News, thoughts and comments on civil rights and related issues.
Friday, May 02, 2003
Amplifications and continuations
•Aspergerians are rarely violent
A couple of folks have pointed out that Asperger's Syndrome normally doesn't include violent behavior. I agree. Based on the material I've read assaults or worse are not the norm for people with Asperger's. The common traits seem to be impaired social skills and obsessiveness. My apologies if I did not state that clearly enough.
Reader Mike has asked me to read this article about famous persons who might have had Asperger's Syndrome. I am recommending you read it, too.
•Woman is target in spy case
Katrina Leung, of my "The Spy They Loved," entry has become the focus of the government's espionage case. Her accomplice, FBI agent James J. Smith, has been granted limited immunity.
Leung is alleged to have said she could 'disappear' in talks with the FBI years ago, which may be part of the government's rationale for denying her bail.
The grant of immunity to Smith relates to his failure to follow agency procedure in storing documents.
The two defendants will return to court to face additional charges next week.
•Feminism and the newly feminine
Barry and the gang at Alas, A Blog have moved from discussing intersexuality to discussing transsexuality. To clarify, intersexuals or hermaphrodites are born with physical traits of both genders. Transsexuals are physically normal, but want to become members of the other gender. Men want to become women and women want to become men. Barry's entry is too complex to summarize effectively, so go read the whole thing, including the comments. And make a note that Ampersand's blog is the one with the cartoons where the discussions get really interesting.
posted by J. | 8:01 PM
The Tacoma aroma
Stink around police scandal worsens
The weird circumstances in the Tacoma, Washington police department are being revealed to be even more weird than we thought. You recall that police chief David Brame shot his wife in the head and killed himself in view of their two small children Saturday. Ray Corpuz, the city manager, who is involved in hiring police chiefs, has said he didn't review Brame's personnel file. Meanwhile, a friend of Brame's, Patrick Frantz, the head of the police union, has threatened an online reporter who wrote about the Brame's divorce.
Frantz has been placed on leave. He denies the threat is a threat. However, if I received an email from someone I knew had a gun and was trained to use it, I would interpret those words to mean I was not on his Christmas list.
An area reporter is finally paying attention to what is probably the biggest story out of Tacoma since the alleged D.C. area snipers were discovered to have started their crime spree there. Ken Schram of KOMO is focusing the attention where it should be. He is asking: "What did City Manager Ray Corpuz know, and when did he know it?"
Corpuz response is 'Who me? I don't know anything.'
The city manager's alibi is not airtight. Other Tacoma officials say they briefed Corpuz about some of the messy details of Brame's life, which include a failed psychiatric exam, a rape accusation and allegations of domestic abuse. Corpuz appears to have ignored those alarming details because he and Brame were part of the same not-so-old boys' club.
Thursday, Corpuz replaced Catherine Woodard as interim chief of the Tacoma police department, after she had served in that capacity for only five days. Schram believes that move to be further evidence of problems in the department.
The blogger at the Freedom Journal, Linda Martin, has a completely different perspective in regard to this story. She blames the media for David Brame's actions.
In other words, if the decades long coverup of Brame's troubled history had continued, everything would be fine. I have no idea how this person is part of the media, by that she is is not a reassuring thought. The problem is not that Brame was exposed. In fact, we should rue that that didn't happen sooner. The problem is that he had a long record of dubious and violent behavior no one ever questioned or disciplined him about. If he had been stopped from becoming a cop 20 years ago, or really investigated when accused of rape in 1988, or probed in regard to Crystal Brame's abuse allegations, he would not have turned up armed at a strip mall to wreak havoc last weekend.posted by J. | 4:53 PM
Thursday, May 01, 2003
Is there a 'New South'?
•Scalia mocks black voting rights
As Atrios observes, talk of repealing the Voting Rights Act has become a joking matter.
SCOTUS was discussing Georgia v. Ashcroft, which is premised on the need to redraw voting districts after the 2000 census.
If African-American voters are confined to majority minority districts that makes it easier for the GOP to pursue its Southern Strategy of attracting the votes of conservative Southern whites. The current governor, Sonny Perdue, was elected as the first Republican chief executive there in 130 years, using the strategy and a promise to try to bring back the state's flag featuring a large symbol of the Confederacy. Against that background, claims that race is no longer a political issue in Georgia seem rather ridiculous.
Georgian Drew, of So Far, So Left reminds us. Gov. Perdue tried to prevent the redistricting case from ever reaching SCOTUS.
Perdue failed and the rest, as they say, will be history.
The Supreme Court has held that race cannot be the predominant factor in the drawing of voting district lines. However protecting the interests of minority voters can be considered as a factor.
•A neo-Confederate Christian
Do you remember Terry Oglesby of the Possumblog, who I described asking why he was disseminating a blogroll with the blatant racist Fred Reed on it throughout the blogosphere? Oglesby refused to respond to my very polite emails, but turned up on to the 'scientific' racism site Gene Expression to whine about someone having the nerve to ask him about his offensive acts. I've happened across Oglesby, who claims to be a devout Christian, again. He was saying this:
And, people wonder why I am not a churchgoer. With hypocrites like Oglesby taking up the space in the pews, I believe I am better off sitting in the park reading a good book.
•Jump Jim Crow
Something Oglesby can agree with is about to occur, in Georgia again, a high school prom party for whites only three decades after the school was finally integrated.
The purported reason for the separate proms is to prevent interracial dating between white Southerners and black Southerners, who often already have a mixed racial heritage.
An African-American parent, Glenda Latimore, blows the whistle on her white peers.
Welcome to 1903.posted by J. | 7:29 AM
Understanding Asperger's Syndrome
I recently had the unpleasant experience of dealing with someone with severe Asperger's Syndrome. At first I just thought she had gone off the deep end -- completely. I had noticed symptoms that seemed to fit mental illness over a four-month period. Rudeness. Self-preoccupation. Lengthy rants that made little or no sense. Claims of being victimized when there was no objective evidence of that. Then, out of the blue, she really went too far. Bonkers, I decided. Then someone reminded me the woman has Asperger's.
The condition is more likely to impact males than females and is usually diagnosed later than the norm for other children with autism related problems. It is often noticed after they begin school. Though Asperger's is thought to be neurological in origin it is also defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
Most of the news stories on the web about the illness relate to crime, though it has not been established most Aspergians are at risk to beome criminals. A fairly typical sample of the ones I've read is about Martin Milam of the United Kingdom.
Similar obsessive behavior is part of the modus operandi of a New Yorker enthralled by the subway. The obsession has continually landed the Asperger's sufferer behind bars.
There are other 'markers' for Asperger's in addition to obsessiveness.
It is the latter aspect of condition that gives me pause. I recall a man who carried every known bus scedule and obsessively lectured the driver on a bus I used to take to work a few years ago. He was odd, but not frightening. I will guess that he had Asperger's. I've also encountered people who talk endlessly about themselves. Boring, but not scary. However, there was a case in the Pacific Northwest in which a totally self-centered young woman pushed her boyfriend off a mountain, killing him. The reason? He took time away from her preoccupation with herself.
Malice, an aspect of that crime, is another characteristic associated with worst case scenarios for Asperger's. It was first identified by Asperger himself.
That is eerily similar to what I experienced, except for the 'feeling close' part. It is so obvious other people don't exist for the woman, I doubt anyone feels close to her.
The commentator goes on to say:
He describes other episodes of malicious behavior by sufferers of Asperger's, including the story of Alice.
I am not a very patient person. So, it would be difficult for me to deal with even the minor behaviors described. In addition, there is no help in understanding from the Aspergerian. The person feels no remorse or regret for his bad acts. That is like the behavior of sociopaths and sometimes leads severe Aspergians to be diagnosed as having borderline personality disorder.
Blogger Wowbagger describes his efforts to cope with Asperger's.
Bagger's description of his symptoms suggests a typical Asperger's Syndrome sufferer, somewhat stymied -- but coping. However, I happened to encounter someone with the more severe form or either Asperger's and mental illness my first time knowingly dealing with such a sufferer of the disorder. So far, the worse thing she has done is engage in a bizarre virtual attack against me and send me threatening emails. However, she could be capable of worse.
Is Asperger's treatable?
Of course, with adults, the responsibility to take the medication falls on them. As is the case with many mental health patients, they may choose not to.
Training in social skills is suggested for children with Asperger's Syndrome. However, if adults are still engaged in malicious and aggressive behavior that suggests that, if available, the treatment did not work or the effects have worn off.
I have no solution to the problem of dealing with a person with pathological behaviors associated with severe Asperger's. In the future, my coping mechanism will be to avoid anyone who has the same traits I identified in the woman who has been harassing me. However, I would have preferred not to have been caught off guard in regard to Asperger's. If I had been more aware of what I could expect from someone with the condition, I would have either not have become involved with her or severed the relationship sooner. Fortunately, my only contact with her was virtual. With this information available, you won't be caught off guard.posted by J. | 5:08 AM
Wednesday, April 30, 2003
From the silver mailbag
•Stefanie wrote to say:
Thank you, Stefanie. I believe it is very important to separate the nonsense of 'scientific racism' from real science. As it continues to invade the blogosphere, I, for one, will continue to refute it. I believe there is something wrong with the character development of many people who are attracted to such rubbish. Feelings of inadequacy may make them want to feel superiort to most of the other people on Earth. Declaring oneself racially superior is an easy way to achieve that. Sad. But, that doesn't mean we should cut them any slack.
•Will, a fellow Tarheel, comments:
The Lumbees still tend to hang around Robeson County though the tribe is starting to spread out. I recently heard of a Lumbee in Maine!
My reference in our correspondence to the Whirligig is not a 'test,' Will. It is just something I remember from Greensboro.
•Prometheus, a new blogger, is curious about the liberal/conservative lines in the blogosphere. In my opinion, liberal in the blogosphere is pretty Rightward. That may be because the blogosphere supposedly started out very Right Wing. Kind of like FreeRepublic from what I've heard. I will hazard restarting the great centrality debate by saying I consider Kevin Drum, the CalPundit, typical of a blogosphere liberal. He is a moderate who is considered a liberal in this milieu. If there is a liberal centerpoint, that person would be Atrios of Eschaton to me. Left leaning? Barry, i.e., Ampersand of Alas, A Blog. Radical? The IndyMedia folks maybe. We all disagree about who is what.posted by J. | 7:17 PM
Tuesday, April 29, 2003
Abuse victim deserves spotlight
In one of those developments that make you ask '"What the hell ails these guys?' city officials in Tacoma, Washington, are still not listening to the story of Crystal Brame, who was seriously wounded by her police chief husband in an attempted murder-suicide. Instead, reports say she has remained in the shadow of David Brame, who killed himself. The Tribune has a source with an intriguing revelation.
According to the article, city officials are still focusing on David Brame and ignoring his wife, though she is the survivor.
Her medical situation has improved somewhat and her children, who witnessed the shooting, are being cared for.
Ms. Brame anticipated what might happen if she left he busband, who is described in divorce papers as so controlling he insisted on watching her use the toilet.
Maxwell Knauss is Ms. Brame's therapist.
Ms. Brame's lawyer emphasizes her efforts to avoid conflict as much as possible by filing the divorce case in a different county and rarely discussing the abuse she had suffered.
The picture that emerges is one in which one person, Ms. Brame, behaved responsibly while her violent spouse was protected by the system he was an important part of.
Need I say that someone in Bloggersville has totally missed the point when it comes to this story?
You wouldn't want to miss the comments to that um, very special, reasoning.
This is an issue we really need to work on or people like the three above just might prevail.
For information about abusive relationships, contact the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence at www.ncadv.org.posted by J. | 11:08 PM
Inequality and interracial marriages: Revisited
I have received inquiries from readers who believe they are trapped in unequal interracial marriages, i.e., relationships in which the white partner has racist beliefs and treats his wife as an inferior. I am not qualified to offer anything other than general advice on this topic.
If you are an American citizen, you have the same right to a divorce without immigration consequences as anyone else. There are cases in which the men try to have their estranged wives' citizenship revoked by claiming the marriages were fraudulent, but I don't believe they prevail very often. So, the greater issues are safety and economics. Women who are in abusive relationships are in the most danger right after they leave their husbands or lovers. So, a woman leaving needs to have a place to stay that is protected, a restraining order against the man if he has ever been physically violent and to be very vigilant. She will suffer a significant loss of income upon leaving, especially if she has been a stay at home wife.
If you have not yet become an American citizen or a permanent resident, the situation is more complex. Your husband may use the possibility your immigration status could change as a weapon against you. The Immigration and Naturalization Service may believe him, burdening you with proving you married in good faith. In addition to taking the precautions above if you leave him, you will need to hire a good immigration lawyer to protect your interest in remaining in the United States. Organizations that assist immigrants and ethnic organizations in your city should be able to help you find a reliable lawyer and, possibly, interim housing.
If any of you are currently suffering physical abuse from a lover or a spouse, I don't believe there is much reason to stay with him. However, the resources available to battered women are not sufficient. You may have to plan ahead and save money to finance your departure. For additional information, contact the emergency services hotline in your area or visit this site. It will direct you to services designed for victims of domestic violence.
There is a domestic abuse web log called 'I am here and I am not silent.' Though not very active right now, back issues of it might prove helpful. Blogcritics has a fairly recent roundup of information from the media on the topic, including the documentary Domestic Violence.posted by J. | 5:28 PM
Sunday, April 27, 2003
News from the Right
•Jeb Bush embraces the NRA
Florida Gov. Jeb Bush oiled the National Rifle Association this weekend. He credited the far Right organization with helping elect [sic] his brother president.
SCOTUS has never interpreted the Second Amendment to protect gun ownership by individuals. The provision applies to the modern equivalent of militias, i.e., the National Guards.
The presence of the NRA in Florida did not go unnoticed by gun control advocates.
Michael at Left of Center has an interesting question: "Why doesn't he thank the Supreme Court as well?"
The current occupant of the White House was, of course, appointed by the U.S. Supreme Court.
•Newspaper claims French aided Hussein
The Sunday Times says it has unearthed evidence of French perfidy in Iraq, alleged transmissions of secret information about the United States' plans for the war to Iraq.
My inclination is to wait and see. So many false news reports have been produced during this war I am surprised some folks are still slurping them right up. And, the French, who the regime has been gunning for just happen to be the villians of this one. Sounds way too pat. The information the story describes is dated and run-of-the-mill, the kinds of things a non-comatose person would know without secret briefings.
It seems rather clear the Bush administration invaded Iraq as retaliation for the 9/11 terrorist attacks, despite the fact there is no evidence linking Iraq to that tragedy. Must people continue to try to manufacture other reasons?
•Straight from Santorum's mouth
Sure you've heard about Sen. Rick Santorum's scandalous remarks, but have you read the transcript? Among other bon mots, Santorum explains why liberals are responsible for Catholic priests who molest children.
Atrios finds much about Santorum's perspective, including "his view that priests raping 7 year olds can be accurately described as consensual homosexual relationships" bizarre. He will not allow Santorum's supporters to take the 'anything goes because it is religion' out.
Santorum has a very eerie world view with us at the center of it, causing everything he considers wrong. Read the transcript. Then read Atrios.posted by J. | 9:05 PM