controversies, healthcare, language, law

“Abortion” is technically not defined as a dirty word.

Good morning, folks. It’s just after 8:00 AM on a warm Tuesday here in Deutschland, and I’ve already done my housework for the day, having gotten up three hours ago. The sun rises very early at this time of year in Germany, and it sets very late in the evening. Consequently, I often need an afternoon nap, because I don’t sleep long during the night.

I don’t really want to write about abortion today. It’s a topic I’m a little tired of at the moment. However, abortion is what everybody seems to be talking about right now. I have some comments I’d like to make in a place where I’m not going to hurt people’s feelings, get into pissing matches with the deliberately obtuse, or otherwise get mired in a bunch of Internet noise. My blog is a place where comments are generally respectful and reasonable. I think abortion is an important topic that deserves that much gravity.

Yesterday, I ran across an interesting Tik Tok/Facebook video by Mama Doctor Jones, a board certified OB-GYN from Texas who is currently working in New Zealand. In the video, Dr. Jones talked about what constitutes an abortion, and what the treatments are for certain medical conditions that occur during pregnancy. She made the video in response to comments by Live Action, a right wing, anti-abortion propaganda machine.

A screenshot from Mama Doctor Joneses’ video. Notice the emotional language. But, in fact, all of these conditions require terminating the pregnancy, which is precisely what abortion is.

Live Action had put out this comment regarding “abortion”, obviously likening abortion to the negative image that many people have of it. The people at Live Action obviously consider the medical procedure that abortion is as “murder”. Abortion isn’t murder, though. Abortion simply refers to the termination of a pregnancy that doesn’t result in a live birth. Moreover, in spite of how Live Action spins it, abortion is a treatment for a number of legitimate medical issues that come up in pregnancy. In fact, a miscarriage is technically called “spontaneous abortion” in medical parlance. Abortion is not a dirty word, but that group, and others who want to limit a person’s ability to terminate a pregnancy, wants to make it so.

I don’t see anything “dirty” about these definitions.

Above is a screenshot of Dictionary.com’s definition of abortion. Nowhere in that definition do I see a single definition that depicts the vile description of abortion that is being put out by Live Action. Abortion simply refers to ending a pregnancy, for whatever reason. There are different techniques used to achieve an abortion, depending on the circumstances. Under the above definition, abortion might involve taking a pill, removing the contents of the uterus, removing a body part, or actually going through labor and delivery. It depends on the case, and the time during pregnancy at which the abortion occurs.

The problem is, the term “abortion” has taken on so much emotional baggage that people automatically think of it as sinful and wrong. That baggage is causing a lot of people pain, as medical conditions that happen during pregnancy and require that the pregnancy be terminated are technically abortions. People don’t want to think of a necessary termination as an “abortion”. The term “abortion” has a nasty connotation that conjures up images of someone who got careless and wants to end a pregnancy out of convenience or shame. Groups like Live Action liken abortion to murder. But abortion isn’t really murder, either. See below.

Notice the first definition. In that meaning of the word “murder”, it’s specified that murder is the “killing of another human being under conditions specifically covered in law.” At this point, abortion is still legal in many places, but I don’t know of a place anywhere on the planet where it’s legal for somewhere to kill another person with premeditation or malice. I also know that sometimes people have abortions because that developing human being is causing severe physical or mental health problems that threatens the life of the already born person. In that case, an abortion is less like murder and more like self-defense.

One could also argue that a developing fetus simply has the potential to become a human being, but hasn’t yet reached that designation. It all depends on when life actually begins. People also have varying opinions on when that happens. We haven’t yet decided if life begins at conception, or at birth. The federal government seems to think life begins at birth, but religious people and hyper-conservative people want to say it begins at fertilization. A consensus has yet to be reached. See below.

I have some dear people in my life who have had to end pregnancies for health reasons. These are women that I know would probably never voluntarily opt to have an abortion. I write “probably”, because a lot of us think we know what we would do in a given situation, but we don’t actually know until it happens to us. For instance, I feel pretty certain that if I were a rape or incest victim, I would want to have an abortion. But I also know for a fact that I have a pretty serious aversion to seeing doctors. I was traumatized by an OB-GYN when I was 22 years old, and that has made me very reluctant to seek medical care unless I absolutely have to have it. To be honest, at this point, even if I have to have medical care, I still might not seek it. I haven’t seen a medical doctor since 2010. Going to see physicians causes me great anxiety.

I also suffer from depression a lot of the time, and that often makes me feel worthless. The state of the world right now adds to my depression, and makes me think it would be better to be dead. So I can’t say for certain that I would seek an abortion if I got pregnant due to rape (which I know I wouldn’t at this point in time). I probably would want one… because my healthy mental days are usually more plentiful than my unhealthy days, and I’m sure I would not want to raise my rapist’s baby. I also know that I would not want to give a baby up for adoption. But I say that as someone who has never experienced forced intercourse with a man, and has never even been close to being pregnant. I would probably feel emotionally shattered if I were ever raped, and that would affect my self-esteem. So, to be frank, I can’t say for certain I would have an abortion. I only know how I feel right now, which is that I would probably want one.

The people in my life who have had to end their pregnancies for medical reasons desperately wanted to have their babies. They would never choose to have what we think of is an “abortion”. They needed medical care for an emergency situation that involved terminating a pregnancy. Technically, they DID have an abortion, as defined by the medical establishment, but it was not the kind of abortion one might have at Planned Parenthood. And they don’t want to think of their procedures in that way. I can totally understand that. But I also think that it might be helpful if we stopped thinking of abortion as something dirty and sleazy. Sometimes, it’s a necessary, life saving, medical procedure, and like all medical procedures, it really should be private business, with no emotional baggage attached by other people’s opinions.

Personally, I think any person who wants to have an abortion should have one, for ANY reason. It’s not up to me or anyone else to judge whether or not their reasons are valid. People who are pregnant against their wills are not going to be motivated to take care of themselves the way they should. I think it’s a lot crueler to force people to gestate– crueler for the pregnant person AND the developing fetus. Because choices that pregnant people make will affect that developing fetus, and it’s possible that the person born after such a pregnancy will have to live their whole lives with the choices made by the person who birthed them. We don’t have the ability to force pregnant people to take care of themselves, and I don’t think that’s what most Americans would want to see happen. That would put us on a very slippery slope into a dystopian nightmare culture.

I like Mama Doctor Jones because she makes a lot of sense. I’ve seen her respond very logically to people who come at her with emotional comments full of shame and judgment. See below.

I totally agree with Mama Doctor Jones that allowing abortions in “some situations” is hypocritical. If we’re going to assign personhood to developing embryos, then almost no reason for abortion should be acceptable. Allowing it in certain circumstances, but not others, is problematic if we’re calling embryos people. The embryos are “innocent”, right? But forcing women to have babies conceived in the commission of a crime seems cruel to many. I think forcing women to have babies they don’t want to have is cruel. It doesn’t matter how or why they got pregnant. If abortion is okay in one situation, it should be okay in all situations. And before anyone brings up abortions that happen later in pregnancy, let me just say that those abortions are very rare, and usually occur due to a catastrophic medical issue. I highly doubt that women, as a rule, decide to terminate a pregnancy after the first trimester unless they have a damned good reason. They certainly don’t do that for convenience.

Darynidia’s comment is especially good… Why is it that so many people who want to deny women the right to choose, also have no problem suggesting suicide to already born people?
Yes. She sums up my feelings nicely.

So… these are my thoughts on the word “abortion”. I really don’t think of it as a “dirty word”. It’s not defined as a dirty word in the dictionary or by medical professionals. Some members of the public have made it a dirty word by implying that people who seek them are careless, immoral, heartless, cruel, unChristian, slutty, or whatever else. It ain’t necessarily so. Your aunt who had to terminate a pregnancy for medical reasons technically did have an abortion. That procedure saved her life. Your sister who had a miscarriage technically experienced a “spontaneous abortion”. That doesn’t make her a bad person. Your high school friend who got pregnant after having unprotected sex went to a clinic to have an abortion. She’s still a decent person, worthy of respect and understanding. Maybe that procedure saved her life. Either way, it’s no one else’s business but hers.

The people behind Live Action deliberately use shaming language to push their agenda and make people feel bad for exercising self-determination. I would trust a board certified physician like Dr. Danielle Jones, OB-GYN over them anyday. I say that as someone who does not trust doctors, as a general rule. And I do not follow the word of any organization that gets into bed with so-called conservative leaders like Donald Trump and his ilk. This is a man who brags about molesting women and has probably funded and/or caused a few abortions himself. Abortion isn’t a dirty word in any sense, and people should stop attaching so much shame to it. It’s a neutral word that has been burdened with the dogmatic agenda of religious and political groups, who simply want to control women and maintain their power.

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politics, religion

Some churches are silly… and some are just so sick!

This morning, as I was looking at my Facebook memories, I remembered that six years ago, Jan Crouch, wife of the late televangelist Paul Crouch, died. Paul and Jan Crouch, you might recall, founded Trinity Broadcasting Network, a religious channel that appears on a lot of cable networks around the world. Back when Bill and I first got married, we were pretty broke, and I used to watch TBN for fun. There was some really crazy stuff on that network. That was also where I first encountered Paula White, who later became famous for being Donald Trump’s “spiritual advisor”, and current wife of Journey songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, Jonathan Cain. Paula White is pretty extra, but so were the Crouches, who often made me laugh.

Stir it up right now… in the name of JESUS.
Jesus is COMING.
God is BIG.

In the above two videos, beneath Paula White’s “queen bee dance”, Jan Crouch is dancing and whacking the tambourine with the late Roger McDuff, who always reminded me of a Q-Tip. But even if I find Christian faux country numbers creepy, I have to admit that at least his songs made me laugh. And so did Paul Crouch, as he spoke of “doctrinal doo doo” and “shooting people” who get in God’s way.

Paul Crouch talks about doctrinal doo doo and then tells everyone that he IS a little God.

A lot of people say and do a bad things in the name of religion. Whether it’s doing a ridiculous queen bee dance, singing a song about Jesus “coming”, or claiming to be a “little God”, these folks who appeared on TBN and preached to shut ins and bored housewives like me were spreading some stuff that really stunk to high heaven. However, as messed up as this stuff is, it doesn’t compare to the Preacher Boys podcast I watched yesterday, in which the host, Eric Skwarczynski, talked about a preacher at a church who got up and confessed to committing “adultery”.

Pastor John Lowe says he committed adultery… but actually, he committed rape.

The pastor’s victim, now a woman approaching middle age, bravely got up (at 9:33) and confronted the pastor. She reminded him that he “took her virginity”, and did abusive things to her. But here he was, “confessing to adultery”, minutes after the “flock” applauded when he introduced himself. And instead of comforting the victim, the people in the congregation are quick to “forgive” Pastor John Lowe. The woman who was his victim left the church with only one or two people comforting her. What gives? These people are Christians? Why don’t they care about the woman who was this man’s victim, when she was just a teenager? Why are they falling for the “pastor’s” line about how he’s a “victim”? In his mind, the teenager was a temptress, and it’s her fault he raped her… but he doesn’t admit to rape. He calls it an “affair”.

As the woman is trying to confront the pastor, people are telling her to sit down and be quiet. And other men are yelling that they need to hear from their pastor. Then we hear a woman yell about how the woman was sixteen, and was complicit. Amazingly, they then yell, “We love you, pastor,” as the woman walks out, almost alone, while people gather around the pastor and “forgive” him.

This is coming in the wake of Josh Duggar’s sentencing. There are still people who claim Josh was “framed”, even though there is overwhelming evidence that he’s a sick predator. Why are religious people in certain evangelical sects so quick to forgive the sins of the pervy men in their midsts?

This morning, as I was eating breakfast with Bill, I ran across a Twitter feed posted by a guy named Nathan Ryan, who related the story of going to an evangelical church camp during the summer of 2002. That was just after 9/11, right around the time when Al Qaeda and ISIS were ramping up in the United States. This dude tweeted about how, as an object lesson, he and fellow campers did an activity in which they were accosted by men in ski masks, holding fake guns, and forcing them to choose between loving Jesus Christ and dying, or denouncing Christ and “living”.

The first of a shocking series of tweets by Nathan Ryan about his experience at a evangelical church camp… click the link to read the whole thing.

This is insane.

So here, we have a belief system where children are taught that they will either be violently killed for their religious beliefs, or they will eventually go to Hell. And we have a faith system where men who rape teenagers are given a pass, while their victims are told that they must forgive, be silent, and cover themselves up, so that their brothers in Christ don’t “fall” to temptation.

Of course, it’s not just evangelicals who do this stuff. I’ve written a lot about things in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that I don’t like. One woman on Twitter, responding to Nathan Ryan’s tweets, posted this about the Mormons and her experience being raised LDS…

All of this stuff is mind blowing to me. I grew up in the mainstream Presbyterian USA Church. The worst things that happened to me at church was being bullied by some of my mean spirited classmates from school, and being bored as hell during church services. No one ever tried to scare me with stories about being blown up by Muslims, nor was I ever asked any questions about my sexual habits. I was never shamed about the way I dressed or told that I was “tempting” members of the opposite sex. And, although the creepy neighbor who used to show me men’s magazines did attend our church, that abusive habit had nothing to do with religion. Religion wasn’t used to abuse me, unless you count my being forced to attend church.

But now, we have evangelicals in bed with our government leaders. And they have managed to indoctrinate a lot of people into thinking that submitting to these abusive churches is the only way to “save” America. Have a look at the tweet that followed these stories…

Seriously?

Here’s another tweet from someone who was abused during church camp in the 1990s.

Wow.

I actually worked at a Presbyterian church camp during the summers of 1993 and 1994. None of this weird shit went on where I worked. Kids played games like “Capture the Flag” and “Barnyard”; they went on hikes, bike trips, and canoe trips; they sang songs and attended devotions and vespers; and they made S’mores or homemade ice cream. It was a lot of wholesome fun in a truly beautiful setting. I’m still good friends with a number of people who worked with me during that time. I feel fortunate that I never had the toxic and abusive experiences some of these folks on Twitter have had.

I don’t have any need for church anymore. It doesn’t mean I’m an atheist. I do believe in God. But I don’t believe in going to churches, because there are too many that have turned abusive and sick. What I mostly took away from church is basic understanding of the Bible and exposure to a lot of church music, mainly because my mom was an organist, and my dad was in the choir. I think if I had a child and they experienced church the way some of these people have, it would absolutely mortify me. That goes double if I ever exposed an innocent child to the likes of Greg Locke, who is an absolutely vile person and a totally fake representation of a “pastor”.

You CANNOT BE A DEMOCRAT AND A CHRISTIAN!”, according to dipshit “pastor” Greg Locke. He needs to be arrested.

This is what we have in America now. This is what some people regard as “religion”. A lot of it is really sick and perverted. Greg Locke hates Democrats and calls them “baby butchers”. But he doesn’t have a thing to say about the gun toting conservatives who scream about their Second Amendment rights, as more kids die in their classrooms. These folks care about money and controlling women, people of color, and the poor. And one way to do that is to force women to give birth, which keeps them occupied and impoverished. Greg Locke is the same man who cheated on his ex wife with her former best friend, then cried about it on Facebook.

I think that if being a Christian means that I have to associate with people like Greg Locke, I’d rather not be a Christian. But, for the record, the Christ I learned of in my church going days, embraced the poor, the sick, and the disenfranchised, and operated for peace, compassion, and love. More and more often, these days, we’re seeing some churches turn very toxic and abusive, which leads people down a path away from Jesus Christ. What a shame that is.

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book reviews, true crime

A review of Through the Glass, by Shannon Moroney… a woman’s life temporarily shattered by her ex husband’s violent crimes

When it comes to reading books, sometimes my eyes are bigger than my will to use them for reading. There was a time when I could read several books in a month. But now, as I get older, and my eyesight gets worse, it’s a struggle to finish a book in a matter of weeks. I keep trying, though, and I keep buying virtual books from Amazon, which may sit in my queue for years before I ever get around to reading them. Such is the case regarding Canadian author Shannon Moroney’s 2011 book, Through the Glass, which Amazon tells me I bought in 2018.

I don’t remember why I bought Through the Glass. It might have been a suggestive sell when I bought something else. I might have read a salacious Daily Mail article that prompted me to download it. Who knows, at this point? I’m actually glad I read it just recently, though, because I think this case out of Canada is timely, given that this week, convicted sex offender, Josh Duggar, will finally be sentenced to prison for his crimes against children.

Like many people, I look forward to seeing Duggar get his due. However, even though think his wife, Anna, was somewhat complicit in Josh Duggar’s crimes, I also have some empathy for her situation. She’s a woman in a fundamentalist Christian cult, raised to submit to her husband in all matters. With seven young children, and not much to fall back on, she seems pretty stuck. There’s also no doubt in my mind that Anna has been repeatedly victimized by Josh. As I read Shannon Moroney’s story, I couldn’t help but think of Anna, although Anna is undoubtedly in a worse situation than Shannon Moroney was. Shannon at least had a career to fall back on, and no children to support.

Who is Shannon Moroney, and why has she written a book?

In October 2005, 30 year old teacher and school guidance counselor, Shannon Moroney, married Jason Staples, the man she once thought was the love of her life. The two had met at a Kingston, Ontario soup kitchen three years earlier, where Shannon had brought some of her students to work. Jason was the head chef at the soup kitchen, and everybody loved him. He was always friendly and kind, and he had an amazing talent for art. Shannon was taken with him soon after meeting him; he seemed like the perfect guy. But there was just one thing that gave her pause. Jason Staples was a convicted murderer who was out on parole, having spent ten years in prison.

In 1988, just a few months after his 18th birthday, Jason Staples and his roommate, a 38 year old woman, had a brutal argument. The argument ended with the woman’s violent murder at Jason’s hands. Jason’s first victim was someone Jason’s very mentally ill mother and her abusive boyfriend had found, just before they moved away without him. The living situation obviously wasn’t good, though he tried to leave it before he finally snapped in what was originally deemed “adolescent rage”.

Jason later pleaded guilty to second degree murder and was given a sentence of Life-10. That meant he would spend ten years in prison, then be released on parole, which he would be on for the rest of his life, provided he did not reoffend. Jason had been a model prisoner, and the authorities believed his youth and good behavior made him a good risk for rehabilitation.

By the time Shannon met Jason, he’d already been out of prison for five years, and was doing well in the community. Jason had convinced many people that his dark impulses were in the past, and he was worthy of the second chance he was given. He even had plans to go back to school and earn a degree in art, hoping to make the most of the rest of his life. Shannon had checked out everything Jason told her about his past, and spoke to his parole officer and psychologist. She also examined his official records. Everything seemed to check out fine.

Just one month after their wedding, Shannon was writing thank you notes for wedding gifts and wondering if she was pregnant. She was staying in a Toronto area hotel for a work related trip. There was a knock at the door. When she opened it, her life changed forever. She had expected the knock to be from a colleague wanting to have breakfast. But it was a police officer, who handed her his card and said:

“I’m here about your husband,” the officer said. “Are you Jason Staples’s wife?”

Shannon nodded affirmatively, that she was Jason’s wife… of just one month. The officer told Shannon that Jason was arrested the night before, charged with sexual assault. The cop did not know many of the details of the crime, since he was a Toronto based officer, and Jason and Shannon lived in Peterborough, which was also where Jason committed his crimes. But the officer did know that Jason had called 911 himself, turned himself in, and gave a full confession to raping two women and confining them in the home he shared with Shannon. She was in total shock as she gathered her things and left the hotel room to go home, where she would face the horrifying truth. The beautiful life she had planned, to include having children, advancing in her career, and loving a man who had seemed to overcome his horrific past, had all evaporated.

Jason had kidnapped and raped two women who had come into the health food store where he worked part time. The first victim, a 46 year old woman, came into the store and Jason suddenly accosted her, held her at knife point, and sexually assaulted her. He confined her in the store’s basement. Then, a few minutes later, the second victim, who was much younger, entered the store. Jason held her at knife point, but she fought back, Jason then choked her into unconsciousness, and took her to the basement, where he sexually assaulted her. He bound both women with duct tape, then rented a van, and brought the two women to the home he shared with Shannon.

The two women bravely tried to rehumanize Jason, attempting to talk him down from his terrifying rage. Jason would switch back and forth, from monster to human. By 9:00 that evening, Jason had decided to kill himself. He procured some rope and a ladder. The women continued talking to him, trying to bring him back to his senses. Finally, at about 10:00, Jason spoke to Shannon on the phone. She was unaware that there were two bound women in her home, both of whom had been brutally raped by her husband. After the phone call, Jason went to a pay phone and called 911. He told the police who he was and what he’d done, then asked them to go to his house and help the women. Then he continued trying to formulate a suicide plan as he waited for the police to arrive. After 25 minutes, the police still hadn’t come; apparently, they thought his first call was a prank! So Jason called again. After the second call, the cops finally came. Jason ended his confession at the jailhouse, begging “Just put me away.”

As the investigation continued, Shannon learned that not only had Jason kidnapped and raped two women, but he had also installed cameras in their home, and recorded Shannon during private moments in the bathroom. So, Shannon was also one of Jason’s victims. However, because Shannon was Jason’s wife, many people assumed she was somehow complicit in his crimes. When Shannon asked if there was anything she could do to help the women who were raped, she was told that they “didn’t need to hear from Jason’s arena.” Shannon was left to pick up the pieces after Jason’s crimes, and she quickly found out that there was no support for people in her position.

Soon, it became clear to Shannon Moroney that even though she’d had nothing to do with Jason’s criminal behavior, and was in fact a victim herself, many people were going to judge her. She would not be entitled to any assistance from victim’s advocacy groups. Though she didn’t outright lose her job at her school, she was told that she would be transferred to a different school. Her principal went as far as to ban her from even setting foot in the school, claiming that her presence there would traumatize other people.

Jason was held in protective custody, for his own safety. He had lawyers to protect his rights. No one seemed to understand that Shannon needed help and protection, too. Everyone seemed to expect her to quickly divorce Jason and move on, even though Shannon still saw the human part of him and loved him. She suffered on all levels, from professionally to medically, and few people seemed to have any empathy for her situation. She was caught in the crossfire, being associated with someone who had committed horrific crimes. And very few people seemed to understand that she was as much of a victim as the two women who were sexually assaulted by her husband. Jason never gave any indication that he needed help. She’d thought he was okay, as had everyone involved with granting him parole.

As she spoke to Jason, through the glass partition at the jail, she learned about the tragedies in his life that had led him to where he was. Jason was adopted at three months old, and raised by a woman who sexually abused him. His adoptive father died when he was very young, and his mother took up with a man who abused her, and Jason. On the night of his crimes, Jason had also overdosed on some over-the-counter substances– caffeine pills and ephedra.

Shannon Moroney is interviewed about Jason’s crimes. She appears in many YouTube videos.

Picking up the pieces…

Slowly, Shannon Moroney put her life back together. She didn’t immediately divorce Jason, although many people seemed to think she should just quickly dump him and disassociate from him. She visited him in jail, and later, prison. At the same time, she tried to figure out how to move on from the legal fiasco that enveloped her. The process of rebuilding led her to change careers, and she earned a master’s degree at East Anglia University, in Norwich, England. Jason’s crimes and the aftermath of them made her want to do victim’s advocacy, and she eventually left teaching and counseling, and became an author and public speaker. After divorcing Jason, Shannon found love again and remarried. She now appears to be thriving, but as this book illustrates, it was a tough road to get where she is today.

My thoughts

Through the Glass is a fascinating book on many levels. As an American living in Germany, I’m always interested in seeing how other countries operate. Canada has a very different legal and penal system than the United States does, so that aspect of the story alone, was fascinating for me. Canada also has a very different healthcare system than the United States does. Shannon seemed to have a lot of support from her family doctor, a woman called Sue, who would actually come to Shannon’s home to see her and went to the jail to see Jason. I can’t imagine something like that happening in the United States.

The Canadian system seems a lot more humane than the US system does, although there were plenty of inhumane aspects of Shannon’s story. While she describes a lot of insensitivity toward her situation from friends and colleagues, overall, I think the Canadian people were more understanding toward her than Americans would be. It seems to me that Americans are very quick to judge, and judge harshly, and declare people guilty by association. By Shannon’s descriptions, at least her countrymen tried to understand her ordeal on some level. They would try to put on a pretense of kindness, even if they weren’t very helpful to her, as she navigated the horrific mess left to her in the wake of Jason’s crimes.

At one point, while he was being assessed, Jason was sent to a psychiatric facility, and Shannon describes visiting him there. It was a lot more welcoming than the prison was, and Jason was treated as a patient, rather than an inmate. I found myself agreeing with Shannon’s comments about how warehousing people in prisons isn’t very helpful to society, even though Jason obviously is a danger to others and probably should be kept away from society. Still, she seems to believe that prisoners should be treated with humanity. On that point, I totally agree with her, especially since most incarcerated people will eventually get out of prison. It serves society to see to it that they have the best chance at success when they are released.

On the other hand, I’m sure I’m among a lot of readers who have trouble reconciling how long she stayed married to Jason, especially when it was clear that he would not be leaving prison for a very long time, if ever. I can understand having basic empathy for other human beings, but Jason’s crimes were truly horrific and disgusting. One woman died, and two others were left with terrible memories of being brutalized by a madman. Sometimes, Shannon seemed overly empathic toward Jason, trying to paint him as a really good man who was just misunderstood. I was glad to read when she finally divorced him, even though he has some redeeming qualities. When it comes down to it, though, Jason can’t be rehabilitated enough to be in public again.

It occurs to me that Shannon Moroney has something in common with Elizabeth Smart, in that she’s turned a horrific tragedy in her life into a way to help others. That’s admirable.

Overall

I think most people would find Shannon Moroney’s story interesting. However, some readers might be disgusted by what seems like a lack of empathy for the victims, since she does show empathy for Jason. Personally, I believe Shannon when she claims that she does have empathy for Jason’s victims. I also appreciated that she was honest about her conflicted feelings for her ex husband, Jason Staples. I think it was good that she stated her true feelings, rather than just expressing what people wanted to hear from her. But, knowing what I know about the public at large, and the black and white thinking that a lot of people have, I know some readers won’t see it the way I do. We often expect people to feel the way we think they should feel, when life isn’t always that simple.

Anyway, I’m glad I finally got around to reading this book, that has been waiting for be read for years. As we await Josh Duggar’s upcoming prison sentence, I will try to have some empathy for his wife, Anna, and the mess she’s in right now. It’s easy for us to see that Anna should leave Josh, but we don’t see life from her perspective. It’s not always so simple. Shannon Moroney’s story really drives home that truism, at least for me.

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China, healthcare, law

COVID dystopia in China makes me glad to be western…

For the past few days, we’ve been dealing with a minor inconvenience involving my favorite toilet. The toilet, like many in Germany, has its flusher mechanism mounted in the wall. We’d had some issues with the flusher before. At times, the plastic hardware behind the flusher was somehow malfunctioning. In the past, I could usually take the button off and maneuver the innards of the flush mechanism so that it worked properly again. But this time, something broke, rendering the toilet unflushable and irreparable. So now, we have to use the toilet on the main floor until the flusher can be fixed. That’s a bit of a pain in the butt.

Our landlord has assured us the plumber, along with the landlord’s son, who is currently apprenticing with the plumber, will be out this week to fix the issue. I look forward to having the toilet fixed, because it’s annoying and inconvenient to have to go downstairs to pee in the middle of the night. But, I realize it’s a first world problem. We’re very fortunate to be living in a beautiful, large, freestanding home with a backyard. We also have a toilet in the basement that rarely gets used. Things could certainly be much worse. We could be living in an apartment in Shanghai.

This morning, as I was pondering what I wanted to write about today, I consulted CNN. I saw the bizarre news story about the now late Vicky White, a former Alabama corrections officer who helped inmate Casey White escape the jail where she was working. I had seen the headlines about that story and was sort of casually following it. In a prior life, I probably would have been very interested in writing about White and her inexplicable choice to consort with an inmate who, by most accounts, is a very dangerous man. I like to write about true crime, and this story has “movie of the week” written all over it. Maybe I will write about that case at a later date, as new details come out. I am pretty tired of writing about COVID, Ex, and my other “pet subjects”. However, though I am so sick of thinking and writing about COVID, I feel compelled to write about the situation in Shanghai today.

Wow.

Even though things have gotten more “normal” in Europe over the past few weeks, they’re most definitely not normal everywhere. Especially in Asia. In Shanghai, residents are being forced to endure incredibly harsh lockdowns in the fruitless quest to quash COVID-19. The situation is really shocking, especially if you’re a westerner. I don’t know how closely my fellow Americans have been following this story out of China. It definitely makes me question if the Asian approach is the best one, even though so many people seem to think they have it right.

Ever since this COVID drama started two years ago, I’ve seen many people hail east Asian peoples as having the “right” ideas about controlling the virus. So many smug, self-righteous western commenters on news articles about COVID have held up east Asians as being so much kinder toward their fellow man. I’ve totally lost count of how many pro-mask people have pointed to how Asians voluntarily and cheerfully wear face masks when they’re sick. Then, those same people accuse their countrymen of being selfish, narcissistic and even sociopathic, because they don’t want to be subjected to ongoing COVID-19 rules and restrictions.

While I completely understand that face masks were necessary, especially in the beginning of the pandemic, and I’m all for promoting vaccinations and quarantines when they are necessary, I can’t get on the east Asia love bandwagon when it comes to their extreme approaches to public health. Especially in Shanghai. This morning, I watched in shock and horror as video footage of police officers in hazmat suits played on my computer screens. The Chinese cops are showing up at the homes of people who have the misfortune of living near someone who tested positive for the virus. Under new harsh guidelines, not only are COVID positive people forced into government run quarantine centers, but so are their neighbors, even if they’ve tested negative. And the police are breaking down the doors to private residences to drag the people away.

According to the article on CNN, pleas from private citizens are falling on deaf ears.

“From now on, people who live on the same floor (as Covid cases) must be transported (into quarantine),” a police officer says in the video.

“It’s not that you can do whatever you want — unless you’re in America. This is China,” another police officer says sternly, waving a bottle of disinfectant in his hand. “Stop asking me why. There is no why. We have to obey our country’s regulations and epidemic control policies.”

The article I linked from CNN shows just how outrageous things have gotten, particularly in Shanghai, but also in other Chinese cities. I realize that China isn’t all of Asia. Maybe it’s not nearly as bad in other Asian cities. But given how many people live in China, I think it’s bad enough. One video shows citizens being forced to hand over their apartment keys so they can be locked into their homes from the outside. Those who refuse to give officials their keys have holes drilled into the walls, so padlocks can be installed on their doors. The video also shows workers installing bars on windows to keep residents locked inside their homes.

Yikes!

The quarantine centers are said to be squalid, and it seems that no one is safe. One reporter described people in their 90s being dragged off to the centers. Another spoke of babies not being allowed on the subway system, because they couldn’t produce negative COVID-19 test results. Local citizens who speak out against the draconian rules are censored. Some people have become so despondent over the endless rules that they have committed suicide. One CNN correspondent said that she’s been locked in a hotel room for two weeks, with one more week to go, before she can go to her final destination of Beijing.

Of course, we don’t have anything like this going on in the western world. A lot of people are legitimately selfish about COVID-19 and the pursuit of their own “freedoms”. I’m not saying that people who completely ignore concerns about the virus are right. I think we all should take reasonable precautions against COVID and other viruses. But there’s a limit to how far people should be expected to go. I don’t think the Asian approach to COVID, or anything else, is necessarily the best. In fact, my heart goes out to the people who are enduring that hell in China right now. I can understand why some people have concluded that life isn’t worth living anymore.

Another story that I haven’t adequately explored is the war in Ukraine. Again… watching and reading the stories about that situation make me feel very fortunate to be where I am. I have read several heartbreaking stories about Ukrainian women whose husbands have been murdered in front of them. Then, some Russian soldiers have raped the surviving women, who then must endure the rumors and gossip spread by their neighbors. I know that if I had the misfortune of being in that situation, I would try to deal with it, as those women have. I would have no choice. But it still seems insane to me… I don’t understand the level of complete disdain for other human beings that has been shown, both in Ukraine and in China. It’s as if they have no hearts for others. It’s just horrifying.

Well… I suppose I should “embrace the suck” and “count my blessings”. Yes, it’s a pain in the butt to have to deal with a busted toilet flusher. But I guess these stories from CNN are a stark reminder that my problems are really first world problems. I have been extraordinarily lucky on so many levels. Reading these stories have inspired a few moments of sheer gratitude.

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law, true crime

Repost: Yet another innocent man goes to prison over false rape charges… 

Here’s a repost from July 2014 about a man who was falsely accused of rape. I am reposting it to go with today’s fresh content.

This is actually an old case.  Someone posted about it on Facebook today and I had to read up on it to see if it was true.  I found the case referenced in several brief articles until I found a much longer one that related the tale of Cassandra Ann Kennedy and her decision to falsely accuse her father of raping her back in 2001.  At the time she made the accusation, Cassandra was 11 years old.  She was upset with her father because he had divorced her mother.  She was tired of having to go to his house for visitations, where she and her sister would have to sleep on a mattress on his floor.  She was tired of his partying, drinking, and pot smoking.  And then, apparently, he stopped showing up altogether.  Cassandra thought he didn’t love her, and she wanted revenge.

Cassandra had a friend whose stepfather was sent to prison for a child sex crime.  She got the idea to accuse her father when she saw her friend’s stepfather get sent away.  Since Cassandra started having sexual experiences in the second grade, she knew about sex and what she could say to make her father look guilty.  She also had some trauma to her genital region that looked convincing.  Obviously, someone was abusing Cassandra when she was a little girl.  It wasn’t her father, though.

Based on Cassandra’s convincing testimony and her wrath toward her dad, Thomas Kennedy spent nine years in prison and was released in 2012.  He was originally sentenced to 15 years and would have been released in 2016, had Cassandra not had an attack of her conscience.  She went to detectives and told them she lied about her father.  He’d never raped her or touched her inappropriately.  In fact, she even had some fond memories of him from when she was very young.

Cassandra Kennedy was not punished for falsely accusing her father of rape, because authorities feared that punishing her would discourage legitimate rape victims from coming forward.  I suppose I can understand that fear, given how shameful sex crimes are for victims.  However, I can’t help but remember that an innocent man, who may not have been the world’s greatest dad, spent nine years that he will never get back in a prison cell.  I am assuming that since he was innocent, he won’t have to register as a sex offender… but now he has to resume his life after having spent nine years incarcerated.  How difficult was it for him in those months after he was released in 2012?

Some months ago, I wrote a blog post about a young man who was falsely accused of rape.  Johnathon Montgomery had the misfortune of once living in the same neighborhood as Elizabeth Paige Coast, a girl whose mother caught her looking at pornography.  Elizabeth’s mother assumed that her daughter must have been abused, since she was looking at porn, and she demanded to know who had touched her.  In a panic, Elizabeth named Johnathon, who had since moved to Florida.  She didn’t think the police would find him.  They did, and he went to prison for four years for a crime he didn’t commit.  At least in this case, Coast had to pay a large fine and spend 60 days in jail.  It seems like a small price to pay for the four years Mr. Montgomery lost, though.

I certainly understand the need for people to come forward to speak up when they have been sexually assaulted.  I would never deny anyone the right to justice when a crime has been committed.  I even understand prosecutors being reluctant to charge false accusers because they don’t want to discourage genuine victims from seeking help.  At the same time, I can’t help but think of how totally unfair it is that Thomas Kennedy and Johnathan Montgomery went to prison for years because someone lied.

I posted about this case on Facebook and a friend who is very much a feminist was dismayed that someone had left this comment with the story…

It’s amazing that no one who actually is guilty of wrongdoing in this case, will pay any price. Not the accuser, police, doctor, teacher, prosecutor, no one.

All of those people were willing to throw away a man’s life based on nothing more than the say-so of a troubled 11-year old girl, because we’ve been told by feminists that “women don’t lie about being raped” and that men are animals. Well, women DO lie about being raped, and only a small fraction of men are anything but decent.

My friend described it as a “MRA” comment– that is, “men’s rights”.  She is against men fighting for rights because she thinks they already have too much control and don’t need to fight for their rights.  Frankly, I disagree.  While I completely understand that women have historically gotten the short end of the stick and still face sexism today, I also think that men also get treated unfairly based on their gender.  I think both males and females are entitled to fairness, and we do have some laws right now that favor females over males.

If you’re really for fairness, you can’t be for giving women special treatment because of the equipment they happened to be born with.  I think the above comment is perfectly reasonable.  What surprises me is that it was the only one posted.  Had the genders been switched in this case, I bet the comments section would have been full.  Do people really not care that an innocent man spent nine years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit?  Do people really not understand that if something like that could happen to Thomas Kennedy or Johnathon Montgomery, it could happen to them or one of their loved ones?

I understand that Cassandra Kennedy and Elizabeth Coast were both troubled girls when they made their false allegations.  It’s obvious that they both needed help when they were at their most vulnerable.  But that help should have come in the form of counseling, not incarcerating innocent men.  Making false rape accusations does more than ruin the lives of innocent people; it also does a huge disservice to legitimate victims of sex crimes who may one day face doubt when they come forward.  Situations like the ones I’ve written about today give people like Todd Akin ammunition when they spread their misogynistic agendas.

Honestly, if I had a son, I would be very vigilant about teaching him to be careful around women.  There are a lot of great women with big hearts out there.  But there are also a lot of shady, immoral, liars out there, too, and our society seems reluctant to hold them accountable when they take advantage of female friendly laws.  Justice should be blind.

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