Serial Killings?

There is crazy– like the guy I saw at the IMH who spent his days eating dirt off the floor– and then there is acting out a script.

Posts on Twitter report a shooting at a Sikh temple in Oak Ridge Milwaukee.

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports 8 to 20 people shot. The shooter is not yet identified.

From ABC News…

According to information broadcast over police radio, a witness to the shooting told law enforcement the shooter was a white male, bald, with a heavy build. He was wearing a sleeveless T-shirt, according to Oak Creek Patch. He was last seen with two handguns.

We don’t know yet who or why, but this has the familiar feeling of the angry man who goes out in a blaze of glory. We know the script, why do we give then the props?

Is this the new normal? Like when pubs were bombed in Ireland in a pattern that made sense to political terrorists but was random to the innocent people killed and injured? Sikhs are a minority within a minority in the US. Some members of the religion stand out as ‘other’ by their dress and observance. Are we supposed to be learning a lesson here? To be more afraid? To buy more guns? Is this repeated violence serving anyone’s purpose? Maybe just the perpetrators, and all the angry souls who build a private arsenal and feel the power of what they could do.

UPDATE: The Chicago Tribune–

Seven people, including the suspected shooter, are reported dead and three are wounded, including a police officer who killed the gunman, after a shooting this morning at a Sikh temple in suburban Milwaukee.

Greenfield, Wis., Police Chief Brad Wentlandt said in a press conference that four people had been found dead inside the temple and three people were found dead outside the temple. Officials say three people are in critical condition at a Milwaukee hospital.

Wentlandt said that after a 10:25 a.m. call to 911, officers were sent to the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin, 7512 S. Howell Ave., in Oak Creek, just south of Milwaukee along Lake Michigan.

“A police officer responded to the scene and when he arrived, he engaged an active shooter,” the chief said. “Gunfire was exchanged and the gunman shot the officer multiple times.”

A HATE CRIME: Today’s CNN tells a story that is too familiar…

Oak Creek, Wisconsin (CNN) — The man who shot six people to death and wounded three others during a rampage at a Sikh temple in a Milwaukee suburb was an Army veteran who may have been a white supremacist, according to a law enforcement source involved in the investigation.

The name of the shooter, who himself was killed by police after wounding an officer, may be released as early as Monday morning, the source added.

Earlier, the FBI said that it had not determined a motive for the Sunday morning shooting and that investigators were looking into whether the attack might be classified as domestic terrorism.

The article goes on to list incidents of violence against members of the Sikh religion since 9/11. Observant Sikh men wear turbans and have been mistaken for Muslims.

The investigation is just beginning, but this type of crime– a mass shooting of unarmed, unsuspecting people who exercised their right to peacefully assemble, to worship as their conscience dictates– has happened too many times in the last three decades to be called an aberration.

There’s a phrase, ‘suicide magnet’ for places like the Empire State Building, where multiple incidents finally lead to the construction of barriers.

We need to look at ‘homicide magnets’. We need to discredit the hateful ideologies that motivated a violent few, and stop giving them what they want– a glorious martyrdom. And we have to put the ‘well-regulated’ back into the 2nd Amendment and reinstate the assault weapons ban. All freedoms are moderated by all other freedoms. Our right to peaceably assemble is under attack. It’s time for sensible gun control and time for politicians to dial down the rhetoric and look at what unites us.

Thomas Kinkaide Died

Wow, only 54. Thomas Kinkaide has dabbed his last high-quality print, but death is no joke. He leaves behind a wife and four daughters. I’m sorry he died and left them too soon.

My friend’s father was distressed when he heard that his son wanted to go to art school. “Why do you want to spend your life being broke so you can be famous after you’re dead?” At least Thomas Kinkaide got to enjoy the fruits of his labor. Any owners of an original Kinkaide daubed print who expects the value to skyrocket now may have to take it on faith. The man generated volume.

He did have genuine talent and a nice way with color. Anyone who bought one of his paintings because they love to look at it and value his special personal brushstrokes has their money’s worth. That’s true of most art, houses are a safer investment than pictures of houses.

Some links to his shadow side are in my earlier post here, that links to the haunted Village at Hiddenbrooke. I think he was greatly overextended and in ways tormented. Sad, but it’s not nice to fool trusting Christians.


Wishing I’d read more of those issues of ‘The Economist’ my brother-in-law sent me. Egypt is undergoing what may be a peaceful transition from autocracy to democracy, by the courage of its people, especially its youth.

I light a candle for justice and human rights. The military is standing by, I heard on the radio that volunteers among the demonstrators are checking ID’s and behavior, to ensure that provocateurs will not incite violence.

Over 300 have been killed, but as terrible as this is there is hope that Egypt may change its government without massive bloodshed.

The whole world is watching.

MORE ON INCITEMENT: The Washington Post reports that Egyptian police are among the museum looters, an outrage that, of course, justifies calling the police to bash some heads…

CAIRO – Human Rights Watch confirmed several cases of undercover police loyal to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s regime committing acts of violence and looting in an attempt to stoke fear of instability as demonstrations grew stronger Tuesday against the autocratic leader.

Peter Bouckaert, the emergency director at Human Rights Watch, said hospitals confirmed that they received several wounded looters shot by the army carrying police identification cards. They also found several cases of looters and vandals in Cairo and Alexandria with police identification cards. He added that it was “unexplainable” that thousands of prisoners escaped from prisons over the weekend.

“Mubarak’s mantra to his own people was that he was the guarantor of the nation’s stability. It would make sense that he would want to send the message that without him, there is no safety,” Bouckaert said

We’ve seen this movie before. Fear tactics to justify repression. Thank the press, the internet and cell phones for getting word out fast.

What’s Wrong With Granting Pardon?

It feels weird to blog against ‘pardon’.  We liberals are supposed to be bleeding hearts. Furthermore, forgiveness is woven into the Christian faith, whose central concept is ‘redemption’. We all know that law isn’t  justice. There needs to be some room for pardon in an imperfect world. How should a governor use the power of clemency?

Former governor of Arkansas, Mike Huckabee, pardoned Maurice Clemmons in 2000. Clemmons is alleged to have committed many violent crimes since his release.

Clemmons has an extensive violent criminal history from Arkansas. He was also recently charged in Washington state with assaulting a police officer, and second-degree rape of a child. Using a bail bondsman, he posted $150,000 — only $15,000 of his own money — and was released from jail last week.

Documents related to the pending charges in Washington state indicate a volatile personality. In one instance, he is accused of punching a sheriff’s deputy in the face, The Seattle Times reported. In another, he is accused of gathering his wife and young relatives and forcing them to undress, according to a Pierce County sheriff’s report.

“The whole time Clemmons kept saying things like trust him, the world is going to end soon, and that he was Jesus,” the report said.

Clemmons in now a suspect in the murder of four police officers  who were ambushed as they sat in a coffee shop.

What was Governor Huckabee’s criteria in deciding who to pardon? That was a subject of controversy even before his run for President…

If you’re wondering how Gov. Huckabee’s hundreds of clemencies compare with neighboring states, get ready for a shocker.
Huckabee leads the pack.
He has issued more commutations and pardons than all of the six neighboring states combined.
From 1996 through July 2004, Arkansas had more clemencies than all neighboring states combined. One-third of Texas clemencies were for people convicted with planted evidence.
Governors seldom reduce sentences in other states – and almost never for murderers serving life without parole or for rapists or for habitual drunk drivers, while in Arkansas it’s a regular habit with Huckabee.

Is it coincidence that Maurice Clemmons is alleged to have terrorized women while using religious language? Did the Christian narrative of redemption make Governor Huckabee susceptible to Christian inmates who claimed to have shed their former selves? Did Clemmons talk up his conversion?

I remember how the televangelists rallied for Karla Faye Tucker. Her execution was no triumph of justice and we would be no less safe if she were given life in prison. Still, I could not help noticing that many of the ministers who called for forgiveness supported capital punishment. They said that Tucker was ‘saved’ and an exception should be made. When God has forgiven, who are we to hold a grudge?

Forgiveness is a beautiful thing in the abstract, but it reality it can be tough and cost dearly. One of the most astounding acts of forgiveness this century was granted by an Amish community in 2006 to the gunman who killed five of their little girls and badly injured five others. Only they, who were so wronged,  had the right to make that call.

The office of governor gave Mike Huckabee the power to grant clemency. Did he use it, or abuse it? It would be a very cold world without mercy, but was that the motivation? Or did Governor Huckabee take it on faith that ‘saved’ meant safe and he need look no further? It would be interesting to review all the pardons he issued, and see if religion was a factor. How did he decide who to grant and who to refuse?

This is important, because religion is an unacknowledged force in politics. As a former fundy, I hear dog-whistles everywhere. I’m suspicious that Mike Huckabee let religious favoritism influence him, and that he released prisoners without due concern for the safety of the public.

If it turns out that Clemmons is guilty of this awful crime, Huckabee won’t be the first politician whose reputation suffers because of a pardon or parole gone wrong. But I fear that many of our leaders are influenced by religion, applying one standard to ordinary citizens and another to their brethren.