Thursday, December 03, 2015

San Bernardino Shooting

I woke up to the news that Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and Tashfeen Malik, 27 are responsible for the murders of 14 people, at least 18 wounded. Farook attended a holiday party at the social service center for the differently-abled, the Inland Regional Center. He left the party angry, returned prepared to go, as we say, postal

More than postal, more like jihad.

They had prepared ahead of time, he and his wife, had discussed it over their Cheerios, calmly loaded assault weapons. Revenge could be a motive, fueled with idealism, maybe, terrorist ideology. We'll have to wait to find out.

It seems unlikely that whatever their reason for gunning down innocent people wasn't a good one, and very likely, one or both assailants had a mental health problem.

The Inland Regional Center, the largest state facility of its kind in California, has programs for four different age groups, 0-3, 3-15, 16-22, 23-59, and adults over 60.  The agency serves clients with developmental disabilities like autism, epilepsy and cerebral palsy, provides housing, work programs, therapy and social services to over 30,000 people. At least 550 people work there. 

This being a party, the building's doors were wide open. Readers of my other blog know how I feel about this. If it were up to me every public building would have an armed security guard and a bullet-proof foyer, preferably. Let's put our veterans to work.

Farook, an environmental specialist at the San Bernardino County public health department, might have been a Chicagoan. This chills me. Did he train here?
Farhan Khan, Farook's brother-in-law, joined leaders of the Muslim community to express condolences. He is totally baffled.
"Why would he do that? Why would he do something like this? I have absolutely no idea, I am in shock myself," Khan, who is married to Farook's sister, told reporters.  
Here is a lesser form of going postal, one with no terrorist intent, no ideology behind it. Still, it is anger, and some of us think that murder is anger amplified, most of the time. Controlled, calculated, but still anger.

Last week, at the post office to mail off a package, a man at the counter, at the front of the line, argued emotionally with postal workers who had moved back, stationed themselves two feet behind the service counter. The customer gesticulated toward his drawn, ill-appearing partner, now leaning precariously against the line-divider. Customers usually set their packages or purses on it, waiting to get to the front of these interminable lines.

The angry customer shouted, 
"How dare you!  How dare you tell him to move back! Can't you see he's sick! Can't you tell when a person has to get home, or go to the doctor? What is wrong with you! This man is dying and you dare shout at him to get back to his place! I'm not letting this go. You have to apologize. No, you have to change! No, you don't deserve this job, do you? What a terrible, terrible thing, no compassion. . . 
He continued for a long, long time. It felt like forever. 

Finally, another employee, the only one who could service customers at this point, there being only two workers, nodded to me to step forward. I asked him, "Should we call the police? Should I have dialed 911?"  

He just shook his head. He didn't know.


Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Jabari Dean, Laquan McDonald

My thinking is that Everyone Needs Therapy is out of control. Not that I'll stop blogging there, because it isn't necessarily a bad thing, writing endlessly about things that matter mostly to me, but maybe I'll blog here, too.

See, lately the news is so disturbing I think (I feel) it deserves a whole new place for discussion. We can't just watch TV and ignore what's going on. Supergirl will not solve our problems. Let's bring them over here, spin like we used to in the old days.

University of Chicago shuts down, violence threat
 Moving costs are minimal.

For example, the University of Chicago shut down Monday. Why?

A year ago, on October 20, 2014, Chicago police officer, Jason Van Dyke put 16 bullets into Laquan McDonald (17) killing the teenager. The city immediately paid the McDonald family five million dollars, but didn't release the gruesome video of the murder until last week.

As if this could go away, a video like that.

It is an egregious crime, and Chicagoans are looking for retribution. Heads must roll, and already Police Chief Garry McCarthy has lost his job, despite reducing crime in Chicago.

This week an engineering student, Jabari Dean (21), studying at University of Illinois at Chicago, angry about Laquan's murder, posted on social media that for every bullet Jason Van Dyke discharged into Laquan McDonald, one student at University of Chicago would be shot. That would be 16 murders.

Laquan McDonald and Jason Van Dyke
The examiner lists the 16 wounds one by one: left scalp, neck, chest, elbow, arms, legs, hand, back. Nine of the gunshots entered from the back.
Mr. Dean took the post down, but not before someone reported it to the FBI.

A judge ruled that he get a psychiatric evaluation and released him to the custody of his mother, house arrest. Neither he or his mother are allowed to have a gun. He can go to class, but can't use the Internet.

That psychiatric evaluation and hopefully treatment, whether in or out of prison, better do a yeoman's job.
This is exactly the intersection we've been talking about, the place where people with mental illness who have a history with mental health professionals, somehow get lost, nobody follows up, and then, one day, at a movie theater or a school, people are shot.
It could be that Jabari merely meant to say, In a perfect world. . . one bullet in an innocent black student should be grounds for one bullet in an innocent white student, which in and of itself is a terrible thought, an unjust, irrational form of retribution. But it isn't a threat, and it isn't specific. I heard that Jabari had a specific plan, wrote that at 10:00 am this would happen, a mass murder at the University of Chicago.

Now someone is in custody. Maybe we'll learn more about his problems, maybe there will be follow through on that evaluation. Maybe he'll serve time. Chances are he's ruined his life by spouting off on social media.