Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Here Kitty Kitty

by Pat Brown

My daughter, Jennifer, the tough child abuse detective, called me the other evening in tears. One of her kittens, Baby Norris, was in a freak accident; a board fell on it causing a bad concussion. She had arrived home from work and found the kitten lying under the board, unconscious, blood coming out of its nose. She took it to the emergency animal hospital where she forked out hundreds of dollars for medicine she hoped would prevent brain swelling and save the cat's life. The doctors didn't seem all that hopeful that the medicine would work, but Jennifer felt she had to do all she could to help the kitten survive. After two treatments she took the still near comatose cat home. She put Baby Norris in bed with her and stayed awake most of the night watching him. He was still alive but weak in the morning and so she called for her brother to come over and stay with him while she was at work. She called home regularly for updates on Baby Norris's condition.

What makes Jennifer's concern doubly touching is that Baby Norris wasn't even a kitten she was keeping; it was one of the five she was giving away. And she didn't ask Daddy Norris, the future owner, to help with the bill. She felt responsible for the accident and so she forked out the money herself on a cat that, if it lived, wasn't even going to be her cat.

The story has a happy ending. Baby Norris made a complete recovery and went off to his new home.

A little Bronx kitty didn't fare so well. Tiger Lily, an adorable orange and brown kitten with big pointed ears, was tortured and murdered by 17-year-old Cheyenne Cherry. Cherry tossed Tiger Lily into a kitchen oven, closed the door, turned up the heat, and roasted the poor creature to death. Apparently, Cherry thought it was pretty funny and no big deal as she "doesn't like cats" anyway. Besides, she wanted to get back at her roommate and I am sure she got a big giggle thinking about her ex-friend's face when she opened the oven door and found the charred body of her beloved pet inside.

A week after that despicable story came out, we hear that a Florida teenager has been arrested in string of brutal cat slayings, charged with torturing, mutilating, and murdering at least nineteen of his neighbor's cats. Eighteen-year-old
Tyler Hayes Weinman is accused not only of horrific abuse of animals, but also of displaying their mutilated bodies in grotesque positions on the lawns of their owners. Weinman, the serial cat killer, like the coldblooded Cheyenne Cherry above, has no empathy for either animals or humans and gets his kicks out of causing extreme suffering, both physical and emotional, to other living creatures.

These two disgusting so-called human beings join a long list of violent psychopaths who enjoyed torturing and murdering animals in their youth. Serial killer and cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer liked to stick heads of animals on sticks in his yard. Serial killer
Edward Kemper decapitated his pet cat and stuffed it down the disposal just like he did his mother sometime later. Child murderer Earl Shriner stuck firecrackers into dog's rectums and spree killer Andrew Cunanan liked to stick lit matches into the eye's of crabs and then watch them stagger around blindly. And let's not forget the Columbine mass murderers, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, who bragged to their friends that they got a kick out of mutilating animals.

The list of killers who started violent crime careers with animals abuse is extremely lengthy. If fact, studies cited by the Humane Society found 46% of serial killers admitted to committing cruelty to animals as juveniles and 50% of school shooters had a history of animal cruelty. I can bet the numbers are actually much higher but some psychopaths hide their crimes better than others and some are simply lying about their past maltreatment of animals.

Does this mean all young people who torture and kill animals will become serial killers or mass murderers? No, but I think society needs to recognize the danger we are putting innocent people in when we don't deal with these psychopaths harshly enough. It is not okay to give them probation or a few weeks or months in jail and then send them back into our neighborhoods. It isn't even okay to suspend their sentence if they agree to get psychiatric help because no amount of therapy is going to cure them of their sadistic desire to inflict pain and suffering on others.

So what do we do with serial killers who haven't yet chosen humans as their prey? Our country is huge and our population transient. Neighbors often don't know each other at all and there is no way for citizens to be aware these predators are in their communities.

I think it is time we require violent repeat offenders and violent offenders of one extremely heinous crime to be registered, tracked, and "outed" just like sex offenders. In olden days, criminals had a harder time hiding because everyone knew who the bad guy was in their neighborhood. We should return to those days: if the violent criminal tries to hide among people who don't know him, we should do those people a favor and rat him out.

Violent offenders don't need a break; innocent people do.


Mary O'Grady said...

Don't forget George W. Bu$h. He liked to blow up frogs with firecrackers when he was a boy.

Anonymous said...

If you wanted a more direct way of outing felons of various types, why not place a tattoo on their foreheads?

A different Tattoo for each type of crime. Then when total strangers meet them, they instantly know what kind of threat they are facing.

The same concept as a list, but much more effective and harder to evade.

Just think of the value to society that each potential date/victim who sees the word, "rape" tattooed on the forehead of her date.

or the baby sitter with "cat killer" the tat.

Real freedom of information.

Existing resgisters in virginia do not tell what the person did, only that he is on the register.

Pat Brown said...

There are two useful behavior checks in society: one is legal punishment (isolation or physical suffering) and the other is societal punishment (isolation or emotional suffering). Both are effective in controlling negative human behaviors.

In theory, this is how those punishments are supposed to work:

When society punishes an individual for infractions that are inappropriate but not illegal, the individual is shamed and suffers loss of friendship and employment, etc. He then must change his behaviors and prove to his community that he feels remorse for his actions and has mended his ways. Eventually his community welcomes him back and he enjoys full benefits again. In reality, our society is getting more lax on society punishment and redemption which is why we see so much poor behavior.

Legal punishment should be similar, only more severe. Of course, the punishment should fit the crime. The worse the crime, the worse the punishment. We fail in our society in enacting this punishment in two ways. First, we are not severe enough and we do not come down hard enough on criminals. Violent rapists should receive life sentences because their crimes are to horrific to allow them freedom again. The easy probation and community service slaps on the wrist should end because it is a mockery of any punishment system to state what punishment will be given for what law broken and then not follow through.

But it is when the felon is released that we fall down the most. like societal punishment where the offender is supposed to prove himself remorseful and build back trust, we see, to think is when the felon gets out that our society has given him a free ride and not required him to accomplish the second step; he should have to prove his remorse and trustworthiness. He should have to work his way back up in society's eyes. But, we don't require this most of the time. The prison door opens and the felon can sneak back into society and pretend he didn't commit any crimes, that he is a regular citizen. He is allowed to "start fresh", a ridiculous idea that is unfair to the people around him. The second stage of punishment, that of redeeming oneself, must be a part of returning to society. Yes, it is very difficult but that is one of the deterrents to crime, knowing the price one must pay if one gets caught committing illegal acts.

The community has a right to know who its felons are, what they have done, how much time they have put in inside prison to pay for their crime, and what they are doing on the outside to regain the trust of society.

The old A on the forehead was only bad in that it wouldn't fade in time. An offender who has proven himself to be reformed will eventually have his crimes so far in the past and such a proven track record of good behavior, people will sstop worrying about him and even forget he once did wrong. Of course, I am not including those who should never be returned to society but all the others could redeem themselves with hard work and good behavior.

Jan C, said...

The lack of empathy that allows people to torture helpless animals is indicative of how they will treat anyone else they perceive as defenseless.

Pat Brown said...

Exactly, Jan. And one of the advantages such sick psychopaths have is finding new people or lone people who do not know anything about them which makes them defenseless. It makes perfect sense that sex predators must register so that they might get a job on the construction crew and not as a janitor in an elementary school. This is quite similar to some of the foolish foster care secrecy. I had a friend who took in an eight year old boy who then attempted to rape her four-year-old. She was not told he had sexual molestation issues. The boy should have been placed in a family with no children.

Violent predators need to be watched and they need to be identified until such time one can truly believe they are no longer violent. This should be the right of all honest and law abiding citizens.

A Voice of Sanity said...

Anyone who needs to be registered/tracked/tattooed/whatever needs to be in a restricted environment, i.e. prison etc. No exceptions.

Pat Brown said...

I quite agree! Unfortunately, our criminal justice system doesn't. So if the lions are released from their cages prematurely, we ought to have the right to know who they are and where they are prowling around out there.

Anonymous said...

So Pat,

You think that a child that is removed from a family that is sexually molesting him should be kept away from other children?

Pat Brown said...

Well, here we run into an interesting problem when it comes to young children become sex predators. This is an increasing problem. Sadly, a child who is attempting rape at such a young age (and I don't mean just copying some sex play he unfortunately was allowed to see or playing doctor) but the aggressive, violent assault of another child is indeed a danger to other children and those children shouldn't be put in situations with this child without adult supervision. This might require a special school or schooling situation where such children are continually monitored. It is a great burden all the way around but the option is to allow other children to be harmed so we do not have to work so hard or so the child sex offender gets a "normal" childhood - the rights and freedoms of other children - and we just cross our fingers and then apologize to a little girl whose life ends up being ruined. I will never understand why we feel the offender deserves a normal life but take away the normal life of an innocent person. This is unfair and unconscionable, in my opinion.

cheryl said...

I live in New Jersey. A few years ago a group of teenage boys broke into an animal sanctuary in the middle of the night, Popcorn Park Zoo. They proceeded to torture and kill several exotic (and some not so exotic) birds.

The judge who handled the case gave all of the boys probation. There was a community uproar about this, and one protester said "the torture and killing of innocent animals is very often a precursor to the killing of humans".

All of the boys who were arrested and tried and given a slap on the wrist for their crimes have been in trouble with the law since then. But one of them has recently been arrested and charged with murder. Of a human being.

shthar said...

I agree the girl is as guilty as a rat in a sugar bowl.

But the boy is merely accused.

Where are all the people who wail and moan when a conviction is overturned?

Are they taking the day off? Do they just have short memories?

Pat Brown said...

Good info, Cheryl. I think we need a very serious study of juvenile animal torture and future violence against humans.

There are certain lines that any nonpsychopath will not cross, absolutely will not cross. There are also feelings of guilt and remorse any nonpsychopath will feel if he accidentally or neglectfully or stupidly does something wrong. When clear lines are crossed and no feelings of remorse or guilt crop up, psychopathy is in play.

To kill animals as a hunter or to kill people in war takes one of two things: strong societal conditioning essentially brainwashing one into finding the act acceptable or psychopathy.

Now, before the hunters and vets jump all over me, see how this is true. It is against human nature to feel comfortable about killing for any reason, even to kill someone who is attacking your child. You may put a bullet through the guy's head but, afterward, afterwards one may suffer from guilt, in spite of the creep deserving that death.

I am a vegetarian and I can tell you that if I were starving in the woods and had a rifle, I would probably shoot a rabbit. I would feel guilty about it, but I would do it. If I ended up living in those woods for a year, I would probably get used to killing animals and eventually change my brain into believing that this is just how it is and I would stop sniffling every time I offed a bunny. These kills would be legal and approved by the society I live in. I am not a lawbreaker nor an enemy of society.

War is the same way. One can be trained to view the enemy as something not to feel guilty about killing. Otherwise, shooting at the opposition would be impossible. These kills are also legal and the shooter is not an enemy of society.

The problem with young kids and teenagers killing animals, torturing them, especially family and neighbor pets is that there was no societal teaching and no societal pressure to commit these acts. To do so is extremely antisocial and rageful. Society probably has taught the child to hate for some reason and hate he does and so he is attacking society and the beloved pets of that society, but the act itself is not societal approved. This is a line that crossed, a line crossed without regret, and once crossed indicates psychopathy of the most dangerous kind. Not only does the child feel no empathy for the animal that he had no reason to kill but no empathy for the owner who loves it. For that matter, the more innocent the animal, the more the psychopath enjoys killing it. Hence, one of reasons psychopaths particularly like killing children and teenage girls, especially church girls, as we see with the Columbine mass murderers.

Shthar is right; that girl is so very guilty. And when she explained why she did it you could see how absolutely remorseless she was about her act. At her age, she is not going to be saved and every day she is on the street is a day society is at risk for her reoffending in some way. Very frightening.

Anonymous said...

Lighten up! You sound like a whaco when you talk like that. I agree that people who hurt animals should be punished and given the help they need, but to equate every single one of them with serial killers is a bit of a stretch. Registering these people will ruin lives of people who could otherwise turn around and make something of themselves. Its like cutting off the hand of a thief who steals bread. Way too extreme.