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H2O Man Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 03:10 PM
Original message
Regarding Violence
I was glad to hear that the police investigators in New Haven arrested lab technician Ray Clark for the brutal murder of Yale student Annie Le. The murder is the type that shocks society, and Ive found myself following the updates in the news. Id like to take a couple minutes to talk about some of my impressions, knowing that others will view the incident differently, and thus hoping that we can have a discussion about the various types of violence that contaminate our culture.

The violent crime of murder (including single incidents, serial, and mass murders) has a number of factors that come into play in terms of how shocking or outrageous the larger society views them. These include the nature of the murderer; the crime itself; and the victim(s). For example, the socio-economic status of the murderer can play a role. When a member of a gang or cult kills, it is generally less surprising than if a wealthy doctor or a state politician does. A crime that takes place in the "heat of passion" is viewed differently than those which are planned out to include torture. And the death of what are considered "innocent" victims of violence tend to generate a different response than that of hoodlums. Thus, it is safe to say that the murder of Ms. Le, a beautiful young lady who was going to be married on the very day that her body was recovered, causes a response that is distinct from the murder of a known criminal engaged in a turf war.

That may sound all too obvious, but it is something that I think about in times like these. Like too many people, I have had family members and friends murdered over the years. I also have had a couple relatives who were investigators who worked on a large number of murder cases, including some of the most shocking and outrageous examples of mans inhumanity to human beings. Ive been thinking of three examples while watching the news about the murder of Annie Le. The first was a girl I had a crush on when we were teenagers; she went to visit her mother in a different state, and was murdered by a guy who attempted to hide his crime by using a chain saw. The second was a class mate of my sister, who was murdered while hitch-hiking to campus; her killer was not brought to justice for over 30 years. And the third was a more recent case in upstate New York, where a creep kidnapped and raped two high school students, then disposed of the girls bodies with a wood-chipper (a relative helped solve the case).

In the first case, the killer was a low-life, street punk; in the second, a working-class, family man; and in the third, an unstable oddball who had made the girls nervous by his obsessively watching them for months (he hung himself in county jail, before being tried). In each case, as is common among males who murder, the killers were sadistic. The first victim was from a poor household on the margins of society, and was a bit of a hell-raiser. The other three were from middle class and upper-middle class families, and were top students.

Two of the three incidents will long be remembered for the level of shock and outrage they caused in the communities the victims were raised in; the other is long forgotten, except by a few of her friends. Certainly, in each case, the murderer alone is responsible for the crime. More, it is unrealistic to think that "society" can prevent every sadistic person from harming others. But I wonder if the tendency for society to have a sliding scale for shock and outrage, and to forget some victims of violence, does not hinder our ability to at very least reduce the number of people who will be victimized by violent thugs.

People view things differently. The police spokesman today noted the Yale case should be viewed as an example of the growing dangers of violence in the workplace. On CNN/HLN, Jane Velez-Mitchell calls it part of the "war on women." I think that they are both right, although I think JV-M is closer to the whole truth. The suspects history includes violence against a high school girl friend. There was apparently "forced sex," and his writing something intimidating on her locker, when she attempted to break-up with him. There are reports that he had sent e-mails to Ms. Le in the context of his workplace, which of course was the lab she conducted studies in, as part of her university education.

I applaud Ms. Velez-Mitchells call for women to unite, organize, and protect women. I say this as a person who knows, from decades of experience in social work, that both men and women commit crimes of violence against other people. There are some previous actions taken by womens groups that I have disagreed with based upon the tactic, not the goal. For example, as a result of lobbying, the diagnosis of "sadistic personality disorder," which was included in the third edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (1987; page 371), was dropped. There were concerns that attorneys would attempt to use it as a defense, to help thugs avoid legal responsibility for their crimes of violence. I believe it should be re-included, and used as a tool to assess the future risk factors for offenses, in reaching decisions on who should be incarcerated, and who is a poor candidate for rehabilitation/parole.

Having different view-points and opinions is actually a good thing, so long as we all are focused on a common goal. And it is a goal we all should share, or else we risk lacking an essential part of what is good in humanity, and insure a deterioration in the future of communities across the country. Annie Le was working at finding cures for illnesses, and she was murdered by a rabid dog. This crime fits into several larger contexts: crime in the workplace, the violence on college/university campuses, and the against women. There may not be any single answer, but it is essential that we all contribute to efforts to confront the rising violence in our society.
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Me. Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 10:55 PM
Response to Original message
1. There Are Days When The World Seems Awash With Predators
Has it always been this way or has there been an uptick? Has it gotten more sadistic or is it simply that are we just hearing about it more? And what about state sanctioned violence against as opposed to the individual type? As in whipping a woman with nylon cords that will scar her for life because she wore pants. Do you know if there is a section of the country where it is more prevalent?

As for the sad story of Ms. Le, has a motive been revealed?
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H2O Man Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 03:18 PM
Response to Reply #1
4. Those are good questions,
and I will not pretend to know the answer to all of them. For example, where in the country there would be higher or lower rates of violence -- let's say between an adult male and female in a personal relationship, as opposed to strangers. It may be that statistics show that form of domestic violence is (or was) more common in one region .... my guess would be that factors such as a rigid interpretation of "religion," sub-cultural, and family dynamics could make some regions more dangerous than others. I suspect that there may be others on DU who know more about the statistics than I do.

However, as a result of a number of factors, there are some shocking and totally unacceptable statistics that probably most of us are familiar with. For example, a female college student is at a higher risk for being raped than she will (in most cases) at any other time in her life. And, at a time when a democratic majority controls both houses of Congress, as well as the presidency, the federal funding that goes for state programs that teach about one of the "risk factors" -- the consumption of alcohol and other substances -- is going to be cut off completely after this year, unless enough citizens pressure Congress and the White House to continue those programs. Although I never worked in that specific area in human services, I know people who do, and am familiar with the importance of their efforts. Cutting such programs is simply wrong.

A number of times over the years, I've mentioned/quoted Erich Fromm's works. Some of my favorites have to do with his analysis of the attributes of a "sick society." Violence against women is a solid measure. And Fromm, of course, includes more than simply the rates of homicides.

When you combine the various factors, you get what is known as synergism. It's like combining prescription cough medicine with alcohol, for example: the effects are greater than "1+1." This holds equally true for violence. In fact, the case involving Annie Le is a perfect example. If it goes to trial, the prosecutors may stick to one factor -- the thug's rigid personality, and need to "control" others. But that was certainly combined with his feelings -- conscious or not -- about what he considered both her "role" in their "relationship," and his desires for a different type of relationship. And while most people will agree that he is a sick fucking dog, the sad fact is that the atmosphere in America today creates a sense of license in those rabid dogs.
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Louisiana1976 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 03:24 PM
Response to Reply #1
5. IMO we've been hearing about it more because of the media
(Faux Noise and CNN and other networks which now imitate Faux) which nowadays sensationalizes these crimes. And let's face it--people are interested in this coverage so coverage of these murders brings ratings and Faux and the other networks see no reason to cut back on this coverage to cover weighter things such as health care.
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H2O Man Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 03:40 PM
Response to Reply #5
7. That is definitely
a huge factor. The media not only knows people will watch it, but they intend to create an atmosphere of anxiety and fear.
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Me. Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 06:49 AM
Response to Original message
2. K
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gaspee Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 01:41 PM
Response to Original message
3. Least talked about terrorism in the world?
Violence against women - it's been going on for too long (forever) and not enough is done to stop it. It's one of the things that turned me into a radical feminist.
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H2O Man Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 03:39 PM
Response to Reply #3
6. Good
that you are a radical feminist. I am confident that the same description fits my two daughters, even at their young ages. They are not anti-male, but they are not willing to be treated as second-class citizens. And, in their interactions with boys, they are not at all willing to accept anything less than respect -- because they have a strong sense of self-respect.

It's interesting -- at least to me: my older daughter, aged 14, and I talk about a wide range of issues, including stuff about boys and relationships. She is young enough that she still thinks her father is a genius and she has encouraged her friends to talk to me, as well as to her mother. This summer, I served as the taxi for a number of her friends on the soccer team. And I was surprised by some of the things they said to me -- not because I wasn't aware of certain issues, or did not expect any of them might not have some incident that was unsettling. But I think what really surprised me was how common certain things were -- even just having older guys (in their mid- to late twenties) following them around, and trying to establish a relationship with them. There were also cases of unhealthy relatives, etc. And I made clear, talk to your parents. Talk to the adults you know and trust in school. And that they can always talk to my wife and I.

One girl lives in a home environment where both parents work at night. Her grandmother's last "boyfriend" has sent disturbing e-mails to her. Her parents need to call the police, but they are hesitant. I said to tell her guidence counselor at school. In the mean time, she spends a lot of time here, even on school nights. We have a big house, and my wife and I believe that adults need to not only be active in politics, etc, it is at least as important to provide assistance to people in the community, and to help create a safe environment where kids can be focused on being kids, rather than being scared. It's getting the right people in every community to take active steps to create a safe environment that is needed to change the sick dynamics in our larger society. And that is, at this time, a radical goal to set. We need radicals.
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Me. Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 04:46 PM
Response to Reply #6
9. Heard Some Interesting Thoughts On The Annie Le Case
By a woman named Pat Brown. The talking heads on both the interviews were describing it as work place violence. She kept insisting and trying to get them understand that it isn't work place violence, per se, it's violence against women. Also I understand there may be a second suspect, an accomplice. The fire door thing may have been him letting his accomplice in and it also says this was premeditated, if it is true about the second nam.
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H2O Man Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 06:41 PM
Response to Reply #9
10. I like Pat Brown.
She does tend to refer to most murderers (and suspects) as "psychopaths." I think she uses the term too frequently. There are people who have some of the features, but that may well be diagnosed in a more accurate way.

I noted on one show tonight, after she spoke about Clark as a psychopath, another guest said that, due to the amount of DNA evidence, his attorneys may need to use this as a mitigating factor. Thus, he exposes himself as not knowing what that diagnosis means, either in the field of psychology or law.

The possibility of his girl friend, sister, or brother-in-law assisting him -- especially in the "cover-up" -- would not be surprising. They all worked there. "Bean-counters" often imagine themselves important, and in control of a work place."Mouse-shit-cleaners" may share this behavioral feature.
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Me. Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 07:21 PM
Response to Reply #10
11. One Hardly Knows What To Say Regarding The 'Cover-up'
What were they thinking? Shoving the poor woman into a closet only gave them a day or two. Did they seriously think that they could get away with it? Which brings me to my next question...are these people generally not very smart, with some who are very much so being the exceptions? Is it 'ego' where they are blinded by their own light and think no one could possibly consider them a suspect?
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Odin2005 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 04:09 PM
Response to Original message
8. My disabled friend getting raped destroyed my faith in Humanity.
Edited on Fri Sep-18-09 04:17 PM by Odin2005
I would have never believed that even the worst monster would assault and rape a disabled woman. :cry:
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David Zephyr Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 07:22 PM
Response to Original message
12. K&R. Excellent commentary.
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