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Archive for the ‘Child Abuse’ Category

This may sound heartless, but I have absolutely no sympathy for Tiger Woods or for any of his alleged mistresses. If only half of his suspected sex partners turn out to be real and not a figment of someone’s imagination, then we can safely assume that Tiger rates at the top of the Scummiest People in the History of the World.

Why am I rating Tiger Scum One? After all, he’s just doing what comes naturally or would do it if the opportunity arose. I mean, every one of the women named so far has a superstructure to die for and a bottom structure to boot, not to mention boob structure. Every inch of these women cries out, “Do it to me, baby.” How could any heterosexual male resist? Tiger is only a man.

Well, now, is the entirety of the preceding argument true? Let’s examine, starting with what comes naturally. I think we can all agree that sex is built into the human race. We can argue about whether its purpose is procreation or recreation or a combination of the two, but the act of sexual intercourse is certainly an innate part of the human makeup.

But does it follow that we are biologically programmed to engage in sex 24-hours a day? We might wish for that state of affairs, but in reality, humans need time to take care of other matters. They need to eat, shop, bathe, earn money, get drunker than skunks, and perform a host of other biologically and culturally driven activities.  Moreover, most cultures do not tolerate naked humans fornicating in the street like dogs, although Hollywood comes close.

So, there are constraints on the time and place for fornicating. We are, after all, humans and rank at the apex of the living hierarchy of things with brains. We think; therefore we screw when the time is right and under socially and legally acceptable circumstances. At least, most of us do.

Tiger had the poor judgment to screw the wrong women at the wrong time in the wrong place. He violated one of the more important cultural and moral constraints, the prohibition against sex with a partner other than the one we are legally married to. Although a lot of people violate this principle, more do not than do. Therefore, it is a stretch to maintain that everyone does it.

Okay, we’ve demonstrated that, contrary to one of the most commonly presented and accepted arguments, not everyone does it. What about “To err is human?” That’s pretty much a restatement of the ‘everyone does it” argument. It’s true that “to err is human” is correct because “to err” requires a thinking brain to define err. Lower forms of life lack the essential element of reason necessary to include sex in the category of things classified as errors and thus ripe for atonement and remorse.

But that begs the real question. We all err, but we don’t make that error. Adultery may be on the rise, but, still, only about 24 percent of men and 14 percent of women act out their fantasies. That leaves 76 percent of men and 86 percent of women who don’t. Tiger is thus definitely a member of a minority class when it comes to this particular peccadillo.

If none of the second grade arguments suffice to place Tiger at the top of the World’s Scummiest People Pile, what’s left? Here’s the overlooked reasoning factor.

Tiger allegedly has 14—count ‘em—14 mistresses and a wife. This is greed of the first order. Even in a capitalist economic system where greed is good, this is absolute overkill. Tiger is monopolizing the market. Until he agrees to share his supply of women, he will remain at the top of the scum heap.

In other words, Tiger ranks as the World’s Scumiest Human not for his sexual escapades but for his damned greed.

p.s. I apologize for suggesting that women are commodities on the open market. But somehow, Tiger seems to believe they are.

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This morning I was chatting with a Facebook Friend about finding a suitable blog platform. She’s a professional writer, so she’s a little pickier than me. She’s looking not just for an audience but for the right audience. Professional writers need the exposure that could lead to a paid gig. And, of course, all professional writers write to be read widely. Otherwise, why write.

I’m not a writer myself. I write basically for my family and friends. A blog is a good way to reach them beyond the bounds of E-mails and letters. Oh, sure, it’s nice when others write nice comments about the things I write, and I have met some fine people through my blog. Can’t deny that, and I hope to meet more good folks with interesting things to say.

My own approach to blogging is simple. I am not at all good at writing about myself. My inner feelings are boring even to me, and I am sort of bored right now. That’s why I tend or have tended to write about external events. And since my interests are quite broad, I am inclined to write according to no particular pattern. Today, I might write about a political event, tomorrow a blurb about an article I ran across in GQ magazine. Whatever strikes my interest at the moment will likely be the topic for the day.

I also like to add a humorous touch to most of the topics I am interested in. That doesn’t mean everything is funny. Some topics are absolutely without humor, child abuse, domestic violence, murder, and suicide, for example, are devoid of laughter.

That’s why the current run of murders in this country is disturbing. Thirteen soldiers murdered at Fort Hood, Texas, one murdered and mayby 15-plus wounded in Orlando, Florida; these are just two of the most egregious examples of recent violence in America today.

Of course, the perpetrators of these crimes will always have an excuse. The guy in Orlando was fired from his job two years ago and he was mad at the company. Oddly, the individuals he murdered are not, “the company.” But somehow in the mind of this deranged individual, the employees who worked for “the company” became “the company.” So, he decided to murder as many human beings as he could.

He may or may not have known or cared that he was shooting individuals rather than “the company.” Is this insanity, or is it a failure of the ability of some people to understand distinctions?  One individual is dead but “the company” lives on. Similarly, thirteen dead but the United States Army survives.

In addition to the damages done to the survivors of these monstrous acts, the perpetrators have harmed the United States in more ways than one. Globally, they’ve added to the perception that this is the most violent country in the world. Say what you wish, but the perceptions of other nations are important within the global system when it comes to the achievement of the vital national interests of the U.S.

Domestically, the current rash of violence has exacerbated the feelings of fear and parnoia among ordinary Americans.  Who among us might be the next mass murder? That guy down the street who looks odd with his little round glasses and close-set eyes? Or a respected Army psychologist?

The most disgusting cipher in the equation is society’s failure to deal with the violence that seems to be a part of our cultural DNA. Why are we as a country so reluctant to tackle the issue? Is it because we feel helpless? Maybe we think its someone else’s job. Or have our leaders failed us? We have a justice system that excuses criminal behavior and a penal system that has become a breeding ground for violence and gang activity.

Whatever the answer may be, it’s a puzzle. As far as solutions go, my own personal impression is that the violence has largely missed the elites of our society. As long as people below the elite level murder each other, as long as the elites do not find themselves the targets of random and mass violence they will continue to largely ignore the issue, appearing on television and uttering meaningless words after a mass shooting or an especially egregious murder.

Somehow, in America, we tend to look at the moment and at the situation. Broader ramifications seem beyond our comprehension.

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When the story first broke, I wasn’t paying a lot of attention to CNN News. CNN is the news outlet after all that continually flashes “Breaking News” or something similar across the ticker at the bottom of the screen. Every thing is “breaking” or “developing.” My mind numbs itself in self defense.

But then something caught my attention. I heard the words “Richmond High School.” There are other Richmonds in the U.S., including Richmond, Virginia. I went back to my latest issue of Country Weekly magazine.

As I read, I heard the announcer, I think it was Kyra Phillips, mention California. My ears perked up. The gang rape occurred on the grounds of Richmond High School, Richmond, California. Once upon a time, I attended that very high school. My tenure there was brief, but still, things stick in the mind.

Richmond when I lived there was a classic All-American town, or perhaps I should say a classic California town. However, I’ve lived in many towns and the habits of teens weren’t substantially different from the habits of Richmond’s teens.

In Richmond, as in Cotton Plant, Arkansas, cars were a big deal, and every Saturday night, McDonald Avenue, Richmond’s main drag, would be lined with cars full of kids dragging the street from 23rd Street in the east to the train depot at the west end of town.

If the kids weren’t tooling up and down shouting at one another or at a gaggle of girls walking along the street toward the movie, they were parked in or just idling in any available spot near a drive-in with real live and often good-looking girls taking and delivering orders.

If you want to get a good idea of Richmond then, watch the movie American Graffiti. The movie wasn’t filmed in Richmond but in several nearby towns like Petaluma (the primary filming location), Pinole, Concord, Larkspur, Mill Valley, and San Francisco.

Mel’s Diner in the movie was filmed at a diner (since torn down) on South Van Ness Avenue in San Francisco. And 4th Street in San Rafael was used for many of the street scenes. Another coincidence: my wife and I lived on 4th Street shortly after we were first married and then later in Petaluma.

Times have changed since American Graffiti was released in 1973. Most of the towns where the movie was filmed have undergone dramatic growth spurts accompanied by an influx of people from other areas of the United States and from foreign countries.

Richmond has also experienced its share of changes. But unlike the positive changes in many other Bay Area communities, the changes in Richmond have been mostly negative.

The reputation of Richmond today is a place to avoid. The town is widely known as the murder capital of the state. In 2007 (last year I have a figure for), there were 37 murders in this town of roughly 100,000 people. And, the part of I-80 passing through Richmond has achieved dubious standing as a war zone based on the number of shootings that happen along that short stretch of the highway.

To compound these negatives, the Richmond-San Pablo area has become rife with gang activity that often erupts in violence. And lesser crimes such as robbery and burglary are beginning to spill over into once small and peaceful enclaves like El Sobrante.

The causes of Richmond’s decline have often been attributed to its ethnic shift. While the town was once overwhelmingly white, today whites make up about 25 percent of the population. The balance consists mainly of Blacks and Hispanics.

However, the attribution of Richmond’s ills to its ethnic balance is a specious argument. So many variables come into play that it’s difficult if not impossible to narrow the root cause or causes to one factor. More likely, the cause lies in both economics and a failure of civic leadership to address Richmond’s burgeoning crime rate and rapidly declining infrastructure. McDonald Avenue, for example, that one-time image of Americana embodied in American Graffiti, became an absolute, decaying roadway to nowhere before the civic leadership seemed to wake up.

Regardless of the reasons for Richmond’s decline, there can be little doubt that many of the students at Richmond High School are products of the current culture of violence, poverty, drugs, decay, and a nation-wide attitude that drives individuals to seek the immediate gratification of their own desires.

Given such an environment, it was probably inevitable that violence would eventually reach the ground of the high school. In fact, at least one of the active participants in the gang rape apparently wasn’t a student and shouldn’t have been at the homecoming dance to begin with.

Don’t get me wrong. Most of the school’s students are undoubtedly decent individuals doing their best to make it in a cruel environment. Moreover, the high school wasn’t exactly pristine when I attended it. There were fights, usually between individual boys over a girl, and other students would gather and watch, cheering on one or the other of the gangly teens.

But there were no rapes on campus, gang or otherwise. Those were different times. In retrospect, so innocent. Sadly, once upon a time will never come again.

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Another child murdered. Another family in turmoil. Another mother in pain so excruciating that she collapsed on television. This mother now joins other mothers forever deprived of the pleasure and joy of loving a child and watching it achieve in life and in school, attending proms, graduating, heading for college, and eventually having its own family.

What monster could perpetrate such a crime? What kind of twisted personality could snatch a child walking from the school bus to home in virtual plain sight of the child’s friends? Who in God’s name could murder an innocent young human being and toss it’s body on a garbage dump as if it were a piece of trash?

This is what happened to Somer Thompson and her family in Florida. One day, they were happy and loving, the next day, they were thrown into absolute chaos, forever touched by a vicious murder, lives forever dark and brooding. This family and this mother will never “move on” They will live their lives forever in the grip of depression and a Post Murder Syndrome (PMS), which seems to be a peculiarly American disease.

As much as it tends to trivialize and remove the human element from despicable acts, the statistics of child abuse and murder stagger the imagination. Every year in America, about 3,000,000 incidents of child abuse are reported to various government agencies. Sure, not all of these turn out to be legitimate cases of child abuse, but if even ten percent are valid, 300,000 children are the objects of some sort of abuse. That is staggering and it suggests a society that hasn’t come to grips with its acceptance of cruelty against children.

The numbers on homicides are also mind boggling. From the time that statistics on murder began to be reported to the federal government in the early 1900’s until the present time, more Americans have been murdered in this country than have been killed in all of the wars America has engaged in since the birth of the nation. If you doubt this statistic, do as I did. Visit your local library and take a look at a publication called The Statistical Abstract of the United States. Tabulate the number of murders per year, beginning with the first year on record, 1900. My own tabulation covered the years 1900 through 2000, and the total number of murders was just short of 2,000,000. That’s almost two million dead people in a span of 100 years, an average of about 20,000 murders a year. Of course, the number per year will vary. In some years the figure may be less than 20,000 and more in others. But the total number of almost 2,000,000 is still there.

The number of Americans who died in America’s wars, roughly 1,000,000 (I’m working from memory here), pales in comparison to the number of murders. But at least we can understand and accept death as a result of military conflicts. We cannot understand and we ought not to accept senseless murder and child abuse.

What in God’s name can we do to prevent the violence against innocent beings in our society? At the moment, solutions seem elusive. When a murder is sensationalized in the media, we get on a roll and the air and cable waves are loaded with talking heads and experts of all sorts who raise our righteousness to a new level the way a balloon with a (rumored) six year old boy in it rises and soars across the Colorado prairie. Then, as soon as the current murder or sensational event loses its immediate emotional impact and hence its revenue potential, those same media twerps file the story in the bin of yesterday’s news. Remember Elian Gonzales?

Concurrent with the loss of media interest, our righteousness subsides and the victim loses its identity, relegated to the obscure and forgotten pages of The Statistical Abstract of the United States. Unfortunately, there are no solutions in this obscure government publication.

As individuals, we may be powerless to effect change, but as a society, we ought to be ashamed.  Shame, however, is un-American. Murder is the price we pay for freedom.

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This may sound heartless, but I can’t seem to dredge up any pity for Roman Polanski. He was arrested recently in Switzerland and placed in jail pending a deportation hearing on a 32-year old warrant because he  failed to appear in court for sentencing on a charge of unlawful sex with a minor, a charge he pled guilty to. Instead, he fled the United States and has been living in Europe since.

Almost immediately after his arrest, the elites of France went berserk, accusing the United States of picking on this poor old seventy-some year old man. Then several of Hollywood’s biggest names jumped in on Polanski’s side.

Meanwhile, it turns out that a lot of ordinary French people and Americans as well have no sympathy for Polanski, either. He should come back and face the music, many argue. He committed a crime, he ought to do the time. After all, isn’t that what the bigwigs have told us for years and years?

So, suddenly, these same believers in the sanctity of the law want this guy who had sex with a 13-year old girl to escape justice because he spent his life after evading it making fine movies that are applauded by the elites of Europe and Hollywood. I wonder how these individuals would feel if Polanski’s 13-year old victim happened to be a daughter of one of them.

What about Polanski’s victim? For all of the years Polanski roamed as free as a bird, she’s been psychologically imprisoned by the vile acts committed by him on her body, damaged by thoughts of this man working over her, performing oral sex and sodomizing her mind and body.

Those who support Polanski argue that the judge was biased against him. If I were the judge I would have been biased against him, too. After all, he pled guilty to those acts.  He deserved prison time then and he deserves it now.

His supporters also contend that the judge violated a plea agreement that would have placed Polanski on probation without jail time. As a matter of law, judges do not negotiate pleas with defendants. The prosecuting attorney and the defense attorney work out an agreement and present it to the judge. The judge can accept or reject it.

Judges reject plea agreements every day somewhere in America. They also accept them. In the Polanski case, we actually don’t know how the judge would have decided since Polanski cut out before decision time. Now, the judge is dead and we will never know.

Every year there are over 3,000,000 (that’s three million) reported instances of child abuse in America. Not every case involves sexual abuse and not all reports are verified. But if only 10 percent of the reports were valid, that would still amount to a horrendous 300,000 incidents annually. That is one hell of a statistic for a country that purports to be a nation of laws, not of men.

For the sake of our children, men like Polanmski need to feel the heat of prison. If only one incipient predator gets the message and decides to drive on by instead of abducting a child on the way to school, then Polanski’s incarceration will at least have served a socially redeeming purpose.

If Roman Polanski were an ordinary citizen, his victim would be just another statistic, lost in a bureaucratic spreadsheet. But the publicity surrounding Polanski ultimately resulted in the self-revelation of her identity. Samantha Gailey Geimer, now 45 years old, has decided that she will no longer permit the incident that happened so many years ago to imprison her mind. A revelation like that takes courage.

If Polanski had her courage, if he were any kind of man, he’d voluntarily return to the United States and take his medicine. Then, his supporters might have something to commend him for.

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I’ll be moving on in a couple of days, leaving Maryland for Little Rock and from there to Oakland CA. I’ll miss MD and all of its tourist attractions, places like many Civil War battlefields, state and national wild horse preserves along the Atlantic, and, of course, Washington, D.C., a quick drive away with all of its past and present political signs and symbols that draw millions of visitors from around the world.

What will I do in Little Rock? Well, I won’t be staying in the city. I’ll land there on a Southwest Airlines flight out of Baltimore and immediately head for Hot Springs for a few days with a cousin. I expect to see a few sights, and I expect to tour a rice growing area on the Arkansas side of the Mississippi River Delta where the rice harvest will be underway. Arkansas is one of the nation’s leading rice growing states, ranking right up there with Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and California.

I may also visit my cousin’s fifth-grade class. Kids at that age are still, as we used to say, bright eyed and bushy tailed. They are inquisitive creatures with eyes not yet worldly wise and jaded, eager for information and still somewhat respectful of their teachers and other adults. What will I tell those kids if they ask me questions? One thing I will not say is a negative word about anything. Some of them are probably the products of dysfunctional families and the last thing they will need is more negativity. I’ll probably restrict my classroom visit to covering topics about Maryland and Hawaii, accompanied by pictures, which illustrate the beauty of the Aloha State and the wild horses in Maryland. Such beautiful creatures! Every child ought to have an opportunity to see those magnificent animals up close.

My visit to AR will be short, and I’ll be off to Oakland in a few days. Once in the Bay Area, I’ll see my two sisters and a host of nieces and nephews. Will I set foot in San Francisco? I can’t say at this moment. True, I’d like to take a walk through City Hall and scope out the pols. I’d also like to prowl the area around Union Square, hoping to catch sight of a local celebrity or two. But my itinerary depends on my sisters. We will undoubtedly drive around some of the neighborhoods we lived in as kids and reminisce. There is a time for reminiscing and a time for politicians. I’ll think about the latter later.

From Oakland, I’ll return to Hawaii where I will settle some affairs remaining after the loss of my beloved. One of my major decisions will be the question of selling the house and living elsewhere. Should I or should I not? That is the question I’ve been thinking about on my trip. Texas? Maybe. Maryland? Maybe. Arkansas? No. California? Maybe. I know the state inside out and have relatives in both Northern and Southern Cal. Plus, I have a good buddy living in San Francisco who has invited me to share his pad. Tempting, but still, there’s an element of uncertainty in my mind, as if I’m missing something but can’t put my finger on it. I have a hunch I’ll resolve the issue soon. ‘Til then, as the Mills Brothers used to croon in perfect harmony, I’ll just hang around.

Ending with a pathetic imitation of author Alexandra Jones

The earth is old they say,
which no one denies.
They merely murder
one another
over the numbers.

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Today is the first day of another year in our system of calculating the passage of time from the death of Jesus Christ until, well, now. By that reckoning, humans have been actively engaged in counting days, weeks, months, and years for 2008 years. And at the stroke of midnight last night, they began counting again. Humans are, if nothing else, prone to redundancies.

When I say “from the death of Jesus Christ,” I guess that’s what A.D. signifies. I don’t really know for sure since I wasn’t born then and, like all humans, I rely on the selective memories of those who preceded me. I often wonder if the memories of the ancients were as sharp as ours today.

One thing we have today that they lacked in the Stone Age is statistics. Modern humans like to count and index everything under the sun. But more, modern humans like to manipulate their statistics from here to breakfast and back, they like to interpret statistics, they like to explain statistics to other people just in case someone is too dumb to figure things out for themselves.

To what end? Hasn’t mankind progressed through the manipulation of statistics to a higher stage? Apparently not. Statistics paint rosy pictures at the expense of reality. And modern humans love to avoid, ignore, or deny reality. Stats make it possible for leaders, elected officials, apparatchiks, and academics to ramble on forever, making seven hour MySpace presentations and figuring out ways to squeeze another Missouri Mill out of the sale of a tomato.

Sure, some statistics can unearth the other side of life. But you have to dig for them. You have to really dig to find out the number of humans killed in wars in the “modern” era (over a billion at last count since the year of our Lord 1700), or for the number of murders per year in America (20,000 give or take a few), or the extent of suicides (another 29 to 30,000), the ungodly numbers of child abuse cases annually in America (3,000,000 plus and growing), and God know how many deaths in alcohol related driving accidents.

We might surmise that the collection of information such as this is a positive thing leading to solutions. But, no, these data are merely used to justify additional manpower and budget monies. The numbers never recede because our attention is focused on numbers rather than on solutions.

I am not saying that everyone on Earth is determined to ignore reality. Many care about the lives of children, about lives wasted in a state of inebriation, about the survivors of murder and suicide, about many things. But the number of these people is few compared to many among us who simply do not care, who blame misery on the victims and hail the rich and powerful for “making it” in our hardball world, which roughly translates into “screw those suckers.”

Of course, many care but are helpless to effect real change. Only the movers and shakers have the power to change attitudes. Sadly, for 2008 years, they have spent their time collecting and using statistics to justify the “every human for him/herself” approach to the process of governing, which we have raised to its highest art form in America.

Will things change with the flip of a calendar page? Maybe. Who knows? Maybe not. Who knows? Every year, I begin the New Year with a strong belief that we can change attitudes. We can save the world one attitude at a time.

Our first step ought to be the abolition of our slavery to numbers. Let’s see people as people instead of as case numbers, as social security digits, and as an increasingly long series of telephone numbers in various combinations.

People are, after all, people, real people. People are not a number in an obscure collection of data maintained by the Census Bureau or the Bureau of Commerce and filed in a National Archive and Records Service repository in San Bruno or in one of several other repositories nationwide.

Let’s call Joe Joe instead of Joe4769.

“Hello, my name is Robert.”

“Enter your number now, please.”

Happy New Year!!!!!

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