Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Refusing medical treatment on "religious grounds";_ylt=AsmHA6BZbrBE2.Y_HVvRh6tvzwcF

Shortly after a girl died of diabetes after her religious parents refused to seek medical treatment, believing that "God would heal the child," a mother has gone on the run with her cancer-afflicted 13-year-old son in the face of being threatened with legal action after refusing to continue her son's chemotherapy due to religious objections. The child's father, while baffled as to why the authorities have gotten involved, said that he supports chemo in this and other "extreme" cases.
The mother is part of a fanatic Roman Catholic sect that advocates "natural" healing. Her son, in addition to having Hodgkin's disease, is also learning-disabled, leading doctors and authorities to conclude that he didn't fully understand the process and effects of chemotherapy. He did fear that it would "kill him," but who knows if he came to that conclusion on his own or if he was influenced by his mother.
The question is, can parents refuse to treat their children? The obvious answer appears to be yes, since, if the government orders "conventional" medicine to parents who may not support it, this is a slippery slope in government intervention of civil liberties and freedom of choice. If they force chemotherapy in one extreme case, what will stop them from continuing to enforce specific treatments? Another, almost as obvious answer, is that the government has a duty to protect its citizens, including children when parents fail to do so. The state where the chemo-dodging mother lives has a law enforcing medical treatment for children, and states that "alternative and complementary medicine are not enough." "Alternative" medicine, consisting of homeopathy, herbs and "natural" medicine, have not been proven effective. Even less effective is the method of prayer and divine intervention, practiced by the religious zealots who most frequently refuse medical treatment.
Further complicating this issue is the fact that religious fanatics are not easy to get through to in terms of crime and punishment. If a suicide bomber is willing to die for his god, how is a court on earth going to punish him so it will make an impact? Similarly, religious fanatics who believe that God will heal ailments and, if he doesn't, than it was due to some divine plan. If a religious parent is convinced that they were acting according to God's will, no earthly judge or jury will convince them otherwise. They will go to their prison cell, or to their execution, confident they are still good in the eyes of God, and, to them, that will be the only thing that matters.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Louisiana middle school shooting;_ylt=AsSQkHD_j2uBDoNbLfTQatVvzwcF

An angry but immature and insufficiently armed 15-year-old went on a rampage at a Louisiana middle school, a crime that officials say was planned far in advance, as evidenced by journals kept by the gunman. With the exception of the all too real body count and injuries, this almost felt like a childish playacting of a massacre. It fit the mold of the mass murder, through the angry journal entries to the shooter's attempt on his own life, which left him in "critical but stable condition" but alive.
He "geared up" in camoflauge, dressing up for the part, and told a teacher to "Hail Marilyn Manson," an odd and very immature statement. But someone who thinks they can solve their problems in a hail of bullets is hardly a role model of humanity. His journal reveals phrases like "y'all will die."
This shooter was 15, with a still developing and still immature mental capacity, and, most likely, ruled by hormones rather than logic. Regardless of age, once a man (usually) has come to the decision to run rampant with a firearm as retribution for perceived injustices, he has ceased to be a rational human being and is ruled by overactive emotions, like any teenager.
The serial killer, in emotional processes, is also, in a way, a perpetual adolescent, demanding that what he needs is more important than anything else in the world, even if what he "needs" is to commit murder. The vast majority of teenagers are not violent, although their demands for possessions and an independence for which they are not ready can border on insistent and almost violently pushy. Killers, like addicts and teenagers, need instant gratification, and are easily bored and need higher levels of stimuli to keep them interested. Ted Bundy's college girlfriend dumped him (this was the trigger on his festering hatred of women) because, among other factors, she thought he was "immature." Gainesville Ripper Danny Rolling was also called immature by a police psychiatrist. Ed Gein had a childlike inability to cope with the outside world after the death of his domineering mother, which lowered him into insanity. Somewhere along the way, the emotional development of these men stalled, while they physically grew into adult men and, in most cases, developed higher mental capacities that allowed them to trick their victims and outsmart law enforcement. Physical and mental strength, combined with an adolescent selfishness and demand for instant gratification, took men damaged by biology or abuse down a murderous path.
Adolescence is also, particularly for men, a hypersexual period, which doesn't taper off until the early to mid 20s (or, an argument can be made, for the rest of their lives). Older men, with some exceptions, don't often begin serial murder careers (angry men of this age are more likely to go on shooting rampages) because, possibly, even if the crimes themselves have no sexual element, most serial killers gain a sexual satisfaction from murder. In the first episode of the second season of Dexter, after commiting his first murder in several weeks, as Dexter plunges the knife into his victim, his face looks like one in the midst of an orgasm. That many serial killers choose the phallic knife is potentially significant to the Freudians among us, and, while Jack the Ripper's victims were not sexually assaulted, profilers theorize that the stabbing was the Ripper's substitute for sex. Male serial killers usually begin their careers in their late teens or early 20s, where they are legally adults but still hypersexual adolescents. Female serial murderers, on the other hand, if they are not acting as accomplices to male killers, tend to begin their killing later in life, as Aileen Wuornos did in her 30s; women reaching their sexual peak in mid-adulthood rather than adolescence.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

John Allen Muhammed appeals;_ylt=Asa1MntilrAtqc95sGpuQy9bIwgF

John Allen Muhammed, the dominant force in the Beltway Sniper attacks, is appealing his conviction, claiming ineffective counsel and withholding of evidence on the part of the prosecution. Muhammed chose to represent himself. As an old saying goes, "Ignorance of the law is no excuse." Muhammed's decision, which I'm sure his co-counsel advised against, was a stupid one. But at least, in a way, he's now acknowledging that, in the court's refusal to stop him, that it was a bad idea. Still, Muhammed is an egomaniacal sociopath, and I doubt his ego would have allowed anyone to stand in the way of what he felt was his right to represent himself. Now that he's been convicted, like so many before him, he's trying anything, no matter how futile, to get out.
Muhammed also claims that the prosecution violated terms by withholding an early police profile of the suspected shooter, indicating that it was likely a "loner," not a duo like Muhammed and Lee Boyd Malvo. He and his new attorneys neglected to mention that the profile included a brief mention of the possibility of an accomplice that was acting under the direction of the primary shooter, an accurate description of Muhammed and Malvo.
According to Muhammed, there were also letters written by Malvo in prison that were not admitted, letters which illustrate that Malvo was an active, not passive accomplice. Malvo was 17 at the time of the sniper attacks, having been taken from his native Jamaica by Muhammed. While Malvo is no innocent, it's clear that he was operating under the influence of a much older and domineering authority figure.
John Allen Muhammed was, in terms used to describe mass murderers, a time bomb. Two failed marriages, a string of failed businesses, a discharge from the Army (where he was court martialed twice), combined with the sociopath's sense of entitlement, were waiting to erupt. Muhammed was angry at his ex-wife (who had a restraining order against him) for taking his children away, and at the world in general. He had motive, opportunity, sharpshooter training from the military, and a willing and naive accomplice.
Final note: Muhammed's lawyers also say that testimony from a psychologist stating that Muhammed suffered brain damage due to years of abuse from his parents was not admitted, but prosecutors say this was because Muhammed refused to cooperate with the psychologist.