Archive for the ‘The Evil Men Do’ Category

Yikes! IV

Tuesday, March 6th, 2007

I think if you send a kitten to your ex-girlfriend, you should do it all at once. In one piece. But that’s just me.

A man accused of mailing the severed head of a kitten to his ex-girlfriend was ordered to stand trial on stalking and animal-cruelty charges.

Benjamin Gregory, 30, of Pittsburgh, allegedly sent the gift-wrapped package in January because he was unhappy that the relationship had ended, police said. His ex-girlfriend is an attorney who volunteers at animal shelters.

For The Anti-Death-Penalty Types IX

Friday, February 16th, 2007

Mmmkay, one more time just to re-instill that sense of perspective. The New York Times reported on the Abu Ghraib prison scandal on Page A-1 above the fold, 34 times over 37 days. They did it 32 days in a row. Our oh-so-objective and oh-so-unbiased free press at work there…not in the business of telling you what to think, nosiree.

How many times in the days ahead will you see a mention of this

Two women are accused of soaking a homeless, drug-addicted prostitute with gasoline and burning her to death after she reported that one of them had robbed her.
On January 11, [Mia] Sagote allegedly slammed [Leslie “Jill”] May into a wall, threw her down and punched her because she had not collected a $150 debt from May’s boyfriend, police said. Witnesses said they saw Sagote drag May behind a trash container later that day, strip her clothes off and take her cash.

May reported the crime the next day. After Sagote found out, she and [Leslie] Siliga forced May into a car; the two women stopped to buy gasoline, then drove to the parking lot of the stadium where the San Francisco 49ers play and set her ablaze, police said.

We won’t be hearing about this thirty-two days in a row. Trust me on that one.

Let’s explore for a few paragraphs why I think this is the case.

See, I have this theory about journalists. They become journalists in the first place, because they want the world to be better. They want to become reporters for the same reason Clark Kent did…except they don’t have any spandex on under their clothes and they can’t fly. They don’t want to be liberals, they just want to make things better.

Make things better, by telling The People what’s going on, so we can make better decisions. Perfectly logical.

But then they start to think differently from “real” people. And when they realize that, this weird relativity sets in. They think the people on the outside, are the ones with a different mindset. Like when a large boat shoves off from a dock, it seems like the dock is moving; just like that. They become separate from us. And they know it. But they think the non-journalists are the ones who’ve changed, while they have stayed the same. Relativity at work.

Why do they start to think differently?

Part of it is they are inclined to, because of artificial selection. This is something Rush Limbaugh has talked about, and I think he’s got a great point here. They became journalists to make the world better; if you are conservative-minded, you don’t imagine journalism as having a lot to do with making the world better. It is simply a profession where things are seen as they really are. If you want to make the world better, you should go into something where you have the authority to change things. So…by the process of selective induction, journalism leans left as more new journalists are recruited into it.

The other part of it is something I’ve not heard Rush or anyone else discuss too much. It’s an artificial sense of danger. Journalists are the source of our information, and on occasion they persevere through imminent danger to life and limb in order to fulfill that role. Now, I don’t know how often they do this — maybe they’re all a bunch of adrenaline junkies traipsing through Baghdad, or maybe the embedding-with-infantry thing is an occasional thing that very few of them do, and only rarely. I don’t know the answer to that, and it really doesn’t much matter. The point is, there are some hardships to be endured — or the illusion of hardships. Or some combination of form and substance of hardship. And this leads the person who learns information, to the conclusion that his version of information is the best version of information. If he brings that information to someone else, and that someone-else comes to a different conclusion, then something must have been lost in the translation. After all, the first-hand information guy is the one enduring hardship, he must know best.

It’s easy to see the appeal of that logic. And yet…if it held, every time our elections came around our journalists and our cops would be pushing the same candidates and initiatives. Cops are exposed to danger much more often than the rest of us, too. And yet, it doesn’t happen that way. Whenever the police and the newspapers push the same candidates, you’re not hearing from the “police,” you’re hearing from the police unions. I’ve been following this for a few years. The pattern holds. Cops back conservative candidates, cops’ unions back liberal ones…and the journalists go with the liberal candidates.

So either our journalists are exposed to a different brand of danger, or else they’re not exposed to danger at all…or else, if they’re exposed to the same danger the cops get to face every day, that danger doesn’t have the same effect on both of them. One profession or the other isn’t quite soaking up what they’re being dunked in. All of those things are viable possibilities; like I said, I don’t really care which one is correct. I don’t need to.

Journalists don’t have to be journalists for every long, before they start to see the world differently. And they fall into this trap of thinking the boat is standing still, while the dock is moving. If the readers have different opinions from the journalists, the journalists must work harder at communicating more effectively. There’s no way they can be wrong about what’s happening, and what should be done about it.

This has a lot to do with something I’ve noticed about people in general. How to absorb facts and translate them into opinions about the state of affairs — it’s a personal process, and it is shaped mostly by the dangers to which one is personally exposed. By the time we’re about twenty-five years of age, we’ve settled on some methods for doing this that we’ll take to the grave, and those methods have been shaped by the dangers that have confronted us and the things we value. Now then. What kind of dangers confront journalists who are less than twenty-five years old? Well…I think when we exclude folks twenty-five years old and better, you can pretty much forget about the embedded reporters in Iraq. Maybe, just maybe, there are some specialists in there. Photographers. People who don’t make decisions about how news is reported…and probably won’t. But it’s probably a fair generalization to make that a journalist who is still deciding how to draw inferences from facts, forming the habits he will one day use as an editor to decide what millions of people in a city are supposed to be thinking…suicide bombers and IED’s don’t have very much to do with the dangers that will mold and shape those habits.

What does?

I’m taking it as a given we’re talking about ingratiating onesself, versus being ostracised. Young journalists who are just learning how to see the world, worry about one thing. And that one thing is staying good with the “in” crowd.

That is practically liberalism defined.

And so there you have it. They don’t go to journalism school to become liberals. They don’t graduate from it wanting to be liberals. They just end up that way. By the time they are confronted by a personal danger that might inspire a different way of thinking about things, the way a beat cop might be so confronted — they’re past that critical age of twenty-five, and they’ve molded their intuitive instincts around the objective of going along to get along.

Once that happens, there is this fallacy that whatever biases they might have personally, might “taint” the substance of what they report to us. That is a falsehood. A personal bias on the part of the reporter doesn’t taint the news; what it does, is give the news a good shove in the direction of the bias, at which bearing the news coasts endlessly, picking up speed, until the personal bias is just a mooncast shadow compared to the result. Over time, the contaminating effect on the news becomes more and more pronounced, and still the journalist can’t see it. He still thinks the dock is moving while the boat stands still.

After all, he has a job to do. His job is to “inform” us.

And he can tell how good of a job he has done, by the opinions we have after he’s given us information.

And if our opinion doesn’t match his, why, he must not have done a very good job. He’ll just have to try harder next time. And the next time after that, he’ll have to try harder still.

Getting back to this poor drugged-out hooker who was burned to death. I’m pretty confident we’ve heard the last of this. Journalists, after all, on balance don’t approve of the death penalty. Most of us are a) in favor of the death penalty, or b) would overcome any objections we have to the death penalty, if we were made aware of more stories like this one. I’ve commented on this several times before: People who oppose the death penalty, are simply people who forget — usually consciously — the limitless capacity of people to inflict atrocities upon each other.

Our journalists know this. But they don’t like the death penalty, and if the news was brought to us, we’d be less likely to agree with our journalists. And so, you see, the profession of “news” becomes a discipline in which — ironically — secrets are kept. And there you have it. The profession of journalism rises in the morning determined to set the standard to which other supposedly noble professions can aspire. And it retires for rest that evening, having thoroughly corrupted itself in a way few other professions ever will. The rest of us, rather than tolerating the misinformation and non-information, opt for alternative ways to get our information, and in this way the industry commits a slow suicide. Suicide by being the opposite of what it genuinely wanted to be. It’s a real tragedy.

Abu Ghraib we gotta talk about night and day. “Jillie” the prostitute screaming in agony as the flames leap off her body…that’s something we don’t need to know. It might incline us toward ideas our journalists would not like us to have.

What to do about these perpetrators who took the time to buy gasoline for an obviously pre-meditated crime of such unimaginable cruelty? Were I in charge, we’d be pondering once again the meaning of the Eighth Amendment. Thanks in no small part to our journalists, we’ve formed a habit of “reviewing” the prohibition against cruel-and-unusual punishments, selectively, in circumstances where the outcome is likely to be an expansion of the prohibition and a restriction of the punishments. If the immolation of Jillie the prostitute were to inspire such a review, the outcome would likely be the opposite — punishments thought unconstitutional beforehand, are allowed in the aftermath. Wouldn’t it be more balanced if the pendulum was to swing the other way once in awhile?

We like to wring our hands and whine endlessly about whether murderers can feel their organs shut down during a lethal injection procedure. These evil hags covered a woman with gasoline and lit her up. Ever see gasoline burn?

The word “useless” doesn’t even begin to cover some of these whimpering doubts we’ve been convinced to nurture about our justice system.

I Doubt It

Sunday, January 28th, 2007

America “squandering the world’s goodwill.” The Religious Right. Open-minded college grads and professors. Repentant murderers. I doubt them all.

Make a good case, and I’ll believe in some of them again. But as things sit now, every single shred I’ve ever been given to believe in such things, in my entire lifetime, has been confined to the realm of instructions on what I’m supposed to be thinking. No evidence, none at all.

I’m ready for some, and until I get it these ideas are indefinitely confined to idea-purgatory. Should’ve done it years ago.

Long Drop

Friday, January 19th, 2007

Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti, half-brother of Saddam Hussein, was executed by hanging Monday. He shared an inglorious fate with legendary cowboy/outlaw Tom Ketchum, in that his rope was too long and as a result his head was snapped from his body.

There’s some stuff Barzan did to end up at the end of a long rope, though. Among other things, he Irreversibled a guy. Yeah, if I’m going to try to rabble-rouse people into some frothy panic about “oh, that is SUCH a barbaric way to execute somebody, I’m oh so outraged blah blah blah,” that’s a detail I’m going to leave out. In fact I’m not even going to say what it means to Irreversible someone. Rent the movie and fast-forward to ten, fifteen minutes into it. Listen to the crunching sound of someone’s sinus cavity. You’ll get it.

You can get the lowdown on what all those skull-fuckingly screwed-up guys did over there, here.

For The Anti-Death-Penalty Types VIII

Wednesday, December 13th, 2006

Every time I’m reminded of what decent people some of our anti-death-penalty folks are — and many of them are kind-hearted, lovable people — I think of one of Christ’s last seven words, “Forgive them, they know not what they do.” Yeah, THEM. They who oppose the death penalty. I put them on the same level as those who killed Christ. I know they’d rather be compared to whoever did something to stop the Crucifixion…but what they want has nothing to do with it. They are delusional, misinformed people. Just like the Romans who were led to believe, or chose to present themselves as believing, that Jesus Christ was stopping people from paying their taxes to Caesar, our anti-death-penalty people labor under the mistaken presumption that everybody is good.

Yeah sure, they don’t get anyone crucified. But they make for some very dangerous situations which pose the greatest threat towards people who are absolutely innocent; and for the most part, they are blissfully unaware of the culpability they bear in such things.

They need to be reminded, again and again, that everybody is not necessarily good. You find a thousand people on death row, you do NOT have an automatic guarantee that these are a thousand wrongful convictions. Nothing of the sort. The fact is, people are capable of being rotten. Some people are simply evil. So much so, that as long as they draw breath, “civilization” cannot exist in their proximity whether they are free or not.

Case in point, James Fogone and Larissa Schuster, who seem to have murdered Schuster’s estranged husband by pouring acid all over him.

Fagone testified last week that Larissa Schuster poured gallons of hydrochloric acid over her husband’s body after they knocked him out with chloroform and a stun gun.

Fagone had worked at Larissa Schuster’s lab in Fresno in late 2001 and most of 2002. He said he quit after Schuster became controlling and manipulative, but was later intimidated by her into kidnapping and burglarizing her husband.

“The jury rejected the defense we presented, but I think that they may have felt that Larissa Schuster manipulated Mr. Fagone,” [defense attorney Peter] Jones said.

During the two-week murder trial, prosecutors painted Fagone as a motivated, eager participant in the crime who accepted $2,000 from Larissa Schuster in exchange for help with the slaying.

There really aren’t too many ways I can conceive of to word this creatively. Some people are twisted pukes. They have narcissistic personality disorders, and they want what they want when they want it. Other people, and God love this second group of people, they don’t believe that first group of people can possibly exist. The people in that second group, unfortunately, sometimes end up having a say in what’s going to happen. They get on juries. They hold candlelight vigils and sometimes get executions postponed. Executions that really do need to take place.

The prosecution dropped torture charges and lying-in-wait circumstances against Fogone, so the lucky bastard is up to be LWOP’d instead of fried. It’s all but a sure thing that the witch isn’t going to be hung either…we don’t like to drop the hammer on the fairer sex. And so, once again, it becomes the duty of the justice system to show compassion — to she who demonstrated absolutely none of her own, and no capacity for appreciating it coming from anybody else.

I have this theory. Let’s just say, we bring the scaffold back. Not forever, just 48 hours. Drop the Eighth Amendment, or at least just some of the more outlandishly extravagant legal interpretations of it, during those 48 hours. Automatic appeals for death sentences, the “don’t execute the retarded” rule, the “aw gee, lethal injection might hurt” thing, all of it — pitch it out for 48 hours.

And I’m not even talking about everybody on “Death Row” — just the folks where, we can all sit down and say, yeah, I agree. He did it. Nobody who’s in the know, is even pretending for an instant, that this guy might be innocent. Just the cases where guilt is undisputed. Just mow through those fuckers like milk duds, for forty-eight hours. Hanging. Decapitation. Gas chamber. Or, just through the donation of vital organs…lie back on the operating table, go under, don’t come back up again. All of it in a public square, or on pay-per-view, or both. At the end of which, we go back to doing things the pansy-ass, crybaby, pants-pissing way we do them now.

My theory is, violent crime would drop — HARD. And stay down there at bargain-basement levels. Not just for two days; for decades.

Lives saved? Probably in the millions.

How many executions would we have to do in those two days? Maybe not even that many. Just the repeated viewing of the consequences of outrageous disrespect for human life…that would bring the whole thing to a halt. Or slow it down considerably, for a long time.

To try to refute my theory, you’d have to assert that all sociopaths are suicidal. Or that logically, they all must be. For better or for worse, they are not even inclined in that direction, let alone fitting exclusively into it. People who live just for their own benefit and for their own amusement — guess what? They want to live. They’ve got their things they want to do, and dying just gets in the way.

If my theory is correct, and I see no reason to doubt it…we have settled into a habit of disrespecting human life, for real — for the purpose of respecting human life elsewhere cosmetically. Worse yet, the lives we disrespect aren’t any ol’ lives, they’re innocent lives. And the lives to whom we show greater respect, aren’t just any ol’ lives either. They’re scum. They’re guilty and everybody knows it. Not even worth the skin they wear. And to suppose that by allowing them to live, we’re settng some kind of an example that will inspire someone, anyone, anywhere, in any kind of positive way — well, that’s just stupid.

Flesh! Oh, No!

Thursday, May 11th, 2006

Flesh! Oh, No!

One of the leitmotifs of this blog, which has not yet been worded concisely enough to make it into the list of Things I Know, is the observation that there are exactly two subjects about which people will, with great frequency, comment stupidly. That is to say, there are two subjects which invite silly, nonsensical comments, from LARGE segments of the population, notably people who take great pride in thinking out what they’re saying. These two subjects draw half-assed, surreal, other-worldly, and wholly unworkable views like barbeque sauce draws bees. Usually-intelligent people will pontificate about these two subjects, and the steady stream of crap dribbling out of their mouths, is just a wonder to behold.

Those two subjects are these: 1) The September 11 attacks, and the ensuing War on Terror; and 2) girls and young women in skimpy outfits.

As I noted in FAQ Question #11, I am in a state of perpetual and complete uncertainty as to what these two subjects have to do with each other. There must be a link somewhere, but I don’t know what it is. Nevertheless, people have a tendency to behave as if the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, came spontaneously like some kind of freak weather phenomenon, to be blamed on nobody…except perhaps the President and some of America’s foreign policy. Nobody actually did them. And as for the ladies in skimpy outfits, well — the sky is the limit as to what people can say. They can say there’s nothing wrong with a nine-year-old dressing like a whore — or they can say there is something wrong with that, but what’s wrong with it has nothing to do with bad taste, the problem is she’ll cause “eating disorders” in other nine-year-olds. See what I mean? Common sense eludes just about everyone; it’s a steady, unbroken, pure stream of doots. Very little of what anybody says, makes any sense.

I’ve commented on it here and here and here and here and here and here.

Well, now a 25-year-old teacher is in trouble for pictures she had taken during her college days. Erica Chevillar has been caught. There’s pictures on the “innernets” of her posing in skimpy bikinis.

Chevillar, using the name Erica Lee, appears in outfits ranging from cleavage-baring jackets to skimpy bikinis in about two-dozen photos.

West Boca Raton High Principal Fran Giblin said he learned about the photos Wednesday after a parent complained. He turned the matter over to the district’s professional standards department, which handles investigations of noncriminal matters.

“I would certainly hope that we set the highest standards for our students,” Giblin said. “If this in fact is true, it’s a concern. A big concern.”

The district has only a general policy that requires teachers to behave “morally and ethically,” school district spokesman Nat Harrington said.

Okay, I can see something in this. I’ve looked at some of the pictures — and then, of course, I looked again and again and again just to make sure I was getting extremely offended. I will say there are one or two “sleazy underthings” types of pictures in there. A little heat for the district? Yeah, I can see that.

Nobody’s saying she used school resources to take the pictures.

Nobody’s saying she firmly established a link between her identity as a school teacher, and her identity as a model in the pictures. Nobody is saying she made any attempt to draw attention to herself in this way.

Nobody is even sticking their neck on a block, and contradicting Chevillar’s statement about “college days”…which, I’m gathering, means nobody’s stepping up and saying these pictures were taken during a time even close to her teaching career. In effect, this is equivalent to Raquel Welch getting a teaching job, and then getting in trouble when one of the superintendents finds out about One Million Years B.C.

Let’s explore the realm of dispute a little here. I’m taking it as a given, that everyone everywhere would agree, had Erica Chevillar been at her home in a skimpy bikini and paraded around in public view — maybe, walk out of the pool area, and go water some tulip bulbs in her front lawn — this wouldn’t, and shouldn’t, get her in trouble with the district.

Ah, but there are photos. Okay, so if Chevillar wandered around to her front lawn, and someone took a picture of her and circulated it…this wouldn’t get her in trouble either.

Ah, but she posed. Okay, so if she watered her tulips and her neighbor said “hey, can I take a picture of you” and she said “sure!” and the pictures went flying around…this still wouldn’t get her in trouble. Right? Am I right?

Ah, but she posed in what we call “butt floss” in some of these pictures, deliberately making her buttocks prominent as she did so. There are other photos where, while the product iself is not “topless,” the pose definitely is — something magically obscures those all-offensive nipples. Hmmm. Is this a departure from behaving “morally and ethically”? Some would say so.

All fine and good, then. If so, let someone step out of the shadows of anonymity, and so state. You shouldn’t be able to get someone in trouble, for behaving immorally and unethically — for wearing butt floss — without stating, over some kind of virtual signature belonging to you, that it’s immoral and unethical to wear butt floss. That’s my beef.

These aren’t R-rated shots. For all practical and not-so-practical purposes, these are bikini shots.

But more on-topic from where I sit, these are once-upon-a-time shots.

Yeah, I suppose it’s the district’s decision, not mine. But one thing about that. If once-upon-a-time bikini shots are defined as something outside of good behavior, “morally and ethically,” so that the violation can be made “a big concern” — ex poste facto — who is saying so, besides Principal Giblin? Who is this parent who complained?

I’m not saying the anonymous nature of the complaining parent means the photos never existed, since obviously, they did and they do. But there’s something terribly wrong about this, when you can say “this offends me” and bring some pretty harsh consequences on someone, without even saying who you are, let alone why it offends you.

Yes, having bikini pictures of you floating around on the net isn’t the greatest thing in the world, when you’re a teacher. But Chevillar didn’t pose for the pictures when she was a teacher, it appears she posed for them years before. Contrasted to that, I don’t see what being an advocate for the angst & agitation of busybody parents, who are outspoken enough to be offended, but way too shy to say who they are — has to do with being a principal. And Fran Gevlin, it would appear, is doing that very thing right friggin’ now.

He’d have a lot more sympathy out of me if I saw some evidence — just a tiny scintilla of evidence, not an overwhelming amount — that these pictures caused a real discipline problem. I could see how maybe they could. But from what I gather from this article, it’s all theoretical, inspired by the ravings of one, solitary, anonymous parent, whose intentions could be…anything. How that might be a much bigger problem than some once-upon-a-time bikini shots, should be obvious.

Update 5/12/06: The teacher will not be facing any firing, suspension, or any other form of discipline because a school district ruling yesterday held that she “didn’t violate any school rules or laws.”

Well, duh.