Thursday, August 3, 2017

Posing As Winston Smith from '1984' ≠ Recovery

Remember what Winston Smith's job was in 1984 -- to cover up the past and try to rewrite accounts of what really happened.

Pretending that a traumatic event never happened should not be confused with having gotten over the trauma or having triumphed over it -- especially not when your morbid gestures alluding to the trauma are still all over the place, in public even.  There is a big difference.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Murder Threats That Ingrid Johnsen 'Ledingham' Issued Publicly, and Her Other Public Morbid Gestures, Warrant Concern

Trigger warning:  I normally mock trigger warnings, but one truly is applicable in this case.  This blog post discusses issues pertaining to murder threats, child abuse, rape, incest, suicidal gestures, and mental illness.

Stuart K. Hayashi

Ingrid Johnsen Ledingham (Ingrid J from BiggerPockets) and me
before I learned the full extent of the physical danger 
she poses to herself and others (there were 
already troubling signs visible then, though).

This is a revised version of a post from here.  The difference is that, this time, I name names.  The reason is that there is evidence that there is a greater danger in my not doing so than in my doing so. What I know is that if I don't speak out about this, the danger is guaranteed to continue.  By contrast, if I speak out about this, there is at least a slim chance that someone might reach out and give my friend the compassionate intervention she needs.

Some years ago I became very close to someone who suffers from a dangerous pathology -- demonstrably a physical danger to herself and others.  Unless she returns to regular psychiatric care and is forthcoming to acquaintances, co-workers, online correspondents, and people in general about the dangers that her condition poses -- having a history of suicidal, self-harming, and even homicidal ideation, all of which she has expressed publicly for years -- this is not something to let go.

Ingrid Johnsen Ledingham's Murder Threat for Her Mother, Lillian Johnsen, Made Publicly Viewable By Ingrid Herself
In 2004 in the town of Tromsø, Norway/ Norge, Ingrid Johnsen "Ledingham" -- daughter to Mark Ledingham, Tromsø kommune Web coordinator whose photos of the aurora borealis are internationally recognized --  put up this threat to kill her mother Lillian Johnsen.  Despite Norwegian being her first language, Ingrid wrote the murder threat in English and it has been publicly available on the World Wide Web this entire time.  It is not one of those terse threats that people write on Twitter or YouTube, along the lines of, 'You disagree with me? Then I hope you die!'  Though the threat is grammatically inept in composition, it is nonetheless serious in tone and intent.  Ingrid Johnsen "Ledingham" does not say that she has some long-term plan to kill.  Rather, she envisions that one day she will become so incensed by Lillian Johnsen's nagging that she will take a knife and thrust the knife into Lillian Johnsen.  This is described in graphic language as so:

Ingrid Johnsen "Ledingham" of  Tromsø threatening the life of her mother Lillian Johnsen; click on the link to enlarge.

The murder threat that Ingrid Johnsen Ledingham wrote for her mother, Lillian Johnsen, is documented and archived.  There are copies of it available, saved in multiple locations.

I have mentioned this to other people before -- including people whom both Ingrid and I mistook for friends of hers.  Those people turned out to be sycophantic "Nice Guys™"; they said it was evil for me to discuss Ingrid's situation with anyone else, even when I hid her name.  Those people elide the fact that a right to privacy does not extend to violent threats, especially not violent threats  made as publicly as the threat that Ingrid issued -- a murder threat Ingrid took the initiative to make publicly visible to a billion people -- even if that particular violent threat ends up not being acted upon (it may still be acted upon at a later date).  It is also everyone's business that Ingrid went around accusing a classmate of violently threatening her; a false accusation of violence is itself an initiation of the use of force, as someone falsely accused can be met with retaliatory force, such as by police or by a court summons.  As I have explained before, violent threats cannot be privatized, meaning they are necessarily everyone's rightful business to know about.  That applies if a relative raped you and you still try to shield that relative from the repercussions of that (my explanation).

Some people in our respective circles have rationalized that the murder threat that Ingrid Johnsen Ledingham put out is "long past." After all, they say, it is more than ten years old.  Moreover, four months after Ingrid wrote her original death threat, she wrote a follow-up post on that same thread where she claims to be all better:  " happy that i allowed myself to hate her [the mother]. otherwise nothing would have changed. I now love my mom to death like many other precious people in my surroundings."

But it wasn't all better.  Ingrid made it all too obvious she is not recovered.

For me, my fear is not that Ingrid will necessarily try to kill her mother; it's that she put up that murder threat at all, and just left it up for posterity.  Should Ingrid go untreated, there will easily come a day when Ingrid can do something extreme to anyone to whom she has felt emotional attachment (explanation below).  And it might not be direct violence on her part; it might come in the form of accusing someone falsely of a crime (that is also explained below).

Contrary to sycophants with whom Ingrid has surrounded herself, the murder threat Ingrid wrote for her mother and posted publicly on the Web is not some part of some ordinary domestic quarrel.  When you have a domestic quarrel, do you post a murder threat on the Web for everyone to see and read in English, and just leave it up thereafter?  The murder threat Ingrid issued, as well as her public displays of suicidal and body dysmorphic gestures, are symptoms of a still more troubling and violent phenomenon.  If Ingrid and those around her are to be safe from Ingrid's threatening behavior, she has to be helped to confront these bigger issues.  Recovery from such problems means facing those issues openly and honestly -- not trying to pretend that they're not there and don't have lasting ramifications.  If everything were fine, Ingrid would not have changed her name legally to commemorate something that she has repeatedly conveyed has been a major contributor to the homicidal and suicidal and self-harm gestures she has exhibited publicly.

Years After Threatening Her Mother Publicly, Ingrid Continued Exhibiting Publicly the Fixation on Violence and Death
I knew Ingrid when she was on Oahu from 2008 to 2012.  Her legal name was not "Ingrid Johnsen Ledingham," but "Ingrid Johnsen."

In late 2010, Ingrid got one of her enablers, the corpse artist Erlend Anker Barstad Mørk of Trondheim, Norway, to upload onto YouTube a video where she gives a monologue about being a neo-fascist "of the Fourth Reich" (Fourth Reich being a continuation of Adolf Hitler's Third Reich).  Ingrid had recited this monologue to me before, telling me it was a joke.  It was very disturbing even then.  From Erlend Anker Barstad Mørk's upload, it is not obvious that it is a joke, despite parts of the monologue sounding very strange; Erlend listed the video as "News and Politics."  And I am sad to admit that this was far from the first instance in which Ingrid boastfully compared herself to a neo-Nazi. :'-(

That Ingrid calling herself a neo-fascist "of the Fourth Reich" in the video was some joke is especially unclear for another reason: Ingrid and Erlend got embroiled within a sleazy Far Right political circle in Norway whose most prominent figures regularly demanded that Norway's government block immigrants from North Africa (evidence of the xenophobia here, here, here, and here; much of this relates to Kjetil Knausgård's pro-bigotry "Libertinius" page).  If you don't want people thinking you are a neo-Nazi, it's not wise to associate with a circle that promotes xenophobic propaganda.  (Sadly, Ingrid actually first heard of that political organization from me, before it became so brazenly sleazy and took on such a stridently bigoted position against north African immigrants; I heard about it under the false pretense that it was about promoting a free market.)  People in the xenophobic political circle are among the sycophants who wanted me to go along pretending that all of Ingrid's public morbid gestures were safe and fine.

Around 2014, Erlend "privated" the disturbing video.  But as I type this, Radaris retains a record of the video's existence -- complete with Ingrid's birth name (more about that later) -- and Radaris's record of it is documented and archived.  Again, there are multiple copies of this.

Since you're probably not Ingrid's mother, you are probably wondering, 'Why the hell should I care?'  Until Ingrid confirms that she has returned to psychiatric care on a regular basis, there are grounds to be concerned that Ingrid continues to pose a danger to colleagues with whom she networks, such as on the BiggerPockets real-estate investing forum. That could be you. Explaining this requires more context.  (If you want to learn an additional reason why Ingrid likely continues to pose a  physical danger both to herself and to others, that is below under the heading "The Accusation Against the Classmate.")

The Beginning of the Story Behind This
Before Ingrid showed me the murder threat and the disturbing "Fourth Reich" video, over a period of months she slowly introduced more and more clues indicating the danger.  First, she explained why she was born with her mother's last name instead of her father's, her father being an expatriate from Minnesota. (As should be clear by the end of this, this family history seems very pertinent to Ingrid's public suicidal, dysmorphic, and homicidal gestures.)

This is the story:  around the 1960s, there were three brothers in Minnesota (around Duluth but also around Woodbury and Brooklyn Park):  Wil Honkala, Maynard Duane Honkala, and Delbert Honkala. (Their other siblings were Clarence W., Marvin, Vivian, and Dory.)  Maynard Duane Honkala was supposed to care for the siblings Cheri Honkala (a radical left-wing political activist, U.S. presidential running mate with Jill Stein for the Green Party in 2012, and mother-in-law to a famous actress) and Cheri's older brother Mark Honkala.  This Mark Honkala suffered from depression and killed himself by jumping off a bridge.  According to various publicly available interviews and memoirs of Cheri Honkala's, both Cheri Honkala and her mother received domestic abuse.  When it comes to disclosing this, I am not disclosing information that Cheri Honkala herself has not availed to the public.  This is from Washington City Paper:

When an alcoholic stepfather stepped into the picture [for Cheri Honkala], physical and sexual abuse soon became household routines. . . . 
[Cheri] Honkala says she was hospitalized every year as a consequence of abuse. By the time she was 13, in 1976, Honkala told her mother that she had been abused not only physically but sexually as well.
Cheri Honkala's son, Mark Webber, is named after Cheri's brother.  (Mark Webber has also appeared in such famous motion pictures as Scott Pilgrim Versus the World.)

As Cheri Honkala's birth father left her mother "a couple of months" after Cheri's birth (page 215), Cheri received the last name of her stepfather: Honkala.

Cheri Honkala's cousin-through-marriage, Julie Flynn of Minnesota (more about her below), mentioned in an e-mail that Maynard Duane Honkala "drank himself to death" (verbatim quotation from August 31, 2011).  Julie Flynn wrote to me,

The two uncles my sister [Nancy Henderson Honkala] was talking killed himself when I was 12 [Delbert Honkala], and the other one drank himself to death. The one who killed himself [Delbert], lived with us for a while and the other one my sister used to sleep at their house a lot. The one who drank himself to death [Maynard Duane Honkala], had a son who committed suicide when he was a teen. He jumped off the highest bridge in Minneapolis to his death.

Maynard Duane Honkala's brother Wil Honkala (he spells it Wil with only one L) married Doris Ledingham.  They raised four children:  Nancy Honkala (now Nancy Henderson Honkala), Julie (now Julie Flynn), Brian Honkala, and Mark Honkala.  Yes, it appears that the two brothers each raised someone named Mark Honkala.  This Mark Honkala was brought up believing that Wil Honkala was his biological father, but that was not the case.  Again, Ingrid didn't tell me all the names of her aunts and uncles; I learned those names later.  But I give the full backstory now to get it out of the way.

Ingrid didn't tell me about Cheri Honkala or Maynard Duane Honkala either.  Nor did she tell me that there was more than one "Mark Honkala"; I learned about all that later.  I put that here now because, seeing this in retrospect, the context is much clearer if I state it all now.

This is what Ingrid did tell me directly, though initially her  telling of this was vague, leaving out some important details: Doris Ledingham Honkala had an extramarital affair, and this other Mark Honkala was the result.  After this Mark Honkala learned what had happened, he tracked down his biological father, but his biological father wanted nothing to do with him.  Around this time, Mark Honkala decided to change his last name to "Ledingham" -- his mother's maiden name.  He moved permanently to Tromsø kommune, Norway, where he became something of a civic figure, and where he took nature and landscape photos that have since become internationally renowned.  There, he married the divorcée Lillian Johnsen, and their daughter together was Ingrid Johnsen.

Ingrid said, "When it was the time to decide what name went on my birth certificate, my mom said to my dad, 'If we give her your last name, how do we know you won't just change it again? We'll give her my last name; it's simpler!' "  Ingrid laughed as she told me this.

Despite Ingrid writing in that follow-up in April 2004 that she was all better now,  she continued, between 2008 to 2012 on Oahu, displaying morbid and even violent gestures.  By late 2010, she made the morbid gestures very public. Many of these morbid gestures remain on the Web, and have been documented and archived. There are also copies of this evidence available as well. Of course, in the beginning the morbidity was not so obvious to me, though Ingrid was already making some isolated but bizarre hints at it.

When telling me about her father's history, Ingrid sounded vulnerable for the first time. She said that she puts on a front of bravado to hide her inner demons-- that she tries to make herself appear to other people that she is in a position of authority and responsibility, because she believes if people see her in such positions and seeming confident and professional, they will not question her judgment or sanity.  No red flags went off for me; I reassured her that there was nothing unusual about nursing self-doubts.

The Accusation Against the Classmate 
In the weeks that followed her telling me about the story behind her last name, Ingrid increasingly showed an obsession with child molesters.  The first joke she ever told me happened to be what she identified as her favorite signature on online postings:  'The internet is where men are men, women are men, and small children are undercover FBI agents," alluding to online sting operations against child predators.  Then Ingrid would reminisce about an ex-boyfriend back in Norway, Fritz.  She said that Fritz was a deep, caring person who empathized with everyone, a man of upstanding good taste.  Then she stared at the ground and giggled approvingly, "He always joked that he was a pedophile trying to lure kids into sex with him."

Then in February of 2010, Ingrid came to a professor and me, and told us a troubling story about a classmate of hers in that professor's class.  (I know the classmate's name but, for the time being, I won't provide it here. I might change that if later I find that it's necessary.)  Ingrid told the professor and me that the classmate had sexually propositioned her and, when she rejected him, he grew angry.  She continued that, based on his boasting about killing people in war and about his womanizing, she was afraid the classmate wanted to rape her.  They got into an argument and Ingrid had grown direly afraid of him.  A week later, Ingrid came to the professor and me and said that she was proven right to fear the classmate as violent, because he threatened her, "If you tell anyone what happened that night, I kill you!"

Ingrid insisted that we not go to the police (in retrospect, I should have reported this to the police against her wishes) but that she wanted the professor to keep the classmate and her separate from one another.  She did not file any formal complaints with Hawaii Pacific University (HPU), but she did go around informally circulating this accusation among several other schoolmates.  I completely believed the accusation at the time. (It's still important to listen.)

This is not the end of the classmate story; nor have we even reached the most disturbing part of it.  That is below, under the heading "The Danger Posed to Colleagues."

Then Ingrid told the professor, several other schoolmates, and me a troubling story where she accused her writing instructor of invading her personal space as he flirted with her.  Again, she did not file a formal complaint, and sternly insisted that none of us confidantes do so, either.  I completely believed this accusation as well.

I told her, "Ingrid, that's sexual harassment."

Then she laughed and replied, "No, no, no, no!  I would never say anything to get him in trouble."

I thought, Never say anything that could get the writing instructor in trouble? You just made that accusation right in front of a faculty member.

Ingrid Johnsen Ledingham's Repeated (and, At the Time, Seemingly Random) Mentions of Child Molesters
One night in April of 2010, when Ingrid and I were going out for an evening stroll, she said, out of nowhere, "Why are people so bigoted when a convicted child molester moves into the neighborhood?"

My eyes shot wide open and I sputtered, "Whah? . . . Wh-wh-wh-what do you mean?"

Ingrid explained, "Whenever someone who, as an adult, had sex with a small child moves into the neighborhood, people immediately want to run him out.  They should consider that the child consented to the sex."  She argued that a prepubescent child should be recognized as contractually competent to consent to sex with an adult caregiver.  She would not be swayed from this opinion, at least not this night.

Later, she also told me that when she was thirteen, she was groped by her then-best-friend, also thirteen years of age at the time.  She attributed her fear of men to the incidents of her friend groping her, though those incidents did not explain her obsession with child molesters in particular, nor her apparently fearing American-born men more than Norwegian-born men.

The Danger Posed to Colleagues (The Latest News Indicates This Danger Is Ongoing As This Is Posted)
Another night that same month, Ingrid was telling me about her day and then she said, very casually, that she bumped into the classmate.  I mean the same classmate she previously accused of threatening to kill her.  I was alarmed.  As calmly as I could, I asked her to go on.  What happened?  Ingrid said that she and the classmate had a nice talk, and he was just a nice, fun, friendly flirt.  Then she started into space, giggled, and said, "Hee-hee! I . . . like [Classmate's name]!"

I was stunned.  I couldn't say anything in response.  Ingrid only responded to the awkward silence by changing the subject.

Ingrid also frequently talked about how she has had a long history of wanting to die.  In high school, she threatened to kill herself several times.  Moreover, she mentioned hating her body and that this hatred for her body goes back to her early childhood, long before the boy groped her when they were both thirteen.  She mentioned that ever since she was little, she thought that female anatomy is disgusting because it makes her vulnerable to predatory males.  She did not elaborate on whether she felt threatened by one or two predatory males in particular.

The next day, I went to the professor to address him about Ingrid talking up that classmate as if she did not remember her allegation about him.  The professor brushed off my concerns.  Even as Ingrid made increasingly obvious and public morbid gestures, which the professor saw up close, the professor acted as if it was safe and acceptable.  For those reasons, I have lost a lot of respect for this man and, after years of closeness, have grown estranged from him.

Throughout May of 2010, Ingrid oscillated back and forth in her memory of the classmate. First she switched back to saying he violently threatened her, and she went around telling other schoolmates about this.  The next day, she oscillated to resuming talk about the classmate being just a nice, fun flirt. Two days later, she resumed saying he was violent and dangerous.  Every time Ingrid changed her story, she sounded as if she did not remember what she said the previous time, even if that previous time was no more than the day before.

Ingrid also showed me something else.  Years earlier, Ingrid Johnsen Ledingahm wrote this disturbing blog entry condoning rape:

Ingrid Johnsen Ledingham wrote this disturbing blog entry condoning rape;
click on the image to enlarge it and make it more readable.

My conjecture on this is that Ingrid is still being affected by something inflicted upon her before she was thirteen and that boy groped her, and the scenario she imagines, wherein Ingrid Johnsen Ledingham recasts herself as the rapist, is her way of trying to regain a feeling of power and control. But judging by the continuing public morbid gestures, Ingrid trying to imagine herself as the rapist has failed to have a lasting therapeutic effect for her.

I do suspect that the classmate acted in a threatening manner toward her.  After all this, I maintain that people need to listen to women when they speak out about having been raped.  I have heard of how there are many cases in which, after being raped, the rape victim continued to be friendly toward her rapist; the rape was so traumatizing to the victim that she tries to rationalize to herself that there must have been sort of some of misunderstanding, and that the rapist is still a friend to her.  I understand that there are many cases where a rape victim tries to shield her rapist from facing the social repercussions of the public learning of what happened, especially if the rapist is a close relative.

If Ingrid was similarly rationalizing the incident with the classmate, that would not preclude the need for an intervention.  Most rape victims do not put murder threats for their mothers on the World Wide Web, keep those murder threats publicly visible for years and years, and then show those murder threats to you while trying to tell you that you are betraying her trust if you don't play along and pretend that the homicidal and self-harm gestures are safe and normal. Ingrid's original accusation against the classmate being true would not make her behavior in this situation any less dangerous.

By the autumn of 2010, Ingrid became very insistent on wearing the same garment to university class almost every day.  She had previously taken me to her apartment and she showed me all her clothes. It was not that she had lots of garments that looked alike.  No, it was the same black garment every day.  Then -- encouraged by the same enabler in Norway who uploaded the horrid "Fourth Reich" video -- Ingrid uploaded photos of herself photoshopped to have a chalky white face like a corpse.  Two of the corpse photos even went on Ingrid's LinkedIn account, next to her résumé, and one of them appeared on the official website of Hawaii University's SIFE chapter (SIFE later changed its name to Enactus).  I think some people tried to assume Ingrid was "just being a Goth or a Black Metal fan."  However,  Ingrid has a history of wanting to be dead literally (this is something Ingrid has documented publicly).  For that reason, I could not dismiss this as Ingrid "just being a Goth"; I had to take this seriously.

Here are the corpse pictures; you can judge for yourself if I overreacted.

The corpse image on the bottom is the
chronologically first photo
Ingrid Johnsen Ledingham
put on her LinkedIn page.
For some reason, people were
expected to interpret
the corpse image as
looking very professional
and businesslike.

Remember that this is from Ingrid Johnsen Ledingham's blog:

I wanna die... i wanna die.. 
i dont want this.. i dont wanna be alone.. im such a looser.. I`m gonna cut myself [cut her wrists with a blade] so bad tonight.. 
no point of this shit.. 
my "b/f" [boyfriend in sarcastic scare quotes] just called.. got me wondering if i was supposed to be at work tonight.. i owno.. [sic] hope not, i wanna just die, and cut [my wrists]

Ingrid had some other interesting (that is putting it euphemistically) posts on her blog. This blog post refers to the body dysmorphia:

cut my face up [ . . . ] 
wish i could get hold of a knife so i could cut up that "little pretty" face of mine.. Cut it up and make it ugly, just as ugly as I feel.. then shoot myself in the head so I no longer ever would be able to analyse or think FOR SHIT. [. . .]  I wish I could kill myself. [. . .]  I know how fucked up it is having to have some stupid bitch around u talking about killing herself. [. . .]

i wanna fuck my face up so no1 [no one] will ever recognize me..  [ . . . ] i hate you audio [Audio is short for Ingrid's username at the time, Audiobuster].. i swear to god u deserve a knife

Thankfully, Ingrid did not slice up her face. However, as you can see from the corpse-face images, Ingrid did find another morbid method of "fuck[ing] my face up so no1 will ever recognize me."

She told me (and this is briefly mentioned on her blog) that, often she will perform morbid gestures very openly but people around her will go on pretending everything is safe and normal.  She said she is of two minds about it.  On the one hand, she said, it's disconcerting to her that no one confronts her compassionately about her mental illness. On the other hand, she said, it's good that people are too cowardly to confront her because she fears confrontation, and the other people's tacit acceptance of her pathology makes it convenient for her to continue the self-destructive behavior. This is how she phrased it years earlier:

its so strange.. i live with two other people in this house, i go to school 450 pupils, no1 [no one] and i mean no1 [no one] notices the wounds on my wrist or the scars. [It turned out this was self-deception on Ingrid's part; people noticed but pretended that they didn't. --S.H.] its great really 
i`m wondering if i should cut it deeper... it hurts like a bitch but.. maybe I`ll go..
or die if u prefer that word.
I resolved that I would not be one of those idle bystanders who played along in pretending that Ingrid didn't need help when she does.

"A Lot of Abuse in My Family's Past[,] Including Sexual Abuse" 
--Ingrid's Aunt Julie (From the Honkala/Ledingham Pedigree) 
By this time, I already lost trust in Mark Ledingham's judgment. I did notice, though, that on Twitter he was following an eccentric woman from the same home state in the USA that he was from -- someone named Julie Flynn.  (This was before I knew the names of Ingrid's aunts and uncles.)  What got my attention was that the woman's website purported to be for a charity she set up, one for helping at-risk teens and twentysomethings (Ingrid's age range at the time).  All of the mental illness symptoms that this Julie Flynn woman's website described were the same as what Ingrid had either admitted to having or had exhibited to me directly. I thought, Who is this strange woman? Is she perhaps a psychologist with whom Mark Ledingham had consulted about Ingrid's problems in Norway?  About symptoms that are now becoming strong and publicly visible once again?

I contacted Julie Flynn. I told her I was interested in her website, because I had a friend in her twenties who was exhibiting the symptoms the website described.  I mentioned to this Julie Flynn woman, though, that I am worried that if she is a psychologist, she might consider it a conflict of interest for me to describe my friend's situation, as I think this Julie Flynn woman knows my friend somehow.  Julie Flynn replied she is not a psychologist and it is OK for me to tell her what concerns me.   I told her about the morbid gestures but had not yet mentioned anything about the accusations about the classmate, the fear of men in general, or the obsession with child molesters.  On September 4, 2010, she wrote, "I've figured out you are talking about my neice [sic] Ingrid."

Aunt Julie remarked that Ingrid's situation was both familiar and unfamiliar.  The situation was unfamiliar in that, this entire time, Aunt Julie was unaware that her Norwegian niece was going through all this. Yet, Aunt Julie continued, what I described was indeed familiar in one respect:  when Aunt Julie described mental illness symptoms on her own website, she was describing her own symptoms, and she was startled by how Ingrid's symptoms were similar to her own.

Before I could say anything about the child-molester fixation or the accusation about the classmate, Aunt Julie asked me whether Ingrid exhibited a prominent hang-up about sex.  Aunt Julie Flynn said (also on September 4, 2010), "There is a lot of abuse in my family's past[,] including sexual abuse." Throughout the months, Aunt Julie revealed that both a cousin and uncle of hers killed themselves, though in different ways. The cousin very deliberately committed suicide by throwing himself off a bridge (this was the other Mark Honkala, stepson to Maynard Duane Honkala and brother to Cheri Honkala). The uncle was Delbert Honkala, brother to Maynard Duane Honkala  and Wil Honkala.  Julie Flynn has written of having memories of being sexually assaulted by Uncle Delbert; Julie Flynn mentions that on her own website over here,

Between the ages of seven and twelve, I was sexually abused by two family members. It didn't last the entire time, one was one incident and the other I honestly don't remember as of yet how long it lasted. 
The incident I'm having trouble remembering, was done by my uncle who committed suicide when I was about the age of eleven [this isn't Maynard Duane Honkala].

Later, Aunt Julie alleged explicitly that not only Uncle Delbert, but her father Wil Honkala himself sexually abused her. She added that when she talked to Mark Ledingham about this, Mark Ledingham professed -- not entirely convincingly -- no knowledge of this.

I asked Aunt Julie if Ingrid had ever been left alone with Wil Honkala; Aunt Julie replied that that might have happened.

Julie Flynn went through the following pattern.  Every few weeks, she told me she would have a compassionate conversation with Ingrid about the public morbid gestures, and about their having so many symptoms and traumas in common.  But, last minute, Aunt Julie would delay this.  Then she would start talking to me about something else, such as her co-workers irritating her.  Eventually she told me that she would have the compassionate conversation after she had her own confrontation with Wil Honkala and Doris Ledingham Honkala -- with Wil Honkala for sexually abusing her and with Doris Ledingham Honkala for being an enabler who looked the other way as the abuse took place.  Aunt Julie planned on confronting her parents with this through a snail mail.  She typed up a draft and e-mailed it to me.  I still have the entire draft in my possession.

At the last minute, though, Aunt Julie decided against mailing the letter. She rationalized that Doris was in poor health and the confrontation would worsen it.  Then she became uncommunicative and rude, and I do not think the compassionate conversation with Ingrid ever happened.  It might have dawned on Aunt Julie that if she looked further into the matter with Ingrid, she might uncover something incriminating about a patriarch other than Wil Honkala, Maynard Duane Honkala, and Delbert Honkala.

Here is part of the draft.

Click on the image to enlarge it and make it more readable.

I have printed out Julie Flynn's letter; I have hard copies of it.  I have also saved all of the aforementioned information in multiple places.

Doris Ledingham Honkala died in October of 2016.

It took an embarrassingly long time -- more than a year -- for me to admit to myself that the sexual abuse that Julie Flynn and Cheri Honkala  alleged at the hands of Wil Honkala and Maynard Duane Honkala respectively might be connected to Ingrid's repeated and obsessive (and, at the time, seemingly random) mentions of child molestation.  It took me more than a year to acknowledge to myself the possibility that Ingrid's disturbing behavior might not have been fully attributable to that boy groping her when she was thirteen -- horrible as that was -- but that the disturbing behavior might have roots going back to something inflicted upon her much earlier in life, and possibly inflicted by someone closer to her than that boy.

Note that "Wil A. (Doris) Honkala" is listed as a surviving brother to Maynard Duane Honkala. Cheri Honkala is listed among his "children," though she was his stepdaughter.  Maynard is "preceded in death by" his "brother, Delbert." Delbert is the uncle of Julie Flynn's who committed suicide when she was eleven.
Cheri Honkala quoted in the book "Myth of the Welfare Queen," talking about having been sexually abused by her stepfather Maynard Duane Honkala, brother to Wil Honkala and Delbert Honkala.
With respect to "alcoholic," remember Julie Flynn having mentioned her uncle who "drank himself to death."

A photo of me with David Zucchino's book about Cheri Honkala having been
sexually abused by her stepfather. I borrowed this from the library.
My photo of the page in the David Zucchino book mentioning this.
In Microsoft Paint I added the red marks to indicate where this is mentioned.
That part zoomed in.

Washington City Paper discussing Cheri Honkala having been sexually abused by stepfather Maynard Duane Honkala, brother to Wil Honkala and Delbert Honkala.
Julie Flynn, daughter to Wil Honkala and Doris Ledingham Honkala, discussing on her website her having been "sexually abused by two family members." The "uncle who committed suicide when I was about the age of eleven"  was Delbert Honkala, brother to Wil Honkala and Maynard Duane Honkala (recall that Maynard was "preceded in death Delbert."  The second family member, more cryptically alluded to here, whom Julie Flynn accuses is Wil Honkala, who also raised Mark Ledingham, father to Ingrid Johnsen Ledingham of Tromso.

Having to Go It Alone
It was up to me to have a compassionate conversation with Ingrid.  Most other people in our circles noticed the public morbid gestures but were too intimidated to say anything; they became perfect sycophants who helped Ingrid Johnsen Ledingham pretend that all of her public morbid gestures were safe and acceptable.

When I tried to talk to Ingrid about this, she feigned memory loss, pretending not to remember what she had told me about her obsession with child molesters and death and fear of men.  Then she added that by raising the topic with her directly, I was being more evil and frightening than the classmate who threatened to kill her.  She added that my confronting her about this was more evil and hurtful than all of the misogynistic epithets her ex-boyfriends hurled toward her.  Soon after saying all this, she again feigned memory loss, this time pretending not to remember being angry just minutes earlier.  As if she didn't know how the conversation started, she began talking casually about her day and then put on a smile and asked me how my day was.  I reminded her of what our conversation was about -- her violent and morbid gestures.  She then grew enraged again and intoned ominously, 'This is not over!"

For the sake of my physical safety, I had to cut off ties to Ingrid. But I never stopped caring.

Ingrid Johnsen Ledingham's public morbid gestures reminded me of what she wrote on her blog about the self-cutting.  When it came to her making the more recent public morbid gestures, she was again two minds about it:  making very obvious cries for help in public and, yet, when confronted about it, trying to cover up something -- and this time perhaps the horrible truth  struggling to reveal itself was not only about her, but also about someone else.

BiggerPockets.Com:  Where the Danger of Continued Violence Remains
More recently when I looked at the BiggerPockets real-estate investing forum, Ingrid -- of all people -- popped up.  She talked about how she is a big shot real-estate investor who owns a parking garage in Norway and who is interested in New York.  She finally stopped using the horrid corpse pictures for her avatar.

However, she changed her name; she now goes by "Ingrid Johnsen Ledingham."  To someone unaware of the context, that must seem a touching tribute to a man of obviously large meaning in her life.

But based on Ingrid Johnsen Ledingham's repeated unsolicited (and, at the time, mysterious) references to child molesters, and also based on what her aunts said about the patriarchs of the family, I am afraid that the name change appears to be yet another -- albeit subtler -- morbid gesture.

She has been talking about networking for her real-estate business.  This reminded me of what Ingrid said back in 2009 about how it's important that she project an image of being responsible and in charge, hoping that this will preclude anyone from questioning her sanity ever again.  If you network with Ingrid Johnsen Ledingham as a colleague, it would be prudent to remember her behavior with respect to her classmate and the writing instructor.  As long as Ingrid refuses to take responsibility publicly for her public morbid gestures -- including, but far from exclusively, the still-online murder threats and photoshop-corpse photos -- there is probable cause in concluding that the danger remains.

On Facebook, I noticed Ingrid Johnsen's mother, Lillian Johnsen.  I wrote her a private message re-introducing myself (Ingrid mentioned her to me before) and telling her about how Ingrid's murder threat for her is still on the Web for everyone to see.  Hours later, Lillian Johnsen blocked me. It was tempting to think, "Well, if Mrs. Lillian Johnsen is going to be like that, then I guess she deserves to face the repercussions of Ingrid's public morbid gestures going unaddressed, as hazardous as those repercussions could be."  But no, the truth is that Lillian Johnsen is not the only person in danger; the violence is something that can be directed toward anyone to whom Ingrid has felt some emotional attachment.

I wrote to BiggerPockets.Com about this. I didn't mention Ingrid's name, but I did mention that I recognized a person posting on the BiggerPockets website who still has a murder threat publicly viewable on the World Wide Web for everyone to read in English.  I wanted to add that, based on the incident with the classmate, I think it's dangerous for real-estate investors to network with my friend if she isn't openly receiving treatment for her condition.  Scott Trench of BiggerPockets replied to me that as long as the morbid gestures aren't on the BiggerPockets forum itself, none of that is his concern.

Because of Ingrid Johnsen Ledingham's refusal to return to psychiatric care concerning her condition, I had no other recourse but to bring this up publicly.

First off, falsely accusing someone of a violent crime is itself an initiation of the use of force.  The reason is this.  If X goes to Z and accuses Y of having committed violence against X, then Z may easily respond with violence toward Y, either doing the violence himself as retribution or going to the police (remember that government action is backed by the threat of violence).

Furthermore, every impassioned public threat of violence -- such as the one that Ingrid Johnsen Ledingham put on the Web publicly for her mother -- must be taken seriously.  Serious public threats of violence count as an initiation of the use of force.  The reason is that, although not all violent threats are acted upon, there is probable cause to judge that the person who issued the threat might still act upon it one day.  Even if Ingrid Johnsen Ledingham doesn't carry out her violent fantasy regarding her mother, she has given enough reason for people to suspect she might do something equally dangerous or retributive to someone else to whom she feels emotionally attached. You cannot justly hide behind the phrase 'This is my privacy and none of your business!' when the matter involves violent threats you have issued publicly against your own mother, particularly when you have continued, throughout the years, issuing public gestures indicating a continued obsession with death and violence.  And no, the right-wing Norwegian cliques' reinforcement of her suicidal, self-mutilating, body dysmorphic, and homicidal gestures does not constitute free speech -- as I argue here, reinforcement of someone's self-harm is not something to which that self-harmer is competent to authorize.

The implicit message behind Ingrid Johnsen
Ledingham's public morbid gestures.

If you have come into contact with Ingrid Johnsen Ledingham, even if only on a forum such as BiggerPockets, and truly care about her well-being and the safety of those around her, don't be like that professor and those phonies in that right-wing Norwegian political circle: don't play along and pretend that the situation with her is safe. That is not being a true friend but a sycophant. Please, please, please confront her compassionately and firmly (pardon that redundancy) about how her happiness, her being able to accept herself and her past, without all these evasions, is most important, and that the courage to return to regular psychiatric care is worth it.  Ingrid's internal well-being -- not putting on the image of being a big shot of a real-estate investor -- should be the priority.  Be an in-patient if that's what it takes to address the lingering fixation on child molesters and incest. People around Ingrid -- even if only co-workers or acquaintances, and if they only know her through online communication -- do have a right to know about her violent threats and the inconsistency in her accusations about crime, and they do have a right to expect (a) that she be in regular treatment for her condition and (b) that, for their safety, she be transparent with them about her condition.

On October 2, 2017, I added the quotation about "drank himself to death" and my photographs of the David Zucchino book.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Violence Is Never 'Just a Private Matter'

No act of violence is "just a private matter." Nor is any threat of violence "just a private matter," even a threat that's very old (usually someone who's still alive and made the threat can still carry it out one day). No act of violence performed in the past, by someone presently very old, is "just a private matter" -- those acts of violence have repercussions still felt today by later generations. No accusation about violence is "just a private matter" -- when X goes to Z and tells him Y committed violence upon X, Z may easily respond with violence toward Y, either directly or through police or court action (police and court action are backed by the threat of violence). As I said before, violence cannot be privatized. . . . That which is peaceful is private and should therefore be absent of governmental interference. Yet, by the same token, any violence that occurs anywhere, even if inflicted in putative self-defense, can never be privatized and should therefore be of concern to the public and the constitutional liberal republican Night Watchman State."

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Encouragement of Anorexia or Other Morbidity in Persons With Histories of Self-Harm Isn't Free Speech

The act of tacitly encouraging a mentally-ill, self-harming person to continue self-harm does not count as free speech. The reason is that when Person X transmits speech to Person Y, whether that transmission counts as free speech must hinge upon Person Y (a) consenting and (b) having the contractual capacity to consent in the first place. For example, if someone called your telephone landline a hundred times every day without your permission, that would not be free speech, as you have withheld consent to receive the message. You are able to offer or withhold consent because you retain contractual capacity.

When someone repeatedly and visibly self-harms, that person indicates that she or he is contractually incompetent in some important respects. For example, suppose there is plausible reason to believe an able-bodied, physically healthy young man is on the verge of suicide, and his girlfriend tells him "Go ahead and do it!", and then he does it. That man lacked the contractual capacity to judge for himself whether that was sound advice, and therefore he was not in a position to consent to it. It is comparable to having a person sign his estate over to you when he is drunk.

If you see an angry crowd and tell the crowd "Go beat up that Person, T, over there!” and then the crowd does beat up Person T, that is an incitement to violence and it counts as an initiation of the use of force. Likewise, telling an able-bodied, physically healthy, suicidal person to kill himself is to incite a person to perform violence upon himself when was not in a position to offer or withhold genuine consent.

There are actually websites and Facebook groups that advocate anorexia as if it were a legitimate lifestyle choice. This is not free speech. The reason is that, qua anorexic person, the person suffering from anorexia is not contractually competent enough to offer genuine consent to the pro-anorexia message.

One might counter that it is unfair to say that anorexics are contractually incompetent in this context, as they appear to hold capacity in most contexts where contractual capacity is necessary. For example, anorexics often hold normal jobs and make long-term, high-stakes financial decisions such as going to university and purchasing cars or homes or parking garages. If such people are not competent to consent to receiving pro-anorexia messages, then would that not mean that they are not competent to make these other big decisions -- decisions that involve long-term commitment and come with great financial risk -- that require contractual capacity?  The answer is that contractual capacity can be context-based. You can be fairly considered contractually competent most of the time but contractually incompetent when you are drunk. Likewise, it can be fairly stated that an anorexic person is contractually competent in most contexts but should still not be considered contractually competent as far as this eating disorder is concerned.

Now, I must address this frequent equivocation: "Obesity is unhealthy too. If you think that pro-anorexic speech should not be called free speech, then the same standard must apply to any expression that might promote obesity." That is an absurd conflation. Anorexia is physically dangerous in a way that obesity is not. Leaving aside the morbidly obese (who also have a psychological issue), someone who has been overweight since adolescence -- and has remained obese consistently -- can often still live into his or her sixties. By contrast, someone who is consistently anorexic in her teens seldom lives to reach age 40. A twenty-year-old who is overweight has several decades to change her lifestyle; a twenty-year-old anorexic does not. There is a greater physiological urgency in addressing anorexia, and therefore people should stop conflating the two conditions. (For information on the greater urgency of addressing anorexia, see this, this, this, this, this, and this.)

John P. McCaskey points out that contract breach and fraud are both forms of the initiation of physical force wherein the perpetrator manipulates the victim into taking the physical action that harms the victim. The same logic applies to reinforcing and encouraging the morbid gestures of someone who has a history of self-harm. Insofar as self-harm is concerned, the self-harmer is not contractually competent to evaluate the merits of someone's encouragement or reinforcement of the self-harm. Thus, reinforcement and/or encouragement of the morbid gestures is manipulation of the victim no less harmful than is fraud.

Some years ago (the same year I started this blog), I knew someone who had a history of threatening suicide, and who later began uploading disturbing pictures of herself wherein she was photoshopped as a corpse. Those morbid gestures were clearly related to the years of suicidal ideation. Upon making this context known to the group of Norwegians encouraging the uploading of the corpse imagery and other morbid gestures, those Norwegians brushed off such concerns; the morbid gestures went on being reinforced. Those reinforcers of those suicidal gestures were engaging not in free speech but contributing to someone's self-harm.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Again, You're Not Fooling Anyone

“He who conceals his disease cannot expect to be cured.”
--Ethiopian proverb

When you go around bragging that you're some success, you're not fooling anyone. You can go around saying you're a big shot at real estate. None of that matters when you continue to hate yourself and identify yourself with the patriarch who abused you. Do what is truly good for you and happiness, "Derna": return to psychiatric care. Your happiness is worth it.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Western Ghost Stories Aren't About the Fear of Death; They Are About the Trauma and Regret of the Living

I drew this on October 1, 2015. It is supposed to be Chernabog from the "Night on Bald Mountain" segment of Disney's "Fantasia." Of course, Chernabog is a demon and not a ghost. =)

I recognize that, by definition, everything that exists, exists within the natural universe and operates according to the principles of natural law.  Even that which is man-made is natural in the sense that it functions according to scientific principles and cannot contradict or suspend them.  Anything that exists has natural attributes.  According to that understanding, to say that the "supernatural exists" is a contradiction in terms.  To label something "supernatural" is not to say that it is "extremely natural," but that it is above and beyond natural -- that it is outside of what is natural (i.e., that which exists).  To proclaim that something has an existence beyond, apart from, and outside of Nature is to proclaim that it has an existence beyond, apart from, and outside of existence.

I find it no contradiction that I continue to be fascinated by stories about the paranormal and the occult.  I do not take those stories literally anymore, as I did when I was ten; they now interest me as a sort of psychological phenomenon.  I am interested in the significance and the symbolism of ghost stories.  Here, I will not so much discuss people's motivations for why they listen to and tell ghost stories, but about why I think certain famous ghost stories remain well-remembered.

It's About More Than "I Just Like to Feel Scared"
Briefly, I think that it is an incomplete explanation to say that people like ghost stories because they like to feel scared.  As horror movie mogul Wes Craven once pointed out in USA Weekend, no one really likes feeling scared as such.  Rather, people expose themselves to scary stories and movies in order to make themselves feel brave.  When they encounter such scary stories, they feel all of the primal sensations of fear and alarm.  But, by the end of the story, they remain safe and alive, while they feel somewhat brave for having "survived" the simulation of terror.

I think that if people listened to ghost stories and watched scary movies solely for the sensation of fear -- without any interest in the other emotions involved in the story -- then they wouldn't have much memory about the details of the story.  I surmise that the details of certain ghost stories touch upon emotions other than fear.  When people have strong memories about a certain ghost story, it is not merely because they empathize with the protagonists who encounter the ghosts, but empathize with the ghosts themselves.

The Rules of a Certain Ghost-Story Template
There is definitely a lot of variation, and what I am about to say doesn't perforce apply to every famous urban legend about ghosts.  However, many famous ghost stories follow a certain template.

First, the ghost is territorial; he or she inhabits a certain location; there are geographic parameters the spirit cannot breach.   Some ghosts, such as the one I will describe later in this essay, are capable of traveling long distances.  However, even in the case of these exceptions (as I will detail below), there remain thresholds the apparition will not cross.

Secondly, the ghost has some sort of "unfinished business"; there was something that happened to the ghost when he or she was alive; the ghost feels that this matter remains unresolved.  This aspect of the ghost-story template is integral to my theory.

The third aspect is that insofar as the ghost conveys that he has "unfinished business," the ghost will betray this information in only the most indirect fashion.  This is seldom purely by the ghost's own choice; there is always some involuntary (usually unexplained) aspect of the spirit realm that precludes the ghost from very directly expressing to the living what issues of the ghost remain unsettled.  The story usually goes that when some living human encounters a ghost, the ghost communicates by nothing more than cryptic clues that the living investigator has to piece together.  (This is seen in the supposedly based-on-truth movie The Changeling.)

In many respects, a living human trying to investigate the story behind a ghost's unrest is very similar to a psychologist trying to uncover the reasons behind the mysterious behavior of someone who is mentally ill and in denial about the mental illness.  If you very directly ask a mentally-ill-person-in-denial about the reasons for his or her condition, you will seldom receive a direct, straightforward, earnest answer.  This is especially true if that person is still going through his or her "episode."  By the same token, if the living human enters the haunted domain and asks the spirit, point blank, what it wants and what needs to be done for the hauntings to stop, the ghost will seldom provide a direct, lucid, coherent answer.  Usually, the ghost cannot give a coherent answer, just as a mentally-ill person will feel that he or she cannot.

The fourth rule is that a ghost that haunts a place engages in some sort of repetitive behavior.  I have heard stories about some horrible mass murder committed on some famous spot.  Supposedly, every anniversary the ghosts of the victims and murderer will reappear and, behaving and reacting as if they are still alive, will re-create the entire massacre before living spectators.  When I give this example, one might say to me, "Aha! The murder results in death; therefore, the ghosts' re-enactment of events necessarily has to involve their death."  I dispute that.  For instance, there are some ghost stories (both presented as fiction and as "true") about some hospitals, schools, or orphanages where patients or children were mistreated.  According to the legends, the mistreated ghosts will re-appear and whimper, and re-enact the mistreatment, even if the mistreatment did not result in their physical deaths.

The repetitive behavior is another trait that haunting spirits have in common with living people who have certain mental illnesses.  As I mentioned before, many people, who have a certain context-dropping image of "life, as it really is," insist on going through the same self-destructive behavioral patterns over and over again, despite their always getting the same dismal results.  An example would be an insistence on getting into one abusive relationship after another.   The pattern only changes when the living human chooses to commit to changing with it, and sticks to that commitment.  Likewise, a ghost that haunts some place will usually repeat the same pattern until the "unfinished business" is resolved.  Unlike a real-life living person, however, the ghost cannot change the pattern on his own; he necessarily needs a living human being to help him; he needs the living, lucid human to initiate some new action that alters the course of events and gives him peace.

Next, I will give an example of a famous ghost story that I think follows these conventions.  After that I will explain why I think that people find the story scary not primarily on account of it reminding them of death, but primarily because it reminds them about the regrets that living people have about their lives.

The Vanishing Hitchhiker
Here is a story that is almost always told as true, and goes at least as far back as the 1970s.  Commonly the storyteller says it happened to a friend of a friendA motorist minds his own business driving along some area that isn't very familiar to him.  Along the way, he finds a rather benign-looking hitchhiker.  The motorist stops and asks the hitchhiker where he wants to go.  The hitchhiker gives a very specific home address.  The motorist replies, "Hey, that's on the way to my destination!  Hop in!"  The hitchhiker probably doesn't ride in the front passenger seat, but in the back, where the motorist cannot see the hitchhiker unless he turns his head.  Along the journey, the two get to talking and form an emotional bond.  After a while, though, they stop talking.

Eventually, during the silence the motorist reaches the home address.  He turns around and says, "We're at your stop!"  But the hitchhiker is nowhere to be seen.  The motorist looks everywhere and cannot find his companion.  Puzzled, he says to himself, "I deserve an explanation."  He goes to the residence and rings the doorbell.  Some old person answers it.  The motorist says, "This is going to sound very strange, but I picked up a hitchhiker who asked me to take him to this address.  But now I can't find him."  At this point, the motorist sees the hitchhiker in a photograph on the wall and exclaims, "That's him!"

The resident explains that that hitchhiker is a relative or some family friend, and has been deceased many years.  Sometimes the story goes that the hitchhiker had some falling out with the house's residents, and they always missed each other.  The hitchhiker died before any reconciliation could take place.  In some versions of the story, the hitchhiker was going to the house to make amends, but on his way he was hit and killed by a drunk driver . . . and he died on the very spot where the motorist picked him up.  In some versions, the resident says that there were many occasions on which other motorists picked up the hitchhiker at that exact same spot and the hitchhiker gave the address, only for the hitchhiker to disappear before arriving at the destination.

At this point, someone who hears the story for the first time (usually a child), gets goosebumps.  I find that a very interesting reaction.  Why would you find that story scary when the ghost's intentions are completely harmless?  The hitchhiker isn't trying to kill anyone.  He isn't trying to possess or enslave anyone.  He just wants to return to a certain location -- a place he couldn't return to while alive.    My first impulse might be to say, "People find the story scary, despite the ghost's benign intentions, because the story reminds of them of death."  But now I think differently.  I think that the story is scary because it reminds people of regrets about actions people have taken while alive -- the story is scary even when it reminds you of people who still are very much alive, at least physically.

My Analysis of the Hitchhiker Story
First I want to point out the areas where I think the hitchhiker tale fits the template I mentioned.  At first it might seem that the hitchhiker is not territorial; he is able to travel by motor car.  But note that he always follows the same path and his mobility remains limited.  Whenever he is picked up by a motorist, he is picked up at the same basic spot.  In some versions, that spot is where he died, and, according to some odd rule, his dying there renders it his default location.  The hapless motorists usually take the same route.  Finally, the hitchhiker always tries to get to the same address, and, presumably, he always disappears from the car at roughly the same area on the road.

Second, that the ghost has some "unfinished business" is very obvious.  He keeps trying to reach a certain residence, and he never succeeds.  Back when he was alive, he wanted to get there to try to resolve some personal matter.  Because he died before that could happen, the matter will forever remain unsettled.

Third, the ghost's method of communicating his basic problem is indirect.  The ghost could have told the motorist from the beginning, "I'm a ghost and I want to reach this street address because there is someone there whom I never properly said good-bye to before I died."  But the ghost doesn't say that; his pain is conveyed to the living person in a very roundabout way.

Fourthly, there is the repetitive behavior.  There are versions of the story where the house resident tells the motorist that many other motorists in the past have picked up the hitchhiker in the same location, only for him to disappear in the same location.   Thus, like many people with Borderline Personality Disorder, the hitchhiker keeps replaying the same pattern of behavior, only to wind up with the same dismal results (or non-results).

I believe the story strikes a chord with people for reasons quite apart from the part about the hitchhiker being dead.  I think lots of people remember that story because they have empathy for the hitchhiker.  They think, "Isn't it tragic that the hitchhiker died before he could truly settle the matter?  Isn't it tragic that the hitchhiker will not be able to give his final message to the house resident face-to-face?"  Then they think, "I have lots of unresolved concerns going on right now.  What if I died before my dreams were fulfilled, before I could resolve the troubles in my life?  What if I die with similar unfinished business?"  That's a very unpleasant thought, and I think that is the real reason that the story's ending gives people goosebumps.

I think that the tale of the vanishing hitchhiker evokes a fear much greater than the fear of death.  It reminds people about regrets.  It reminds them of how so many living people, today, engage in regretful actions -- or regretful inaction -- and lots of them are going to die before things can be made right.  That is, those wrongs will never be righted.   A possibility such as that is what is truly frightening. This is the probable root of a common American expression.  When someone continues to be bothered by unpleasant memories, he can say, "I'm being haunted by the ghosts of my past."

That metaphor is given a lot of meaning in Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol.  As he is being literally(?) visited by the Ghost of Christmas Past, Ebenezer Scrooge is pressured into facing all of the regrets of his past.  When talking with the Ghost of Christmas Present, Scrooge faces his present insecurities, particularly his loneliness.  Finally, when stalked by the Ghost of Christmas Future, Scrooge contemplates the possibility that he will die before all of his present insecurities are reconciled -- that when he dies, it will be in a state as lonely as he has been in the present and the past.  The ghosts are a metaphor for (1) Scrooge's regrets and (2) Scrooge's fear that those issues will never be rectified.

I think the principles I have explicated even apply to ghost stories involving ghosts that re-enact their own murder.  When those tales evoke fear, I don't think the fear mainly comes from the realization that the victims have died, but mainly from the horror of contemplating the fact that real, living people are capable of performing an act as monstrous as murdering other human beings.  That's why people will find a ghost story scary if dead children in an orphanage, mental hospital, or school reenact physical or psychological abuse they have endured.  Even though the re-enactment doesn't involve the characters' death, it evokes fear and revulsion because it reminds us that people can inflict forms of cruelty that don't even result in anyone dying.  That, too, is regretful.

And as the vanishing hitchhiker story exemplifies, the ghost story doesn't have to involve human evil in order to be disturbing.  The common thread in these stories is that, back when the ghost was alive, people made highly regretful choices and they were never corrected -- nor will they be.  Very few of these stories end with the living eyewitness finding a way to finish the ghost's unfinished business.

I have been thinking long and hard about this symbolism, because I know someone who spent time in Hawaii with me -- and returned to Norway -- who has suffered with suicidal tendencies and self-mutilation for years, and could be very happy, but, to my knowledge, has refused to return to psychiatric care.  In one of her more lucid moments, my friend warned me that in social relationships she repeats the same dysfunctional pattern -- first it starts well, but she does something to sabotage it later on.  Just as it would be with a ghost, my attempt at conversing about the matter in a straightforward way are frustrated; but, like a ghost, my friend lets out indirect cries for help.  Many people assume my friend is confident and business-savvy.  But, conspicuously, my friend insisted on looking like a ghost, wearing black almost every day and trying to be very pale.  She even went as far as uploading -- in the absence of providing any context behind it -- pictures onto the Web where she was very realistically photoshopped to look like a dead body, complete with pallid gray skin. Later she finally stopped uploading the corpse pictures but that hasn't stopped the public morbid gestures entirely -- she legally changed her name to match the last name of someone she and another relative have cryptically hinted was a source of abuse.   My worries about the matter have led me to be very openly agitated and jumpy, just as I would be if a supernatural entity were visiting me.  As there is with every ghost story, there are elements of regret:  I regret that my attempts to help my friend are stifled, and that my friend's inner torment -- like any specter's -- goes on and on and on. You can say that I'm very much haunted by this.  And until I find a way to stop worrying about it, this remains a demon yet to be exorcised.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Why, If a Relative Raped You, It IS Everyone Else's Rightful Business to Know

These are excerpts from a longer essay I wrote.  The whole essay can be found here.


Suppose you knew someone in childhood and, as an adult, became reacquainted with her. Imagine you suspect that, even as an adult, she is being regularly beaten by her spouse. Upon confronting her about this, she says, “This is something for my household alone; it is my private affair; it is none of your business!” Now consider another scenario. Imagine you learn that a young woman was raped by her own relative, and you have enough evidence to make you find it plausible that that relative may rape someone else. When the young woman learns of what you know, she screams that she will never forgive you if you go to the police or tell anyone else about this. She yells, “My relative didn’t rape you or anyone in your family. This is my private affair; it is none of your business! You have no right to go to the police about this.”

Are the women in the above two scenarios correct? The implication in the victim’s assertion is that because she is the one victim of which she is aware, she is the only party who has any right to take action against the aggressor. Because the aggressor did not initiate the use of force upon you or your family directly, says the victim, this is entirely her business and no one else’s. You and the government ought to butt out of this. Is she correct that this is nobody’s business but her own? No, she is not. Any use of violence, be it initiated or made in self-defense against the initiator, is necessarily everyone’s business. It is necessarily your business, and, to the degree that a constitutional liberal republican Night Watchman State has jurisdiction, it is necessarily the business of that government. The reason is that no use of violence, be it initiated or made in self-defense, can properly be privatized. [ . . . ]

Th[is argument] came from the ancient Greek lawgiver Draco. He was allegedly too harsh in punishing crime, and therefore a government acting too harshly is said to be draconian. However, Draco set a precedent that is actually important to having a truly free, constitutional liberal republican Night Watchman State. It turns out that prior to Draco’s time, the ancient Greeks largely agreed with W. Alan Burris that murder was a private matter. The ancient Greeks believed that if, say, Ralphius murdered your brother Jacius, it was not as if Ralphius had threatened the safety of the entire community; his lone victim was your brother Jacius. Therefore, if you wanted justice for Jacius, it was left to you and your family to seek out some personal vengeance against Ralphius. To this, Draco objected. Draco said that if Ralphius murdered Jacius, Ralphius necessarily victimized everyone in the community, and therefore the State, representing the entire community, was right to avenge the entire community against Ralphius.

This is true. If Ralph steals from Jake, then everyone else in the community has probable cause to fear that Ralph may steal from them as well. If Ralph rapes Jake, everyone else in the community has probable cause to fear that Ralph may rape them as well. And if Ralph murders Jake, everyone else in the community has probable cause to fear that Ralph may murder them as well. Even if Ralph publicly issues a serious threat of violence against Jake and has yet to carry it out, the rest of the public has probable cause for fearing that Ralph may carry out that threat against them as well. Therefore, any initiation of the use of force does, perforce, victimize everyone in the community.
[ . . . ] On that understanding, when the constitutional liberal republican Night Watchman State claims to represent the entire community in criminally prosecuting Ralph for what Ralph did to Jake, the constitutional liberal republican Night Watchman State is not collectivistically usurping the authority to represent individual community members against their consent. [ . . . ]

The initiation of the use of violence -- by anyone against anyone -- indeed demonstrates itself to be a threat to everyone in the community and not merely the most direct victim of that violence. If Ralph beats up Jake, there is sufficient evidence for you to worry that you could be the next victim of a beating from Ralph. And even if you, personally, believe that Ralph would never do this to you or your children, your next-door neighbor is reasonable in worrying that she might become his next punching bag. Violence cannot be privatized -- any act of violence inexorably imposes repercussions for people other than the violence’s most direct victim. [ . . . ]

If Ralph bruises his wife, he might rough up other people as well. Therefore, if you learn of this abuse, it is necessarily your business and the business of everyone else in the community. You are right to take action even in defiance of the wife’s protests. Contrary to her assertions, she is not the exclusive victim. The same applies if you learn a young woman was raped by a relative. Even if she sternly pronounces she is the solo victim and therefore it is not your place to intervene, that is not accurate. It is your business and everyone else’s. [ . . . ]

If you have been threatened with violence, or if it has already been inflicted upon you, you may be justified in fearing that if you come forward to authorities with this information, that it might put you at risk of being subjected to violent reprisals from the assailant.  For that reason, in the short term it may be rational that you tell but a few people about this circumstance and ask them to keep it secret in the foreseeable future.  However, that can only go so far. There is probable cause for the law to inquire as to whether this alleged assailant may pose a violent threat to parties besides you and therefore, in the long run, the protection of every peaceful person's rights requires that this information ultimately be publicly available.  On that basis, a right to privacy does not extend to any credible accusation that you can level about someone either threatening violence or having committed it.  [ . . . ]

That which is peaceful is private and should therefore be absent of governmental interference. Yet, by the same token, any violence that occurs anywhere, even if inflicted in putative self-defense, can never be privatized and should therefore be of concern to the public and the constitutional liberal republican Night Watchman State.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

When We Must 'Interfere'

You know that I am a laissez-faireist. But few people understand what this means.  I am only laissez faire in that if people are being peaceable in their mutually consensual dealings, I do not want government force imposed upon them.

It is an entirely different matter if you insisted on shoving suicidal, self-mutilating, and other morbid gestures in my face and you hinted that this was the result of abuse from childhood that actually long predated early adolescence.  As you took the initiative to make such loud cries for help, you can be damn sure I am going to intervene.

 We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. 

--Elie Wiesel   

The cries for help will not go unanswered.