Post Looks Back at Balfour Case

In Sunday’s Washington Post, Gene Weingarten has a long, detailed, nuanced look at how 15-20 young children die each year after being left in a car accidentally. The main subject of the article is Lyn Balfour, the JAG school employee who accidentally left her nine-month old in the car two years ago. She was found not guilty of involuntary manslaughter by a Charlottesville jury last year, after just ninety minutes of deliberation (including a lunch break). Weingarten explains the perfect storm of circumstances that made her forget, including emergency babysitting duty for a friend, staying up with her sick baby, the baby being in a different car seat than usual (and not visible in the mirror), driving her husband to work that day (unusually), dealing with two small crises via mobile phone on the way to work that morning, and her babysitter having a new phone. Balfour simply believed that she had dropped off her son at the babysitter’s, as she did every morning.

I’m ashamed and upset to have discovered that the author even quotes the single worst comment ever posted to cvillenews.com, one that I’d managed to forget, and now hope that I can forget again:

If she had too many things on her mind then she should have kept her legs closed and not had any kids. they should lock her in a car during a hot day and see what happens.
stupid people need to no longer exist when they do stupid things like this. she killed her kid, she should be punished and put away.

This article is awfully hard to read; consider yourself warned.

63 thoughts on “Post Looks Back at Balfour Case”

  1. If you’re a parent, though, w/a baby and you think it can’t happen to you, you should read it. Also, if you still ‘hate’ Balfour, it’s a realistic portrait that’s also empathetic. Waldo’s right about it being hard to read; male or female, you’ll probably find yourself in tears.

  2. It is a good article but I did think the author could have refrained from giving an inaccurate representation of the discussion on this site- if I remember correctly, there were many supportive comments.
    It seems to me though that the unresolved question is whether such cases should end up in court or not. I always feel sorry for drivers who unintentionally cause a traffic tragedy. I can certainly imagine being in that position for all that I try to drive carefully. Does that mean that drivers should be exempt from responsibility for an unintentional mistake which kills someone?
    I think this issue is very complicated and this article should be read carefully.

    And here is a practical suggestion for parents- ask your childcare giver to ALWAYS call you if you do not drop off your child on schedule.

  3. As someone who:

    a) thinks this should not be a prosecutable offense (because of the clear lack of any sort of criminal intent, plus the fact that the unimaginable suffering and mental anguish of having done such a thing need not be compounded by a jail sentance)

    b) was disgusted by the heartlessly cruel and insensitive comments on that last cvillenews discussion re: this case,

    …I do have to admit that I initially found Lyn Balfour’s apparent lack of remorse rather disturbing and perplexing. I’m glad to have read this article: it goes a long way towards humanizing her and explaining the circumstances behind what happened, in a way that much of the local coverage of her trial did not (or perhaps could not).

    Plus, it’s a really valuable and worthwhile article. Yet another reason not to drive a car, I say.

  4. Interestingly, the author writes in the follow-up chat (you can read it at the above address) that he actually doesn’t like Balfour. He respects her, but he finds offputting the shell that she’s put up around herself.

    I couldn’t bring myself to look at the photographs or listen to the interview.

  5. One of the things that disgusted me most about the Balfour case was the commonwealth refusing to agree to expunge her record after trial. While I don’t recall the specifics right now, this did affect her livelihood. When a person is found not guilty by a jury of his/her peers, the commonwealth shouldn’t have any say whatsoever in the expungement. There’s still quite a few problems lurking deep within our justice system. Some may never be corrected.

  6. Waldo, this is the entire quote from the chat w/article author:

    Gene Weingarten: Lyn, if you’re reading this, apologies.

    I immediately disliked her. Then the more I got to know her — we spent a lot of time together — the more I came to like her, eventually, to like her a lot. I also respect her a lot.

  7. If this case is not an indictment of our society as a whole, I don’t don’t know what else could demonstrate it!!!

  8. Lord, I was JUST reading the Weingarten Q&A. I won’t be able to read the story itself; it puts tears in my eyes just to think of reading it, plus I’m already WAY paranoid about making such a mistake myself, so I don’t feel the need to be scared into an even greater state of parental paranoia.

    In one of the Q&As that dealt with Balfour, where someone was sitting in judgment on Balfour’s “lack of remorse” and her decision to have more children, Weingarten wrote this: “There is something else about Lyn Balfour that I hope came through: The face Lyn turns to the world is not entirely representative of what’s inside her.” I thought that was great. I do see Anonymous’s (above) point about the article “humanizing” her, but I also wonder why any of us (including myself) need to have other’s humanity pointed out to us in the painstaking way that Weingarten does in the article. Why don’t we automatically assume the deeply human complexity of others, even the others we don’t know and who have done unthinkably horrific things?

  9. Majunga, how is it an indictment of our society as a whole? I’m expecting you’re going to say something about about day-care, about our values being screwed up, about how we’re too busy rushing around leading our self-involved lives to care about our children, yadda yadda yadda. (If you’re not going to say that, apologies, but SOMEONE will, so this post will address them instead.)

    But it occurs to me that, way back before there were cars and car seats, there were surely stressed parents who let their attention lapse long enough for something tragic to happen to their children, no? It seems to me not a problem with our society so much as a condition of humanity. I’ve been doing lots of research on my family ancestry, and as part of that research I spend a lot of time imagining life as a German immigrant in turn-of-the-century Chicago (the south side, near Packingtown) and as a farmer working a small farm in rural northern Indiana (Porter County). It’s inconceivable to me that these families (not just my own forebears but all the families at those times and in those places) never once lost track of a child in the busy crush of daily responsibilities, with tragic results. Sure, there weren’t cars and day cares and cell phones. But there were streets and train tracks where urban children could get run over while going on an errand or playing; in the rural areas, there were uncovered wells and rickety ladders a child could fall into or from while playing unattended while the parents did the unending daily work of surviving on a farm. Parents in the past were just as frazzled and busy and overwhelmed as parents today; it’s not like there were many mothers who were able to keep both eyes on all their small children 24-7.

    I think we like to idealize some imaginary past when children got all this loving protective attention, but I’m really, really wondering when on earth and where on earth that ever really happened? And if it never really happened that way, then how can we say the problem is our society? If it’s not cars and car seats, it’s the uncovered well and the train tracks down the street. I’m not saying tragic accidents parental lapses of attention are inevitable so we should just accept it, but rather that we might recognize that lapses of parental attention are probably more likely an inevitable part of human nature, not a moral failing or a societal failing. The solution, I think, is to recognize what’s not mutable about human nature and adapt society to offset as many of those lapses as possible.

  10. Cecil – you’re trying so hard to make yourself whole again by demanding we debunk all possible criticism immediately, even before you have to confront it. Are you trying to suppress some inner conscience for your own lifestyle’s shortcomings?

  11. PS – I think it’s unbelievable you would compare a child running over a train track and getting whacked [back then] compared to a tiny baby strapped into his torture chair in a slow-cook oven cellblock s/he was supposed to be safe in within loving hands.

  12. Waldo, this is possibly the most horrifying article in the post I’ve read (or rather tried to read). I got about a few paragraphs before I started feeling distinctly nauseous. As a parent, it’s really hard to read something like this and not imagine it happening to your own child.

    ..,and you are also right that that’s probably one of the worst comments ever.

  13. The fact is that a child died due to neglect. Whatever the extraneous circumstances were, that fact is not in dispute. What is a travesty is that a parent can neglect a child to the point where the child dies and the state (as represented by the jury in this case) chose to not punish or sanction her in any way.

    If the child was not hers, but perhaps a friend’s, I doubt the outcome of the trial would be the same. I doubt that people would be so quick to come to her defense.

    If the child were in fact an adult that was for some reason strapped into her back seat, perhaps an elderly person, I doubt that people would be willing to equate this act with a traffic accident (as one poster on this page has).

    For some strange reason, parents are allowed to abuse their children in our society to a far greater degree than is allowed in any other interpersonal relationship. The examples of this are numerous and off topic, but it is sad to see how people internalize this double standard and how it manifested in the posts on this page.

  14. When someone has accidentally lost their child due to their own forgetfulness, then what more can we do to them as a society? They live in hell for the rest of their lives, so what more would you like to do to them? What’s constructive? What works for you Majunga? How about you, SlowtoJudge?

    Beyond having to experience a living hell for the rest of their natural life, what extra punishment on top of that will make you happy?

  15. I think it’s unbelievable you would compare a child running over a train track and getting whacked [back then] compared to a tiny baby strapped into his torture chair in a slow-cook oven cellblock s/he was supposed to be safe in within loving hands.

    I know why that’s unbelievable—because Cecil made no such comparison. She compared a child dying of hyperthermia to a child being run over by a train (ever seen The Dollmaker?) or falling into a well.

    For some strange reason, parents are allowed to abuse their children in our society to a far greater degree than is allowed in any other interpersonal relationship.

    SlowtoJudge, this matter has nothing to do with abuse. Do us all a favor and read the article in question before providing any further commentary. Discussions are significantly more fruitful when all participants are on the same page.

  16. Waldo, the page on which I posted my comment had NO LINK to the article (as it does now). Now you are asking me to do you a favor and read the article which was not available at the time of my posting. Odd.

    I suppose I should have traveled into the future, read the article, then traveled back in time so that I could post an opinion about the contents of your blog.

    I stand by the content of my message. If this woman had killed (yes) another parent’s child, there is no way she would not have been punished.

  17. Voice of reality, if I am allowed to respond to your post, (and after reading the article), I would say that your emotional argument could be applied to any criminal proceeding where the accused feels remorse for their actions.

    This woman should not have been charged with murder and that was the prosecutor’s mistake. But to simply say, “well she’s suffered enough” and therefore claim that there should be no legal sanction? This is the kind of thing that ONLY happens when a parent abuses their child.

    What if all the facts in the case had been the same but it was her friend’s child and therefore her emotional suffering was reduced (as she hadn’t lost her offspring). Would you then say that she SHOULD be punished by the legal system because she wouldn’t punish herself enough?

    Yes, that’s hypothetical but it displays the problem with your argument, I believe.

  18. Waldo, the page on which I posted my comment had NO LINK to the article (as it does now). Now you are asking me to do you a favor and read the article which was not available at the time of my posting. Odd.

    I suppose I should have traveled into the future, read the article, then traveled back in time so that I could post an opinion about the contents of your blog.

    What in the world are you talking about? I asked you to read the article before commenting further. No time machine is required to do so. Why this is so difficult for you to grasp (or adhere to) is a mystery that only you can solve.

  19. Your posting name is kind of comical, slowtojudge–you read Waldo’s synopsis of the story and rushed out a response as if someone had a gun to your head and therefore you couldn’t possibly hop over to Sunday’s WaPo on your own before posting.

    There was “NO LINK” to the article? oh, you poor, poor, impaired thing.

  20. What stood out for me about the article was the quote from David Diamond, a USF researcher who looks at how stress affects memory: “If you are capable of forgetting a cell phone, you are capable of forgetting a child.”

    If you read nothing else in this article, read Diamond’s explanation of how the memory is flawed; it’s at the beginning of the fifth page in the link to the story.

  21. Megan, I also really liked the section with Diamond. I thought the description of the brain as this jury-rigged creation composed of layers of brain, the oldest (evolutionarily speaking) and most irrational on the bottom and the newest on top, and none of the layers necessarily coordinating their work all that well, was really interesting. Thinking about the brain in this way helps to explain a lot of baffling and irrational bits of human behavior. I often feel like human beings are walking around with these enormously over-powered and complex brains that none of us are fully in control of — but our great failing is that we THINK we’re all masters of our own domains. So to speak.

  22. I apologize for my faux pas. I had mistakenly read the comments on THIS blog and thought that I could place my own regarding the subject matter on THIS page. What I did not realize was that “the matter has nothing to do with abuse” but rather an article about a case of child abuse that mentioned this blog.

    I should have sought this article that mentioned this blog and read it and then I would have been qualified to opine about the subject matter being discussed, which to my ignorant eye appeared to be a woman that strapped a child into a harness and then left the child there to die.

    Only in cases of child abuse is the suffering of the perpetrator given such a high priority. This fact is exemplified by many of the opinions that I’ve read on this blog.

  23. Quote from Cecil: “But there were streets and train tracks where urban children could get run over while going on an errand or playing”

    Quote from Waldo: “I know why that’s unbelievable—because Cecil made no such comparison”

    Are you just slightly retarted Waldo? No really, just a little…?

  24. Quote from VoD: “When someone has accidentally lost their child due to their own forgetfulness, then what more can we do to them as a society? They live in hell for the rest of their lives, so what more would you like to do to them? What’s constructive? What works for you Majunga? How about you, SlowtoJudge?”

    Is this some Appalachian mental retardation manifestation I am witnessing here? I don’t consider “forgetting” your baby in the car all day to perish an atrocious death an “accident”!!! How the f&^k do you know if the mother is “living in hell for the rest of her life”? For all we know, she’s busy with more f&^kking cell phone shiit all day long.

    I am so sick of the abysmal IQ level here. Maybe it’s the water you’re drinking?

  25. Misspelling “retarded” while using it to disparage others’ intelligence is my new favorite thing.

  26. I believe EVERYONE is forgetting the REAL victim here… it’s the kid that was left in the back seat by a mother who didn’t have her priorities in order.
    When you have kids, You take care of your children first, then EVERYTHING is comes second.

    This woman should have been punished to the full extent of the law and not given another chance to have ANOTHER child, yes she did have another child.

    Who cares how much she’s suffering now, can you image what that child was going through in the back seat being cooked to death and no one coming to help ?

    You are supposed to protect and care for your kids and this woman did neither.

  27. Cecil wrote:

    Sure, there weren’t cars and day cares and cell phones. But there were streets and train tracks where urban children could get run over while going on an errand or playing; in the rural areas, there were uncovered wells and rickety ladders a child could fall into or from while playing unattended while the parents did the unending daily work of surviving on a farm.

    Majunga wrote:

    I think it’s unbelievable you would compare a child running over a train track and getting whacked [back then] compared to a tiny baby strapped into his torture chair in a slow-cook oven cellblock s/he was supposed to be safe in within loving hands.

    Waldo wrote:

    I know why that’s unbelievable—because Cecil made no such comparison. She compared a child dying of hyperthermia to a child being run over by a train (ever seen The Dollmaker?) or falling into a well.

    Majunga wrote:

    Are you just slightly retarted Waldo? No really, just a little…?

    Majunga, you turned Cecil’s mention of a child being run over by a train into “a child running over a train track,” and a child falling into a well into “getting whacked,” and then became upset at your own strawman. Then, after I pointed that out to you, you accused me of being “retarted.”

    Just to recap.

  28. This woman should have been punished to the full extent of the law and not given another chance to have ANOTHER child, yes she did have another child.

    John, I cannot help but notice that you are the exact same person who got called out in the Washington Post article as being the single best example that the author could find of a soulless human begun, the person who wrote the single worst comment ever posted to cvillenews.com. And rather than be ashamed, you follow it up with a call for, what, forced abortion?

    Go away. You are not welcome here. Never return to cvillenews.com. Future comments from you will be deleted and your employer will be notified, since you’re using their internet connection for your comments.

  29. Not one to criticize other people’s spelling (given that my own editing can be pretty atrocious at times), but isn’t “retarted” a term that mean someone who returns to prostitution? Just saying…

    If it’s not, then I actually think it’s pretty bad that you’d use a first grade level insult that also devalues people with mental disabilities.

  30. Waldo, why are you threatening him like that? Why would you try to effect his livelihood simply because you don’t like his opinion? Should all people that post on your blog from work expect that you will contact their employer? Perhaps you should put a disclaimer up.

    I don’t think he’s soulless at all, nor should he be ashamed simply because you and the author of the WP article condemn his opinion. And I don’t understand the morality where he is a worse person because he judges a woman that does this so harshly.

  31. Certainly Waldo has the right to do whatever he wants, it’s his blog. But it seems a little harsh. The man is simply expressing contempt for a woman that did kill her baby. I mean, go ahead and block his posts, but why would you contact his employer. I better stop posting here.

  32. Well that does it for me. I think we’re witnessing the true nature of this blog and its owner.

  33. Regarding the “she should be in jail” comments: the issue is that the jury found that what she did, legally, did not constitute involuntary manslaughter. Had she been charged with child abuse, I don’t know what the outcome would’ve been, but she wasn’t and so the jury was left to debate her intent. If you read the article, you see how the events of her morning lined up to lead to her forgetting him in the car, and how all the systems in place that normally would’ve prevented this from happening failed. For example, she normally didn’t take him to daycare, so her routine was to drive straight to work. She normally would’ve had the diaper bag on the passenger seat, except she drove her husband to work because the family’s other car was on loan, so the diaper bag was in the backseat. Nowhere in that chain of events can you point to a specific action of hers and said “there, that’s where she did something that she KNEW was dangerous to her baby and could cause harm, but she did it anyway.”

    I think the reason why so many sympathize with Mrs. Balfour is that we realize it could happen to us. There cannot be a single parent in the world who has not, at some point, committed an action that COULD have led to serious harm or the death of their child but didn’t. If you read Gene Weingarten’s intro to the online chat Monday, he too forgot to take his kid to daycare once, and the only reason she didn’t get left to bake in the backseat is because she said something. Other parents admitted in the chat and on this forum that they did similar things. My mother locked her keys in the car with me sitting in my carseat and the engine running.

    The idea that the child should always be first and foremost in the parent’s mind and that Raelyn Balfour never should’ve never stopped thinking about Bryce for even a second is unrealistic. In a perfect world, that’d be the case, but as Cecil said parents have always had other things to worry about besides their kids, and 99.9 percent of the time nothing happens. It’s pure random bad luck when something does happen. That pure random horrible bad luck may be considered a mistake, but it is not involuntary manslaughter. Furthermore, what would putting her in jail accomplish, besides wasting tax dollars? Punishment? Having your child die because of your doing and then spending $150K on legal fees to defend yourself isn’t punishment enough?

    But I do agree with one thing. If it had been his babysitter who had left him in the backseat, she’d be in jail.

  34. I also agree that if it had been his babysitter who had made the exact same kind of mistake (i.e., all the perfect storm factors coming into play), the babysitter probably would have been judged more harshly than the mother by the jury, but I would also say that the harsher judgment of the babysitter is not necessarily the right judgment, and therefore that this doesn’t prove that the jury made the wrong decision in re: the mother. I would probably feel like the babysitter was no more guilty of criminal neglect than the mother.

  35. I refuse to run the kind of community that results in being publicly shamed in one of the nation’s largest daily newspapers. I should have banned this jackass a year ago, but instead I’m doing it now. To block somebody from using a website, one must request cooperation from their ISP; this guy’s ISP is his employer, and that’s nobody fault but his own.

    You can be a good-for-nothing asshole, but not on my dime.

  36. From the article, explaining how someone can exercise great caution and still have a catastrophic result:

    “There’s a dismayingly cartoonish expression for what happened to Lyn Balfour on March 30, 2007. British psychologist James Reason coined the term the “Swiss Cheese Model” in 1990 to explain through analogy why catastrophic failures can occur in organizations despite multiple layers of defense. Reason likens the layers to slices of Swiss cheese, piled upon each other, five or six deep. The holes represent small, potentially insignificant weaknesses. Things will totally collapse only rarely, he says, but when they do, it is by coincidence — when all the holes happen to align so that there is a breach through the entire system.”

  37. Majung(a) writes, “Well that does it for me. I think we’re witnessing the true nature of this blog and its owner.”

    Really? You’ve been visiting this blog for a while (at least someone named Majunga has). You haven’t noticed the incredibly free rein that a large number of really vile asshats get here? The large number of vicious and/or witless comments that are posted (some of them vicious towards the blog owner himself) and left alone? So this one particularly disgusting poster, “John,” gets the boot, and you’re boo-hooing about the “true nature of this blog”?

    When you construct a straw man that bears no relation to reality and then stage a tantrum over said straw man, it tells us (among other things) that you haven’t got anything better than that.

    Slowtojudge, it’s hard to take you seriously, but just for the moment I will: would you allow someone to stay in your house who said vile things (not just a different opinion, but vile things)? Or would you show someone the door at some point?

  38. I guess I’m a little confused to the recent and past posts, I don’t read anywhere where Waldo was called any names or an insult was thrown his way by the person getting booted ?
    The person was just stating and defending his public opinion.
    If this is the type of actions that will result in getting booted, then this will be my 1st and last post.

  39. I have always suspected a lot of people who participate here are doing so on their employer’s dime. And their employer’s computers and network none the less. You sorta notice people who only have anything to say between 9 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., and then they disappear on weekends totally.
    Reminds me of a nut case I met in an adjoining county. She had to drive to the library and use public computers during the day to take pot shots at me and a police chief a few years back. She even aligned herself with one of our “informats” and exposed her actual identity to him. It was hilarious!

  40. I guess I’m a little confused to the recent and past posts, I don’t read anywhere where Waldo was called any names or an insult was thrown his way by the person getting booted ?
    The person was just stating and defending his public opinion.
    If this is the type of actions that will result in getting booted, then this will be my 1st and last post.

    I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck—you’re the same jackass that I told to get lost, posting under another name. Now we can add “liar” to your resume.

    One of the top folks at your particular employer is a reader and occasional commenter on cvillenews.com, which (I’m told) is the only reason that your employer doesn’t block access to cvillenews.com, like SNL does. I’d be happy to drop him an e-mail to ask if he can help me prevent you from making a nuisance of yourself.

    I have always suspected a lot of people who participate here are doing so on their employer’s dime.

    You’re probably right, Demopublican. :) Hopefully folks have the good sense to limit their participation to break and lunch times. I work for the university and am not what you might call universally adored, as we can see from Captain Jackass here. As a result, I have to make sure that any blog entries that I post are written during my morning or afternoon breaks, or during lunch. Ditto for comments, of course.

  41. Any word on whether anyone will challenge Warner D. “Dave” Chapman when he’s up for re-election this year? I don’t see word one on the DP’s election watch page…

  42. So you work at UVA and use their resources and you have the nerve to want to make a case of someone else posting from their cubicle? How many of your mob supporters here do the same?

    This has gotten out of hand. I maintain there’s something profoundly wrong with you. You seem to be on a power trip now. But… you’re proving your magnanimity and forgiveness can extend to the most vile human being, capable of murdering and torturing an innocent and defenseless baby.

    This one here: pass, they kissed Waldo’s ass
    This one here: nope, defame that person with every bit of power you can muster, b/c they chose to confront you

    Power trip! Thankfully, you didn’t quite make it to the ranks of Pol Pot before you showed your colors.

  43. Waldo Jaquith
    Mar 12th, 2009 at 6:54 am
    You can’t stop there, Majunga—you’re just a stone’s throw away from comparing me to Hitler. Go go go!

    Why? Would that make you feel even Grander?

  44. Against my better judgment, I want to make a comment about this exchange with John, and the posting Waldo referenced us to back in the first e mail exchange on the January 25 article, which was given to us as being under a different name of WHAT?????? on this very sad situation.

    First of all, I agree with Waldo that these postings by WHAT?????? were in terribly bad taste. Secondly, if indeed John is this same person, and is the same person who followed up as “First Time Post” above, then he is being deceptive and that is inexcusable, period. Lastly, this is Waldo’s blog, and as owner, I have too much respect for this position and the amount of work he puts into this, to suggest he cannot evict or edit anyone he chooses to. I don’t post often, and have gotten into an argument here and there (and remember saying a thing or two in retrospect I wish I could rephrase), and wondered if I would get the boot…….

    But if one reads the entire thread in that original January 25 article exchange, there is a couple paragraphs posted on January 30 that should not be ignored:

    …..”I have a brother that shook his baby to death, served his jail sentence (which to me was too short) he should be in for life. I have had no communication with him since that dreadful day.

    Anyone who hurts a child in ANY way should be punished !!!!!!!!!!!”…….

    Now, given prior apparent deception, one could conclude this may not be truthful. But if it is truthful, and I always assume someone speaks the truth until proven otherwise, I think we need to take a step back and reflect on what might be going on. How many of us can say we have a brother or sister (whether by blood or best friend) who killed their own child? I cannot imagine the horror of such a situation. He may have witnessed excuse after excuse provided by his brother as to why it happened, and as such, I could see drawing the conclusion that anyone who allows their child to die on their watch should suffer the maximum penalty.

    I have read and seen many a situations where victims of crime or wrongdoing pass immediate judgment on others in apparent similar circumstances. How many times have we seen these emotions in situations such as drunk drivers, gun violence or accidents, sexual predators, or the like? As a victim, do you really care about what was going through the mind of the individual causing the accident or crime? People pass judgment ALL THE TIME without ever taking the time to investigate what might be going on, and never open up their minds.

    Waldo, I agree you have the right to kick this guy out, the words he used in his postings were inappropriate, and those words were obviously an embarrassment to you when they were repeated. But I suggest you take a step back and consider he may have gone through some sort of hell we would not wish on anyone, before concluding he is nothing but a simple jackass.

  45. The only people who get booted—I think three people, ever, have been kicked off—are people who demonstrate themselves to be utterly unable to interact with others without leaving a trail of anger in their wake. This could be done via months or years of being mildly hateful, or in a single spree of vile comments. (Imagine somebody at a party who makes vile and inappropriate comments to a series of people over the course of half an hour, or somebody who walks in and immediately begins screaming obscenities.) This particular guy is of the screamer variety.

    Dealing with people who have a reason behind their unpleasantness is always, in itself, an unpleasant task. I’ve held public forums which is attended by somebody who is both a mentally ill and belligerent, who inevitably stand up and harangue everybody about something totally unrelated until finally somebody manages to coax the guy out. (One memorable meeting on instant runoff voting featured just such a person, who angrily demanded to know why the speakers wouldn’t rid the Green Party of the child molesters that he alleged were running said organization. Never mind that they had nothing to do with the Green Party, and in fact were nonpartisan political scientists.) Yeah, he’s mentally ill, it’s sad, and you give the guy a lot of slack. But, in the end, you’re trying to run a forum, and slack or no, sad story or no, the show must go on.

    Now, I actually stopped reading that original thread at the time, other than quickly scanning each post for anything clearly inappropriate, because I found the guy so reprehensible and was so angry that he’d hijacked the discussion. So your mention of his claim is totally new to me. As we’ve seen, he’s a liar, but even if we assume that his story is true, I’m not sure that leaves us any place different than we are right now. The shame is that, given his personal experience, he can’t be reasonable. He’s in a position to really change public opinion, to make all of us reconsider what we’ve accepted as truth here. Instead, he’s managed to make everybody harden their positions, because the opposite viewpoint has been represented only by hatred and anger. Like our mentally ill man at the forum, I allowed him to go on for at least a dozen posts before I gave him the boot. His situation is sad, we can give him some slack, but, in the end, the show must go on.

  46. The “show must go on”? What fu&^king show? Is this what this so-called forum is about? A show for you to springboard on?

    I don’t gibe a hoot about what “John” or “Ayatola” has said on March 5, 1935. I see the issue in front on me: a young beyotch that is so absorbed with new f@cking cell phones of her xyz frienda and “baby-sitters” that she murders her own child in the most horrendous way and then wants to go on her f&%king merry way and demands we all think it cool. Well, no, it’s just not. And I don’t care if Waldo is a schmuck himself or John hates his bro because his story gets similar: I see what I see, and not only is this “mother” unfit to EVER have any children, but those that will so easily FORGET (that’s right, I didn’t say forgive, but forget) because she doesn’t fit their limited profile of who is unfit for LIFE AT LARGE are culpable of cowardice and the cause of our society’s obvious decadence.

  47. Majunga, I’d like to thank you for continually (and presumably unwittingly) demonstrating to people that I am enormously tolerant of people behaving rudely, particularly towards me.

    By way of warning, I’m nearly as tolerant of people behaving rudely towards others here—your fellow guests at this party—so I suggest that you limit yourself to insulting me.

  48. Majunga,

    Was it really necessary to put the expletive in caps? That just seems a bit overboard.

  49. The all-caps on the word “asshole” were a really evocative touch.

    But I’m pretty sure we’ll hear from him again.

  50. Waldo, I don’t disagree with what you say. I just found it interesting when I read through that prior thread that there started to appear a personal story that might explain this hardened view. Our life experiences often shape the views that we take with us to the grave.

    But if a person cannot have at least some element of respect for the other point of view, then there cannot be a conversation. So as you say, you gotta move on.

  51. This almost seems to get sadder every day. I’m starting to think that Majunga also has a similar story in his or her past.

    I cannot think of a torture worse than that of losing a child – whatever the cause outside of purposeful, actual murder.

    Man. It is indeed hard to walk in anothers shoes prior to passing judgment.

  52. Threatening to turn people in because you don’t like their point of view?

    You’re an asshole AND a pussy.

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