Oct 16, 2010

Murder By Bully: The Hot New Trend

Sladjana Vidovic.
If you don’t recognize the name, don’t wrack your brain too hard; she isn’t a spray-tanned bimbo toting a 2 ounce dog and she isn’t singing about burning a picture. Nonetheless, it turns out that it’s pretty important that you know her name. You see, she was a perfectly normal girl, one of thousands of nameless and faceless bullying victims, but her story is making headlines.
For now.

Sladjana Vidovic was 16-years-old in 2008 when she hung herself by tying one end of a rope to her bed, the other around her neck and then jumped out her bedroom window. This came after she endured a fatally full day of bullying at Mentor High School. Students reportedly mocked her Croatian accent, and called her names like 'Slutty Jana' or 'Slut-Jana-Vagina'. One boy reportedly pushed her down the stairs and another girl hit her in the face with a water bottle.

Now, I admit that sometimes I dismiss accounts of high school bullying with the words, “That’s life.” In this case, and quite a few more like it, it just pisses me off. Because in these cases, it’s the exact opposite of just life. And it’s not just that this poor girl felt that suicide was her only option. It was her murderers’ reactions:

Even at her funeral her family said they saw the girls who had tormented her, walk up to Sladjana's casket and laugh at her dead body.

In another version of this article, it revealed that not only was her little sister the one to have found her body, but can you imagine the entire grieving family having to endure their child’s tormentors walk up to the casket and laugh at her?
I make plenty of jokes here and there about violence, but I also only mean them maybe 8% of the time. This is one of those times. I can say with all honesty that if I had been that kid sister, I would have taken those arrogant, smug, worthless self-absorbed little bitches apart. With a hairbrush and my teeth. And people, it would entirely be worth being locked up for life--or possibly taken out by a SWAT team. Whichever.
Granted, I have a mildly psychotic reaction to people I care about being hurt. And by “mildly psychotic,” I mean my face turns red and I start looking around for all manner of objects to lodge in their spleen. Also perhaps something to set them afire with, just to break up the tedium of my attempts to wrench their head from their body and break all the major bones. So because I am a little sister myself (extended family counts), this story grinds on a nerve for me.

I don’t consider there to be any excuse for driving someone to suicide. For one thing, high school is rough. Bullies are everywhere. But the fact that it has come to this point, where the schools can not handle the situations, and repeated instances of parents not seeming to care, that points a spotlight on these tragedies. It has come to the point where advocacy groups are calling attention to these situations more than the parents--who, by the way, are the people who are supposed have the best interests of the kids at heart--and the kicker is that the advocacy groups are seeming to get more done and make a bigger impact. Parents, please. Stop fiddling while Rome burns.

Now, it's not really far-fetched to say that the bully-girls ought to be prosecuted. Protective parents extolling what limited virtues their little monsters have be damned--these little sociopaths killed someone and then displayed an alarming amount of glee about it.

So, what is the definition of Involuntary Manslaughter? Read on:
There are two types of involuntary manslaughter statutes: criminally negligent manslaughter and unlawful act manslaughter. Criminally negligent manslaughter occurs when death results from a high degree of negligence or recklessness. Modern criminal codes generally require a consciousness of risk and under some codes the absence of this element makes the offense a less serious Homicide.
Unlawful act manslaughter occurs when someone causes a death while committing or attempting to commit an unlawful act, usually a misdemeanor. Some states distinguish between conduct that is malum in se (bad in itself) and conduct that is malum prohibitum (bad because it is prohibited by law). Conduct that is malum in se is based on common-law definitions of crime; for example, an Assault and Battery could be classified as malum in se.
While Wikipedia is not the best source, I include this quote for the argument:
Constructive manslaughter is also referred to as ‘unlawful act’ manslaughter. It is based on the doctrine of constructive malice, whereby the malicious intent inherent in the commission of a crime is considered to apply to the consequences of that crime. It occurs when someone kills, without intent, in the course of committing an unlawful act. The malice involved in the crime is transferred to the killing, resulting in a charge of manslaughter.

Rachel (the future law student who can make sense of all this) remarks that the unlawful act was emotional torture, which resulted in this poor girl's death.

In addition, Criminally negligent manslaughter is another option:
Criminally Negligent manslaughter is variously referred to as criminally negligent homicide in the United States, gross negligence manslaughter in England and Wales. In Scotland and some Commonwealth of Nations jurisdictions the offense of culpable homicide might apply.
It occurs where death results from serious negligence, or, in some jurisdictions, serious recklessness. A high degree of negligence is required to warrant criminal liability. A related concept is that of willful blindness, which is where a defendant intentionally puts himself in a position where he will be unaware of facts which would render him liable.
Rachel remarks that Criminally Negligent Manslaughter appears to fit because mental, verbal and sometimes physical abuse should be classed as reckless. She goes on to say that if they can find corroboration for any physical abuse, that is assault, which is of course another unlawful act.

NOTE: Neither of us are legal experts or hold legal degrees. We are, however, concerned citizens that are more than a little pissed of that justice is being ignored. Rachel also points out that we found these two legal opportunities researching on the web for maybe 30 minutes, and it is probable that a legal professional could find other opportunities.

It’s not a secret that teens generally begin to consider their parents to be some kind of strange, totally lame oddments right around 13. They don’t tell them about their problems for a variety of reasons. They deal with peer pressure about everything under the sun--and I hate to be the one to tell you this, especially if you’ve been living under a rock for the last decade (welcome to the Internet, by the way): Mean Girls are trendy.
I could ramble on about how much I think Lindsay Lohan is a worthless twat, but I’m trying to stick to the point here. Mean Girls was shocking...to the parents. I’m pretty sure every teenage girl out there has had to deal with their own version of The Plastics at some point, which is probably part of what made the movie so popular.
And now we have a new TV series called Pretty Little Liars.
Interestingly, it’s based around the concept of a small group of girls and one dead mutual friend. The kicker? Her death may have been their fault. Somehow, it’s a hit.

For every bullied girl, it’s great to have a media escape where you can imagine being airbrushed perfection in itty bitty clothes. You get the guy, you ruin the Bitch Girl’s life...all in great fun set to a fabulous soundtrack. Self-esteem rises, you refuse to believe the trash people talk about you, blah blah blah, roll credits.

Here’s how it is in real life. The bullied girl probably won’t ever achieve airbrushed perfection because, hello, she’s human. The guy will end up being gay or a jerk. Or a gay jerk, you can never tell. The Bitch Girl will contract herpes and will either end up in a trailer park or in an upper middle class home with an upper middle class husband. It’s a pretty good bet that she won’t remember the bullied girl in 20 years. If she does, it’s because she showed up at the reunion with money, a tiny ass, and a raving desire to prove to everyone who could care less that she’s still wicked awesome.

And if you’re the Bitch Girl in real life, that high self-esteem is more like an over-inflated ego. Refusing to believe the “trash” people talk about you is denial about reality. Dismissing them as “haters” is so much easier than pausing and trying to objectively decide whether, say, driving another girl to suicide for the fun of it makes you a bad person or not.
Oh, and you’re probably not a size 00. And if you are, have fun with your eating disorder.* I’m sure that eroding your teeth with stomach acid definitely sets you aside from all the total losers who aren’t too lazy to actually work out...or just allow themselves to eat more than 300 calories a day so that they don’t collapse.

My point is, Mean Girls have been glorified. Sure, the Plastic Queen Bee is eventually derailed--but dang, didn’t Regina look cool the whole time? Oh, and the power she wielded! And she had lackeys! And in Pretty Little Liars, aren’t the Queen Bees so pretty! Much like how The Simpsons makes having little money and much stupidity seem charming, glorifying Mean Girls and their ilk makes bullying seem like a fun lark, filled with trendy clothes and totally awesome comebacks.

Every teenage girl’s dream: accolades, attention and minions.

And you know what makes the bullied girls watch these things in the media? Because in Scripted-Life Land, revenge is sweet--and justifiable, because the Bitch Girls always lose.
In real life, they just step it up.

Unfortunately, Sladjana paid a very big price for her tormentors’ ego-maniacal shenanigans. Her memory and the memories of all the others that share her story, including every gay student who has committed suicide because of being harassed endlessly, ought to be remembered by taking more of a stand against this kind of BS.

Because there is no excuse. So get up, do something. You might save a life.
And if you know of someone who is or may be a victim of bullying, please pass this on to them:

RAINN (Rape Abuse & Incest National Network)


And finally, if you are a victim of bullying, please do not harm yourself or take your life in response to the actions of petty morons. They are not worth it and there is help out there from people who have either been in your situation or will do their best to move heaven and earth for you.

And last but not least, please remember you are loved.

*I am aware that some people are naturally skinny. I am not referring to them in this post. I am referring to the girls who starve themselves or vomit in order to maintain a stick-thin little figure.

Oct 3, 2010

Death Count Rises, Border Drug War Continues

Yeah, Arizonans are just paranoid...

Why has this not been leading the news over the weekend? I would say grenade attacks that close to the US border is a big damn deal ladies and gents. Read that carefully, please. Death toll, 34; a further dozen people hurt. And those figures are merely a portion of much bigger and bloodier picture. This is only part of the reason that people in Arizona, especially those who live along the border, feel it is necessary to pass tough enforcement laws. If the federal government is unwilling to ensure their safety, then they are appealing to their state law makers to do the job. It makes absolutely no sense why the American citizens who are dealing with this kind of violence so close in proximity to their homes are the ones being vilified.
"The bombings in Monterry took place amid a new wave of drug related killings, mostly in northern Mexico, close to the lucrative US drug market that has claimed nearly three dozen lives over the past few days.
In the town of San Jose de la Cruz, in an isolated mountain region in the northern state of Durango, presumed rival gangs clashed in a bloodbath that left 14 people dead, the local prosecutor said Saturday.
In Chihuahua another 20 murders took place, nine of them in Ciudad Juarez. Meanwhile, police intensified their search Sunday for 20 Mexican tourists kidnapped by gunmen last week in the beach resort city of Acapulco."

That is absolutely astonishing! The warnings to American tourists in, or those going to, Mexico have made it into a few news casts. Some colleges and universities have warned students planning trips to not vacation in Mexico. But, I would hazard a guess that Americans are grossly under-informed about exactly what is happening south of the border. I am betting that people are complacent and apathetic... it’s in Mexico, not the US after all. Americans have long ignored the politics and waves of upheaval that rock through Mexico every so often. Frankly, we pay more attention to the region because of Hurricanes and recent land and mudslides. The truth is, however, that we share a hundreds of miles long border with the country, and the fighting is for control of that region. Do you get it yet? These are the people that are trying to find the quickest and most efficient en routes to our country. Do you still think the border is unimportant? It may be just a desert, but to drug trafficking organizations it is some of the most valuable real estate in the entire world. Reports estimate that about 28,000 deaths in Mexico over the last 4 years can be blamed on drug violence (that is more than either Middle East war).

Other articles:

How high does the death count have to get? How many headlines of drug related violence do you need to see?

Oct 2, 2010

One Little Ray of Sunshine Later

The Headlines, with commentary:

Ladies and Gentlemen, I thank you for joining me on this most auspicious of occasions. I have finally found reason to have hope in the intelligence of our President. I know, this coming from anyone at this blog is quite jarring to the senses, but just hang in there, all will reveal itself in due course.

You see, our fearless leader has gone around whoring himself to the media as usual, but several interviews and/or stories made a deep impression on me. I will go over some of the more special news events of the past couple days.

Obama to Dem Voters: You're Apathetic!
In this lovely piece of presidential desperation, Mr. Obama points out that for some reason people who are usually sympathetic to the Democrat way of political life seem to be unhappy. I couldn’t ever imagine why. Could it be because they finally realized that while they were so happy about a change-touting politician they forgot to pay attention to what kind of changes he was touting? Well that couldn’t be it, Obama would never mislead them! But he will feel free to treat them like a bunch of two year olds having a tantrum.
"People need to shake off this lethargy. People need to buck up,"
This is what Mr. Obama is saying to his own constituents in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine. He did go even further in saying that:
"If people now want to take their ball and go home, that tells me folks weren't serious in the first place."
Well gee, Barack, whatever would give you that impression? I am guessing that people are starting to wipe the Snake Oil out of their eyes and get a clear picture on what is really going on. If that is the case they are realizing that what change has occurred is far from for the better, and most of what is going on is merely a continuation of previous policy.

"It is inexcusable for any Democrat or progressive right now to stand on thesidelines in this midterm election," Obama said.

I for one am just ecstatic that Obama isn’t one of those politicians that would lead his flock out to the pasture and then give them the intellectual leash to choose their own path. Apparently in all his trips around the country no one has told him that old horse-to-water phrase.

In a description of the interview with Rolling Stone, a Yahoo!© reporter states that,

“He [Obama] portrayed a clear choice between an administration that despite some warts has helped advance its agenda, and a Republican Party that would offer disastrous policies for the economy and civil liberties.”

I am all for dramatics and colorful adjectives, but to say this administration has had ‘some warts’ is like saying that Helen Thomas bears only a passing resemblance to a warthog. As for those disastrous policies regarding economy and civil liberties...

1) Obama’s policies are to a large degree identical to those of the despised GWB.

2) The left would never infringe on personal (civil) liberties like forcing people to partake in a health insurance industry against the threat of monumental fines.

In the final part of the Yahoo!© article, Obama comments on his campaign promises with a severely depressing thought:

“The president said he keeps a checklist of his campaign promises and that he has met, by his account, about 70 percent of them.

As for the rest: "Well, that's what the next two years is for, or maybe the next six." Obama would need to win re-election in 2012 for that latter timeframe to occur.”

Please Democrats, be as apathetic as you want. Just don’t make me suffer through another 2-6 years.

Awww, He Didn’t Sell It Properly?
Lo and behold, another article reported in September that Obama was blaming himself for the poor response to his healthcare bill.
Well, I blame him too, but that’s neither here nor there. Granted, there’s been an ungodly amount of misinformation on nearly every presidential cock-up since the first piece of bad legislation wiggled its way through Congress on calloused knees, but the fact remains that a costly chunk of bad legislation passed through emotional pleas and whining is still bad legislation. It’s like why you don’t let men that aren’t gay pick your clothes; a $3,000 dress that makes you look like a whore is still a dress that makes you look like a whore--specifically, one that’s selling something that will make you pay like hell later. And baby, Barack has never looked so fetching.
Fact of the matter is, the bill is costly. Regardless of the reporter’s snide commentary about “death panels” at the bottom of the article, that doesn’t discount the billions that will be spent on what is a legislative black hole. And according to the article, Barack’s delightful little pinata of ick (?) is going to be bursting over everyone’s heads. This includes such lovely inclusions as:

“The biggest changes in the legislation, such as the new purchasing pools and requirement for everyone to carry insurance, don't kick in until 2014. Among changes taking effect this week:

_Young adults can remain on family health plans until they turn 26.

_Free immunization provided for kids.

_Free preventive care provided, such as mammograms and cholesterol screenings.

_No more lifetime coverage limits, and annual limits start to phase out.

_Plans can't cancel coverage for people who get sick.

_No denial of coverage for kids with pre-existing health conditions.”

Golly gee. Doesn’t get much better than that, if you’re in favor of the government having an unusually large stake in your healthcare. Now, for those of us who do take advantage of healthcare insurance, these changes aren’t necessarily bad. I like most of these changes, but the thing is this could have gotten accomplished with 50% less pomp and next to no circumstance. If Congress had been paying attention to experts in the field, they would have known that increasing competition by allowing interstate insurance plans would have led to such conditions. Simply put, if you are allowed to entertain offers from companies around the countries then they will have to compete for you. It works on the same principle that eBay does, where the person with the best offer gets the merchandise.

In the piece the President is quoted as saying, “We just got to give people some basic peace of mind," Well ... you could start by resigning, but I won’t hold my breath on that one either.

When talking about the possibility of a Republican-led congress repealing the law Obama had this to say, "It makes sense in terms of politics and polls," Obama said of the GOP position. "It doesn't make sense in terms of actually making people's lives better." He does have a point, like so many other entitlement programs it is nearly impossible to repeal once it has been signed, however, there are pending law suits regarding it’s constitutionality. If the law is found to be unconstitutional, which it should, the law would be ruled null and void. There is also the possibility of bringing it before The Court based on violations of anti-trust laws. Since this law would effectively monopolize the insurance industry, these rumors are music to my ears.

Ding! Dong! The Dumbass is Gone!
Once the glitter and ticker-tape is swept off my block from the party I am throwing I may be able to look at this a tad more objectively, but not for now. From the video attached to the article you can clearly see that Dear Ole Rahm is visibly upset and highly emotional about his departure. I would be too. After all, the ventriloquist and his puppet are a pair; get too far from each other and the act falls apart.
Now you may ask, like I did, what Rahm could possibly be giving up the metaphorical key to Emerald City in exchange for. Well, the suspense is not needed, of course he is crawling back into the filth that is Chicago politics. Scum misses scum, after all. It’s almost poetic, if it wasn’t so damned depressing. While it is very exciting that we are finally seeing some of the old junk being cleared out of the White House, it is depressing that most likely this particularly stinky vestige of mob-style politics is going to be getting his very own town to run further into the ground. It was a balancing act: I didn’t want Rahm in the White House whispering into the Puppet-in-Chief’s ear, but I also wasn’t prepared for him to have a political office all his own.
The only thing I can hope is that there are some voters left in Chicago that can see through Obama and all of his cronies and have the good sense to rail against Rahm’s agenda. So here is my warning Chicago: He will make promises, he will promise to create change, and he will seem to want Chicago’s best interest. Just remember what he has lobbied for and promised with Obama, and remember what they have actually delivered.

There is only one other thing I would like to comment on:

Doh! History Bites Us in the Ass Again...
So, it has recently come to light that in the late 1940s American scientists conducted STD research in Guatemala on human subjects that were confined to a mental hospital(s). According to research notes, Dr. John C. Cutler conducted research that intentionally infected possibly hundreds of patients. This man may also sound familiar as one of the leading researchers of the Tuskegee experiment, where hundreds of African American men infected with syphilis were observed (without treatment) to see the progression of the virus. The Tuskeegee experiment ended in the early 1970s, Cutler defended the project until his death.
In the Guatemalan version the researchers infected hundreds of people, many of them mental patients, with both gonorrhea and syphilis, and further encouraged infected patients to pass the diseases on to uninfected individuals. While the patients did not know, or give their permission to be part of the experiment, the Guatemalan government did.
All of this research was basically forgotten, until Tuskeegee experiment expert Susan Reverby found it by complete accident in the archives of the University of Pittsburgh.
Everyone has issued apologies to everyone.
I am already sick of this story. We are judging these practices by current standards, and that is impossible. It is true that these things are despicable, but they weren’t out of line for the time period (you can’t make that argument with Tuskegee). The fact is that science has brutal roots, get over it. If you have ever taken an antibiotic or had a shot in your entire life you have no reason to complain, because like it or not this is medical history. The important thing associated with this story should not be the amount of apologies issued, it should be a firm resolution not to have these kinds of experiments run ever again. People aren’t focusing on that though, they would rather complain about how much of a monster the US is and how this is just what we dominant cultures do in the developing world. I have to applaud Clinton and Sebelius, not for the damn apology, but for their commitment to investigating current US drug trials in foreign countries, and making sure they meet ethical standards. According to articles on this subject around eight percent of drugs approved in the US had clinical trials exclusively in foreign countries; with a full eighty percent of drug approvals having had data collected outside of the US. So instead of focusing on the past, let’s learn from it and make sure we are taking care of people now and in the future.

This blog was a collaborative effort between Mary and I, however, I hit the "publish" button so it will be marked with me alone as author.