News, thoughts and comments on civil rights and related issues.
Thursday, November 10, 2005
News: Panty thief is a dangerous man
The blogger at Editor at Large has been reading my mind. The Portland, Oregon, area has been the host of one of those news of the weird scenarios for a couple years now. A man has been in custody for months as a result of his theft of thousands of pairs of soiled women's underwear from college dorms and apartment buildings. Funny, huh? Not really, when you learn more. Sung Koo Kim is not some kind of sartorial Robin Hood. He stole the panties for the sexual thrills he derives from handling them. He also appears to have stalked young women and was a suspect in the murder of Brooke Wilberger for a time. I agree with EAL, who has written an entry saying the man's escapades are no laughing matter.
KATU-TV covered the sentencing.
While jailed, Kim urged his father to use his little arsenal to break him out, saying his guns were better than anything authorities had. Though he appears to have learned not to antagonize the criminal justice system now, I'm not sure how deep his sudden change of character goes. If a road to normalcy is possible for Kim, it will likely take years of therapy and behavior modification.
The religious sect at issue is the Jehovah's Witnesses, which is popular with the Korean immigrant community Kim is part of. He claims that the strictures of the religion prevented him from developing normally socially and sexually. I'm not qualified to render psychiatric opinions, but agree with EAL that there must be more to the story. That brings us to the issue of civil commitments for sex offenders after they complete their sentences for their convictions. The problem, of course, is that such laws assume that the parolees remain a threat to society without absolute proof that they do. I'm ambivalent. I prefer that the accused be incarcerated only after they have been found to be guilty of specific crimes. However, the prospect of waiting until more people are victimized by someone likely to reoffend is problemmatic, too.posted by J. | 8:15 PM
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
Politics: Washington GOP threatens voters
The Republican Party of Washington seems determined to continue making itself look silly whenever it can create an opportunity to do so. Still sucking sour grapes after losing last year's gubernatorial race narrowly, the party faithful have decided to foment trouble for today's elections. The King County GOP sent out letters meant to frighten some voters and prevent them from voting. The Republicans claim that 1,774 voters in largely Democratic King County do not live at valid addresses. The maneuver appears to be payback for the Washington GOP's failed fights in both the electoral and legal arenas. (The Supreme Court of Washington rejected its challenge to Democratic Gov. Christine Gregoire's paper thin victory over Republican Dino Rossi hands down.) If Democrats can be intimidated in this election, perhaps those grapes will taste better.
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer has the story.
That the challenges are valid is, of course, unproven. GOP operatives skulked around buildings taking photographs of people coming and going, but, apparently, did not identify some of the buildings as residential or mixed use. If someone really wanted to know, he could obtain that information easily -- by asking. However, doing so would take the skullduggery out of the situation. Less fun? This behavior may have been amusing for Republicans playing cloak and dagger, but it wasn't for the victims. When one receives a certified letter in the mail, it often means legal trouble of some sort. So, the goal of intimidating some of the people on the hit list likely succeeded. Rather than vote under the threat of legal action if they did so, some validly registered voters probably will not submit their ballots.
The blogger at Ridenbaugh Press wonders if the bad publicity the Republican Party brought on itself might effect the atmosphere of today's election.
It is unclear whether the ugly situation in King County mirrors the national reputation the GOP has for sometimes seeking to suppress minority voting. Though most of nonwhite population of the area lives in King County, more analysis of the addresses targeted would be necessary to determine if race was a factor in the King County GOP's actions.
The Republican candidate for governor lost his court challenges because he could not prove that the outcome of the race was the result of fraud. Some of us with cool heads and legal expertise foresaw that result even before the lawsuits were filed.posted by J. | 2:00 PM