December 30, 2012

"A deranged woman who told cops she detests Muslims broke into a maniacal fit of laughter as she was charged with a hate crime Saturday..."

"... three days after she allegedly shoved an Indian immigrant to his death in front of a Queens train."
“Tell your client this is not funny,” Queens Criminal Court Judge Gia Morris thundered, speaking to defense lawyer Dietrich Epperson. “This is not appropriate.”...

Before she was ordered held without bail, prosecutors revealed [Erika Menendez, 31] has expressed no remorse — and even bragged about smoking pot and having sex with her “man in Brooklyn” after the murderous deed.

The deranged drifter - who witnesses said was mumbling to herself but never said a word to Sen before the fatal shove - ran downstairs from the elevated tracks after the attack....

A wild-eyed Menendez seemed startled as she was led out of the stationhouse in handcuffs, en route to her arraignment, about 8:30 p.m. Saturday....

“I know her. ... You could tell that something was not right, like she needed medication or something,” said [one doorman at her mother's apartment building]. “It’s just very sad what happened.”...
“When she didn't take her medication, she got wacko,” said [another doorman].
There are no guns to propose banning, and we're not going to ban subway trains or enclose the platforms in elaborate sliding panels. Maybe something more needs to be done to institutionalize the mentally ill or to supervise the taking of anti-psychotic medication. But one must observe that this subway pushing comes less than a month after an earlier subway pushing in NYC, one that receive a great deal of publicity. There are many murders, but some get more media than others.

A subway pushing is one of those riveting events that the media fixate upon. That becomes an idea vividly imprinted on millions of brains, which intensifies as they head down into the subway, see the platform, the platform's edge, the people standing near it, and hear the sound of the train coming into the station. Emotion is stirred. Most people either ignore that idea, or it's an idea that makes them step from the platform's edge and try to get a wall behind them or keep an eye out for odd movements. But some people are mentally ill. The idea rages up into a powerful impulse, the train is pulling into the station, and they can't resist.

The media reports are — I must assume — a causal factor in the creation of a murderous impulse that some people are not going to be able to control. And yet, the media have their own irresistible impulse to publish these highly stimulating stories, an impulse which, by linking, I am stimulating.

37 comments:

Lem said...

These newer trains cars are just too big.

Why do they need so many cars making the train heavier and the stopping distance that much much longer... when a smaller train would stop sooner allowing for more people to live and time for the professionals to arrive at the station?

Its obvious we need train control legislation. We need to get these high speed trains off the rails.

tim maguire said...

I don't believe media reports create murderous impulses, but they do suggest outlets.

Enclosing the tracks in elaborate walls and doors hopefully is workable because it's the only way to aircondition the platforms, which can be 10-15 degrees hotter than the outside (brutal in the summer).

Michael Haz said...

Ban subways. There is no constitutional right to have a subway.

Astro said...

Ever notice, mans laughter = manslaughter?

rhhardin said...

Enter the stations slower rather than 50mph.

The tradeoff is that it wastes a lot of time.

Lem said...

ese.

dbp said...

Since there are no guns involved, the narrative will be about how anti-Muslim hate is the cause. It will all be traced back to the tea party.

Ray Christensen said...

I have spent a decent amount of time in Japan, and I noticed that some of the newer subway lines had barriers outside of the doors, along the entire platform that only opened once the train has stopped and the train doors had opened first. It never occurred to me that this might be a suicide prevention measure (I think that is the bigger problem in Japan,) but perhaps that is why the new line was built with the barriers.

Leon said...

Very few crazy people read this blog and over here in comment land we know who they are. I'd not worry too much.

Ann Althouse said...

"Very few crazy people read this blog and over here in comment land we know who they are. I'd not worry too much."

Please follow the causal chain actually referred to in the post and tell me why I am not part of the problem.

jr565 said...

That makes me wonder. I wonder what happens when hate crimes intersect with bat shit crazy. Which trumps the other?
She hates Muslims, but she's also a cackling loon. Is she therefore responsible for her bigotry? Can you be bat shit crazy and also a racist, and should you get more jail time for the bigotry, but then less for the crazy?

How can you go after thought crimes, when the thought process is of a crazy person.

jr565 said...

That makes me wonder. I wonder what happens when hate crimes intersect with bat shit crazy. Which trumps the other?
She hates Muslims, but she's also a cackling loon. Is she therefore responsible for her bigotry? Can you be bat shit crazy and also a racist, and should you get more jail time for the bigotry, but then less for the crazy?

How can you go after thought crimes, when the thought process is of a crazy person.

Mitchell the Bat said...

I see no reason to believe that Erika Menendez made any effort, whatsoever, to resist some "powerful impulse," as if she were trying to resist a piece of chocolate.

There is a sub-class of the mentally ill that enjoys a kind of freedom that the rest of us can only imagine.

Deirdre Mundy said...

Obviously we need a two week waiting period and a background check before anyone can ride the subway.

edutcher said...

This happens in movies a lot. Maybe it's times to abandon movies.

Or Menendez can get a gig playing Eeevillll gen iuses.

Astro said...

Ever notice, mans laughter = manslaughter?

Benny Hill, 1971

Dante said...

Well, to the extent you create a backlash against sensationalizing these events, you are possibly changing the dialogue.

Fat chance. You are right. You aren't innocent, and ironically, neither am I.

Stephen A. Meigs said...

Perhaps s a better simpler approach than forcing marijuana consumers to take psychoactive drugs is to keep people from taking psychoactive drugs by punishing pushers and by taking steps to keep people (especially addicts) away from drugs. Just look at how the violent crime rate dropped after the drinking age was raised.

Pogo said...

"To see what is in front of one's nose needs a constant struggle."
Orwell

Corollary: You cannot see what you prefer not to see.

Aridog said...

Ann Althouse said ...

Please follow the causal chain actually referred to in the post and tell me why I am not part of the problem.

If you are one of those who "ignore" situational awareness, as you posed in your post, then you are part of the problem. You in essence create the environment for tragedy to occur, to you or to those around you. Your ambivalence has a price.

However, I suspect you are more like what you said immediately after the "ignore" comment...

Most people either ignore that idea, or it's an idea that makes them step from the platform's edge and try to get a wall beyond them or keep an eye out for odd movements.

Actually, I think most of us are aware of the situation around us most of the time. Some far more than others, but generally, we pay attention.

Personally, I learned the hard way long ago where inattentiveness was a almost certain bet to die or be severely injured. Most folks are smarter than that and learn by observing. Never stop observing your surroundings. Never.

Those who don't pay attention a majority of the time expect everyone else to care for them I'd guess. Does that juvenile philosophy sound familiar?

Aridog said...

Can someone explain to me how a person is certified mentally challenged and prescribed medication to ameliorate the condition ... and THEN turned loose to take the meds sporadically if at all? You trust the nut case to self administer? Isn't the nut case a nut case because they've proven they are not capable of the self management idea?

A classic WTF concept?

Oh, wait ... you can institutionalize them [here] for 90 days if you drop around $15K in legal fees. At the end of 90 days, the loon goes free or you can rinse and repeat, if you have the money. Most don't.

If it is a family member you love, no matter, the court is cruelly neutral due to the **modern** requirements for dealing with mental cases.

Michael Haz said...

Mental illness is dangerous. There should be a background check and a 72 hour waiting period before one can get mental illness.

Aridog said...

Michael Haz said...

Mental illness is dangerous. There should be a background check and a 72 hour waiting period before one can get mental illness.

Absolutely!

Now who gets to write the criteria for dispensation of a mental illness permit ...aka a BSC permit?

Broomhandle said...

"Sub-class.....can only imagine".

Very true. I've seen this in action many times. The loony can spend years getting away with behavior that would cause severe sanctions to be visited upon the normal.

Bob said...

In England I guess they use the knife. Maybe, someone should tell Piers Morgan.

Here's the map that shows the murderous state of the English heart.

http://www.citizensreportuk.org/reports/murders-fatal-violence-uk.html

openidname said...

The newer London subway stations have barriers, too. When I first saw them, they struck me as incredibly expensive nanny-statism.

Tully said...

I blame those scary military-looking subway trains. Paint Hello Kitty logos all voer them.

William said...

I don't think a subway pusher has the repellent allure of a school shooter. Subway pushers are sick and pathetic. School shooters are demonic and terrifying.....Don't take my word for it, but I think a school shooter is more apt to inspire copycats than a subway pusher.

HT said...

"There are no guns to propose banning, and we're not going to ban subway trains or enclose the platforms in elaborate sliding panels."

What makes you so sure?

I do agree that linking and writing stories about these murders, including mass murder, plant a suggestion in the next murderer and validate the action in their minds.

There have been good articles written about it, they are long and thoughtful, and not given to quick blog thoughts at all. I usually come away thinking that such sensationalism, and it is sensationalism, is part of our culture and economy, and to change it we would need to change so much else. It's embedded, for lack of a better way to put it.

But wow, AA - you sure are high on those meds (so to speak). Where's the mental illness test? Where's the test to know which med to force someone to take. So many people are on meds these days, but doesn't it seem like we hear more and more about these horrific events? Was this woman on meds? Was Adam Lanza? Ever? At the time of the murder? Where's your curiosity?

Finally, does anyone know if she tried to secure firearms? (I don't want to read much about this, and I sure as hell won't watch that video. How disgusting. Why would anyone want to watch it?)

Leon said...

"Please follow the causal chain actually referred to in the post and tell me why I am not part of the problem"

Well a challenge... and since this the first concrete evidence I have ever had that Ann has read one of my comments I feel obliged to respond.

To start with let me say that my comment was meant as a complement to both you as well as most of your readers as well as a jab at a few, who in comments, enter into shall we say, a lively discussion.

Ok onto 'the causal chain' insofar as you encourage any media in any way then yes it maybe some blame does lay on your shoulders. I'll concede that point. However ask yourself how much encouragement are you really giving anyone (apart from me in this very specific and limited instance). Would the people whom you link to stop publishing if Ms Althouse were to choose to stop blogging or linking. I think not.

This quote I feel is worth considering.
"A wild-eyed Menendez seemed startled as she was led out of the station house in handcuffs, en route to her arraignment, about 8:30 p.m. Saturday...."

It seems that the apparent killer had not given much thought to the consequence of her actions.
The point I was trying to convey in my comment was that even though crazy people undoubtedly follow impulses that are not original to them I very much doubt they get those ideas here. Ann you may not have not noticed but your posts are generally nuanced, somewhat dense and reasonable. Qualities that people who's thinking doesn't dip below 'I don't like xx push them in front of a train' have no time for. (my own conjecture)

So what are you to do. Well I for one believe a vigorous, considered debate is healthy. Keep it up. If you must, do as some I have read have done, and redact the perpetrator's name, replacing it with something maybe like this... {plumb crazy lady}.

Have a great afternoon, Leon

Laura said...

Self-medicated by California law. Did Wisconsin doctors write note?

Could cut her hands off, but she can still push. Without feet, she can still maneuver wheelchair. Properly dressed according to Sharia law, but is she married? Sex with boyfriend (i.e., wild eyed) is probably where to lay the charges. Extradite to Afghanistan? Circumsicion? Tough nut to crack, this case.

Where's the laugh track, NY editors? Would like clinical confirmation on "maniacally"...

Cross reference: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WaIJKM0sjdo.

Or add rubber baby buggy bumpers to trains, but I see more circumspect minds have beat me to train control.

jeanne babin said...

There's an entirely different way to look at these awful recent incidents. People wring their hands and shake their heads: "It's not possible to monitor their medication"...blah, blah, blah.

No, people. We made a collective decision to make ourselves feel good, compassionate and generous by allowing mentally ill people to "lead normal lives". "Normal" means they live among us with no guaranteed monitoring or oversight. We're not like those barbarians in the Middle Ages. Or even like that backward-thinking, more conservative USA of the '50s! No...in our America, everyone's equal whether they're sane or not.

That's fine, if that's what we want to do. But it's ridiculous to then pretend there's no consequence to that choice. There IS a cost. Andrea Bates. In Columbine, Virgina Tech, Aurora, Sandy Hook...all involved murderers who were known to be seriously ill by the mental health community. But we live in a society where no one wants to make a difficult and politically-incorrect decision. We treat it as "cruel" to institutionalize a troubled, violent individual. And they've made it far too easy for family members to avoid this terribly difficult (but responsible) decision.

We don't have to accept this. The mental health community has convinced us that they have no choice, even though they have no means or programs for monitoring patients, even to make sure they take their medicine. They have elevated patient privacy way, way above public safety.

But the mental health community won't change unless we demand it. They really don't want to make those hard decisions and they will go to great lengths to avoid the accountability. But we have to ask: Do we want to live in a kind, compassionate, politically-correct society....where a deranged killer might attack at any moment? An attack that could have been avoided.

HT said...

There is not evidence that Adam Lanza suffered from severe mental "illness." It certainly is not Aspergers. There is not evidence that even Seung Hui Cho had schizophrenia.

http://www.governor.virginia.gov/tempcontent/techPanelReport-docs/8%20CHAPTER%20IV%20LIFE%20AND%20MENTAL%20HEALTH%20HISTORY%20OF%20CHOpdf.pdf

Are you saying that the key difference between now when there are these mass murders on a regular basis and, say, the 1950s when there were not is that back then people could be confined a lot more easily? And that is the only key difference?

Aridog said...

HT....you read you linked article and found no evidence of severe mental impairment for Cho Seuing Hui? Really? Or are you just hanging your hat on the lack of a formal diagnosis of schizophrenia? At least...before he murdered a bunch of folks, eh?

I kind of speculated on his bat shit loony mentality when he was stabbing the carpet with a knife sitting by himself at a college party. Multiple behavior issues preceded that, with minimal intervention, if any.

I read it as a litany of official buck passing from his grammar school days through college. I think he parents tried...but that officially there was little resource for them.

The parents would not think that odd, because in Korea, after all, the loony folks, aka "mee-cha-suh," are let run loose just like here....in fact it is everyone's obligation to assist and feed them if homeless.

I especially love the part (typical as it is for shrink thinking) where at a young he he was prescribed an antidepressant to ameliorate the symptoms, not the underlying malady...then ceasing the prescriptions when Cho no longer exhibited the symptoms.

Surprise surprise...the symptoms returned and in worse form, so they gave them new names. If ever a kid was failed by our psychological and educational system it was this kid, Cho Seung Hui.

Adam Lanza's history no doubt will be similar..just add in a different distinctly anti-social kid and a mother (desperate or nuts herself, I vote for the latter) who teaches him to shoot multiple guns as a method of bonding with him. Surprise surprise...upon discovery of mummy's plan to commit him he flips out. Whoops.

The linked piece was a totally awesome "Cover Our Ass" piece for VT. 32 pages of finger pointing without a shred of resolution.

Let's talk about Ted Kaczynski next, okay.

In summary: @jeanne babin had it dead right...

No, people. We made a collective decision to make ourselves feel good, compassionate and generous by allowing mentally ill people to "lead normal lives". "Normal" means they live among us with no guaranteed monitoring or oversight. We're not like those barbarians in the Middle Ages. Or even like that backward-thinking, more conservative USA of the '50s! No...in our America, everyone's equal whether they're sane or not.

That's fine, if that's what we want to do. But it's ridiculous to then pretend there's no consequence to that choice. There IS a cost.

HT said...

Yes, I said Cho did not have a diagnosis of schizophrenia. I am not automatically against imprisoning those with this type of behavior, but much more evidence needs to be presented that it will work, which is why I asked the question I did in my post.

Also, no one - not one person that I have seen - in these comments is talking about a link between meds and violence. Most see meds as "working," I see them as glorified anaesthetics (at best) with severe "side" effects, including violence (not always, but often). Could his coming off the meds have been withdrawal effects? At any rate, we need to ask better questions and not automatically shut them down.

HT said...

To think of the wacko things I did 13-17, I'm glad I grew up in the days just before mass medication.

Please read stories of psychiatric survivors. At least just open up just a little bit.

Psychiatry is pretty much a failed profession. Why we are pushing more of it, is something I don't understand.

Aridog said...

HT....I hope you are excluding me in the group not connecting meds to violence. I was pretty clear about it, particularly the withdrawal phases even though I didn't say it that way.

I agree that medication is no substitute for direct personal treatment...they mask issues, treat symptoms, not maladies. Why anyone think otherwise baffles me...other than specific healing medications, they are all symptom hiders. In short, take them away and symptoms return, sometimes worse due to the withdrawal.

We do, however, have court systems than can protect the persons that others seek to confine....having been through it for loved one, I will tell you it is both arduous and expensive...and TEMPORARY. Rinse and repeat.

Yep, as a kid and young adult, I probably would have been put on a Thorazine drip given some of the insane shit done. Some guys got the kicks gambling or toking dope or fighting, me I got my high from taking physical risks. As a vet I saw too much Thorazine used on fellow veterans in the 70's & 80's or so....creates virtual zombies with on an ounce of healing.

I guess you could say I know a lot of "psychiatric survivors" among the veterans I know. Most, when they had solid enduring relationships with others, survived the crazies and have lead productive lives. Among the toughest to reach healing were those who had lost limbs or worse under fire. WTF do you say to a guy who is missing a leg, half of another leg and has mangled hands and a torn up face? You say I here for you now let's get going....and they do. It shames me to see those recoveries.

HT said...

Yes, I see. But you heartily endorsed a post that advocates imprisoning people like Cho, like Lanza and my question is - if psychiatry is failed in your view (and I'm not sure you think it is), then what is their treatment going to be? Who will be treating these people, if not people heavily influenced by the psychopharm model of meds, meds and more meds? Maybe you're saying it doesn't matter; the point is just to get them off the streets, I don't know.

I'd like to say something about how many on these boards harken back to the (much more culturally homogenous) days when it was easier to imprison people. I am not a sociologist so I can't say for sure. But my feeling is that in those days, it was considered shameful to have someone with mental retardation in the family, shameful to have a family member who was mentally unstable. 'Cancer' was a whispered word even. So the feeling in the larger culture was that it was best to hide such people. Most of us can remember incidences where this happened. My point is that the 'authorities' likely did not have to come in and yank the person in question out of the bosom of the family. Yes, maybe it happened a couple of times, but my guess is that it was far more common for the family to do it on their own, not because they were politically incorrect, but because they wanted to rid themselves of what shamed them.

Finally, that there is almost no dialogue here about access to firearms (yes, I see what you said) is also frustrating. How can you have a well-rounded discussion if any compromise on semi-automatic weapons is off the table? You can't! It's a one dimensional discussion in that case.