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A Unique Perspective on a 'Game-Related' Tragedy

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the for-low-values-of-related dept.

The Media 378

Megnatron writes "Penny Arcade has a letter from the stepmother of one of the kids who was recently charged with killing a homeless man. Her article is an extremely sobering tale of the problems dealing with troubled teen. She explains how, in this situation, the parents did everything they possibly could. And, in a refreshing twist, she absolves the games industry of any blame for the tragedy these kids perpetrated. From her missive: 'Video games DID NOT make this kid who he was, and it's unfortunate that the correlation is there. The thing that really gets me with this whole thing is that the kid knows full well that by equating what he's done to a video game, that he will generate controversy and media coverage. It makes me sick that the media is jumping all over this, because that is exactly the result that he wants. The only good thing (if there is such a thing) that has come out of this whole ordeal is that the kid is behind bars. That is exactly where he needs to be.'" Her letter is a passionate, troubling story, but well worth reading.

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378 comments

Scarily familiar... (4, Interesting)

RogueyWon (735973) | more than 7 years ago | (#18112678)

My word.

It's quite impressive really, how a web-comic that deliberately sets out to be juvenile and offensive so often ends up involved in a reasonably respectable way in some pretty big news stories.

I know this probably isn't the most appropriate comment, but I this whole thing really does remind me strongly of this book [amazon.com] . In fact, the echos are bordering on being uncanny. I guess it all boils down to the question of whether somebody can just be "born bad".

The evidence both from this case (if the account here is to be believed) and my own experiences is "yes, they can". I'm not sure anybody in the political or academic estabishments really want to face up to the implications of this, though.

Re:Scarily familiar... (5, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#18112826)

I guess it all boils down to the question of whether somebody can just be "born bad".

Frankly, all of science points to the answer being "yes". In fact there are numerous examples of people becoming downright evil from head trauma. And just like the ending of fight club, there is at least one case where the opposite is true. (Truth is stranger than fiction, after all.)

In fact a fairly recent study also stated that those people who are just happy all the time no matter what haven't made a decision to be that way. It is not an exercise of will. Those people are actually physiologically different.

The simple truth is that some people simply are born bad. I'm torn on whether we should be curing them, or implementing George Carlin's idea and turning the four corner states into a gigantic prison, and just throw them in there.

Re:Scarily familiar... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18113370)

Frankly, all of science points to the answer being "yes".

Bullshit. Please show any evidence that "all of science" or any science says that people can be born bad.

Re:Scarily familiar... (3, Informative)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 7 years ago | (#18114038)

There's a classic case of Gage Phineas ( http://www.damninteresting.com/?p=231 [damninteresting.com] ), for example. And a lot of cases in WWI and WWII with personality-changing head injuries.

Phineas Gage...not Gage Phineas (0)

Lurker2288 (995635) | more than 7 years ago | (#18114508)

...and yet still moded informative. ;)

"Born Bad"... (3, Insightful)

Moryath (553296) | more than 7 years ago | (#18113820)

Some people are not psychologically designed to respond to stimulus the same way; some are visual learners, some are auditory, some learn better from example and demonstration, some more from reading, some from fidgeting around with things till they understand how it operates.

Some are born completely without the ability to discern cause and effect, and some are born with a complete psychological immunity to corrective tactics.

Some are pathological liars.

Yes, you can be "born bad." I've seen it many times. There are schoolteachers who think "no kid is really a bully" and try to "understand" everyone: these schoolteachers are retarded fucktards who let bullying happen.

The same goes for the retarded fucktards who took the kid's word over the parents who were screaming for protection and help in trying to discipline him.

Word to the cops: if the PARENTS are begging you to put him in jail and prosecute, WHAT THE FUCK do you think you're doing handing him back off?

Those cops should be fired for laziness and incompetence.

Re:"Born Bad"... (5, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#18114060)

Yes, you can be "born bad." I've seen it many times. There are schoolteachers who think "no kid is really a bully" and try to "understand" everyone: these schoolteachers are retarded fucktards who let bullying happen.

This is not an example of what I am talking about. That particular issue can happen from either nature or nurture. Letting the kids get away with their shit is rewarding that behavior because it places them above other children for whom there is zero tolerance. Like me, for example. I was a mama's boy up until I was about 21, no joke. Total pussy pushover. I used to get attacked at school literally every day. If they weren't hitting me they were destroying my bicycle, that kind of shit. So one day a kid attacks me without any backup and keeps it up until I get pissed off - all 5'11" of me or so at that time. I've been pretty huge since about the end of sixth grade, that was the year I started getting the nonstop growing pains. So I beat the living crap out of him and got expelled.

The same goes for the retarded fucktards who took the kid's word over the parents who were screaming for protection and help in trying to discipline him. Word to the cops: if the PARENTS are begging you to put him in jail and prosecute, WHAT THE FUCK do you think you're doing handing him back off? Those cops should be fired for laziness and incompetence.

Yeah, I have to agree completely with that.

The real problem there is that the system isn't interested in helping people anyway, or rehabilitating anyone. If they were, the prison system wouldn't be allowed to remain a mass of murder and rape that only begets additional violence and not only provides opportunities for people to learn to commit more serious crimes, but also provides them with incentive to do so because we continue to punish people after they have ostensibly served their debt to society. They cannot get many types of jobs, they cannot vote, et cetera. The only reason to disenfranchise ANYONE is so that you don't have to fix the problems that affect them. Disenfranchising felons means you don't have to fix the problems that create felons, because those people can't vote you out anyway.

No, if you stop that kid from being a bully now, you can't make money on him by placing him in prison.

Re:"Born Bad"... (2, Insightful)

Moryath (553296) | more than 7 years ago | (#18114288)

The teachers who let the kids screw with your stuff? They're to blame. They're the retarded fucktards I was talking about.

I went through a system where if there was anything going on, each kid got punished equally. Why? Because the school organizers were retarded fucktards who couldn't be bothered to get to the bottom of what was going on, who started what, and thought "no kid is a bully."

What was the end result? Half the kids in 'detention' were otherwise honor students who were there because the bullies who didn't give two shits about their education would start a fight with those kids just for fun. Detention didn't mean shit to the bullies, but they knew it would fuck over the honor students, so they did it anyways.

I'm sure the school administrators and teachers at the kid's school, or at yours, were no different.

Re:Scarily familiar... (1)

sckeener (137243) | more than 7 years ago | (#18114126)

The simple truth is that some people simply are born bad. I'm torn on whether we should be curing them, or implementing George Carlin's idea and turning the four corner states into a gigantic prison, and just throw them in there.

Mars or the Moon...or even Africa (after AIDS)

we just need some place to ship them.

Re:Scarily familiar... (1)

Brigade (974884) | more than 7 years ago | (#18112848)

Unfortunately, it would be the minority that would bother to investigate the truth situation (for study or enlightenment).

Bigger media (and money) is to be had for ignoring this side of the story, and instead pulling a Jack Thompson.

How much news coverage did the "Video Games Good for Surgeons" story get? And how much has THIS story generated?

Re:Scarily familiar... (5, Informative)

spun (1352) | more than 7 years ago | (#18112870)

I don't think there is any question that people can be born bad. It's called anti-social personality disorder, and in its more extreme forms, sociopathic or psychopathic. There is an acronym for remembering the diagnostic criteria: corrupt.
        * C - cannot follow law
        * O - obligations ignored
        * R - remorselessness
        * R - recklessness
        * U - underhandedness
        * P - planning deficit
        * T - temper

Here's the checklist for a psychopath
      1. Glibness/superficial charm
      2. Grandiose sense of self-worth
      3. Need for stimulation/proneness to boredom
      4. Pathological lying
      5. Cunning/manipulative
      6. Lack of remorse or guilt
      7. Shallow affect
      8. Callous/lack of empathy
      9. Parasitic lifestyle
    10. Poor behavioral controls
    11. Promiscuous sexual behavior
    12. Early behavioral problems
    13. Lack of realistic, long-term goals
    14. Impulsivity
    15. Irresponsibility
    16. Failure to accept responsibility for own actions
    17. Many short-term marital relationships
    18. Juvenile delinquency
    19. Revocation of conditional release
    20. Criminal versatility

That's a pretty clear definition of "bad."

Re:Scarily familiar... (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 7 years ago | (#18113524)

Jeez, I think you just described half the members of my WoW Guild.

-Eric

Re:Scarily familiar... (3, Funny)

rkanodia (211354) | more than 7 years ago | (#18113832)

You're on slashdot? The raid started half an hour ago; that's a minus fifty dee kay pee!

Re:Scarily familiar... (3, Funny)

Xaroth (67516) | more than 7 years ago | (#18114344)

There's an easy acronym for that one, too; just remember "GGNPCLSCPPPELIIFMJRC". Simple!

Re:Scarily familiar... (1)

ubergenius (918325) | more than 7 years ago | (#18112958)

I... I have no words. None. Poor woman. I hope this man spends a great deal longer in jail than he can stand.

Re:Scarily familiar... (5, Insightful)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 7 years ago | (#18113538)

Ultimately, humans have free will and choose their own actions. Saying someone is "born bad" is equivilant to saying that they have been possessed by Satan. It's not a valid argument.

I'll will admit that people can be born with violent temperaments. They can be born with harsh attitudes or a lack of empathy. However all but the most severely mentally disabled are born with free will and the ability to reason. People may not intuatively understand right from wrong, but they still know what is acceptable and what is not.

This is why I don't accept the argument that someone is not responsible for their actions because they've had a "hard life" or were "born bad" or live in a "bad neighbourhood". I can be sympathetic, but ultimately I must insist that people take responsibilty for the decisions they have made. I don't think it's a lot to ask.

Blaming society, or genetics, or your parents, or video games or anything else for decisions you yourself have made is an insult to everyone who does accept the consequences of their actions. It's an insult to your own dignity as you are claiming you have lost your own free will.

There are people in this world who were born with physical and mental disabilities. People who have suffered accidents, abuse, insult, poverty and hardship of every kind. Even people who play video games. And most of these people live their lives, despite having to work that much harder at them. They overcome their problems, make an honest living and contribute to the society they live in. Often they contribute more than other more fortunate individuals. Even people with violent personalities or troubled pasts can still find a positive place in society.

When you argue that people are "born bad" or otherwise don't have free will, you're arguing that all these people are wasting their time. That they will never overcome their difficulties and they should either give up an committ a crime, cause trouble, go insane or just kill themselves. That is a flawed assumption. We all have the power to change our own lifes, and to alter the course of our lives. That's what seperates humans from animals.

This kid could have lead a better life. He chose not to. It had nothing to do with his mental chemistry. That was solid enough to allow him to dress himself every morning, walk without stumbling and converse with people when he needed to. He wasn't born bad. He chose to be bad. His parents didn't make that choice. Neither did his genes, or his playstation, or his neighbourhood. He did. Anything else is just an excuse.

Re:Scarily familiar... (3, Insightful)

Longfinger (568282) | more than 7 years ago | (#18113928)

Ultimately, humans have free will and choose their own actions.

What makes you say that? Free will is an assumption, not a scientific fact.

Re:Scarily familiar... (5, Insightful)

argStyopa (232550) | more than 7 years ago | (#18114028)

When you argue that people are "born bad" or otherwise don't have free will, you're arguing that all these people are wasting their time. That they will never overcome their difficulties and they should either give up an committ a crime, cause trouble, go insane or just kill themselves. That is a flawed assumption. We all have the power to change our own lifes, and to alter the course of our lives. That's what seperates humans from animals.

In a sense, that's irrelevant to society, however. Philosophically it's all well and good, and well worth debating into the long, dark hours of the night.

Society as a whole is (or should be) unconcerned. If a human CHOOSES to act like a wild animal - in fact, worse than one if you concede free will - he should be treated as one: caged, cared for to a minimal standard of care, and ultimately if not able to behave within norms that society sets - euthanized.

For example, I know that Alfonso Rodruiguez was someobody's little boy, once. But now (after his rape and murder of Dru Sjodin) he is simply a human-shaped dangerous nuisance that it is in the public interest to remove.

As far as the OP's lad, he's not stupid. He knows that society will give him chance after chance after chance, in the vain hope that he will develop something analogous to a conscience. Why should we bother? Because of "Human compassion"? Pull the other one - I have more pre-emptive compassion for his next victim than I ever would for him.

Sociobiology of sociopathy (1)

phunctor (964194) | more than 7 years ago | (#18114246)

A sociopath is perfectly suited to transmit his genes through a population bottleneck. The anomalous persistence of these poorly adapted (to our cooperative times) eigenexpressions of the human genepool is due to the genetic amplification effect of such population bottlenecks.

Such people are dangerous and need to be restrained from hurting others. Except when things are seriously messed up. Then you want them for allies. Who knows, maybe he'll eat you last.

Blame as such really isn't relevant. It's like whining because there are sharks. Reality doesn't care *how* bad you feel about the necessity to kill the sociopath, lock him up, or bury your loved ones when he's done with them.

--
phunctor

Re:Scarily familiar... (2, Interesting)

shambalagoon (714768) | more than 7 years ago | (#18114282)

I agree that he has free will and is responsible for his actions, and he should be held 100% accountable for what he's done. But I would argue that his free will is limited by his mental state due to physiological factors.

People can be born with certain genetic deficiencies in neurotransmitters or enzymes that can lead to a pathological mental state. Think of it as a disease like any other mental disorder, akin to Tourette's syndrome, schizophrenia, autism, etc. Someone with Tourette's doesnt choose to exclaim obscenities. And you cant fix the condition with any amount of positive or negative reinforcement. In the same way someone born like this boy has all the built-in selfishness that all humans have but are unable to feel the sort of empathy or social connection to others that leads to altruistic and positive social behavior.

Drugs like MDMA (ecstacy) show that there is a definite neurochemical element in empathy, and there are all kinds of genetic mutations that cause endogenous chemical deficiencies. It should not seem a leap that there could be a mutation that causes such a deficiency. And its resistance to any social attempts to change it appear to be further evidence in that direction.

Back to the idea of constrained free will. We make decisions based on all the factors and motives available to us. If we are completely unable to feel empathy (a sort of blindness, in a way), that will never factor into our decisions. It wont be a matter of choice to behave in a psychopathic way or not except when huge external factors are pressing in. But the second those pressures are removed, the behavior will become psychopathic again.

Re:Scarily familiar... (1)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 7 years ago | (#18114704)

humans have free will and choose their own actions.

All people do what they think will make them happy. People don't really have a choice in the matter. Of the options available to it, the human brain may opt for long-term over short-term happiness, or this happiness-causing decision over that happiness-causing decision. But that is not a true choice, it is a limited one.

Most people have a specific physical construct in their brains that causes them to be empathetic: Making other people happy makes them happy, and making other people sad makes them sad.

Suppose someone is born with a birth defect which causes this neural construct to work in reverse: Making people sad causes this person to feel happiness, and making people happy causes this person to feel despair.

Does this person have a choice? Not really. The brain is a happiness-seeking device. It does NOT have the choice to choose things actions that will NEVER make it happy.

Re:Scarily familiar... (1)

Avatar8 (748465) | more than 7 years ago | (#18114180)

I guess it all boils down to the question of whether somebody can just be "born bad".
This points to a very fundamental conflict that my friends and I have debated for years, and I'm sure it has probably surfaced or been researched before in various circles.


My friends, like you, state that people are basically born "bad" or "evil" and must make a conscious effort to be civil to other people and in general be "good."

My stance is that people are born "good" and they let environment and their own conscious choices influence their actions and turn them "bad."

I'd guess there may have been experiments in this. I've never watched the show, but by descriptions from co-workers I think the "Survivor" show is a good example of these situations. Provided an impetus (prize money), deprived of comfort and forced to struggle to satisfy basic needs (sort of), people react differently. Some will become a leader, make sure everyone is taken care of and in general, exhibit "good" traits for the betterment of the whole tribe. Others will do almost anything to make sure they are the only one that will survive at the expense of everything and everyone else.

My friends often use caveman examples. If one group of cavemen had the basics (water, shelter, warmth, food) and the other lacked any one of those, most likely conflict would ensue because there is a need.

If all of the basics are provided for, then by my hypothesis, everyone can be good because there is no need to be bad. In reality once the basics are provided, people then get greedy and want more again causing conflict.

Some people are satisfied with who they are and what they have; others are never satisfied no matter how much they have.

The former (minority in my opinion) give hope that mankind will transcend and become a successful species that can surmount any obstacle; the latter (the majority) will drag mankind into ruin and ultimately bring about our destruction.

Gabe's Original Take, Her Response (5, Informative)

Brigade (974884) | more than 7 years ago | (#18112780)

Link to Gabe's original post [penny-arcade.com] and her response: (In case Penny-arcade is blocked at work)

Gabe,

Your news post about the kids and the homeless man yesterday made me sick to my stomach, before I even read the CNN article. I knew what it was going to be about before even reading the article. It was not the article itself, or even your post that made me sick, it was the fact that I know this boy. Or, rather that I could be considered one of the "parents" of this boy.

The boy's father and I have been together for almost seven years, and I had what I guess could be called a "stepmother" relationship with the kid. To say that living with this kid was hell would be a complete understatement.

I don't think I have ever actively hated anyone in my entire life, but this kid just makes my blood boil.

As I write this, my teeth are clenched, my hands are shaking, and my whole body is seething with the hatred I feel for this kid and what he has done. Seeing the article brings back all the horrible memories from when he lived with us.

He was constantly in trouble in school, with the cops, with us, with his mother, and with anyone else who was an authority figure. Not a week went by that the school or the cops wouldn't call us for something. His attitude was basically "fuck you, I don't have to listen to you" said with a shrug.

We tried absolutely everything we could think of to get him to behave like a normal human being... we tried groundings, negative reinforcement / punishment, positive reinforcement, counseling, and anything and everything the counselors suggested. We tried to get him interested and involved in extracurricular activities, like hockey, drama, music, art, anything, but he got himself kicked out of every group he was in with his "make me" attitude. When we would ground him, we took away everything. No TV, no computer, no phone, no leaving the house, no snacks or junk food.... Everything. When he was grounded, he was only allowed to sit in his room and read or draw. He was actually a pretty good artist, and we tried to encourage him to spend his time working with his talent. He would just sit there and take it... the groundings had absolutely no affect on him at all. Most of the time, he didn't even remember why he was being grounded. At the end of it, we would ask him if it was worth it to have everything taken away in exchange for what he did... he usually just shrugged. He could be grounded for weeks, or a month at a time, and then the very next day would do something to get back in trouble again. Most kids get grounded or punished a couple of times, and then they want to avoid having to go through it again... not this kid, nothing seemed to phase him.

And we're not talking the usual teenager stuff, like coming home late, or refusing to do the dishes. We're talking stealing cars, setting fires, drinking, getting picked up for drugs, beating up handicapped kids at school (yes, really) stealing things out of our house... all with this "I'll do whatever the fuck I want" attitude.

We had absolutely no idea what else we could do. We already had him in counseling, and we did everything the counselors suggested. We tried rewarding his good behavior (what little there was) to try to get him to see that when he behaves like a normal human being, things are good and people enjoy being around him. Nothing phased him at all.

Then, things took an even worse turn when he decided that whenever he didn't get his way, or we did something he didn't like, he told his counselors and teachers that we were abusing him. (Never happened.) And for some inexplicable reason, everybody believed him. I understand that child abuse is a very serious situation, and that they have to take every possible case seriously, but this was clearly a case of him manipulating people to get what he wanted. We had people from the school, cops, and social services over at our house or calling us on a weekly basis stating some new abuse that he had made up. At 14, the boy was already 6'3" and over 200 pounds. Of course, there was never a mark on him, because no such abuse ever took place.

One particular night (cops involved, as always) he decided that he didn't have to listen to anything we said, and that he wasn't coming home. He went to live with his mother, where things got worse by the day. He stole everything out of her home and sold it. He invited gang-bangers and drug dealers to her home, and she feared for her safety constantly. She called the cops numerous times because she feared for her safety, but again, the boy said that she abused him, and the cops always took his side. (For reference, the mother is about 5'3" and barely clocks in at 115.) He planted a loaded gun in her room, called the cops and told them that it belonged to the mother's boyfriend. The boyfriend actually ended up serving time because of this fucking bastard kid. She had two other young children in the house, and the gun and the abuse charges were an intentional plot to get the other two kids taken away from her. She tried restraining orders against the kid, but since he was a minor, they wouldn't allow it. Every time he got picked up, she pleaded with the cops to take him to jail, maybe that would finally get though to him, but they just kept bringing him home to her. I don't understand why everyone who was involved with this kid just blindly took this juvenile delinquent's word over all else!

The night that he and his friends murdered that poor homeless man, the mother said that he was acting particularly cocky. Then he threatened to kill her. We had absolutely no idea of what he had done until they found the man's body. He was immediately waived into adult court (at 15) and sentenced to 15 years. We were all absolutely sick with grief for this man.

We were also sick with guilt... "What could we have done differently?" was a constant question in all of our heads. After the kid was sentenced, all the cops, counselors, social workers, and people at the school that had been dealing with him contacted us and his mother and apologized for not taking us seriously. They are all trained to take all accusations of child abuse seriously, and as a part of that they blindly took the kid's side for everything, and dismissed us as "the lying abusers". Many of them told us that they wished they would have taken our pleas for help seriously. Everyone thought we were exaggerating about how fucked up this kid was.

I completely agree with your statement of "These kids were twelve kinds of nuts and that's a fact." But the reason I am writing this to you is that, after reading your news post yesterday, I felt that I needed to defend the boy's parents. His mother and father and I did absolutely everything we could think of to try to keep this kid in line. Even the kinds of things that normal teenagers get in trouble for would have been a blessing compared to what we've been through with him.

What I gave you today is a very small sampling of the kinds of things we were dealing with every single fucking day with this kid. When people hear about what he's done, I can always sense the "I'm sure there was something you could have done" comment coming up. What would you have done? How do you deal with a kid like this? Like I said, we did everything the counselors suggested, and nothing seemed to matter.

If you want to add another element to the "nature vs. nurture" idea, this boy has a brother. Both boys were raised in the same house, with the same values. The brother has developed into a kind, considerate, responsible, and independent young man. He is currently working his butt off right now to save up money to go to school for architecture. The only thing I regret is that we spent so much time and energy dealing with the bad kid that this boy missed out on having a normal family life with a normal sibling relationship.

I am sorry this got so long. I have been reading PA since the very beginning, and I feel that both of you are very much like me. I think we are the same age (29) and I have been a lifelong gamer like the two of you. I can't stand hearing about the so-called correlation between games and real-life violence. Video games DID NOT make this kid who he was, and it's unfortunate that the correlation is there.

The thing that really gets me with this whole thing is that the kid knows full well that by equating what he's done to a video game, that he will generate controversy and media coverage. It makes me sick that the media is jumping all over this, because that is exactly the result that he wants.

The only good thing (if there is such a thing) that has come out of this whole ordeal is that the kid is behind bars. That is exactly where he needs to be.

Again, I'm sorry about the length of this. Thanks for allowing me to "tell my side" of the story.

Re:Gabe's Original Take, Her Response (1)

JensenDied (1009293) | more than 7 years ago | (#18113254)

Since you posted the letter I'll post what gabe wrote

Yesterday I made a post about the teenagers that murdered the homeless guy and then blamed it on violent games. These kids have given the media their angle and just like all the other cases where games are mentioned no one will ever look any further. No one will ask what their family life was like, what their parents were like, what the kid was like before all this happened. Games did it and that's the end of the story.

In my post I took the absolute extreme opposite approach. I laid blame completely on the parents and that was intentional. Penny Arcade is a satire site and people come here to laugh or get angry and that's what we try to provide. I will admit that deep down as the father of a two year old I also want to believe that I as a parent can shape my kid into a decent human being. If I don't believe that then...well I just have to believe that right now.

With that said I'm perfectly aware that the reality of the situation was somewhere between the two extremes. I know full well that violent games did not create this killer and I also know that his parents did not make him a murderer. Nothing outside of a comic strip and a goofy blog is ever that simple.

The sad truth is that the reality we're talking about here would probably never actually see the light of day. The media will tell the story they want to tell regardless and that story will be about violent games. The parents of these kids will be lucky to get two lines in an article about the crime. If they tell a reporter that their son hardly played games or that he was fucked up long before they bought a Playstation do you really think that will make it into the final article? You'd never see that side of the story, not in a million years.

But you're about to.

I am about to share with you an email I received from a Penny Arcade reader. She also happens to be involved in this case but obviously she'd like to remain anonymous. She has agreed to let me share her email with all of you and I can't thank her enough for that. Like I said before, I know why most people come to Penny Arcade. You come every other day looking for a joke and a laugh. What you're about to read isn't a joke. It's an extremely personal email sent by a very brave woman and I'm honored to share it with you.

-- LETTER FROM ABOVE GOES HERE --

So there you go. There's the other side of the story. He's decided to use videogames as a scapegoat because as crazy as he is, he's not stupid. He knows exactly what he's doing. The sad thing is that it will probably work.

-Gabe out
my comment on the whole thing (well on PA, didnt check cnn) is "wow..."

Re:Gabe's Original Take, Her Response (0, Flamebait)

umbrellasd (876984) | more than 7 years ago | (#18113890)

Reminds me of my childhood, *chuckle*. That kid was fiercely independent and they spent years trying to control him. "Oh, it's for his own good." "We tried, punishment, rewarding, and every other form of manipulation possible." It may sound like I'm siding with the kid, but I'm not. I am saying, that with a child like that, the things this woman describes (trying to fix him) is exactly what would drive him farther and farther over the edge of wrecklessness in a desire to say, "I do what I want."

It surely isn't all roses when the parental figure is describing how this is the only person in the world that they hate and how they fought with a minor for the minor's entire adolescence. What kind of adult will that create? Someone that is trained to fight and fight and hurt people. Nature vs. Nurture indeed. That kid didn't get even close to the same environment as his brother. He got the authoritarian "try everthing under the Sun (grounding for a month, ha!) to manipulate this child" environment, while his brother very likely was out of the spotlight almost all of the time due to their attention being centered on the other one.

She's absolutely right that it has nothing whatsoever to do with playing video games, though.

Re:Gabe's Original Take, Her Response (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18114528)

You're an idiot & I sure hope that you never reproduce.

Re:Gabe's Original Take, Her Response (1)

AlwaysHappy (951252) | more than 7 years ago | (#18114600)

I'm curious. Since you seem to be of the opinion that they did things the wrong way, what would have worked better?

Lack of personal responsibility. (-1, Troll)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 7 years ago | (#18112838)

This is what happens when the liberals get their way and you are no longer allowed to beat your kids.

Re: Ah Maddox... (1)

trdrstv (986999) | more than 7 years ago | (#18113000)

This is what happens when ... you are no longer allowed to beat your kids.

Tru.Dat. [thebestpag...iverse.net]

Re: Ah Maddox... (1)

huckamania (533052) | more than 7 years ago | (#18114278)

Couldn't agree more... My Mom used to beat me with a hot-wheel track and because of that I love her even more...

Re: Ah Maddox... (2, Funny)

trdrstv (986999) | more than 7 years ago | (#18114892)

Couldn't agree more... My Mom used to beat me with a hot-wheel track and because of that I love her even more...

For that, I love her even more too. ;->

Re:Lack of personal responsibility. (1)

insideyourhalo (591645) | more than 7 years ago | (#18113018)

Hey now, we don't mind if you beat your kids.. just don't use a gun or the back side of your hand.

Re:Lack of personal responsibility. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18113038)

At 14, the kid was 6'3" and 200 Lbs. You try beating him. This called for retroactive abortion.

Re:Lack of personal responsibility. (3, Insightful)

HBI (604924) | more than 7 years ago | (#18113150)

The parent post is correct, but neglects the salient point that when I was a kid (i'm 37), a valid response to the conditions noted would be to send the kid to a military school where they'd do the beating for you.

Yeah, those got tamed by the leftist social theorists too.

So basically we have to wait for the pathetic scum to kill innocents before we do anything about it. Great improvement. Kudos to the 60's crowd for doing us a real service, yet again.

mod parent down (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18113416)

troll or flamebait, I can't decide which.

Remember Abu Ghraib -- we definitely DON'T want these kind of kids in the military!

~

Truth (-1, Flamebait)

HBI (604924) | more than 7 years ago | (#18114660)

That was the word you were looking for. You can't handle it.

Leftist groupthink is pretty attractive to a spineless loser, though.

When they're as far gone as this kid... (4, Insightful)

AmazingRuss (555076) | more than 7 years ago | (#18113164)

...beating doesn't work either. He's a full blown psychopath, and about all you can do is drug him into a stupor or lock him up. We don't know how to fix them. Would probably be kinder (for him AND the other prisoners) to euthanize him. Much better than graduating him from prison in 15 years...he's going to be a real, grown up monster then, with all that lovely prison lore and culture burned into him. You can blame the liberals AND the conservatives for his continued existence. I think he falls under both of their "sacredness of life" category.

Just because it has a humanoid form does not make it human.

Re:When they're as far gone as this kid... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18113822)

I'm sure he'll be let out of jail in 8 years the way our prison system works.

Re:When they're as far gone as this kid... (-1, Troll)

Moryath (553296) | more than 7 years ago | (#18113904)

Just because it has a humanoid form does not make it human.

That's about as well stated as it could possibly be.

And as far as the libs vs conservatives, there's one problem: it's the libs who allowed him to get this bad this quick.

Do we know that he wouldn't be this bad anyways if he'd been thrown in juvie? No.

However, we CAN say that if not for lib policies that kids crying "abuse" are always telling the truth, parents are all evil abusers, no parent has the right to discipline, kids should be "let off the hook" whenever possible, and such, this kid WOULD have been in Juvie.

And IF he had been in Juvie, then there are handicapped kids who wouldn't have been beat up, shit that wouldn't have been stolen, and a guy named Rex Baum would be alive right now.

So, fuck the libs. It's their policies that stopped society from protecting itself from this kid soon enough.

Re:Lack of personal responsibility. (1)

ElleyKitten (715519) | more than 7 years ago | (#18113296)

That's a great sig for that post. Kittens are cute and fuzzy, remember to beat your kids! :D

Re:Lack of personal responsibility. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18113382)

"This is what happens when the liberals get their way and you are no longer allowed to beat your kids."

Yet the prisons are full of adults who were beaten as kids.

WTF?

Re:Lack of personal responsibility. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18113860)

Working in a prison myself, I can tell you that prison is also full of adults who weren't beaten as kids.

Prison statistics... (0)

Moryath (553296) | more than 7 years ago | (#18114488)

People who are in prison:

(Federal statistic) - 25%+ illegal aliens who came here to commit violent crime like rape. Many are repeat offenders who were merely deported back to Mexshitco the first time.

- People who did a DUI one too many times.
- People who killed someone else.
- People who were involved in violent drug crime.
- People who were involved in major money crimes.

- People who were "beaten" when kids.
- People who were not "beaten" when kids.


People from incredibly rich, what one would think of as advantageous, even loving families can develop into real psychopaths. The Mormons give us Warren Jeffs and his compound full of misogyny. Many "rich and powerful" people develop into serial rapists, murderers, etc.

And yes, some kids are just born "evil", in the sense that for whatever reason, their cognitive development skews towards manipulation and abuse rather than empathy and love. Some come from the same families as incredibly loving, caring people. I've known one family (neighbors up the street) who one of their kids grew up to be a social worker, despite the fact that he was smart enough to go into a lot of other fields and make a ton more money, because he wanted to help people. He sacrifices every day on the shit-salary he gets from the government, in order to try to help kids who are really disadvantaged.

His brother? Probably as objectively "smart", but his smarts he put towards manipulating people from day one. His parents didn't believe till they sent him to college, that his caring younger brother wasn't the one doing the shit around the house that the older brother was blaming on him. Now the older brother's been in and out of prison 4 times, has at least 6 illegitimate kids, and is currently whereabouts-unknown with half a dozen warrants for his arrest.

The older brother is pure evil, yes. Nobody on the street thinks he could have turned out any other way, he's just evil and manipulative. He's a pathological liar and manipulator. Parents a lot of time have blinders on with respect to their kids - and oh, when he was at home, this fucked up kid made it REAL easy for them to believe him over anything else - but even these parents have finally clued in on it.

Reading this story (2, Interesting)

falcon5768 (629591) | more than 7 years ago | (#18112842)

Just reinforces my belief that people take a childs side way too often than they should, especially when the kid involved is a stain on humanity.

A situation like this happened with a co-workers step-child which ended up in his divorce from his wife. She couldnt see the kid for what he was and it ended up tearing them apart.

That kids now preparing to go to trial for killing his friend when in a drug haze he ran his car off the road and into a tree.

There is a REASON for that (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18113056)

Just reinforces my belief that people take a childs side way too often than they should

Hey, the authorities do that for a very good reason: an adult can be far more articulate and persuasive than a child accuser. Believe me, the police and social workers erring on the side of caution is a GOOD thing.

Don't think I'm making this up, either. I'm speaking as someone who was abused as a child and was NOT believed when he cried for help. It would have been great if people "took the child's view" thirty years ago -- it would have saved me decades of emotional pain.

Re:There is a REASON for that (1)

C0rinthian (770164) | more than 7 years ago | (#18113650)

Nowadays, it's often a tool used by the little shit to threaten his parents. There is a serious problem when the kid calls the shots, and has the backing of the local authorities.

Re:There is a REASON for that (1)

Vicissidude (878310) | more than 7 years ago | (#18114268)

Obviously Anonymous hasn't taken the time to actually read the article. The authorities should actually -gasp- investigate and not take either side at their word.

Re:Reading this story (4, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 7 years ago | (#18113206)

Just reinforces my belief that people take a childs side way too often than they should, especially when the kid involved is a stain on humanity.

Sadly, the children know this and manipulate it. Have been doing so for a very long time -- they know you have no actual authority over them if they choose not to listen to you. You can't actually compel them in any way to listen.

There were enough cases of child abuse in the past that all of the agencies are now required by law to investigate all claims of abuse. Denial by the accused abusers is basically ignored as all guilty people would deny it. They basically have to presume you're guilty in order to try to protect the child's welfare (it's well meaning, but not often reliable). And, in the end, it's difficult to disprove such claims.

(I know someone going through court now because a neighbor witnessed him hoist his child into the car, and then claimed she saw/though she saw him smacking the child around. When his wife decided to leave him for his best friend, she started coaching the 4 year old into claiming daddy was touching her in bad places -- in court, the child has admitted that mommy told her to say that. On the heels of the first erroneous claim, the second claim of now sexual abuse is very hard to dispell: basically it's compounded on him. Such things get very ugly quick.)

I find it scary that a child who is repeatedly in trouble could fool the teachers into thinking "I didn't do it, and by the way, my parents abused me". Especially when this child was over 6 feet and over 200lbs -- a very big 14 year old indeed.

I realize you can't suddenly start treating all accusations lightly, for fear of ignoring the problem. But, there has to be a better way of looking into these things. Unfortunately, an unfounded claim of abuse can ruin your life just as quickly and easily as a verifiable, documented case of abuse -- people will go after you with equal zeal and tar you with the same brush.

The fact that repeatedly, police and school officials were told that this kid was way out of control is scary indeed. The fact that an apparent "thrill kill" had to take place before anyone would believe them is appalling. Hopefully at least something good comes out of this in the long run.

Cheers

Re:Reading this story (1)

ElleyKitten (715519) | more than 7 years ago | (#18113352)

It's all messed up. When I was a kid, one of our Girl Scout leaders beat her daughter in front of all us, and Child Services wouldn't do anything about it, now they're harrassing innocent parents? WTF.

Re:Reading this story (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 7 years ago | (#18114088)

It's all messed up. When I was a kid, one of our Girl Scout leaders beat her daughter in front of all us, and Child Services wouldn't do anything about it, now they're harrassing innocent parents?

Well, depending on your age that may have been the norm, back when I was a kid (say, late 70's), your parents were still allowed to spank you. I know one friend whose mother broke more wooden spoons over his and his siblings asses than you could possibly count (literally true, that was the weapon of choice). At the time, it wasn't that much out of the ordinary for your parents to give you a whoopin' -- usually, the fact that you deserved it was pretty apparent.

There was a time when it was a parent's (or, as I recall, a teacher) god-given right to apply a little bit of corporal punishment -- I know my older brother was smacked with rulers and the like by teachers on more than one occasion. Now, with so many abuse cases which have happened over the years, the system is geared to be an advocate for the child, and will vigorously pursue such things. They've gone to being completely paranoid about such things.

Cheers

proof? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18112862)

I'm wondering, has PA actually verified that this person is related to the kid, or are they just another AC?

Amen to that I guess.... (1)

Sod75 (558841) | more than 7 years ago | (#18112888)

sad story but still nice to hear a reasonable voice once in a while.

Love (2, Interesting)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | more than 7 years ago | (#18112944)

The amazing thing is that she has been with the kid's father for 7 years! That's a long time to be putting up with that kind of grief, counting down the days until they turn 18. At least the other son is doing well.

I realize that most of the dot, myself included, rarely reads articles before commenting on them. This one is very much worth the read, regardless of whether you intend to comment or not.

Call me a cynic (4, Insightful)

Iamthefallen (523816) | more than 7 years ago | (#18112954)

But I'm curious how PA has verified that this person is who she claims to be.

Re:Call me a cynic (4, Funny)

thryllkill (52874) | more than 7 years ago | (#18113466)

Okay. You're a cynic.

Re:Call me a cynic (1)

kabocox (199019) | more than 7 years ago | (#18114076)

But I'm curious how PA has verified that this person is who she claims to be.

Um, this got me to thinking. The second article had the kids name in it. To those that this story is local, the family whose kid this is would "know" if the person in the PA article was legit, PA making something up, or someone else conning PA. I don't know how much of their local community could easily figure out the woman's name from the description of her relation to the kid.

What gets me is that she didn't have to stick around the father if she was a step-parent. I wonder how much she is just covering her own butt that it wasn't her fault the kid was bad; it's always been him or it was his crazy family or such and such. This reminds me of my mother-in-law and her last marriage. It was her 3rd marriage. She was marrying the guy cause she liked him. He was marrying her so he'd have a woman to raise his teenage son (13-16.) That marriage lasted about a year or two. My mother-in-law was far stricter than my parents and "tried" raising he kid for about 5-10 days. His "crazy" natural mom lived a few blocks away and any time my mother-in-law made a rule or enforced one of her rules he'd just go to his mom's and do what he wanted. This kid wasn't doing anything illegal. He was just a spoiled brat according to my mother-in-law. The thing is she had already raised her 3 kids and the last one had just getting into college when all this was taking place. She just didn't want to put up that shit and divorced the guy.

The kid wasn't the step-parent's problem. The step-parent should have just divorced their mate rather than be around that kid. Was the kid's parent rich or very good in bed that you could just put up with or ignore the kid until this happened? Nah, can't have been a rich parent or the kid would have been in a distant boarding school the first time the kid started getting out of hand.

Re:Call me a cynic (4, Informative)

Moryath (553296) | more than 7 years ago | (#18114110)

The kid wasn't the step-parent's problem. The step-parent should have just divorced their mate rather than be around that kid. Was the kid's parent rich or very good in bed that you could just put up with or ignore the kid until this happened? Nah, can't have been a rich parent or the kid would have been in a distant boarding school the first time the kid started getting out of hand.

If you noticed, there's a second kid in the house - a kid who's turning out just fine.

And I've no doubt Gabe doublechecked the story and verified the connection before publishing.

I'm a cynic too (2, Insightful)

oni (41625) | more than 7 years ago | (#18114124)

What makes me suspicious is when she claims that social workers and counselors that previously took the kid's side are now calling to apologize and say they wish they had believed the parents.

Um, bullshit. Yeah, I'm so sure that some government worker picked up the phone to say, "oh hi, this is Frank. Remember me? I'm the guy who was investigating you for abuse? How are you guys doing? Cool. Cool. Listen, I just wanted to apologize for all that, 'almost sending you to jail' thing ok? Well, take it easy. Please don't sue me. Bye."

She's lying about that part *at the very least*

Re:I'm a cynic too (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18114226)

There's that, and also making it very clear that she's a PA reading life-long gamer.

It just sounds too good to be true.

Hmm (4, Insightful)

MBCook (132727) | more than 7 years ago | (#18112988)

I usually like to blame the parents, as it is often their fault. You read these stories where the parents had no idea what was going on (Colombine: pipe bomb building in the garage???). Or where the parent just defends them ("Little Johnny never would have done that. The other kids made him do it.").

I gotta say reading that was kind of scary. If I had to take a guess I'd say he is a sociopath (literally), but that's just a guess. He is obviously very intelligent (calling people abusers). The fact they kept investigating it doesn't surprise me (what if it was true one of those times) but he knew how to get power. Kids can also act out like that if they are being abused, so that would lend "credibility".

I'm sure the divorces and remarriages in his life didn't help, but if it really is sociopathic, that probably wouldn't matter. I can offer suggestions of things that might have helped him (if he was help-able). Military boot camp, having him sent to jail those times the police came. Making him a ward of the state. Trying to give him possession of his own life (can't remember the term, basically having him declared an independent adult).

She said she tried "everything" so I don't know which of those were done. I'm amazed that she put up with it for so long.

This kid is REALLY the exception to the rule. He would have been exactly the same if this happened in 1960.

Too bad this kid will probably be the example of what video games do to kids that the media trots out constantly.

People like him (from her description, assuming it's true), are one of the things that make me believe in true evil.

Re:Hmm (3, Interesting)

MaineCoon (12585) | more than 7 years ago | (#18113270)

I almost went down a similiar path to this kid. I skipped out on school, ignored the rules. Punishments didn't phase me. I spent time in jail and in juvenile "shelter" homes, from my truancy. When I was a young child, at times my mother was actually afraid of me - I was fearless of punishment even then. Spank me, (it was legal then), and I'd just go do whatever I did again.

It took my father's sudden death (heart failure) when I was 15 to snap me out of it. I fell into a deep depression (I already suffered from chronic depression) and ended up spending half a year at a residential treatment facility for emotionally unstable teenagers.

I look back, and both my mother and I can agree that, my father's death inadvertantly saved my life. I was probably only a year or so off from making a big mistake. My father was already terminally ill at the time from leukemia... probably only had a year and a half left, based on the estimate from the autopsy. His death cost him and us another year or two together, but may have given me many more years to live life.

That was about 12 years ago. My father would be proud of the person I am today. I don't think that would be the case if he had survived.

I met a lot of kids who were like me, in the places I went. There are more exceptions to the rule than people think.

Re:Hmm (1)

Vokkyt (739289) | more than 7 years ago | (#18113522)

Though I was skeptical at first of the woman's relation to the boy, I am going to assume that Gabe would have the know-how to verify this in someway, and that he wouldn't outright post it without verification. That being said, while what they tried to do to help the boy was commendable, there is only one real thing that I take issue with; almost everything they did was in response to what the boy had already done, and it doesn't seem like there was an active move on the parents to get additional help for the boy. They suggested extracurricular activities, art, etc, but I am thinking more along the lines of what you mentioned, where he is taken to a military school, or where the parents approach the police (instead of the other way around) about what the boy is doing. Granted it's not going to stop the kid from lying, but if the parents bring up the issue first and explain things instead of having the classic "child finds courage to admit they're being abused" scenario occurring, then they get a little more leverage in the situation. I can understand their not doing so, however, as the boy is quite frankly frightening. He's manipulative, he knows how to cover his ass (and remove excess poo apparently), and I wouldn't want to meet in in the fucking ball pit at Chuck E Cheese's much less a dark back alley.

Re:Hmm You're 23 what do you know about the '60s? (4, Interesting)

BobBoring (18422) | more than 7 years ago | (#18113940)

He would have been exactly the same if this happened in 1960.

In 1960 life was very different. His dad wouldn't be "grounding him" he'd have taken him to the wood shed and corrected his attitude. You only have to be course corrected a few times at an early age. The mother's mention of negative reinforcement probably did not include throwing the kid out the door into the street and telling him to only come home once he appecated what he had going for him in the form of a warm bed and three square meals a day.

School teachers in 1960 could beat you with a shaved baseball bat until you're buttocks were bruised so you couldn't sit down. His teacher's or their husbands would likely have been a WWII or Korean War veteran. Why mention that? Because if the little goblin had raised a hand to a teacher, he'd have drawn back a stump. His school Principal would have certainly been a) male and b) unsympathetic to his claim of 'abuse'. His Principal would very likely have a shaved baseball bat and two foot prints painted on the floor in front of his desk.

If none of that registered on him, in 1960, he'd of been shipped off to someplace like "West Texas Boy's Ranch" or "The San Antonio Boy's Town" or "Father Flanagan's Boys Town" or any of the other "homes for boys". He'd have had to work 30-35 hours a week growing the food he ate, tending the stock and still ride the bus 1-2 hours each way to attend school. He'd live in a "bay barracks" style dorm with 30 other kids. He would do laundry, muck out barns, peel potatoes and stack hay. Sunday he'd go to church and get a whole 5-6 hours to reflect the error of his way.

If he ran away and tried to 'go home' the Sheriff would run him down with dogs and drag him back to the county farm for recalcitrant youth or what ever the place was called. Then the keepers would move his bunk to the barn take his mattress and blankets way until he'd earned his spot in the dorm back.

Believe it or not the boy would be different. If this was 1960 he'd be different or he'd be dead.

I hate to say it but Gabe was right the first time (3, Interesting)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 7 years ago | (#18112998)

After reading the "stepmother's" reply I have to say yea it probably was the parent's fault. This kid seems to have been tossed back and forth between the "father" and the mother. The stepmother's language in her reply was what I would expect for a high school kid and not a parent of a child. In all the discussion of what they did and didn't do, I at no time heard the word love. I heard hate a lot but not love. Yea this kid might have had issues from the start but I have to say that didn't sound like he had much of a chance with the parents he had.
Yes he was unmanageable at 15 but what about at two? How about at five? How much love and time did he get at seven?

It is possible that even with the best parents in the world he might have still become a killer but it seems far from the perfect family life to me.
Sounds like a few more wasted lives. The poor guy that was killed and the kids that did the killing.

Re:I hate to say it but Gabe was right the first t (1)

MBCook (132727) | more than 7 years ago | (#18113160)

I posted in this discussion, and I briefly touched on this (just a few words) but I am torn about it. My belief is either this, or sociopathy. I can understand acting out but a certain point (like the beating up a kid in a wheel chair) I have to wonder if he has a conscience at all. I agree with you that divorces (and shuttling, and new marriages, etc) can really mess with a kid. I'm just debating internally whether he was accidently "pushed" into this, he would have headed in this direction but a normal intact family would have been able to deal with it and "save" him until he straightened out, or he is just a sociopath and "born evil".

Re:I hate to say it but Gabe was right the first t (1)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 7 years ago | (#18113330)

so would you say it was environment or genetics. Both are problems of the family and both could very well be the culprit. Or it could be a little of column 'a' and a little of column 'b'

It has been shown though that adopted children from questionable parents to good parents don't do as well as either natural children of good parents or adopted children from good parents. At least coming from raw numbers.

Re:I hate to say it but Gabe was right the first t (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18113386)

Lots of kids get tossed back and forth between mother and father all the time, and many are raised by mothers who write like highschoolers, and yet very few decide to go out and kill someone for a laugh.

On the other hand, my wife comes from a very loving, stable middle-class family but her brother was a "difficult" child. Fighting a lot, putting other kids into hospital, wilfully destroying property (like pushing his mother's car into a lake,) and no amount of parental love made any difference. Fortunately he was not as bad as this kid (never killed anyone,) and has matured greatly. But really, you have no idea what you're talking about.

Re:I hate to say it but Gabe was right the first t (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18113558)

I disagree, I know of at least two children who have seemed to be evil from birth.

My brother's step-son is evil, and looking back he has been that way since he was young. Even since he was small (I met him when he was about 5), he had no concept of empathy. He could not understand that other people had feelings to. If someone made him feel bad, he would hit them. When asked why, he would explain "They made me feel bad." If you tried to explain that hitting someone else would make THEM feel bad, he would look at you with a blank gaze. Then repeat, "But they made ME feel bad."

My brother is the most compassionate person I know. He takes care of another disabled step-son, and both he and the mother have shown nothing but love for all of the children. Even so, the bad son has grown up to be an evil man. He has sexually molested others, has gotten into fights, and still doesn't understand compassion for other human beings from what I have heard.

I also have an aunt who was killed by her adopted son. She adopted three children, all very young when they were adopted, less than 2. Two grew up to be fine, the third was always rebellious. He killed her with a knife one night, he was 14 at the time, after she told him he needed to finish his homework before he played.

I think there are people who are evil. I think for you to say that there must have been a lack of love, or some other deficiency on the parent's part, just judging by tone and limited details in the step-mothers posting (which was written just days after learning that her son-in-law had murdered a man, despite her years of pleading for help from authorities), is judgemental and wrong. I can undertand her being angry and upset now, and would have expected it given the sort of situation she described.

Also, if the family life was so bad, how do you explain the other kid turning out fine? It seems much more likely to me that the child was just not right in the head, as opposed to saying that it was somehow the parent's fault in the way they treated this one child.

Re:I hate to say it but Gabe was right the first t (5, Insightful)

RobertB-DC (622190) | more than 7 years ago | (#18113602)

After reading the "stepmother's" reply I have to say yea it probably was the parent's fault. This kid seems to have been tossed back and forth between the "father" and the mother. The stepmother's language in her reply was what I would expect for a high school kid and not a parent of a child. In all the discussion of what they did and didn't do, I at no time heard the word love. I heard hate a lot but not love. Yea this kid might have had issues from the start but I have to say that didn't sound like he had much of a chance with the parents he had.
Yes he was unmanageable at 15 but what about at two? How about at five? How much love and time did he get at seven?


Read a bit more closely, and you'll catch this bit:

I am sorry this got so long. I have been reading PA since the very beginning, and I feel that both of you are very much like me. I think we are the same age (29) and I have been a lifelong gamer like the two of you.

If she's 29, then she would have been around 14 when the kid was born -- and remember, she describes herself as a kind-of stepmother. It sounds like she didn't get involved until he was already a teenager -- too late for her to have much impact, especially if she was only in her mid-20's herself.

So we can't draw any conclusions about her bad parenting when he was a baby. Also, note that he was living with his dad until he decided to leave -- and move in with his natural mom, who had even less control over the situation. If we must conclude that nurture had a larger role than nature, then we have to look at her role, long before the letter's author was involved.

Re:I hate to say it but Gabe was right the first t (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18113616)

There's some evidence that sociopaths are created by inadequate parental attention very early in life, like with an infant. Read about attachment syndrome. The human brain is so extremely complex, and prejudices and biases in creators of studies so prevalent, that determining the truth is going to take another century.

I hope you aren't really this stupid. (1)

NDPTAL85 (260093) | more than 7 years ago | (#18113676)

So apparently you are a retard? What besides obvious love would motivate someone to stick with such a hellish child for so long? Its not like they were being paid to deal with him.

What part of this kid was messed up in the head do you not understand? Do you believe there are no genuine bad seeds? That in each and every case its bad parenting?

And so what that the parents are divorced? Divorce sometimes leads to troubled children, its never an explanation for MURDER.

So are you seriously this stupid or are you just trolling?

Re:I hope you aren't really this stupid. (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 7 years ago | (#18114638)

"What part of this kid was messed up in the head do you not understand? Do you believe there are no genuine bad seeds? That in each and every case its bad parenting?

And so what that the parents are divorced? Divorce sometimes leads to troubled children, its never an explanation for MURDER."
I guess you just didn't bother to read my post.
I said he might have done it anyway but I didn't see a single example in that post of great parenting. It wasn't just the "Stepmother" but the mother and father as well.
I really don't believe that anyone is a born murder. Yes they could have issues or as you so brilliantly put this "messed up in the head" but how did he get that way?

Re:I hate to say it but Gabe was right the first t (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 7 years ago | (#18113680)

Some kids are just sociopaths from day one. They can have the best parents in the world, and they'll still end up evil pricks.

It's nice to think we live in a reasonable world where everything makes sense and all you have to do is act responsibly and do the right thing and everything will work out the way it's supposed to. Most of the time, that's the case. But sometimes, you're fucked no matter what you do.

I suspect that most kids in the juvenile justice system have screwed-up, neglectful, or irresponsible parents. But there are also a few kids in the system who had great parents (and siblings who turned out just fine).

-Eric

Re:I hate to say it but Gabe was right the first t (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18113714)

According to the letter, the writer is 29. I'll take that at face value (despite the fact that many women manage to be "29" for several years...). The kid's 15.

This would have made her 16 when the kid was 2, and 19 when the kid was 5, and finally 21 when the kid was 7. So it's highly unlikely that she saw anything of how the kid grew up.

Given that she's the "stepmother" that means that the kid's mother and father were divorced. I'd have to imagine there's quite a bit of trauma in that kid's life that the letter writer just didn't see. Given that many kids have trouble accepting stepparents into their life, the kid completely ignoring her comes as absolutely no surprise.

So while it may be safe to say there's nothing the letter's author could have really done, that hardly absolves the parents from responsibility.

If I were going to guess, I'd imagine that the kid's parents broke up while he was still growing up. He was probably used to being ignored and learned that his parents really had no control over him at that time.

So, yeah - I doubt the parents intended to cause the kid harm, but from the way I read the account, it's quite likely they in fact did. No matter what the stepmother says, who likely came into the kid's life after the damage had already been done.

How do you get that? (5, Insightful)

EasyT (749945) | more than 7 years ago | (#18113780)

After reading the "stepmother's" reply I have to say yea it probably was the parent's fault. This kid seems to have been tossed back and forth between the "father" and the mother. The stepmother's language in her reply was what I would expect for a high school kid and not a parent of a child. In all the discussion of what they did and didn't do, I at no time heard the word love. I heard hate a lot but not love. Yea this kid might have had issues from the start but I have to say that didn't sound like he had much of a chance with the parents he had. Yes he was unmanageable at 15 but what about at two? How about at five? How much love and time did he get at seven?

I really don't understand how you can blame the parents based on the information provided. Sure, the parents split up, but there are plenty of parents who divorce or separate and still have well-adjusted children. Beyond that, we simply have no idea what this kid's childhood was like. We also have no idea how long the stepmother has been on the scene, so I don't see how you can expect her to comment on how much love the child received at any specific age, much less support any conclusions based on the presence or absence of the word "love" in a letter.

It seems like a great modern fad (and fallacy) to blame parents for every lousy thing a kid does, as if people have become desperate to take nature out of the classic "nature vs. nurture" argument. But none of us are shaped purely by our environment, as the mention of the kid's younger brother being reasonably well-adjusted supports. We all have judgement and free will, so unless some actual evidence surfaces to support the notion that the parents somehow meaningfully contributed to these horrible acts, let's place blame back on the kid who committed them, shall we?

Re:I hate to say it but Gabe was right the first t (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 7 years ago | (#18114014)

The same thought occurred to me - Gabe plays the "blame the parents" card (a popular meme, sometimes even true), and here she comes along and explains how much she hated him and wanted him gone.
 
      She plays the don't blame the videogames" card -

Re:I hate to say it but Gabe was right the first t (1)

edschurr (999028) | more than 7 years ago | (#18114132)

Too bad she didn't describe how video games related to him at all. She made up her mind that it wasn't relevant, but she's not a professional, and we're left having to trust her even more.

Re:I hate to say it but Gabe was right the first t (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 7 years ago | (#18114352)

(Reply entered a second time because I hit 'submit' rather than 'preview'.)

The same thought occurred to me - Gabe plays the "blame the parents" card (a popular meme, sometimes even true), and here she comes along and explains how much she hated him and wanted him gone. Because she plays the don't blame the videogames" card (another popular meme, sometimes even true) - Gabe accepts her letter uncritically at face value.
 
Huh? Why precisely should we ignore *his* statement, yet accept the statement of someone who is openly antagonistic to him? (Mostly I suspect because it plays to the bias of the PA and /. crowd.)
 
I don't entirely trust the word of criminals. But I don't trust their relatives either. I've seen too many parents of killers loudly insist that their child couldn't possibly be a killer. This situation, while from the opposite end of the spectrum seems too pat. She doesn't want the child in the first place - and doesn't want any shred of sympathy to be directed towards him.
 
Aside from that I don't buy her claim that someone with his behavior pattern is intelligent enough to know that he can manipulate the media. And no, that someone can manipulate the cops that easily (if she is to be believed) is not evidence of being intelligent enough to perform such manipulation on a meta level. *Especially* when such low level manipulation of individuals and the police is routinely shown in the media. Widely enough that I've seen it shown on King of the Hill... Heck, I've seen it as far back as Our Gang (Little Rascals).

Re:I hate to say it but Gabe was right the first t (1)

ADRA (37398) | more than 7 years ago | (#18114784)

1. She (love her or hate her) wasn't around when the kid was 2, 5, maybe 7.

2. If one of the kids turned out fine and one blew a screw, one can't exclusively blame the parents, maybe the 'bad' kid acted up so much to get attention from his parents and instead of ever getting solved, it turned into a personality deficiency. I don't know, but I'd hope the counselors that analyzed him would've taken all sides when dealing with him.

3. The "This kid seems to have been tossed back and forth between the "father" and the mother." argument makes absolutely no sense since the article described the boy moved a single time from the fathers to the mothers and furthermore, it was described that the boy -chose- to move. Its not like he was 'tossed'.

What I'm trying to say in a nutshell is that assuming the author is being honest, she talks curtly about the boy now because she's been through the worst of it. If she'd written an article 5 years ago about the boy I bet you'd find a very different tone. If you really 'hate' your future step-kids, you generally don't get married.

Read the CNN story yesterday (1)

ObiWanStevobi (1030352) | more than 7 years ago | (#18113148)

That line blaming video games stuck out like a sore thumb. For one, there is no game that is nearly as sick as these kids. Not even in GTA can you smash a homeless man's face in with a brick, rub your shit in his face, destroy his camp, beat him with his grill, and finally shove his head in the grill you beat him with earlier. Secondly, even if could do such a thing in a game, it's still an effing game! It's not the game's fault they have no concept of right vs. wrong or reality vs. fantasy.

Re:Read the CNN story yesterday (1)

Allison Geode (598914) | more than 7 years ago | (#18113958)

not in GTA, but you can do something similar in postal 2. you can beat them up with a shovel, urinate on them, pour gasoline on them and set them on fire, and so on, and so forth.

and you're right: its still just a game. any idiot can tell the difference, this kid is just a psychopath.

Long story short: (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18113242)

The kid is a sociopath.

People want to believe that any kid can be steered right, that anybody can be reasoned with, and that there are no truly bad people. Unfortunately, kids like this shatter that fairy tale. People like this kid, and several kids I know of personally, aren't reachable by conventional means.

Couldn't something be done? Probably. But society isn't equipped to deal with people who are radically outside the norm. It's much easier to lock them up, place the blame, and move on. Am I saying it's not the kid's fault? No, I'm not. He murdered someone, and he knew exactly what he was doing.

What I'm saying is that he didn't have the mental barriers against killing someone that normal people do. Whatever people have that make them right wasn't present in this kid.

How can society deal with people that either don't fit in with society or reject it entirely? Is it even a solvable problem? I feel that figuring this out, above all else, will be what defines the next great Age of humanity.

Re:Long story short: (2, Funny)

Broken scope (973885) | more than 7 years ago | (#18114348)

Not everyone can be reasoned with. That is why you have swat teams and a military.

On the gripping hand. (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 7 years ago | (#18113320)

On the gripping hand - I saw an interview where the teen stated quite clearly "when it all started it was just like we were playing a video game". Thus, in his mind at least, there was some connection.
 
Now, I'm not going to lay all the blame on video games - but to pretend that they have no influence at all is ludicrous.

Re:On the gripping hand. (1)

Bobo_The_Boinger (306158) | more than 7 years ago | (#18113640)

Or he wanted to say that to get media attention and lay the blame on something other than himself. I have heard that you can't always trust killers 100%, but that could just be an urban-myth.

Re:On the gripping hand. (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 7 years ago | (#18113990)

That claim was made by the stepmother - but reading her writing she seems more concerned with distancing herself from him and forcing him to be the scapegoat. I don't trust the relatives of killers any more than I do killers.

Re:On the gripping hand. (1)

Bobo_The_Boinger (306158) | more than 7 years ago | (#18114476)

Forcing him to be the scapegoat? Strange to call someone who committed a crime a scapegoat. Scapegoat (n) "One that is made to bear the blame of others", seems to me he is bearing his own blame, not the blame of others at all. If anything, I would say HE is trying to make a scapegoat of video games.

You seemed to indicate in your comment that you were inclined to believe the killer more than the step-mother's email. You are free to make your own conclusions of course, but I would generally put more trust in those who have not committed serious crimes than those who have. Thus, I tend to agree with the step-mother's assertion that he is more than likely just bringing up this game-related argument to try to gain sympathy and attention. Also she knows him much better than either of us.

And, if you think about it logically, if she was less concerned with the truth, she could very easily AGREE vocally that video games helped cause her step son's condition. Then she could go after game manufacturers for potential profit.

It all comes down to this: I think she is being honest.

Re:On the gripping hand. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18113946)

Sheesh, if he's as devious as he sounds you don't think that he just might have... you know... said that on purpose?

Re:On the gripping hand. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18114072)

If you read TFA, you come away feeling that the kid said what he said about games knowing what it would cause. It was just one more form of manipulation on his part. It's been all in the news for years now about video game violence. He heard or saw it in the news and I'm sure he knew exactly what he'd be saying if he ever found himself in the situation where saying it could help him.

Re:On the gripping hand. (1)

ADRA (37398) | more than 7 years ago | (#18114636)

All said being true... unless he was lying.

You're point is as moot as mine since we have no context to base our opinions except for the media which most of the people on Slashdot will say auto-vilify games, or we can believe the anon-post by the step-mother who may or may not have her reasons to stretch the truth to make her point had.

I hope the letter was legit and I hope people do take notice to it because it would be a beacon of resistance to the constant onslaught of media villainy towards promiscuity, rock & roll, video games, and everything else thats 'evil' in the world.

Stepmother (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18113412)

What do you expect? shes the kids step mother. Blood doesnt betray blood like obligation would/has.

Not knowing the family history, but you would be amiss to not consider the fact that it was a broken home, could have had something to do with the kids behaviour. For fucks sake people, if you dont love the person you're with DONT HAVE KIDS.

And save me the "im from a broken home YOU INSENSETIVE CLOD! and I am fine". All that proves is you were able to overcome. Some kids arent so lucky. Especially living with someone like this who would sell her "child" out so quick. You can imagine what living with that sort of "parent" would have been like.

Re:Stepmother (5, Interesting)

C0rinthian (770164) | more than 7 years ago | (#18114104)

Especially living with someone like this who would sell her "child" out so quick. You can imagine what living with that sort of "parent" would have been like.

Sounds like she was involved here for several years, I guess you can consider that 'quick' but most reasonable people wouldn't.

Speaking from experience, my sister is like this kid. This girl put my parents through 18 years of pure hell, was a contributing factor in their divorce and my mothers alcoholism. She currently is unable to hold any job, but has two illegitimate children. The kids do not even have proper beds to sleep on, but child services will not remove them from her custody. My mother offered to adopt them, and she refused to give up custody. This girl leeches off my father at age 22. She spends her money on cigarettes instead of food/clothing for the kids, then calls us for handouts. If you asked me what I thought of her, my response would be very similar to the step-mother who sent this letter. There is no love there, there is no respect or compassion. My life will only be better if I never interacted with that waste of a human being ever again.

But I guess by your standards, I just sold her out, and am a terrible person.

Re:Stepmother (4, Insightful)

Broken scope (973885) | more than 7 years ago | (#18114572)

Do you know what the letter was in response too? She has the right to tell her side of the story when someone accuses her of failing or screwing up. She did not "sell out" this child. This child sold himself out when he went and MURDERED a man then played with his corpse. This kid has a HISTORY of ABUSING HANDIFUCKINGCAPED children. You know what else. He learned that he could get away with it to, as long as he said the right things.

She did not betray him. She did not sell him out. There was nothing to sell out in the first place. Hell what do you want her to do. Is she supposed to defend him? How do you defend a child like this? He was from a broken home, fine. He murdered someone. You either jail him, jail him for life in solitary, execute him, or give him a free pass because he couldn't fucking cope with the same shit alot of other kids do. What do you do when he gets out of jail and kills again? Another free pass? Hell the woman tried to do what she could.

sociopathy, anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18113414)

sociopathy is a bizarre and tragic disease that causes people like this to exist. the kid simply has no inherent ability to care about anyone or anything but his own desires. no consequence too great, no whim too cruel for a kid like that. i've seen clinical interviews with adult sociopaths, and they do stuff like this with no second thoughts. the scary thing is that lots of them are fairly intelligent, so they find ways to conceal their crimes or ways to exploit the world around them to get away with the shit they pull. the only thing that makes this kid different is that he's smart enough to blame it on the video games, knowing he can play into the hands of idiots like jack thompson

reason why so many people do not want kids (1)

wootywoot (1066162) | more than 7 years ago | (#18113678)

I don't want kids, a bunch of my friends don't want kids. We've all taught after schools or summer schools where we interact with children, the vast majority of them do not give a shit about you or their parents. I've seen a sweet little girl, 8 years old, beat up her grandma who came to pick her up. What did we do? Absolutely nothing, us teachers can't even touch her or it would be against the law. So we've come to the conclusion that we should not have kids, we don't need them, when we're old we will just go to a home.

Re:reason why so many people do not want kids (2, Funny)

huckamania (533052) | more than 7 years ago | (#18114154)

Good luck with that home. Unfortunately, some one else's sweet little girl, all grown up, will be taking care of you. If she's ready to smack grandma around, she'll probably do worse to you.

Mental issues? No punishment (2, Interesting)

nuggz (69912) | more than 7 years ago | (#18113722)

Well I read the letter and it seems a bit interesting for a late teen.

Most of the time, he didn't even remember why he was being grounded

We're talking stealing cars, setting fires, drinking, getting picked up for drugs, beating up handicapped kids at school (yes, really)

I see two important things, #1 he has trouble comprehending his actions in some way. #2 This person claims he has a long record of criminal offenses, but hasn't had any real punishment.

He likely just thought he could get away with it, like he had with everything else for YEARS. At some point the government should help out a bit, maybe put him in jail. Teaching him he can get away with this type of behaviour is a fatal mistake.

The government were a part of the problem. (1)

Moryath (553296) | more than 7 years ago | (#18114602)

The moment he started telling people they were "abusing" him, it stopped them from doing ANYTHING to try to punish him, because he'd claim it was "part of the abuse" and they would have to admit to doing it.

And the refusal to believe the parents on the part of government officials - especially the COPS who kept returning him after this shit - shows me an entire police dept that ought to be fired for incompetence.

Yeah, he probably did think he could get away with it. After all, the only people who tried to discipline him were his parents, and he figured out a way to go over their heads REAL fucking quick and had a bunch of incompetent, credulous fucktards in the school administration and police dept who'd back him up over his parents any day.

I've known one like this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18113930)

I have two stepbrothers, and one is normal, if underachieving. The other is, or should be, a diagnosed sociopath. The rules simply do not apply to him. And if the rules are somehow enforced to apply in a particular instance, in his mind, that does nothing to prevent him from doing it again. I'll repeat that - cause and effect has a very tenuous grasp in his mind.

Its not that he's evil, its that he does as he wishes at that moment with no thought as to the consequences to himself or those around him. Morals, laws, rules all apply to other people, but not to him, regardless of the punishments he receives.

The only saving grace for my parents is that he's not quite as clever as the boy in this article, and hadn't pulled the child abuse harassment card. But when the military-style summer camp hands the boy back and says 'we don't want him', you know something is seriously wrong.

Still, if he's not convicted of a violent crime in the next 5 years, I'll be very surprised.

I have seen this before and now the dude is dead.. (1)

hrrY (954980) | more than 7 years ago | (#18114734)

One of my best friends had a cousin named "Milo", in any case Milo was strange since day 1(literally), I have never seen anyone with so much contempt for the things around him it still gives me chills to this day, this crazy fukka did everything(assault, robbery, burglary, drug dealing, and likely a few murders...seriously)He was not a physically intimidating person as he might have been about 5'8 and weighed a buck-thirty; so ask me how he scared the living shit out of anyone that even looked at him, size notwithstanding, and then literally force them into a fight. If he lost *that* fight, he would come back REPEATEDLY for more drama until he won, and if that didn't work he WILL stab or bludgeon you. What makes people like this truly scary is that they are HIGHLY intelligent, to the point where if extracting an algorithm that interpolates star positions to make the jump to lightspeed in a far off sector with an abacus will advance their evil intent, it would be proofed in minutes and I am not playing...some living things are born inherently evil, I can tell you another story about yet another highly intelligent evil person that killed his girlfriend to serve life in jail with a father he never knew...but I think I made my point. I actually have a sneaking theory that every person will encounter 3 truly evil people in their lives.
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