Jul 13

Hell hath no fury

July 13 - woman The alleged murders of erstwhile sports stars Steve McNair and Arturo Gatti have given new meaning to the old phrase, 'Hell hath no fury like that of a woman scorned.'

From what I've been able to piece together, McNair and Gatti both shared a fondness for the ladies, but made the mistake of two-timing the wrong ones. McNair was the apparent victim of a murder-suicide while Brazilian authorities say Gatti's wife is the lead suspect in his slaying.

McNair's assailant had purchased her murder weapon just days before, again pointing to the need for more stringent gun control laws. I'm not sure what Mrs. Gatti used to deliver the final knockout to her ex-pugilist hubby, but the odds are good she bought it recently.

Weapons of choice aside, what's with the sudden rash of cuckolded concubines committing the ultimate crime of passion? I'm sure there are myriad societal factors involved in each, not the least of which is the pro athlete's belief that he can do or say anything and get away with. And, I'm sure Mrs. Gatti's defense team is already preparing a case of justifiable homicide as the rationale for her actions.

Whether it's easy access to guns, sports stars who think the rules don't apply to them or criminals blaming society for their heinous actions, something has gone badly awry.

The same society that vilified Michael Jackson now worships him. Sarah Palin, despite delivering a rambling, nonsensensical resignation speech, remains beloved by seven out of 10 Republicans. And, now it looks as if the Bush Administration deliberately withheld classified CIA information from Congress. What's a reasonably rationale blogger to make of all this?

It all comes down to one word: accountability. The rules have changed and the guilty are no longer being held strictly accountable. Black is now white and white black.

If nothing else, aging and randy sports stars should study the McNair/Gatti massacres and think twice about their next liaison. In a society gone mad, mad women are feeling more empowered than ever.

May 06

What do ‘Saw 3,’ ‘CSI:Miami’ and working parents have in common?

I attended a presentation last night that was equal parts fascinating and disturbing. It was held at the Manhattan townhouse of a fellow Northeastern alum and featured Jack Levin, Ph.D., and co-director of NU's Brudnick Center on Violence and Conflict.

May 6 - violence Dr. Levin is arguably the world's leading expert on what he calls 'murder, mayhem and the media.' He studies serial killers, mass murderers and the rise of violence in society. Not your everyday line of work, to be sure. 

Levin says our hyper-violent society is spiraling ever further out of control. He cites a number of reasons why:

– the motion picture industry's rating system which, he says, goes virtually unenforced. As a result, kids as young as 10 are routinely allowed into theatres to watch such horrific slasher flicks as 'Saw,' 'Vacancy' and 'Basketball Diaries.'

– the lack of parental supervision at home. Moms and dads are both working nowadays (except the unemployed ones, of course). As a result, latchkey kids have unlimited access to the most violent programming on TV (Levin says most violent crimes committed by kids occur during the unsupervised, after school hours of 3-7 pm)

– an increase in not only the quantity, but the 'quality' of carnage on both the small and large screens. Levin says he's visited many crime scenes and attended countless autopsies, but the real thing is now being equaled, if not surpassed, in graphic reality by TV shows like 'Bones,' 'Law and Order' and the 'CSI' series. Levin says they routinely broadcast the most heinous, hideous and graphic images.

Now, add a dash of easy access to paramilitary weapons and a glorification of villains by the media and you have the final ingredients for widespread death and destruction. On the subject of media coverage, Levin showed us how the cover of People Magazine has dramatically changed since the magazine's introduction and now routinely features murderers and serial killers alongside the likes of Brangelina and Tomcat. Last, but definitely not least, we have the insatiable appetites of ordinary Americans weighed down by the drudgery of their lives who simply can't get enough blood and guts.

It's a toxic cocktail and one that Levin says has become more lethal with each passing decade. The only solution: boycotting TV programs and movies that carry such obscenities. It works, he says, citing Don Imus as a textbook example. Imus, says Levin, is 100 percent non-racist in his content since being fired by WFAN for his Rutgers' women basketball team comments a few years back.

The other solution? Disengaged parents need to engage the 'V-chip' on their cable boxes. If they won't supervise their kids' home viewing habits, says Levin, at least they can limit access to the most violent programming.

Levin shared a sad, sobering, scenario last night. For me, the bleakest parts concerned the future: things are very bad, only getting worse and no one really seems to be angry about it. What does it say about the image (if not the morals and ethics) of an entire population that allows this sorry state of affairs to continue unfettered?