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Posts by: "Mark Olshaker"
Robin Williams

Robin Williams

This is a variation and update of a column I wrote last year when two prominent radio hosts and motivational speakers committed suicide. Unfortunately, it is again relevant to the news.

It used to be when I would give speeches for victims’ rights organizations or homicide survivor groups, I would begin with this observation:

While all deaths are tragic, there is one type of death that is more tragic than all the others, and that is murder. In virtually all other deaths in our society, the individual is surrounded by a support system of some sort, whether it is family and friends, doctors and nurses, police, fire or EMT personnel, or selected others. Only in murder cases is the individual alone, bereft of friends, hope or comfort, terrified and often in pain.

After one such presentation in southern Virginia, a woman came up to me and stated she was moved by what I had said, but there was another type of death that fulfilled the same grim criteria.

And that was suicide.

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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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Paul Kenneth Bernardo

Paul Kenneth Bernardo

Paul Kenneth Bernardo, known as the “Scarborough Rapist,” is one of the worst serial sexual predators Canada has ever produced. Between 1987 and 1992, this charming and handsome accountant murdered at least three women and savagely assaulted and raped a multitude of others.  Among those he raped and killed was the younger sister of his wife, Karla Homolka, with Karla’s active compliance. Karla received a reduced sentence for agreeing to testify against her former husband and is now out of prison.

John Douglas’s FBI unit profiled the then-UNSUB after the abduction, rape, torture and murder of St. Catharine’s, Ontario schoolgirl Kristin French, and helped in tracking him down. We covered the case in our book, Journey Into Darkness.

Bernardo currently resides at Millhaven Institute in Bath, Ontario, where we hope he will remain for the rest of his natural life, though his sentence does not preclude the possibility of parole.

And it seems as if he might be about to get himself another wife.

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