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Jack Levin, Apologists for (Certain) Brutal Murders: Hacking a Woman to Death is Just a Cry for Help (Updated 11/1/09)

It’s criminal apologist week, and no criminal apologist week would be complete without a deep bow to Jack Levin, the Northwestern* criminologist who has made an art form of claiming that some brutal, senseless murders are serious ethical and social problems motivated by “hate” — while others are just acting-out caused by “ouchiness,” teenage angst, and our cruel lack of interest in understanding where brutal killers are “coming from.”

You can see where this is going: when someone uses certain slur words (not all of them — not the ones about women) while victimizing somebody, it’s suddenly a much more important crime, which means other crimes are less important, in every sense.  Convincing the public that they must accept this inequality is a job for experts, and Levin is the go-to expert for insidiously psychologizing away certain offenders’ actions while demanding allegiance to the urgency of crimes he deems hate.

The professor’s colorful swings between eternal vigilance and cuddly justification would almost be funny, were he not empowered by the hate crimes establishment, the media, and the feds (in that order) to superimpose his world-view separating “moody-teenager crimes” from “hate crimes” onto our allegedly objective system of justice.

After carefully explaining to everyone how the Pittsburgh Gym Killer didn’t actually hate women but was just feeling so rejected by them that he had to strife their bodies with gunfire, Levin surfaces this week calling the four teens who hacked a woman to death in her bed and slit her 11-year old daughter’s throat “outsiders” who were seeking to “bond” with each other and exhibited signs of “unhappiness” but were not hate criminals because, you know, Jack Levin says so.

This is a sign of unhappiness:

This is a hate-driven, sadistic murderer who hacked a woman to death and slit her 11-year old’s throat, and seemed to think the entire thing was pretty funny:

Gribble updated his Facebook page just hours after the attack, writing on Sunday: “had an awesome time with steve and autumn [sic]! dexter is such a funny show!” “Dexter” is a drama on Showtime about a psychopathic serial killer who murders other criminals.

Nice.  Good think they just picked women, or else this all might get much darker.  Here is Levin, and a peer of his, on the young man pictured above:

“A strong sense of community is wonderful if you happen to be accepted,’’ Levin said.

“But if you are regarded as an outsider, you may feel profoundly rejected . . . Their peer group is the only game in town. If they are rejected, they have nowhere else to go.’’

William Pollack, an associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, said a teen in a small community also might fear confiding his troubles because word spreads fast in a small town.

“These are boys that have a hard time connecting, and so it is that much harder to go and connect,’’ Pollack said.

I’m going to pose a question now that ought to be part of more tenure reviews:

How damn crazy do you have to be to talk like this?

The killers had “a hard time connecting”?  They “might fear confiding troubles”?  Who published this?  That would be The Boston Globe, but don’t they feel a little ashamed?

Peer groups.  Crying out for acceptance.

They hacked a woman to death with a machete.  They slit her 11-year old daughter’s throat.

This is not the way Jack Levin talks about crimes he calls hate crimes, of course.  He calls such crimes a “reign of evil.”

Now imagine what Levin would be saying if the Pittsburgh gym killer or the teen pictured above attacked minorities or illegal immigrants or the latest group to seek hate crimes status, the homeless.  Looking at the totality of Levin’s public statements is good way to get a sense of how the existence of separate “hate crime” laws for select offenses alters the entire justice system.  It undermines two important things we are supposed to believe in: the equality of offenders before the law and the equal importance of all crime victims.

Why is it “hatred” and “evil” for one minority gang member to use an ethnic slur while carjacking a gang member from another ethnic minority gang on the streets of Los Angeles, but it isn’t a hate crime to hack an innocent, randomly selected mother to death in New Hampshire while forcing her to observe the slitting of her pre-adolescent daughter’s throat?

Because Jack Levin says so.  And the Boston Globe prints what he says and carefully avoids asking questions.

*correction: Levin is a professor at Northeastern University, not Northwestern University.

One Response to Jack Levin, Apologists for (Certain) Brutal Murders: Hacking a Woman to Death is Just a Cry for Help (Updated 11/1/09)

  1. Mary Grabar says:

    These folks need to read Flannery O’Connor, especially “The Lame Shall Enter First.”

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