Did The Unicorn Killer found Earth Day?

The Unicorn Killer, a character in a book I'm writing, often shows up in media stories. This is especially true just before the annual celebration of Earth Day. The big day is always April 22, just as it was back in 1970 when Senator Gaylord Nelson and others helped get it off the ground. Usually the story headlines look like this:"Earth Day Cofounder Killed, Composted Girlfriend" “Earth Day Started by Convicted Killer who Mummified his GF’s Body.”The Unicorn Killer. I’ve spent time … [Read more...]

To “Check your privilege,” watch Dominick Dunne on the Justice Network.

As I write my current book, I'm outraged at the light sentences given to several of the privileged murderers I've gotten to know over the years. (I'm a criminologist and embrace the "check your privilege" movement.) For these reasons I've developed an affinity for Dominick Dunne. He's the late American writer, investigative journalist, and producer who covered the trial of his  daughter's murderer. Like me, Dunne was incensed at the verdict (acquittal of  2nd-degree murder charge in favor of … [Read more...]

#MeToo blinding us to reverse discrimination in the justice system?

Women in the #MeToo movement calling out sexual assault is big news now. That's great. But is there reverse discrimination in the justice system that favors women? Clare Foges claims there is. She recently wrote about its presence in the crim justice system in Britain. Foges was a speechwriter for former PM David Cameron at 10 Downing Street. As a result, she earned the title  "The Prime Minister's larynx/voice." (Interesting factoid—After university studies, Foges drove an ice-cream truck . . … [Read more...]

Explaining White Privilege – visiting its historic origins.

Whether you agree with the concept of white privilege or not, it's worth explaining white privilege. Or trying to. To do this, I'll start by taking a look at the origins of the concept. By the way, I agree with the concept as a tool to understand unconscious biases in whites. But I disagree with using it to beat up on whites and lay guilt trips on them. Much of the guilt lays with people who set up social systems centuries ago in the US and even earlier in the case of slavery. Explaining white … [Read more...]

Male privilege, sex, and the fall of a cleft icon.

An op ed piece in Friday's Washington Post helped make up my mind re former congressman Trent Franks (R-Ariz.). The op ed author described a classic case of male privilege in action. The writer Melissa Richmond* is currently vice president of Running Start, an organization that encourages women to run for political office.   Richmond wrote that she thought she'd lost out on a career in politics after an encounter with Rep. Franks eight years ago. In her own words:I’ve always been proud … [Read more...]

White economic privilege impacts crim justice system.

 White privilege statistics. I've been writing a memoir of late about how four murders seriously changed my career as a criminologist. So, how do white privilege statistics come into play? Well, among the many reasons the murders changed my worldview was the fact that the crim justice system treated the killers well. They were  all white and given remarkably light sentences  in comparison to black killers who committed similar crimes. This was back in the late 1960s and 1970s, … [Read more...]

Ending white privilege in the criminal justice system?

  In the process of writing my follow-up memoir to Cleft Heart, I've rediscovered the impact white privilege has on the crim justice system. Such privilege has become painfully clear in the four murders that struck amazingly close to home for me in my 30's. Some of the whites involved in these murders were supersmart, too, and got added privileges like superatheletes often do. And all  were male, too. So,let me start this blog with a parallel between male and white privilege. How male … [Read more...]