Thursday, January 27, 2005

Callous People

Drudge points us to this article of death and destruction on a California rail line. To me, it's the same old story, repeated thousands of times every year in the U.S. The details are not the same, but the essentials of the story are. The story usually goes something like this:

* girl loves boy.
* boy loves girl.
* girl devastates boy (e.g. sleeps with best friend, leaves boy, etc.).
* boy threatens to kill self/others.
* girl ignores.
* boy kill self/others.

This process could easily be turned around. It could by girl/boy, boy/girl, boy/boy - whatever. What matters is that people involved in love relationships often have a blatant disregard for the feelings of the other person involved - and this can lead to devastating consequences.

Different people snap at different levels of stress/depression/etc. I have no idea what this guy's particular problem was - the article mentions drugs - but let's just say at least one of the people involved decided she couldn't be bothered with making sure this dude didn't go off the deep end:

Alvarez's sister-in-law, Maricela Amaya, told Telemundo TV that he had separated from his wife, Carmelita, three months ago. She said the wife got a court order to keep him away, but he had tried to see his wife and son.

"He was having problems with drugs and all that and was violent and because of that he separated from her," Amaya said in Spanish. "A few other times he went around as if he wanted to kill himself. I said if you're going to kill yourself, go kill yourself far away. Don't come by here telling that to my sister."

So Mr. Amaya and almost certainly a lot of people thought it was OK to treat the now-criminal however they saw fit. So what if he's suicidal? So what if he can wreak havoc on innocents? It's not my problem - just keep the guy away from us.

Could Ms. Amaya have been justified in telling this dude to get away from them? Sure. But at some point I would have hoped that Ms. Amaya would have thought to herself the following:

You know, he doesn't seem too well. In fact, he's pretty much a basketcase. He's running around and screaming and crying and he's foaming at the mouth and he's saying he's going to kill himself, and he's going to kill himself in front of his child and stuff like that ... this is a little bit scary. I'm no health expert, but I'm starting to think that if I continue to be so callous in the way I treat him - he might come after me. Or he might come after my sister and their child. So, if I was smart, I'd probably tell someone about him. I'd better call the cops. Or, I'd better tell him to just calm down and relax and think about things. Or, something - because he's on the edge. He's losing it. Maybe he's already lost it. I'm not worried about him killing himself, necessarily, but I'm worried about him killing me and my sister and their baby - so, even out of purely selfish reasons, I think it's probably a good idea if I, you know, do something different. Try to calm him down - talk him down off that ledge - something. He's scary when he's all hyped up like that.

Well, Ms. Amaya and company got their wish. They were left alone, and their boy went to town on innocents that had nothing to do with Ms. Amaya's fucked-up family situation.

That Juan Manuel Alvarez is the primary person to blame is not in question - he will most surely spend a lot of time in jail or be put to death by the state if he doesn't manage to kill himself first.

But life is complicated. It takes two to tango. It took two to make a marriage. Two to make a baby. And it took at least two to produce the dynamic which led to the tragic death and injury of many innocents. Suffering from Ms. Amaya's cruel rhetoric ("if you're going to kill yourself, go kill yourself far away") are echoing all over California.

Note to Ms. Amaya and company: If someone says they're going to kill themselves, you'd better think about taking that person seriously, you dumbfucks!

People who do decide to kill themselves have nothing to live for, you dumbfucks. When was the last time Ms. Amaya and her cohorts stepped outside her little world to read about, or see on tv, the latest 'crime of passion' where some jealous or broken ex-lover has given up all hope and aims to make things right by suicide, murder, murder-suicide, or some other such travesty?

Fuckin clueless people. It is not OK to excuse these people. They must be held accountable - if not in a court of law then in the court of public opinion. Our world is complicated and tragic enough without having to worry about everybody else's personal lives.

We must educate people about the the costs of being cruel to people who have nothing to lose. We need to tell them:

Listen close you dumbfucks - it's not always all about you. Other people could be in danger here. S/he has nothing to lose. Do you compre-fuckin-hend?

I'm curious now whether there is any law to suggest that people who treat others very cruely can be held accountable - at least financially. This would certainly seem to be the case in a lot of divorce proceedings, but are there other examples that might apply to situations like this train disaster.

In fairness, to me, this particular case would not seem to be a good example, on first look anyways, of something that was prosecutable. But take a hypothetical: Boy cheats on wife with secretary. Wife catches them in the act. Wife pulls out an AK at the local MickeyD's and goes to town on a busload of schoolchildren. Would 'boy' be prosecutable for the crime of 'undue harshness' to his wife, and thus bear some responsibility for her killing spree? Guess I'd need to check out the case law surrounding crimes of passion. I'd definitely support looking at ways make all citizens a little more responsible to the community - and if that means prosecuting people for the crime of 'undue harshness', so be it. Let's talk about it.

How many crimes of passion are there for year in the U.S.? Or, specifically, how many killings? And how many innocents are killed? Looks like the problem is small enough, and the desire to keep government out of our lives significant enough, that social pressure is probably the only answer at this point.

...fixed a couple of typos, and added tags.

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