Archive | May, 2014

Santa Barbara Mass Murder Could Have Been Prevented

25 May

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After reading some of the disturbed thoughts of Elliot Rodger, some obvious questions come to mind. If Rodger was so obsessed with having a girlfriend, for example, why didn’t he join an online dating service rather than an online gripe session for “undateable” men?

Unfortunately, such simple questions, even if answered, do nothing to explain the unthinkable act of taking six innocent lives in a premeditated binge of random vengeance. Rodger’s 140 page manifesto, My Twisted World, exposes the 22-year-old killer’s deranged mind and lack of logical thinking.

After simple questions, more complex ones come to mind like, why didn’t Rodger’s family do more after viewing his ominous videos on YouTube? They were so disturbed by the videos, which showed their son discussing suicide and murder, that they called police who conducted a wellness check on April 30. However, according to Fox News, Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said deputies reported that Rodger was shy, polite and having a difficult social life. He convinced officers that the videos he posted on YouTube (which police apparently had not viewed) were just a misunderstanding.

Actually, while duping police, Rodger worried that his depraved plans would be thwarted if the deputies searched his room. “That would have ended everything,” he wrote in My Twisted World. “For a few horrible seconds I thought it was all over.” http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/05/24/at-least-3-dead-in-shootings-in-santa-barbara-area/ and http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/05/25/authorities-detail-moments-terror-in-california-shooting-rampage/.

Elliot Rodger’s parents did the right thing when they called the police. But law enforcement gets lots of similar calls and may not be adequately staffed or trained to deal with complex mental health issues. Evidently, officers did not see the videos and were unable to decipher the extent of Rodger’s illness. My guess is that they did their best and made an honest mistake. Yet, Rodger’s parents had seen the videos, they knew something was wrong with their son and they were extremely alarmed.

So, why didn’t family members persist with their pleas for help? Why didn’t they demand that detectives view the upsetting videos? Why didn’t they call their son’s friends or roommates? Why didn’t they take their concerns to the mental health department or a private psychologist or psychiatrist? Why didn’t they have their son locked up in a 5150* because he was a danger to himself and others?
*Section 5150 is a section of the California Welfare and Institutions Code which allows a qualified officer or clinician to involuntarily confine a person who is a danger to himself or others.

Elliot Rodger’s wellness check was conducted on April 30, almost a month before his killing spree of May 23. That’s more than enough time to do something. That’s more than enough time to prevent mass murder. It would have taken only one family member to persevere, one neighbor or one roommate. (Rodger’s two roommates and their friend were the first victims of his killing spree.)

The public has the right to be protected from people like Elliot Rodger and all of us are responsible to do the right thing with the information we have. And sometimes that takes perseverance. Why didn’t Rodger’s family persevere until their son got the help he needed and they had peace of mind that he was not a threat to others? These are questions that will probably haunt the Rodger family and I don’t wish that on anyone. But, it seems that the only way to prevent similar tragedies in the future is for those who know something to do something.

I don’t believe the answer is just gun control. Remember that Rodger used his BMW as a weapon to mow down bicyclists during his deadly rampage.  He also stabbed to death his two roommates and their friend. And Rodger was raised in a family that is “staunchly against guns,” according to family attorney Alan Shifman. Perhaps their knowledge of Rodger’s upbringing lulled family members into believing that Rodger would never use a gun, obtain one or act out violently.

This tragic incident brings to mind the case of Jaycee Lee Dugard who was kidnapped in 1991 at age 11 by Phillip and Nancy Garrido. Dugard was held for more than 18 years at the couple’s California home in backyard tents. Neighbors called police to report the unusual living arrangement of Jaycee and her two daughters who were fathered by Garrido. Police went to the house but left before searching the backyard, which they may have been reluctant to do without a search warrant.

Why didn’t the neighbors call police again or even go to the media with their strange story? There were plenty of other missed opportunities. Phillip Garrido was a convicted, registered sex offender who was monitored, to an extent. Yet, even parole officers failed to thoroughly search his backyard during routine inspections.

But then there were two people who went the extra mile. UC Berkeley Police Officer Ally Jacobs was alerted to Garrido by staff member Lisa Campbell, who was alarmed by a bizarre on campus encounter she had with Garrido and his two young daughters. The perseverance of these two women led to Dugard’s freedom after 18 long years and the capture of her tormentors.

It only takes one person to ask that extra question or make that extra phone call. It only takes one person to care enough to do enough. And that one person could be any of us.

Can anyone tell me why Steven Spielberg presented President Obama with the USC Shoah award?

25 May

 

 

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Can anyone tell me why Steven Spielberg presented President Obama with the USC Shoah award? After viewing and reading several news accounts, I was perplexed that none of them mentioned the reason Mr. Obama was chosen as recipient of this award. Some described the Shoah award as a humanitarian award and some said that the Shoah Foundation opposes genocide. But none of the stories explained what Obama has done to earn this award.

After doing some online research I caught a glimpse of the answer. According to The Hollywood Reporter, http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/president-obama-attends-steven-spielbergs-702223, Spielberg presented Obama with the USC Shoah Foundation’s Ambassador for Humanity Award, while thanking the president for “taking steps to combat genocide worldwide.” Wow! That’s an enormous feat, an achievement of which I was unaware. I have heard the president express concern for groups of people that are threatened worldwide, but I am unaware of the steps Obama has taken “to combat genocide worldwide.”

President Obama can be pretty good with his words and even convincing. As I read The Hollywood Reporter article, I noticed that the president made some wonderful and inspiring comments, like: “And it’s up to us — each of us, every one of us — to forcefully condemn any denial of the Holocaust. It’s up to us to combat not only anti-Semitism, but racism and bigotry and intolerance in all their forms, here and around the world. To speak out against rhetoric that threatens the existence of a Jewish homeland and to sustain America’s unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security.”

Those are great things to say. But what has the president actually done about them? And what has he done about combating genocide worldwide? Perhaps, just saying great things is one of the steps to which Mr. Spielberg was referring. However, I would hope that President Obama backs his great statements with great actions.

Governor Brown thinks California Business Owners are Stupid?

9 May
Governor Jerry Brown Disses California Businesses

Governor Jerry Brown Disses California Businesses

So, California State Governor Jerry Brown thinks struggling California business owners are stupid? That’s what he communicated the other day, although not in so many words. Brown was speaking on April 28 in Lancaster at the U.S. headquarters of Chinese automaker BYD. Brown was there to recognize BYD’s production of its first two electric buses coming from the California factory, which employs 60 people.

Coincidentally, Brown’s remarks were delivered on the same day that Toyota, the world’s largest car maker, announced plans to relocate thousands of California employees to Texas. Toyota currently has more than 5,300 California employees, mostly in Torrance.

“We’ve got a few problems, we’ve got lots of little burdens, regulations and taxes,” Brown said, “but smart people figure out how to make it. And like I always say: you get what you pay for.”

Okay, so does that mean if California’s high taxes and strict regulations are causing business owners to struggle they are stupid? I would venture to say no and to disagree with the suggestion that lack of intelligence is responsible for California’s dismal business climate. I would also venture to say that the “little burdens, regulations and taxes” which are crushing California businesses are not so little, after all.

Snoop Dogg vs. Donald Sterling

8 May

Rapper Snoop Dogg

One undesirable consequence of the Donald Sterling fiasco is the platform it’s given people like Snoop Dogg to claim the moral high ground. In a profanity laced rant Dogg (actually Rapper Calvin Cordozar Broadus, Jr.) also known as Snoop Lion, sent a message to the Clippers’ owner and to anyone else who would listen. I can’t print the message because of its vulgarity, but let’s just put it this way: Dogg doesn’t care for Sterling, his mama or anything connected to him.

I knew that Dogg was a rapper and that he’s done some acting. But, I also connected his name to the infamous “Girls Gone Wild” porn videos that were promoted on late night TV some years back. Indeed, Dogg was a promoter of “Girls Gone Wild” videos which exploited inebriated teen-age girls and young college women by filming them in ways they would later regret. In 2012, for example, Missouri stay-at-home mom Tamara Favazza received a $5.77 million judgment after claiming that Girls Gone Wild used video of her breasts in 2004 without her permission.

While I’m not a fan of rap music, Snoop Dogg’s obscenity filled Instagram made me curious about what Dogg sings about. So I looked up some lyrics and was shocked. I wondered why feminists and the NAACP hadn’t shut this guy down. His songs promote denigration and abuse of women and he used the “n” word innumerable times in almost all of the songs I looked up. To be fair, Snoop Dogg is older now and has children. Perhaps he has tamed his tongue over the years, I thought. So, I looked into newer songs. Yes, they were more tame, but still offensive and disgusting. The scary thing is that Snoop Dogg has sold more than 30 million albums worldwide. He’s promoting disrespect, contempt and mistreatment of women and others to his listeners and to the world. What’s even scarier is that Snoop Dogg has been legitimized by the entertainment industry and the media. Snoop Dogg is acceptable in modern society and he’s cool. In my book, he shouldn’t be. He needs to be grilled for the way he raps about women and his fellow man. It seems Donald Sterling isn’t the only one who has some explaining to do.

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