Sunday, August 26, 2012

Criminal #2: The Belligerent Celebrity

Today's soundtrack: "Lost Highway" by Hank Williams.

This is one case where it's okay to mention the names of the criminals. They're already famous anyway, and maybe they deserve to be publicly shamed a little.

The belligerent celebrity.

We joke about them sometimes, laugh and shake our heads at their antics. Mel Gibson, David Hasselhoff, Kevin Spacey...the list goes on and on. There's even a Drunk Celebrity Hall of Fame. They spend a lot of money getting into trouble, and a lot of money getting out of it.

Recently, country music superstar Randy Travis was arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated after crashing his car and walking into a convenience store naked. Then, in the police car, he threatened to kill the arresting officer, which resulted in a felony charge. He was released after posting $21,500 bail. More details here.

I don't know about you, but I've never been drunk enough to walk into a store naked. How many beers does it take to do something like that? How many shots of tequila? Hard to imagine.

And this was not his first infraction. He was arrested on public intoxication back in February.

Would it be safe to say that some of these people have a drinking problem? And if they're drinking and driving, should they maintain the right to operate motor vehicles? How many times should they be allowed to buy their way out of situations that would send most of us to the hoosegow for months or even years?

To me, drinking and driving is one of the most serious crimes on the books. If you do it, you're not only putting your life at risk, but the lives of everyone else in your path. If you're going to go out drinking, you need to either have a designated driver or call a cab. Period.

And if you're rich and famous, and you're getting drunk and belligerent and behind the wheel again and again, you might want to think about taking some of that money you're donating to your lawyers and spending it on rehab.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Criminal #1: The Disgruntled Employee

Hello, and welcome to my new blog! Let's jump right in, shall we?

For today's soundtrack, we have "Run Through the Jungle" by Creedence Clearwater Revival. 

By now, everyone who has been paying attention has heard about the shooting outside the Empire State building yesterday. If not, you can find the details here.

With this blog, I'm not going to mention the names of killers or other criminals, because they don't deserve any notoriety. In some cases, that's exactly what they want. They're losers who can't make a name for themselves any other way, so committing heinous crimes becomes their claim to fame. On my blog, they will only get a number.

So we'll call the guy outside the Empire State building Criminal #1.

Apparently #1 had lost his job a while back, and he blamed the loss on a man named Steven Ercolino. #1 hid behind a van yesterday, and when Ercolino walked by, #1 shot him multiple times with a semi-automatic pistol. Ercolino died. Soon after that, police shot and killed #1, and nine bystanders were injured in the process.

My question is this: what pushed #1 over the edge? What was it that finally compelled him to murder the man he'd been arguing with for months? What was going through his mind yesterday morning when he left home with that gun?

It wasn't the first case of a disgruntled employee violently attacking a boss or a former coworker, of course. In fact, it's a modern day phenomenon that occurs with such frequency there's even a pop culture term for it: going postal (unfortunate for the fine folks who work our post offices, but there you go). My novella Fire and Ice deals with such a character, but can you imagine?

What would it take to set someone like that off? Are they simply insane and prone to violent behavior (#1 had no prior criminal record)? Or could it happen to anyone?

Is there a killer lurking inside each of us, just waiting for the right buttons to be pushed?

Would gun control have helped in a case like this?

And if you're in a supervisory position somewhere, should you fear for your life every time you have to reprimand or terminate an employee working under you?

Talk to me.