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Posts by: "Mark Olshaker"

My friend Stephen Hunter is the Pulitzer Prize-winning former film critic for The Washington Post and bestselling author of the Bob Lee Swagger action thriller novels. Several months ago, he sent me a copy of his latest novel, a stand-alone entitled, I Ripper. He knew that John Douglas and I had written extensively about the Jack the Ripper Whitechapel murders of 1888 and were convinced we knew who the real killer was, and wanted to know what I thought.

Well, what makes Steve such a formidable novelist is that every time I said to myself, Wait a minute, that doesn’t make any sense! or, The real killer wouldn’t have been able to do anything like that! he outfoxed me, and I would end up thinking, Okay, I see where he’s going with this.

So I can highly and heartily recommend I, Ripper, published by my old friends at Simon & Schuster for anyone interested in a grippingly exciting, meticulously researched tale told by a pair of unusual narrators whose identities and raisons d’etre make for a walloping surprise of an ending.

But wait! There’s more!

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The Textualist

The Textualist

One more thought about gun control and the Constitution.

Among the staunchest legal defenders of the Second Ammendment is Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. When commentators describe him as an “originalist” or a “strict constructionist,” His Honor corrects them, saying he is a “textualist,” meaning that the text says what it says – nothing more or less – and if you want to interpret what the Framers had in mind, you have to go strictly by the text. If the Constitution has nothing to say on a given subject, then it is up to state and/or federal legislatures to create the law. But if it is included in the text of the Constitution, then that is the law unless or until a Constitutional ammendment to the contrary is passed.

Automobiles (driving tests and licenses) and smoking (government restrictions) are not mentioned in the text, but arms – that’s a different story, and it cannot be infringed.

But there may be a textual solution to our massive gun problem.

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Firearms in America

This latest time, it was a community college in Oregon, but as we’ve seen so many times already, it could have been anywhere. These mass murders have become so frequent, and even regular, that not only do I have no answers, I don’t have any more questions.

I don’t care who the shooter was, why he felt disaffected or disrespected, whether or not he was a quiet and creepy loaner who lived with his mother, whether or not he was bitter about women for not being able to get laid, if he hated African Americans, Jews or Christians. I don’t even care whether there were missed warning signs, because there are always warning signs – the same ones that present with guys like this who don’t resort to mass murder. I don’t care that he had “issues.”

All I care about is that he was easily able to obtain one or more firearms and plenty of ammunition.

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American Constitution

Some years ago, I worked on a program special for PBS, entitled “God and Country,” hosted by Gwen Ifill and Bryant Gumbel. It was about the often troubled relationship between religion and the American Constitution, so naturally, the subject of gay rights and same-sex marriage was central to the discussion.

In the course of my producing responsibilities, I interviewed a number of people – mostly men, as it turned out – who could be considered members of the “religious right.” Black or white, clergy or layman, political operative or uninvolved politically, there was an interesting consistency to their responses.

And now, with last week’s Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage, we’re going to have the opportunity to see if they were correct.

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John . . . and Jack?

John . . . and Jack?

In October 1988, in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of London’s Whitechapel murders, John Douglas was asked to appear on a two-hour live television special entitled “The Secret Identity of Jack the Ripper.” The program, broadcast from Los Angeles and hosted by British actor, writer and director Peter Ustinov, presented a number of the known suspects and presented evidence to help several experts evaluate the best candidate.

Several of the candidates suggested included the “sexy” ones: Royal physician Sir William Gull and Queen Victoria’s grandson, Prince Edward Albert, Duke of Clarence. But John ended up focussing on a Polish Jewish immigrant named Aaron Kosminski, who ended his life in an insane asylum.

This past week, the British Mail newspaper announced that a shawl found by the body of Catherine Eddowes, the fourth victim, has been linked by mitochondrial DNA to  Aaron Kosminski.

How about that?

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    My friend Stephen Hunter is the Pulitzer Prize-winning former film critic for The […]


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