Friday, April 20, 2007

Cho Seung-hui - symptom of an ugly social disease.

Don't Poke The Aspie! shirt When Cho Seung-hui fired his last round into his own head, I am personally, morally certain that he did so feeling both a sense of relief and with a sense of having struck a blow for justice.

He was wrong, of course.

But after looking over such information as I've been able to find, I strongly suspect that there was a high barrier to him coming to a more "reasonable and rational" viewpoint - and a great deal that leads me to suspect that - within his own narrow, but probably quite sane perspective - his actions were completely rational and justified.

It's pretty damn clear that within his lifetime, there were few, if any reality checks or positive, useful interventions, nothing to introduce a bit of reasonable doubt regarding the universal malevolence of "normal people."

That would be the distinction between him and me - the realization that as strange as "those others" were, they were not all out to get me - and that from time to time, I was just as able to misinterpret their actions and misunderstand their motives as they were apt to screw up with me. Which leads us to the current spectacle, which is providing me no little morbid amusement, with patches of deja vu as the media and blogoshere attempts to "understand" Cho Seung-hui and his rampage in Blacksburg.

Why, how; everyone wishes to know - so long as they are reassured that there is absolutely no fault to be found with them, the institutions they value or the prejudices and odious assumptions they hold dear. All are concerned with finding a "reason" that will permit society to continue as usual, or at least, find some identifiable group to impose restrictions upon in the name of safety.

As a "person of difference," with many characteristics in common with Cho Seung-hui, I am understandably concerned that I will be so singled out. I'm even more concerned on behalf of my Aspie step-son.

But let's call a spade a spade - seeing that is what I do - all this amounts to is a wish to be "kept safe" from people who may possibly react violently in response to bullying and harassment. So if you want YOUR child to be safe - you should ensure they are not a bully or abuser. And that, of course, requires a reality-check on your part, if for no other reason than this; if you live like that, it's sometimes true that you die like that. More likely, you live to regret that other people are harmed or die as a result of attitudes and behaviors you helped reinforce. Among adolescents with Autistic Spectrum issues, suicide is one of the leading causes of death.

Va. Tech shooter was laughed at - Yahoo! News

BLACKSBURG, Va. - In high school, Cho Seung-Hui almost never opened his mouth. When he finally did, his classmates laughed, pointed at him and said: "Go back to China."

As such details of the Virginia Tech shooter's life come out, and experts pore over his sick and twisted writings and his videotaped rant, it is becoming increasingly clear that Cho was almost a textbook case of a school shooter: a painfully awkward, picked-on young man who lashed out with methodical fury at a world he believed was out to get him.

Hm. Is it delusional to believe the world is out to get you when most or all personal interactions clearly demonstrate the truth of that belief?

There's increasing speculation that he may have been autistic to some degree, as descriptions of personal presentation and behavior emerge. (The first mention may have been here;

Another possibility is that he was autistic to some degree, and unable to communicate or express himself appropriately; a constant theme amongst those who were acquainted with him is that if he replied at all, it was most usually with a single word, whilst the intensity of some of his attempts at communication were alarming enough to be regarded as stalking.

Katherine Newman, a professor of sociology at Princeton University, said most school shooters are rarely loners, but rather failed joiners.
"People who continuously try to join social groups and are rebuffed," said Newman, the author of "Rampage: The Social Roots of School Shootings." "And their daily experience is one of rejection and friction." CBS

The room-mates interviewed so far have spoken of their attempts to be friendly towards him, and of how they soon gave up, as he didn't respond or didn't respond well. Initially, though, he had gone out to eat with them, and to parties; at one of these he had revealed the existence of his imaginary supermodel girlfriend, and 'their' nicknames for each other - Jelly and Spanky. That sounds a bit like the sort of thing a somewhat autistic kid says as the exact moment his new friends stop being his friends and start thinking he is weird, and saying, "Watch out, here comes Spanky..."

Not that his family was much help, even given early indications that autism might be a possiblity.

''From the beginning, he wouldn't answer me,'' Kim Yang-soon, Cho's great aunt, said in an interview with AP Television News on Thursday. ''(He) didn't talk. Normally sons and mothers talk. There was none of that for them. He was very cold,'' she added

''When they went to the United States, they told them it was autism,'' said Kim, 85, adding that the family had constant worries about Cho.

Neither school officials, who have Cho's educational records, nor police who have his medical records, have mentioned such a diagnosis this week. Autistic individuals often have difficulty communicating, but the diagnosis would not necessarily explain his violence.

Ah, well, as to that, google "aspie rage." But it seems family concern was limited to being concerned - and prayer.

Meanwhile, the young man, whatever his mental issues, was in a nutcracker, between religious and family pressures at home and reportedly constant bullying in school. Whether or not he had mental issues to begin with, bullying is one of the most common precursors of such events.

Va. Tech shooter was laughed at - Yahoo! News

A 2002 federal study on common characteristics of school shooters found that 71 percent of them "felt bullied, persecuted or injured by others prior to the attack."

The report said that "in some of these cases the experience of being bullied seemed to have a significant impact on the attacker and appeared to have been a factor in his decision to mount an attack at the school. In one case, most of the attacker's schoolmates described the attacker as the kid everyone teased."

So this is far from being a unique or unexpected incident. Frankly, those who persist in being surprised are those who do not wish to face the disease that these events symptomize. If you must have something to blame; a pointer toward doing something to truly address the situation, then let us see it for what it is; a reaction toward the casual, routine abuse of power.

Whether it is bullying in school, a toxic work environment or a government that cannot seem to formulate any policy that doesn't involve the use of force, we live in a culture that values having power and the presumption that those who have power deserve to be able to wield it against those they see as weak or "outside the group" with impunity.

But perhaps we need to remember an Old West aphorism - "Sam Colt made all men equal." And there's another very pragmatic observation made by Robert Heinlein: "Never frighten a little man - he'll kill you."

Ultimately - and in no small part due to the typical ending - I tend to view this as "death by natural causes," in a sense. That is to say, a dangerous situation was allowed to persist and fester, a situation that (like living in a trailer in the midwest without access to a storm cellar, or going into Grizzly terratory with neither gun nor bear-bells) can be statistically predicted to have a high potential of ending badly. Getting hung up on the moral or ethical culpability of such persons does nothing to prevent more such outbursts of deadly rage.

In this case, if one lesson is to be derived from it, I would say that it should be summarized as "don't poke the aspie." On rare but very dramatic occasions, you might find yourself pulling back a bloody stump.

Illustration : Don't Poke The Aspie! by webcarve

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Real One Percent

Some Asperger on Myspace Says:Hell's Aspies

I have Aspergers Syndrome and live in the UK. One of my special interests is building and riding custom motorcycles.

I read an article recently which stated that 1% of the UK population has an Autistic Spectrum Disorder and having a mind that naturally thinks outside the box, immediately realised that we autistics mirror the World of 1% motorcycle clubs.

1. We have rejected societal norms.
2. We have dedicated our lives to our special interests.
3. Aspergers isn't a weekend activity, but a way of living.

Naturally, I would not want anyone with Aspergers to be forced to have to attend any kind of meeting or participate in any kind of social setting. So in true Aspergian style I have created The Hells Aspies MC MySpace Chapter.

If you have Aspergers and ride a motorcycle, then register your support by adding me as your friend and sending me a picture of you and your bike as a comment.

And of course, any motorcycle club worth it's salt has an initiation rite.
Your initiation task is to click here and email to ask them to recognize this chapter. (A person who truly has AS will be naive enough to do this).

If you are a neuro-typical biker and do not understand this web site, then please click here to learn more about autism.
I am not so naive as to think one or two emails will convince the Hell's Angels to recognize the chapter, but I AM Aspie enough that trivial considerations such as "what will people think" will not stop me - and if there's one overriding social norm among bikers, it would have to be that.

I don't ride, myself. But the damn things have always fascinated me. And by "damned things," I mean Harley's. There are bikes that are mechanically more reliable. There are bikes that are a better value for the dollar. There are bikes that are even more unconventional and defiant of social norms - I have a 350 cc Vespa in mind here.

But none sound like a Harley. None quite have the "vibe," the deep throated comfortable grumble of that distinct engine. It has always attracted me, like a big warm secure blanket of sound.
No Whining
I have congenital shoulder problems and I fear riding the Harley of my dreams could well be my last act of social defiance; I doubt I could control the beast I desire at speed. The bike I could ride sounds more like a mosquito on steroids, a nasal "waaaaaaaaaaaaa!" And you know me. No Whining includes my transportation.

So until they come out with power steering, I'll stick to the sedan.

I mean, somehow, a chauffeur and a sidecar takes it to another place entirely. And besides, you can smoke in a car.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A Liberal Usage of Quotations

From Libertarian Quotes:

  1. A government which robs Peter to pay Paul, can always count on the support of Paul. – George Bernard Shaw

  2. America needs fewer laws, not more prisons. – James Bovard

  3. War is just one more big government program. – Joseph Sobran

  4. Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide. – John Adams (1814)

  5. They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety. – Benjamin Franklin

  6. One of the greatest delusions in the world is the hope that the evils in this world are to be cured by legislation. – Thomas B. Reed (1886)

  7. If you are not free to choose wrongly and irresponsibly, you are not free at all. – Jacob Hornberger (1995)

  8. Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys. – P.J. O'Rourke

  9. The more corrupt the state, the more it legislates. – Tacitus

  10. Government is not reason; it is not eloquence; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master. – George Washington

  11. No man's life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session. – Mark Twain (1866)

  12. There is no worse tyranny than to force a man to pay for what he does not want merely because you think it would be good for him. – Robert Heinlein

  13. The true danger is when Liberty is nibbled away, for expedients. – Edmund Burke (1899)

  14. Peace, commerce and honest friendship with all nations; entangling alliances with none. – Thomas Jefferson

  15. The triumph of persuasion over force is the sign of a civilized society. – Mark Skousen

  16. A wise and frugal government which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government. – Thomas Jefferson (1801)
I am an ethical man who believes in individual liberty. Therefore, I'm not a Liberal, or a Democrat, a Republican or a Green. I'm not a Reformer, a Reactionary, a Socialist or a Communist either. I'm a Libertarian and a free man. - Bob King (2007)

Just click the damn link, my fellow Nevadans

Eventful - Demand - Ducky DooLittle in Reno, Nevada, USA

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Monday, April 16, 2007

Know Something About Kieth Olbermann?

This Right-Wing tabloid site wants to know.

And, well, obviously they are having a lot - repeat, A LOT of trouble finding any real ammo to use against Olbermann, since the worst thing they can say about him is that his ratings are low (on MSNBC? Imagine that!) and this:

Keith Olbermann's career schizophrenia continues. He's a Sports Guy. He's a News Guy. He's a Sports Guy (again). Oops, back to News. And guess what? Now he's back to Sports, according to Keith's personal PR flack aka TVNewser:

More! "Olbermann Schizophrenia: Is he a Sports Guy or a "News" Anchor?"

Yep, being able to do more than one thing well is a clear sign of inherent, invidious, elitist Liberalism. Judging by the journalistic standards of this blog, so is walking and chewing gum at the same time.

This link was advertised to me via google promising to "Expose Olbermann's lies." As I expected, this was a usage of the term, "lie," that I was previously unfamiliar with. A "lie" in this usage seems to be a truth that makes you want to stick your fingers in your ears and chant "la la la la I can't HEAR you!"

I see this as symptomatic of the sad, impotent and pathetic devolution of the right-wing blogosphere, that this blog gets enough eyeballs to justify a google Adwords account. They don't take just ANYONE, you know.

So, the dead-enders are still out there - but clearly, they are being driven to a subsistence diet of undiluted stupidity as the former stars of the Right are, one by one, falling away toward the center, leaving the core ideologues exposed in their dogged determination to win their Culture War against everyone and every institution that is smart enough to know better.

Hell, if you are smart enough to put three thoughts in a row, you are savvy enough to realize that the Administration can't. And a lot of former Republicans have come to the conclusion that what they stood for, indeed, what they still stand for, was seen as simply a set of talking points by the Administration; a means to get to an end that was nothing good, Republican, conservative or apparently achievable.

There is only so far wanting to believe can take you in the face of an overwhelming flood of fact. Bloggers, to be relevant at all, have to swim in facts and even (gasp) differing perspectives on them. After a while, it's hard to ignore that of the facts that are in, the facts speak against the President, that:
  • He has indeed lied in order to wage war against Iraq.
  • entered office with the intention of waging war against Iraq.
  • used (or even contrived) 9/11 as a pretext for that war (and in that, did nothing to actually find, prosecute and execute those who were actually responsible).
  • Illegally wiretapped citizens.
  • Suspended Habius Corpus.
  • Kidnapped and tortured people without even the pretense of due process.
  • Tried to establish a legal basis for torture - despite it being explicitly illegal and ineffective.
  • Is in Contempt of Congress on multiple counts (signing statements)
And yet, given nearly totalitarian powers even FDR did not wish to have, has managed to completely fail to win a war our armed forces were equipped and trained to win - a war of maneuver in the deserts of the middle east - by putting them into urban combat zones, the sort of warfare that eats armies for lunch.

Understand this very clearly; there was absolutely no reason for anyone to expect that our military forces would be unsuccessful in securing Iraq with good intelligence, solid planning, competent leadership and enough boots on the ground. Even those of us who doubted that it would be as easy as described would not have gone so far as to use the word "difficult."

We asked "why Iraq, and why now." I cannot recall many asking "what if we can't win?"

So, not only did he lie us into war, he fucked up that war. Why? Well, never presume malice when stupidity is a sufficient explanation. But if George Bush's intent were to destroy this nation, cripple our vital alliances, isolate us in terms of world opinion and still lead us open to a far more probable threat of terrorism, in that light, he's been consistently correct in his choices of policy and personnel.

What we are seeing here is the result of a total failure of leadership, even by the standards of a corrupt, corporatist, kleptocratic, nepotist and increasingly fascist-lite ruling elite.

It would be wise to recall that, first, the French Revolution occurred because of and in response to leadership of such quality. And second - the outcome, driven as it was by a situation driven beyond extremes, resulted in some extremely Bad Things.

Now, I don't know about you, but I think that the existence of social stresses that could lead to civil war to be a very significant National Security Issue. So, I think it's time we all took a deep breath, got over ourselves, and made a choice to stop making war on other people. Especially when those people are fellow Americans.

Update: this post was linked on Olbermann Watch and this was the only comment there:

You know what I see as symptomatic of the sad, impotent, and pathetic devolution of the LEFT-wing blogosphere? They can't even spell Olbermann's first name correctly while trying to defend him. Kieth? How hard is it to spell K-E-I-T-H?
If that's the only criticism, I believe we can take every actual point as being unaddressable by those who I am addressing.

Sad, ain't it? That, and the fact that once again I'm accused of being "a liberal."

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Sunday, April 15, 2007

It's Let's Piss off Jesus Day Every Day in Orlando

clipped from

MIAMI (Reuters) - Police in Florida have arrested an activist for feeding the homeless in downtown Orlando.

Montanez was filmed by undercover officers on Wednesday as he served "30 unidentified persons food from a large pot utilizing a ladle," according to an arrest affidavit. The Orlando area is home to Disney World and Universal Studios Florida. [Emphasis Mine]

The Orlando law, which is supported by local business owners who say the homeless drive away customers but has been challenged in court by civil rights groups, allows charities to feed more than 25 people at a time within two miles of Orlando city hall only if they have a special permit. They can get two permits a year.

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Compassionate Conservatism in action, eh, wot?

When Morality Becomes Idiocy - the prosecution of sexually exploited children.

I'd have more to say about this - but I'll defer to an expert. Besides, if you need an explanation as to why this is fundamentally unethical, immoral and operationally stupid, you probably wouldn't read my blogs anyhow...

Change the System!

A child can not legally consent to sex, so why does our system prosecute child prostitutes as criminals? Once locked up they receive virtually no counseling, psychological care, or help finding a safe place to live. Sadly, when young people get out of lock up, they usually return to the streets. Experts agree that prosecuting sexually exploited young people further traumatizes them and makes it more difficult for them to create any kind of stability in their lives. Sign up for the National Juvenile Justice Network email list and raise your awareness. Learn about how you can support valuable legislation and care for children who need your voice, awareness and light.

(As with all of my posts of this nature ~ please re-post and share freely.)

[EDIT: Just to clarify, I am speaking of American girls. If these girls were not American citizens they would be protected under immigrant sex trafficking laws. But because they are American citizens they do not qualify for the benefits and services given to non-citizens. We just need to recognize valid need for our protection. They have slipped through a very large crack.]
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