases:  when was a garden-variety bar killing that ended in a death sentence; the other was a torture-murder that ended with life imprisonment.  His point was that the death sentence isn’t fair.  My takeaway message, though, was that, if you’re planning a crime, you might want to pick a jurisdiction that allows you to get away with it, so to speak.

I now pronounce the Archbishop of Canterbury officially insane

The Archbishopric of Canterbury used to be a pretty important job.  The guy who held that position, going back to the earliest Middle Ages, was the premier leader of the English church, whether that church gave allegiance to Rome or the British Monarch.  The current Archbishop, Rowan Williams is, as best as I can tell, insane.

A few years ago, he made a place for himself on the radar by supporting sharia law which is (a) anti-Christian and (b) antithetical to Western notions of human rights.  I don’t need to tell any of you that, under sharia law, Christians and Jews, if they are allowed to live, are second class citizens; women are prisoners of men and can be beaten or murdered with impunity; homosexuals are routinely murdered by the State; and the whole theocratic tyrannical institution seeks world domination.

Williams’ apparent comfort with the idea of creating a vast prison for the entire world population may stem from the fact that his view of prisoners is, to say the least, unique.  He thinks that even the worst of them should be entitled to the full panoply of rights, including the right to vote.  Yes, this is true.  The Archbishop of Canterbury would be comfortable giving, say, Charles Manson or the Yorkshire Ripper a voice in electing government officials, determining government spending, creating laws controlling citizens, etc:

The Archbishop of Canterbury today said prisoners should get the vote, backing an axe killer whose campaign has been endorsed by European courts.

John Hirst, who hacked his landlady to death, yesterday boasted that he was on the verge of forcing the Government to ‘wave the white flag of surrender’, as MPs prepare to vote on the move tomorrow.

The leader of the Church of England Dr Rowan Williams today said that prisoners should keep their dignity – and that their rights should not be put in ‘cold storage’ while they are behind bars.

‘We’re in danger of perpetuating a penal philosophy and system which actually leaves everybody as victims,’ he said.

He told a Commons committee that the country should move beyond ‘a situation where the victimising of the prisoner by the denial of those basic civic issues is perpetuated.’

‘The prisoner as citizen is somebody who can on the one hand expect their dignities as a citizen to be factored into what happens to them.’

That the lunatics who have taken over the EU asylum would like to perpetuate their power by giving the vote to those who have, through their conduct, blatantly violated the social compact is, sadly, understandable. What’s so deeply disturbing here is that it is the Archbishop of Canterbury who has slipped his moorings and is advocating the same inversion of morality and decency.  This is the man, after all, who is supposed to stand for the highest Christian traditions — traditions that include respect for the sanctity of life and law.  For him to treat an axe murderer in  precisely the same way he treats the shopkeeper on the street corner is a travesty of the notions of grace, decency and ethics.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News

Chicken or egg? Different crime stats in different Arizona counties

Small Dead Animals notices something interesting:  the crime stats in Sheriff Dipstick’s county, as compared to Sheriff Arpaio’s county, are appalling.  Appalling that is, assuming you’re a law abiding citizen and not a criminal.  If you’re a criminal, they’re pretty darn good.

My only question is whether the lousy sheriff caused the bad stats, or whether the community is a loopy loo liberal land that would naturally elect someone who couldn’t be tough on crime if his life depended on it.  I.e.:  bad sheriff or bad voters?

Cold water on hysteria

The media does hysteria well.  It’s about the only thing it does well.

It hysterically accused Palin and Beck and Limbaugh and the Tea Partiers of being complicit in mass murder despite a few readily known and very salient facts:  (1) the absence of a single quotation that can be attributed to any of those people or groups that can reasonably be interpreted as an incitement to violence; (2) the fact that Loughner’s political tendencies, if any existed in that damaged mind, hewed Left; (3) the fact that Loughner had been stalking Giffords since 2007, long before Palin, Beck and the Tea Partiers were twinkles in conservatives’ eyes; and (4) Loughner’s manifest stark, raving insanity.

When the American people rightly rejected this particular brand of hysteria, the media launched a new, two-pronged attack.  The first was to try, once again, for gun control.  I was once a gun control advocate (that was back in my Democrat days).  I soured on it when I figured out a few facts:  (1) Totalitarian governments always disarm their citizens.  The Nazis disarmed the Germans, the Soviets disarmed the Russians, Castro disarmed the Cubans, etc.  (2) Outside of totalitarian states, where the only ones allowed to commit violence belong to the government, gun bans result in higher crime.  The NRA was right:  in a moderately free society (because it’s not truly free if only the government is armed) when guns are outlawed, only outlaws have guns.  (3) As Katrina graphically demonstrated, with the best will in the world, police are usually there after the crime, not during the crime.

Let’s hope the Second Amendment survives this next round of attacks — but to those who refused to vote for McCain, let it be on your head if Obama somehow gets lucky and is able to replace a conservative Supreme Court justice with a liberal one.  I hope it won’t happen, but it can.

The other attack hysterics are mounting is the one that seeks to wrap our elected representatives in bullet proof bubbles.  As to that, John Stossel offers the following bracing, cold common sense (emphasis mine):

This week’s endless media coverage of the Arizona shooting implies that members of Congress are more important than “ordinary” citizens.  They are not.  All lives are equally valuable.

In other words, “Hey, if s/he gets a body guard and security system, I want one too.  And indeed, if I’m unlucky enough to live in South Central or some other crime hot spot, I deserve it more than s/he does.”

How awful! *UPDATED — OFTEN*

My sincerest condolences to Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ family and friends.  What a horrible tragedy.  My thoughts are also with the others who were shot during this massacre.

UPDATE (11:49 a.m. PST):  Five seconds ago, Breakingnews.com tweeted that she might still be alive:

Update: Conflicting reports about Giffords – Reuters now reporting she’s alive and in surgery less than 5 seconds ago via breakingnews.com

UPDATE (12:29 p.m. PST):

Update: Hospital spokeswoman tells Reuters Rep. Giffords is in surgery. “She’s alive.” less than 5 seconds ago via breakingnews.com

UPDATE (1:10 p.m. PST): Having thought about all this for awhile, there are two comments I’d like to make. First, sadly, if Gifford was indeed shot point-blank in the head, being alive may not mean more than breathing — with assistance. I hope that being alive means much more, but I’ll reserve my cheers until we know what happened.

Second, speaking of knowing more, beyond knowing that the shooter was young and white, last I heard we know nothing about him. He could be (a) crazy; (b) Left wing; (c) Right wing; (d) religious; (e) irreligious; (f) a stalker without any familiar motive; and (g) none of the above. Speculation at this time is both foolish and dangerous.

UPDATE (1:11 p.m. PST):  While Rep. Gifford clings to life, US District Court judge John M. Roll has died.  My condolences to his family and friends. Also, the shooter has a name: Jared Laughner Loughner of Arizona, born September 1988.

UPDATE (1:15 p.m. PST):  Judging by his YouTube channel, choice (a), above (i.e., crazy) may be the correct identifier for Laughner Loughner.  In the 1950s, he would have been talking about Martians and mind control.  In the 1700s, he would have been concerned about witches and the devil.  This video is more evidence of his profound reality disconnect.  Also, from his YouTube site, check out some of the books that informed his reality (emphasis mine):

Books:

I had favorite books: Animal Farm, Brave New World, The Wizard Of OZ, Aesop Fables, The Odyssey, Alice Adventures Into Wonderland, Fahrenheit 451, Peter Pan, To Kill A Mockingbird, We The Living, Phantom Toll Booth, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, Pulp,Through The Looking Glass, The Communist Manifesto, Siddhartha, The Old Man And The Sea, Gulliver’s Travels, Mein Kampf, The Republic, and Meno.

UPDATE (1:59 p.m. PST): And even as credible evidence emerges that the gunman was a loony toons (see above), MSNBC is out of the gate with an article that strongly suggests that the forces arrayed against ObamaCare are behind the shooting. What makes this article even sleazier than its lack of any factual foundation is the fact that, at the end, after having waffled on about threats to Dems — threats that went nowhere, although the writer doesn’t say so — the writer, in a disingenuous display of non-evenhandedness, mentions that Republicans complained about violence too, but adds that their complaints were invalid. This is sleazy, drive-by journalism writ large.

UPDATE (2:27 p.m. PST):  My liberal friends on the “real me” facebook, people I know through school, work, and community, are already implying or saying explicitly that Loughlin’s crime is tied to “right wing” thinking.  Who needs facts?  Who needs reality?  Who needs logic?  They’re ideologues, and their doctrines will see them through anything.

UPDATE (3:08 p.m. PST)Tweets from someone who claims to have been a classmate of his, and who may or may not be a reliable source.  These tweets, if true, show that Loughner’s mania was fed from the Left side of the political spectrum.  (H/t Sadie)

UPDATE (9:28 p.m. PST):  If my facebook is a guide, the Left is indicting Sarah Palin as the shooter’s inspiration.  Some are explicit.  Some are a little more discrete, and refer to the dangers of hate speech.  Next time one of the liberals makes a comment about “hate speech” (with the obvious implication that the hate emanates from the Right), agree with the liberal, coyly adding that the killer seemed to be inspired by Obama’s statement that, “If they [his opponents] bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun.”

UPDATE (9:38 p.m. PST):  Yeah — what Michael Ledeen says about the massive amount of misinformation emanating from the media, much of it irrationally hostile towards conservatives.

UPDATE (9:41 p.m. PST):  The British paper The Daily Mail has a surprisingly good hodge podge of info about Rep. Giffords and about the shooting generally.  That paper is a rag, but it’s a quality rag, if you don’t mind the oxymoron.

If you’re interested, others blogging about this are:

The Anchoress

Ace

Ed Morrissey

Ed Driscoll

American Thinker

Michelle Malkin

It’s no fun, being an illegal alien *UPDATED*

Life can be tough when you break the law.  The people who murdered Annie Mae Aquash discovered this fact when they were arrested and tried for murder 35 years after killing Aquash.  Sara Jane Olson, an SLA terrorist during the 1970s, discovered that when her quiet, suburban life in Minnesota was revealed and she spent several years in jail, despite the fact that she had three children.  My sister’s friend discovered this tough rule when he was hauled off to jail after unwittingly having had sex with an underage girl.  (That is, he wasn’t a predator.  Except for the absence of gray hair, the girl looked older than I do.)

Open today’s paper (I don’t care which paper; any paper), and you will read about someone who committed a crime and got hauled off to jail — and that is true whether the crime was old or new, whether the person acted knowingly or unknowingly, and whether the person had children or not.  As to that last, it’s worth noting that our American prisons are crawling with people who have left children outside.

How different is the story when the lawbreaker comes from Latin America, illegally, and drives around the streets of America, illegally.  That person, we are assured, is a law abiding citizen, other than all that illegal activity, and it’s just so unfair that such a person, not to mention his or her children, has to pay the for this illegal activity.  I’m not making up this maudlin outrage.  It comes courtesy of a front page story in today’s New York Times online (complete with illustration of one illegal lady hugging her daughter and, to amp up the emotions, her grown niece too):

It was just another suburban fender-bender. A car zoomed into an intersection and braked too late to stop at a red light. The Georgia woman driving it, an American citizen, left with a wrecked auto, a sore neck and a traffic fine.

But for Felipa Leonor Valencia, the Mexican woman who was driving the Jeep that was hit that day in March, the damage went far beyond a battered bumper. The crash led Ms. Valencia, an illegal immigrant who did not have a valid driver’s license, to 12 days in detention and the start of deportation proceedings — after 17 years of living in Georgia.

Read the rest here.  Depending on your political orientation, come prepared with either a handkerchief or a barf bucket.  The article’s push is to get driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants, because it’s so unfair that they’re currently out on the road, unlicensed, and running the risk that their illegal driving might reveal their illegal status.

This post, obviously, ties in with my earlier post about the DREAM Act which, while it takes into consideration the needs of children raised in this country, totally ignores the fact that it is an open incitement to illegal behavior.

Honestly, if one gets to pick and choose with impunity the laws with which one wishes to comply, why have laws at all?  This, by the way, is a familiar plaint on my part, since I routinely see judges, when ruling on a given case, decide who the underdog is and then proceed to rule in that party’s favor, regardless of the controlling law.

I’ve worked on a lot of those cases, and I’ll concede that my clients aren’t always nice or good, and the person on the other end is sometimes suffering a real hardship.  Having said that, though, on such cases, my client is totally within his rights under the law, and the other person doesn’t have a legal leg to stand on.  I’ll also concede that our common law has always had an “equitable” side that leans towards abstract fairness, but this ancient principle was always meant to flex the letter of the law, not ignore it entirely.

The problem with our modern approach, which views the law as an impediment to justice, is that it leaves us as a society in which there is no rule of law.  Our whole system of statutes and cases is just a pretense, since any given judge does what he or she wants at any given time.

Of course, without a system of laws, one inevitably descends into anarchy.  Laws may sometimes have harsh outcomes, but if they’re reliably enforced, people can actually plan to avoid those outcomes.  In a “legal” system in which the most pathetic person always wins, the only thing people need to do with their lives, whether in the world of contracts or the world of crime, is to plan on being pathetic losers.  You lose — you win!  This is no way to run a functioning, predictable, reliable, successful society.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News

UPDATE: Sadie sent me a link that’s perfectly apropos.