Links of Great Interest: This week in WTF.

Signal Boosting: Celebrate Cesar Chavez’ birthday with a donation to the United Farmworkers.

Signal Boosting: From Eme:

It’s a place in the US where it’s *known* that girls are being abused daily, and yet no one does anything about it. Apparently: “Hephzibah House is not-for-profit religious facililty that has fallen into the gap [in Indianan law]. No one is supervising the activities at Hephzibah House. None of their staff has yet to be held accountable for the abuse that has been taking place there for over 30 years. …The Governor’s office says they are not responsible to look into this matter because the law *protects* these facilities.”

Here’s the leader of the H House’s thoughts on child-rearing. Warning, WTFery ensues.

Eme sent along a link to a petition, which is included above.

McDonald’s employee films transbashing. Not sure how I feel about the 14 yr old getting charged.

Child with disabilities denied First Communion, a Roman Catholic sacrament that celebrates the participants’ entry into the larger community of Catholics and whose main requirement is being in a state of grace (IE not taking communion with sins on your conscience) — at least that’s what I remember from communion class…

No, I haven’t ever wondered about what Kat von D would look like without her tats. I don’t typically look at women’s bodies and think, “HUH I wonder what she’d look like without her personality or the record of her life written on her skin.”

Emma Donoghue wants an end to mommy surveillance.

Children and working mothers first affected by budget cuts.

From SunlessNick:

Hexy writes a post regarding the (successful) protest against a Sheila Jeffreys workshop at the Melbourbe Feminist Conference entitled “Why prostitution is violence against women,” which included no actual prostitutes or sex workers in its panel.  (Together with an anti-trans panel with no trans members to challenge). Extra content here, here, and here.

Poly Sterene passed away earlier this week. :(

Trans professor denied tenure.

This just in: conservatives believe black people are lazy!

Superman renounces American citizenship!

Students defend ethnic studies.

Was Obama’s father forced out of the US for dating white women?

Maternal mortality rates on the rise in the US.

Homeless woman incarcerated for sending child to school district she’s not an official resident of.

Good lord, a woman got arrested at a town hall meeting for asking a question.


  1. sbg says

    I can’t believe how long that attack in the McDonald’s went on, or how one person actively tried to do anything about it (and it WASN’T the manager of the restaurant). I have no problem with a 14-year-old being charged in this case. The victim never once fought back that I could see.

    I also can’t believe someone was arrested for asking a question (rudely, I guess?) and not heeding “warnings” stop going off script. Ugh, this country.

    Need a drink now.

  2. Attackfish says

    I can’t even begin to tell you how disgusted I am that in a country as wealthy as the US, we have such grotesquely high maternal and infant mortality. And oh look at that, more racism.

    The couple that runs Hephzibah House is notorious on anti Christian Patriarchy websites. Child abuse for Jesus! (by the way, the first link doesn’t work)

  3. Attackfish says


    The couple of articles I’ve read about this over the week all had these awful “Be afraid of black people! this is black-on-white violence! No, this is cis-on-trans violence, you racist assholes!

    I have no problem with the 14-year-old being charged either. I see a lot of teenagers get a pass on things like this because “they’re just kids”, as if being under 18 makes someone a sociopath. That’s not fair to the vast majority of kids, who are not sociopaths, who are their most frequent victims. (Of course the kids who get away with it most often are clean cut straight white boys, especially if they play sports, but…) Being 14 means she’s not an adult. It means she has a different way of judging the world. It doesn’t mean she doesn’t know it’s illegal to beat the shit out of anyone.

    And what’s with the “But she could have been faking the seizure!” stuff? As someone with a seizure disorder, if I were getting beaten that badly and I thought faking a seizure might stop it and keep me alive, you bet I would. And if she did have a seizure from the beating, there are so so so many reasons she wouldn’t go in for treatment, not the least our transphobic medical and legal systems.

    • Maria says

      It’s the racism of those articles that make me worry. I feel like if the teen was white, there would be a lot more of a media-based defense for her.

  4. Attackfish says


    This is true. And there is a whole lot of racism in this discussion. But if she were white and the media were coming to her defense, the media would be wrong.

    Maybe I have a bit of a chip on my shoulder because I’ve been beaten and kicked in the head and had nothing ever happen to my attackers because I was a “problem”. I think that aside from the OMG, scary black people shit, this may be one of the times when we should take away the free pass given to whites rather than give one to blacks. Of that makes any sense at all.

  5. sbg says


    Oh, absolutely. If that were the case, it would probably be the vic who’d be blamed for going into the women’s restroom. (The nerve!)

    But I don’t think not charging her is an answer, either.

    • Maria says

      @SBG and Attackfish —

      You’re totally right — I just don’t want her to get charged disproportionately, either.

  6. says

    In my Catholic parish, before you could receive First Communion, the priest asked the communicant some questions about the nature of Jesus and the meaning of Holy Communion. If you couldn’t prove you understood what you were doing, then you would have to go back to the class and receive Communion the next year. I don’t know if that’s what happened here; obviously the grandmother is upset, suggesting it was poorly handled. And offering the Anointing of the Sick (aka Last Rites) is insulting; in my parish children too young to receive Communion received a generic “In the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit” blessing. But I’m not sure this parish is applying unequal standards here.

    Sally Kern strikes again. I remember when it was “History has proven that every society that permitted homosexual behavior has fallen within ten years” or some shit like that. Made my jaw drop; has she honestly never heard of Greece? The very democracy early USA consciously imitated, down to the architecture of our government buildings? I’m not at all surprised she’s moved on to racism and is blaming “nature” for our deep-rooted, institutional inequalities.

    The video of the woman being arrested makes me so mad. I honestly believe that only the very privileged can view the police as a benevolent force. Yeah, there are some good cops who just want to protect their country, but as an institution the force is a means of maintaining the status quo, even illegally.

  7. says

    Psychology note: you can’t diagnose a teenager as a sociopath because they’re not totally lost down that path until around age 18, by which point the personality has pretty well formed, and it empathy isn’t present, it can’t be treated into them.

    That said, kids need to face consequences, legal and otherwise. This country needs to take a loooong look at how inconsistently we charge and sentence kids (as Maria says, it should be proportionate), but a lot of very violent criminals have a childhood history of being let off on all sorts of felonies up to and including murder. (Though it depends what decade you’re a child in – in the 90s, everyone wanted to lynch that 11-year-old boy who was wrestling with a little girl and, IMHO, accidentally killed her while nobody’s parents were supervising a fucking thing. In the 70s, Ed Kemper got a mild sentence for killing his grandparents (granted, they were probably abusive) before going on to murder a whole lot of women.)

  8. Attackfish says

    Jennifer Kesler,

    Yeah, I know they aren’t allowed to, but since most of the diagnostic criteria looks at childhood behavior… Plus there are more and more indicators that unlike NPD, sociopathy and psychopathy are physiological in origin and never can be raised out of the kid. One of the stated reasons for not diagnosing it any younger is that it’s hard to tell the difference between natural teenage selfishness and APDs. Having run across three young kids with APD, no, no it really isn’t. And saying it does just tars most teenagers with a horrible brush.


    Me neither. I think they could go for attempted murder.

  9. Tristan J says

    So… At the risk of looking like an ignorant Australian, what, exactly, is so awful about Superman renouncing his American citzenship? A quick scroll through the comments suggests it’s a sign the Demmycrats are taking over the world, or something.

  10. says

    I can’t believe you posted my links; should I feel special now? Thank you for bringing this to attention- I really appreciate it.

    The couple that runs Hephzibah House is notorious on anti Christian Patriarchy websites.Child abuse for Jesus!(by the way, the first link doesn’t work)

    Here’s the link: If that doesn’t work, you can google ‘former hephzibah girls.’ Here’s another two links to articles from the AP: AND

  11. says


    Plus there are more and more indicators that unlike NPD, sociopathy and psychopathy are physiological in origin and never can be raised out of the kid.

    We’re having a terminology problem. Psychopaths and sociopaths are problematic terms and I really need to stop using them – their meanings have morphed both over time and geographically. By sociopath, I meant people lacking empathy/conscience, and that would include both NPDs and APDs, among others. What did you mean in your response?

    One of the stated reasons for not diagnosing it any younger is that it’s hard to tell the difference between natural teenage selfishness and APDs. Having run across three young kids with APD, no, no it really isn’t.

    And again, I’m borking on the use of “selfishness” because that’s the hallmark of NPDs, and not even mentioned in the diagnostic criteria for APDs. However, APDs so thoroughly disregard you and your rights that it certainly functions like selfishness, and I’m guessing that’s what you mean by it?

    Assuming I’m understanding you well enough, my response is this: it is indeed easy to tell a 14-year-old who’s headed toward having a PD from one who is not (because in both cases, they’re beyond the 8-12 year range where something traumatic always seems to happen during the development of people with PDs). What I was saying is that it’s hard to tell whether a 14-year-old who’s in danger of developing a PD will actually do so until he’s about 18. Even a kid who seems utterly irredeemable can turn out to have come from a family or subculture that promoted such violence or disregard for the rights of others that it’s a “cultural” issue rather than a psychiatric one – and if that kid gets a serious lesson in how to be a better citizen, he might well reject his background and opt for a better lifestyle. It happens – rarely. But it might happen more if kids who get in legal trouble got serious, quality counseling.

  12. Attackfish says

    Jennifer Kesler

    The assertion was that teens were naturally selfish/self-centered, and it was hard to distinguish that from the outside from the lack of recognition of the full humanity of others that characterizes both APD and NPD, not that APD was necessarily a manifestation of extreme selfishness. Sorry I was unclear.

    As I understand it, APD is the probably physiological lack of empathy, which includes sociopaths and psychopaths, both of which have specific personality traits and abilities related to their um, illness. NPD is the raised in lack of empathy that involves being treated like a little god at home. I know a couple of these too. Sociopaths are in general much less likely to be defensive of their self image, and so long as they think it’s in their best interests to behave generally do. I’ve known two sociopaths and one psychopath. My cousin is the psychopath, and she had obvious indications of it from very young childhood. She also has a sister and multiple cousins who she was raised so close with that they might as well be siblings, none of which grew up to have any empathy issues. She used to scare the crap out of me. One of the sociopaths was nine when I met her, and she’s the one who manipulated me almost to the point of suicide and stalked me for four years. She had a pattern of doing the same thing in less sophisticated ways since she was five. I’ve met her previous victims. She had a well established pattern already. She enjoyed the control and the emotional pain she caused, but when she had to behave, she was an angel, and she could be an angel for weeks at a time. She also carefully planned almost everything she did. The other sociopath I’m not sure of. He may well have NPD instead. I don’t know what his home life was like, and I really didn’t care to examine him past wanting him to leave me alone. I also know the brother of two close friends who shot his 11 year old sister up with heroin because his parents were giving more attention to their son with leukemia than to him. He has four well adjusted empathetic siblings, none of whom think he was spoiled. He has since grown up to be a heroin dealer, and his sister spent five years as an on again off again addict before she got clean. Her brother was 14, but he likewise had a previous record of animal abuse going back to when he was six. I also know a woman whose six and eight year old adopted children plotted her murder, but we think there was probably abuse before she got them, so we don’t know if that’s innate to them or not. Most of the above had strong histories of APD behavior before 8, and three of the scariest ones had loving, moral, non-spoiling families that raised other healthy, moral siblings. I’m sure someone can be raised to lack empathy, but I also think there are some people who don’t have a capacity for empathy no matter how they’re raised.

  13. says


    I’m still not clear on how you’re defining “sociopath” and “psychopath”. They’re not actual diagnoses, and they’re defined in a variety of ways.

    APD and NPD are very different, and very distinct. APDs want what they want when they want it, and if you’re in the way, you get hurt. But if you’re out of their way, you’re safe enough. NPDs, on the other hand, want to hurt you. They’ll go out of their way to do it, so you’re never safe. Both lack empathy, but NPDs need something from you while APDs don’t. NPDs stalk. NPDs are family annihilators. The vast majority of rapists are NPDs, not because APDs have no stomach for rape, but because it’s sort of more “social” than they actually care to be. NPDs need that level of social contact, because they are typically sadists who get off on your suffering.

    It’s extremely unusual for a family to produce nothing but NPD or APD children. Typically, they produce something like 1 NPD/APD in a family of up to 5 (more in a larger family, in my experience), and the rest of the kids will be victimized by the NPD/APD, which leads the other kids to have extreme empathy and often depression issues. So the fact that families of NPD/APDs produce kids who have consciences is not an indicator of a primarily biological origin to either condition.

    Even with close family, I’m never comfortable diagnosing that someone was not raised in a way that could make them an NPD/APD, mainly because you can’t prove a negative. But on a more practical note, abusers manipulate their spouses and kids into hiding the abuse even from close family and friends.

    Additionally, not all abuse that produces NPDs or APDs comes from family. While that’s certainly most typical, a well-intentioned family that merely fails to create an atmosphere where a child being molested by an outsider feels comfortable coming to his parents for help could produce an NPD/APD. Bad communication is a shortcoming in many families.

    I’m sure some people can lack empathy due to physiological factors. The brain is physical after all, so it makes sense. But I think there are so many ways for it to develop through pure psychology that it’s really hard to rule out behavioral issues.

    (On a side note, I don’t believe abuse causes PDs by itself. I believe a lack of support in overcoming abuse is the real cause. I suspect, based on personal experience and anecdotal evidence, that even having one person who believes in you and supports you (empathizes with you) could make all the difference. That could explain why most abused kids do NOT grow up to have PDs or lack empathy or ever willfully hurt anyone.)

  14. Rutee says

    Uh, wait, what studies have found that sociopathy is a totally learned response? Last I recall from my classes, it wasn’t that well understood.

  15. says

    Real quick on the Kat Von D thing:

    It’s surprising isn’t it? She is a very beautiful girl!

    What’s surprising? She’s beautiful in the first shot!
    And besides covering up her ink, why did they feel the need to straighten her hair and dress her in frilly lingerie?

    • Maria says

      @Jay Because she was WEIRD LOOKING before and now she’s NORMAL and NORMAL WOMEN have straight hair and wear lingerie like, all the time.

  16. Attackfish says

    Jennifer Kesler,

    Psychopath: someone with no empathy, poor impulse control, and a low anger threshold who also fills the psychopathic triad, fire-starting, bed wetting, and animal abuse.

    Sociopath: someone with no empathy who is neither fully psychopathic nor shows the grandiosity, sense of entitlement, or black on white thinking common to people with NPD. Many fulfill one or two of the psychopathic triad, but are usually much better at planning than psychopaths. All the ones I’ve known have had really flat affects, too, but that might be coincidence.

    Both of the above commonly risk their own safety as well as others, and lie when it not only doesn’t benefit them but when it hurts them. There is a general “well why shouldn’t I?” attitude to their treatment of other people.

    Um, it says nothing in the diagnostic material I’ve seen that people with APD don’t want something from the people they come into contact with. In fact, since part of the psychopathic triad is animal torture, that would lend me to believe that quite a few of them are sadistic. Usually they don’t care who their victim is, which is to say it could be a total stranger, because people are interchangeable to them, (unlike most people with NPDs who see relationships as a means of boosting their egos) but plenty of them want something from their victims. Sociopaths often want nothing from the people around them psychologically, but some do, as some sociopaths fulfill parts of the psychopathic triad like the 9 year old girl who became my stalker who tortured people’s pets and small children and had a thing for fire.

    What made me think it had a biological origin in certain people I knew was really how early the behavior started in the ones I knew, five, six, and in the case of my cousin, as long as anybody remembers. And the siblings I brought up, more because they all maintained close relationships with their parents and each other, and don’t act with each other like the people I know who had a family history of abuse, which you’re right, might just mean it was better hidden, or might mean it wasn’t from the family.

    As I sad, I’m certain people can be raised to lack empathy even if they were born with the same capacity for it as people who grew up empathetic. And I’m willing to bet that the vast majority of people who lack empathy fall into this category. I’m pretty sure that I have self-selected a friend circle of people who have close experience with APD or NPD, which is probably why I know more than my fair share. I know a whole lot of narcissists, far more than I know people with APD.

  17. Raeka says


    That kind of got to me, too. Not only did they erase her tattoos, but what, she wasn’t beautiful in her leather and studs…? It makes me uncomfortable looking from one picture to the other, just because of the implied ‘women who look badass/strong aren’t beautiful/a good thing’.

  18. Mintywolf says

    Blah, I hate the non-tattooed pics of Kat. She looked better before.

    Also I can’t believe the idiotic comments on the Superman link. Wait, yes I can. Superman was NEVER an elected official of America, and shouldn’t have been treated like one. These people don’t seem to get that he is a citizen of the *world* and this change just reflects that. Wish I could say ‘in before “well go to x country”‘ comments but those seemed to be the first ones. When did blind rabid idiots take over everything? The ones in support of the change are almost as bad, even. Jeez when did everyone get so partisan, how did I miss it?

  19. Casey says


    Hey, I’m jussayin’, you ought not describe those assholes as being blind, it’s ableist. (and I’m pretty sure calling them idiots is ableist too)

  20. says


    Yes, Mintywolf, blind and idiot are both listed as words not to use in our comment policy. They are considered ableist by many people, and there are plenty of good words. “Ignorant” I find much more stinging than blind, and “Fools” or “Asshats” are good for people who aren’t troubling their brains much.

  21. Nicky P says

    “What made me think it had a biological origin in certain people I knew was really how early the behavior started in the ones I knew, five, six, and in the case of my cousin, as long as anybody remembers.”

    I’ve sort of been watching your discussion…

    Humans learn quite a bit between the ages of five and six. This is not an insignificant period of time in developmental terms. Anecdotal evidence that is not acquired scientifically is weak evidence for saying that something is biological. With the same set of information, you could just as easily assume that it’s brought about by socialization that happens during the first year of life, or before the person is capable of acting out in any way. It doesn’t seem productive to run with the idea of this behavior being unmalleable/innate when there is, from what I understand, no evidence conclusively proving this.

  22. Attackfish says

    Nicky P,

    Remember, I also mentioned my cousin, who has acted this way as long as anybody can remember. The other two don’t have good or bad behavior I can find out about before then because they hadn’t started school yet/their siblings were too young to make good witnesses. There is still infant socialization, of course, but they’re starting to do brain scans that show that many psychopaths at least lack part of their frontal lobe. Of course environment (by which I mean psychological environment, not food, heavy metals, and things) can impact brain growth too, but it’s usually less obvious on a scan, and since many sociopaths show parts of but not all the traits that distinguish psychopaths from sociopaths, maybe the ones who show more of those traits have similarly different parts of their brains. Speculation, but reasonable speculation.

  23. says


    I’m not quite sure I like what you’re implying. Do you mean to say that some children are simply born ‘good’ or ‘evil?’ It is my belief that children that are seen as different in some way- if they are seen as unable to empathize, for example- actually have very different ways of processing some things.
    I suppose you could say that it’s a bit like plurality (having multiple people in one body). Therapists had never seen anything like plurality before, and thought that this was some strange mutation of the mind- an ability to cope that rare higher thinkers had, for instance. This led to plurals being seen as freaks, and with that view, led to the people thinking that plurals were all crazy. The truth is actually that plurals are normal everyday people with boring lives. They just live them with other people (and there are more than you think- healthy plurals are just afraid to come out for obvious reasons).
    Sorry for the tangent…Anyway, I think you can see why it’s not always good to label those of a different neurotype as ‘bad,’ even when it seems like they are. They may have a different way of thinking than you, and may need things explained to them in a different way (kinda like in math- some need factoring, while others need the quadratic formula). Only when they are a danger to themselves or others should they be policed, and even then it can be miscommunication causing the problem.

  24. Attackfish says


    I never said anything about good or evil, though living with someone without empathy is difficult for the people immediately around them. Most people with APD can be taught to live by a code of conduct, and just because someone doesn’t feel compassion or love (because someone without empathy can’t really feel love) doesn’t mean they’re doomed to compulsive acts of evil. Even sadistic (not in the BDSM sense, who are entirely different and frequently have very strong consciousnesses.) people without empathy can learn not to act on their inclinations because it would cause consequences to themselves that they don’t want. And being plural is way way way different from having no conscience.

    And I most certainly do not believe in the idea of children as a blank slate. I also want to make it clear that when I say they lack empathy, it isn’t that they have difficulty seeing and interpreting other people’s emotions, as someone with an autistic spectrum disorder does, but that they don;t see making someone else fell better as a reason to do something and they don’t see hurting someone as a reason not to.

  25. says

    I still think we should ban the words sociopath and psychopath from this discussion, because I don’t think everyone understands them the same way. And seriously, there is no agreement in the psychiatric community in the States, let alone the world, on their definitions.

    Attackfish: Um, it says nothing in the diagnostic material I’ve seen that people with APD don’t want something from the people they come into contact with. In fact, since part of the psychopathic triad is animal torture, that would lend me to believe that quite a few of them are sadistic. Usually they don’t care who their victim is, which is to say it could be a total stranger, because people are interchangeable to them, (unlike most people with NPDs who see relationships as a means of boosting their egos) but plenty of them want something from their victims.

    It’s a subtle but important distinction: APDs enjoy inflicting pain; NPDs enjoy your suffering. APDs can’t feel pain, so inflicting it interests some (not all) of them. NPDs, on the other hand, get off on knowing they’ve made you suffer. That’s the difference between torturing someone in an impersonal way (APD) and torturing someone in a very intimate way, such as rape (NPD).

    The “psychopathic triad” is not considered too reliable these days. Too many exceptions in both directions.

    It’s true what Nicky P says: just because behavior starts early, that does not tell us whether it’s cultural, biological or a combination. Empathy is learned between 18 months and 4 years – if you aren’t taught it by then, it’s considerably harder to learn (and becomes impossible after somewhere in the teen years).

    One fact that’s suggestive: the vast majority of children of APDs and NPDs don’t develop PDs. If it’s strictly genetic, this seems unlikely.


    Eme, congrats, changing emails was smart, but you’re on mod with that one now too. I realize you think that I owe a very time-consuming conversation about pluralities with you. The multiple emails from both you and concerned friends of yours made your level of entitlement very clear. And now you’re deliberately twisting another commenter’s words to derail the thread into a discussion of that. If you want people to think pluralities are well-adjusted, you are so not going about it the right way. You can start a free blog through any number of great services and write about the topic to your heart’s content.

  26. Attackfish says

    Jennifer Kesler,

    People with APD respond to negative stimuli, so what do you mean by they can’t feel pain?

    This is very true, and it’s one of the reasons why determining the biological or cultural origins of anything is ridiculously difficult. And there are so many variables on both sides, and the possibility it may be a combination of both.

    side note- something being biological doesn’t necessarily mean genetic, which was why I made the distinction between psychological environment and physical environment.

  27. Attackfish says


    I mean they respond to negative social stimuli, like prison and being thwarted. Reading back through it it looked like I could have meant just physical pain. Oops.

  28. says

    Attackfish, I was thinking of terror, actually. APDs don’t feel fear, so some enjoy making victims feel fear, seeing what that’s all about.

    But enlarging the context: yes, they don’t like it when they don’t get their way. But they don’t experience emotional wounding the way empaths do. Example: if a friend tells me they’ve had enough of me, I experience it as an emotional loss. If the same happens to an APD, he experiences it the same way he would a monetary loss – people, like money, are just assets to him. And if it happens to an NPD, he experiences it as an all-out threat.

    Sorry for conflating biological with genetic – you’re entirely right.

  29. says

    Mintywolf – if you want me to edit your comment, just email me and let me know what you want it to say. Ableist language is a concept that’s new-ish to most of us (I first heard about it a year ago, maybe a bit longer), so please know that no one was judging you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *