Excusing Trump Comments: More Tacit Approval for Violence Against Women

Our society — through advertisements, movies, television . . . and now attempts to ignore and/or accept blatantly predatory comments coming from presidential candidate Donald Trump — gives tacit approval to male domination and violence against women.

Donald Trump — photo by Damon Winter/The New York Times

When people accept Trump’s sort of aggressive language against women merely as “locker room chatter,” they reinforce the dangerous idea that men are dominant and can can take any action imaginable to get whatever they want from girls and women.

Most men, thankfully, would never speak in that manner, nor would they consider taking what they want from women without acceptance and permission.  However the sick individuals of our world hear the words of Trump and the acceptance of such remarks as society’s permission for them to exert their “rights” of male domination, allowing them to commit acts of sexual harassment, sexual assault, rape, and even murder of women who resist.

New York Times op-ed columnist Charles M. Blow got it exactly right in his October 10, 2016, column entitled, “Donald Trump, Barbarian at the Debate:”

“When the moderator Anderson Cooper said to Trump, “You described kissing women without consent, grabbing their genitals. That is sexual assault. You bragged that you have sexually assaulted women. Do you understand that?” did Trump actually respond: “No, I didn’t say that at all. I don’t think you understood what was — this was locker room talk”?

Did Trump essentially say that he didn’t actually say the things we all heard him say? Did he actually try to deflect and normalize sexual predation as ubiquitous jocular language intrinsic to maleness itself? Does he not actually realize that this is precisely how rape culture is maintained and perpetuated — through normalization? Does he not register that that answer should scare the daylights out of every woman and shame every man who knows full well how aberrant and not at all normal those comments were?”

More recently Aishah Shahidah Simmons expanded on these ideas in her New York Times article (October 13, 2016), “Still So Much Work to Do to End Violence Against Women:

When high-profile white men assert what they see as their right to do what they want to women, it sanctions all men to do the same. This type of behavior becomes normal, excused as a “boys will be boys” phenomenon. It transcends race and culture because it’s about dominance over women, but more often than not, it is the most marginalized women who suffer the most. Men may not be able to degrade a famous actress to her face, but if they feel free to speak in such vulgar terms about her in private, imagine what they might feel they could say or do to another woman without the same visibility. Or, more broadly, imagine if Trump’s defense of “locker room” language is accepted by judges or those who end up on the jury of a sexual assault case.”

Correcting this deplorable situation is more than being sensitive to the rights of women and girls.  It’s about creating a society that no longer accepts patriarchy and male domination — the gateways to violence against women. What can be done?  The New York Times writer, Peggy Orenstein has some answers in her October 15, 2016, article, “How to Be A Man in the Age of Trump:”

“Boys need continuing, serious guidance about sexual ethics, reciprocity, respect. Rather than silence or swagger, they need models of masculinity that are not grounded in domination or aggression.

Last year, California became the first state to make lessons on sexual consent mandatory for high school students. Meanwhile, the Our Whole Lives program — a model for positive, comprehensive sex education that was developed by the Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Church of Christ — encourages students to dismantle stereotypes from a young age. The Population Council’s It’s All One curriculum offers adolescents lessons about gender, power and rights within intimate relationships (not for nothing: including those discussions in sex ed has been proven to reduce rates of pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections). And, of course, we can meet kids on their own turf, with clever internet resources such as the viral video comparing sexual consent to a cup of tea (just because a person wanted tea last week doesn’t mean she wants it now; unconscious people never want tea) or “The Sexually Enlightened R&B Song.”

The murder of Marilyn Sheppard began as a sexual assault.  When she resisted, she was was brutally murdered. Read my earlier blog post, “Did Society “Authorize” this Murder?

Horse Owners Beware: Dangerous Wires Hide Inside Tire Feeders

Does anybody use tire feeders for their horses? If so, please read this article.


Like many horse owners, I have used large truck tires as hay feeders for years. I recently inspected my tire feeders to be certain they were in good condition, but what I didn’t realize is that invisible wires are embedded inside the rubber as part of the tire. These dangerous wires can become exposed as the tire ages and the horse nibbles around the edge of the feeder. The typical horse eventually pulls out a piece of the wire; it falls into the hay, and the horse ends up swallowing it!

I have now discarded all tire feeders, and here’s why:

Oakie’s tongue was so swollen it hung out of his mouth.

One month ago I found my 22-year-old paint gelding, Oakie, drooling, hanging his head, lethargic and refusing to eat or drink. His tongue was so swollen it was partially hanging outside of his mouth.

The symptoms made the…

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An Omission of Epic Proportions — Sherlock Holmes Investigates the Murder of Mrs. Marilyn Sheppard

This much we know for certain:  Mrs. Marilyn Sheppard was found bludgeoned to death in her bed on July 4, 1954.  Her husband, Dr. Sam Sheppard, a young osteopathic neurosurgeon, told a wild tale of a bushy-haired intruder.  He never wavered from his story of events and always maintained his innocence, but he was accused, tried and convicted.  A second trial 10 years later set him free, but the truth of this unsolved murder has never been proven.

In this intriguing mystery, a time warp enables Dr. Watson to bring Sherlock Holmes together with Paul Leland Kirk, the expert criminalist who first conducted an unbiased investigation of the Sheppard murder in 1955.  Holmes is skeptical — after all, Dr. Sheppard’s story of a bushy-haired intruder seems preposterous — until Holmes is presented with physical evidence that was repressed or considered insignificant during the trial. The evidence points to three other suspects, a window washer, an Air Force major, and an outraged neighbor, all of whom had opportunity and motivation for a sexual assault upon the victim.

The author of this novel, niece of Marilyn and Sam Sheppard, builds her story on authentic scientific research and expert analysis documented in an unpublished manuscript authored by a master criminalist. Readers can follow Sherlock Holmes’ deductive reasoning and use their own logic to review the unvarnished facts of the case and decide for themselves who murdered Mrs. Marilyn Sheppard.

Murder’s Living Victims

When murder is committed, not all its victims are killed.

Surviving victims of a murder are those family members who are forever impacted by the intrusion of violence into their lives.  The psychological stress of such a sudden and violent loss is long lasting.  The horror is made worse by the loss of dignity in death for their loved one and by the invasion of family privacy by the news-hungry media. Too often, a family’s private tragedy is turned into a public soap opera.

Murder’s living victims also include family members of the person accused of the crime.  Relatives of the accused, whether guilty or innocent, are condemned by the public due to their common name.  Complete strangers treat them as if they were involved in the crime by mere association. These victims also suffer at the hands of news people and the witch-hunting public. They are subjected to cruel actions perpetrated by the sick of our society:  mailboxes are filled with hate mail; crank callers snarl over the telephone at all hours of the day and night; dead animals are left on their doorsteps; blood is smeared on their front doors.  And over-zealous media people surround their homes and camp out on their lawns for days at a time, barraging family members with rude questions and sticking microphones in their faces the minute they leave the refuge of their homes.  Here too, the psychological impacts cut deep, and the scars can remain for a lifetime.

Once a family’s private lives are exposed, usually through personal tragedy, to the public eye, they are no longer seen as individuals “just like you and me.” They become unwilling celebrities and are treated like public property. As the infamy grows, the public no longer identifies with these people as one of their own. They never grasp the fact that such a tragedy could happen to their own family at any time! Their mutual vulnerability is completely lost as the newly premiered tragedy and its characters are removed from real life and plunged into the category of entertainment.  People no longer need to examine their own behavior when they can be more easily entertained by watching someone else squirm under the public microscope, judged by complete strangers who are fed incomplete and erroneous “facts” through television news and daily newspapers.

familyIn July 1954 the Sheppard family was completely naive concerning the criminal justice system. They believed what all of us are taught:  that a man is considered innocent until proven guilty beyond all reasonable doubt.  They believed that criminal investigations were carried out in an objective manner, where suspects were named only after all evidence had been considered and where truth was the primary objective. They believed that the authorities would help them find who had murdered Marilyn.

When Cleveland Police Detectives Schottke and Gareau — on the afternoon of July 4th 1954 before a thorough investigation even had been initiated — accused Sam Sheppard of murdering his wife, the family didn’t know what to do.  Sam’s brothers and father called their long-time family lawyer, Arthur Petersilge.  Petersilge explained that his expertise was in corporate law and advised them to call his colleague, William J. Corrigan. The Sheppards, immersed in the practice of medicine their entire lives, had never heard of Corrigan. But they needed help, so they met with him that evening in the Bay View Hospital dining room.

In retrospect, the family did the only thing possible given their circumstances and their complete lack of experience with the criminal justice system.  Sam had been accused of murder by Cleveland Police detectives, so his family consulted a capable lawyer in response to that accusation. None of them were sophisticated in matters of crime investigation, so they were unable to ignore that early accusation and merely to assume it was a commonly used police tactic.

Unfortunately (ironic but true) the lawyer the family hired was one of the foremost criminal lawyers in the Cleveland area.  Many people, including some with the coroner’s investigative team, insist to this day: “We knew Sam Sheppard was guilty as soon as the family hired William J. Corrigan on the day of the murder.”

Did Our Society “Authorize” this Murder?

indexReading Carol Lee Flinders‘ book, At the Root of This Longing, is like being hit with a bolt of lightening called “Truth.” She writes with profound insight about violence perpetrated against females throughout history, culminating with the murder of Polly Klaas – a 12-year-old girl who lived in Flinders’ home town of Petaluma, California. Polly was abducted from her bedroom at knife point and callously murdered by a man named Richard Allen Davis in 1993. The passages that hit me the hardest follow (the bold-face emphasis is mine):

“I had kept such a silence for some time, and the effort had cost me dearly. Polly Klaas’s death was a real watershed, because I simply could not look at it, as I once might have, in isolation. Its resemblance to the only two other violent deaths that had ever touched my life was just not to be denied. The truth that forced itself upon me now involved a connection that I’d been close to making for some time but had resisted. It was that the men who deal out violence upon women and children — the rapists, the kidnappers, the molesters, the pornographers — are the unacknowledged but systematically groomed ‘enforcers’ of a system of values and priorities that it seemed to me inaccurate to identify as anything but patriarchy.”

Flinders goes on to explain that her husband Tim, who teaches fifth- and sixth-grade kids in a school located near Polly’s school, reached a similarly disturbing conclusion.

“One morning as he stood before his class trying to talk about galaxies and black holes, the hum of twelve-year-old girls all around, he went absolutely blank. For a moment all he could hear was a voice inside: It could have been one of these girls, one of my own students.

“That first insight set off a kind of chain reaction that he would describe later in his journal: ‘ When her body was found, and we learned what had happened, and I felt the devastation in the faces of my girl students, the voice got more insistent: she was one of my students. What happened to Polly that night, it was clear, had happened to them all. They would never be the same again.’

“But his grasp of things enlarged still more: ‘During the week after Polly’s body was found, and details concerning her alleged kidnapper and murderer came into focus, I realized that he  [Richard Allan Davis] was one of my own, too. I wasn’t prepared for this. . .’

“Tim experienced his connection with Davis in two different ways. As a teacher, he knew firsthand that ‘Richard Allen Davis is sitting right now in fifth-grade classrooms all across the country, alienated, abused, angry, helpless, with little sense of right and wrong, and with nothing to lose.’  Teachers see these kids, they know what direction they’re headed, and they know what it would take to redirect them — know in fact, that in many cases it wouldn’t take that much. They know of such kids, and know how poorly our educational system is equipped to intervene.

“But the connection was not just that of a teacher to a student; as an adult male, Tim also knew ‘that Davis was on a continuum with every other man in this culture.’  The utter contempt for women that had allowed him to destroy a young girl was abnormal only in degree. Like me, Tim had been reluctant to read this crime as an expression of patriarchy; we’d all rather have classed it with earthquakes, meteor showers, bolts of lightening . . . We’d rather have demonized the act and distanced it from everything familiar. But then he saw a quotation attributed to Polly’s alleged kidnapper, describing a violent assault on a woman Davis had abducted several years earlier: ‘We both got something out of it’

“This is the timeless, terrible rationalization Tim recognized, of men who rape women: the great lie that justifies not just the serial rapist but the college boy, as well, who just decides to ‘push things along.’  Try as we might to place Davis outside the norms of human behavior, he is not the utter aberration we would like to believe. ‘He is part of a male culture,’ Tim wrote, ‘that bolstered his feelings, however bent they might have been, however distorted or self-serving or even irrational. At the center of that culture, driving it, is the understanding that sex is domination and that women want it to be. And whenever any man tells a lurid joke or rents a pornographic video or brags about last night’s conquest, we’ve done our little bit to perpetuate it.'”


How does Flinders’ insight tie to the murder of Mrs. Marilyn Sheppard?   Evidence strongly suggests that Marilyn was murdered by an “enforcer of patriarchy.”  She was murdered by a man who believed that she encouraged and “wanted” his advances; and when she refused, biting and fighting him off with every ounce of her being — he killed her.

Boys who grow up in homes where they witness their fathers or other men using using violence against women, tend to repeat that pattern of behavior in their own lives. Compounding the problem, such boys — who often have been abused themselves — see male domination over women given tacit approval from our society.  They see it every day in movies, on television, in advertisements, video games and in their own homes. They grow up believing it is their right, as males, to dominate women and do whatever they please to get whatever they want.

These boys desperately need help!  Teachers and other adults who sense what is happening can intervene and make a difference.  If just one responsible adult will take action to counsel and care about abused and alienated boys (and girls), lives can be saved!

It’s been 61 years! Why bring it up now?!

Yes, it happened back in 1954, and it has haunted me ever since.  My aunt was murdered.  My uncle was blamed.  This murder has never been resolved. That is why I bring it up.

Murder requires objective, unbiased examination.  Conclusions and accusations must be based on clear analysis of the physical evidence; even the smallest detail must be taken into account. The facts of this case were never considered with that kind of unbiased clarity.  I wanted it re-examined, and this time with open-minded, deductive objectivity!

I knew exactly who I needed:  Sherlock Holmes, the world’s most famous criminalist.  And I got him!

It happened when an unexplained time warp enabled Sherlock Holmes to collaborate with Dr. Paul Leland Kirk —  Holmes’ equally-talented, 20th-century counterpart — to review the critical physical evidence tossed aside as “irrelevant” by the Cleveland Police and prosecutors of Dr. Sam Sheppard back in 1954.

I take no credit myself.  Dr. Watson made all the arrangements — and he is the one to tell you the story.