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Would he be safe on the other side of the bars?

Would he be safe on the other side of the bars?

In response to our recent column about Terry Wayne Davis, the 44-year-old Illinois man who will either be tried or committed for allegedly having sex on multiple occasions with his five-month-old female Rottweiler puppy, and who had previously been convicted of sexual assault of a 16-year-old girl, one of our readers and correspondents poses an important set of questions. Essentially, Taylor UK14 begins with our premise that the only reasonably reliable predictor of future behavior is past behavior, and then goes on to wonder what can or should be done when that behavior is recognized.

In other words, can an examination of past violence prevent future violence?

As you might suspect, there is no easy answer.

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Terry Wayne Davis

Terry Wayne Davis

Through the twisted legal logic that often accompanies strange cases, 44-year-old Terry Wayne Davis has been declared “not sexually dangerous” by an Illinois court-appointed psychologist and is therefore considered fit to stand trial. If he were found sexually dangerous, he would not be fit to stand trial, would be eligible for psychological treatment and could only be tried in a civil proceeding. On the other hand, if he were sexually dangerous, he could be held in a civil commitment until psychiatrists or psychologists deemed him no longer dangerous.

The charge: Three counts of sexual misconduct with a neighbor’s five-month-old female Rottweiler puppy.

The court needs to hear from one more psychologist before making a final ruling on Mr. Davis’s sexual dangerousness. We don’t know him and therefore don’t presume to evaluate him, but there are several issues of which those who are tasked with that evaluation should be mindful.

And by the way: having sex with a dog is not funny.

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“Trick or Treat?”

“Trick or Treat?”

I don’t know about you, but notwithstanding the sympathetic portrayals in Birth of a Nation and Gone With the Wind, I’ve always thought of the Ku Klux Klan as the organizational impersonation of hatred, anger and evil. Its members burned crosses, lynched and terrorized African Americans, and weren’t too crazy (well, yes, they were crazy, but you get the metaphor) about Jews or Catholics, either. It was reasonable to assume, prima facie, that anyone associated with the Klan was a morally defective human being.

But now, it seems, the Klan is trying to “sweeten up” its image, and expand beyond its traditional message of intolerance. Who would-a thought?

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Mein Kampf

Mein Kampf

This past Monday, July 7, The New York Times ran an op-ed by my close friend Peter Ross Range, entitled, “Should Germans Read ‘Mein Kampf’?”

Since the end of World War II, Adolf Hitler’s autobiographical manifesto of hatred and power lust has been officially banned in Germany, as are many documents and iconography related to the Third Reich. All publication has been underground or on the Internet. But now, with the expiration of the copyright and a more historically studied perspective by the German government, a new version of the Nazi screed is being produced by the highly respected Institute for Contemporary History, which will publish a critical edition of the book with annotations by scholarly experts to set the work in proper context.

Peter Range suggests that this is a good idea: “But while the prospect of the Fuhrer’s words circulating freely on the German market may shock some, it shouldn’t. The inoculation of a younger generation against the Nazi bacillus is better served by open confrontation with Hitler’s words than by keeping his reviled tract in the shadows of illegality.”

Not everyone agrees.

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Slenderman

Slenderman

A number of our readers have questioned the ruling that Morgan Geyser – one of the two 12-year-old Wisconsin girls accused of repeatedly stabbing their supposed friend to impress the fictional Internet character Slenderman – is not competent to stand trial. This case seems to engender so many issues: assumptions about friendship, the legal age of responsibility, the line between fantasy and reality, nature versus nurture in child raising, the existence of evil.

So what does this competency ruling mean and how will it affect the disposition of the case?

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