book reviews, true crime

Repost: A review of Hope: A Memoir of Survival in Cleveland

If I repost Michelle Knight’s book about her ordeal being held captive at the hands of Ariel Castro, I have to repost the book written by her co-captives, Gina DeJesus and Amanda Berry. This review originally appeared on my old blog on June 13, 2016. I am reposting it as/is.

I recently read and reviewed Michelle Knight’s book, Finding Me: A Decade of Darkness, a Life Reclaimed: A Memoir of the Cleveland Kidnappings. Michelle Knight was one of three women the late rapist and kidnapper Ariel Castro kept chained up in his house for many years.  I found Michelle Knight’s book rather inspiring, though it wasn’t the best written book I’ve ever read.

Hope: A Memoir of Survival in Cleveland, written by Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus and ghost writers Mary Jordan and Kevin Sullivan, got better reviews on Amazon.com.  Since I am fascinated by true crime and like to read different perspectives, I decided to read Hope right after I read Finding Me.  I finished the book last night and have come to the conclusion that it’s a different kind of book than Finding Me is, even though some of the stories overlap.

Hope is written from Amanda Berry’s and Gina DeJesus’ perspectives.  Michelle Knight is mentioned in the book, but by and large, her part in this book is relatively small.  Somehow, Ariel Castro managed to keep the women from knowing about each other for years.  Later, there were times when they were chained together.  Amanda Berry also had a child by Ariel Castro which Michelle Knight, who had given birth before she was kidnapped, helped deliver in a plastic wading pool.  I got the sense that Berry may have been Castro’s favorite of the three.  Michelle Knight got pregnant five times and Castro starved and beat her each time to force her to miscarry.  Berry describes Castro as a loving father to their daughter, Jocelyn, while Knight describes Castro as a horrible monster in her book.

The authors include backstory on Ariel Castro, including where he grew up and his years with his common law wife, Nilda, who is now dead.  Castro had children with Nilda who saw him as a more or less normal man.  They had no idea that he was holding three women captive.  For some reason, it never occurred to Castro’s family to wonder why certain parts of his house were strictly off limits.  Somehow, they never saw or heard the women.  In my opinion, one of the most interesting passages in Hope was when one of Castro’s daughters came to the house to pick up family heirlooms.  Castro was locked up and had tearfully agreed to let the city of Cleveland raze his house.  The daughter had come over to find mementos before they were destroyed.  While she was in the house, she mused about how her father had managed to hide this part of his life from everyone.  Her mother had died and her father, a man she had loved and respected, was not the person she thought he was.  She felt like an orphan.

Interestingly enough, Castro is presented less brutally in Hope than he was in Finding Me.  Somehow, the authors manage to give the man more humanity.  But again, I think that’s because of the different perspectives.  Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry, and Gina DeJesus are different people with different experiences.  Knight is also older than the other two women and was the first one abducted.  She is not mentioned much in Hope, though, and I think that’s for a number of reasons.  First off, Knight wrote her own book.  Secondly, the women were not always kept together.  In fact, I got the sense that they were kept apart a good part of the time, especially at the beginning of their captivity.  Berry and DeJesus were apparently close in age and have become friends.

I still don’t know why Castro did what he did.  He said it was because he had a “sexual problem”.  He reportedly feared prison and hated it when the women compared their captivity with prison.  Somehow, he didn’t grasp that what he was doing was worse than prison.  At least in prison, family can visit and there is usually a release date.  People in prison are fed regularly and aren’t usually repeatedly raped and beaten.  Castro was definitely a monster and a coward, but of everyone in this case, his brain is the one I’d most like to pick.  What drives someone to do what he did?  He obviously didn’t see himself as a bad person, even as he was doing horrific things to three women and stealing large portions of their lives.

I think Hope is a better written book than Finding Me is.  The ghost writers did a good job of making the story sound as if it came from the two former captives, but they also included a lot more information, including about Castro himself and his “day” in court.  While Finding Me is about Michelle Knight’s life, including the time before she was kidnapped, Hope is really just about the abduction and life with Ariel Castro from Berry’s and DeJesus’ viewpoint.  It took me less time to read this book, probably because the quality of writing was better.

Overall, if I had to choose between reading Finding Me and Hope, I would probably pick Hope.  However, I think both books are worth reading, even if some of the material within them is disturbing.  I think Hope offers a more complete look at the people involved in this case, especially Ariel Castro.  I’d give both books four stars, but grant slightly more “star power” to Hope.

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book reviews, true crime

Repost: Michelle Knight’s Finding Me: A Decade of Darkness, a Life Reclaimed: A Memoir of the Cleveland Kidnappings

As I was researching my review of Jocelyn Zichterman’s book, I Fired God, I discovered two true crime books about the Cleveland Kidnappings that I reviewed and hadn’t reposted. So here’s the first one, posted as is from when I first reviewed it June 6, 2016.

Wow.  I started Michelle Knight’s 2015 book Finding Me: A Decade of Darkness, a Life Reclaimed: A Memoir of the Cleveland Kidnappings yesterday morning and managed to finish it last night.  It’s been awhile since the last time I zipped through a book.  I happen to be a sucker for true crime, true stories, and damsels in distress.  Not to be flippant about damsels in distress, of course.  Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry, and Gina DeJesus all went through hell after they were abducted by the repulsive and thankfully dead rapist Ariel Castro.

In August 2002, Michelle Knight was kidnapped.  She spent eleven years living in a disgusting dungeon with a madman.  In May 2013, she and the other two victims were finally rescued from Ariel Castro, who cheated his victims by killing himself in jail.  I well remember the day Knight, Berry, and DeJesus were rescued.  Bill and I were in Florence, Italy and the news was all over CNN.  After reading Knight’s version of her years of torture at Castro’s hands, I am left amazed by her resilience and will to survive.

Michelle Knight’s book, penned with help by ghostwriter Michelle Burford, is not just about her years of captivity.  Knight also gives readers the story of her tragic upbringing in Ohio.  She starts at the beginning, remembering how she and several siblings lived in a car for awhile.  When they finally moved into a house, there were other friends and family members there and Knight had to endure sexual abuse for years.

School was a nightmare for Michelle Knight.  Kids can often be cruel and that was definitely the case for her, as she wore dirty handmedown clothes from Goodwill and went days without bathing.  She smelled bad and she had bad breath, because she couldn’t brush her teeth or get proper dental care.  Her classmates treated her very badly.  When teachers would try to correct the other kids for being mean, it was even worse.  Knight knew they were only being nice because they were being forced.

When she’d finally had enough abuse, Michelle ran away from home.  For awhile, she lived in a trash can under a bridge.  She got some help from a local church, where she was fed good soul food and give a winter coat.  At one point, a man “hired” her to run drugs.  But then he got arrested and she was soon out on the streets again, until a friend of her parents’ spotted her.  Her dad came and got her and forced her to go “home”, where the abuse continued apace.

Michelle Knight’s bad luck continued into her early adulthood.  She got pregnant by a guy she knew in high school, but they eventually broke up.  The baby was a source of great joy for Michelle Knight, but she needed to find work.  When one of her mother’s “friends” neglected the boy, he ended up in the hands of social workers.  Michelle had to prove to them that she could be a good mother, which she found impossible to do because she had no job or transportation.  On the day Knight was kidnapped, she was on her way to a visitation session.  She was running late because she had to walk to the facility where the visitation was taking place.  She stepped into a Family Dollar store, where she ran into Ariel Castro.  She knew his daughter and trusted him when he offered her a ride.  That’s when her life fell completely out of her control

I think most people would read Finding Me because they are morbidly curious about Knight’s ordeal living in Castro’s revolting lair.  Knight does go into heartbreaking detail about what it was like to be chained, starved, and beaten for eleven years.  What makes her story even more shocking is that apparently no one even cared that she was missing.  She was estranged from her family and had no one looking for her.  When she was abducted, Knight was fighting for custody of her toddler aged son.  When she didn’t show up to visit him, social workers must have assumed he’d simply been abandoned.  He was adopted at four years old while his mother, who loved him and never wanted to give him up for adoption, was being raped and beaten by a monster on a daily basis.

When I read Michelle Knight’s story, I couldn’t help but reflect on how fortunate I’ve been in my life. I’ve never been so filthy that when I shower, the water turns black.  I’ve never had teeth so grimy that it felt like they were covered in butter.  I’ve never had hair so matted that I needed to cut it off with dull children’s scissors.  I’ve never been raped.  I’ve never been pregnant and had some monster beat me until I aborted.  I’ve never had to sleep in chains.  I’ve never been forced to watch anyone kill my dog with his bare hands.  I’ve never lost a child to social services.  These were all things that Michelle Knight experienced before she was thirty years old.  I can only hope the rest of her life is fabulous to make up for the first decades.

I can’t say Finding Me is the most cheerful reading, although I do feel somewhat uplifted when I realize that through everything, Michelle Knight survived.  She has changed her name and is embarking on a culinary career.  She’s written a book.  She’s a survivor.  I find that aspect of her story very inspiring.  And I’d like to congratulate Michelle Burford for doing a decent job on her part of relating Knight’s story.  I thought the book was written in a voice that seemed authentic.  That’s not an easy task for a writer.  It may not have been the best writing, but it rang true given the fact that Knight never had much education.  The story is what kept my attention, horrible as the ordeal was, and the fact that Knight ultimately emerged triumphant.

I’d give Finding Me a solid four stars.

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politicians, politics, Trump

Rally for Trump! But if you get COVID-19, don’t sue!

This morning, as I read about some truly idiotic and offensive things said by Republicans regarding COVID-19 and black people, I couldn’t help but notice that Trump is wanting to “rebuild our nation” by holding rallies. However, because he’s an asshole who can’t admit that he’s handled the whole coronavirus pandemic horribly, Trump is demanding that there be no social distancing or face masks worn. Moreover, his handlers have also added the following statement to his website for those who register to attend:

So… not only can you not sue if you get sick, you’ll also get texts from the orange fuckwad… AND you’ll probably have to pay for them, too. Message data rates may apply, after all.

I’m sure Donald would love for as many people as possible to come listen to him speak. And he’s chosen an interesting day on which to hold his rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the city in which black residents were massacred in 1921. It’ll be on “Juneteenth”, a day in which many black Americans celebrate the end of slavery in the United States. But show up without a mask, and don’t expect to have empty seats between you and the next stranger who just wants to “make America great again” and “rebuild the nation”… (Rebuild? I thought Trump made it “great” again… I guess it takes longer than three years of hell for that to happen. He made it sound so easy back in 2016!)

If you get sick or someone in your party dies from COVID-19, don’t be coming to Trump for any restitution! YOU made the choice to be downwind of the fetid hot air emanating from his mouth and rectum. YOU made the choice to get sick… although maybe some of his followers would claim that you need to get right with God so you don’t fall ill. Perhaps if you plan to attend a Trump rally, you might want to check your health insurance coverage… and maybe bring a Bible and do some praying. Personally, I plan to stay home.

Trump is also holding rallies in Florida, Arizona, and North Carolina, as COVID-19 infections continue to rise, probably thanks to all the protesting that has been going on lately over the murder of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement. But despite evidence that the pandemic is far from over at this point, Trump wants the show to go on… and he wants people not to take any precautions for their health. To be honest, I kind of wonder if these rallies will have the effect of culling some of the stupid from our ranks. You know… Darwin Awards are still a thing.

Meanwhile, Republican Ohio Senator Steve Huffman, who represents a district north of Dayton, made the news by asking this regarding rising COVID-19 rates among African Americans:

“I understand African Americans have a higher incidence of chronic conditions and that makes them more susceptible to death from covid. But why does it not make them more susceptible to just get covid? Could it just be that African Americans or the colored population do not wash their hands as well as other groups? Or wear a mask? Or do not socially distance themselves? Could that be the explanation for why the higher incidence?”

These questions got a quick response from Angela Dawson, a black woman who is the executive director of the Ohio Commission on Minority Health:

“That is not the opinion of leading medical experts in this country. Do all populations need to wash their hands? Absolutely, sir, but that is not where you are going to find the variance and the rationale for why these populations are more vulnerable.”

This is actually very interesting to me on a personal level. When I was in graduate school, I worked as a graduate assistant for South Carolina’s Bureau of Epidemiology at the Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC). It was my job to write up the results of the BRFSS– the Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance System. This system, which is ultimately run by the Centers for Disease Control, is a telephone survey that collects data from states regarding the health of citizens. The questions asked are about certain risk behaviors, chronic health conditions, and use of preventive services. The data, which is collected in all 50 states, is divided by sex and race. I remember back in the day when I was interpreting the results and writing them up, people of color typically had less healthy outcomes than white people did and their life expectancies were lower. I see not much has changed almost twenty years later.

COVID-19 was obviously not a thing when I was involved with collecting and interpreting data from the BRFSS, but I’ll bet there are questions about it now. The CDC is tracking who is getting sick and how. And unfortunately, it looks like people of color are at a higher risk than white people. This is also true for a lot of chronic health conditions. The overall reasons for the higher rates of illness are ultimately complex, although some of the reasons behind the infections are not so complex. It’s not a secret that people who are not as affluent tend to be in poorer health. It’s also not a secret that people of color are typically less affluent than white people are. When one has less money, one is likely less able to make choices– everything from dietary to living arrangements to work arrangements– that would prevent one from getting sick.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have been able to stay away from most everyone except for Bill, who is also very privileged to be able to work from home. But there was a time in my life when I had to take public transportation to get to work, and my work required that I deal with people directly. I didn’t make much money, so I had to keep working at that job, until I was finally able to make a choice that allowed me to retire from it… and in order to make that choice– go to graduate school– I had to spend money on loans. Not everyone is able to make that choice. Not everyone can live alone, or with just one or two family members. Some people have to share quarters for financial reasons while they go to work every day, taking public transportation. That’s how they pick up communicable diseases like COVID-19. I doubt very much that it has to do with people simply not washing their hands often enough, regardless of their skin color. Although hand washing is VERY important.

The real kicker about this, though, is that Huffman is a physician himself! He worked as an emergency room doctor until he got fired due to his tone deaf comments about COVID-19! McHenry Lee, a spokesman for TeamHealth, where Huffman had a job until yesterday, had this to say:

“Dr. Huffman’s comments are wholly inconsistent with our values and commitment to creating a tolerant and diverse workplace. TeamHealth has terminated Dr. Huffman’s employment.”

Well, good on TeamHealth for routing out a “bad apple”. Actually, I have no way of knowing if Huffman is a good doctor, but I do think his comments were surprisingly ignorant, particularly given that he’s a physician. Moreover, I have been reading in the new Facebook group I joined about Black Lives Matter, that people of color are routinely treated differently by healthcare providers. For instance, they are less likely to believed when they claim to be in pain, and they are more likely to be treated dismissively when they have healthcare concerns. Yes, there are disparities in healthcare delivery caused by racist attitudes… and given Senator Huffman’s comments, I wonder what kind of care he gives to his black patients.

Anyway… another week has passed and I have managed to survive. Things are loosening up here in Germany, and COVID-19 still seems to be fairly under control, particularly compared to in the United States. It does look like my Keb’ Mo’ concert scheduled for November 2020 is being postponed until April 2021… but it also looks like we’ll still be here. At least, at this point in time it does. Hopefully, by then, we’ll have a new president who really does want to make America better for EVERYONE… not just the people who kiss his ass and sign a disclaimer not to sue him. Here’s hoping, anyway…

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politicians, stupid people

Once again with feeling– YOU CANNOT RE-IMPLANT AN ECTOPIC PREGNANCY!

Yesterday, as I was waking up on my last day in Poland, I read an article a friend of mine shared about Ohio’s relentless push to end abortion. The article, which came from a site called Insider.com, was based on a news item that was in The Columbus Dispatch. Since I am in Europe, I can’t read the original article without a VPN. Fortunately, I have a VPN, and am now reading the article. I know I have at least one regular reader in Ohio who has commented to me about how frightening the pro-life agenda is in Ohio right now. The article I just read is not very comforting.

House Bill 413 proposes that “a fetus would be legally considered a person, and those performing an abortion could be charged with aggravated murder.” Furthermore, anyone providing an abortion “shall suffer death or be imprisoned for life.” I hasten to add that at least this bill doesn’t subject women who seek abortions to the death penalty, unlike recently proposed legislation in Texas. I guess the lawmakers figure the poor pregnant people are “misguided” and need a firm hand to help them make decisions more in line with their way of thinking.

My first reaction to this? Wow! It seems very strange to want to impose the death penalty on abortion providers when one is arguing for the pro-life movement. After all, every abortion provider was once someone’s unborn fetus, too. Why kill competent healthcare professionals for helping their patients? Why put them in prisons, where their skills will erode and they will cost taxpayers money while potentially enriching shareholders at privately run corrections facilities? It makes no sense to me at all.

I have come to understand that this kind of extreme language is par for the course when it comes to pro-life wingnuts. However, one thing that I cannot wrap my head around is the insistence that ectopic pregnancies can be made viable. In the Columbus Dispatch article dated November 15, 2019, it is stated:

Exceptions for saving the life of the mother are limited — including a requirement to attempt to implant an ectopic pregnancy into the woman’s uterus. Critics say the procedure is not supported by science and puts the woman’s life at even greater risk.

Now… I distinctly remember back in May 2019, writing a post about this very same ludicrous argument that ectopic pregnancies can somehow be salvaged by technology that doesn’t yet exist. At that time, idiot lawmaker John Becker, who apparently has zero knowledge about pregnancy, anatomy, or physiology, proposed House Bill 182, which would prohibit most private insurance coverage for abortion. The bill included language addressing treating ectopic pregnancies (when the fertilized egg attaches outside of the womb, usually in one of the fallopian tubes). When this was big news, Becker said:

“Part of that treatment would be removing that embryo from the fallopian tube and reinserting it in the uterus so that is defined as not an abortion under this bill,”

Back then, I wrote that no ectopic pregnancy I have ever heard of could be salvaged. Indeed, ectopic pregnancies are true medical emergencies, and they almost always end with the termination of the pregnancy and possibly a significant downgrade in the woman’s fertility, since there is a good chance the affected fallopian tube might also have to be removed. More importantly, there does not currently exist any medical procedure that would allow a physician to “re-implant” an embryo into a woman’s uterus. The technology simply isn’t there yet. If it was there, a lot of women who have ectopic pregnancies would be all for getting the procedure done. Contrary to what the pro-lifers in Ohio seem to believe, most pregnant women look forward to being mothers and don’t plan to terminate their pregnancies. I fail to see why ectopic pregnancies need to be addressed by the pro-life crowd.

As I recall, Becker got a pretty good backlash for his ignorant and tone deaf comments on the ectopic pregnancy issue. I thought maybe his fellow lawmakers would get a clue and at least consult someone in the maternal healthcare field who knows more about pregnancy than they do. But no… they’re still discussing requiring physicians to re-implant non-viable embryos resulting from ectopic pregnancies into the uteri of women who surely have enough trauma to deal with. Under this bill, if the physicians don’t try to save the ectopic pregnancies by using currently non-existent technology, they could wind up facing the death penalty.

All I can do is just shake my head at the sheer cruelty and lunacy of the right wing nutjobs in Ohio who keep pushing this UNCONSTITUTIONAL legislation. They really should be ashamed of themselves, not just for trying to deny reproductive freedom to Ohioans, but for being just plain stupid and ignorant on the topic for which they claim to be so passionate. Ectopic pregnancies are not viable and they have nothing to do with abortion. Pro-lifers need to get a clue and stop pushing this nonsense before more innocent people die. Then, they need to take it a step further and realize that there are situations in which an abortion is the appropriate medical decision and sometimes should be allowed for the health of the mother. And then they need to butt the hell out of other people’s private healthcare decisions.

And… just to bring Donald Trump into this– I just read that he’s been trying to push a rule that would allow healthcare professionals to refuse to treat people on religious grounds. The measure, which would have gone into effect yesterday, was struck down a federal judge who, thank GOD, realized the chilling effect that could have on our already horrendous healthcare system. U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup was the third judge to reject the measure, writing “When a rule is so saturated with error, as here, there is no point in trying to sever the problematic provisions. The whole rule must go.”

Alsup continues, ” [the Trump administration rule] upsets the balance drawn by Congress between protecting conscientious objections versus protecting the uninterrupted effective flow of health care to Americans.” Then he cites a scary hypothetical scenario, quoted below, in which “ambulance drivers” (who really should be referred to as EMTs or paramedics), could legally abandon a pregnant person en route to the hospital needing an emergency abortion. I would assume an ectopic pregnancy would be one of those situations, although I sure would hope that anyone choosing to work as an EMT or paramedic would know better, and understand that without surgery that will effectively terminate the pregnancy, someone with an ectopic pregnancy will likely DIE without medical intervention. Those who are truly pro-life should recognize that the person who is growing the fetus deserves care and protection, too.

“Under the new rule, to preview just one example, an ambulance driver would be free, on religious or moral grounds, to eject a patient en route to a hospital upon learning that the patient needed an emergency abortion,” wrote Alsup. “Such harsh treatment would be blessed by the new rule.”

I really think we’re seeing a lot of these ridiculous, extreme, church sponsored pro-life rules being proposed because we have an incompetent jackass in the White House who will champion and embolden these people into pushing their sick and intrusive agendas. Extreme Christians have gained too much power and are trying to force their religious views on the entire country. I really hope that people will open their eyes and vote against Trump in the next election. He’s destroying lives, and that will, in turn, destroy the country. We need to get him out of power, pronto, and elect someone decent who will restore humanity to our government before it’s too late. Trump admires dictators, disrespects women, non-whites, and the poor, and cozies up to the ignorant simply to win their votes. This anti-woman legislation that punishes women who are pregnant and threatens healthcare providers with the death penalty is a huge step backwards into the Dark Ages. We simply must elect more competent and compassionate people.

For more on Ohio’s House Bill 413 and all the craziness it proposes in its over 700 pages, have a look at this link.

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true crime

Sometimes guns are handy…

Special thanks to Wikipedia user Alex E. Proimos for use of the facepalm picture.

If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you probably know that I think there are way too many guns in the United States. It’s much too easy for people to get their hands on weapons that can kill innocent folks just going about their business. However, even though I think there are too many guns, I also recognize that sometimes guns are useful. And, as long as many stupid people own guns and try to use them to harm others, I don’t necessarily disagree with responsible gun ownership.

Yesterday, I read a news story that, frankly, kind of blew my mind. At about 6:20pm one week ago, in Dayton, Ohio (where I lived as a baby), a 23 year old man named Roosevelt Rappley decided he was going to rob a Dollar General store. That decision led to his very premature death. Why? Because although Mr. Rappley had brought a handgun with him to do his night’s “work”, he didn’t count on a clerk in the store also being armed and dangerous.

It seems that Mr. Rappley, who was known to police because he already had a pending weapons charge, entered the store, pulled out his handgun, pointed it at other people, and then demanded money. A clerk who was on duty also happened to be armed, so he pulled out his gun and shot Rappley, who reportedly fired in retaliation. Then, in a futile attempt to escape, Rappley staggered outside and collapsed, dying at the scene about seven minutes after the drama started.

A video about this situation.

After shooting Rappley, the clerk called the police and admitted that he killed Rappley in self-defense. The police determined that the clerk was not violating the law, since he owned the gun legally and was on private property. Moreover, Rappley had started the violence when he brandished a gun and demanded money that wasn’t his.

What really gets me, though, is that Rappley’s siblings are absolutely furious about this. Why? Because the clerk was armed! Rappley’s siblings think the clerk should not have had a weapon while he was at work. They say the clerk should have called the police instead of shooting their brother himself! I wonder if that’s what Rappley’s siblings would have done, faced with the situation Dollar General’s customers and employees encountered when they met Roosevelt Rappley. Would they really just call the police if they had a gun at their disposal that could remove the threat instantly? What exactly should the clerk have done? If he hadn’t had a gun, he might have ended up getting killed, simply because he happened to be working at the time Rappley came by to rob his place of employment.

One of the first rules of safe weapon handling is that you don’t point a gun at something you don’t intend to shoot. While it’s possible the clerk could have just incapacitated Mr. Rappley instead of killing him, Rappley was pointing a gun at innocent people in the store. It seems to me the first priority is to make sure Rappley doesn’t kill innocent people as he’s demanding money. If that means he gets killed, so be it. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes!

Do Rappley’s siblings think their brother was going to allow the bystanders to call the authorities? If one of them had whipped out a cell phone, would Rappley have treated that as fair play? Somehow, I doubt it. And since Rappley had a “rap sheet”, it’s pretty obvious that he wasn’t exactly a law abiding citizen. This is a clear case of self-defense. Sorry, sis, but your little brother brought this shit on himself.

Um… maybe the two of you should have done more to convince your brother not to be a criminal. Seriously… I get that you lost a loved one, but he brought about his own demise. Sorry that you’re pissed that he wasn’t able to rob Dollar General “safely”.

I don’t know if the clerk made a habit of bringing weapons to work, but I did read that Dollar General stores have been targeted a lot by crooks lately, especially in Dayton. In fact, that was the fourth time that particular store was robbed this year! I think if I were working in a place that was targeted so often by criminals, I’d want to pack heat, too.

I do think it’s sad that yet another person has died due to gun violence. I’ve read way too many stories about young people dying because they were shot, often under really stupid circumstances. I agree that Americans are much too enamored with weapons. Unfortunately, at this point, I’m not sure what we’re going to do to get the guns off the streets. This is one case in which a good guy had a gun and actually used it to stop crime from happening. So I say good on the clerk. And shame on Rappley, who died doing a bad thing and now has family members grieving for his sorry ass.

On another note… remind me to avoid Dollar General.

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