Showing posts with label bullying. Show all posts
Showing posts with label bullying. Show all posts

03 December 2018

Bullies II — Town Without Pity, part 2

by Leigh Lundin

Yesterday, we brought you part 1 of a devastating story. That horrible situation is about to grow considerably worse.

girl crying
Part 2, Therapist, anagram of ‘The Rapist’

The court ordered psychiatric evaluation and therapy sessions. There, Honey Barrette encountered horrendous professional misfeasance.

Realizing the girl’s worst fears, the shrink didn’t bother to mask disapproval and dislike. The fault, she said, was Honey’s. Attention-seeking, she said, manipulative, narcissistic, unconcerned about others. False rape accusations are a nasty problem. Honey, she said, would be lucky to avoid jail time or even prison, which the prosecutor wanted.

Then the court-appointed psychoanalyst twisted the knife in a way the original perpetrator couldn’t approach. She ordered the child to apologize in writing to her so-called victim, the rapist. She instructed the girl to write letters of apology to the police and hospital for wasting their time, to the newspaper for headline grabbing. The therapist had perfected the art of bullying.

Protestations from the Barrette family fell on deaf ears. They pointed out the perpetrator was of age and Honey was only fourteen. At the least, statutory rape had taken place.

No, said the psychiatrist. No, said the police. No, said the prosecutor. The poor man had suffered enough.

Making the most of public shaming, newspapers printed the apology. One paper used the case to highlight attention-grabbing teens. The state’s premier, syndicated newspaper wrote a piece about false rape. It featured the psychiatrist’s assessment of the Honey Barrette case. It’s unclear if the shrink went on to publish it in an academic article.

School descended into a deeper nightmare than before. A delighted, self-righteous Alexis and her gang ruthlessly tortured Honey. The rapist’s best friend Colt organized insidious torments. Students stuffed Honey’s locker full of newspaper clippings. They elbowed, kneed, tripped, slapped, punched, and fucked over their classmate without mercy. Teachers failed to halt the unending hammering assault upon a 14-year-old child.

A numb, despondent Honey felt her life had ended before it’d begun. Dropping out of school made problems worse. She became pregnant by an abusive guy who resolved the pregnancy problem by slamming a 2x4 into her stomach, causing a miscarriage. Honey was falling faster than anyone could stop.

She prized one asset, her family. Parents and grandparents gathered around her. The packed up their precious girl and moved across the country.

It took their damaged daughter years, but she found her way back on track, a testament to her inner strength when it’s amazing she survived at all. She turned a sense of humor dry as the desert sands into a survival skill. She obtained her GED and undertook nursing studies.

Honey Today

She sticks close to family and a couple of close friends. Betrayal and horrible treatment at the hands of others has compromised her ability to find a decent man and forge a loving relationship, but she’s working on it. She’ll do it.

Recently she’s been awarded a well-earned promotion. Hard work and responsibility moved her up the ladder professionally. She started at ground level and worked her way up to management, now number three in line from the top. Any company would be lucky to employ her.

Living well is the best revenge, and Honey Barrette makes every effort to make that happen.

Afterword

The actions of the psychiatrist horrified me, a medical professional convinced of one’s own infallibility. Because of her evaluation, authorities forewent a slam-dunk case of statutory rape. Even if the judgmental shrink didn’t believe the girl, she should have considered the tiniest possibility rape could have happened, given the child the minutest benefit of the doubt, and not forced her to write those letters.

After Honey related her story, I spoke with her mother who filled in a couple of details.

Long after the court-ordered psychiatric sessions, the Barrette parents sat down with the court’s appointee to discuss issues. Too late to retract her words and reverse the fates, the psychiatrist revealed she’d misinterpreted the girl’s hostility toward her. She’d belatedly come to believe Honey and further concluded her rapist should have been prosecuted.

The shrink would have done well to remember the words of Omar Khayyám:
The Moving Finger writes and having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.
Honey at least, is beating the odds.



NB: Except for a single reference to the rapist, I've avoided the word ‘victim’. Honey didn’t use the term and I followed suit.

02 December 2018

Bullies II — Town Without Pity, part 1

by Leigh Lundin

As I was writing Bullies Part I, my dear, dear friend told me her story. I feel humbled she shared it with me and has given me permission to share it with you. Like the original Bullies article, the names have been changed as a condition of publication.

girl crying
Part 1, A Town Without Pity

In middle school it started verbally, the wrong shoes, a lack of designer labels, boobs that were taking their sweet time to present. Honey Barrette was only fourteen, a waif, a wisp, small for Bad River Junior High.

Classmate Alexis, oversized in attitude and altitude, had been held back a grade, then held back again. She wasn’t stupid. She’d mastered a cruel vocabulary of peculiar biology beyond the ken of 7th and 8th graders, phrases to gobsmack an adult.

Honey did her best to avoid her in the eddies of students swirling through the halls, but Alexis glided the currents like a shark. A head taller than her classmates, she sought prey unerringly, She found little Honey Barrette easy pickings and confronted her.

“What you staring at, slut?”

“Uh, nothing. You lunged into me.”

“Retard, you grabbed my jacket, bitch.”

“I-I didn’t.”

“You calling me a liar?”

“N-no. I was calling you mistaken.”

Alexis stabbed the girl’s chest with a hard finger.

“You’re the mistake. Christ, I had more tits when I was two. What’s with this sweater? Is this a fashion statement from your granny?”

“You two, break it up.” The hall monitor approached. “Alexis, get to class. You, whats-your-name, move it. Don’t cause trouble with Alexis.”

The bully honed her hunting instinct to a science, cutting victims out of the herd like a rodeo cowboy, especially Honey. She upped the ante in violence, secretive judo chops, rabbit punches to Honey’s kidney, slams and slaps to the back of the head.

“What’s the matter, little twat? You gonna cry? Want your mommy? Jesus, I can’t stand touching… what do you call them? Clothes? You never heard of Tommy Hilfiger? You steal them from Goodwill?”

The biggest girl in the class escalated to hair grabbing and tripping, hard shoves, hard punches, hard nipple yanks. One morning Honey couldn’t take it. She lashed back, throwing the bigger girl into the lockers. Naturally the hall monitor spotted them.

“You two, stop. Whats-your-name, you’re on report. Alexis, you’re suspended for the day.”

“Great. I can catch up on General Hospital, which is where this little bitch is headed.”

Seeking protection, Honey began to hang out with older kids from Bad River High School. They acted more mature and less mean. One hanger-on was no longer a student. Dick was a bit older. High school students looked up to him, a cool guy. Dick grew interested in the group’s youngest, Honey.

Later the Barrette family determined Dick must have stalked her, learned Honey’s schedule and route home from school, and found a lair to stage an assault.

The rape wasn’t spur-of-the-moment, it wasn’t accidental. It came as a blatant, broad-daylight attack in the middle of town. One afternoon Dick walked with her, then lured her into a copse beside the courthouse.

When Honey realized his full intentions, she fought back, but his height, weight, and strength dwarfed hers. Afterwards, he threatened to kill her and her family should she tell. With that, he abandoned her.

Honey gathered her wits and her clothes. She stumbled toward home, crying.

En route, a woman sat on her veranda, rocking, looking out upon the world. She noticed a slight girl hopelessly sobbing.

“My dear, what’s wrong? Come, come here so I can see you.” She drew the young one to the porch. “Dear, why are you crying so hard?”

Honey didn’t want to talk, she merely wanted home with her family. When the woman pressed her, Honey improvised the first of a series of devastating, spur-of-the-moment lies.

“Nothing’s wrong. I’m late, missing my curfew. That’s all.”

“My child, yours aren’t tears of a girl missing curfew. Your shoulders are shaking like… What’s that on your back? Is that blood? How did that happen? Oh my, oh my. I’m calling an ambulance.”

As they waited for paramedics, the woman, no mean amateur detective, drew the essentials from the girl’s trembling lips. Honey admitted she’d been raped, but refused to name her attacker.

By big city standards, Major Hospital was minor, but for three quarters of a century, it had served rural residents in three counties. They were expanding their facility and the small physician group, but the Women’s Health Center wouldn’t be completed for another two years. Whether the staff was trained in rape analysis isn’t clear, but they couldn’t state with certainty Honey had been sexually assaulted. They treated scratches and bruises separately before releasing her to reluctantly talk to police.

With Dick’s threats ringing in her ears, the last thing she wanted was to speak with authorities. She simply wanted to go home where it was safe, where she could curl up with a blanket over her head.

Not wanting to get anyone in trouble, she made up a pretend name for the rapist. The police ran with it, unsurprisingly not finding a perpetrator. Eventually, they figured out the real rapist and questioned him.

Naturally, Dick denied assaulting her. He opted for the consensual sex fiction, claiming she was all in and all over him. Afterwards, he implied, she suffered buyer’s remorse.

Life was about to grow far worse. She’d been raped by an amateur; now she was about to be gutted by a professional.

Tomorrow: The rapist, anagram of Therapist

18 November 2018

Bullies I — Blood on the Hands

by Leigh Lundin

trenchcoat mafia
Long ago, Criminal Brief and more recently SleuthSayers discussed bullies and the havoc their trail of tears wreak. I was weighing national stories that made the news, when I stumbled upon terrible, untold instances of bullying of people close to me, stories that never made the light of day.

Virtually all states now carry explicit laws that can be construed as anti-bullying. Most also require school policies of one sort or another. A majority of states outright outlaw cyberbullying and more than a dozen states criminalize other aspects of child bullying.

Denial of the problem has become harder to defend as are the ‘right of passage’ claims, Darwinist ‘It toughens you if it doesn’t kill you’ theory, and the related aphorism, ‘We survived, what’s wrong with you?’ A pocket of Central Northwest States– Montana and the Dakotas, have lagged behind the rest of the country, but the notion it’s strictly a political issue is fading in the realization that bullying policies and legislation can save lives.

Up Close and Personal

Nearly as bad as bullying is the imputation targets are cowards. Taller, older, more massive tormentors typically travel in packs. The unspoken irony of intimidation reduces to one question:
How cowardly is a gang of bigger, thicker, towering bullies compared to a victim a fraction of their size?
Today I bring you a unique sketch of an abused kid about to blaze headlines in all the wrong ways.

One Less School Shooter
trenchcoat mafia
Focus… focus…

Hoss.

Ogre.

No bombs, no Columbine.

Marty’s not furious with the whole school, just the tormentors, big bastards they. The boy folds an air rifle under his trenchcoat followed by a machete.

The knot in his gut, not anger, not rage, but agony and despair, accretions packed and rolled like an iceball. Layer by layer, it’s basted like a poisonous black pearl. Like rings in a tree trunk– that one the kick that dropped him to his knees, here the slug that blackened his left eye, there the kidney punch that left him gasping on the restroom floor.

Him or them, he feels no choice, survival, he can take no more.

Book bag, glasses, look normal. Nothing to see here folks, move along. No parents on deck, no one sees him leave the house, no folks kiss him good morning and goodbye. No mother, no father spots the bulges under his duster. Win or lose, on his own, it comes down to him.

School hall. The boy nods to his two friends in the world, Chip, Dale, never mind the jokes. At the lockers, they try to converse, small talk, trash talk– girls, cars, sports, rat prick jocks, Old Lady Tucker’s Eng lit class, screw it, and damn, the girl with the cute butt– she’s hot.

Not today, please, Marty’s not having it. Not rude, but distracted, focused, Marty blows them off, intent on the task at hand. He touches the blade under his coat, confidence, he’s not powerless now.

The big one, Ogre, strides down the hall. Him, bring him down first, element of surprise. The machete, cut him down to size, sever hamstrings, drop him to his knees, on his god damn knees like he forced Marty half his size. Cut his throat, hack, sever, decapitate, slice ‘n’ dice the ’tard.

Then Hoss, he stares at the rifle, sunken barrel shotgun wide, doesn’t grasp it’s only a .177, the calibre growing bigger along with his eyes. Control him at a distance, once up close, the machete, sabre slash, hack the cretin, moments count before Marty’s arrested or killed by cops, the Hoss won’t die, damn him, épée stab, cutlass kill.

Then police. Weapons down. He’s not upset with cops. Prosecutors try him as an adult, maybe life, sick-o but not too mental for the death penalty, say authorities, send a message, say authorities… violence won’t be tolerated in schools.

Except for bullies.
If he couldn’t save himself, maybe he could save others. That’s how Marty planned it a hundred times. ‘Ideate’ shrinks called it.

The boy meticulously worked his way through the first few steps, but he hadn’t counted on friends he could count on. Dale spotted the rifle under his coat, then the machete.

“Oh shit. Chip! Grab him.”

They hustled Marty into the restroom, kicked open doors to make sure they’re alone. They refused to let go of their friend. Machete, then rifle, they disarmed him.

“Marty, what the hell are you thinking?” asked Chip.

Dale said, “I know what you’re up to and it’s not going to work.”

“Leave me alone. Let me go, let me at them. Now or never, I can’t take one minute more.”

Chip leaned close. “Your head’s not on straight, man. You can’t win this, not this way.”

“Listen to us,” Dale said. “Their karma will come, but you can’t bring it on.”

“No, I…”

“Marty, you idiot. You think prison’s any better? Eternity with Bubba Butts and the lifers? Forget it, man.”

Gradually his friends coached the kid back to reality. They hurried him away, smuggling the weapons out, aware they’d helped Marty and the bullies dodge a bullet.

Over time as Marty grew muscular, bullies backed off. The boy and his friends graduated. He worked hard, often teaching himself. He married a wonderful woman, fathered three kids, children now much older than he was that long ago day. He put into practice the best revenge– living well.

Years after the near-fatal confrontation, he heard his name called in a store. Instantly he recognized Ogre. Marty’s nails bit into the palms of his hand. The pain, the anger, the frustration came rushing back.

“Marty? Hey, how are you doing? Where are you working? You married now?” Ogre hesitated. “Listen, man. I’m sorry for treating you like crap. We took things too far, I was an ass. I’m sorry, so damn sorry.”

Thoughts jousted– old hurt, torments, and anger, and yet Ogre had the guts to apologize. He hadn’t expected that. He nodded.

“Marty, I heard a rumor.”

“Yeah?”

“I, uh, heard you planned to kill me. Is that true?”

Marty nodded. “Absolutely planned to. I would have done it, if I hadn’t been stopped at the last moment.”

“Oh Jesus. I never realized how much I hurt you. Christ, I feel awful what we did to you. I’m sorry, really, really sorry.”

Marty accepted his apology. He understood he had one asset other school shooters didn’t have– two best friends.

Lifelong friends, you don’t forget an experience like that. Decades later, the boys still get together, shoot the breeze– girls, cars, sports, rat-prick jocks. Not the girl with the cute butt… Marty married her.

The boys, they chat and sometimes pontificate, but they never talk about the day they stopped a school killing.

06 July 2017

Hybristophilia, or How Erik Menendez Got A Girl in Prison

by Eve Fisher

A while back, I was sitting in the chow hall at the pen, talking with a young (early 20s) prisoner who was having relationship problems.  You see, he'd gotten involved with a woman through the mail.  A literal pen-pal.  Nice woman.  Little older than him, but still hot.  And she really liked him.  A month after their first face-to-face visit, she moved to the area so she could see him every week.  Two months later, and she wanted to get married.  Like in a couple of weeks.  He was really flattered, but he was also really kind of freaked out, because things were happening so fast, and what did I think?  I told him "DON'T DO IT!"  Then I brought in another of our outside volunteers, a father-figure to the guys, who heard the story and also said, "DON'T DO IT!"

Hybristophilia is defined as a sexual fixation on "a partner known to have committed an outrage, cheating, lying, known infidelities or crime, such as rape, murder, or armed robbery." All right, Wikipedia says its a sexual perversion, but you tell that to the people who are into it.  Plus, there's not a lot of actual sex involved.

(Maximum-security prisons don't allow conjugal visits.  Nor do federal prisons of any level.  And only four states - California, Connecticut, New York, and Washington allow conjugal visits in lesser-security prisons.)

And God knows there's not a lot of money involved, either.  If anything, money is generally going to flow from the outsider to the prisoner.  Money to help pay for the prisoner's phone time, stamps, commissary, odds and ends...  In fact, and forgive me for bursting anyone's bubble out there, but one of the main reasons that a lot of prisoners write to outsiders in a friendly to ever-increasing romantic vein is specifically to get money.  And they're often very successful.
BTW, prisoners also write attorneys, of course, to get help, and they send judges either bogus lawsuits or outright threats.  I remember at the courthouse, whenever something from the pen arrived for the judge, we'd all gather around - judge, court reporter, myself (circuit administrator), state's attorney, bailiff, etc. - and read the latest idiocy.  My favorite was a lawsuit demanding that the sheriff depose each and every officer of the court for high crimes and misdemeanors, listing everyone by name.  Except the judge. Finally, at the very end, there was a little handwritten note saying, "____, sorry I forgot you, asshole!"  You've got to be fairly stupid to send out stuff like that, not to mention "I'm going to take a shotgun to your head" to a judge, when your full name, prisoner number, and cell number is on the envelope...  
So, no sex, no money - why would someone get involved with a prisoner?  Why would someone write love letters to a total stranger?  Want to date them, through a glass/mesh screen?  Want to marry them in the visitors' room?  ???

Well, in some cases, there's the fame factor.  For those who write/wrote to Charles Manson, Ted Bundy, the Menendez brothers, Jeffrey Dahmer, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, part of the charm, apparently, is getting in on the modern obsession with celebrity.  No, it doesn't matter how horrendous the person is, or how heinous their acts, by God if they're famous, they're a celebrity, and by becoming their girlfriend/boyfriend, you become a celebrity, too!  You might get in on the media spotlight, get a book deal, a movie deal, or the body!

CharlesManson2014.jpg
Charles Manson in 2014
  • NOTE:  Not kidding about the body.  Did you know that, in 2015, at 80 years old, Charles Manson cancelled his upcoming penitentiary wedding to 27-year old Afton Elaine Burton, now known as Star, because he found out she was hoping that, after he died, she'd get his corpse, put it on display in a glass case in LA, and charge people to see it?  (Charles Manson has always been a little smarter and saner than he looks.)
  • DOUBLE NOTE:  With regard to my last blog-post, Bullying 101, where I talked about Rush Limbaugh (and others) objecting to Michelle Carter being convicted of manslaughter for texting her boyfriend to suicide, saying that it's a violation of the First Amendment to "start penalizing people for things they say or things that they think, but don’t actually do":  Let's all remember that Charles Manson got life in prison without parole, for exactly what he said, and nothing that he did.  He was nowhere near either of the murder scenes.  So far, I haven't heard anyone objecting to his sentencing...

Anyway, back to reasons why people want to write to, date, have sex (or not) with, and/or marry prisoners.  According to Katherine Ramsland, professor of forensic psychology at DeSales University,
  • "Some believe they can change a man as cruel and powerful as a serial killer."
  • "Others 'see' the little boy that the killer once was and seek to nurture him."
  • "Then there's the notion of the 'perfect boyfriend'. She knows where he is at all times and she knows he's thinking about her. While she can claim that someone loves her, she does not have to endure the day-to-day issues involved in most relationships. There’s no laundry to do, no cooking for him, and no accountability to him. She can keep the fantasy charged up for a long time."   (Wikipedia)
Image result for goldfinger novelBTW, men also write to female prisoners.  I think many of them are also looking for the perfect girlfriend, who requires nothing (but a little money).  I also think that some of them are looking for a future drug mule or sex slave, and a female prison is a good place to recruit:  many female prisoners have already been so abandoned, abused, in every sense of the word, and so many of them have father issues, self-image issues, etc., that they are willing to do just about anything for anyone who seems to care for them.

Of course, there's also the occasional female serial killer, like Aileen Wuornos, who would be perfect for the man who wanted to tell himself that he can nurture the little girl she once was, and/or wants to see if he can change the serial killer the way James Bond changed Pussy Galore on the last page of "Goldfinger". (Even at twelve years old, I knew that was nothing but Ian Fleming's fantasy...)

Meanwhile, I talk to guys up here in South Dakota who are in their 20s and already have anywhere from two to nine children by two or three or four different women, and now have a girlfriend they met while in the pen.  They don't even begin to grasp how much trouble they're in even before they get out.  I understand why they keep having sex whenever they can - it's fun, free, and so far isn't illegal - but why won't they use condoms?  How are they going to support all those children?  How are they going to pay child support, make court-ordered restitution, and pay bills when they'll be lucky to get a minimum-wage job?  Sigh...

Not that our hybristophiliacs necessarily have any idea of the prior commitments their new prison romance has.  After all, it's the rare prisoner who's going to cough up things like ex-wives, current wives, children, and any other financial obligations or debts.  Or their personality flaws.  Or the truth about their crime(s)...   Hybristophilia is somewhere between kinky romance and lion-taming.  Either way, it's dangerous.  Either way, it's unreal.  (You don't really know someone until you've actually lived with them, and even then it helps if you've been together through a bad vacation complete with rain, food poisoning, broken-down car, and a fleabag motel with no heat.)  Yes, there are exceptions, where two people genuinely connect through letters and visits; where the prisoner eventually gets out, and they do marry/live together and it all works out.  Two points:  (1) These are very rare.  (2) None of these have been with serial killers.

But the fantasy lives on.



22 June 2017

Bullying 101

by Eve Fisher

DISCLAIMER: Almost 40 years ago, a dear friend of mine
committed suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning in his running vehicle.
I claim no objectivity in what follows.

Earlier this week, Leigh Lundin posted The Wickedest Woman in the World, a great blog post about the Michelle Carter case. A lot of us chimed in. During the discussions, I agreed that an article about Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome would be valuable, along with a little thing on hybristophilia, but later, later, later… And I will. But after I listened, briefly, to Rush Limbaugh (I try to keep an ear on what the self-proclaimed Doctor of Democracy is up to) and got ticked off, I've decided that the REAL description of Ms. Carter's behavior is bullying.

You see, Rush was defending Michelle Carter, saying that the case against her is nothing but liberal BS, because liberals don't believe in free speech (oh, Rush, if you only knew!). He said, "this woman, Michelle Carter, she may be just downright mean. She may have no heart. She may just be brutal, getting on the phone and telling this guy to kill himself, ’cause he said he was going to, and if he doesn’t now he’s a coward and whatever. But she didn’t kill him. And yet so many people are coming along thinking he didn’t do, he’s a victim, she did it. This is 180 degrees out of phase. If we’re gonna start penalizing people for things they say or things that they think, but don’t actually do — now, I know what some of you think. “But, Rush, you just got through saying that the Democrats turned this Hodgkinson guy into a lunatic.” I do believe that. But..." (See full Transcript for more of the typical Rush twist on how it's different when…)

Well, first off, sorry, Rush, but we already penalize people for things they say. We have freedom of speech, not freedom from consequences of said speech. But more on that later.

Secondly, what Rush presented was the standard bully's defense:
  • "I didn't MAKE them do anything."
  • "It's THEIR fault if they can't take a joke."
  • "Can I help it if they're a loser?"
  • "I didn't do anything wrong."
  • "Hey, 'sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me'. So what's the problem?"
Okay, show of hands, how many people out there have ever been bullied? How many felt helpless? How many felt afraid?

Scut Farkus
Scut Farkus
Let's use Scut Farkus (of "A Christmas Story") as an example: Scut had all the neighborhood boys terrorized to the point that, when he came up and yelled at them "Come here!" they came. No, he didn't lasso them or hold a gun, he just yelled and they did it. And there's at least one scene where a boy turns around and gives him his arm to twist. They were thoroughly cowed.

But it can get infinitely worse than that.

When we first moved up to South Dakota, I subbed at the high school for a while, and a student there committed suicide because of the constant, non-stop bullying that he received. That was before internet and cellphones. Google bullying and suicide and see the number of hits you come up with. And cyber-bullying, with teens and adolescents, is pushing the number of suicides up.

According to PEW research on teens and cellphones, one in three teens sends 100 text messages a day. 15% send 200 text messages a day. And a certain percentage of that is cyber-bullying. And a certain percentage of that leads to suicides. Michelle Carter exchanged over 1000 text messages with Conrad Roy, encouraging him, telling him, badgering him to commit suicide. What makes it worse is that she knew that he had attempted suicide already, back in 2012, and that he was battling anxiety and depression. After learning that he was planning to kill himself she repeatedly discouraged him from committing suicide in 2012 and 2014 and encouraged him to "get professional help". But then her attitude changed and in July 2014, she started thinking that it would be a "good thing to help him die" (Wikipedia) Thus the 1000 text messages. That's cyber-bullying, and it worked. She even admitted it, in an infamous text to a friend - “I was on the phone with him and he got out of the [truck] because it was working and he got scared and I f***ing told him to get back in."

And why did Michelle Carter want Conrad Roy dead? Because she wanted to receive the sympathy of her classmates as the grieving girlfriend, who only wanted the best for her boyfriend, and the best was that he die.
Defense attorney Joseph Cataldo talks to Michelle Carter in court.
Michelle Carter - from CNN,
"Text Messages Michelle Carter Used
How many of you have been or have known the victim of domestic abuse? There's often more verbal than physical, because it's all about control. Here are some of the many signs of domestic abuse, a/k/a bullying (from the Domestic Violence and Abuse Checklist.):

Does the abuser:
  • humiliate or yell at you?
  • criticize you and put you down?
  • treat you so badly that you’re embarrassed for your friends or family to see?
  • ignore or put down your opinions or accomplishments?
  • blame you for their own abusive behavior?
  • see you as property or a sex object, rather than as a person?
  • act excessively jealous and possessive?
  • control where you go or what you do?
  • keep you from seeing your friends or family?
  • limit your access to money, the phone, or the car?
  • constantly check up on you?
Notice that I did not include any physically violent act. All of the above are verbal, emotional abuse; and they're enough to leave the victim answering "yes" to, Do you:
Ingrid Bergman in "Gaslight"
  • feel afraid of your partner much of the time?
  • avoid certain topics out of fear of angering your partner?
  • feel that you can’t do anything right for your partner?
  • believe that you deserve to be hurt or mistreated?
  • wonder if you’re the one who is crazy?
  • feel emotionally numb or helpless?
Domestic abuse is bullying, carried on into adulthood. There's a direct link between bullying in childhood and domestic abuse in adulthood (Psychiatry Online): "Men who had bullied schoolmates once in a while were twice as likely to have engaged in violence against a female partner within the previous year as were men who said they had never bullied their school peers. And men who had admitted bullying frequently in school were four times as likely to have done so as were men who had never bullied in school."

On top of that, there's a direct link between domestic abuse and mass shootings (see here and here, too.) Because bullying is all about control and fear. Domestic abuse is all about control and fear. Mass shooting is all about control and fear.

Okay, that was quite a long and winding road. And not every bully, cyber-bully, or just narcissist is going to end up a mass shooter. But I noticed this in the Wikipedia article cited above: This decision "could set legal precedent for whether it's a crime to tell someone to commit suicide." My response?

I CERTAINLY HOPE SO.

Why wouldn't it be a crime to tell someone to kill themselves? Why wouldn't it be a crime to gaslight a person? Why wouldn't it be a crime to do your best to INCREASE someone's mental illness? Or to use their mental illness to your advantage?

Here's the deal, Rush and followers: I believe 100% in free speech. You can say anything you please, anywhere, any time. But I also believe that free speech has consequences. After all,
  • If you yell "FIRE!" in a crowded theater, you're liable for the results.
  • If you threaten the President's life, you're going to get a visit from the Secret Service.
So why, if you badger someone who's battling depression and mental illness with over 1000 texts telling them to kill themselves, and they do it, why wouldn't you be culpable?
Of course, the bullies would totally disagree: to a bully, all the consequences flow one way, onto the victim, who is solely responsible for what happens to her/him. And so we have Michelle Carter, new icon of free speech, who told her boyfriend to "get back in the f*****g truck" so that she could go cry about his death to her friends.

Next time, Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome and hybristophilia, or why Erik Menendez has a wife.

17 March 2016

Punching Down

by Eve Fisher

Back on March 3, 2016, Fred Clark posted  "Some People Punch Down When They're Scared" on his blog site, Slacktivist, citing an article on the rise of American authoritarianism.  Mr. Clark's quick summation:
"1. Some people punch down when they are frightened.
"2. The kind of people who punch down when they are frightened are also more likely to be frightened more often.
"In short, they are afraid... The problem with authoritarianism is not that 'fear leads to anger,' but that — for authoritarians — fear leads to misdirected anger. When such people fear being crushed from above, they respond by punching down — lashing out at others who have nothing to do with the causes of their fear."  
Dog is yanked into the air by owner
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/
article-1321461/
Help-catch-dog-baiting-thug.html
My personal experience is that it's not just authoritarians, but people, as a whole, who almost always punch down when scared. That's why we have the proverbial "kicking the dog", or "hitting the kid", or "punching the wife", not to mention "deporting the immigrants", or "lynching the black guy", or "rounding up the Jews". Because it's so much easier to punch down, and/or blame everyone around you, and below you, for your troubles, than to actually work up the guts to deal with the people who are screwing you senseless. Because they might do more than screw you senseless.  They might do worse.  Infinitely worse.  Whereas those who are below you will whimper and whine and slink away and cry... but probably won't hit back, because they're like you, and when the time comes, they'll punch DOWN.

File:A large monkey dressed in rags is about to beat a smaller mo Wellcome V0023060.jpg
http://wellcomeimages.org/indexplus/obf_images/67/fd/b76d22ccd12fab39914fed05e264.jpg

Now to me, that last paragraph is the essence of "original sin". The fact that we will hurt someone weaker than ourselves rather than risk challenging the fat bastard above us. That we allow fear - which is a natural, normal emotion / reaction to the apparently endless screwed up things that go on on this planet - to turn into cowardice, rather than courage, and we stay silent, rigid, waiting for it all to go away.  (I know:  I spent a lot of time as a child and even as a teenager silent, rigid, waiting for it all to go away.  And I can tell you that it doesn't.)

And, when we can't stand it any more, too many of us punch down:

Domestic abuse?  Check.

Bullying?  Check.

Rape?  Check.  (For those of you who don't know, rape is never about actually being desirous of making love to someone; it's about fear and power and rage.)

Assault?  Probably more than we think.  Back in May of 2012, in my fourth post for SleuthSayers, I wrote about something that happened to me:  a guy got in a fight with his wife, stormed out, and nearly rammed me, head-on, with his car. When he was arrested (yes, I turned it in), he said he was pissed off at his wife and just wanted to scare me.  He was punching down.

http://www.ksfy.com/home/headlines/
Police-investigating-attempted-
casino-robbery-in-Sioux-Falls-301524151.html
Theft?  Maybe.  At least sometimes.  Because while Robin Hood stole from the rich, most petty criminals steal from the poor:  the corner casino (which is barely one step up from a dive bar, with a cowering night-manager who needs that job to help pay the bills), or the local magic mart (see the cowering night-manager again), or the local whatever. There may indeed be jewel thieves on the level of the Pink Panther out there, but most thefts reported on the TV (like this casino robbery) are poor people holding up other poor people, and that's punching down.

Murder?  Fairly often.  I'd bet that most murderers kill someone less powerful than they are.  Even when they are truly angry at their boss, it's usually someone else who gets killed:  their spouse, their children, co-workers, a delivery guy, etc.  Serial killers always go for the weak and vulnerable.  And mass shooters shoot whoever's there:  schoolmates, students, the occasional teacher, people sitting in theaters, in restaurants, and anyone else in the line of fire.
(Really interesting FBI Chart here:  Homicides by Relationship.  All I can say is that there's a whole lot of arguing going on.  And a lot for which no reason is known.)
(Old Richard Pryor joke:  he did he a gig at the pen, and had lunch with the guys. Asked one guy what he was in for:  "I killed nine people."  "Why did you do that?"  "Because they was home.")
BTW, this, I believe, is the reason why murder mysteries are universally popular: as Dorothy Sayers once said, "they put before the public a world the way it ought to be, and kept alive a dream of justice."  (p. 90, A Presumption of Death by Jill Paton Walsh and Dorothy L. Sayers.)

Anyway, back to reality.  "When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child, but when I became a man, I put away childish things."  Not hardly.  The almost immediate childish response to "Did you do this?" is to blame the dog, the cat, the invisible friend, and, of course, any siblings.  (Punching down.)  It takes a long, long time to learn how to take the consequences of your actions, and some people never do.  There are those who do everything they can to avoid all consequences until their dying day:  blame, lie, deny, hide, run, forget, ignore, and generally wail about the unfairness of the universe, life, and everyone around them.  And that's not just in the pen or in politics, in both of which blame gets passed around like bombs.  The thing is, it changes nothing:  they're still afraid, they're still running away from the truth, and (chances are) they have more enemies (real and imagined) than ever, including themselves.  And they're still punching down, even when all they're hitting is themselves.

But you can also punch up.

Punching up doesn't mean you have to go out and become Batman, or Nelson Mandela, or Dorothy Day.  It doesn't mean you have to take on every fight for the downtrodden (but God bless you if you do).  But there are other ways to punch up:  Eleanor Roosevelt, Lady Gaga, Oprah Winfrey, Maya Angelou, Rudyard Kipling, George Orwell, Beethoven, Pat Conroy, and many others, throughout history, have taken amazing levels of abuse, of all kinds and transformed it and themselves into something enriching, for themselves and others.

Anna Eleanor Roosevelt.png    Portrait by Joseph Karl Stieler, 1820    

Here's a little secret:  Fear is normal.  The only people who are never afraid are Vulcans.  Fear is an emotion, and the non-Vulcans among us will experience it regularly until we die, and perhaps beyond that.  It's what we do with fear - and it is our choice - that counts.  What we do with fear becomes the action of cowardice or courage.  Our choice.  That's one of the things we try to teach in Alternatives to Violence Project - because once you know that you can choose how to react, you're free.  That still doesn't mean people will always do the right thing:  that's another choice.  But at least they have it. And maybe, they can start punching up.






PS - Some people have been kind enough to ask about our South Dakota corruption scandals, EB-5 and Gear Up.  Believe me, when I get some news, I'll update everyone.