Shooter’s Parents Must Be Legally Accountable For Deadliest School Shooting This Year

Once again the deadly results of guns in our society make for terrible headlines. Once again the refrain from rational adults is a call to common sense and the development of gun control measures that will start to trim back the shootings. At the same time, conservatives chant their trite platitude, ‘thoughts and prayers’.

The layers of possible responses to the carnage left by Ethan Crumbley and the 9-millimeter Sig Sauer handgun used in the shooting are many. From working on issues in school concerning being bullied to the drowning of the nation in too many guns available for purchase, and the ease that children can get their hands on a deadly weapon. There is no single avenue to address the gravity of the situation.

But when it comes to guns in homes this blog has been consistent and adamant that parents must be held legally responsible when their weapons are not stored and safeguarded correctly. When they are accessible to underage people, and crimes take place with the weapons, then the law must follow the parents right to the jailhouse door and usher them inside.

On Wednesday we learned that the high school sophomore accused of killing four classmates and injuring others will be charged as an adult with a host of felonies, including terrorism and four counts of first-degree murder. The weight of the words from Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald said it all.

Evidence shows the shooting was “absolutely premeditated.”

But equally important today was the news that prosecutors are also considering charges against the suspect’s parents. The New York Times reported that when the boy’s parents went to a sheriff’s substation after the shooting, they declined to let investigators question their child. The sheriff told reporters that a 9-millimeter Sig Sauer handgun used in the shooting had been bought four days earlier by the suspect’s father. “He is not talking and neither are the parents,” the sheriff said.

There is appropriate outrage across the nation today as we learn more evidence to show why parents, once again, must be held accountable for actions that their child took, due to a deadly gun made accessible in their home.

This blog has repeatedly stated parents of young people who use guns to shoot, kill, and create violence also need to be held accountable. Some adult was responsible for the fact the shooter was able to place his hands on this weapon. There is no way that any sane person can say parental/adult actions, such as with this shooting, should not be addressed by the law that makes sure there is a responsibility shared by those who help to foster the violent outcomes.

The NRA has plenty of responsibility for the number of guns in our society and the ease with which anyone can get a deadly weapon. But when it comes to children with guns there also has to be a question asked–where the heck was the parent? It might also be a good time to ask if parents are not able to control their offspring then perhaps they should forfeit their children’s tax credits. The rest of society should not have to continually pay the price for bad parenting.

And so it goes.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Mental Health Needs For Black Men And Boys

I noted the quick efforts made in Waukesha to meet the mental health needs of those who were at the Sunday parade, saw the carnage, or heard about it and were shocked by the news. The tragedy was appalling.

I applaud the efforts to deal with emotional trauma by talking with trained experts. I wish more people would avail themselves of such therapy for all sorts of issues in life. Such conversations are very healthy and productive.

At the same time that resources were made available to counsel the folks in Waukesha, it also needs remembering that Black men and boys are needing to have the same comfort zones for their healing due to traumas, such as the Kyle Rittenhouse killings and trial.

If one takes the time to talk or listen to the voices of African-Americans it soon becomes clear that what took place last week with Rittenhouse’s acquittal has made for deep concerns. We have already seen and heard that right-wing elements have elevated Rittenhouse to hero-worship. With such rhetoric, we have also learned that these same conservatives have implied racial injustice protesters should be concerned for their safety in the future.

WisPolitics.com wrote about this issue as it linked to a local news program that addressed the mental health needs of African-Americans following episodes, such as, the Rittenhouse trial.

Alvin Thomas, an assistant professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at the School of Human Ecology at UW-Madison, pointed out that the Rittenhouse case stemmed from protests and demonstrations involving the Black Lives Matter movement.

This was less an issue about black or white and more an issue around humanity,” he said on “UpFront”. In cases like these, Thomas said, there is a high risk for people feeling angry, sad, depressed, and to have flashbacks, nightmares or physical stress responses.

The chasm of resources for mental health needs between Black and white America is profound. It does not take much pondering to see the upside in terms of cost-savings to society along with productivity for individuals if mental health is treated in the same proactive sense as we do a toothache.

A Black elderly man I talked with in Madison after the Jacob Blake shooting in Kenosha told me that such news was just a reminder that “we” are always waiting for the next shoe to fall and that stress level creates problems for the body.

It is time that we ramp up access to mental health resources in the Black community with the speed that they were correctly made available in Waukesha.

And so it goes.

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Dual Justice Systems Exist For Black And White Americans

What took place in Kenosha since the night Kyle Rittenhouse decided to carry an AR 15 into a violent street demonstration killing two, and injuring a third, has produced conversations about gun violence, the pitfalls and costs to society of broken families, the legal problems over a too broadly defined self-defense statute, and the requirement of objectivity from judges.

The past months also produced evidence and dialogue about the dual systems of justice we have in this nation. There is no doubt whatsoever that Black citizens are not treated the same as others in high profile and tragic circumstances.

Rittenhouse, the two men he killed and the man he wounded were all white, but the case has been linked from the start to issues of race and the criminal justice system.

Activists have previously pointed to differences in how police handled Rittenhouse’s case and that of Jacob Blake, the Black man who was shot by a white Kenosha police officer in August 2020, sparking protests in the city that became destructive and violent.

Video footage played during the trial showed Rittenhouse running toward police still wearing his rifle, and continuing past the police line at officers’ direction. He turned himself in to police in Antioch, Illinois, early the following day.

In Georgia, the brutal killing of Ahmaud Arbery has brought forth another clear example of race motivated murder. It is also a showcase of how the justice system can be used to attempt the thwarting of the correct response to a grievous crime. The trial for the three white men accused of the murder has not been short on evidence proving racism has injected itself into the process.

Brunswick, the location of the trial, has a population that is more than half Black. So, it does need to be asked how but only one member of the jury is Black? The news reports of a truly embarrassing white defense attorney rising to repeatedly complain about Black pastors, including Reverend Jesse Jackson (a man I have deeply respected and supported for election) from sitting in on court proceedings was nothing short of galling.

Arbery’s death and the Rittenhouse case have added to the national conversation about racist vigilantism. Both the Kenosha killer and Travis McMichael, the shooter in Georgia, have claimed they acted in self-defense. The tortured reasoning it takes to bend the mind to attempt acceptance of such lunacy is something that our political system will need to address in various state statutes. Allowing leniency for the killing of people one does not like based on the color of their skin or their perceived role in street protests because of strangled legal contortions must be brought under control.

In the Rittenhouse case as soon as he purported the killings to be self-defense it downgraded other vital aspects of the case, such as how a 17-year-old with a deadly gun roamed the streets during a curfew.

On ABC’s This Week the issue of how the Kenosha trial would have been different had the defendant been Black was explored. Byron Pitts, chief national correspondent made the case for why this issue needs to resonate within our country.

Study after study shows that black men are arrested more often, convicted more often, and sentenced to longer sentences than white men accused of the same crime, and the same is — holds true in discipline in schools, that disparity.

And, Martha, heres a study, I think, that speaks to this case and the concerns about this case. According to the FBI, a — a fatal shooting where the shooter is white and the victim is black, three times more likely that’s ruled to be justifiable if both parties were white. And so I think for most reasonable people, and most surveys would bear this out, the few reasonable people would believe that if a 17-year-old black boy with an AR-15 showed up in Kenosha, Wisconsin at night, killed two people and injured a third, then that black boy would have been treated the same way by police or by the legal justice system.

It was noted in the conversation that had Rittenhouse been African-American the verdict would not have been the same, as statistical evidence proves Blacks do not prevail in such court cases. And so that is the injustice that people are looking at…..

It does not take any deep searching to recognize why conservatives and racists agree with the idea of taking the law into one’s own hands. That is the way vigilantes maintained control of Blacks in the South for many decades. White power, and how to maintain it is not a new concept. But misusing the state statutes to further those biases and grudges against Blacks is wholly acceptable. When they do succeed it adds further evidence as to why we can legitimately talk about a two-tier justice system.

And so it goes.

Editorial Cartoons About Kyle Rittenhouse Verdict

The power of these editorial cartoons is obvious. The messages are correctly drawn and presented.

Anger Boils Over At Public Meetings, Elected Officials Should Not Be Threatened

It does not take long after opening the newspapers or turning on the news to read or hear another example of overheated rhetoric and even threats coming from the public who attend local board meetings. As of late, it is school board meetings across the country that have stirred outrage from those who attend and wish to make a political statement. In some cases, it would appear that local elected officials need a security team to drive back home.

The anger and threats are most concerning. Not just for the specific people targeted, but for the larger process of having boards and commissions study and work on public issues, and then take the best path forward. To have competing ideas is one thing, but to bluster about and post online the addresses of elected members so to foment danger is simply not acceptable.

I recall former Wisconsin State Representative Lary Swoboda saying as we drove to a special meeting in Southern Door County that it was likely to be a heated and contentious evening. Property tax increases had caused a spike in anger among many, but especially the farmers in the rural communities.

The large room was filled with people, a fair number wearing workboots and less than warm greetings were offered as we found our place to sit near the front. There were loud exchanges at times, but the mood altered considerably when a farmer stood and in response to the news that a local school would have a dumbwaiter installed to help at lunchtime remarked, “Well, for all the taxes we pay could they not put in a smart waiter?”

Everything need not be a nasty drag-out verbal brawl, and that seemed the intent of that attendee. I recall as we left more handshakes and general banter than vitriol was offered. That is how public meetings should end.

The concerns about an array of issues are most worthy of conversations, and yes, they can and will get frothy and energized. That is the nature of our system. But they need not become threatening or violent. What we have witnessed over the past year, however, should alert us we are not moving in a positive direction when it comes to the handling of our differences.

There is no way to countenance what has happened since 13 Congressional Republicans voted with the Democratic majority for the massive, and much-needed infrastructure bill. A number of Republicans who resent that any member of their party had the temerity to break ranks and vote to make the government operate are now creating an environment where personal safety is very much a concern. The members who voted for the funding have found themselves on the receiving end of threats to their workplaces and homes.

One can look at such events from the school board to the halls of Congress and see some patterns. There are some who stir the pot and create the heat knowing that others in the larger community who are easily led will join in and make the waters roil even higher. Stoking passions over matters such as building bridges or providing vaccines, in and of themselves, are not the central concern of the ones behind the curtain.

The intention of outside players from Russia to China is to inflame tensions on topical issues and severely divide this nation. In so doing the country is weakened at home and abroad.

The New York Times spotlighted the issue of threats towards those elected to do a job.

Yet violent talk has tipped over into actual violence in ways big and small. School board members and public health officials have faced a wave of threats, prompting hundreds to leave their posts. A recent investigation by Reuters documented nearly 800 intimidating messages to election officials in 12 states.

And threats against members of Congress have jumped by 107 percent compared with the same period in 2020, according to the Capitol Police. Lawmakers have been harassed at airports, targeted at their homes and had family members threatened. Some have spent tens of thousands on personal security.

This is not just all an organic development, but rather part of a larger power play at work. So it falls to each one of us to take a stand for a mature and reasoned way forward when dealing with contentious matters in the political arena. The alternative is chaos and a further undermining of the democratic process that is essential to our way of life.

And so it goes.

Facts Be Damned! Can We Survive As Democracy Without Them?

I tend to be an optimistic person by nature. The glass is half-full and the sun always rising. The roses will bloom again attitude.

Then I posted this weekend a Phil Hands editorial cartoon on my Caffeinated Politics Facebook page. The creative mind from the Wisconsin State Journal placed in a single drawing the essential dialogue surrounding the Aaron Rogers debacle. The Green Bay Packers quarterback lied about being vaccinated and then played host in his mind to a raft of conspiracy theories. He quite remarkably and publically admitted to ingesting a horse deworming agent.

At the time of this blog posting, Hand’s cartoon has been “engaged” with over 700,000 times, shared over 8,200 times, and has received almost 3,000 comments on my CP page.

But it was the comments from a large percentage of the viewers from all sections of the nation that has me most concerned. Science and medical professionalism were tossed aside underscoring the deep fissure in America as the ones who will not entertain the notion of being informed about the vaccine lashed out on social media.

Here is a sampling of the types of comments that were offered as ‘dialogue’.

more bs to dumb up our children by the communist left

Govt Propaganda…the poke is their (GOVT)way to depopulate the planet…wake up Fools

Time will tell kiddo. Good luck becoming a mother.

For every short-bus load of those types of comments, a lonely voice would counter.

Didn’t realize that there were so many anti vax morons out there, i would love to introduce them all to smallpox carriers

While running through those comments, I deleted a handful that was promoting dangerous behavior in the guise of medicine. Everyone has a right to their say, but not when it can cause harm to others.

When the sun lifted off the horizon this morning I opened up a newsletter in my email that added polling data to this larger issue how showing how effective the factless ones have been in pushing their agenda.

Almost 8 in 10 U.S. adults believe or are unsure of at least one false statement about COVID-19, according to the poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation. The poll results show that 38% believe the government is exaggerating the number of COVID-19 deaths, 17% believe pregnant women should not get the vaccine, and 18% believe deaths caused by the vaccine are being hidden by the government.

I can honestly state I am more than perplexed about the lack of ability from a sizable segment of the nation to be wedded to facts concerning the virus and the means to stem its spread. Yes, there are some who are truly uninformed and not schooled in even 6th-grade science. But it is not those folks who I see as the main problem.

Rather, it is the ones who manipulate and gaslight them by working overtime to sow seeds of doubt about our institutions and professional classes in the country. The elements doing this work are not only partisans who are playing a very dangerous game with our democracy, but also international organizations from Russia and China who revel in creating disruptions among our people. For the latter group, it is not about COVID or vaccines that they care about, but rather the upheaval of the American society that most benefit them.

Ponder, if you will, how medicine and science at the time of the polio vaccine used objective facts to demonstrate the efficacy of the shot. Now we see from both the comments on my FB page to the polling data from Kaiser that objective facts about the COVID vaccine are tortured and framed as dubious and subjective.

As some of the FB readers were attempting to put forth facts and logic in their comments about the COVID vaccines the ones determined to push onwards with lies and rot created a climate where establishing facts was damn near impossible. Yes, I am very much aware of internet trolls, but the increase in volume and tone at undermining what most people would consider essential facts can not be discounted.

How does democracy survive if objective facts can no longer be at least the starting point for a national dialogue? When trust in our educated and resume-heavy professionals is tossed aside for the likes of Joe Rogan what does that say about the erosion of reason and logic among the citizenry? When institutions no long are viewed with respect and understood to have experienced and required leadership abilities what does that say about the foundations of our nation?

We really must talk about these matters that are larger and more pressing than even the COVID virus. It is that serious to our future as a nation.

And so it goes.

Normalcy Returning After Pandemic: Family Visit Makes Me So Happy!

This blog has been forthright since early 2020 about the severity of COVID-19, the ways people needed to abide by the professional medical advice so to stem the spread, and then also why it is essential to be vaccinated. I am sure some readers thought I was too strict with harping why quarantining was a proper thing to do, was not aligned with my thinking a slower reopening of businesses in 2020 was warranted, and not grasping science is a good thing to follow.

Since I pushed those views often on CP I wanted, with at least one post, to show life can resume if everyone in a group is vaccinated. I tend to place all of these personal types of posts on my Facebook page, but given how elated I am with this wonderful day, and as a means to show how we can return to normalcy with vaccines, I offer the following.

After a long pandemic seeing these folks again was a tonic for the soul.

Ron, Joe, (me), and Jill are pictured after lunch and laughing. Amy and Marie escaped before I got to the picture part of the afternoon.

When it comes to family and memories and trips all around the tree and back again, this is an excellent group with which to engage.

James made salmon rillettes, cod brandade, broddeto with fish, flourless peanut butter brownie with pear compote. As I said, this gathering was a long time in the making and we wanted it to be memorable.

Joe smiles and has the wit that has been her trademark since I was a boy. She talked about the days when my dad delivered milk.

Ron is a perfect conversationalist and has an understated humor that is perfectly timed. A true gentleman.

Amy and Jill are strong women with a wide background, and Marie brought a wonderful touch of the Upper Peninsula to our afternoon.

I felt today a real sense that normalcy is returning to our lives. And making that happen with family we so very much connect with is grand! I am so happy this afternoon!

If you have not been vaccinated, do it as soon as you read this post. Connect with loved ones and move this country forward.