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July 3, 2012

Guest post on Miller from another thoughtful victim of a teenage killer

A few days ago, I posted here the reaction of Jennifer Bishop Jenkins, the President of the National Organization of Victims of Juvenile Lifers (NOVJL), to the Supreme Court's opinion in Miller. Today I received an email from Dr. Linda White proposing another guest post which, in her words, "provides a different opinion from the victims community on juvenile life-without-parole sentencing."  Here is her commentary, posted in full form:

On June 25, the Supreme Court ruled in Miller v. Alabama and Jackson v. Hobbs that it is cruel and unusual to impose mandatory life-without-parole sentences on children.  As a mother whose daughter was murdered by two teenage boys, I speak for many victims’ family members who support the Court’s sound decision.

I certainly never imagined that I would become a passionate advocate against life imprisonment without parole for juvenile offenders. I had never confronted the issue until November 18, 1986, the day my world was forever changed when my 26-year-old daughter Cathy, then pregnant with her second child, was killed by two teenage boys.

This tragedy set me on an unlikely path that led me to discover that even youths who commit the worst crimes have the capacity to grow into mature, redeemed adults.  I know this because I watched my daughter’s killer, Gary, become such an adult.

I spent the years following Cathy’s death studying to become a grief counselor.  I became involved in a restorative justice program, Bridges to Life, that allows convicts and crime victims to open a dialogue and work toward reconciliation.  In 2000, I opened myself up to this dialogue with Gary.

When I met Gary, I found that he was a very different person from the boy who once committed a horrible act.  He was a remorseful grown man desperately seeking forgiveness and a chance to make up for the hurt he caused.  My decision to forgive Gary does not mean that what happened is OK.  It can never be OK, and Gary knows that as well as I do.  But keeping him in prison for a longer period would not bring my daughter back.

Gary has now been out of prison for over a year.  He has since dedicated himself to being a positive influence in his community, including working with drug and alcohol addicts at his church.  He regularly tells me that he wants to live a good, impactful life as a “memorial” to my daughter.

Gary is a poster child for why I believe life sentences are so unjust for juveniles.  I have seen that youth have enormous potential to change, and that we should not lock them up without giving them a second chance.

I have also seen that my story is not unique.  I was one of many victims’ family members who appealed to the Supreme Court to do away with juvenile life-without-parole sentences.  While each of our experiences are different, we are united in our belief that keeping children like Gary permanently locked away only compounds the ugliness of crime with the ugliness of hopeless prison sentences.

I strongly believe that young offenders need to be held accountable for their actions. But it is wrong to sentence them to punishments that fail to take into consideration their age and capacity for change.  By denying children the opportunity to someday earn release, you are telling these kids, as Justice Ginsburg stated, that they are throwaway kids.  As they go before judges for resentencing, factors that were dismissed before, such as their age at the time of the crime, their histories of abuse and neglect and their roles in the crime must be considered.  I will feel a sense of calm that children who made tragic mistakes will have an opportunity to be judged by more than their worst act.

Even though he committed an unspeakable crime, Gary was not a throwaway kid.  Had he been sentenced to life-without-parole, he would never have been able to become a living memorial to Cathy.

“I forgive you, and God will, too.” These were the last words Cathy spoke before her death.  I know Cathy would be gratified to see Gary have a second chance and become the positive member of society that he is today.

Stories of redemption like Gary’s are testaments to why the Supreme Court got it right by prohibiting mandatory life-without-parole sentences for children.  The Court has taken an important step in upholding America’s promise to never give up on our children.

Related recent posts on Miller:

July 3, 2012 at 03:59 PM | Permalink

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Comments

"But keeping him in prison for a longer period would not bring my daughter back."

Ma'am, your daughter is gone. We care mostly about other daughters, still alive.

The lawyers who kept this murderer alive, from age 14, prior to his murder, those that kept him alive after his murder are totally responsible for any future victim. These lawyers are bigger threats to victims than the murderer, and must be stopped in their relentless rent seeking, and privileging of criminals.

The post is nauseating in its superficial, and false piety. This series of posts by hug a thug, murderer coddling families is becoming a propaganda series. If there is not going to be balance soon, then it is empty advocacy rather than anything of educational value. I am not going to call Dr. White nuts or disturbed. However, there is something deeply wrong with her. She has Stockholm Syndrome, identifying with the enemy, and switching sides. This anecdotal post fulfills a need from personal pathology. It is not anything to be relied on for any policy decision.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jul 3, 2012 5:03:10 PM

If there was any doubt left, it is official now - Supremacy Claus is a very vile person.

Posted by: Erika | Jul 3, 2012 5:26:49 PM

"Stories of redemption like Gary’s are testaments to why the Supreme Court got it right by prohibiting mandatory life-without-parole sentences for children. The Court has taken an important step in upholding America’s promise to never give up on our children."

Really? Because one guy asked forgiveness, we are going to say that the Constitution means something? While I won't deny that the story is powerful, the idea that an anecdote dictates what is constitutional is simply wrong. Legislatures can decide that with respect to certain crimes, we are simply going to remove the person from society.

Gary killed a woman and her unborn baby. He got out 25 years or so. That just doesn't seem like enough to me. And what if he hurts someone else? It's awful stylish to say things like America's promise to its children, but would Dr. White have the guts to say that to a rape victim of a paroled juvie murderer? Or the parents of another victim?

We lock people up for a reason. One of those reasons is that we don't have a crystal ball. When someone commits a horrible crime, there's the risk that they will do so again. And so we resolve the uncertainty against the criminal. Thus it is besides the point to talk about "ugly" imprisonment. Yes--it is harsh to lock up some 14 yo kid for the rest of his life for murder. But inflicting preventable crimes on completely innocent people is also harsh.

I don't presume to know what motivates Dr. White. I do find it strangely disloyal--I would never ever advocate anything on behalf of someone who killed one of my kids. I have read some explanations==it's the victim's way of exercising power over the killer--who knows? (Oh, and before the peanut gallery starts calling me whatever--I am certainly entitled to my opinion about the lack of loyalty to one's own child, and it's not immoral to think it (or say it, given the forum.)

Posted by: federalist | Jul 3, 2012 5:44:16 PM

Erika: Try to be more lawyerly. That is a complimentary word, as I use it. It implies some amount of self control, some preparation of argumentation. If you were in court, the judge would rejoinder and your case would be over in the eyes of a jury.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jul 3, 2012 5:48:21 PM

What an interesting story you have in here. I feel great that Cathy's mom had the chance to forgive Gary. That way, she can help herself moved on to the crime that had happened to her daughter. Also, a good thing happened in here is that Gary had turned into God's way which shows how remorseful he was on his actions before. On the other side, I feel so sorry for this kind of crime existing in the world.

Posted by: Ashley Casas | Jul 3, 2012 5:49:13 PM

You can have your own beliefs f., but huh, when an actual victim disagrees with your take on those shameful judges twisting the law to harm victims it starts to look a lot more shade of grey.

Posted by: Joe | Jul 3, 2012 6:35:27 PM

'I would never ever advocate anything on behalf of someone who killed one of my kids.'

wouldn't wish that on anyone but from the sound of your reply certainly no one would ever have the mistaken belief you even possess any of those traits within you to begin with

Posted by: from the peanut gallery | Jul 3, 2012 6:54:28 PM

Was federalist ever a child? Or, was he just hatched or cloned as the foul "adult" that he is?

Does federalist have any quarrel with the neuroscience on which the Miller majority relies, or does he just proceed on the basis of primitive, visceral impulses that he doesn't understand?

Posted by: Calif. Capital Defense Counsel | Jul 3, 2012 7:02:10 PM

According to federalist we must always act on behalf of the victim – except for when the victim disagrees with him.

Or underneath his angry bravado maybe federalist has a victim complex – more victim than even actual victims.

Posted by: XX | Jul 3, 2012 7:34:12 PM

Federalist committed a horrible, shameful crime years ago. However, instead of engaging in self-flaggelation, he projects, e.g., advocating harsh and oppressive punishment for others. It's the same with Scalia and others of that ilk.

Posted by: Eric Leslie | Jul 3, 2012 7:48:51 PM

"...quarrel with the neuroscience on which the Miller majority relies..."

Yes. Adolescents have performances superior to those of adults across the board. IQ, dexterity, knowledge, brain imaging, adaptability, moral intelligence. Such superiority expresses itself in rates lower than those of adults in crime, virginity, AIDS, substance abuse, and any other social pathology you care to name.

What they lack compared to adults is experience. That is because they have been infantalized to keep them out of the job market by union and femnist, anti-family lawyers. kept in that baby sitting service, high school, a complete waste of time. Get rid of that union lawyer abomination, high school, and adolescents would catch up to adults in experiences too, as they have for the past 10,000 years of civilization.

Everyone knows, including kids with mental retardation in special class. So why don't the lawyers on Supreme Court know what even MR students know. The are lawyer dumbasses. That is not an epithet, but refers to a term of of art. It is a student with an IQ of 200 who passes 1L, and comes out a mental cripple. The better the ranking of the school, the more crippling the education. So Harvard Law mental cripples on the Supreme Court should be given disability and handicapped parking. They need individual aides to prevent their running out into the street and getting hit by cars. They are that far gone.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jul 3, 2012 9:15:22 PM

I probably should say "murdered one of my kids." Accidents do happen.

Isn't funny, the only halfway decent response is Joe's, even that one is pretty weak. You guys can't answer the point about innocent victims of those who get out on parole. There's a truly awful case in Oklahoma. Kid-killer killed a kid when he was a juvenile. But hey, we didn't give up on the kid.

Second, the issue with victims. Obviously not every victim wishes to see hard-core punishment. That's fine. What I don't like to see is victims whipsawed with BS last minute stays over issues that should have been raised before the eve of execution, and I think that the Legislature has every right to consider a victim's family which wants the certainty of LWOP in its determination of punishment. I guess that's evil. Whatever.

Third, as for your question CCDC, the answer is that I don't give a flying you know what. Of course, the Supreme Court really doesn't care either, given the abortion "jurisprudence." Kids are mature enough to decide to kill a baby growing within them, but not mature enough to get mandatory LWOP. OK, whatever. But putting that one side, this, to me, is a legislative judgment. Given the fact that we could execute juvenile killers only a decade or so ago, the idea that mandatory LWOP is somehow against the evolving standards of decency (read, the five Justices' tender sensibilities) is just ridiculous, and I refuse to even debate the issues of neuroscience or whatever. Yeah, teens are less mature than adults. Stop the presses.

Posted by: federalist | Jul 3, 2012 9:21:54 PM

Federalist stated: "and I refuse to even debate the issues of neuroscience or whatever. Yeah, teens are less mature than adults. Stop the presses."

Yes, this is the tripe often spit up by the pablum puking enablers. The problem is that the data does not back up their excuses.18-24 year olds are more than twice as likely to murder than juveniles in the 14-17 year group. 25-34 year olds are also more likely to murder than than juveniles. If it was "impulse control", then the juve rate should be considerably higher.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Jul 3, 2012 11:07:44 PM

TQ: Thank you. A voice from earth. I was lonely here in the upside down, lawyer Twilight Zone, where black is white, evil is good, and lawyer dumbasses make the policy of government, with the rent as their sole value and goal.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jul 4, 2012 12:07:59 AM

Wow. A lot of people here with their true colors on display. It seems to me that a lot of the hand-wringing over victims that some folks here usually display is so much less about caring for victims and so much more about hating the evil-doers. In fact, were one cynical, one could conclude from some of the comments on display that it's not really about victims at all, but something else entirely.

And Dr. Tarls, I don't know where you got your PhD in Developmental Neuroscience, but perhaps you'd care to explain to the class why the claim that juveniles are less culpable than adults for their actions on account of their developing frontal lobe is bunk with something other than your half-cocked statistical conclusions?

Posted by: Guy | Jul 4, 2012 11:13:37 AM

And also just to add, from federalist:

"I don't presume to know what motivates Dr. White. I do find it strangely disloyal--I would never ever advocate anything on behalf of someone who killed one of my kids. I have read some explanations==it's the victim's way of exercising power over the killer--who knows? (Oh, and before the peanut gallery starts calling me whatever--I am certainly entitled to my opinion about the lack of loyalty to one's own child, and it's not immoral to think it (or say it, given the forum.)"

You're certainly entitled to say it. Just as the rest of us are entitled to throw up in our mouths at reading it. Way to keep it classy, federalist.

Posted by: Guy | Jul 4, 2012 11:23:46 AM

Here is a nice review of test performances in adolescence, as well as imaging studies. Adolescents are superior, including in the amount of grey matter (neurons) and white matter (the connections between neurons). In general, there is marked improvement from childhood, and declines in adulthood.

http://www.icn.ucl.ac.uk/sblakemore/SJ_papers/BlaCho_jcpp_06.pdf

How group statistics are relevant to individual culpability is not clear, except as a form of bias. If you were to substitute another bias, it would not be acceptable. "Blacks should get lighter sentences because their race has less ability to control itself," would cause an uproar. The same should happen when it comes to age.

Logically, if a group has less ability to control itself, it requires greater retributive punishment (in which I do not believe), in order to learn its lesson. But most of all it requires greater incapacitation (the sole mature aim of the criminal law). If a sexual predator tells a judge, I will rape again, I just cannot control myself, the sentence has to be longer. The reverse has taken place in Miller.

Welcome to the upside down world of the lawyer Twilight Zone.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jul 4, 2012 1:36:05 PM

federalist has the presumption to state a dissenting view, whereupon he is met with five insulting posts ranging from largely to entirely ad hominem. The posters were peanut gallery, CCDC, XX, Eric Leslie and Guy.

Mr. Leslie's is my favorite. It reads: "Federalist committed a horrible, shameful crime years ago. However, instead of engaging in self-flaggelation [sic], he projects, e.g., advocating harsh and oppressive punishment for others. It's the same with Scalia and others of that ilk."

That's just beautiful. First is the point-blank accusation without a particle of evidence. Even better is that the same accusation is aimed at a Supreme Court Justice, and there is not even a mummer of dissent from any liberal here, including those who have been outraged -- OUTRAGED -- that federalist has called some judges nothing worse than "hacks."

The Left thinks hypocrisy is a Big Crime -- except when they want to practice it, in which case it's just so cute.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jul 4, 2012 7:28:52 PM

no otis, your the hack because the same finger pointing applies to you also

Posted by: from the peanut gallery | Jul 4, 2012 8:10:47 PM

Peanut: Aw, come on. This is not third grade recess. Even special ed recess has more clever retort.

Let's agree on a new rule. All personal attack must be funny, or else keep them to yourself. Unfunny personal attack is like taking a whiz in the living room, not funny and reveals more about the whizzor than about the whizzee. It is like dumping body fluid on the public, prohibited.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jul 4, 2012 8:19:34 PM

Guy stated: "And Dr. Tarls, I don't know where you got your PhD in Developmental Neuroscience, but perhaps you'd care to explain to the class why the claim that juveniles are less culpable than adults for their actions on account of their developing frontal lobe is bunk with something other than your half-cocked statistical conclusions?"

I do not need to explain. As you state perfectly clearly, it is your "claim", thus it is your responsibility to prove that juveniles are less cuplable.

A couple of points.

1) Showing that the frontal lobe of a juvenile is less developed than an adult does NOT prove that they are incapable of controlling the murder impulse. For instance, a 38 year old major league baseball player has lost physical ability that a 24 year old professional still has. However, that does not mean that the 38 year old cannot be a functional player. Likewise, having a slightly less developed frontal lobe does not mean the 17 year old is not capable of controlling the impulse to murder. In fact, they control it all of the time.

2) A study of hundreds of youths says nothing about an individual youth in an individual case. Each 17 year old murderer (for that matter, one of any age) is unique.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Jul 4, 2012 9:24:53 PM

TQ: "Each 17 year old murderer (for that matter, one of any age) is unique." That happens to be the main point of lawless Miller.

Unique sentences are biased. We know race, sex, class, and education will cause serious disparities in sentencing which will violate Fifth Amendment Due Process and the Equal Protection Clauses.

Under 123D, after the third violent offense, all adolescents are executed to prevent their reaching their twenties when they will really hurt the public. No exceptions. Felony murder should be included even if the dude was sitting in a car half a mile away at the time of the killing. To deter.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jul 4, 2012 10:20:39 PM

from the peanut gallery --

You chose your moniker well.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jul 4, 2012 10:20:56 PM

You bloody wankers -- Bill Otis, TarlsQtr, federalist, Supremacy Clause -- have no lives.

Posted by: Jack Straw | Jul 4, 2012 11:42:52 PM

No Brits allowed on the Fourth, or we'll shoot from behind a tree. You know us. From the past. When we kicked Brit ass twice.

You did leave behind a fine poison pill, your idiotic, lawless common law and legal system, a total abject failure in every aspect save one, rent seeking.

(Prof. Berman is in England. They could not have gotten to him that fast. It can't be him. Also, he is not gay.)

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jul 5, 2012 12:00:06 AM

"You bloody wankers -- Bill Otis, TarlsQtr, federalist, Supremacy Clause -- have no lives."

Just when you think the pro-defendant group has become as juvenile as possible..............

The most unfortunate fact, however, continues to be that the more responsible liberals just whistle past this sort of thing (is it what they really think but are too shrewd to say out loud?), while issuing speed-of-light criticisms of federalist for the mortal sin of calling some judges "hacks."

These are the same people who are then the first to shout HYPOCRISY!!!

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jul 5, 2012 7:51:59 AM

Jack Straw stated: "You bloody wankers -- Bill Otis, TarlsQtr, federalist, Supremacy Clause -- have no lives."

At least you did not say that we have the cooties, which would be a slightly more immature insult.

I am curious though... If we have "no lives", what would that say about someone who wasted his time commenting about it?

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Jul 5, 2012 9:17:02 AM

SC said: "Let's agree on a new rule. All personal attack must be funny, or else keep them to yourself. Unfunny personal attack is like taking a whiz in the living room, not funny and reveals more about the whizzor than about the whizzee. It is like dumping body fluid on the public, prohibited."


I'll sign on to this as well. There's a whole lot of heat and not much light in this thread. And a lot of mudslinging.

Though Bill--I disagree with you that Guy's posts fall into this category. I don't see anything wrong with being repulsed by a claim that a murder victim's mother is "strangely disloyal" simply because she believes the killer can be and has been redeemed.

Posted by: Res ipsa | Jul 5, 2012 11:00:50 AM

Jack Straw--

Aren't you all supposed be more witty than us Americans? Come on now...

Posted by: Res ipsa | Jul 5, 2012 11:02:28 AM

Res ipsa, you are entitled to your opinion. I have a feeling I am saying out loud what most people would think. In this particular case, there's another child in the equation--the killer having murdered one. Is that what you want grandma doing--helping the murderer of your mom get out?

I stand by my disloyal comment. If I were the child's father, I'd seriously consider cutting all ties to the grandmother.

Posted by: federalist | Jul 5, 2012 12:36:34 PM

But hey, who cares about the children--there's a murderer to help out.

Posted by: federalist | Jul 5, 2012 12:37:24 PM

federalist--

I think my post suffers from an ambiguity. I would never be able to have contact with my child's killer...in fact, I'd push people over to be first in line to testify at the (hopeful) death penalty hearing. You and I seem to be in agreement on that.

I was saying that I didn't see Guy's post--which says he is repulsed by your statement--as an ad hominem attack on you. You're entitled to your opinion, Guy is entitled to his, and they've obviously on different sides. Oh well.

Contrast this with CCDC, XX, peanut gallery, and Jack Straw.

Posted by: Res ipsa | Jul 5, 2012 12:53:57 PM

@ Bill & federalist:

I stand by my position that I'm repulsed at the notion of attacking the murder victim's mother as disloyal to her murdered child because her perspective disagrees with yours. It's not an ad hominem attack simply because I'm repulsed by your point of view -- I'm not saying you are a repulsive person, as I don't know who you are as people. Rather only that I find that opinion, the very opinion which you have a right to state and to cling to, to be pretty awful. Cheers.

@ Tarls:

"I do not need to explain. As you state perfectly clearly, it is your "claim", thus it is your responsibility to prove that juveniles are less cuplable."

Actually, the scientific establishment has already adopted the conclusion that juveniles are materially less culpable for their actions on account of their developing brain. Since you're the one who disagrees, I would say that the burden of proof actually falls to you. Or is this one of those internetsy-burden-of-proof arguments where I'm going to have to go dig up a study to point you to which you won't read and won't really advance anything in the end. If you're curious, I know you know how to use teh Google.

"1) Showing that the frontal lobe of a juvenile is less developed than an adult does NOT prove that they are incapable of controlling the murder impulse. For instance, a 38 year old major league baseball player has lost physical ability that a 24 year old professional still has. However, that does not mean that the 38 year old cannot be a functional player. Likewise, having a slightly less developed frontal lobe does not mean the 17 year old is not capable of controlling the impulse to murder. In fact, they control it all of the time."

I don't know who said that a 17 year old is *incapable* of controlling the impulse to murder. It certainly wasn't me, and it certainly isn't any reputable scientist that I'm familiar with. That's why, no one -- not me, not any of my "pablum puking enablers" -- advocates that we *should not punish at all* a 17-year old who commits a murder. That's, after all, what I think we *should* advocate for someone who is legitimately incapable of controlling their impulses.

Rather, what the actual argument is, centers around the degree of punishment which should be inflicted on juveniles. The argument is not that they are incapable, but rather *less capable* and less capability = less culpability, not no culpability.

"2) A study of hundreds of youths says nothing about an individual youth in an individual case. Each 17 year old murderer (for that matter, one of any age) is unique."

Sure, each case is unique, and since I don't have my PhD in Developmental Neuroscience, either, I'm not going to opine on the levels of individual differences in brain development except suffice it to say that: (1) it's pretty much a biological fact that a 17-year old's brain is not fully developed and (2) that lack of development will impact in some form or fashion impulse control, moral decision making, and foresight. Now the degree to which that lack of development impacts those things in a hypothetical case? Who knows. Maybe we're just guessing at how many angels can dance on the head of a pin at that point. I'm not really envisioning a world where we can hook a kid up to the culpatili-tron 5000 and figure out exactly what their level of psychological responsibility is, just that we shouldn't sentence them to die, and that we shouldn't sentence them to die in prison, either.

Posted by: Guy | Jul 5, 2012 3:20:07 PM

Res ipsa --

"Though Bill--I disagree with you that Guy's posts fall into this category. I don't see anything wrong with being repulsed by a claim that a murder victim's mother is strangely disloyal' simply because she believes the killer can be and has been redeemed."

My problem is not with Guy's disagreeing with federalist, but in how the disagreement is put: "You're certainly entitled to say it. Just as the rest of us are entitled to throw up in our mouths at reading it. Way to keep it classy, federalist."

I don't see the need for the throwing-up-in-our-mouths stuff, nor for the crack at whether federalist has class. It might not be exactly XX or CCDC material, but I thought it was close enough.

To be fair, Guy is usually better than that, and is one of the liberals who makes some effort to look at the other side.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jul 5, 2012 3:20:19 PM

It is funny how no one really wants to argue the point. People like Dr. White are held up as models of morality. I am not so sure. I am not saying that a victim's family member needs to go to the ends of the earth to oppose parole--but passionately advocating for someone who killed your kid. Sorry guys, there's a saying, "Blood is thicker than water." And what about the surviving child. The surviving child probably isn't to jazzed that grandma takes up the cudgel for one of the dudes who killed its mother. What right does she have to put that child in that position?

There are a lot of issues here. I don't see how disloyalty isn't the case.

Posted by: federalist | Jul 5, 2012 6:03:23 PM

federalist: "There are a lot of issues here"

me: no really, there are just your obvious "manhood" issues which you try to hide through a pathetic internet tough guy routine and makes you such a jerk that you actually will attack the personal character of the mother of a murder victim simply because she disagrees with you.

And Bill Otis who seems to think its a bigger scandal for someone to point out what jerks federalist and supremacy claus are as a reaction to them positing personal attacks against the mother of a murder victim is really no better. Perhaps Bill appears to be better - not generally directly engaging in personal attacks, he lets other people do the hatchet work - and then he'll cry foul if anyone responds even with accurate observations about conservative misbehavior. Of course, that is because Bill Otis is a professional victim who shapes everything to fit his narrative which is that rich white conservative males have it so bad in this country. Because Bill's victimhood model is completely bogus, he has to focus on the tiniest slights to get all worked up and carry on about to the point where any useful content that Bill Otis might have is ultimately lost in all of the crying. Ultimately being a professional victim who constantly whines about nothing while ignoring the same thing coming from his own side, Bill Otis presents all the charm and content of a toddler throwing a temper tantrum.

Erika :)

Posted by: Erika | Jul 6, 2012 2:50:53 PM

shame on you erika considering the large number of posts of yours discussing death and dismemberment of EX sex offenders you have no leg to stand on when talking about anyone else.

everyone knows bill and i have disagreed on any number of things. But so far we have managed for the most part to keep it clean and semi-professional...i have been know to slip ocassionaly.. But he has never been rude or hatefull to me at anytime.

Posted by: rodsmith | Jul 6, 2012 3:42:06 PM

@ Bill:

I guess I could have made my point somewhat less bluntly, but I chose not to. I found the idea of accusing Dr. White of being disloyal to her dead child morally repugnant. As much as I disagree with parents of murdered kids who clamor for a revenge killing, I'm not going to intrude into the realm of their personal suffering by donning my keyboard commando uniform and telling them the ways in which they are wrong and also morally defective.

But I see lots of things that bug me and don't go out of my way to post my that-and-three-dollars-will-get-you-a-cup-of-coffee opinion, so why this? Because it doesn't seem fair to me that people like to wrap themselves in the flag and say they're for victim's rights, unless, apparently, those victims happen to think differently than they do. It's hypocritical. It's kind of like how we used to champion democracy in the Middle East, and then got all freaked out when they weren't electing people like Bill Frist or Trent Lott to their leadership positions.

But even if you completely disagree with Dr. White -- even if you think she is wrong, wrong, wrong -- why go out of the way to call her names, especially when she's guest-posting on SLP? That's just bad manners.

I don't mean to call anyone names. And I think what I posted was pretty tame and measured in comparison. You can feel free to upbraid me for my manners if you'd like, but if you're going to be butthurt over bad manners, I don't see why you're also not calling federalist out.

Cheers.

Posted by: Guy | Jul 6, 2012 5:33:35 PM

rodsmith --

Thanks. Some day, you and I are going to have a beer.

Erika --

With all respect, ma'am, you have issues I am not competent to deal with. My debate invitation to you nonetheless remains open.

Guy --

Please see my post to you about "incarceration nation," which I just put up on a more recent thread. It's not about manners, but about the heart of the sentencing debate here.

I have no position on Dr. White and therefore have stated none.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jul 6, 2012 7:30:21 PM

"But even if you completely disagree with Dr. White -- even if you think she is wrong, wrong, wrong -- why go out of the way to call her names, especially when she's guest-posting on SLP? That's just bad manners."

This is why I hate the whole civility debate. Why shouldn't I be allowed to point out my misgivings about Dr. White's supposed moral enlightenment? Is this insulting? Perhaps, but at least I am giving her the respect of articulating my reaction. It is disloyal--and not just to her own daughter, but also to the surviving child. I notice, Guy, you fail to deal with that issue. And what of her daughter's husband? I don't particularly care that you are "repulsed" by my opinion. What I do find lame is that you simply say, "oh, you're attacking a murder victim's mom" and are insinuating that I am somehow hypocritical. Not all victims are the same, and I can certainly accept a victim who thinks that a certain punishment is simply too harsh. But that's a far cry from actively campaigning to have this guy released.

This murder victim's mom has chosen to tell her story and advocate a very specific position in moral terms, i.e., "America's promise to its children." I choose to point out the problems with her advocacy. If you want to reduce that to attacking a murder victim's mom, so be it.

I suspect the reason that Bill doesnt call me out is that we're friends, but more importantly, I think that he realizes that I will back up my barbs, rather than simply toss insults. Plus, calling judges "hacks"--so what? They're public officials--they deserve to get pilloried when they screw up.

Posted by: federalist | Jul 6, 2012 8:24:20 PM

federalist:

I never said that you're not allowed to express your misgivings about someone else's opinion. After all, even in my post that got Bill upset at me, I concur with you quite readily that you certainly have the right to express such an opinion. As for the opinions of any surviving spouses, I will afford them the respect to have and formulate their own opinions and perspectives without me having to foist my own on them.

I don't understand what you're asserting that I fail to address. Your claim that her position is disloyal? I dispute that assertion as being accurate, or at least dispute our ability -- the keyboard commandos that we are -- to determine what the appropriate emotional reactions should be of people we have never met and never will meet. Or, to at least refrain from calling them names.

And you can call judges hacks all you want to -- you're absolutely right. They are public figures, and being public figures they can expect a certain amount of derision. And sure, maybe Dr. White, in virtue of her advocacy, has assumed the role of a public figure. The difference is, at least in my opinion, that the basis of her role in the public sphere is not an elected position, but an intensely personal tragedy that she has chosen to make public -- and so I think that fact shifts the bounds of what's in good taste.

But not everyone has good taste, for sure, and you're certainly free to call her any number of names that you can think of for disagreeing with you. After all, this is, ostensibly, a free-ish country.

Cheers.

Posted by: Guy | Jul 6, 2012 9:16:56 PM

While I have long known, worked beside, and respected Dr. White, it is important to note that the teen killers in her daughter's horrific murder never received the JLWOP sentence. They were not ever "lifers". The restorative justice that took place between them is very special. It also does not speak to the majority of victims families affected by this Supreme Court ruling for several reasons: 1. Dr White and her family never went through walking away from a crime that merited an LWOP sentence and got one. 2. Dr. White has refused requests to help facilitate dialogue with other victims families affected by JLWOP sentences who support the sentence. Apparently she is willing to have mediated conversations with those who killed her daughter but not with those who have had similar experiences and who have asked for her assistance in establishing a national dialogue between victims and offender advocates on this issue.

Posted by: Jennifer Bishop Jenkins | Jul 6, 2012 9:36:43 PM

Guy, you don't address the substance of my criticism of Dr. White. You just say that my comments were in poor taste.

I react very viscerally to her actions, to be sure, but I have made an argument. You say that I should keep my mouth shut. That's fine, of course. But I think the issue of the surviving child and other members of the family is a powerful one and worth talking about. And when she wraps up her celebration of the Supreme Court's decision, she talks about America's commitment to its children. I'll cut her some slack due to the horrendous loss she suffered, but I won't be silent about what I view as fundamentally disloyal acts.

As for Ms. Jenkins' post, I wish I could say I was shocked at Dr. White's silence, but I am not.

Posted by: federalist | Jul 6, 2012 10:21:09 PM

@ federalist:

True, I didn't, because my point wasn't to address your substantive criticism of Dr. White's post. I can't really fail to do something I never really set out to do, can I? I didn't take your calling Dr. White disloyal to her dead child as substantive criticism but more as...well...you know. But, very well, if you insist, here is some substantive criticism of your criticism of Dr. White's post:

I don't take Dr. White's post to be saying that her personal experiences mean that the Court reached the right decision *constitutionally* speaking (which is what you seem to be construing her post to be), but I view her post as more of a moral argument, not so much one you'd find in a brief.

There. I have given you your requested substantive criticism.

And, federalist, I did not say that you should keep your mouth shut. I think that the value of the internet, and indeed of democracy and its marketplace of ideas is that we get to avoid things like echo-chambers. I know you and Bill don't agree with me on a lot of things, and that's perfectly fine. I don't expect you to, nor do I think you lesser people for thinking differently than me.

Nor did I even say that you calling Dr. White disloyal to her dead child was something you should not say. You're free to voice whatever opinions that you have, just as you posted. I made no comment on what you should or should not say, only that to call Dr. White disloyal to her dead child is, in a word, classless (and in another word, nauseating). If that upsets you, then perhaps you should revisit your assessment of the wisdom of posting an opinion which you certainly have every right to post.

Cheers.

Posted by: Guy | Jul 6, 2012 11:40:50 PM

Guy said:
" except suffice it to say that: (1) it's pretty much a biological fact that a 17-year old's brain is not fully developed ...". I hope you will keep that "fact" in mind when you consider who is responsible for sending the thousands of 18 year olds this county has sent to their deaths in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan Ect Ect Ect ......

Posted by: Anon | Jul 7, 2012 12:18:16 AM

Doug,

I hope you are suitably embarrassed by how your readers have behaved in front of company. Good God.

Posted by: Anon | Jul 9, 2012 1:24:24 PM

Guy, did I ever hint at being upset? Once again, I don't care whether you think my argument is nauseating, classless or what have you. I think it's weird to spend any second of your life advocating for the guy who murdered your kid. I suspect most people would agree with me.

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