October 01, 2007

Carnival of the Bizarre

Both U.S. military and Iraqi civilian casualties have plummeted in Iraq. Thousands have apparently been killed and their bodies dumped in the jungle in clashes with government forces in Mayanmar/Burma. A college football player is gunned down and classes are cancelled for thousands as the search for the suspect continues.

A volcano erupts in the Red Sea, killing soldiers on a remote island outpost. There is yet another story about U.S. plans for attacking Iran.

And yet with all these developments affecting or potentially affecting lives around the globe, CNN and Fox News focus on the death of an irate passenger who apparently managed to strangle herself with her handcuffs after being arrested for disorderly conduct after missing her flight.

Don't get me wrong. It is a tragedy that this 45-year-old mother of three died. But this shouldn’t be a top story in national news.

For those not related to her, her death is merely an exploited curiosity, a carny act inexplicably promoted to the the center ring. It matters little that she is the daughter of relatively obscure political figures, or that the cause of her death is being ascribed to the oddest of circumstances. This is sideshow material promoted to the front page for it's ability to shock and entertain.

I thought that the Weekly World News collapsed because they couldn't find readership for their kind of "news." Apparently, they were simply driven out of business by larger organizations more adept at exploiting a more brutal kind of infotainment.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at October 1, 2007 10:31 AM

CSI vérité.

Posted by: BohicaTwentyTwo at October 1, 2007 01:41 PM

This story is much more relevant and should have been the front page headlines:,2933,298802,00.html

Sons Stab Each Other During Chicago Mom's Birthday Party
Monday, October 01, 2007

CHICAGO — A Southwest Chicago mother got the fright of her life Sunday night when her two sons stabbed each other during her birthday celebration, police said.

The men, ages 37 and 39, were hospitalized in critical condition, but were expected to live. No charges have yet been filed.

Posted by: NortonPete at October 1, 2007 02:51 PM

This is why I prefer Arab news...

Posted by: Dawnfire82 at October 1, 2007 05:28 PM

That yarn was just a breather before the perfect storm of more Britney 24/7. And doesn't O.J. have a hearing coming up? While I'm on the subject, what explains the neglect of Paris Hilton lately?

Posted by: Banjo at October 1, 2007 09:05 PM

I afraid I have to disagree. The events around the world may ultimately impact us here, although the deaths reported in Burma seem a little strange and I doubt the number. But the death of this woman is indicative of the death of our freedom. I certainly understand the concern that we should have following 9/11, but I feel that if we had no security at all that your chance of being harmed by a terrorist would be less than that of being hit by lightning.

I have the opinion that terror is a weapon and that we should be targeting those that use that weapon. So far we have managed to get ourselves bogged down in a fight to bring democracy to a country that has no idea what it is. This woman's death indicates that we have no idea what it is. Our police are becoming far to intrusive into our lives and this is a perfect example. The woman was sick. She needed someone to look after her and not handcuff her and leave her unobserved. She very well could have had a good reason to be mad at the airplane staff. I have yet to go to the airport without a strong desire to kill someone (figuritively or else the gestapo may come after me).

Posted by: David Caskey at October 2, 2007 07:48 AM

If you show up at the gate after the door has closed, you don't get on the plane. They will not disrupt their departure checklist for one tardy passenger. It has been this way forever. That incident has nothing to do with "security".

Posted by: Purple Avenger at October 2, 2007 09:23 AM

I realize that concept of travel. But we are not presented with that fact. In addition, considering the deterioration of the airline industry, it is not inconceivable that they denied her for any number of reasons. The woman had enough of the stupidity that infest our country and blew up. For that the police killed her. The story is an example of how low we have come. Also, ask yourself, why she was late. Could it have been the ridiculous security? Or any of the other barriers we have to just getting on a stupid plane. We have gone beyond stupidity on this terrorism and security situation and it is past time to turn the clock back. I think this is one of the reasons that Hillary is going to get the government and turn us into a socialist state.

Posted by: David Caskey at October 2, 2007 09:52 AM

Part I:

The women was part of the stupidity infesting our country.

"The police killed her." Hogwash. She killed herself in a tragic accident when she tried to Houdini herself out of the handcuffs and shackles. If she had just calmed down and shown a little rationality, she would have been released.

There are some details in the story that cause me to conjecture. She is the DIL of a wealthy rights advocate from NY. She arrived late at the gate for reasons unknown. You can speculate that security delayed her. I can speculate that she showed up late at the airport.

When I fly, I show up 1-2 hours before the flight to ensure I'll make it through security. I don't expect any special privileges. ONCE I showed up 20 minutes before departure at Newark but missed the flight to Dulles because they had already finished boarding. I was put on a later flight that evening.

She arrived after they had finished boarding. She flew into a childish rage. She became irrational and abusive and as such became a threat to the airport employees and travelers. Airport cops showed up. She became abusive towards them. She was restrained. I'm sure she struggled, screamed, kicked, tried to bite, spit and basically continued with her tantrum. They probably had to carry her. I'd bet she was screaming "Do you know who I am?!" at the time.

If I had been there, I would have applauded as airport security took her away. -cp

Posted by: cold pizza at October 2, 2007 11:54 AM

Part II

The put her in the adult equivalent of "time out." They put her on a bench in a sealed room. They put shackles on her to keep her confined to the bench. They took away her audience. They gave her time to cool down. Instead, she believed that she could worm her way out of the handcuffs and the chain that kept her seated on the bench.

Put your hands behind your back. Imagine the handcuffs. Imagine the chain connecting the handcuffs to the chair you're sitting on. How would YOU get out? You're not supposed to be able to escape. It's not like this is a new technology. Restraints work.

The only fault I see is that security should have had a camera mounted in the ceiling so that detainees could be monitored. Remember, this isn't a jail cell--it's just a room off the concourse where detainees would wait for the Phoenix police or the FBI to come pick them up.

She died because she believed that she was above the rules that apply to everyone else. She died because she went irrational. People go irrational or stupid or inattentive all the time, and sometimes they die because of it (car accidents, smoking in bed, DIY electrical projects, drunk stunts on balconies, etc).

IF she had accepted the fact that she had missed boarding, she'd still be alive. IF she had not caused a scene in a public place, she'd still be alive. IF she had not harassed airline employees, she'd still be alive. IF she had not struggled with security, she'd still be alive. IF she had shown ANY restraint prior to being restrained, she'd still be alive. IF she had sat quietly, waiting for the moment to contact her lawyer, she'd still be alive.

Tragedy? Yes. But not indicative that we're in a "police state." She wasn't taken away by men in black to a jail cell where she was beaten and left in the dark. She wasn't given a bullet in the back of the head. This wasn't covered up by government sources.

She is a victim of an irrational, immature lapse of judgment and an inflated sense of ego.

Sorry for the length, I've been thinking about this since I first heard the story. I'm a frequent traveler and have no tolerance for people who cut in lines, expect special treatment, or treat hardworking airport employees like personal servants or second-class citizens. Some people just don’t get it. -cp

Posted by: cold pizza at October 2, 2007 11:55 AM

Part III

It has nothing to do with increased TSA presence due to terrorism. I don't think TSA was even involved. If this had happed pre-9/11, the results would have been the same. Public scene, taken away to calm down.

There is a time and a place to question authority. She showed a complete disregard for the rules of civilized behavior in public areas.

Ironically, she was shackled for her own safety, to keep her from assaulting anyone else or injuring herself. But noooooo, she just had to push the envelope.

I blame Bush. -cp

Posted by: cold pizza at October 2, 2007 12:01 PM

The way that our country is accepting the constant interference by police and authorities in our lives is truly depressing. I work in a situation were we have to confine people who are mentally impaired for one reason or another. This woman was not mentally impaired to that extent. If someone dies in this manner in my care, I have commited murder, period. Why is it that the police have to become involved in a situation like this? Had she hurt someone? Did she distroy major property? No, she shouted and was mad. Some of you would have done very well in Germany 70 years ago.

Posted by: David Caskey at October 2, 2007 03:08 PM

Book II, Part I

Oooohh, a nazi reference!

CONSTANT interference? Like the checkpoints at major intersections where my citizenship papers get checked every time I go to the store for my authorized ration of USDA approved milk? The ubiquitous spy cameras and orbiting UAVs keeping track of the microchip implanted at the base of my skull (which also keeps track of seditious thoughts)? I have to admit, those patent leather jackboots are pretty spiffy, especially when seen up close when someone’s standing on my neck (as I’m once again thrown to the ground and roughly searched, as we all are multiple times a day).

And we all KNOW that all the police departments are simply different branches, franchises if you will, of the great integrated federal imperial police force, using soulless clones (instead of neighbors and relatives) imported from eastern European dictatorships. They can’t be actual citizens, after all, with a responsibility to maintain law and public order.

BTW, Throwing out glib reference to nazi Germany only displays an overwhelming ignorance of world history circa 1929-1945. Never having lived in a totalitarian, fascist state, how would you recognize the true signs of the malignancy that is fascism? Find someone who lived through the Hitler years in Germany or the Stalin years in Soviet Russia to gain some perspective about the differences between our democracy and theirs. Such comments have no place in reasoned discourse.

If you’ve never visited a police state, I could suggest several so you can go and experience the full effect for yourself. Even relatively benign states like the Philippines (where I lived for several years under Marcos and martial law) recognize the difference between internal security and oppression—check out the slaughter of the monks in Burma by a true police state. -cp

Posted by: cold pizza at October 2, 2007 04:54 PM

Book II, Part II

Neither of us were present at Sky Harbor. You have no basis on which to state that she was not mentally impaired. Chances are she wasn’t mentally impaired—I never implied she was. I implied that she had an EMOTIONAL response akin to a childish temper tantrum, that she acted irrationally and that she was detained in order to give her time to cool down and start behaving rationally again.

Since you work with mentally impaired persons, you must know that sometimes there can be no rationalizing of irrational actions. Have you ever had a patient throw a fit, or do they all accept your authority unquestioningly? And there are worlds of difference between murder, manslaughter, negligent homicide, and suicide.

Tasering her was probably out of the question. The airport security (operating under different rules and regs than Phoenix PD) thought it best to restrain her. Obviously this method had worked in the past with unruly travelers, unless you think this is the first time anyone was ever taken into custody at an airport. She was no criminal, just someone having a really, REALLY bad day.

She fought the law and the law won. Now she’s a Darwin nominee (although technically she’s already passed her genes on to the next generation). Yes, her family is going through grief and pain and I’m not going to mock her as a person—but I will use her actions as an object lesson that actions bring consequences. We don’t always get to choose the consequences. I am truly sorry she died, but that does not mitigate the fact that she died because she could not bring herself back to a state of mind where she could act rationally. –cp

Posted by: cold pizza at October 2, 2007 04:55 PM

Book II, Part III

This does not mean we are moving to a police state. It could also demonstrate that we are moving towards anarchy because rules of public behavior are being cast aside as some people feel that their narcissistic selves take priority over the good of others. We’re becoming a society of spoiled brats who throw tantrums at the least provocation: when our coffee is cold (or too hot and we spill it on ourselves), our flight is delayed, we get cut off in traffic, the dry cleaners temporarily misplaced a pair of pants, one-hour photo took two hours, someone referenced nazi Germany, etc.

There are some legitimate reasons to distrust some aspects of the bureaucracy that is the federal government. But remember, these people who work the bureaucracy aren’t faceless drones in the Borg collective—these are neighbors and people we knew in High School or college who went into public service. These are retired veterans who went into civil service. Individually, most of them are great people; caring parents, considerate spouses, friendly towards others. There is no “faceless they”—only Americans doing their jobs. Paranoia is as ingrained in the American psyche as baseball. It’s easier to believe that a conspiracy is involved rather than face the fact that usually it’s just incompetence and error by well-meaning people who have never met the law of unintended consequences.

I’ve lived all over the US, in urban, suburban and rural areas. I’ve lived next door to cops and government employees and have even met the occasional mental health practitioner. There is no plot. Someone will get elected in ’08 and someone new will move into the White House. Government will change peacefully, despite the diatribes, then we’ll move on to the next Britney scandal, the next bout with paranoia, the next round of congressional malfeasance and runaway federal spending.

I still blame Bush. -cp

Posted by: cold pizza at October 2, 2007 04:55 PM

I agree, there is no plot of any kind and to indicate that there is one would be pure paranoia. But exactly when did Germany become a police state? It wasn't overnight. It consisted of gradually diminishing rights and an acceptance of the public to this changing state of affairs. That is exactly what we must fight. When I took a flight in the 50's, the concept of airport police did not exist. Gradually over time we have now reached a point where we are almost stripped searched to get on a plane and an irrate individual is arrested instead of being allowed to vent their frustration to an employee of an airline. There is even a holding cell at the airport. When was the last time you saw police of this nature at a train terminal or bus station?

Now I don't have to be reminded of the terrorist and all that junk. If we want to eliminate terrorist let's do that, but not have police in every aspect of our lives. I would much prefer to have security like the 50's today with the ever present "threat" than to have to be subjected to routine rights violations as we are. If an incident occurs, take it out on the group or countries involved.

An yes, I have spent time in a police state and the only thing lacking is the presence of machine guns at intersections.

Posted by: David Caskey at October 3, 2007 10:36 AM