communication, Police, true crime

Waiting for “contact”…

There are a couple of hot news items I could write about today. Derek Chauvin’s guilty verdict, while not at all surprising, is a story that begs to be written about. I’m sure a lot of people will write about him, but I won’t be among them today, except to state that I’m glad he got convicted. It doesn’t bring me pleasure to see anyone get handcuffed and led to prison, but I do think it was entirely justified in Chauvin’s case.

I could also write about the infuriating story I read yesterday about Karen Garner, an 80 pound 73 year old woman with dementia who, last June, tried to walk out of a Walmart in Loveland, Colorado with about $14 worth of unpaid for merchandise. She was stopped by store employees, forced back into the store where the items were recovered, and not allowed to pay for them. Then, as she was picking purple wildflowers in a nearby field, walking to her nearby home, she was stopped by police. They arrested her, breaking her arm and dislocating her shoulder as they violently cuffed the confused, elderly woman. She sat cuffed in a cell for hours before she was taken to jail, crying and terrified. Thankfully, the district attorney immediately dropped the charges against Karen Garner. Her family has sued.

Absolutely INFURIATING! And neither of these cops were fired or disciplined.

Yes… I could definitely write about that case, as I watched the infuriating body cam coverage. I’m so tired of reading about violent cops who hurt and kill people instead of helping them. I know it can be done, too, because I’ve seen it in action here in Europe. I get that cops never know what they’re going to encounter when they go on patrol, particularly in the United States, where so many people are armed. But this poor lady is going to suffer for the rest of her life because of the incompetent and, frankly, cruel treatment she received from the police officers who manhandled her last summer. I may write about Karen Garner later today or even tomorrow… or maybe not. This case really upset me.

Or, I could write about how, as Derek Chauvin’s verdict was being read yesterday, a teenaged Black girl in Columbus, Ohio was fatally shot by the police. I don’t know too much about that story yet, as I was going to bed as Chauvin’s fate was delivered yesterday. Evidently, the 15 (or 16– I’ve seen both ages listed) year old who was killed by the police was brandishing a knife and threatening another girl in the community. She was living in foster care and had evidently gotten into a fight with someone at her foster home. Supposedly, she had dropped the knife before a police officer killed her. Someone in the video footage said that she’d been shot four times, which does seem excessive to me. Seems like one shot should have been enough to incapacitate her, if the weapon was needed at all.

Or, I could write about Kimberly Potter, the cop who, inexplicably, confused her Glock service revolver for a Taser and fatally shot 20 year old Daunte Wright. How Potter confused a Taser for a gun, I will never know. I don’t make it a habit of using either device. At least, in her case, she was unpleasantly shocked at what she did and exclaimed, “Holy shit! I just shot him!” From those words, I can at least surmise that she hadn’t intended to shoot the man, but was obviously caught up in the tension of the moment. It doesn’t change the fact that a man is dead because of her negligent actions, but I don’t see her as cold-blooded as I do Derek Chauvin, who showed no mercy toward George Floyd as he knelt on the man’s neck and killed him in front of bystanders.

But… what I really want to write about today has nothing to do with police brutality. Regular readers of my blog probably know that I pay close attention to who is reading and what people find interesting. I do this because I’m genuinely curious about my readership, but also to see what subjects people enjoy. Sometimes, I write posts that are more for me or people who know me offline than the strangers who come across my blog. I enjoy writing the personal stories more than I do rants about current events. If I’m honest, writing about current events often makes me nervous. Why? Because I notice many people hitting my “contact” page.

Sometimes people hit the contact page multiple times after reading and re-reading some of my posts. I can see that they go to the page, probably looking for information about the person who shares these opinions… and wonder what kind of person I am. Or maybe they actually do feel like contacting me. The thought of that makes me kind of nervous, since you never know what people are going to write.

So far, the few people who have contacted me for reasons other than spam have been very nice. One guy, a German, wrote to ask me to make available a post I wrote about Erin McCay George I wrote for my Blogspot version of The Overeducated Housewife. For some reason, her case has attracted many readers from around the world. I’m surprised I haven’t seen her case profiled on Snapped, although I don’t think she snapped as much as she became overcome by greed. So I reposted that article, as well as a lot of other articles I’ve written over the years.

I heard from Adam Barrows, author of the controversial New York Times love story involving his wife, who had anorexia nervosa. Barrows wrote about how he didn’t try to encourage his wife to seek treatment. I didn’t like all of the horrible negative appraisals of Barrows’ character, so I decided to write about his story. Barrows wrote to thank me. Even two months later, that post still gets a lot of hits. Barrows’ story really resonated with a lot of people, and obviously, people wanted to know how others felt about it. I’m not known for my conventional approaches to all matters. I often go against the grain of public opinion, which is why it makes me nervous when people haunt the contact page. I’m always afraid of getting a ton of hate mail. But, aside from one somewhat irate commenter who wanted to “correct” my opinions, the discussion on that post has been blessedly respectful, and I really appreciate that.

I also heard from a guy in Virginia who was interested in my post about weird murder stories in Farmville, which is the town where I went to college. Farmville is a town that, at least in the 1990s, felt kind of like it was about 30 years behind the rest of Virginia. And yet, there have been some really fascinating true crime cases in that place. Maybe, in another life, I would have been like Ann Rule or Kathryn Casey, and become a true crime writer. I really do find the stories fascinating… better than any novelist could dream up, in a lot of cases.

And finally, I got a note from a lawyer in New Zealand who read my review of Jocelyn Zichterman’s controversial book, I Fired God, and hoped I would also write about Gloriavale Christian Community in New Zealand. I did recently read and review a book about that community, and I am currently reading another book about it.

For the first year, since I moved my blog to WordPress, it took a long time to re-establish a following. Now that this version of my blog is two years old, I’m getting more readers. So far, because I moderate comments, I get fewer flames from drive by readers who don’t like my opinions. But I also have lots of lurkers who haunt my contact page. They go back to it repeatedly. I’m sure curiosity is what takes them there. Maybe some of them would like to rip me a new one because they think I’ve gotten something “wrong”. I always remind people, though, that this blog is just a collection of my opinions and observations. I realize that not everyone agrees with me. I don’t expect everyone to agree, although it’s not very often that my mind is changed by an irate comment. I won’t say it never happens, though.

I remember a few years ago, I read a story about a woman who was murdered by her ex boyfriend, who had also killed three of the woman’s four children. It was a horrific case out of Newport News, Virginia detailing how the police had completely failed to protect the woman, who had just gotten a restraining order that hadn’t been served to her killer. I wrote a post about the story based only on what I read in the news. A relative of the victim wrote to me and asked me to revisit the story with more context thrown in. She was initially upset by my observations, but when I pointed out to her that I was only reacting to the news story and not trying to judge her, she calmed down and told me more about what happened. I was outraged by her account and wrote another post about it. She ended up thanking me. I still look back on that and really feel good that I was able to get more of the story out. In fact, since that story is coming up today, I will repost it after I’m finished writing this entry.

For some reason, true crime posts are the ones that really capture people’s interest the most. I’m always willing to hear from people who want more of the story explained. I’m sure there are some people who read my posts and are actually involved in the cases. Maybe they want to say something to me… or maybe they’re just curious. I don’t know. But I will admit, the contact page lurkers who repeatedly hit that page are a curiosity of mine, too. What are they looking for? There’s nothing on that page but a form, powered by WordPress. I can only think that they’re deliberating sending me a comment. I can’t blame them for that. I’m famous for turning comments into content. 😉

Well… here’s hoping the news gets better today. I am glad Derek Chauvin, at least, has gotten some well-deserved justice delivered to him. It doesn’t bring me joy to see anyone locked up, but I do think he got exactly what he asked for when he made the decision to brutalize and kill George Floyd, who was helpless and crying for his mother as he was dying. I’m sorry for all of Chauvin’s friends and loved ones, as well as his other victims. I also feel much for Floyd’s family, but am specifically mentioning Chauvin’s family and friends because they probably won’t get much sympathy. People never think about the perpetrator’s loved ones when something like this happens. They are suffering, too, and deserve some regard… although Floyd’s family rightfully deserves more attention right now.

It’s time for Chauvin to pay the piper and do his time. And, I will go on record now to state that I fervently hope the two cops who hurt Karen Garner are also made to answer for their brutality toward that poor woman. Watching that video and listening to those cops, seeing how they manhandled a frail and obviously confused lady, was horrifying to me. But even so, I try to keep in mind that cops have a tough job these days. I wish more of them had common sense and more humanity, though.

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rants, religion

What would Jesus tweet?

This morning, I woke up to more news about fiery riots in cities across America. My heart sank as I looked at the pictures and videos of people protesting George Floyd’s horrifying death at the hands of Derek Chauvin, a white police officer with whom Floyd used to work a security detail at a Minneapolis night club. In the wake of Floyd’s death by cop, Chauvin has been arrested and charged with third degree murder and manslaughter, and his wife, Kellie Chauvin, has filed for divorce.

A news item about this…

As I scrolled past that news, I noticed an item about Jerry Falwell, Jr., conservative Christian president of Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, and big time Trump supporter. It’s no secret that Falwell is no fan of liberals, and he’s not a fan of being ordered to wear a face mask. To protest Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s order that everyone wear a mask in public, Mr. Falwell has decided to turn his into a political statement. He has a mask that has a picture of Northam’s infamous blackface yearbook photo on it and shared it on Twitter.

Wow… really? This does not seem very “Christlike”, Jerry.

A black professor who taught online for Liberty University has already resigned over Falwell’s racist tweets. Dr. Christopher House, who began teaching for Liberty University in the fall of 2019, is an associate professor at Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York, and is also a pastor. Dr. House was alerted to Falwell’s tweets by a friend and cited two of them as he immediately resigned his affiliation with Liberty University.

Dr. House’s resignation letter, which was also posted on Facebook.

Frankly, coming from Virginia myself, I’m surprised that anyone holds Liberty in esteem. When I was a teenager looking at colleges, I would not have considered Liberty, even if I had been religious enough to want to attend a Christian college. Back then, it was not considered a very prestigious school. However, over the past few decades, the school has grown by leaps and bounds, apparently mostly due to its online programs. When I was in graduate school, I knew that online and distance learning were going to be waves of the future, even as some of my professors were against it. My graduate school, the University of South Carolina, was an early pioneer in distance education. Looks like Liberty has cashed in on online education and that’s why it has so much power today. When I was in college, the idea of a professor from Ithaca College could teach remotely to students in Virginia was like something out of a science fiction novel.

But anyway… while I completely understand why so many people in Virginia are chafing at being required to wear face masks, I think Jerry Falwell, Jr.’s decision to provoke more of a racial divide is just reprehensible and disgusting. Now, especially, is NOT the time to race bait anyone. Not while the country is going crazy with riots over the unjustified killing of a black man by a white former cop. It is shocking to me that Jerry Falwell, Jr. considers himself a Christian with this type of behavior. This is definitely NOT Christlike behavior, nor is it appropriate leadership. As Dr. House says, Jerry Falwell, Jr. should repent.

Falwell says that the masks are not meant to be racist. He says he created them as a means of reminding people of who Northam is– that he’s a racist. Perhaps Governor Northam was guilty of racist behavior at one time, but people can evolve and change. I don’t think the Northam of the mid 1980s is the same Northam of 2020. It would be a sad world indeed if people couldn’t learn from their mistakes. Indeed, shouldn’t Falwell, as president of a Christian university, be championing the idea of learning and growing instead of being stuck on something from the past? Christians, in particular, should be open to the possibility that people can grow and be better than they once were. It’s one thing when a person is an asshole and continues to be an asshole. It’s quite another when a person was an asshole and makes an effort not to be one in the future.

It’s true that Governor Northam dressed up in blackface when he was in medical school, back in the mid 1980s. It was wrong of Northam to do that, although in the 80s, the culture was not nearly as sensitive to racism as it is today. Northam has evolved beyond his racist actions of the 80s and done a lot of good for the people of Virginia. My former shrink, a doctorate level clinical psychologist, knows Governor Northam personally and has done work with him on a professional basis, as Northam was a pediatric neurologist before he got into politics. He says Northam is an exemplary man and an excellent physician, despite making a poor choice to wear blackface in the 1980s. Seems to me that being a good Christian includes being forgiving and charitable to others.

It surprises me that Jerry Falwell, Jr. would fault Governor Northam for being politically incorrect by dressing in blackface. Falwell has said he appreciated our feckless dickheaded POTUS because he’s not politically correct. So… while I can understand why so many people hate the face masks and I can see why people are upset with Northam for being caught without one on the Virginia Beach Boardwalk, I also think that Jerry Falwell, Jr. is a terrible example of a “Christian”. He should be ashamed of himself, although I think that much like Trump, Falwell has no shame. Jesus would never tweet this shit, Jerry. Grow up and be a leader.

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