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"This is a system that fails the responsible and the innocent."
March 7, 2011 11:49 AM   Subscribe

"Yesterday, I went to court. I was there for the sentencing of the man who spent this summer stalking me."

Shreve Stockton runs the Daily Coyote photoblog about Charlie the coyote, whom she's raised from infancy (which you can read about in her book), and the rest of her "farmily".

Her second blog, Honey Rock Dawn, delves further into life in rural Wyoming, where she moved after riding her Vespa across the country.

In summer of 2010, Shreve was the victim of a stalker. She tells the story in detail in six parts on Honey Rock Dawn:

Intro

Intro (Addendum)

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Part V

Part VI
posted by torisaur (236 comments total) 44 users marked this as a favorite

 
Ah, missed one: Part VII
posted by torisaur at 11:56 AM on March 7, 2011


Been meaning to catch up on this, but every time I think to, I visit Daily Coyote first, say "AWWW, who's a CUTE coyote? CHARLIE! CHARLIE is a cute coyote!" and then, "Well, shit, I better quit wasting time and get back to work."

Thanks for putting the whole story in one place.
posted by infinitywaltz at 11:58 AM on March 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


Every time I think of coyote, I think curmudgeonly IT worker. So, that was a bit surreal.
posted by LD Feral at 12:19 PM on March 7, 2011


From Part VII:
It wasn’t until I started thinking like a fighter and had a crash course in strategy and fighting back ~ which I lived and breathed every day for months ~ that I gained the skills and the mindset that brought clarity and confidence. . . . Don’t wait for a reason. Learn these skills now. Hone your inner fighter and let her live inside you, quietly dormant but agile when you need her. I had the shrapnel version. I wasn’t beaten, raped, killed, or permenantly disabled like so many women are every day.

I love knowing I can fight. I love knowing that by writing this, other girls and women are accepting (yes, accepting) their own power, as well.
Words to live by. Thanks for the post.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 12:20 PM on March 7, 2011 [8 favorites]


This is a system that fails the mentally ill.
posted by Xoebe at 12:24 PM on March 7, 2011 [13 favorites]


“Don’t worry about him bothering you anymore; you’ve been too difficult, caused him too much trouble. He’ll find someone else.

That is really not as comforting as they intended it to be.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 12:27 PM on March 7, 2011 [64 favorites]


I wonder if there are any strategy lessons on dealing with and managing online stalking and harassment? A handgun and streetfighting skills won't help there, though the calm mindset required of a martial art just might. If their aim is simply to enjoy "fucking with you" where are the lessons in today's world of malware and bots that break through to your system to cope with that kind of invisible, ongoing disturbance?
posted by infini at 12:28 PM on March 7, 2011


Ugh, this had me shaking with dread, anger and frustration.
posted by letitrain at 12:30 PM on March 7, 2011


That sucks that she had to go through that. I found the posts to be engaging and informative. She seems smart and proactive — I'm sure she'll be fine.

But, I've gotta wonder: does she believe in stuff like "Golden Armor" and energies and homeopathy as things that work due to their placebo effect, or is she a true believer? I wouldn't let said beliefs discount her writing or experience — it just stood out when reading the posts.
posted by defenestration at 12:36 PM on March 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


This is a system that fails the mentally ill.
posted by Xoebe at 12:24 PM on March 7


No, this is a system that fails the innocent victim. And the mentally ill stalker with a 44 magnum is NOT the victim.
posted by Uncle Grumpy at 12:37 PM on March 7, 2011 [31 favorites]


This is a pretty damning indictment of the criminal justice system as it relates to non-drug related offenses. The guy was armed, the guy was making threats in a court of law, and he still was able to walk away without any kind of treatment. We happily incarcerate one in a hundred of our population on trivial non-violent charges, but when it comes to taking someone who might be a threat, we seem to just shrug.

This was particularly bothersome:

“Don’t worry about him bothering you anymore; you’ve been too difficult, caused him too much trouble. He’ll find someone else.”

He'll find someone else? Good for our writer, bad for that someone else, no?

And for completely unrelated reasons, this bothered me to no end:

“I don’t ever want you to have to shoot this gun,” he said. “The recoil would probably break your wrist. Shoot a guy in the leg with this, and he’ll fly back thirty feet.”

No. A .44 Magnum won't do that or anything like it, and continued misinformation about the power of guns does nothing to diminish fear or awe of them.

We were shooting cans and, at the end of the day, she pointed to a can and instructed me to “make that can dance.” Meaning, shoot multiple rounds with enough speed and accuracy so that the can didn’t stop moving. I didn’t think I could do it. She made me try. I made that can dance. I bought a rifle a few days later. Not so that I could go around killing things, but so I could continue practicing what I believe to be a valuable skill and one I found I really enjoyed.
So, I had experience with rifles but handguns were a different story. As Carol said, “there’s only one reason to have a handgun.” And back then, that one reason seemed completely outside the realm of my reality


This just completely boggles my mind; you found pleasure in shooting a rifle for the sake of precision, you understand that it can be enjoyed for just that fact (as opposed to killing), but handguns can't be used for the same thing?

*shrugs* people are going to believe what they believe, I guess.

posted by quin at 12:39 PM on March 7, 2011 [26 favorites]



No, this is a system that fails the innocent victim. And the mentally ill stalker with a 44 magnum is NOT the victim.


He's not the victim in this particular crime. For which he should be more severely punished. However, he is clearly mentally ill. By helping him, you help other potential victims. But that's not getting tough on crime. So, it will take till he actually USES that magnum before anyone seriously pays attention.
posted by spicynuts at 12:40 PM on March 7, 2011 [35 favorites]


As much as it sucks to be on the recieving end of this it is still legal to be crazy.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:41 PM on March 7, 2011


I'm not sure that I can articulate why, but the tone of these posts bothered me. I don't envy the situation that was forced upon her in the slightest, but I have to wonder what possible outcome could have made her happy. Maybe it's because I'm a law student that is learning more and more about how different the expectations of a client/non-lawyer/victim are from an attorney who has experience with the system, but some of her criticisms are just how things are. Like the prosecuting attorney who seemed (to her) to be indifferent. I'm not saying it's a good excuse, but he's probably seen worse and for him, it's just another day at the job instead of the intensely personal and important thing like it is to the poster. As another example, I wasn't in the courtroom and therefore don't know how reprehensible the actions of the defense attorney really were, but her job is to zealously defend her client within the full extent of the law. For our system to work as it should, the defense needs to make sure that the law was followed and from what I've seen that involves looking for any hole in the process that they can use to secure their client's freedom. People seem to have a hard time with that, especially when it's personal to them, but it's the way our system works. It may not be perfect, but if anyone has a better method for improving our courts, I'm all ears.

I'm not really sure that I've explained myself correctly, but it's the best that I can do. No one should ever have to live in fear and I'm glad that the blogger was able to use the tools that the system provided her to gain the scant amount of protection she gained. But the tone of the posts just stuck in my craw a bit.

On preview, I was a little put off by the "Golden Armor" stuff, much like defenestration was. She can believe whatever makes her feel good and happy, but the way talk like that comes across is often not complimentary.
posted by friendlyjuan at 12:42 PM on March 7, 2011 [36 favorites]


And the mentally ill stalker with a 44 magnum is NOT the victim.

Not the victim.
posted by saturday_morning at 12:42 PM on March 7, 2011 [8 favorites]


Two things that my experience with a stalker taught me:
  1. Keep a "stalker log," with date and time and a copy of anything at all relevant like emails, hand-written notes, physical items and voicemails.
  2. The judicial system doesn't care very much at all until rape, murder or any other physical harm occurs. If the stalker's even prosecuted he or she will either get off or will get off very lightly unless that physical harm has already occurred.


Cynical, but prudent to keep in mind. Thankfully this woman learned how to deal with it. Thanks for collecting all this in one place!
posted by neewom at 12:45 PM on March 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


The judicial system doesn't care very much at all until rape, murder or any other physical harm occurs.

For good or ill I think that's because the judicial system is primarily about punishment rather than prevention.
posted by Justinian at 12:48 PM on March 7, 2011 [8 favorites]


Here's the thing - this guy actually got jail time. Despite all the institutionalized b.s. and despite what the statistics say, the dude actually spent time in jail. The thing is...how much would satisfy the victim? Because she did not say whether he was getting counseling, had accepted that he has a problem, etc etc etc. We cannot lock the dude up and throw away the key indefinitely, so how long would the victim be satisfied with? That's what I'd like to hear her talk about.
posted by spicynuts at 12:49 PM on March 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


And the mentally ill stalker with a 44 magnum is NOT the victim.

She's his victim, certainly, but he's a victim of a society that shrugs its shoulders at providing care for the mentally ill. These are not mutually exclusive ideas.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:58 PM on March 7, 2011 [35 favorites]


We cannot lock the dude up and throw away the key indefinitely, so how long would the victim be satisfied with? That's what I'd like to hear her talk about.

Someone is threatening you with violence, carrying a weapon, and stalking you. Your responsibility is to your own safety, and in that context, saying, "I would like to live the rest of my life without this person (or any person) targeting me for violence" is not unreasonable.

Why should there be any onus on her to have to also answer the complex legal question of what do you do with dangerous people who are not rehabilitated?

The fact that we live in a society that is willing to lock people up because of 5 degrees of separation to terrorism and yet requires massive amounts of work to get the system to recognize people with guns, following people saying they're going to commit violence, as a threat, is pretty disheartening.

The time is probably not as big of an issue as much as the fact of who is deserving of protection, vs. the rest of us who are not.
posted by yeloson at 1:00 PM on March 7, 2011 [19 favorites]


I haven't seen the .44 Magnum fetishized this much since Taxi Driver. It was like product placement.
posted by nathancaswell at 1:01 PM on March 7, 2011 [10 favorites]


We cannot lock the dude up and throw away the key indefinitely, so how long would the victim be satisfied with?

Probably whatever length of time that is needed for her life to not be in danger.
posted by spaltavian at 1:08 PM on March 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


another thread about a victimized woman turns into "that poor mentally ill man" and "geez, what did she expect?!"

this is going in the direction i expected, but it doesn't make me any less sad.
posted by nadawi at 1:11 PM on March 7, 2011 [20 favorites]


Maybe I'm not appreciating something about this situation, but if you were being stalked/harrassed by somebody through your blog, it seems like blogging about it would be a profoundly bad idea. You always hear about how you're supposed to avoid all contact with the stalker and avoid giving them any feedback/attention whatsoever, so something like this seems like it would be the exact opposite of what to do.
posted by anazgnos at 1:12 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


You're calling the game after the bottom of the second inning, I'm not sure the thread is going that way at all.
posted by nathancaswell at 1:12 PM on March 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


I sympathize for the terrible situation she's in, but something about her blogs and etsy makes me want to throw up a little.
posted by aesacus at 1:14 PM on March 7, 2011


[...] the judicial system is primarily about punishment rather than prevention

[...] how much would satisfy the victim?

How much or what sort of action on the part of the judicial system, I think. I'm not sure there is a happy or satisfactory outcome for the victim, someone who's already been through a terrifying or at least worrying experience at the hands of someone that clearly needs help and isn't getting it and probably won't get it unless it's ordered and he's confined until the duration of his counseling is complete. What if it's never complete? How safe does a victim of a crime ever feel, regardless of the perpetrator's sentence?

Our judicial system isn't so much focused on rehabilitation as it is on punishment, as Justinian said. There is some rehabilitation going on, but I'd imagine that it's focused on the more extreme cases due to the way the trials were run and because of things like budget concerns; it's expensive to keep someone in prison, and adding therapy, counseling or even drugs to the process is just an added expense. Besides, rehabilitation can seem a bit like reprogramming to some people, I guess.

What sort of punishment and/or therapy should weapons-toting stalkers receive, though, in our version of a "perfect" judicial system, taking into account budgets and respect for the individual - both victim and perpetrator? Not sure that's a question that's easily answered... although some countries seem to have done it very well. Trying and failing to find an article about prison rehab done right.
posted by neewom at 1:15 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Another positive benefit of the conviction is that it makes it a lot easier to force the guy to give up his guns, and prevent him from buying any more. She could still make it happen through a restraining order.

There's a federal law that prevents domestic abusers from owning guns, but state laws vary, and since she's neither his wife nor his child the federal law doesn't apply.
posted by electroboy at 1:15 PM on March 7, 2011


I agree with friendlyjuan that the story had an odd tone that I couldn't relate to at all. (Not that I need to relate to it, but still, there it is.) Like at the very beginning she said that the stalker had a .44 magnum on him, and then later on begins detailing Mike's .44 Magnum, and I was like, "Mike's the stalker, Mike's the stalker!" but then he wasn't. She felt anger over rights of the accused being upheld (like being able to face his accuser and having a defense attorney that tried to defend him) -- the anger is understandable but it's not really understandable to me that even when recording it all later, she continues to think that the accused's rights were unreasonable and unnecessary.

Idk-- it's always a bit more of a jolt to read stories like this when you're put off by the personality of the victim -- it makes you start questioning your reading of it.
posted by frobozz at 1:19 PM on March 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


nadawi: "another thread about a victimized woman turns into "that poor mentally ill man" and "geez, what did she expect?!" this is going in the direction i expected, but it doesn't make me any less sad."

What are you talking about? Saying the victim deserved it (which no one has even remotely come close to saying) is not the logical conclusion of expressing regret that we don't really know how to treat mentally unstable people in the judicial system.

That's really disingenuous of you. Your goal is to shut down the conversation, not add to it, all while expressing contempt for this community. And that's a really shitty thing to do.
posted by danny the boy at 1:20 PM on March 7, 2011 [67 favorites]


Wow...

1) I know I have no sympathy for the guy beyond the fact that he's a human, but I DO have concern over who his next victim might be. So that is why I'm interested in his situation. I didn't say I wanted to give him a hug.

2) I didn't say I had an opinion or answer on how much is too much. I said I wanted to hear the author talk about her feelings about that.

It is in fact possible to hold empathy and sympathy for the actual victim while trying to intellectually ponder the other aspects of the case. But if you'd like to be the mind police, that's fine.
posted by spicynuts at 1:24 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


nadawi, I don't think that's a fair representation of how the discussion is going at all, as nathancaswell pointed out. This is a complicated issue and isn't simply a black and white thing. She was (still is?) a victim of a frightening situation, one that I wouldn't want to experience or have a loved one experience. The stalker probably has some mental health issues that are not being addressed and is probably in need of help despite the shittiness of his actions. Then there's the issue of how courts are overworked and underfunded, not to mention the adversarial system that can make victims feel like they are being taken advantage of. There's a potential issue of how legislators deal with crime and whether we as citizens feel like criminals are being punished in proportion to the crimes they are alleged to have committed.

There's a lot of good discussion to be had about all the issues this set of posts can bring up, and trying to shut down the discussion (like danny the boy points out on preview) isn't cool. I know that Mefi has had problems in the past with blaming the victim and such, but this doesn't seem like one of them. Perhaps you could supply some concrete examples?
posted by friendlyjuan at 1:25 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


> Like the prosecuting attorney who seemed (to her) to be indifferent. I'm not saying it's a good excuse, but he's probably seen worse and for him, it's just another day at the job

The cops have probably seen worse too, but they seemed remarkably supportive and helpful.
posted by morganw at 1:26 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


danny the boy - i'm sorry if you misread, but i never accused the community of saying she deserved it - "geez, what did she expect" was in response to the growing number of comments in this thread that call into question her response or her anger or her expectations. we'll add to that the comments that talk about her "tone" and her "personality."

i'll bow out now because i'd hate to be the "mind police" or "shitty to the community" or "shut down the discussion. i'll continue to find it sad that so far there's a lot of concentration on how to help the attackers and how she handled it wrong.
posted by nadawi at 1:28 PM on March 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


i'll continue to find it sad that so far there's a lot of concentration on how to help the attackers and how she handled it wrong.

There is little to none of that in this thread.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:32 PM on March 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm conflicted. On one hand, the guy's clearly not a cuddly teddy bear, while on the other hand, I was also very put off by the tone of her posts. It's almost as if she feels like she is entitled to some sort of revenge. This creeps me out, and seems to be fairly common in American culture.

It's like that sinking feeling I get whenever somebody is executed, and the newspaper interviews the families of his victim(s). The criminal justice system does not exist to provide "closure" or revenge, and it's damn upsetting that it's allowed to do so in many cases. In fact, one of its primary purposes is to serve as a "cushion" for the anger of the victim so that the accused is not unjustly punished.

Although I hate to stand up with the 2nd-Amendment boosters, I also do need to point out that owning a gun is not a crime. In fact, living in rural Wyoming, it'd be a bit weird for him to not own a gun.
posted by schmod at 1:34 PM on March 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


i'll continue to find it sad that so far there's a lot of concentration on how to help the attackers and how she handled it wrong.

Would you mind deciding what we're allowed to discuss in this thread, letting us know, and then perhaps getting us started?
posted by rollbiz at 1:34 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


The most surprising part of the story for me was the public defender. I would really like to get a more objective view of her, was she just doing her job vigorously, or is she deluded somehow? I thought those defenders were all burnt out from overwork and rarely gave a vigorous defense. Her tirade against the author surprises me.
posted by I am the Walrus at 1:36 PM on March 7, 2011


She felt anger over rights of the accused being upheld (like being able to face his accuser and having a defense attorney that tried to defend him)

It's like we didn't even read the same article. She was angry because she had to be in the same room with him. She would've preferred using Skype or cc cameras or something so she could be in another room and not have to see him but he could still see her.

She was pissed because the defense attorney (in her attorney) tried to belittle and humiliate her: her attempts to blatantly humiliate and denigrate victims while they’re on the stand

Maybe humiliating the witness is s.o.p. for defense attorneys and absolutely required for a 'zealous defense' but that shit's also going to result in people being angry about it.
posted by nooneyouknow at 1:37 PM on March 7, 2011 [11 favorites]


I would really like to get a more objective view of her, was she just doing her job vigorously, or is she deluded somehow? I thought those defenders were all burnt out from overwork and rarely gave a vigorous defense. Her tirade against the author surprises me.

Agreed. I'd be much less suspicious of her description if it hadn't started out with the strong insinuation that the public defender was a bad person for defending bad people.
posted by rollbiz at 1:38 PM on March 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


nadawi: "i'll bow out now because i'd hate to be the "mind police" or "shitty to the community" or "shut down the discussion. i'll continue to find it sad that so far there's a lot of concentration on how to help the attackers and how she handled it wrong."

OR, you could decide to engage everyone else here by discussing what is actually being said, which is along the lines of: "gosh, if we could figure out how to help people who are mentally unstable, rather than letting them go off to stalk the next person, since that would be a much preferable situation for everyone involved."

You're reading intentions into people's words that exist only in your projection of who you think MeFi members are.

You also seem to think that those accused of certain crimes should not enjoy protection of their rights under the law, to which, I'll just point out, there's a really really good reason why Justice is always depicted with a blindfold on.
posted by danny the boy at 1:39 PM on March 7, 2011 [13 favorites]


Well, this is a good story, but my take at the end doesn't really align with the victim's. Isn't this justice served? The guy was in jail for quite a while and got probation for sending crazy emails and driving to the area. Should we really lock up mentally ill guys for six months for something like this? And the crazy tinctures...
posted by floam at 1:39 PM on March 7, 2011


i'll continue to find it sad that so far there's a lot of concentration on how to help the attackers and how she handled it wrong.

Given that the post is entirely one-sided, I'd call it a hallmark of quality discussion to talk about the other involved parties. And I'll continue to find it sad when people passively-aggressively "apologize" for how people "misread" and continue to derail thereby.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 1:41 PM on March 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


another thread about a victimized woman turns into "that poor mentally ill man" and "geez, what did she expect?!"


That's certainly not what I hope I just did when I favourited Blazecock Pileon's comment about mental illness. This man is clearly nuts, and dangerously so - dangerous to himself and to others. He has the capacity to harm people, and to frighten and disgust people.

As is pretty clear, removing him from society for six months doesn't do much good if he is going to pick up where he left off - either by returning to stalk her or by finding somebody else to terrorise. Because eventually he will either get better, which seems unlikely without outside help, die - kill himself, be killed in self-defence, be shot by the police or be killed in prison - or he will kill, physically harm or seriously traumatise another person. So, one could hope that he continues to settle on resilient women who know to contact the police and have no reason not to do so, and keeps getting jailed, and dies of old age before he happens on someone who will be badly hurt mentally or physically by his attentions. Otherwise, one has to argue either for writing him off at the first conviction and locking him up for life or killing him judicially (which seems extreme) or attempt to get him to a place where he is no longer a danger, or at least much less of a danger.

I'm more weirded out by the people who want to know whether she actually believes in flower essences, and what that says about her. People with painted plates on their wall deserve the protection of the law too.
posted by DNye at 1:44 PM on March 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


Although I hate to stand up with the 2nd-Amendment boosters, I also do need to point out that owning a gun is not a crime.

I generally do stand with 2nd Amendment boosters, and would point out that possessing a gun while committing a crime (stalking) is an aggravating factor.

Further, until recently, you needed a permit to carry in Wyoming, which would make it a crime in itself for him to have it on him.
posted by electroboy at 1:44 PM on March 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


And the crazy tinctures...

What I like about the writer is that she has these beliefs and uses the tinctures, and then goes on to do everything that she should do anyway. They provide comfort, she provides the target practice. I have absolutely no problem with that.
posted by Bookhouse at 1:46 PM on March 7, 2011 [18 favorites]


It's almost as if she feels like she is entitled to some sort of revenge. This creeps me out, and seems to be fairly common in American culture.

I didn't read it that way. I read it as her feeling that she was entitled to be taken seriously by the judicial system, and as someone who ran up against the fact that threats of violence are not taken as seriously as actual violence.

(Desiring revenge when your life has been upended and you are living in fear or the aftermath of violence is not restricted to American culture, nor do I think it's more common here than elsewhere.)
posted by rtha at 1:47 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


this is going in the direction i expected, but it doesn't make me any less sad.

this is just not true. i counted the comments up to yours, and of the 20 or so comments that were directly about the blog author, only two questioned her, and at that harmlessly:

I'm not sure that I can articulate why, but the tone of these posts bothered me. by friendlyjuan

and in the same spirit:

The thing is...how much would satisfy the victim? by spicynuts.

Neither of these 2 comments before your comment are a conversation about "a victimized woman turns into "that poor mentally ill man" and "geez, what did she expect?!"

really, what's your issue here?
posted by Avenger50 at 1:48 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


...he's a victim of a society that shrugs its shoulders at providing care for the mentally ill.

We don't so much shrug our shoulders as we just don't want to pay the TONS of money that's needed for such care. Someone has to pay for it, and we don't want it to be us.
posted by Melismata at 1:51 PM on March 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


It is always going to be us.

Pay now (therapy) or pay later (death row).
posted by adipocere at 1:58 PM on March 7, 2011 [9 favorites]


I dropped question in there too, Avenger:

But, I've gotta wonder: does she believe in stuff like "Golden Armor" and energies and homeopathy as things that work due to their placebo effect, or is she a true believer? I wouldn't let said beliefs discount her writing or experience — it just stood out when reading the posts.

It's weird how matter-of-factly woo appears in her writing, as if everyone just knows the benefit and inherent quality of these (scientifically unproven) things.
posted by defenestration at 1:58 PM on March 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is what bothers me about the story: there is a difference between a desire for justice, and a desire to simply see those who harm us, harmed. In reading this I got the distinct impression that she did not want him treated (she didn't, that I noticed, even address the implications of his obvious mental illness). She wanted him punished, just rendered incapable of bothering her by some, any, whatever means, without any regard to the implications of that. She seemed to want a specific outcome out of those legal authorities: him squashed as quickly and permanently as possible with the minimal personal effort or involvement on her part, and she seems to conflate the failure of the legal authorities to deliver on that outcome with injustice to herself.

Clearly this guy is mentally ill and needs to be treated. Probably confined for that treatment, because his condition is such that he poses a danger to others (especially her). I'd question whether "stalking" as such, at least at this kind of level, really ought to be treated as a crime (which the perpetrator presumably engaged in by choice, and could voluntarily stop), rather than as a course of conduct that is evidence of a dangerous mental illness. Jail will do nothing to address his underlying problems, and as soon as he's out (as DNye points out) he'll probably just resume the behavior.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 1:58 PM on March 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


I imagine a snarky response now that I've posted that:

defenestration, have you read any personal blogs before?
posted by defenestration at 1:59 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think she simply wanted him to be unable to stalk her anymore. Is that too much for her to ask?
posted by kmz at 2:02 PM on March 7, 2011 [21 favorites]


Someone has to pay for it, and we don't want it to be us.

...

Jail will do nothing to address his underlying problems, and as soon as he's out (as DNye points out) he'll probably just resume the behavior.

If anything is an advertisement for socialized healthcare, despite its costs, keeping the public safe would be a good one.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:02 PM on March 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


I feel like I should clarify my position a bit. It wasn't my intention to question the blogger or her course of action. I actually think that I commended her for using the tools that were legally available to her. I also think that taking some handgun training and thinking about self-defense are completely rational responses, ones that I would have no qualms about suggesting to friends or loved ones should they unfortunately find themselves in her position. For me, it was just her thoughts about the legal system that hit home, because over the course of my short law school career my feelings about the criminal justice system have changed as I've observed (from an admittedly limited perspective) that the courts don't work as people would expect them to. People that have limited contact with the courts or attorneys are very invested in their problem because it's so personal to them and can have serious repercussions. But, right or (more likely) wrong, for a prosecutor or judge this is just another case that comes across their desk. It's just a job to them, even though to the blogger it is her life. In an ideal world, the prosecutor in this woman's case would have been super gung-ho about bringing her stalker to justice, but this is far from an ideal world.

So maybe it was just her expectations about the courts and such that started me off on the wrong foot. She did all the right things and on some levels it sucks that she feels like the guy didn't get punished enough. But our system isn't perfect and it seems like she was either unwilling to see that or accept it.
posted by friendlyjuan at 2:03 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


aeschenkarnos: I don't think her personal effort or involvement were minimal at all. She did everything she was supposed to do with the authorities, and to ensure her own safety. I also think the desire for revenge is a pretty normal response. She's not in any way suggesting that she's unbiased here (how could she be? She's the victim), she's just being honest about her feelings and frustration through the whole ordeal.
posted by torisaur at 2:03 PM on March 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


She's concerned for her own survival, and I'd be really, really interested to see if the tables were turned -- if her boyfriend was being stalked by a crazy person from the internet - if people were so concerned over whether or not he was suitably concerned about the other person's well-being and whether or not she received treatment for her mental illness.

I've actually been the victim of violence that the police had no interest in, and let me tell you, it's an awesome way to stop feeling like others view you as a human being for a long while. The guy who bodily picked me up and slammed me into a doorway, breaking all kinds of shit along the way was definitely not mentally right, and I did not care whether he received treatment - I just wanted someone, anyone to take it seriously that this person put his hands on me. You might be surprised how hard it is to get that.
posted by Medieval Maven at 2:06 PM on March 7, 2011 [21 favorites]


I fully realise that stalkers are insane, yet whenever I read about one I have this probably similarly deranged urge to seek them out, sit them down over a drink and say "Listen. I want you to understand something. If a person says they don't want to communicate with you any more you have to accept that they have that right, and you need to respect that. You absolutely have the right to disbelieve them, or think they are making a huge mistake, but what you do not have the right to do is allow that feeling to take precedence over their choice, even if their choice actually is as mistaken as you believe it to be."

I know, I know. But GAH.
posted by Decani at 2:07 PM on March 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


It is also amazing to me how everybody seems to be a Vulcan and unable to understand human emotions. Ideally, I would like to think that if I was the victim of a horrendous crime, I would be able to be rational and view the proceedings with a cold clinical eye. Maybe even forgive the perpetrator. But I have no idea, because I haven't been in that situation. Honestly I doubt I would be very forgiving.

If you have been in that situation and was still able to see all sides rationally, then good for you. You are a far better person than I probably would be.
posted by kmz at 2:11 PM on March 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


It's weird how matter-of-factly woo appears in her writing, as if everyone just knows the benefit and inherent quality of these (scientifically unproven) things.

Well, she hand-reared a coyote. Her lifepath tends towards being visible in the background of Three Wolf Moon. I'm not wholly surprised that she didn't seek calm in a critical reappraisal of Chevy Chase and Ted Danson in light of their recent episodic comedies.
posted by DNye at 2:15 PM on March 7, 2011


I think the men in this thread that are commenting "oh he's clearly mentally ill!" have no conception of how often seemingly normal guys harass or outright stalk women. Every women has a story or 10 about guys flipping out after being rejected. Often out of the blue. My roommate dated a guy for a month then broke it off and he's calling and texting her obsessively. And he doesn't think he's doing anything wrong. A guy I met at a work meeting with consultants recently took a shine to me, found out where I live and called me at home(!) Then he started showing up places. To clarify, this is a junior engineer working for a subcontractor on a project I'm senior on. wtf? Being creepers isn't something only mentally ill people do, its just something they tend do more obsessively than regular guys. And its something that most women deal with to a lesser extent on a regulations basis and, frankly, think is pathetic and have zero patience for.

And yeah I'd want his ass locked up and the key thrown away if it was me. Fuck that guy, its not my problem he has an obsession with killing and dismembering me or whatever the voices in his head are telling him to do.
posted by fshgrl at 2:15 PM on March 7, 2011 [44 favorites]


I think the men in this thread that are commenting "oh he's clearly mentally ill!" have no conception of how often seemingly normal guys harass or outright stalk women

Um, I think it's because of his behavior, especially describing a violent revenge fantasy involving killing a creditor while on the stand in a trial. Thats not something a rational person does --- even if they think it, they know not to say it to a judge deciding their fate!
posted by wildcrdj at 2:19 PM on March 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


another thread about a victimized woman turns into "that poor mentally ill man" and "geez, what did she expect?!"

Who said "geez, what did she expect?!"
posted by John Cohen at 2:20 PM on March 7, 2011


Most guys don't know what most women go through.

I had to explain to a friend who has lived in New York for like five years now how common it is for perverts and predators to flaunt and fondle themselves in front of women in public. Like, he literally had no clue how often it happens.
posted by defenestration at 2:21 PM on March 7, 2011 [12 favorites]


I can see the 'ass locked up' aspect too, fshgrl, and almost everyone who is female has had to deal with the creepy dangerous weirdos at one point or another. And this guy is a really, really nasty case.

That said, I'm also squicked out by the handgun fondling: there's some kind of 'gun=power' displacement going on here. She doesn't *seem* to want to have him put away so much as she wants permission to kill him, or to have someone else kill him on her behalf.

I'm not saying that I'd not feel the same way, in her shoes, but I'm not sure you can call that justice.
posted by jrochest at 2:22 PM on March 7, 2011


It is also amazing to me how everybody seems to be a Vulcan and unable to understand human emotions. Ideally, I would like to think that if I was the victim of a horrendous crime, I would be able to be rational and view the proceedings with a cold clinical eye. Maybe even forgive the perpetrator. But I have no idea, because I haven't been in that situation. Honestly I doubt I would be very forgiving.

Yeah, but people here aren't her. I understand why some people are getting defensive about the direction the conversation is going here, but responding to her story with a discussion about the larger implications of stalking, untreated mental illness, a vigorous defense, etc. seem perfectly fine to me. If it's inappropriate to talk about that stuff, what is this here for, just so we can all say, "boy, it sucks to be stalked," and move on?
posted by Mavri at 2:23 PM on March 7, 2011 [9 favorites]


I've really got nothing to say with regard to the conversation as it's already happened. Whether or not the guy is mentally ill doesn't matter much to me.

But her knocking on the Confrontation Clause in Part II bugs me.

This is an absolute cornerstone of our civil rights regime. Without it, prosecutors could bring crimes against people without ever presenting those who would testify against them, or using technology or careful stratagems to prevent witnesses from being viewable by the defendant or the judge/jury. In other words, absent the right to confront one's accuser it could be absolutely anyone doing the accusing. The possibilities for abuse are legion, and people have known this for millennia. Hell, according to the Book of Acts, the right to confront witnesses was part of Roman law.

So I'm completely sympathetic with her experience here, but hard facts make bad law. Showing up in court may be difficult for her, but the alternative is to permit such charges to be brought anonymously.
posted by valkyryn at 2:23 PM on March 7, 2011 [19 favorites]


Sorry for coming off like a jerk. I didn't read the preceding comments, searched for "tinctures", thought no one mentioned it so I tacked that on at the end.

I think her general reaction is probably pretty natural, except maybe the heavy distaste for how we do justice in America. Most people, including me, are going to want to squash those who wrong them. Probably a good reason that many critique the recent advent of "victim advocates" and letting those wronged speak at sentencing.
posted by floam at 2:26 PM on March 7, 2011


It's like we didn't even read the same article.

Yes, it probably is, and that's part of what I find both so interesting and unsettling. Whatever else the blog posts are, they are a literary narrative using certain devices for telling the story, choosing certain parts of her life to focus on as the background, etc., and when these things are combined with the reader's preferences, prejudices, and experiences, they can create completely different reactions and emotions. I don't think recognizing that fact in any way trivializes what happened to her or says that she acted wrongly in any way. I am not saying, "I think she should have told her story differently so that I could feel more comfortable being sympathetic to her." What I am saying is things like healing crystals and the empowering nature of guns begin to come up and I start reading with a slightly critical attitude that I don't really realize I have at first, and then when it becomes strong enough that I do notice it, I start to question my interpretation of the whole thing (as I said).

Narrative is a powerful thing. There were a couple of comments upthread about seeing the desire for revenge in the article, with someone else not seeing it at all. Trying to tease out exactly which of our prejudices drive the narrative -- in any direction -- is, I think, a useful thing to do, and not one that people should feel bad talking about.
posted by frobozz at 2:27 PM on March 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


its not my problem he has an obsession with killing and dismembering me or whatever the voices in his head are telling him to do.

Actually, while the guy clearly had some issues (his overt threats about shooting the collections people), I don't know that he ever specifically threatened the writer with harm.

“I have to see you. I’m packing a bag and driving up there…. If you don’t want me to come or if you’re going to tell the Sheriff’s department, just email me and tell me so.”

Is the line that, rightly, sets in motion her contacting the police. But I don't think that he ever actually, threatened her with dismemberment (at least, not that she wrote about.) I'm all for damning the guy for what he did, but let's not ascribe harm from him that he didn't commit.
posted by quin at 2:28 PM on March 7, 2011


When your legal excuse, when your on-the-stand-in-front-of-a-judge explanation for carrying around a loaded handgun is the execution of creditors, depicted gorily and with relish, that pretty much says Mentally Ill. For a person to say that sort of thing in that context strongly suggests that they have a working model of the law, society, and the reactions of judge that is wildly divergent from with what the majority of us are working.

Now, I happen to believe that Crazy and Evil can overlap, but yeah, he is clearly mentally ill. He's definitely occupying at least one circle in that particular Venn diagram.
posted by adipocere at 2:28 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


responding to her story with a discussion about the larger implications of stalking, untreated mental illness, a vigorous defense, etc. seem perfectly fine to me.

I agree, but a lot of posts seemed to not even understand why she would feel the way she feels.
posted by kmz at 2:28 PM on March 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


When you have significant experience with the criminal justice system, you learn to take these things with a grain of salt. Most people, including this author, are ignorant of the law, and sometimes just plain ignorant. This author appears to be in the latter category.

First, in our system of law, the only legally permissible use of bail is to ensure the defendant's presence at trial. You know. The thing before which they are considered to be innocent. That is the Supreme Law of the land. Then the author whines about the defendant's right to confrontation and, presumably trial, enshrined also in the constitution. But these things mean nothing to her.

Second, it does not appear that this defendant was even accused of unlawfully possessing a gun. Perhaps it was in his trunk, or for hunting grizzlies or whatever other lawful purpose. Third, he was never accused of planning to use it in any nefarious scheme. But this author seems to imagine her (justifiable) paranoia about counterfactual situations somehow can be the legal basis for punishment. Her delusional and possibly narcissistic ranting makes her factual narrative more than a little suspect to me.

Third, this defendant spent at least a few weeks in jail for sending hundreds of unwanted and scary emails. What? Imprisonment for even 6 months seems harsh.

Last, this author has terrible judgment. She lives with a guy who's been in a lot of bar brawls? Really? I seriously doubt it was as a bouncer, since the good ones keep the peace til the cops show up. Sounds more like someone who thinks he's more of a bad-ass than he really is.

And they're both clearly delusional about firearms in ways that make it impossible to think either knows what the hell they're talking about. No one "flies back 30 feet" when shot with ordinary small arms munitions. No. One. People who get shot either tend to do one of three things. (a) Continue doing what they were doing, (b) flee, or (c) drop.

I can see why the prosecutor didn't have a hard-on for this case, and also why the public defender thought the author of this blog was very probably a worse person than her mentally-ill client who, after all, at least had that excuse for his behavior.
posted by Hylas at 2:31 PM on March 7, 2011 [8 favorites]


I guess I should have substituted "that" for "this" in reference to the blog author. Mea culpa.
posted by Hylas at 2:31 PM on March 7, 2011


Last, this author has terrible judgment. She lives with a guy who's been in a lot of bar brawls? Really? I seriously doubt it was as a bouncer, since the good ones keep the peace til the cops show up. Sounds more like someone who thinks he's more of a bad-ass than he really is.

You're going to lecture her for being ignorant of a system she's never had to be involved with to any great degree or perhaps any degree at all, and then you're going to declare that she has terrible judgment based on something *you* don't actually know anything about.

Let's try this: The person closest to me in the world has been arrested more than a dozen times. What can you tell me about myself based on this?
posted by rtha at 2:35 PM on March 7, 2011 [23 favorites]


Hey, at least now it's settled whether or not there's victim-blaming going on here.
posted by kmz at 2:37 PM on March 7, 2011 [29 favorites]


From part VI:

I was told to remain on the stand because it was now the defense attorney’s turn to question me. The court-appointed defense attorney was a misogynistic incarnation of evil. God, she was vile. SHE. And not just with me. She defends rapists, abusers, and stalkers, and I heard much about her treatment of other female victims - her attempts to blatantly humiliate and denigrate victims while they’re on the stand - and that she was chronically rude and unprofessional to the staff of the county attorney’s office.

If someone wrongs me personally, they're not entitled to a competent defense that will use every allowable tactic in pursuit of their aims, right? Please tell me it says that in the Constitution. Because I love this country and believe in it's guiding principle that everyone is deserving equal representation under the law, but that shouldn't apply if I have personal knowledge that the defendant is guilty. If their guilt is known to me, they should only be allowed octogenarian lawyers who have suffered strokes, or perhaps a Mongolian lawyer who does not speak English and is unfamiliar with U.S. law.

Fortunately I have this lilac extract that takes energy from the defendant's lawyer and makes rainbows with it.
posted by Mayor Curley at 2:42 PM on March 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


The system failed her, yes, but only part of it.

The police, the judge, the DA, the victim's advocate all did what they were supposed to do, and it all worked. This man was caught, tried, sentenced.

Also, the prosecuting attorney did her job. I understand how the victim must have felt, having to defend herself when she wasn't accused of any crime, but she gives no examples whatsoever of the prosecutor denigrating or humiliating her. Saying others in the courthouse didn't like the woman doesn't mean a damn thing, either.

No, the only thing that failed here was the sentencing. For this kind of crime, it is just so light. If I were the victim, I'd be pissed, too, and I'd be scared. Six months--and he served less--seems like nothing for a guy who opens up in a courtroom about how he is going to murder the creditors coming after him! I'd want him to be out of my life and not a constant nagging threat at the back of my mind, too.

Yet, even there, we have to weight what the stalker actually did with the sentencing he received. He didn't physically harm her, so the maximum sentence was six months. It sucks that it comes down to that, but I don't know how we can really punish intent past a certain limit. People might intend all kinds of things and never go through with them. We can't punish them for what they think of doing, only what they actually do.

We don't handle mental illness well here in America at all, and that's part of the problem here. Sorry if that upsets you, nadawi, but if this guy had gotten treatment for what are clearly out-of-line responses to what is going on in his world, maybe he would never have gotten to this point in the first place. That would be best for this victim AND any future victims, and for the stalker, too, right? It's not belittling the victim here to say we don't want others victimized by this guy and treatment is warranted. I'd like to see that as a condition of his probation.

Also, about the tone argument thing: it is a pet peeve of mine that people bring this up all the time when we are discussing blogs. When you have a blog, you put yourself out there. You choose to write from a personal perspective rather than an objective journalist because you WANT to express yourself. To me, it's a given that people are going to notice, and react to, your personal quirks, and form an opinion. That's human nature. I was one of the readers who was a little disturbed by her holistic stuff and her fetish for guns. Personally, I'm more likely to think of alarm systems and guard dogs and pepper spray before going to, 'hey, let me go get a rifle or a 44 magnum'.

I have an aunt who lives in Cody, Wyoming, near where the author lives. It's the kind of place where people literally don't lock their homes at night, even leave their keys in their cars. It's like the epitome of a nice, safe place. It really just shows that this kind of thing could happen anywhere.
posted by misha at 2:43 PM on March 7, 2011 [10 favorites]


The person closest to me in the world has been arrested more than a dozen times. What can you tell me about myself based on this?

Awesome! Can you ask Ronnie Dobbs if I can have his autograph?
posted by Mayor Curley at 2:45 PM on March 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Um, I think it's because of his behavior, especially describing a violent revenge fantasy involving killing a creditor while on the stand in a trial.

Men don't gave to be that crazy and stupid to be overtly threatening. Homicide is the second leading cause of death for women aged 20-24 in the US. Fifth for women aged 25-34. Very few of those women were killed by guys who were overtly crazy and threatening. Being stalked is a very real threat to you and yours, just like being in a violent relationship is.
posted by fshgrl at 2:45 PM on March 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


But her knocking on the Confrontation Clause in Part II bugs me.

To be fair, she was hoping for some sort of video conferencing deal where she could testify without being physically in the same room. I don't know that that's particularly unreasonable.
posted by electroboy at 2:46 PM on March 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


Men don't gave to be that crazy and stupid to be overtly threatening

Of course not. But your comment was about reactions to THIS guy. THIS guy is crazy. I understand you want to broaden this to more borderline cases but I objected to your statement that the guys here saying he was crazy were doing it out of ignorance. They (and I) are saying he's crazy because he's demonstrated that he's crazy.
posted by wildcrdj at 2:49 PM on March 7, 2011


She said she got dozens of disgusting, crazy emails from the guy. I assume they weren't about how he'd like to gently and respectfully make love to her.
posted by chowflap at 2:49 PM on March 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


(Re: previous posters saying "He never even threatened her.")
posted by chowflap at 2:50 PM on March 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Men don't gave to be that crazy and stupid to be overtly threatening.

You're missing the whole part where he describes his intention to commit a violent crime completely separate from anything he's accused of. It'd be like if a cop asked me why I had a lighter and rolling papers and I told him that it was because I wanted to burn down my neighbor's house. It's not generally a sign of sanity to admit to violent fantasies when you're in court to try and convince a judge that you're not dangerous enough to have bail.
posted by rollbiz at 2:50 PM on March 7, 2011


I agree electroboy. But just as that kind of technology has improved, others have. It wont be long before it's completely reasonable to distrust live video feeds.
posted by floam at 2:50 PM on March 7, 2011


1. buy handgun
2. go to the shooting range once a week
3. ???
4. profit

Seriously, though getting proficient with a handgun is a good way to boost your confidence and at the same time become knowledgeable about what the actual capabilities of a handgun are. I would also suggest installing a security system in your house.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 2:52 PM on March 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Clearly this guy is mentally ill and needs to be treated.
Really? Maybe he's just a dickhead.

Actually, while the guy clearly had some issues (his overt threats about shooting the collections people), I don't know that he ever specifically threatened the writer with harm.
She didn't reproduce the contents of a single email he wrote her, and that she clearly found threatening, so I think we have no idea what he said or did not say. She does say, "Then, out of the blue, I got an insane, disgusting, INSANE email from him. And then about six more, tamer, but totally off-kilter."

Maybe you have to be a woman to really get what another woman means by an 'insane, disgusting, INSANE email." It sounds threatening to me.
posted by Squeak Attack at 2:52 PM on March 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


I can see why the prosecutor didn't have a hard-on for this case, and also why the public defender thought the author of this blog was very probably a worse person than her mentally-ill client who, after all, at least had that excuse for his behavior.

Look, I just wrote this nice long comment about how people were reasonably discussing this, and then you go and write something like that?! Seriously, suggesting that because the victim exaggerates (according to you) the damage a handgun can do and happens to be dating a guy whose been in bar fights she should be thought a 'worse person' than someone sending scary, harassing emails to a complete stranger and stalking her?!

You. Have. Got. To. Be. Kidding. Me.
posted by misha at 2:53 PM on March 7, 2011 [28 favorites]


And I don't know why people are so freaked by the gun thing. Guns totally level the playing field. That's why they were invented. If I had a crazy stalker like that the first thing I'd do is get a gun, (although mine would be a shotgun)
posted by fshgrl at 2:53 PM on March 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


Homicide is the second leading cause of death for women aged 20-24 in the US.

I get your point, but same is true of men of the same age.
posted by electroboy at 2:54 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


She said she got dozens of disgusting, crazy emails from the guy. I assume they weren't about how he'd like to gently and respectfully make love to her.

Which, actually, still fall under disgusting and crazy in the context of being a complete stranger.
posted by kingbenny at 2:54 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


And I don't know why people are so freaked by the gun thing. Guns totally level the playing field. That's why they were invented. If I had a crazy stalker like that the first thing I'd do is get a gun, (although mine would be a shotgun)

This kind of stuff bothers me a lot... Maybe it's because I'm a guy, and I've never had to deal with sexual harassment or stalking on the same level as women, but it just seems like an outrageously out-of-proportion response. Isn't there a law about minimal harm in self defense? What's wrong with a good strong taser?
posted by TheMidnightHobo at 2:58 PM on March 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think when we thought nadawi was being unfair, she might just have been speaking from a temporal circuit a short time into our future.

Ew.
posted by DNye at 3:00 PM on March 7, 2011 [12 favorites]


She wanted him punished, just rendered incapable of bothering her by some, any, whatever means, without any regard to the implications of that. She seemed to want a specific outcome out of those legal authorities: him squashed as quickly and permanently as possible with the minimal personal effort or involvement on her part, and she seems to conflate the failure of the legal authorities to deliver on that outcome with injustice to herself.

Um, this is exactly what I would want if some crazy individual were stalking me with a .44 magnum. Call me crazy! I mean, I wouldn't want him executed, but I sure as hell would want him to be made to go away from me, permanently.
posted by yarly at 3:01 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


If someone was stalking me, threatening me, and showed up at my house acting violent, doing "minimal harm" to them is not my concern. A gun is a perfectly reasonable response. (Keep in mind I'm referring to people who have a specific, legitimate reason to fear for their safety --- I actually think it can apply more broadly but let's keep it focused on victims of harrassment / stalking / violence or this will just be a generic gun debate).
posted by wildcrdj at 3:01 PM on March 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


I think the men in this thread that are commenting "oh he's clearly mentally ill!" have no conception of how often seemingly normal guys harass or outright stalk women. Every women has a story or 10 about guys flipping out after being rejected.

I am fully aware of how often men do this, and I don't see how that reflects on whether or not it is mentally aberrant behaviour. I am also aware that women frequently do it too - in fact it has happened to me and a couple of my male friends - and the women who behaved that way were also mentally disturbed.

The word you use there - "seemingly" - is crucial.
posted by Decani at 3:03 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have experienced stalking by an ex and I did feel deep sympathy for the guy. He was truly mentally ill and there was no help for him. Being poor and mentally ill means that, (at least in my state), you don't get any treatment. There is a program for homeless people so if you are willing to LIE and say that you don't work for 7 bucks an hour at the gas station 40 hours a week, you might be able to get a once a month med session. This didn't seem to do much of anything for the folk I've seen use it.

I don't personally trust our current pharmacological system especially as I mentioned elsewhere all the research I've been doing on inflammatory responses in the brain and body. The current mental health model simply doesn't add up and it doesn't work for a lot of people. This guy tried various psychiatric medications such as anti-depressants, (bad) bipolar meds (bad) antipsychotics (really bad).

From a medical perspective--- lithium is the only drug that seems to address specifically this inflammation but it causes a host of other problems in the body and is simply not a realistic long term solution, unless you count shitloads of health problems as a realistic solution.

We know that diet, exercise, yoga and stress relief activities have demonstratable reductions in the inflammatory cytokines found most commonly in mentally ill. (Interleukin 6, Creactive protein etc) The results take longer but they are more reliable. People who are messed up and weird tend to have poor social relationships and I think it's possible that the demonstrable increased inflammatory markers in lonely depressed people may be as a result of as much as a cause of the inflammation.


These inflammatory conditions represent a real medical condition that we are failing to treat.

In any case--- this poor guy was so heartbroken and lonely and had experienced craploads of childhood abuse and needed comprehensive support-- not only that he needed people in the community to believe in him. I think even if you have professionals say, "I like you no matter what" doesn't change if you know the community doesn't want you to exist.

He stalked me for about three years parked in my parking lot every night. Sometimes I would stop by his car and say, "Hey, what's up" and he would talk about wanting to die and I would give him whatever therapy I could pull out of my ass.

I'm not recommending this or anything, it's just what happened. What eventually stopped the problem is that I stared him square in the eye and said, "Look, you hate yourself for all the bad stuff you've done to me and you want to die, do you think I would have tried to be there through all this shit if I didn't care if you lived? I want you to live. If you're sorry show me. LIVE. Never tell me you want to die again. You've been through a lot of shit and you did some fucked up shit before you figured out what you were doing. Yes, it has fucked me up. But I forgive you. I know that you care. I know that you're sorry. I believe in you, you can figure this shit out and you can be a good person."

It's been 6 years and he's married with kids now. He really was sorry. He really was fucked up beyond belief. But he really did take charge of his life, stopped smoking pot, got a better job, went to counseling etc etc. I'm proud of him and wish him the best.

But then again I'm not normal. LOL

So I guess what I'm saying is--- I vote for better intervention and support of the poor/mentally ill and people with no real support in their lives.

It shouldn't change the response to crime--- it's just something we could do in tandem that might reduce crimes by people who are spiraling and possibly-- with help and someone to believe in them, might be able to go another direction. But this is one area where I'm pretty sure I might be a wacko...
posted by xarnop at 3:04 PM on March 7, 2011 [9 favorites]


What's wrong with a good strong taser?

It's good for one shot, at a maximum of 15 feet. Do you want someone who outweighs you, is taller than you, and has repeatedly demonstrated that they will not respect your boundaries get within 15 feet of you?

I'm not saying A Gun Is The Only Solution; rather, a Taser is not necessarily a better, or even okay, alternative. A protection-trained dog is probably more effective than a Taser.
posted by rtha at 3:06 PM on March 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


You're going to lecture her for being ignorant of a system she's never had to be involved with to any great degree or perhaps any degree at all, and then you're going to declare that she has terrible judgment based on something *you* don't actually know anything about.

I do know a fair deal about the criminal justice system, from both sides (prosecution and defense). I can't assess what arrests mean to those near and dear without reading the police reports.
posted by Hylas at 3:10 PM on March 7, 2011


I think the men in this thread that are commenting "oh he's clearly mentally ill!" have no conception of how often seemingly normal guys harass or outright stalk women.

Perhaps looking at the problem in a different way, such as recognizing his illness and the lack of treatment options, might be a process that leads to ways to help reduce the incidence of seemingly normal people, men and women, harassing and stalking other people, men and women. It can be a broader discussion without marginalizing her suffering — and, for the most part, I think people in this thread with male genitalia are trying to contribute in good faith.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:11 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


And I don't know why people are so freaked by the gun thing.

Well, my visceral, unpleasant reaction to the gun thing is because my (thankfully limited) experience with guns has uniformly been very bad, and I would imagine there are many other people for whom this is true as well. I think, even without being completely anti-gun, that guns are a pretty legitimate thing to be freaked out by.
posted by frobozz at 3:11 PM on March 7, 2011


Homicide is the second leading cause of death for women aged 20-24 in the US. Fifth for women aged 25-34

I understand where you're coming from, but those aren't startling statistics in context. Broadly, what are young women supposed to die of, seeing as how disease isn't common in the age group and childbirth is generally safe? My quick list is "accidents (especially car), drugs/drink, suicide, homicide."

Then I looked up some more info on those stats and discovered that according to the FBi, the number of deaths due to homicide was 344 for the first demographic you mention and 335 for the second. So for the entire 15-year age range, there were less than 700 homicides. As opposed to 2500 for males in the same age range.

The actual message from those numbers it seems to me is "young adult women are unlikely to die. If they do, there's a good chance that it could be homicide. But the number of women of that age who die is very small." To get even more specific, seeing as how about half the victims were black and the age demo in question is about 15% black, you could safely state "If you are white and between the ages of 20 and 34, you have almost no chance of being murdered."
posted by Mayor Curley at 3:11 PM on March 7, 2011 [12 favorites]


You know, this is someone who raises wild animals in her spare time and lives with a guy who has a history of getting into bar fights and owns some huge-ass hand-cannon, so maybe her judgment really isn't all that hot. So what? The law is meant to protect everyone. I think her identification with Lisbeth Salander is more telling than she realizes -- not the avenging angel part, but the part where being a total eccentric weirdo is not license for creeps to treat you like shit and suffer no consequences. She's actually allowed to believe in astrology and crystals and own a huge dumb-ass action hero gun and live with a coyote and a violent drunkard. That's her bag, baby!
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:12 PM on March 7, 2011 [39 favorites]


Minimal harm should be something to concern yourself with though, because I believe you can get in a good deal of trouble if it's judged the defense was out of proportion to the crime. Given that we don't know the contents of the emails, it's difficult to say whether or not he was actually acting violent when she took her gun classes. It could have been (and given the gun found later, probably was) a perfectly justified choice on her part.

Still, I hear people jump to generally quite violent solutions to crimes often enough that I just thought a voice for the less-violent defense should be heard.

@rtha
Very true. I was just using tasers as a general catch-all for the less-violent solutions.
posted by TheMidnightHobo at 3:14 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


lives with a guy who has a history of getting into bar fights... violent drunkard

come the fuck on
posted by nathancaswell at 3:14 PM on March 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


"being a total eccentric weirdo is not license for creeps to treat you like shit and suffer no consequences."

YES YES!!
posted by xarnop at 3:15 PM on March 7, 2011 [18 favorites]


When you have significant experience with the criminal justice system, you learn to take these things with a grain of salt. Most people, including this author, are ignorant of the law, and sometimes just plain ignorant. This author appears to be in the latter category.

First, in our system of law, the only legally permissible use of bail is to ensure the defendant's presence at trial. You know. The thing before which they are considered to be innocent. That is the Supreme Law of the land. Then the author whines about the defendant's right to confrontation and, presumably trial, enshrined also in the constitution. But these things mean nothing to her.


Hylas, you sound like a callow 1L who just got out of his first crim law final.

If you've been practicing for a while I'd hope you know the difference between The Constitution and its various enshrinements, and how The Law actually affects people in practice. Sure, the Confrontation Clause is important. And of course, everyone deserves a Zealous Defense. But it simply doesn't follow that crime victims (especially in sexual assault/stalking/domestic violence/family law) aren't rightfully pained by having to sit in the same room as their attackers and having their personal lives become fodder for Our Adversarial System. EVEN IF all these rights (confrontation, adversarial proceedings, zealous defense) are essential to the criminal justice system, it doesn't make it any less painful to the victim to have to live through it.

But anyway, you seem much more interested here in blaming the victim (literally and unabashadly) than you do about talking about how the criminal justice system actually works for both criminals and victims.
posted by yarly at 3:16 PM on March 7, 2011 [12 favorites]


I think Mayor Curley's point is an important one. The reason homicides are the second leading cause of death for people (male and female) ages 20-24 is not because lots of young people are murdered but because very, very few young people die of natural causes. So all you're left with are accident, homicide, suicide.
posted by Justinian at 3:17 PM on March 7, 2011


because I believe you can get in a good deal of trouble

Well, my point is I'd rather be alive and in legal trouble than dead because I stopped to calculate the acceptable amount of force I can use to keep myself from being killed.
posted by wildcrdj at 3:17 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Doesn't the likelihood of a person dying go up when they carry a gun? I know this isn't about guns, but knowing that would make me feel less safe if I had a gun in my house, not more safe.

Obviously my situation is different than the subject of the OP, as I am male. With that said, I don't really get the whole "I feel safer with guns around" thing.
posted by defenestration at 3:19 PM on March 7, 2011


Seriously, suggesting that because the victim exaggerates (according to you) the damage a handgun can do and happens to be dating a guy whose been in bar fights she should be thought a 'worse person' than someone sending scary, harassing emails to a complete stranger and stalking her?!

Well, honestly, we don't know. I don't know anything the alleged stalker did because she isn't very specific. But she makes enough explicit statements about what she's doing, and how she's forming her beliefs to make it unsurprising. And when I say "unsurprising" I mean just that--that doesn't mean it's the right decision. It's just predictable. That's all.

The thing is, the defendant may well be a piece of excrement. But he has a story, and he probably told it to his public defender. And who knows what the blog author said in open court--it's more than possible that it was something, because I'm not aware of any jurisdiction where "buyer's remorse" is grounds to set aside a guilty plea, which suggests that she said or did something that made the public defender suddenly think a jury trial was a really good idea for her client.

I don't mean in any way to mean that her client didn't do something terribly and morally wrong--even if I think she's unreliable, the blog author has every right not to be bombarded with unwanted email.
posted by Hylas at 3:21 PM on March 7, 2011


Doesn't the likelihood of a person dying go up when they carry a gun?

Thats an overall statistic, sure. But if you know what you're doing, handle it reasonably, etc you're not going to be at anywhere near the same risk as the "average" person (look at how many people leave loaded guns lying around completely unlocked/etc --- that kind of person ups the statistics).

Also, we're talking about someone who is in a MUCH higher risk of death than the average person --- someone being stalked by a violent armed person.
posted by wildcrdj at 3:21 PM on March 7, 2011


Doesn't the likelihood of a person dying go up when they carry a gun?

I know that the statistical likelihood of you getting shot goes up if you own a gun (through misadventure, accident, and suicide) but I don't know if you are more likely to be killed by the gun or not.

The likelihood of you dying remains exactly the same.
posted by quin at 3:22 PM on March 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Doesn't the likelihood of a person dying go up when they carry a gun? I know this isn't about guns, but knowing that would make me feel less safe if I had a gun in my house, not more safe.

Well, that's because you're begging the question. It isn't clear that mortality rates are higher for folks who carry guns (legally). Do you have a cite for that? I believe you're misremembering a statistic having to do with whether you are more likely to be shot with your own gun than use it for self defense if you have one in your home. Except that the statistic includes suicides which seems kind of questionable to me. Speaking only for myself, if I ever decide to kill myself I'd consider access to a convenient firearm to be a plus not a minus.
posted by Justinian at 3:24 PM on March 7, 2011


meta
posted by yarly at 3:24 PM on March 7, 2011


"Cite" as a noun makes me physically angry.
posted by nathancaswell at 3:26 PM on March 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Nouning is just the flip side of verbing. And both are fine.
posted by kmz at 3:28 PM on March 7, 2011


But it simply doesn't follow that crime victims (especially in sexual assault/stalking/domestic violence/family law) aren't rightfully pained by having to sit in the same room as their attackers and having their personal lives become fodder for Our Adversarial System. EVEN IF all these rights (confrontation, adversarial proceedings, zealous defense) are essential to the criminal justice system, it doesn't make it any less painful to the victim to have to live through it.

I never said it wasn't difficult, but those things are important. More important even than a single person's discomfort. She seems not to understand that, and pretty clearly regards it as a nonsensical formality, which it isn't. I've seen and met enough people who have been victims of really horrible offenses who mustered the personal strength to go through the crucible of trial, and sometimes, that's what it takes.

But anyway, you seem much more interested here in blaming the victim (literally and unabashadly) than you do about talking about how the criminal justice system actually works for both criminals and victims.

I haven't blamed her for anything. I distrust the narrator's conclusions because they seem unhinged. I haven't ever said she asked to be harassed.
posted by Hylas at 3:28 PM on March 7, 2011


Tasers are illegal where I live. Besides I don't really give a shit about how badly I hurt some stalker guy who is trying to rape and hurt me. I hope I hurt him a lot, ideally terminally. I also don't care if he's mentally ill or just a very, very bad boy. I will protect myself if I feel threatened however I see fit and deal with the consequences. Because I'm a grown ass adult and I can do that.

And as far as the murder statistics go- sure less women are murdered but they aren't murdering themselves. That's almost exclusively men acting out their rage on women. Don't try to downplay that its a real threat just because it doesn't seen like a big deal to you. It was a big deal to those women while it was happening.
posted by fshgrl at 3:31 PM on March 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


Nouning is just the flip side of verbing.

Verbing weirds language.
posted by infinitywaltz at 3:32 PM on March 7, 2011


Citation is a noun. Cite in this context s simply an abbreviated form of citation.
posted by Justinian at 3:34 PM on March 7, 2011


Nouning is just the flip side of verbing. And both are fine.

Not when they reveal either an ignorance of, or unwillingness to use, and existing word with exactly the same root: in this case, citation.
posted by Dasein at 3:37 PM on March 7, 2011


This "minimal harm" thing is cracking me up.

So say this stalked woman, who has learned to shoot her big ass handgun, shoots and kills a man who a) has been sending her threatening, harassing, documented emails, and b) has come to her town after being told to leave her alone BY THE POLICE, who are now involved, and c) is carrying his own big ass handgun. She shoots and kills him after he finally confronts her.

And, let's say she does get in trouble for using more than minimal harm.

I mean, really? I think this not in any way a prosecutable case, and if it is, I cannot imagine being on the jury and voting to convict.
posted by Leta at 3:39 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Doesn't the likelihood of a person dying go up when they carry a gun? I know this isn't about guns, but knowing that would make me feel less safe if I had a gun in my house, not more safe.

Well, that's because you're begging the question. It isn't clear that mortality rates are higher for folks who carry guns (legally). Do you have a cite for that? I believe you're misremembering a statistic having to do with whether you are more likely to be shot with your own gun than use it for self defense if you have one in your home. Except that the statistic includes suicides which seems kind of questionable to me. Speaking only for myself, if I ever decide to kill myself I'd consider access to a convenient firearm to be a plus not a minus.


This (or a similar report of the same stats) is what I remember reading.
posted by defenestration at 3:40 PM on March 7, 2011


Minimal harm should be something to concern yourself with though, because I believe you can get in a good deal of trouble if it's judged the defense was out of proportion to the crime.

This is entirely true, and I think all shooters should educate themselves about what does and does not constitute legal self-defense.

That said, I would personally rather risk being overprepared for violence than underprepared for it. You can choose not to go for your gun in a situation which might end non-violently (for example, being held-up at the ATM, or looking out the peephole to find your stalker screaming at you on the porch), but you can't retroactively choose to have a gun in the middle of a situation which does involve an immediate threat of serious violence.
posted by vorfeed at 3:44 PM on March 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


That doesn't seem like a conclusive study at all, though, now that I'm re-reading it. Sorry if I overstated the case based on a misunderstanding of the statistics we currently have.
posted by defenestration at 3:45 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Not when they reveal either an ignorance of, or unwillingness to use, and existing word with exactly the same root: in this case, citation.

Do you know how long cite has been slang for citation even (or perhaps particularly) in academic circles?
posted by Justinian at 3:45 PM on March 7, 2011


And, let's say she does get in trouble for using more than minimal harm.

I mean, really? I think this not in any way a prosecutable case, and if it is, I cannot imagine being on the jury and voting to convict.


It happens. Or they'll vote to convict on a lesser charge, like voluntary manslaugher, which is still a felony and could get you prison time.
posted by infinitywaltz at 3:46 PM on March 7, 2011


@fshgrl
My point was not about how hurt the criminal is when all is said and done; they deserve some level of punishment for what they've done.

My point was about the consequences to the victim; it's simply not logical to use an unnecessary amount of violence to defend yourself when a lesser amount will suffice, especially if the higher amount gets you in trouble with the law. In the end, using the higher amount of violence only hurts the victim.

@Leta
I wasn't commenting on this particular case; in one of my previous messages, I note that in this case, her reaction was very probably warranted. Rather, I was commenting on the general mindset of jumping to the easiest and more violent solution rather than preparing in advance the less potentially lethal reply. From the author's writing, I took away that she is of this mindset, and was commenting on the results of such.

In regards to the actual link, I'll note that I too think the author's hunger for maximum sentencing was a bit saddening. I don't mean that it wasn't warranted in this case (psychotherapy generally takes quite a while, after all; the stalker may very well need all 6 months for rehabilitation), but rather that it is this sort of mindset that makes our prisons so dang overcrowded, which leads to more sentences like what happened here, etc.
posted by TheMidnightHobo at 3:51 PM on March 7, 2011


Offhand, I would estimate that I've had 2.5 stalkers (I figure the woman who kept watching me at the bus stop and eventually tried to get me to get in her car as a way to get to my father is only half a point). The one who drove five hundred miles to show up in my office, she was fun. And certainly having someone (after holding a gun on me some time earlier) leave threatening messages about siccing the government on me and knowing people who could have my kneecaps broken made for some anxious moments.

It never occurred to me, though, to seriously consider purchasing a gun. We always envision this sort of thing in the dead of night, as a home invasion, but confrontations are not limited to that. I don't think carrying a gun in would have gone over well at work, much less lugging it about through my various errands and into my usual haunts. It's a fantasy, blowing away some intruder with a full glowing halo of Castle Doctrine immunity causing your firearm to have a nice +2 versus Crazy shine to it, and it is a fantasy which lacks accounting for the probability that, when the confrontation happens, it will not be in a location or time of your choosing.

There's really quite a limited toolset for dealing with these sorts of thing and much of the legal portion of that kit relies on hearsay, "emotional evidence," and narratives with alternate explanations; it's reasonable doubt heaven. I felt pretty much on my own during these events, as in "this is my problem to solve." On some level, during the stalking events with integer value, it felt a lot like being in junior high: the people who could conceivably Do Something about the situation are not liable to act until blood has been spilled but you'd rather it not go quite that far. It's unfortunate but I do not see that changing any time soon.
posted by adipocere at 3:58 PM on March 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


fshgrl: "I will protect myself if I feel threatened however I see fit and deal with the consequences. Because I'm a grown ass adult and I can do that."

I'm having a hard time expressing why this is so troubling for me. Maybe because I have known people who have grossly overestimated how much they were being threatened. My friend in high school was walking down the street behind a grown ass adult and she pulls out a taser, holds it up in the air and fires it as a warning. Because she felt mortally threatened by a skinny 15 year old drama club guy, spacing out on his discman 15 ft behind her.

I think people tend to be really bad at two things: understanding statistics, and assessing risk. In that woman's head she was undoubtedly certain that a show of force was required to remain safe. It's a good thing that 1) he wasn't walking closer and 2) she didn't have a gun.
posted by danny the boy at 3:58 PM on March 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


I never said it wasn't difficult, but those things are important. More important even than a single person's discomfort. She seems not to understand that, and pretty clearly regards it as a nonsensical formality, which it isn't. I've seen and met enough people who have been victims of really horrible offenses who mustered the personal strength to go through the crucible of trial, and sometimes, that's what it takes.

You seem to be missing the point. It's all fine that any single victim's feelings do not outweigh the discomfiting or even traumatizing, but necessary, process of judicial checks and balances. What you seem unwilling to give on, or recognize, is the fact that she has the right to express her feelings about that. She's not going to rip down 200 years of American criminal jurisprudence by expressing her frustrations and fury at her own experience in it. It's not her job to tell the perpetrator's story. She is not required to have sympathy for his predicament. There are plenty of people (even right here in this thread) who are willing to talk about or push for better mental health treatment and access so that this kind of incident is less likely to happen.
posted by rtha at 4:06 PM on March 7, 2011 [14 favorites]


EVEN IF all these rights (confrontation, adversarial proceedings, zealous defense) are essential to the criminal justice system, it doesn't make it any less painful to the victim to have to live through it.

This is an awfully good point and a point in which the victim deserves the same kind of consideration people are giving the perpetrator. The perpetrator is obviously mentally ill and untreated and really has little hope ahead of him outside of jail. We seem willing to point that out, despicable as the criminal's behavior is. He's a danger to himself and others, and I always thought that was justification for involuntary commitment and treatment. But apparently guys like that are allowed to walk free.

The victim wrote a lot of things that make us (me!) very uncomfortable, but I think we should use this opportunity to point out that she deserves the same consideration of her circumstances that the perpetrator does. She's not making the law and she's not the one running the courtrooms. And we should be thankful for that. She's a victim in a difficult circumstance who did an amazing job ensuring that her stalker got punished by talking to the right authorities, understanding how the laws work, and using them to her advantage to protect herself from this guy. The fact that she lacks a bit of self-awareness regarding how her complaints about the legal system come across is itself part of the narrative. Being a victim of a crime causes all sorts of fears for one's safety, anxiety, and stress. Dispassionate acceptance of the rights of the accused and a respect for an attorney willing to put forth a zealous defense of a client seems like a bit much to ask.
posted by deanc at 4:11 PM on March 7, 2011 [8 favorites]


This is a specific instance involving a woman being CURRENTLY STALKED, not some paranoid woman afraid of everyone wearing a hoodie.

FWIW, I read the first few parts and thought "getagungetagungetagungetagun" the entire time. Then she got a gun and I was relieved. And then I read fshgrl's comment and that made me happy too. Because nobody deserves to be terrorized and as she said the gun is the greatest equalizer on the planet. And if I were ever subjected to ritualized terror by someone more powerful than me you can be fucking sure I'd level the playing field right fucking quick.
posted by nathancaswell at 4:12 PM on March 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


I don't like the fact that the handgun response is about the way it makes her feel, not about needing it.

She lives with a heavily armed dude who is comfortable with self-defense, who is really angry about this asshole, and who is taking the threat seriously (ie, ties his .44 magnum to his side with binder twine). She has a dog. She has a rifle. She's learned some self-defense techniques. She knows how to break someone's arm. And, most important, she has a good relationship with the cops, who are actually take the issue seriously, who respond quickly when asked and who arrest the dude as soon as he turns up, while advising her on what to do and what not to do.

So learning how to shoot a handgun is about comfort, not about need. You *could* be safer if you hired two 24 hour a day bodyguards, but that's about it.
posted by jrochest at 4:12 PM on March 7, 2011


Unless I've completely missed something, nobody is asking her to not tell her story -- just saying why the tone makes them uncomfortable.

It would be a completely different story if we were to be having this discussion with her -- but instead we are commenting about a post -- which makes, for the most part, discussion on how it is written or how one responds to it fair game.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 4:14 PM on March 7, 2011


The reason the sentence seems light to me is that stalkers effectively jail the people whom they stalk. When a person is forced to live in a heightened state of fear and awareness, constantly monitoring their surroundings for threat, "personal terrorism" is a charged but accurate phrase to describe the results. Even choosing to speak out is fraught with peril; in this case, the stalker is probably reading her words and looking for any vulnerabilities they might reveal. He's free; she's not.

Speaking out also opens victims up to the harshest judgments. So far, this woman has been criticized for lack of compassion, ignorance of the law, general stupidity, and even for her choice of partners. Many stalking (and sexual assault) victims don't press charges, don't come forward, and don't publicize what's happened to them so others can take heed. It's really hard to admit you've been so vulnerable. It's infuriating to know that a certain percentage of people will reflexively judge you no matter what you do...and that a smaller number will find what's happened to you funny, or titillating, or simply trivial.

As long as her stalker's out there, this woman is going to have to hope his obsession never rekindles, and guard against harm to herself and her family. Whatever mental, physical, or spiritual help she needs to endure that is her choice and hers alone. Her feelings don't have to be justified. She is not the legal system. She is not the mental health care system. She does not deserve to be judged for their faults, or to be martyred for them either.
posted by melissa may at 4:15 PM on March 7, 2011 [39 favorites]


So learning how to shoot a handgun is about comfort, not about need.

Hard to keep a rifle in your handbag.
posted by nathancaswell at 4:15 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was stalked by an insane woman once. Said she'd hang herself off the tree in my front yard if I didn't go out with her (we had a couple of dates and I thought that dating was a period of discovery and exploration and sometimes you discover that you don't want to continue but she saw a date as marriage). We went to dinner once and a movie and then I said I wasn't interested, and was very clear and up front from the beginning. That wasn't the end of it though.

She convinced a room mate to let her into the house under false pretenses and I had to spend hours trying to get her out (she got my address from a client where we'd met). I'd get home and see her car parked down the road. She would see me with female friends and announce that I couldn't see them anymore because the only reason they were my "friend" was they wanted to be more and none of them were as good as her. She told me that despite being freelance and in a bind with a client problem I had to drop everything because she was the most important thing in my life and I didn't have my priorities straight. Constant stream of emails (easy to filter) and phone calls at all hours. Fortunately I just happened to have moved out of the city a couple weeks into it (the move happened while she was working), had to change my phone number, and the stalking was halted.

She had some clear mental issues but had I not shaken her I would definitely have taken it up with the police but despite that I knew she needed some help and hoped she get some. I would insist, of course, that she never contact me again and would do nothing whatsoever to help since my presence as an agent of change would not be a good.

It's an extremely unpleasant experience to say the least, and that's without a direct threat of violence though it is pretty much a subtext and possibility either to me or friends and family. How to help/handle/punish stalkers seems to be a fairly complex thing.

it is still legal to be crazy

Fox News and those who run it are proof of that...
posted by juiceCake at 4:15 PM on March 7, 2011


Someone is threatening you with violence, carrying a weapon, and stalking you. Your responsibility is to your own safety, and in that context, saying, "I would like to live the rest of my life without this person (or any person) targeting me for violence" is not unreasonable.
While I'm sure that's what she'd like, is it really a good idea for society to agree to it? Locking someone in prison for life because of a few emails and threats seems pretty over the top. Six month in jail is a long time.
I think she simply wanted him to be unable to stalk her anymore. Is that too much for her to ask?
Well, there is a pretty big difference between "not stalking her" and "not being able to stalk her, or do anything else, because he's been put in jail for the rest of her life." In the second case you're treating him as a non-human, just a piece of garbage to be disposed of and forgotten. Which is, I think not really the way we want to handle the situation. If he re-offends, then obviously he should be put in jail for a longer period.

Secondly I'm kind of annoyed by people who seem to think it's immoral to criticize this woman -- for wanting too much revenge, getting angry about the fact that defendants have rights, or whatever.
I mean, really? I think this not in any way a prosecutable case, and if it is, I cannot imagine being on the jury and voting to convict.
Well, it depends. You may not hear about anything that happened leading up to the murder, as that information might be withheld by the judge.
posted by delmoi at 4:23 PM on March 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


This is an awfully good point and a point in which the victim deserves the same kind of consideration people are giving the perpetrator.

I don't disagree with you at all, but it's important to remember we're not here reacting to an FPP written by the perpetrator and discussing the incident in his idiosyncratic sytle. If that were the case, I suspect we'd be discussing those aspects of him more.

I also think people are talking about him because towards the close of the story, this comes out:

“Don’t worry about him bothering you anymore; you’ve been too difficult, caused him too much trouble. He’ll find someone else.

That's a really scary notion for society when it's offered as a solution and it was brought up very early in the thread, so people discussed it.
posted by rollbiz at 4:24 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]




...he's a victim of a society that shrugs its shoulders at providing care for the mentally ill.

We don't so much shrug our shoulders as we just don't want to pay the TONS of money that's needed for such care. Someone has to pay for it, and we don't want it to be us.


See, this is the problem here: jail is more expensive than treating mental illness (hell, incarceration is more expensive per year than an Ivy League college). So, you're already paying more for it. It's also almost guaranteed to make guys like this *worse* not better: at best, nothing will happen, at worst, he'll prey on or be preyed on by other violent people, neither of which will reduce any inclination to violence.

It sucks to be stalked and it's natural to want revenge. But there are probably better—not to mention cheaper— ways to deal with this situation with a clearly mentally ill defendant than a short term of incarceration—and a long term of incarceration isn't possible for future crimes that are intended, rather than carried out. House arrest with long term electronic monitoring, removal of gun access, intensive probation/parole with a requirement for treatment is one of the most obvious.

There are ways to immobilize the guy and get him out of her life that don't cost as much as incarceration and are more likely to work. Or, if you require prison, then at least pay for mandatory treatment in there rather than solitary confinement of the mentally ill which is most common and, just like violence, makes them worse.
posted by Maias at 4:33 PM on March 7, 2011


Besides I don't really give a shit about how badly I hurt some stalker guy who is trying to rape and hurt me. I hope I hurt him a lot, ideally terminally. I also don't care if he's mentally ill or just a very, very bad boy. I will protect myself if I feel threatened however I see fit and deal with the consequences. Because I'm a grown ass adult and I can do that.

This.

And I'm sorry, but in most of rural America shooting an armed and openly threatening stalker is not going to get you sent to jail. Ideally another path is found, like it was in her situation. Shooting people isn't a good outcome, and isn't something to treat lightly. But violent force is there as an option for women in her situation, whether or not it makes you comfortable.

And while it sure sounds like there were a dozen things she could have done better, she accessed help, took steps to protect herself, and came our pretty much ok.
posted by Forktine at 4:33 PM on March 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Considering she lives in the country, I think having a stranger sending you threatening emails would be terrifying. I would not be satisfied at the end result either, there's nothing to stop this guy from showing up unannounced next time. I'd probably look at getting a gun too, even though I've never wanted one and don't really like them.
That said, any country that takes as little care as we do for the mentally ill, will have this kind of problem and it really is a tragedy for both parties. The victim should be able to live life unafraid and stalker could probably be, at least, helped if not cured. This really isn't sympathy for the stalker, it's just enlightened self-interest. Make a society sane and happy and you get the advantage of living in a sane happy society.
posted by doctor_negative at 4:35 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


We always envision this sort of thing in the dead of night, as a home invasion, but confrontations are not limited to that. [...] It's a fantasy, blowing away some intruder with a full glowing halo of Castle Doctrine immunity causing your firearm to have a nice +2 versus Crazy shine to it, and it is a fantasy which lacks accounting for the probability that, when the confrontation happens, it will not be in a location or time of your choosing.

In a national survey of gun-defense incidents, confrontations in or around the home were far and away the most common type of scenario reported, at a combined total of more than 70% of all incidents. In addition, only 23% of those surveyed fired their gun in self-defense, and only 8% of them hit anyone.

Now, maybe this is a self-fulfilling prophecy -- that is to say, perhaps defensive gun use is centered around the home because people tend not to go armed outside of it -- but it certainly doesn't support the idea that confrontations at home are "a fantasy" which necessarily involves "blowing away some intruder with a full glowing halo of Castle Doctrine immunity".

If you ask me, this kind of thinking lacks accounting for the probability that, when the confrontation with your creepy stalker happens, it might very well be in or around the place where you spend the majority of your time and can reliably be found... and it might be with someone who has enough sense to run away when faced with a gun.
posted by vorfeed at 4:40 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


It makes me fucking sick to think of how this woman could have been KILLED, and only then our pathetic justice system might have held this guy. I feel literally nauseous right now.
posted by agregoli at 4:59 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


As long as her stalker's out there, this woman is going to have to hope his obsession never rekindles, and guard against harm to herself and her family. Whatever mental, physical, or spiritual help she needs to endure that is her choice and hers alone. Her feelings don't have to be justified. She is not the legal system. She is not the mental health care system. She does not deserve to be judged for their faults, or to be martyred for them either.

Agreed. But "I want him completely eliminated as a possible threat", while an understandable desire, is not an appropriate expectation to have of the legal system. I think every victim of any crime or threat always feels the punishment is insufficient. And while her feelings don't have to be justified, assuming that the legal system is irreparably broken because it doesn't produce the penalty that she feels is just isn't logical either.

And writing a series of blog posts describing the stalking, the prosecution and her response to it in full detail doesn't seem like a great way to get the guy to move on: he has a false sense of intimacy with her, and I think the series would feed it.
posted by jrochest at 5:00 PM on March 7, 2011


It makes me fucking sick to think of how this woman could have been KILLED, and only then our pathetic justice system might have held this guy. I feel literally nauseous right now.

Did you read the whole thing? He was indeed held, and didn't even get out of jail on bail.
posted by floam at 5:08 PM on March 7, 2011


While I'm sure that's what she'd like, is it really a good idea for society to agree to it? Locking someone in prison for life because of a few emails and threats seems pretty over the top. Six month in jail is a long time.

Who said anything about that? I was responding to the idea "What would make her happy?" -and yes, what would make her, or anyone threatened by violence, happy, isn't a fully viable answer.

At the same time, this is why we have a justice system, in theory, so that people can live their lives while professionals can focus on the larger questions of what are viable answers.

I don't think anyone should be required to have answers for society in order for say that their desire to live life not being threatened with, or subject to violence, is valid.
posted by yeloson at 5:11 PM on March 7, 2011


To be fair, she was hoping for some sort of video conferencing deal where she could testify without being physically in the same room. I don't know that that's particularly unreasonable.

Fair enough, but anonymous prosecution isn't the only thing the Confrontation Clause is intended to avoid: it's also designed to ensure that defendants have a chance to adequately cross-examine accusers and witnesses. The vast majority of human communication is non-verbal, and when someone takes the witness stand, juries are weighing not only what they say, but how they present themselves. It's part of the whole process of evaluating someone's credibility. Do they look the examining attorney in the eye? Do they fidget? Is their body language defensive? Uncaring? Furtive? What are their facial expressions like? None of these things are adequately captured remotely.

There's also a balance here between her claims and the presumption of innocence. What this woman is basically asking is for the state to take someone which for all it knows is an innocent man, subject him to a distinctly unpleasant legal process which has the potential to send him to jail and permanently stain his record, all without her having to so much as emotionally inconvenience herself. I.e. she wants huge stakes for her stalker but no stakes for her. This isn't how the legal system works, nor should it. Until that guilty verdict is entered, he and she are equally innocent in the eyes of the law.

Basically, all the people who are calling for harder handling of this guy before the guilty plea are asking that we presume his guilt rather than his innocence. Let's change these facts just slightly. Say that the guy mistyped his room number. When she called the cops, they'd go over and arrest someone in the wrong room. Then say that the real perp saw the cops, freaked out, and left town, never to be heard from again. Now we've got an innocent man sitting in jail and unless we presume his innocence, it's going to be very hard for him to get out of this, particularly if she doesn't have to show up and make her case.

The law did what it was supposed to. The prosecutor put a reasonable amount of resources into what amounts to a pretty minor case. I highly doubt this incident even topped his list of crimes against women that month. The judge correctly interpreted and applied the law, posting a reasonable bail and refusing to waive it when the guy went off in court. The defense attorney did her level best to make the prosecution prove its case, and that includes attacking the credibility of the witness and coming up with an at least semi-plausible story for what the hell her client was up to. The judge then accepted a guilty plea and imposed the maximum allowable penalty under Wyoming law, a penalty which is actually pretty stiff for a crime that doesn't involve physical injury. In short: this was the right result.
posted by valkyryn at 5:16 PM on March 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


I find it mildly ironic that so many people here are angry that the justice system won't deliver a more severe sentence than six months in jail for the threat of violence. Ironic because it has been amply demonstrated that many Metafilterians support more enlightened prison sentencing and rehabilitation programs (and rightly so). The justice system won't show more sympathy for the victim until the threat of violence becomes real, and we won't show any sympathy for the perpetrator until he is actually in prison. Don't get me wrong; I completely agree that there has to be a more effective way to protect women from stalkers. I'm just not sure that locking them up indefinitely or declaring open hunting season is the way to go.
posted by Go Banana at 5:16 PM on March 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Uh, yes, I read the whole article. He was held, but he was not punished or helped in any way. What, exactly, was supposed to comfort me?

And I work in appeals. This still enrages me - both the lack of punishment AND the lack of any mental help for the defendant - because both are needed simultaneously. Our levels of mental health help in the justice system are pathetic, and now this man is free, likely unchanged by the experience, and might just do it again, whether to her or to someone else. He had a mental health assessment and I know that came back "Legally Sane," which is not the same thing as "Not Needing Help to Stop His Behavior."
posted by agregoli at 5:20 PM on March 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


He was held, but he was not punished or helped in any way.

Yes. He. Was.

He spent more than six months in jail. How is this not punishment?
posted by valkyryn at 5:22 PM on March 7, 2011


While I'm sure that's what she'd like, is it really a good idea for society to agree to it? Locking someone in prison for life because of a few emails and threats seems pretty over the top. Six month in jail is a long time.

Who said anything about that?


Quite a few people. Including you, actually. When we have people calling for this man to be rendered "unable to stalk her anymore", throwing around phrases like "the rest of [her] life", maybe look at the finality of what you're proposing and what might actually be involved in achieving that.
posted by kafziel at 5:25 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


From part VI:
I was told to remain on the stand because it was now the defense attorney’s turn to question me. The court-appointed defense attorney was a misogynistic incarnation of evil. God, she was vile. SHE. And not just with me. She defends rapists, abusers, and stalkers, and I heard much about her treatment of other female victims - her attempts to blatantly humiliate and denigrate victims while they’re on the stand - and that she was chronically rude and unprofessional to the staff of the county attorney’s office.

From Mayor Curley:
If someone wrongs me personally, they're not entitled to a competent defense that will use every allowable tactic in pursuit of their aims, right? - Mayor Curley


Every allowable tactic, like witness tampering and intimidation? (Not saying that's what went on here, just making a reductio ad absurdum argument.) No. I agree that, the way the justice system is set up, every accused deserves a competent defense. However, in too many cases of gender-based violence against women, the defense amounts to insinuations that the woman was crazy or asking for it or deserved it in some way. Recent case in point. The description cited sounds to me like the defense attorney used such tactics. This is not cool, it is sexist, and it does not ultimately contribute to stronger defenses and a healthy, robust justice system, in my opinion.
posted by eviemath at 5:25 PM on March 7, 2011 [8 favorites]


If I had a penny for every person who emailed me this summer asking if I was pregnant, I’d probably be able to afford a ranch. New policy: All personal questions must be accompanyed by a penny! {just kidding} But, to those of you who sensed something major was happening and assumed I was pregnant, let it be known that I am not pregnant...

This is from the Introduction and demonstrates the problem with shutting up for fear of making yourself yet more of a target. While all this was happening to her, life moved on. People began to notice she wasn't posting as frequently, her tone had changed, that something was making her anxious -- and that's just the people who were reading her blog. People close to her would see even more profound changes.

So she had a choice: be honest about what's happening to her, or let people speculate. Be quiet and hope things pass, or sound the klaxons so everyone is aware, and can be supportive and extra vigilant about her safety. I'm sure she spent a great deal of time weighing the pros and cons, and I am personally glad she spoke out. I think it can actually help her be safer, get more support, and take a measure of control back over her own life. In a broader social sense, she's also helping other victims by telling her story.

Social isolation is a little-discussed but cruel and sometimes lifelong consequence of this kind of crime. She's choosing to go public instead, and it's a choice that makes sense to me and that I think is brave.
posted by melissa may at 5:25 PM on March 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


Once the stalker started to email her and comment on the blog in a creepy way, why didn't she make the blog private? Now he can read all about himself and the trial, which I think is strange.
posted by Ideefixe at 5:25 PM on March 7, 2011


The law is meant to protect everyone.

Here's the heart of the problem: most of us believe this, but it's not true. We expect the law to protect us. The motto of the police is "to protect and serve." Courts issue "orders of protection." And I think that's what this author wanted -- for the things that declare they will keep us safe to keep her safe. Except they can't or don't.

I sort of wonder along with others how this man was able to sit in the courtroom, state outright that he was a danger to others, a clear criterion for involuntary commitment, and waltz off into the sunset with time served.

I've never been outright stalked, but my brushes with it were profoundly frightening in a way that other trauma isn't. The knowledge that someone is irrationally fixated on you makes you feel fundamentally unsafe in a very visceral way. As a woman living and going about the world alone, I nearly never feel unsafe despite knowing that life is inherently a constant giant mass of dangers large and small. Most of us tune most of that out. But this is one of those experiences that make you not able to tune out the unsafeness of life at least for a while, so it doesn't surprise me at all that Stockton reacts with frustration and anger to that.
posted by FelliniBlank at 5:26 PM on March 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Ideefixe, you seem to be suggesting that an appropriate response to being stalked is to shut oneself up and withdraw from public life? And this will ameliorate or stop the stalking how?
posted by eviemath at 5:29 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


On another topic that was briefly brought up earlier; I never see "cite" used as a noun in my academic field.
posted by eviemath at 5:31 PM on March 7, 2011


it doesn't surprise me at all that Stockton reacts with frustration and anger to that.

The guy-who-cares-about-women in me thinks it's entirely appropriate for her to be frustrated and angry.

The lawyer in me knows that this is almost exactly what was supposed to happen.

It's possible for both of those things to be true at the same time.
posted by valkyryn at 5:33 PM on March 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm missing where he spent six months in jail. It looks more like 10 weeks or so. If my accounting is wrong because I missed a bit, forgive me. He was sentenced to six months, but with time already served and it not likely being a 100% sentence, he was let go.

Any comment on why society couldn't have provided mental health services for him during his time in jail instead of just forcefully speaking in bold at me about how I have my facts wrong?
posted by agregoli at 5:33 PM on March 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


I’ve read this thread with interest. Unfortunately, I become something more of an expert on stalking than I ever wanted to a few years ago when I had not one, but two stalking experiences back to back. Before that, I existed in a state of blissful ignorance about it as a wider issue- mostly informed by the “Scream” franchise of movies and, really, not much else. To my shame, I also sort of thought it was something that only happened to women who were already involved with shady characters, and could never happen to good people. So I can sympathize with some of the viewpoints expressed in this thread that seem callous to the woman in the story, because I recognize them as the innocent blunders of the happily uninformed, for whom the word “stalking” conjures up mental images of black and white text in big law books, or crime shows on TV, or something equally obscure, distant, and theoretical.

Let me tell you something, theory and practice are worlds apart. You can have all the martial arts training in the world, but when push comes to shove in the moment of need, when your conscious mind is blanked out but the physical reality demands you react NOW, theory flies out the window. Once I had the stalking experience and learned what I could expect from my stalker, and from the law, I realized something as a woman which my mother failed to pass on to me, but I will definitely pass on to any daughters I may have: You can’t expect anyone to be your hero. Not the legal system, not the police, not your ability to talk sense into your stalker, not your “status” as a potential victim who’s intelligent enough and the correct race and doesn’t wear “slutty” clothing and had never said anything that might be misconstrued out of context and whatever other trait deems you impervious to victim-blaming this week. It was a very cold moment for me when that really sunk in and, not to be too dramatic, but part of my innocence died forever. Now, I don’t even waste time being offended when men don’t understand what it’s like to be a stalking victim. I don’t bother to work up enough of a sweat to rail when the police are less than helpful or people question my character. I’m in the mindset of “grit your teeth, purse your lips, bunker down, and let them talk about how crazy and irrational you are, but by God, do whatever you can to protect your own life.” And it’s worth realizing that I’m not alone, and a lot of women feel the same way. Talking and legal papers, while a necessary first step, are ultimately just so many words. It’s a matter of you, and your stalker, alone in a room- and who has more force, speed, and wit. He already has the benefit of more free time to plan.

This is what stalking does to you: You can’t sleep. You can’t relax. Your relationships suffer, your work suffers. You try to reason with him, try to get him help, try to tell him that he can find another woman and have a real relationship, but he doesn’t listen and it just gets worse. You start thinking about things like, “If he comes in the window, will he be slow enough that I can run around the front door? What about if he comes in the bedroom door? Should I put the mace on my nightstand or will he be able to see it there?” You think about buying extra locks for all your doors and windows, but then you ask yourself, “What happens if I need to get out from the inside?” and “Is there anything I can say to him to buy myself time, or is he too crazy to listen? What psychological tricks could I use if I had to?” You hide copies of your car keys in places you can grab them. You keep shoes by your bed. This happens every single day, for weeks, for months, sometimes years. You try to avoid going home to sleep, and spend all your time with friends. You start making plans to move and find a new job. Meanwhile, everyone around you talks and laughs like normal and dismisses your ongoing psychological trauma. The police can’t do much until he actually breaks in.

So from my point of view, when people say things like “What’s the law supposed to do? Lock him up forever?” I kind of think to myself, in that dark part of my mind, “At least he’d be alive in jail. If he’s not in jail, and he keeps staking me, and ever sets foot in my apartment- eventually I’m going to shoot him.” It won’t even be a choice at a certain point. That’s the kind of thing you find yourself, previously a happy, innocent, nonviolent, normal person, coming face to face with in a stalking situation. Maybe that’s the way it has to be.
posted by Nixy at 5:43 PM on March 7, 2011 [37 favorites]


He spent more than six months in jail.


According to the "Intro" section, he was arrested the first weekend in August and held until sentencing on Sept. 27. He was released on the 28th and put on probation.
posted by frobozz at 5:43 PM on March 7, 2011


"Social isolation is a little-discussed but cruel and sometimes lifelong consequence of this kind of crime"

Wow. When I had severe PTSD a few months after leaving the guy and had to be hospitalized I told a professional for the first time that I was in a relationship with someone dangerous and I thought I might have PTSD ( I also requested a woman). The man scoffed at me and said, "Well why did you stay? You have drama personality."

Why did I stay? I was 16 and he said he would kill himself if I left. And he said he heard voices that told him to kill people and shot his gun in the ground when he was angry. Of all the trauma that I went through with that guy-- the echoes of that "doctors" words hit me the hardest. As if there aren't understandable reasons that a 16 year old wouldn't know how to handle a psychotic 21 year old guy who appears normal at first and then it becomes apparant that you're in danger?

So I went back home to my house where he stalked me for another four years. I still put the living room chair, and the coffee table, and another smaller chair that all line up to the couch against the door. Every night. I had dreams that he was chasing me with his gun and shooting me and I was dying and was saying I'm sorry, I'm sorry; like he said every day.

You know all this time I have been thinking I must have been over reacting. I still hate our mental health system. OMFG I hate it.

Despite that I have conflicted feelings about the fact that he totally fucked up my world and honestly I haven't really recovered, and the fact that despite his mental illness I still just think, "really? You did this on purpose. You knew what you were doing. Why?"

What is the origin of human cruelty? I still don't understand it. But I still believe we need to provide better mental health support, and just genuine life support for people who are struggling and poor and mentally ill. I don't know if he had a choice but on the chance that his behavior was beyond his control I still would have wanted him to have support.

From someone OTHER than me.

But then again I just don't know if I can handle the idea that people could choose to do horrible cruel things without mental illness. And that's also a possibility. I still believe in forgiveness.

But I also support people rights to be as pissed off after being hurt as they want. And their right to do whatever they feel like they need to do in self defense. I also support myself and who I was and I understand the reasons that I wanted to help him even though it didn't make any sense. I wasn't a bad person and I didn't want anyone to suffer.

I don't believe that anyone's response to being hurt, be it forgiveness, anger, violence in self defense, or an attempt at understanding what has happened should be put down.
posted by xarnop at 5:51 PM on March 7, 2011 [12 favorites]


Every allowable tactic, like witness tampering and intimidation? (Not saying that's what went on here, just making a reductio ad absurdum argument.)

When do your examples fit into "allowable?" It's not an actual reduction of my argument unless you stick to the parameters I set up.

No. I agree that, the way the justice system is set up, every accused deserves a competent defense.

Glad we agree.

However, in too many cases of gender-based violence against women...

This is going to be one of those "I empathize with a particular group, so obviously The Constitution was never supposed to protect something that they and I find distasteful" arguments, huh?

the defense amounts to insinuations that the woman was crazy or asking for it or deserved it in some way.

Attacking the credibility of your accuser is a REALLY common defense tactic. You can't make it unavailable to certain defendants because of the nature of their crime. The American justice system isn't supposed to work that way.

Recent case in point. The description cited sounds to me like the defense attorney used such tactics. This is not cool, it is sexist, and it does not ultimately contribute to stronger defenses and a healthy, robust justice system, in my opinion.

Either you're advocating that some avenues or defense should be denied to people accused or certain crimes (a violation of the 14th Amendment I think), or you're suggesting that defendants should never be allowed to attack the credibility of their accusers. Beyond not being remotely feasible, that's denying a major avenue of defense for all sorts of cases (many featuring less distasteful, gender-neutral situations), also unconstitutional and certainly does not ultimately contribute to stronger defenses and a healthy, robust justice system.

It sucks that it has to happen. But it does. We need more equal treatment in Justice, not less because we already barely have any.
posted by Mayor Curley at 6:09 PM on March 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


He was held, but he was not punished

I don't know about you, but to me being put in jail for what you're saying was 70 days, getting a receiving a criminal record, and being put on probation would be a hell of a trying ordeal, life changing. I guess I'm just not tough on crime.
posted by floam at 6:10 PM on March 7, 2011


I think the system failed. Well, actually I think it is a poor system. And if it's "the best we can come up with", then that's a poor reflection on human society. The system is inhumane.

The ideal result is that he won't stalk anyone else. And if she can't have that, it would be nice if there were reason to believe that the judicial system shared the same goal. Ideals are rarely possible in this system of things, but it would be close to right if we could at least honor them and work toward them. But all of the defensiveness and criticism aimed at the people who are harmed helps insure we can never make things better.

I also think the system failed this mentally ill man, as it has failed so many others. If she doesn't show "sufficient" empathy for the man who terrorized her, that doesn't mean she should be dismissed. Her suffering at the result may well be mirrored by his own. By making a real effort to get him treatment in a secure environment, that could help both of them. And if he receives treatment and she still holds on to "irrational fear" then she should receive help as well. Of course, right now her fears and frustration are totally rational.

I think there is an opportunity here (and in the millions of stories like it) for examining the faults and failures of a system of "justice" that has cruelty, callousness, and inhumanity built in as a matter of course. I'm glad she shared her point of view and her perspective should not be dismissed or belittled. She is not ignorant. She knows what it's like to be a victim of stalking and that ought to be important to the judicial system.
posted by Danila at 6:11 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


The other thing is that we're only hearing her side of the story. We don't know what his side of the story is at all. The fact that he was going to shoot creditors really has nothing to do with her.
posted by delmoi at 6:27 PM on March 7, 2011


It baffles me that people read this article and don't think, "Our justice system is terminally broken," but "People don't understand how it works."

Let me just pull out one point. When Mr. Stalker starts fantasizing on the stand in great and gory detail how he's going to murder multiple innocent people, he should immediately face a commitment hearing, which should almost certainly keep him incarcerated until he is cured - if that ever happens.

It's not just that he has these active violent fantasies while wandering around with a gun, allegedly committing crimes, but that he has sufficient lack of impulse control that he can't even keep it in in front of a judge. This man is a danger to himself and others, and needs protective custody for the good of society. He deserves due process, in the form of a commitment hearing, but, if the facts are as presented in these articles, the result should have been involuntary incarceration until he is no longer a danger to himself and others, not a pointless "punishment" of a few weeks in jail.

Assuming that the "Steven King" dialog is correctly reported, I'm completely astonished that the judge didn't immediately caution the defense attorney - who appears to be suggesting that imitating a Steven King novel is a perfectly good excuse for committing crimes. I'm not a lawyer, but I believe in the UK at least that this would be misconduct by the defense and would result in a black mark on their "permanent record."

Certainly as a matter of law, "I saw it in a book," is in no way a defense and I'm frankly amazed that a legal professional would ever bring this up in court.

I could go on, but why bother?

I'm morally certain that if this stalker had instead been some nice guy who had a kilo of pot, he would never have been afforded all the courtesies that were given to this dangerous, anti-social psycho. The reason I bring it up is that we keep hearing in the comments here, "We can't afford..." but we could easily afford treatment for such people if we stopped the century long, failed war on drugs.

And let me add that, having known many people who have been stalked and having an ex-friend right now who is a stalker, being put in jail for a few weeks might only fuel his ardor. I wouldn't be completely surprised if there were a follow-up story - perhaps one involving one or more obituaries...
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 6:32 PM on March 7, 2011 [8 favorites]


According to the "Intro" section, he was arrested the first weekend in August and held until sentencing on Sept. 27.

Fair enough. But he still served about a third of his sentence. For a misdemeanor offense, that's about par for the course. The fact that this happened before the conviction is irrelevant.
posted by valkyryn at 6:33 PM on March 7, 2011


> The fact that he was going to shoot creditors really has nothing to do with her.

Except that revealing this in court shows he's both violent and crazy and thus is a mortal danger to her.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 6:34 PM on March 7, 2011 [5 favorites]



I don't like the fact that the handgun response is about the way it makes her feel, not about needing it.

She lives with a heavily armed dude who is comfortable with self-defense, who is really angry about this asshole, and who is taking the threat seriously (ie, ties his .44 magnum to his side with binder twine). She has a dog. She has a rifle. She's learned some self-defense techniques.


So, her boyfriend never goes to work? She never leaves him? A rifle is not something you can easily carry around while you do chores on the ranch. If the stalker shoots her dog and her boyfriend's not home, what is she supposed to do, disarm the crazy man and wrestle him to the ground?

Lots of people invest in defensive measures because it makes them feel safer. There's no way to know whether you're going to need the alarm system or the baseball bat until the threat shows up. In the meantime, they hope they've done what's needed to keep safe in the case of such an event. If having a handgun in the face of a stalker who was arrested with a loaded .44 is just feelgood woo-woo, I'm not sure what qualifies as an actual "need" to you. Everyone has a right to make that judgment in light of their own situation, and everyone has a right to feel as little fear as possible.
posted by oneirodynia at 6:37 PM on March 7, 2011


When Mr. Stalker starts fantasizing on the stand in great and gory detail how he's going to murder multiple innocent people, he should immediately face a commitment hearing

And the fact that he wasn't suggests that there were things going on in that courtroom that haven't made it into the blog posts. It's like rendering judgment after hearing the prosecution's opening arguments.

If she wants more than the criminal justice system can provide, she's entirely free to pursue a civil remedy including injunctive relief. This sounds like a viable case for infliction of emotional distress and harassment, both of which are actionable torts. Even if she only gets a court order, if the guy violates it, that's an independent criminal offense for which he can go to jail.
posted by valkyryn at 6:37 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Mayor Curley, perhaps I missed the parameters that you outlined. Could you point them out again please?

Attacking the credibility of your accuser is a REALLY common defense tactic.
Well, we do seem to be in agreement there.

What I am advocating for is not attacking the credibility of accusers merely on the basis of sexist - or racist, classist, etc. - grounds. There's a big difference between, say, "the accuser has given conflicting accounts of the alleged crime on different occasions, and therefore should not be considered very credible", or pointing out that the accuser was not in a sober and sane state of mind at the time of the alleged crime and thus may not have an accurate and credible memory of events, or has some stake in the outcome of the trial that may give reasonable suspicion that their testimony is biased, or something along those lines, versus, say, a defense attorney picking apart other, unrelated aspects of the accuser's life to appeal to a jury's prejudices.

I have no idea what happened in this particular case, but from news stories that I read, a defense attorney implying that an accuser is not credible (in a wide variety of types of cases) because they are poor, or black, or a prostitute, or have a past criminal record, or are a drug user (in general, as opposed to the argument I mention above), when these factors are not really related to the specifics of the case, seems to occur more frequently than it ideally should (i.e., never). Bottom line, it's a lazy route for defense attorneys. I understand that there are all sorts of systemic factors that make it an effective and attractive route, but it seems to me that a justice system is not just if it relies on bigotry to function effectively. I was responding to your use of "deserves" with a counterargument about the ethicality of the current U.S. justice system.
posted by eviemath at 6:39 PM on March 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


it seems to me that a justice system is not just if it relies on bigotry to function effectively

good lord yes
posted by Danila at 6:41 PM on March 7, 2011


This is going to be one of those "I empathize with a particular group, so obviously The Constitution was never supposed to protect something that they and I find distasteful" arguments, huh?

Upon completed reading, was it?
posted by eviemath at 6:42 PM on March 7, 2011


> And the fact that he wasn't suggests that there were things going on in that courtroom that haven't made it into the blog posts.

i.e. "The courts must be just, so it simply didn't happen that way."

Really?! That's not my experience with the criminal courts at the lowest levels. My experience is that they're so hopelessly overburdened, that both defense and prosecutors are generally so minimally competent (because most competent lawyers go into corporate law and become very rich), that stuff like this happens all the time.

If your argument is solely, "I know the court system and therefore what the blogger says is basically irrelevant," - then why are you wasting our time commenting?
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 6:52 PM on March 7, 2011


So, her boyfriend never goes to work? She never leaves him? A rifle is not something you can easily carry around while you do chores on the ranch. If the stalker shoots her dog and her boyfriend's not home, what is she supposed to do, disarm the crazy man and wrestle him to the ground?

I've read a couple of months of her posts, and the boyfriend doesn't seem to leave much; they work the place together. I'm not entirely sure that hauling hay et al with a handgun strapped to your hip is all that useful either.

So the crazy guy shoots the dog and the coyote and she can't get to the rifle or the shotgun, the handgun will make a vast amount of difference? Against a guy with a .44? Who presumably has more experience than she does?

It's overkill, is my point. It's about feeling powerful, not being powerful.

The last time I had this sort of shit happen to me (creepy crazy guy parked outside my work, my house, and following me around) I talked to the cops, gave them all the information I had on him and why he was troubling, and left: went to a friend for a few days. I think the cops had a conversation with him, and he was gone when I got back. If I was this woman? I'd get on a plane to NYC, and stay for a month or two. And yes, there are lots of people who'd assume that that's giving up or letting the guy win -- but if you're seriously convinced that that house is on fire, then getting out alive is the most important thing, not looking resolute.

Mind you, I think I'd have blocked his email address as soon as he sent me the first insane email, and banned him from the blog as well.
posted by jrochest at 6:57 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


And, valkyryn, what's your comment on the "Steven King" defense? Do you think that's good law, or what?
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 6:59 PM on March 7, 2011


"If I was this woman?"

You're not that woman. And your situation sounds totally different. You walked away feeling empowered because your actions resulted in the desired response and therefore now you believe anyone who faced something different just sucks compared to your superior self.

Your experience is not the same as everyone elses.

Judge not lest ye be judged.

That's the same as me saying, "Well when I put in 20 applications a day for a high paying job I got a job in 7 weeks. So therefore anyone who goes without a job for more than 7 weeks is putting in inferior effort, and obviously at least partly to blame in their shitty choices."

That's a possibility. But you certainly don't know that.
posted by xarnop at 7:06 PM on March 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


If I was this woman? I'd get on a plane to NYC, and stay for a month or two.

It's probably not that simple to pick up and leave your life for a couple of months when you have a bunch of livestock to care for and people relying on you. In any case, it's her right to choose how she deals with it, and it's her right to (legally) own the gun. If it made her feel safe and in control of the situation, then that's okay. I'm not clear on why wanting to feel powerful when you have a crazy, potentially violent man stalking you is a problem. Thankfully it didn't come down to using it, but we can't know if it would have made "a vast amount of difference". It seemed to make a big difference in how she felt about the whole situation.
posted by torisaur at 7:09 PM on March 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm not a woman. I've never fired a gun. Hell I'm in a country where my self-defence options are a cricket bat and an empty bottle. I have mentally ill friends and am one of those nerds who went through a 'creepy borderline stalker/'Nice Guy' phase'.

But there's no way I'm going to judge someone who wants to protect themselves. She didn't go out, Dirty Harry style, and shoot this guy. She did all the legal things. But if they DIDN'T WORK, she had protection. Isn't that the logical thing to do? She had training, she already knew how to shoot a rifle, she had a badass boyfriend. The logical step in that case would be to carry and learn how to use a gun.

The homopathic stuff is a bit silly but it seemed to calm her down enough to confront her stalker so I'm not going to judge.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:17 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


You're not that woman. And your situation sounds totally different. You walked away feeling empowered because your actions resulted in the desired response and therefore now you believe anyone who faced something different just sucks compared to your superior self.

No, I'm not suggesting that. I was damned lucky: my weirdo was a less persistent weirdo. This is not superiority, moral or otherwise.

I'm suggesting that if you are truly convinced that you are threatened with death, running is the most logical solution. A gun lets you fight. It lets you 'win', or at least it lets you dream of it.

Leaving gets you to a place of safety, and if you're terrified that someone is trying to rape or murder you, then safety is the paramount concern. Livestock or no livestock.
posted by jrochest at 7:19 PM on March 7, 2011


From the way you say "get on a plane to NYC" I take if you have money. I don't know the details of her financial situation, but I can safely say that a large number of women wouldn't have such luxury. How long are you supposed to run away for? And what you just don't work? Because they know where you work?

so you just spontaneously get a new job because it's that easy?

And if you don't have people to take you in? You sleep on the streets or something? that sounds safe.

I hope you'll offer such sage advice to more women. Perhaps this will truly end stalking for good.
posted by xarnop at 7:23 PM on March 7, 2011 [8 favorites]


It's Wyoming. A guy with a gun expressing some rambling lunacy about shooting creditors is not that uncommon.
posted by humanfont at 7:24 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


A gun lets you fight. It lets you 'win', or at least it lets you dream of it.

Leaving gets you to a place of safety, and if you're terrified that someone is trying to rape or murder you, then safety is the paramount concern. Livestock or no livestock.


A strange place where you don't know the territory, or have a support system, and where you cannot know for certain that creep-o hasn't followed you. I'm not saying this might not be the best choice sometimes, for some people. But it's not a cure-all or necessarily the most logical solution. In some circumstances, a community where you are known and whose geographic and cultural terrain you know best might be the best place to make a stand. Because even if you run, you have to go home some time. What if you're stalker hasn't gotten bored and wandered off? Do you run again?
posted by rtha at 7:25 PM on March 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


I've never been stalked.

I have been physically and sexually assaulted.

A couple years after that first assault, I was physically threatened by a different man. I hit him over the head with a glass bottle, hard enough for it to break. He was drunk, and immobilized. I left.

After that second incident, I started carrying an illegal knife, a kind of switchblade.

If I was being stalked? You bet your ass I'd get a handgun and learn how to use it. I've never owned a gun, I don't like them. I think they're expensive and I don't want the responsibility. But I know, from experience, that the police don't take violence, or threats, against women seriously most of the time, and I can't count on the police or the criminal justice system to take care of me.

Is that a shame? Yes. Does vigilantism undermine our entire system of justice? You bet. Do handguns exist for any other reason than to shoot people. No, no they don't.

But until we start jailing people for crimes that matter, instead of possession of white powders, I'll take my welfare into my own hands, thank you very much.

And I'll tell you this: I will never be a passive victim, ever, ever again.
posted by Leta at 7:28 PM on March 7, 2011 [11 favorites]


Xarnop and rtha, I'm talking about this woman, who has already ridden a Vespa from San Francisco to New York, and who presumably has friends and/or family and contacts in one or both places. She's pretty bicoastal.

And she's a writer, a relatively portable profession. Uncomfortable and disturbing? Yes. Impossible? No, not by a long shot.

I do not think that all women who are being harassed, stalked or otherwise abused can do this, nor did I say that. But yes, I do think that this particular woman can. And yes, relocating is a much better solution than murdering someone or living in an armed camp.
posted by jrochest at 7:32 PM on March 7, 2011


Eviemath--No, I meant that in addition to all the other things she did, I would have thought that making her blog private/pass-word-protected might have been a wise move. Why let him know how much he got to her? Why give him any access?
posted by Ideefixe at 7:37 PM on March 7, 2011


And yes, relocating is a much better solution than murdering someone or living in an armed camp.

Oh, man, that's amazing. That's what I'm going to tell everyone I'm doing from now on. A house with a gun in it is so ordinary, but living in an armed camp? As in, "hey, would you like a beer? Perhaps we should... enter the camp"? Awesome.
posted by vorfeed at 7:48 PM on March 7, 2011 [9 favorites]


Ideefixe - ok, I think I see where you're coming from, like changing her phone number and having the new phone number be unlisted (but giving it out to friends). I would worry, though, that making her blog password protected would (i) also cut her off from too many other people and sources of support, (ii) pass up a good opportunity to promote awareness and public discussion of stalking (a long-term, if not short-term consideration), and (iii) maybe have a negative effect on her career as a writer? There are some trade-offs, for sure, which anyone in a similar situation would have to juggle and try to determine which was the least negative outcome, overall, for their particular stalker situation.
posted by eviemath at 7:51 PM on March 7, 2011


> It's Wyoming. A guy with a gun expressing some rambling lunacy about shooting creditors is not that uncommon.
And so he carried a loaded gun at all times because if those creditors got close he was going to shoot the first one in the face, and the last thing the second one was going to see was the bullet exiting the giant hole in the back of his partner’s head and the blood splattering all over right before it then entered his brain. He was going to kill both those creditors with one bullet. And then those creditors wouldn’t be bothering him anymore.

The courtroom was silent. The judge had his jaw on the desk in front of him. You could see the defense attorney saying “SHUT UP! SHUT UP!” in her head. The Prosecuting Attorney told me afterward that the hair on the back of his neck was standing on end.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 7:54 PM on March 7, 2011


Xarnop and rtha, I'm talking about this woman, who has already ridden a Vespa from San Francisco to New York, and who presumably has friends and/or family and contacts in one or both places. She's pretty bicoastal.

I understand that. But knowing some facts about her biography doesn't mean you actually know her, or are in a position to say "she should have done this instead." No one should say that about the choices you made when you were stalked, either.

If she determined that the best course for her own physical and psychological safety was to stay put and learn some self-defense techniques and mindsets, it seems awfully presumptuous to say "No, you should have done this other thing, it would definitely have worked better," when there's no way in hell to know that, especially about someone you know because of the details they choose to share in a blog.

A handgun and a rifle - in bear country, yet - do not an armed camp make.
posted by rtha at 7:56 PM on March 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


Livestock or no livestock.

This is her family you're talking about, not lawn furniture, living creatures who depend on her for their well-being. She's supposed to take off and what? Let her bf care for all the animals and chores alone? Parcel them out to friends? Leave them to the tender mercies of the stalker -- and we know just how kind stalkers often are to the companion animals of their stalkees.

I'm pretty much a moony pacifist, but I sincerely hope that if the stalker comes for Charlie the coyote, Stockton blows his fucking brains out. I would personally give her a standing ovation and nominate her for the Nobel Peace Prize.
posted by FelliniBlank at 8:03 PM on March 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


Re: gun ownership and personal safety: anecdata rather than actual useful statistics, but folks I know who have some experience with street fights advise against carrying a weapon (gun, knife, whatever) for defense against random strangers, or keeping a gun in your home, unless you fully intend to use it (i.e., you have some specific plans or people in mind...). The rationale is that, for those of us who don't have someone specific we're wanting to defend ourselves from, a random attacker is generally going to be more desperate, and thus will take more risks, than us. So even if I know how to use the weapon, I'm told, it's more likely to be used against me. This may not be applicable to the case where someone is worried about defending themselves against a specific person who they know ahead of time is likely to pose a threat to their safety.

More importantly, the presence of weapons escalate conflicts, so all parties are more fearful, and act more aggressively. This is partly a culture of violence problem, as I see it. Perhaps concurrent training in nonviolent conflict resolution and de-escalation should be a requirement to accompany all firearms training.
posted by eviemath at 8:04 PM on March 7, 2011


The blog posts are pretty focused on the .44 Magnum: the gun that can stop a grizzly bear, will blow a man back 30 feet if you shoot him in the leg, etc.

As nathancaswell put it, right at the top of the thread:I haven't seen the .44 Magnum fetishized this much since Taxi Driver. It was like product placement.

And then there are the references to the rifle she owns, and making the tin can dance, and the statistic that only 4% of convicted criminals serve jail time (quoted from "Armed and Female"), and the deeply empowering experience of shooting a handgun, while her boyfriend watches (presumably not the .44 Magnum, since that is explicitly referenced as being too heavy for her to fire).

So. The couple have a rifle and the .44 and another handgun (the one she's shooting). Between those and the dog and the coyote, I think that's a pretty well defended household. And if you are in a situation where you are carrying the handgun with you everywhere you go because you might not get to the rifle in time, I think you're either teetering on the edge of paranoia or, if you're really in a desperately dangerous situation -- and get out is the very best solution.

And I think the "GIRRRLLL POWER!!" equation of a handgun with power, competence and safety is wholly spurious.
posted by jrochest at 8:05 PM on March 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


> It's Wyoming. A guy with a gun expressing some rambling lunacy about shooting creditors is not that uncommon.

I believe HF was refering to Dick Cheneys' small game excursions. If not, Saddam Hussien will suffice in his rather lucid telephone calls made to various heads of state during July 1990.

[re-rail]
posted by clavdivs at 8:07 PM on March 7, 2011


" get out is the very best solution."

If she is teetering on paranoia that wouldn't be fixed by being on the run. Nor would it fix the real possibility that he could possibly still track her down. Stalkers can have some crazy stalking skillz.

And further more if she is paranoid that would be pretty understandable.

And if you do some research on PTSD you'll find that our medical system doesn't have some "cure all" that will automatically make it better. It's not like you go to therapy or take a pill and it's fixed. It's not even like you do soul searching and you read healing books and you do yoga and you eat nutritous food and do relaxation techniques and it's "fixed".

Once HPA axis has been altered, inflammatory chemicals have been put into affect--- these are bodily processes and they are designed to keep up safe when there is danger. You can tell your biology not to all you want. It's a survival process that's kept our species alive for thousands of years so it's just not going to disappear.

Also some studies have found that women with PTSD are better able to detect danger. (duh) Therefore, really, this process gets set in motion for a reason and you can fight it with intervention therapies all you want but your biology knows--- if there is a possible threat you must be on high alert.

Recent studies also have found that epigenetic changes occer when this level of stress response occurs, meaning the gene expression itself promotes hyper alert responses.

If this keeps her feeling safe, then why the FUCK would you care? I'll keep my living room chair, and coffee table and little chair and couch in front of my door every night. It doesn't actually stop anyone from breaking my windows but it let's me sleep at night without waking up to every noise and locking my bedroom door and trying to breath in silence and listening in terror to every household creak and thinking someone could be standing there on the other side of my door and not moving and how would I know?

I got sick of doing that so I blockade the door and I sleep much better now. At least I know if someone had broken a window I would have heard a crash.
posted by xarnop at 8:23 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Snakes bite. You shoot them, or get bit.
posted by valkane at 8:31 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


And if you are in a situation where you are carrying the handgun with you everywhere you go because you might not get to the rifle in time, I think you're either teetering on the edge of paranoia or, if you're really in a desperately dangerous situation -- and get out is the very best solution.

There are few arguments that can be countered with a Hot Topic t-shirt slogan but this is one of them. "It's not paranoia if they're really out ot get you".
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 8:37 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


A coyote is not exactly an attack trained German Shepard or even a guard dog. You'd have more luck expecting a cat to defend you. If people are saying that's justification for not getting a gun, they are reeaaallllly reaching. (A flock of geese otoh...)

I am getting a really unpleasant vibe off this thread and that vibe is: "I have no real life experience with any of this, being stalked, handguns vs rifles, revolvers vs 9mm, the criminal justice experience, the logistics and isolation of living on a farm BUT I think this woman should deal with men the way I think she should and not the way she wants to. Plus she seems really irrational with her emotions and all. It's not like he actually raped her or anything. She should just let her boyfriend defend her honor." I wouldn't be very proud of having written those comments if I were some of you.
posted by fshgrl at 9:09 PM on March 7, 2011 [12 favorites]


Okay. Weird guy comes after you, and you know he has a gun.

What are you going to do? Move away?

Buy a gun?

Talk to the cops?

Start doing sit-ups and worrying a lot?

I think she did everything right. If she's bitching a little bit, who could blame her?

You?
posted by valkane at 9:48 PM on March 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


jail is more expensive than treating mental illness (hell, incarceration is more expensive per year than an Ivy League college)

Well, that's true if you're talking about treating only people who might otherwise get sentenced to jail time. Otherwise, I suspect the numbers of people requiring treatment for mental illness would be vastly larger than the numbers in jail. Not all of the mentally ill are going to commit violent crime, or even any crime at all.

None of which is to say that I think jail time is a preferable solution. I'm just guessing that it actually is cheaper than treating everyone who is mentally ill.
posted by bardophile at 9:51 PM on March 7, 2011


Except that revealing this in court shows he's both violent and crazy and thus is a mortal danger to her.
Doesn't sound too much crazier then your average teabagger. It may not be that unusual to say you'll use a gun to protect your property, you hear comments like that all the time from conservatives. If that's what he said. We're going by her paraphrasing of what he said, not the actual court transcripts. Obviously the judge didn't think it was enough to give him a harsher sentence.
posted by delmoi at 12:16 AM on March 8, 2011


Seems like the capper argument from at least two people here is "She must be misleading us, because courts always do the right thing."

My admittedly-second-hand experience with courts teaches me nothing of the sort. In particular, judges often give lenient sentences in these cases because the jails are packed full (with drug criminals, I'd add).

Unless you can actually present evidence that she's lying, I think we should take as given that, since this is one person's account, there's a chance it might not be correct or might be self-serving, and go from that.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 1:15 AM on March 8, 2011


To clarify my prior statement. Wyoming has a of tax resister/gun nuts and other lunatics. A guy walking around with a gun babbling about this stuff in any other place would be committed, but in WY they got other problems to deal with also the frontier culture is very mind your own troubles.
posted by humanfont at 2:22 AM on March 8, 2011


fshgrl: I am getting a really unpleasant vibe off this thread and that vibe is: "I have no real life experience with any of this, being stalked, handguns vs rifles, revolvers vs 9mm, the criminal justice experience, the logistics and isolation of living on a farm BUT I think this woman should deal with men the way I think she should and not the way she wants to. Plus she seems really irrational with her emotions and all. It's not like he actually raped her or anything. She should just let her boyfriend defend her honor." I wouldn't be very proud of having written those comments if I were some of you

Word. I would also like to add that in addition to that, there's been a steady patter of second-guessing her choices that amount to:

"Why didn't she abandon her home and her living, make herself invisible and silence her voice?"

It's like that would have somehow made her a more palatable victim or something. (The irony is that had she indeed fled to an undisclosed location, she probably would have been accused of being a hysterical, attention-seeking drama queen.)

And I think it worth pointing out again that when the stalker who came explicitly to meet her armed with a gun was sentenced, he got time served. Which was eight weeks out of a possible six month sentence.

That is totally par for the course, but like a lot of what this woman learned about how justice works in this process, that doesn't make it an easy lesson for the victim.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:32 AM on March 8, 2011 [12 favorites]


Unless you can actually present evidence that she's lying, I think we should take as given that, since this is one person's account, there's a chance it might not be correct or might be self-serving, and go from that.

In other words, we should presume the truth of what she's saying and the guilt of the other guy.

Apparently you haven't been listening.
posted by valkyryn at 5:10 AM on March 8, 2011


I am getting a really unpleasant vibe off this thread and that vibe is: "I have no real life experience with any of this, being stalked, handguns vs rifles, revolvers vs 9mm, the criminal justice experience, the logistics and isolation of living on a farm BUT I think this woman should deal with men the way I think she should and not the way she wants to. Plus she seems really irrational with her emotions and all. It's not like he actually raped her or anything. She should just let her boyfriend defend her honor." I wouldn't be very proud of having written those comments if I were some of you.

I've been on Metafilter for over 5 years and you've been here longer than I have, so certainly you've been here long enough to know that our ability to overthink a plate of beans is virtually unparalleled, and is not restricted to the somewhat strangely told accounts of female stalking victims.

What I am getting from you is a really unpleasant vibe that anyone who doesn't agree with the "Fuck that guy, its not my problem he has an obsession with killing and dismembering me or whatever the voices in his head are telling him to do" sentiment you expressed from the get-go is sexist or is somehow blaming the victim, and that seems a very uncharitable reading of the discussion that's happening here.
posted by rollbiz at 5:55 AM on March 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


I only got the vibe shes talking about from one or two people who basically said exactly that. So "the whole thread" could be switched to a sew specific comments. And as I agree with fshgrl and darling bri--- That the comments of that nature are pretty ignorant, cruel, and just plain wrong----

I also don't think ""Fuck that guy, its not my problem he has an obsession with killing and dismembering me or whatever the voices in his head are telling him to do"

I deeply hope that we come up with completely different ways of supporting poor crazy people. And also poor people before they become crazy. This whole mentally ill/criminal behavior/poverty thing always reminds of the phrase, "Government is to protect the have's from the have not's" Kids raised in abuse, neglect, and chronically stressfull environments (which highly correlate with poverty) have much greater risk of disease manifestations due to toxic additive high fat low nutrient food, the nature of how chronic unresolvable stress and trauma affects the human body and brain, the absence of a High grooming high licking mother (oops that's in rats). In mammals an absent or an non affectionate/interactive mother literally is most sure way to totally fuck up the animal for life.

And when you have mothers in poverty who are stressed and unable to get support-- (or of course on drugs or just not giving a shit about their kids for whatever reason)--- these kids from a scientific standpoint have a really low possibility of spontaneously becoming functional even using whatever relisiliant powers they can find. I'm not saying they can't find ways to hold on the life and find love and yada yada--- I'm just saying there are biological consequences to the human system and they WILL compromise functioning in some way unless there is intervention. Human children (and a larger portion of mammals) NEED affection, physical contact, and love from other humans. It's a biological need with deomonstrable biological consequences to organisms that don't recieve it.

And kids will noticeable biological differences of such nature are often ostracised even more for the lack of love they've experienced. There is a certain point, there is a breaking point in the amount of suffering that any human can take before they very genuinely break and may not be able to control their desperate behaviors because they NEED love and they have always been blocked from it. This world could break any human under the right circumstance. None are immune to it.

Basically if we don't find a better way to support poor famililies than attacking them for being poor and stressed with CPS and otherwise abandoning them--- the people who suffer are the kids. And quite frankly if I were one of those kids- who society failed to offer meaningful support when the mother needed it? I'd be pretty pissed off at humanity in general too. (Oh wait I was one of those kids.)

I think the comments that were judging the victims character for not fleeing and living the rest of her life in hiding were off base, callous, and clearly made by people who haven't lived through extended stalking that doesn't go away. Despite that I have compassion for people who are stalkers or scary, very deep compassion--- the person who is being victimized is an innocent. We do have to protect the innocent from people who are dangerous. And the feelings of a woman who felt and likely still feels more terrified than she knew she could feel and is not pissed off and wants to have guns to protect herself--- are just as valid as the horrible pain of people who haven't been loved enough or were traumatized or have gone crazy for whatever reason.

I think the concept of stalking among NON crazy people is an interesting topic. If all crime is mental illness than jeeeeeasus our system is set up backwards. And further more--- it would make sense to USE the research we have on causes and create programs that help families struggling to cook healthy food and get community support and do relaxation activities, build closer relationships, exercise, do art and play activities together and do the many things we know add to good health. Telling poor people to parent better won't work. We need to provide SUPPORT for the very difficult issues that making such lifestyle changes present for the poor.

speaking of overthinking a plate of beans. My favorite activity wahhaa
posted by xarnop at 8:03 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


What I am getting from you is a really unpleasant vibe that anyone who doesn't agree with the "Fuck that guy, its not my problem he has an obsession with killing and dismembering me or whatever the voices in his head are telling him to do" sentiment you expressed from the get-go is sexist or is somehow blaming the victim, and that seems a very uncharitable reading of the discussion that's happening here.

So she shouldn't have that sentiment, or more specifically, shouldn't be expressing it, based on the experience she spent the previous several sentences describing? What's your point? And no, I don't think that what she said fits your description of it. By a long shot.
posted by blucevalo at 8:34 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I like your approach of considering the root causes of complex problems, and advocating for compassionate long-term solutions that would prevent stuff like this stalking incident in the first place, while maintaining compassion for the victims/survivors of crimes, xarnop.
posted by eviemath at 8:35 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


"And kids will noticeable biological differences of such nature"

Wha?

Lord the grammatically/spelling disabled must not type before coffee. Sorry for the number of incomprehensible sentences in that paragraph. It's unfortunate cause I feel like I had a good point, somewhere within the "relisiliant powers" and the "deomonstrable biological consequences".

(Also, I think my spelling grammar disorder may describe the kind of consequences I'm talking about quite well actually.)
posted by xarnop at 8:40 AM on March 8, 2011


Thank you eviemath. : )

(It was supposed to be "kids will notice" I couldn't even figure that out for a minute...)
posted by xarnop at 8:43 AM on March 8, 2011


After this light sentencing and conviction, if he has any further complaints against him, does anyone know if its likely that he'll be treated as a more serious threat?

I'm very much in the "he needs help for the good of everyone" camp; as well as the "discussing the obvious" isn't all that interesting one.
posted by misterG at 8:45 AM on March 8, 2011


Based on my experience volunteering? This sheriff already did a stellar job if treating him as a threat. But as far as follow up he won't be treated as a serious threat until he's put someone in the hospital or killed them. The fact that this guy is so unhinged works in womenkinds favor though, he might do something dumb like wave a gun at a cop and get arrested before it comes to that.
posted by fshgrl at 8:55 AM on March 8, 2011


jrochest: "I'm talking about this woman, who has already ridden a Vespa from San Francisco to New York"

I'm a woman. I've ridden a motorcycle all around the country. Apart from my mother, I don't have a place I could run to if I were in her situation. You're making some unwarranted assumptions.
posted by workerant at 9:06 AM on March 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


Snakes bite. You shoot them, or get bit.

Snakes usually only bite if they're hunting or cornered, and they don't hunt people. So it's really more like, "You leave them alone, or get bit." Stalkers are way harder to deal with than snakes.
posted by infinitywaltz at 9:13 AM on March 8, 2011


I just wanted to add a thought regarding all the "we need more resources to help the mentally ill" commentary.

It's absolutely true, we really do need more resources to help the mentally ill. However ...

Our understanding of the art and science of mental health treatment is still at a very primitive level, and it's going to take many years of basic and applied research to improve that situation. Right now, a mentally ill person who recognizes that they need help, manages to find that help, and works hard at changing may still struggle for years to make significant progress. We really have very little idea of how to help a mentally ill person who doesn't recognize that they have a problem and who isn't motivated to work hard to change themselves. That's the problem with any sort of court-ordered treatment options.
posted by tdismukes at 9:20 AM on March 8, 2011


tdismukes--- I agree with you that our system is in infancy. We were thinking serotonin/dopamine for a long time and while there is certainly evidence that those are neurochemicals that may be involved in mental illness--- it's looking like that is one part of a long chain of responses that basically all come back to stress, lack of intimacy, trauma, difficult life circumstances, particularly in critical periods of development--- changes to HPA axis, changes to hormonal system, and inflammatory processes, epigenetic changes etc---

we're also finding that many of these things can be passed on to the next few generations meaning that the whole "gene" predisposition thing may still be a process of stress/poor conditions.

Our environment poses a lot of environmental risks for children. That is what this boils down to. And blaming parents for that won't fix the problem. Clearly people are struggling to make these changes and we need more community support and cohesiveness.

While there is a lot we don't know-- there is a lot WE DO KNOW and aren't using. We know that engagement in creative and fun activities is literally good for kids brains. We know that spending time together and having meaningful conversations as a family is helpful for development. We know all kinds of shit. We know that plant polyphenols directly counteract the inflammatory process that occurs in mental illness (namely interleukin 6, C-reactive protein, a few others)

Also that families under the stress of poverty or emotional crisis might need help making sure these things are happening.
posted by xarnop at 10:25 AM on March 8, 2011


Including you, actually. When we have people calling for this man to be rendered "unable to stalk her anymore", throwing around phrases like "the rest of [her] life", maybe look at the finality of what you're proposing and what might actually be involved in achieving that.

Strawman much? I said it's not unreasonable for her to WANT these things. It's not fucking unreasonable for anyone to WANT to NOT BE THREATENED. I didn't say he SHOULD be rendered unable, I'm saying her desires is totally reasonable as a desire- safety is pretty key on the hierarchy of Maslov's needs. She isn't required to be an expert in solving society's ongoing issues of juggling all of our rights and needs to have the right to that feeling.

And as I said again- this is why we have a justice system in place- because we can't viably accommodate perfect safety and have anything resembling a functional society.
posted by yeloson at 11:00 AM on March 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Snakes bite. You shoot them, or get bit.

In my three encounters with rattlesnakes, nobody got shot and nobody got bit. In one particularly close encounter, I did do an Olympic-level standing long jump and said "Oh shit!" really loudly, but that was about it.

Human stalkers aren't snakes. I'd rather meet a snake, frankly.
posted by rtha at 11:33 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


"We know that plant polyphenols directly counteract the inflammatory process that occurs in mental illness (namely interleukin 6, C-reactive protein, a few others)"

xarnop - do you have links to research on this inflammatory process? It's the first I've heard of it.
posted by tdismukes at 1:56 PM on March 8, 2011


This is an amazing woman who was courageous and powerful in a very scary situation. I'm particularly impressed by the fact that she posted about it. Hopefully others who need to read it will be able to find it.
posted by arnicae at 2:02 PM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I haven't gotten through all of the replies yet but this got to me:

Locking someone in prison for life because of a few emails and threats seems pretty over the top. Six month in jail is a long time.

In 97, my aunt had to fire someone at her work because she was unable to perform her job. (I am not sure why, I knew then, I no longer remember).

The woman called her house over 300 times in one weekend. My aunt called the cops and filed a report.

At some point soon thereafter, the woman broke into my aunt's house and kidnapped her dog. The dog was returned unharmed, and my aunt did not want to press charges because the woman was mentally ill, and my aunt wanted her to get help and not be thrown in jail.

Less than a week later the woman showed up at her former place of work and shot and killed my aunt and her boss.

A lot of people were at fault here. The system, for having no laws really in place to protect victims. My aunt should have pressed charges the first time or the second time. The woman's family shouldn't have had an unsecured shotgun in the house. So many places this could have been prevented.

But yes, the woman should be in prison for LIFE. She is getting the mental health treatment there (and if she doesn't, she will go to the state mental hospital). In KY there is no 'life without parole' so in 20 years my family will troop down and make sure she stays in jail.

I have no happy ending to my story, other than life goes on, and thanfully my cousins and uncle have been able to move forward.
posted by bibliogrrl at 6:03 PM on March 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


I only have like 200 because I'm doing a paper on it right now LOL-- I'll give you this one but if you're interested in more I can memail you like a billion linking inflammation to whatever chronic disease you'd like--- or to the causes of inflammation--- which are you more interested in? Or to the things that reduce inflammation--- exciting news is that yoga, exercise and diet seem to have possible clinical applications!

Inflammation and depression.

Inflammation as a result of social rejection
Poverty is highly correlated with inflammation:
" These results suggest that income explains the association between education and peripheral inflammation. In short, the reason that higher education is linked to reduced peripheral inflammation is because it reduces the risk for low income status, which is what is directly associated with reduced peripheral inflammation."

I'm looking at my links and I'm realizing that I have nearly a hundred. OMG my poor brain. But seriously this stuff is so awesome I'm going to explode.

If you would like about 50 more study linking inflammation to early life adversity, depression, mental illness, cardivascular problems, social isolation and social rejection, etc etc

I can drop a ton more. : ) There's a lot more to find out about it but the sheer volume of consinstant findings linking IL6 CRP, TNFa, and bunch of other inflammatory markers implicates that it very likely presents an important link to the ways in which diseases progress as a result of childhood adversity,life stress, isolation, lack of anti-inflammatory components in diet, and physical stress to the body, lack of exercise (etc.)
posted by xarnop at 6:09 PM on March 8, 2011 [7 favorites]


bibliogrrrl, I am so sorry to hear that. : (
posted by xarnop at 6:29 PM on March 8, 2011


The thing is if you have a psychiatrist, and you get the medicine (after trial and error) and regular followup (monthly) dosage evaluations, and you have a therapist who you meet with regularly (at least monthly) and a 24 hour crisis line you can call when you are freaking out. And you stay at it, even when you decide its all bullsbot and not helping, then you can have a moderately successful resolution of whatever mental health issue.

These things require health insurance, a steady job and other things which are really impossible for most people undergoing acute or chronic mental illness. The problem isn't really the diagnostic or treatment options, it is access and support systems.

This gets a lot worse when you put mentally ill person into the vast emptiness of Wyoming. Have some pity for the guy. He will either end up back in jail for drugs, violent crime or frozen to death out somewhere while drinking alone. It happens all the time. Chances are he'll go off and die of exposure or an accident and never be heard from again.

The ending is grim, but hopefully not the one where she is involved.
posted by humanfont at 8:13 PM on March 8, 2011


xarnop, those studies are absolutely fascinating. As someone taking anti-depressants, I wonder what would happen if I added aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) to my regimen?

Of course, I wouldn't seriously self-medicate, but it really is interesting, and something to discuss with my shrink, who would probably enjoy hearing the theories as well.
posted by misha at 9:01 PM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


vast majority of human communication is non-verbal, and when someone takes the witness stand, juries are weighing not only what they say, but how they present themselves. It's part of the whole process of evaluating someone's credibility. Do they look the examining attorney in the eye? Do they fidget?

Not to dig too far back into the thread, but I'm not sure this line of reasoning holds up. I'd guess that anyone who wasn't within a few feet of the witness would have difficulty reading their body language. So possibly the examining attorney and the judge would have a clear view, but most of the people in the jury box and the other attorney are probably a good 15-20 feet away and couldn't read a lot of the subtle body language. Having something like this viewable on video of reasonable quality might actually improve their ability.

I'm not totally comfortable with the idea that body language should be part of the jury's decision making process, but if we're saying it is, then I don't think you can reasonably argue that video detracts from that process.
posted by electroboy at 7:15 AM on March 9, 2011


I'm not totally comfortable with the idea that body language should be part of the jury's decision making process, but if we're saying it is, then I don't think you can reasonably argue that video detracts from that process.

I would; Testimony given by video is not at all the same as in-person testimony and I don't think it can reasonably be put forward as an equivalent alternative.
posted by Justinian at 12:52 PM on March 9, 2011


In other words, we should presume the truth of what she's saying and the guilt of the other guy. Apparently, you haven't been listening.

Uh, he's been convicted, legal eagle. So, yeah, we can go ahead and consider him guilty, and her telling the truth, without "presuming" anything.
posted by palliser at 6:22 PM on March 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


Testimony given by video is not at all the same as in-person testimony and I don't think it can reasonably be put forward as an equivalent alternative.

I don't know, I'm not convinced either way, but I think you can make a reasonable argument that a large percentage of the people in the courtroom would get more information by seeing a video feed of testimony because they wouldn't be limited by the distance to the witness, visual acuity, etc.

I think the other issues like ensuring that a witness wasn't being coached or otherwise influenced by someone off camera are probably more problematic.
posted by electroboy at 10:48 AM on March 10, 2011


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