IN which I pontificate about social activism and crabby people…

I’m tired of reading these dumb arguments. Below is a meme about the people upset about Cecil the Lion’s murder, and asking why people aren’t upset about black people being killed every day.  Really it’s the same old song and dance.  Every time people express outrage or grief about something, other people come out in droves to bitch about those people and how their priorities are all wrong…or whatever.  They’re like…grief trolls or something.  I never realized until I spent so much time on social media that “caring about something” had to be so mutually exclusive to “caring about anything else.”  Apparently, we as human beings can only care about one thing at a time, I guess.  But let’s address this particular meme for a second.
11013060_876318259102844_3391847505955566518_n
Firstly, the above argument will fall on many a deaf ear simply because many people tend to reserve a different place of outrage for people killing innocent animals. Generally speaking, with a few exceptions, most animal aggression is out of resource guarding instinct or fear driven.  There is little malice aforethought.  You may not agree with that logic, but that’s how it shakes out. Secondly, and more specific to the contents of this meme, the 2013 FBI Uniform Crime Report, a compilation of annual crime statistics, also shows 83 percent of white victims were killed by white offenders; 90 percent of black victims were killed by black offenders. (source 1, 2)
So, playing Devil’s advocate… Do “black lives” only matter when a white person kills them? Given the ever-growing diversity in the country, when interracial crime occurs, does the crime itself or the resulting outcome of the justice system always have to be race related? How about All Lives Matter?
If you say Black Lives Matter, does that mean the rest do not?
Of course not.  *( I am not denying the existence of racism, but I do object to the significant amount of race-baiting done in politics and the media.  I only mention race at all because it is the subject of this particular meme…)
In this case, because Cecil’s life mattered, does that mean we don’t care about people killed every day, be they black, white, civilian, military, abortion, (or whatever else is a hot button issue right for someone?? )
No one can be pissed about everything, all the time; it takes a lot of energy to sustain that level of emotional involvement. Personally speaking,  the emotional toll of even seeing all the bad news online is overwhelming to me at times. Sometimes I just want to shut the computer for a few weeks… There are so many injustices in the world, why do we have to defend our outrage, give reasons why we choose our causes?  How many of these grief trolls on social media, denigrating the people who cared about the lion, doing any more for their own causes than sitting online being critical slactivists?? How about instead of fighting and criticizing one another for which cause we choose to embrace, we focus on improving the circumstances of any given cause?  Anyhow, that’s my cathartic ramble for the day.
Peace.
PS: (Also none of the people/demographics mentioned above were ever hunted by a lion with bait and a gun. Just sayin’.)
Advertisements

The Death Penalty: Time to Reconsider?

Many people are on the fence about the death penalty.  There are those that are just plain against the state sanctioned killing of anyone, no matter what their crime.  There are many who worry about the government having the power to “kill” people.  And there are some still that feel that capital punishment is not applied “fairly,” and that race, socio-economic status and other social demographics too heavily influence who receives the death penalty (and by extension, who ends up being actually executed, as opposed to spending years and appeals on death row.)

While I do support the death penalty, I do agree to an extent that it is unreliably and irregularly applied.  I think, therefore, that there needs to be a more stringent criteria for who is eligible for the death penalty, and furthermore, better follow-through if a criminal fits the criteria.  Why, for example, may one person get the death penalty for murder during the commission of an armed robbery, whereas there have been several prominent killers, like school shooter TJ Lane, and even many serial killers, such as BTK and Andre Crawford, who are spared the death penalty and instead receive life in prison on our dime?  Some might argue life in prison is more of a punishment than death.  I don’t happen to agree.  And even if it is, I think the money spent keeping these worthless people alive for many, many years could be better spent elsewhere.

And as I’ve said before, the existence of the death penalty may not be considered to be a deterrent , but I gauran-damn-tee it prevents recidivism.

As to who should get the death penalty, and who shouldn’t, you may have inferred from the above comparison of murder during felony vs. predatory serial murder, I do feel as if some people who have killed may be redeemable…and others are definitely not.

My personal criteria for who would be eligible for (and perhaps even required) to receive the death penalty, in the event of them being found guilty by a jury, is the following:

Anyone that takes another person’s life, either on purpose or by accident, during the commission of any predatory act, especially if said act involves a child under the age of fourteen.  

A predatory act would be defined as the act of stalking/kidnapping for the express purpose of committing an assault upon the victim (this would be, for example, detaining/kidnapping with intent to rape or traffic, as opposed to kidnapping for ransom.)

An added addendum to this that might seem controversial to some would possibly be:

Anyone committing felony kidnapping in conjunction with assault and/or sexual battery upon a child under the age of fourteen, whether or not said crime results in death of the victim.

I maintain that a person who kidnaps a child for sexual purposes, regardless of whether or not it results in the victim’s death, is not rehabilitate-able, and an  irredeemable waste of space!

Maybe if we’d had more stringent laws, and less bleeding hearts on the sides of the criminals, little Cherish Perrywinkle and other children like her would still be alive.

Stephanie Thornton, the mother of a previous victim of attempted kidnapping by perpetrator Donald James Smith (who had an extended criminal history) did not even realize Smith had been released, and was furious that he had the opportunity to harm another child. I happen to agree with her assessment when she said, “He needs to be electrocuted. He should never be able to get back out, never.”

Edit: In case you are still in doubt as to whether or not predatory killers/child abusers can be “rehabilitated,” let me leave you with one final example.  This case took place in England but serves to illustrate my point that some types of predatory criminals will never be “rehabilited.”
In 1993, two year old James Bulger was lured away by two ten year old boys who subsequently tortured him and killed him. Both perpetrators were imprisoned until 2001 for the crime.  Not only were they housed in prison for most of their pitiful lives to date, and eventually even received what could be described as special priviledges, and them they recieved new identities to protect them after their release, and much of this was paid for by the tax payers.

By 2010, though, Venables was back in prison for a parole violation; possession of child pornography.  So in a strange twist of happenstance, this guy actually killed a child first and then got nailed for the pornography later.  Seems he had long had a taste for victimizing children, even while he himself was a child (I suspect he was likely never a child, but always monster…)

Though Venables supposedly “posed no risk” to society upon his initial release for the killing of James Bulger, he has since exhibited behavior that suggests he is both troubled and manipulative,  continued to seek out the company of “younger” girls and women with children, and was even heard to be bragging about the killing.  Despite all of that, Venables was paroled again in 2013 and took on (his fourth) new identity.  I realize there is likely no precedent for a “Oops, we fucked up when we let him out the first time…” law, but if there ever were a need for one, it would be cases like this.  This man will never not be a danger to society.  He’s a prime candidate for someone not only deserving of the death penalty, but it is really the only good solution, unless the tax payers in his country want to pay to house him and feed him the rest of his miderable life.  Lethal injection or firing squad is frankly more than he even deserves.

Is the bulls-eye too much? I think it improves his looks.

Donald James Smith: Is the bulls-eye too much? I think it improves his looks.

“She must have been beautiful…”

She must have been beautiful…  At the beginning of the first episode of the French cop drama, Engrenages (it means gears or cogs, but the title is translated to Spiral for US viewing,) a nude young woman is found in a dumpster, her face savagely beaten and mutilated.   Within the first few minutes of the show, when told by one of the investigators that the victim’s face was smashed, the Prosecutor replies, “She must have been beautiful.”

The first time I read this (the show is subtitled,) it gave me pause.  What?  Was something lost in translation, or was this ham-fisted remark somehow considered a normal observation in the context of a foreign investigation?

A few mere minutes later he offers, “She was killed because she was beautiful.  Hence the ferocity.”

I thought…Oooo-kaaay.  That makes a little more sense.  Maybe this is a serial killer and the Prosecutor is familiar with his MO.

But this turns out not to be the case either… and yet people throughout the show continue to remark on the victim’s beauty.  One cop goes to his prostitute informant (who he apparently also likely beds and occasionally scores coke from) to see if she has heard anything that might help identify the victim.

Prostitute: Are you sure she was a prostitute?

Cop: No, she was a nun.

Prostitute:*laughs* You’re right.  If she wasn’t in the game it’s odd.  Especially the mutilation stuff.

So now it has been inferred not only that her beauty somehow precipitated her murder, but that being the victim of a horrific mutilation makes much more sense if you happen to be a working girl.  Having studied violent crime, I will allow that being a prostitute is considered to be a high risk factor in terms of one’s chances of becoming the victim of a violent crime.  There is a real correlation there.

However, in the general public’s view, (and regrettably, sometimes in law enforcement) there is also an implied and sometimes spoken assertion that a sex worker killed because of or during the course of her work somehow deserves her fate.  The fact that the prostitute/informant in this particular show would consider the mutilation of the victim “odd” if she wasn’t a sex worker seems downright inappropriate.  Again, is it simply that something has been lost in the translation from the original French dialogue?  Or maybe it is a calculated tactic by the script writers to infer how many women in “the game” feel, how they view their own self-worth?  Or maybe it’s exactly what it sounds like; an ignorant and flawed assumption that may be indicative a a larger problem, the way people view female victims of violent crimes?

I seem to remember the coroner in the autopsy scene similarly remarking on the savagery of the victim’s injuries and also linking it to her beauty.  He claims the attack to her face was postmortem and methodical.  He also posits that it was done not to hinder identification of the victim (as her hands and fingertips were left undamaged,) but rather out of some sort of spite for alleged beauty.

Again with the beauty?   

And then again, almost exactly halfway through this first episode, the coke snorting cop tells his colleagues that the neighbor claimed a certain person of interest was a “real beauty”, and that he would “let them know” when he saw her.

What?!  Why does this keep coming up?  I’d understand if they had some specific reason to believe in this situation that the victim’s beauty was an emotional catalyst for suspect, IF they had any information that backed up that theory– previous crimes possibly committed by the same offender, evidence collected from crimes scenes, a criminal profile… A person can be driven to fatal violence by many things.  Their victim may be the actual focus of their rage or they may be no more than a convenient surrogate, chosen for reasons that have nothing to do with aesthetics.  Furthermore, the mutilation of the face, especially done postmortem, could also be indicative of the perpetrator’s desire to “erase” the victim’s identity, not from a literal standpoint, but from an emotional perspective.  A person’s face, specifically their eyes, are often considered to be symbolic of their essence, representative of what makes them a real person in the eyes of the perpetrator.

Alas, the episode ends on a sort of cliff hanger, with the crime not yet solved.  I guess I’ll have to watch a few more episodes to determine whether the attitudes expressed towards the female victim in this episode are indicative of the overall flavor of the show.  I hope not. I found the frequent references to the victim’s appearance distracting and irrelevant.  Not to mention completely inappropriate.  Unless it turns out to be relevant to this particular plot line, I think I’d find those sort of repeated remarks too irritatingly misogynistic to continue to watch the show.

cast of Spiral

cast of Spiral

Related articles

North Korean Crime Stoppers

My hilarious blogger buddy, IG, at Political Incorrection (Phunny News) posted this story recently.  It’s short…take a quick peek… but to summarize, a North Korean Man was executed by firing squad for killing and eating his kids.

Despite the fact that this article is written in IG’s usual reporting style–that is, tongue-in-cheek (no pun intended)–  the quote from source material intimates that this is “not the first time the communist regime is believed to have punished residents who resorted to cannibalism in order to stay alive.”

So I guess the real question is if this man was punished for killing his children or for daring to defy is government.

That said, regardless of your feelings on communism, and the sad state of starvation that forces people to resort to cannibalism to live, you’ve got to admit that if the U.S. had a justice system this effective, our prison population would be a lot more manageable.  Even though there have been some studies that suggest the existence of capital punishment does not prevent or deter crime, I guarantee there’d be a lot less recidivism.

And let’s face it, especially given the epidemic of violence rampaging through the country, people who kill their own children (or any child ) deserve nothing less than swift justice and a preferably painful death.

Are You There, God?

When I was fifteen, I told my dad I didn’t want to go to church anymore.  I very calmly explained to him that it wasn’t right for me at that time in my life.  I never wanted to believe just because I was afraid not to, or because I was afraid of death.  (And believe me, I am afraid of death.)  I told him maybe one day– when I was ready– I would come back to the Church.  I tried to explain my well-thought-out reasoning to him maturely…

And then I told him if he tried to make me go, I’d stop coming to his house for visits on weekends.

Needless to say, I didn’t have to go to church anymore.  Maybe he understood…maybe I broke his heart a little.  But since that time I have been searching, in my own way, for the answers.

For some people it’s simple.  Some people were  raised with a faith that they never felt the need or desire to question.

Some people are so immersed in their faith that they literally can not conceive of someone doubting God’s existence; they use rote faith as proof… ie. “How can you look around at this beautiful world and not see God everywhere?”  Sort of  solipsistic, isn’t it?

And then there are those who insist that faith is about believing in the absence of evidence.  In other words, if you want to believe, you just believe.

I am none of these people. I have issues with organized religion.  I’d love to believe there is a God, but I’m not sure I 100% like the Catholic God I was raised with.  Or rather, the representation of him.  Many, many Christians interpret sections of the bible in ways which suit them, latching on to certain ideas, rejecting or ignoring others.  And then there is the question of how literal the bible is to be taken, and then how to interpret the contradicting ideas–

-Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live… but…

-Thou shalt not kill.

Only God is allowed to judge, yet we make judgments on our fellow man all the time, often based on our interpretation of “God’s word.”

Then there is the question of whose God is the “right” God.

Also, I have a very analytic mind.  My majors in school were Psychology and Sociology, so I tend to approach the idea of religion and faith in the context of those disciplines.

But all of that’s academic.  In other words, it’s not the real point of this post.

A couple of years ago, my husband and I went through a period of many losses.  Jobs, family members, a miscarriage, our home…  At four and a half months pregnant, hubby and I uprooted and moved 800 miles on three hours’ notice.  We were going through a very financially and emotionally stressing time, my husband’s unemployment at one point being held for three months (three months with NO income and a baby on the way,) and my mother and I were in the worst fight of our lives.  I actually worried the stress would harm my unborn baby.

My best friend, who is pretty much “born again,” only not in the annoying, bible-thumping way, urged me to come to church with her, and to put my trust in God and ask for his help.  So I tried.  I really did.  I prayed, although my praying was stunted because I constantly over-thought everything even AS I prayed.  I would tell God about my day, and then say, “But I guess you already knew all that…”  and then chide myself for presuming to guess what God may or may not know.  (Weird, I know, but I’m Obsessive-Compulsive, so what do you expect?) I found it hard to concentrate, and my mind would wander so I actually started keeping a prayer journal.  I also did go to church with my best friend.  My husband went once or twice, more to support me than out of any feelings of faith.

And the funny thing is…I actually did start to feel a measure of peace.

Fast-forward to after my daughter’s birth.  Like most new mothers probably, I was overwhelmed with emotions, chiefly deep love and deep, deep fear.  Becoming a mom changed me in many ways, some expected, some not…  One key difference is that I became infinitely more sensitive to media reports of violence against children.  Especially violence perpetrated by people the children are supposed to be able trust.  Like their parents.  The number of family annihilators, mothers murdering their infants, and children abused in horrific ways is staggering.  And it was weighing very heavily on my soul.

The point is, at that important juncture of my life, when I should have been the most thankful to God, when I should have looked to God the most for guidance and peace, I could not– can not– reconcile myself with the idea that a “loving god” would allow such horrors to happen to innocent children.  All the “God’s plan, mysterious ways, devil’s influence, sins of humans” platitudes in the world are not enough to make me alright with this.

It has been told to me more than once by people of faith that people in general tend to blame God when something bad happens, but often don’t give Him credit when things go their way.  My question is this; conversely, then, why is it okay to give Him credit for the good, but not look to Him for a damn good reason for the bad (especially something as bad a the murder of a child?)

I know it may sound like I am preaching here, but really I am just trying to sort out my thoughts, and please forgive me if this blog entry is very stream-of-consciousness or seems to ramble.

These are the things I think about when I lay awake in bed at night.

I would love to believe we are not alone in the universe, and when I try to pray at night I can almost feel like I might be talking to someone…  But when I step away from that isolated moment, I feel the sterile and empirical “alone-ness” of the human condition– that all life on this planet is the result of a coincidental series of optimal conditions.  That when we die, we cease to exist.  That there is no judgment for the wicked people who would harm their own babies, aside from that which we mete out here on earth (our “justice” could never be enough for these people, and some escape the law entirely.) That no amount of praying can protect my child.

eye of God

I keep telling myself– hoping to myself– that by the time my death approaches, hopefully after a long life filled with love, that I will have found the answers.  That I won’t be afraid anymore.  Now, as any good mother would, I care more for my child’s health, life, and happiness than my own anyway.  So I will continue to seek the answers, however passively, and hope that one day I will be at peace with whatever those answers are.

Maybe there is a God, but He is unlike anything written in the Quran, the Bible, or ancient mythologies.  Maybe he is an observer.  Maybe He is Love, or maybe He is completely ambivalent.  Maybe He is infinitely more complex and inscrutable than we could ever conceive with our piddly human minds.

The only thing I can know for sure is that I have to do the best I can with this life, and the best way I know to combat the fear I feel is to fight it with love.  I’ll make sure those dearest to me know how much I love them.

*This is an intensely personal entry for me.  In some way I can’t define, I am uncomfortable with it, and even now hesitate to click the “publish” button.  Maybe for that reason more than any other, I have to post this entry. 

depressing and vitriolic- you have been warned

I had a dream about Caylee Anthony the other night.  She was smiling, laughing.  At first she was in a car.  I think the car swerving around or something.  I don’t remember seeing who was driving.  But the little girl was still laughing and smiling, playing.  She didn’t know the car was out of control.   Continue reading