Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Some peoples' kids

Proverbs 13:24:  He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes. The Birthday Girl (Part 2 of 2)

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Righting wrongs...healing hurts...restoring justice; it's hard work and serious business.

This is the first of a series of articles in which I'll be focusing on the restorative justice game..and the people, parties and players who happened to snag the spider's attention.

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2011 General Assembly preview: 
Lee bill brought 'restorative justice'
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In 2008, Pete Lee helped author a bill that set into statute a style of therapy for juvenile criminals and their victims that some people find radical. It’s called “restorative justice,” and it involves bringing offenders face-to-face with their victims.
Lee, a Democrat and now a newly elected state representative, said restorative justice drives home to an offender the consequences of his or her actions, and, in turn, can help relieve a victim’s anger and grief. This year, Lee wants to make restorative justice available to adult offenders.
Restorative justice can have incredible effects, said Lee, citing the case of Sandy Eversole.
In July 2009, Eversole was informed by police that her son, David, had been killed in a drunk driving accident. He had gotten into a friend’s car at a late-night party. The friend was driving more than 100 miles per hour on Garden of the Gods Road when he tried to make a right turn and clipped a median. The car spun out of control and rolled several times, Eversole said.
David was thrown from the car, and was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver suffered a black eye.
“We hated (him),” Eversole said. “We wanted him dead.”
Eversole and her family agreed to try a restorative justice session.
Eversole, her two sons, and her daughter-in-law confronted the driver, who said he hated himself for what he’d done.
By the end of the session, each of Eversole’s family members hugged him, and every one of them was in tears.
Lee said that restorative justice has been used by Manitou Springs for more than a decade. He said he thinks it could reduce recidivism and bring  peace to everyone involved in a case.
Eversole, meanwhile, has become a fierce advocate for restorative justice. She’s spoken at law conferences, to attorneys and judges alike, and said she’ll testify at the Capitol as soon as Lee’s bill comes up in front of a committee.

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As the lead-in story evidences, restorative justice was instrumental in helping Ms. Eversole heal from the death of her son.  The death of one's child -- I don't know, but I would think we'd all agree -- we're talking HELLA HARM.  

So, if restorative justice helped that family heal from that kind of harm, it would stand to reason that multitudes of people could find peace and healing from a whole host of f-ed up situations:  burglary...home invasion...molestation...stalking...just take a look-see:


To be perfectly honest with you, I noticed myself feeling increasingly victimized just watching this silly shit.

I'm not sure if it was my old-fashioned parents and their old-school brand of child rearin'...or just all that wholesome, black-and-white television what taught me early that, when begging pardon, it's only right and  proper to come holding one's hat in one's hand.  But then again, maybe it was just indicative of how much simpler times were back in my old neighborhood of Jurassic Park, Mayberry, U.S.A.

Is it that in my old age I've become a snobby, judgmental, old fuddy-duddy?  Because back in my day, this young man's sneakers, jeans and backward cap were not considered proper mercy-seekin' attire...and call me Rip Van Winkle, but I think it's still true that slouching is disrespectful.  

If the victim's goal was to make the offender feel bad, her arrows seemed to bounce right off the daft boy's head...either that or he's mildly deaf... or it's also possible that he couldn't care less.  Gotta hand it to the big, militant-looking black chick, though, who managed to gaze beyond the boy's indifferent front and glimpse all the kid's hurts and hopes and dreams.  Like a true peace-warrior princess, she graciously offered to let the little thief work off the value of the stuff he stole by doing some odd jobs in and around her home -- because  everyone deserves a second chance...right?  

Ah; well.  Maybe it's just the acting in these videos that's got me down...they were all just actors, weren't they..and all the world's a stage?  Surely, when these morality plays are really going downthe participants are far more serious and sincere, and the results far more meaningful and restorative...right?...Shirley??


Well...what are you waiting for, silly...don't just stand there  -- Let's Roll Up Our Sleeves, Sit Down, and Talk This Thing Out!  

Under the watchful eye of a highly-qualified mediator (preferred providers will have obtained a degree in Peacekeeping, Peacemaking and/or Peace Education from a recognized and accredited United Nations Institute of Higher Learning), the victim will gently scold the offender, who will in turn mumble an apology; during this time of rich and rewarding dialogue, the victim will learn some of the sad variables that combined and caused the whippersnapper to take the low road and get off track; the victim may also come to recognize his/her own actions and/or omissions that may have invited the offense.  After verbal apologies have been exhausted, the offender should present the victim with a monetary apology contract to artificially trigger the start of the healing infusions having long been proven to relieve all sorts of irritations.  The restorative justice session is considered a success when the victim is finally able to shake off the chains of her/her "victimization."  In a room full of sighed relief and crocodile tears, old hurts are healed, and bygones are let go:  voilĂ  -- Justice...Restored.

Let's consider a case of attempted rape:  clothes often speak volumes without saying a word; it's also been said that "you can't rape the willing." So, there are times when ya gotta wonder..why would any "victim" wear revealing clothing  except to actively seek out the sexual attentions of others?  A hem-line above the knee??  Come on, let's be real:  that's sensual, that's seduction, that's solicitation, that's sexthat's consent, friends...which is a far cry from rape.

From there, it's just a hop, skip and a jump to "thank goodness -- it could have been so much worse" contemplations.  The perp then explains how, in his culture, if a woman isn't wearing a burqua, then she's a prostitute; he then humbly apologizes for failing to pay the whore for his/her services, and offers to throw him/her a few extra bucks -- case closed.  The victim will come to realize that the poor guy was probably just cold, broke and lonely...and made the understandable error of mistaking the victim for a slattern offering comfort -- poor guy!

Just to be clear:  the boy who threatened the girls with the knife after being struck in his soft little head by a wadded-up piece of paper is not the bully; the two girls are the bullies...and the boy is the nitwit who caved under the pressure of all that bullying.  Hey, what can I say, a kid can only take so much.

(free-style rant begins now)

Is it too much to ask that the offender at least  feign some remorse at some point, just for appearance's sake, or am I being too demanding?  Because I don't see any remorse, not in any of these restorative justice instructional videos.

I can only imagine spending a couple of hours around a small table with a brat and beatnik...trying to word my "Hey, You -- You Victimized Me" lecture carefully enough so that the text-message-addled mind of today's troubled teen can process...and possibly...nay, hopefully, provide a small indication that the birdbrain understands s/he did the wrong thing, regrets it and sincerely desires to make things right.  Falling short of that, I might be tempted to knock over the table in my haste to wring the sloucher's neck.

As far as I'm concerned, if I ever agree to participate in this kind of peacemaking circle, then the crime committed had better have been minor enough for me to feel that a kid standing in the middle wearing a suit or a dress and a tear-stained face, blubberin' "I'm sorry" was a case of justice served; if the apology didn't seem sincere enough to me, I feel I should at least be given an opportunity to throw rotten tomatoes at the youngster...and maybe at his parents as well.  Otherwise, as a victim, I'd probably feel like I'd just been robbed a second time by a bunch of peace-lovin', fad-followin', flower children prone to hallucinate that anything less than love is hate, and anything less than peace is war. 

Certainly, nagging a child's conscience is challenge enough with one's own little rascal(s)...a task made even harrier since in restorative justice, the knucklehead in question is someone else's kid who you may not slap, yell at, pull the hair of or ground for a month.  

Thumbnail image for Christopher Blackstone.jpgYou may be asking yourself:  "Is restorative justice for me?"  Well, sure...RJ is for everyone.  For example, local and misunderstood misogynist, Christopher Blackstone,  might reap some restorative justice rewards and experience some internal healing...and I'm sure his ex-girlfriend is looking forward to the day when she can share with him how she felt after learning he'd stomped her puppy to death on Christmas Eve as punishment for not answering his calls or texts...and he can share with her all the ways she pushed him to it.

Where did all of this come from?  All I can think is that we as a society have watched so many episodes of Jerry Springer and Maury Povich...we've all seen the cathartic effect of being able to cat fight with the homewrecker who slept with your husband...we've all seen the expressions of relief when a line of seated Casanovas all find out they "are NOT the father" -- now, we want that same type of confrontation for ourselves, only not in front of a national private, with a few specially selected participants.  The persons facilitating this nonsense must be able to earn at least as much as Jerry Springer or Maury Povich.  Oh, yeah, NO CAT FIGHTING ALLOWED.  

Restorative justice has been such a wild success in the classrooms that the experts agree:  it's not just for kids anymore; soon, all of us will have the opportunity to address issues of crime and punishment by talking and sitting and talking and sharing and talking and writing and talking and planning and talking about everybody's feelings -- to be honest, it makes me feel all funny inside just thinking about talking about all of it; thanks for letting me sit and talk and rant and talk and share my feelings on this with you.



Consider the mother whose sassy youngster just called her "a bitch."  The "peacebreaker" parent's first impulse might be to instantly deliver a smart slap to the child's face, and hope not to have to deliver another.  But peacemakers know that it's never, ever ok to strike a child...and besides, who wants to risk catching a child abuse case?  

For manifold reasons, parents cannot or will not bring themselves to discipline their precious young'uns...their confidence in their own parenting skills and rights shamelessly eroded by a bunch of liberal elitists with college degrees, utopian dreams, and social science experiments without number...these experts, ready to take the reins from the hapless parents and show everybody how childrearin' is really done.

Folks...what I'm about to say might seem quaint and unpolished, perhaps even a little backwards and harsh...but:

maybe justice wouldn't even need restoring -- indeed, perhaps it would still be intact -- if one or both parents had taken the time to teach their child self-control, etiquette, common courtesy, and the difference between right and wrong...reinforcing these day-to-day lessons with love and appropriate disciplinary measures. 

Why is it rational and reasonable for secular humanist eggheads to believe that their Utopia is attainable...but people with a faith in God, Heaven and the Bible are superstitious simpletons?

Listen:  a swift swat on the diaper-swaddled butt of a toddler does not child abuse make; indeed, it just might be an ounce of prevention that's worth more than ten pounds of restorative justice cure.  Smart parents and anyone with a shred of common sense understands that the pain is not the point of spanking -- but grabbing a little kid's attention and impressing upon that child the importance of minding his mom or dad IS.

No offense, but my husband, Fred Flintstone, and I, his wife Wilma, have managed to raise our kids to be loving, smart AND obedient without ANY of this touchy, feely and CERTAINLY PRICEY commie crap.  And to be perfectly honest, we did it without any religious stuff, as well.


1.  Their mom and dad are married.
2.  Discipline has been consistently administered, appropriate to the age and offense.
3.  Too much time in front of a monitor is not permitted  (TV, Computer, X-Box, Playstation).


The Ten Commandments
even if you're an atheist...aren't numbers 5 through 10 pretty decent guidelines for life?
  • 1.       You shall have no other gods before me
  • 2.       You shall not make for yourself an idol
  • 3.       Do not take the name of the Lord in vain
  • 4.       Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy
  • 5.       Honor your father and mother
  • 6.       You shall not kill
  • 7.       You shall not commit adultery
  • 8.       You shall not steal
  • 9.       You shall not bear false witness
  • 10.   You shall not covet

(next up:  Sanford E. "Pete" Lee, Giving Tree Montessori, and other Peacekeeping Fun)

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