Posted in C-Haze, Current Events, Dating, News, Off The Wall, Porn, Pornography, Relationships, True Crime

The Stalker, the Student and the Stud

A woman was being stalked.

For three and a half years, Ruth Jeffery lived in fear. Someone, somehow, knew every detail of her intimate life. He knew her schedule, and even had access to her e-mail accounts.

Once, he posted “intimate” pictures of her on an adult website, prompting a stranger to show up, announced, at her home.

Ruth was at her wits’ end, and counted heavily on the support of her boyfriend, who she’d been dating for more than three years; a man she’d known for more than a decade.

In fact, her boyfriend, Shane Webber, was the one person she could lean on during the ordeal. “We did everything together. I would tell him everything”. She believed he was telling her everything in return.

When her stalker created an online profile that was similar to her own, and started reaching out to her friends, pretending to be her, she got scared. This person simply knew too much about her. Was it a friend? A classmate from school?

Who could do such a thing?

Ruth stopped eating, fell into a deep depression, and was filled with fear and paranoia. She began taking anti-depressants. At one point, her studies were impacted, she was so drastically affected, she had to retake her final exams.

She was suicidal, and told those closest to her, she wanted to die.

“I don’t want to be alive anymore”

 Finally, in desperation, Ruth turned to police. By this time, her harasser had pretended to be various classmates of hers, and had even hacked into her computer, sending intimate photos of her to all of her contacts from her own e-mail address. Ms. Jeffery found herself bombarded with sexually explicit photos and videos.

The desperation, depression and fear continued to spiral, Ruth was terrified, humiliated and ashamed.

Police diligently tracked the  stalker, meticulously documenting incident after incident of harassment.

At one point, authorities thought they were closing in on their perp. They arrested and interrogated a close friend of Ruth’s boyfriend. Police, briefly, believed they’d found their stalker.

They were wrong.

Undeterred, police refused to give up.

Finally, they got their break, and after nearly four years of constant harassment, arrested Ruth’s long-time boyfriend, Shane Webber.

Webber is charged with causing Harassment, Alarm or Distress.

He had been harassing, stalking and intimidating his own girlfriend for the entire time they had been dating.

He has pled guilty.

Upon hearing the news, Ruth issued a statement proclaiming, “I want him to be put in prison because he has wrecked the past three-and-a-half years of my life… I’ve known him for 10 years, so in a way it feels like the past 10 years have been wasted.”

Webber is due to be sentenced on October 6, 2011.

Posted in Abortion, C-Haze, Children, Current Events, Marriage, News, Off The Wall, Parent, Parenting

Abortion, Birth Control and Online Polls

Oh. My. God.

Of all the disgusting, completely irresponsible things I have seen on the internet, this is probably the worst of them all.

I just came across an article at ParentDish about the Arnold family. Alicha Arnold is pregnant, and apparently didn’t know whether or not she wanted to keep the child…

… So…

She, along with her husband, started a website. The purpose of the site is to poll the public- should they have the baby or abort it?

Mrs. Arnold, who has been married for 9 years, explains her uncertainty by saying, “I’m not convinced that I want to change the status quo… I feel that as I age I’ve actually gotten more selfish and set in my ways. I’m afraid that I will eventually regret starting a family and ‘settling down,’ as they say. I fear that the constant pressure to be the perfect wife and mother while maintaining a full-time job will eventually cause my brain to implode and lead to a nervous breakdown.”

Wow.

The Arnolds seem well-educated and financially stable. They both work in technology, and have been a couple for more than a decade. Certainly for these two upwardly mobile people, birth control was not a mystery, or a myth. They could have easily availed themselves to it, and yet they didn’t. When the inevitable happened (you see, when two people love each other, the man will stick his… well, you know where I’m headed with this…), and she got pregnant, she turned to that which she knows best- technology- to help make the biggest, most heart-wrenching, personal decision she will likely ever face.

No wait.

Allow me to rephrase.

She turned to others– strangers (!) to make that decision for her.

I am disgusted.

Ultimately, it seems the Arnolds, with the public’s assistance, have chosen to continue their pregnancy.

Truly, I have no idea if I’m relieved or not…

… This woman will be a mother soon.

How do you parent a child whose fate you once left to the public? To strangers, freaks, hackers, psychopaths, politicians (sorry- couldn’t resist!)?

“Now look, Junior! You better show some respect! If not for that 51% on my website, you wouldn’t even be here right now! Go clean your room like I asked you to!”

Huh.

I dunno, folks.

I declare I’ve seen it all.

Posted in Blogging, Bucks County, C-Haze, Children, Current Events, Discrimination, Education, Lenape Middle School, Matthew Curran, NAACP, News, Off The Wall, Parent, Parenting, Pennsylvania, Race, Racism

Racism, No Wai and George Bush Eats Cats

After reading some recent posts of mine, a friend forwarded the following story to me. She was curious- since I have not jumped on the bandwagon to yell racism at some higher profile stories- to see if this one would be any different.

An 8th grade math teacher, famous for the silly images he places on the homework worksheets he gives to his students, has found himself in a very uncomfortable situation.

While surfing the internet, looking for funny pictures to place on a homework assignment, teacher Matthew Curran came across what he believed at the time to be a perfect choice. The picture was one that would surely cause his students to laugh, and the caption, “NO WAI!” (internet slang for “No Way”) was even better. Mr. Curran had an inside joke with his class- whenever he would assign difficult math problems, and expect them to show their work, the students would always exclaim, “No way!”

The picture was of a black man wearing a straw hat. The man had his mouth wide open, displaying an almost completely toothless mouth.

After assigning the worksheet, a student turned in her seat to the only black person in the class, asking him if the picture depicted the child’s father.

The offended student went home and told his mother about the incident. Upon seeing the image, the mother immediately contacted the NAACP.

The NAACP released a statement:

“It brings into question whether all of our children are being provided a safe and fair environment in which to learn. What happened here is unacceptable, and we will take steps to make sure it never happens again,”

Mr. Curran has since apologized to both the school faculty and the student body. He claims he was doing a Google search on the terms “multiply and divide”, and this image was one of many that he came across. He thought the caption was funny, representing an inside joke with his students, and says he truly did not mean to offend anyone.

The child’s mother states she will not send her son back to school again until she feels it is safe for him.

I did a quick internet search, using Google, as Matthew Curran did, and I can verify that this image is in fact returned as a search result when typing in the term “multiply and divide”. Why this is the case is beyond me, but at least in this regard, the teacher is telling the truth.

Since this incident occured, many students, ex-students and co-workers of Mr. Curran’s have come forward in his defense. Most people agree that the image was a poor choice, but all are steadfast in their support of the teacher, stating that there is simply no way this man meant to offend anyone.

I do not believe we are looking at a case of overt (or even covert) racism. I think, at worst, sine he has already apologized, Mr. Curran may need to take a racial sensitivity class so that he can be more aware of what may be considered offensive to some students and their parents.

I take bigger issue with the student who asked the only black kid in the classroom if the man depicted on the worksheet was his father. The student should be given detention or something. Bang a few erasers together after school for a couple days.

Truly, I am angrier at the black student’s mother than I am at anyone else. This obviously was not a case of blatant racism. The math teacher simply made a mistake when choosing an image he believed would make his students laugh… and therefore make the classroom a little more fun. Hell, I wish my math teachers would have tried half as hard to keep me interested as this guy apparently does. The child’s mother, when deciding not to even try to work the issue out with the school, instead immediately contacting the NAACP, sent a message that is much louder than anything Mr. Curran inadvertantly did.

In bypassing the school, in refusing to allow her son to return to class, she in effect told everyone that she is less interested in working together towards a solution to this problem, and more interested in causing a scene. Getting her face on TV, and causing a ruckus.

15 minutes of fame and all that.

This, my friends, is not the way to racial equality. Actions like this breed animosity and resentment, and are not conducive to the open conversations we so desperately need to have.

It doesn’t mean the kid’s mom shouldn’t have been offended by the image on the worksheet. It doesn’t mean the worksheet was appropriate for the class. It simply means that in handling the situation the way she chose to, she may very well have created a racial divide that perhaps didn’t otherwise exist.

Had the student’s mother first reached out to the teacher, the principle, the superintendent of the school… had she tried to understand what Mr. Curran was trying to accomplish… perhaps this story could have been one of hope, communication and education.

Had she been willing to do her due dilligence, the mother could have learned that this particular image, while perhaps offensive, is part of a widely circulated collection of images, all captioned with various internet slang. Some of the pictures depict the black man while others depict animals with the words “owned”, “pwned”, “my wai”, “o hai”. I even located one of these stupid pictures with an image of George Bush eating a cat with a caption that reads “We can haz… stop teh madnez”. A quick Google search of these images shows that they’re all part of the “I Can Has Cheezburger” internet sensation- a blogsite that has gone viral since its 2007 inception. Click on the website, and one will find plenty of images to offend just about anyone, though I personally find the kittehs (kitties) adorable.

As a bi-racial woman, I have lived both worlds- black and white. I was raised by a white family, I was married to a black man, and I have two beautiful black daughters. It is through these life experiences that I have learned that not everyone who makes a bad judgment is a racist person. Some people, for varying reasons, are simply unaware of the pain their actions can cause. Most of these people truly mean no harm. Once their errors are pointed out to them, once they are educated about the stigmas certain words, images, jokes, etc. contain, they are more than happy to adjust.

When we handle situations like this one in battle mode right off the bat, without knowing or understanding why or how it occured to begin with, we lose our credibility. All too often, once our credibility is gone, so too, are many of the opportunities to open minds and educate each other that may have otherwise existed.

This is a sad story to me. Not because of a racist teacher, but because I realize that yet again, we’ve lost another chance.

Posted in C-Haze, Current Events, Michael Jackson, Music, News, Nostalgia, Off The Wall, The Whiz, Thriller

Michael Jackson, Peter Pan and Never-Ever Land

I was planning to talk about other things today, but those plans were waylaid by the untimely death of Michael Jackson. 

I haven’t known what to say with regards to his passing, or perhaps I’ve had too many words… regardless, I couldn’t put it all down on paper until now.

Like millions of people worldwide, I loved Michael Jackson. Perhaps I took him for granted, as being born in the late ’70s, I literally grew up listening to his music.

From “The Whiz” to his albums “Off the Wall” and “Thriller”… to his sappy “We Are The World” to his ridiculous mini-flick at Disney World… and all things in between, not to mention what came before my time (when he was part of the Jackson 5), and everything he’s produced since…. I have loved this man.

I remember watching the “Thriller” music video for the first time on Mtv. I had to be sneaky about it, as my mother had a strict “No Mtv” rule.

I was a mere 6 years old when I peeped it, and had nightmares for months thereafter.

I won’t pretend to have understood him.

Perhaps that was part of the attraction to all that is was The King of Pop.

He was, if nothing else, an enigma… a complete mystery.

His personal life, of course, has been in absolute shambles for years.

He was weird, he was eccentric, he was isolated… but perhaps most importantly- maybe even the key to all his strange idiosyncrasies-was his perpetual adolescence.

I read an article recently at Time.comabout Jackson’s life. The author discusses the well-known Jackson comparisons to Peter Pan- from his intangible unwillingness (inability?) to grow up to his very tangible Neverland Ranch. He makes a very powerful statement regarding the fact that maybe we were all wrong- maybe Michael himself got it wrong…

… He was no Peter Pan.

Jackson more appropriately fits the mold of one of the Lost Boys.

For a man who gave so much- both on stage and off- he never found whatever it is he was looking for in return.

Michael Jackson- predictably- fell tragically victim to a stereotypical world of drugs and excess… certainly nothing new in the world of superstars. However, with the sole exception of his prescription drug addiction, Jackson never fit the mold. Throughout his entire life, in spite of all his unorthodox behaviors and his non-traditional lifestyle, Jackson maintained an almost unheard of innocence. Still, at the age of 50, he remained absolutely childlike in his aura… there was an air of innocence around him that never diminished. Not with age, not with complete super stardom, not with lawsuits or criminal charges. He never hardened… and perhaps even became more fragile, as time ceased being his friend.

Perhaps the biggest tragedy of his entire life, even worse than charges of pedophilia, was Jackson’s self-hatred. Like a pre-teen in emotional pain, a child who cuts themself to release some sort of inner anguish, Jackson was faithful to his own self-mutilation tactics. He wasn’t a cutter, but managed to accomplish far worse in his absolute obsession with plastic surgery.

Some believe he was obsessed with becoming white.

I disagree.

I think he was obsessed with pain… I think he hated himself so thoroughly that he wanted the world to see the disfigured freak of a man he viewed himself to be.

And yet we still loved him, even as we shook our heads in disappointment at the fact that he no longer even had a nose to speak of.

The true source of Michael Jackson’s self-hatred will likely remain a mystery forever.

Was he irreparably scarred by the alleged abuse he suffered at the hands of his father?

The pressures of the industry?

A grueling public’s constant scrutiny?

Mental illness?

When I think of his personal life, his love for children- boys, especially- I do not think of a predator.

Rather, I think of the movie “Big“, starring Tom Hanks.

The premise of the movie centers around a boy- a pre-teen- who, tired of being short and puny, constantly picked on for his size, makes a wish at a carnival to simply be “big”. When he awakens the next morning, he’s big… as in an adult. The movie centers around an adolescent boy who is stuck in a man’s body- in an adult world. I remember the scene in which he meets a woman, and takes her back to his newly rented apartment- an apartment he’d filled with bunk beds, games and toys. The woman, of course, is expecting a romantic encounter… but Tom Hanks has other ideas. After a night of playing innocent child games and jumping on the bed, they fall asleep- with him on the top bunk, her on the bottom.

That, to me, is was Michael Jackson.

An adolescent stuck in a man’s body… thrown into an adult world while just a baby.

His behavior with boys was inappropriate for sure.

I do not believe, however, he preyed on them sexually, nor do I believe he ever meant to harm a single soul. To Michael, these were his intellectual equals. They were the age he was when he stopped growing, stopped maturing. When considering his small stature, his high-pitched voice and his never-altered childlike innocence, one begins to understand the Peter Pan analogies.

He never grew up.

To Michael Jackson:

You will be missed. We love you, and hope you can finally find the peace you so desperately craved.