Archive for Thursday, 22 December, 2011

A Dangerous Precedent

Posted: Thursday, 22 December, 2011 by deacongray in Community Articles
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Graveyard Press- Dec 21 2011

When Stephanie Pistey “ Vampire Girl” joined the growing lists of media called “Vampire” crimes no one suspected that she would end up causing what could be a watershed moment in the vampire and otherkin community.  No one expected the girl who lead four others into luring 16 year old boy to a remote area and then to commit a grisly killing, would step forward and make such a bold claim. “Since I was like 12 every fiber in my body, basically everything, I know this is going to be crazy, but I believe that I’m a vampire and part werewolf.”

The trouble with her statement is that in her case, the mental health community, and Judge James Fensom fully believed her. The judge and mental health workers didn’t believe  that she was a vampire and part werewolf, but they did believe she sounded crazy. The Judge ruled that “Vampire Girl” was mentally unfit to stand trial for her crimes.

What do we make of this ruling of this precedent?

Is this simply a legal savvy way of laying the ground work, and paving the way to a not guilty by reason of insanity plea? It wouldn’t seem so, after all no one sucked the blood out of the victim (Jacob Hendershot) that we know of, and it doesn’t look like any werewolves devoured any of his flesh, in all reality there is no indication that vampirism or being a werewolf had anything to do with the murder. Claiming you are a vampire or werewolf doesn’t explain these murders, and it doesn’t mean you are not sane.

The issue however is not if you are sane or not, the issue is that someone claimed these things and has now been ruled mentally unfit to stand trial.  While most Americans most likely rolled their collective eyes at the legal gamesmanship, the people who are involved in the Vampire and Otherkin community might want to consider a more sober reaction.  Legal gamesmanship aside, this case has just put forward a legal precedent that says if you claim you are a vampire or otherkin you could very well be ruled mentally unfit.

I spoke early this week to a source who due to pending legal issues asked to be named only R. R is a respected member of his community, well thought of in the school in which he teaches he has also been fairly open about his vampire beliefs. “Well I don’t talk about it to my students, that wouldn’t be right.”

  In past years R. has been involved in a divorce and custody battle within the court systems. “The Lawyers for my ex-wife brought up my vampire beliefs and used that as a means to show I am not a suitable parent. The Judge ruled that he felt it was in the kid’s best interest not to have someone of my lifestyle and belief system to have primary custody of the children. It broke my heart.”

When I asked him how he deals with the knowledge that he was ruled against based on his belief system he said,

“I learned a lot from that encounter, and I did manage to hold on to the right to visitation unsupervised, but I was shocked that it even came up. I mean the very idea that because of my vampire beliefs I might not have the right to see my kids without some minder watching over me as if I were some kind of a criminal was crushing, fortunately I  had a good lawyer who showed the courts I wasn’t any kind of a threat, and that Vampirism is a euphemism. But why should it even be considered a threat?”

“Why?” Is a good question, but perhaps this sheds a little light on the subject. February 2 2011 the MorningStarr reports

 “Bloke bites toddler after watching True Blood!”

There is of course other news articles like “Police say Girl Bitten while Watching Twilight Movie” and “Man Bites Woman and claims to be a 500 year old Vampire!”

Most of these articles are pure media sensationalism, but the court system see’s it a little differently. “The fact is, with these oddball claims, I’m obligated to check under that rock, so to speak,” Stephenson, (Stephanie Pistey’s lawyer) said, referring to the evaluation.”

With precedent of this type coming out of a criminal investigation it paves the way for conservative judges to withhold the rights of parents as they “Check under that rock” based solely off what the court officials consider “Oddball Claims”

With continued legislation like the Patriot act, and the The National Defense Authorization Act of 2012, which passed the senate despite the misgivings about the sections that would require military detention of some citizens if they are suspected of terrorism, I think it is clear that our normal civil liberties are under assault, and that doesn’t even consider the new views as they present themselves to the court system.

With the changes we are seeing in the legal system, and politics perhaps it is time to reconsider just how out in the public eye we want to be, and if we decided to venture out into the public eye, that we have some real understanding just how that works. TV shows will edit what you, and they will edit it for the most sensational aspects possible, to them it is merely ratings that matter. You don’t risk doing a daytime talk show on your own, you risk the perception of how the whole community is seen, and how the courts see us. You could risk a lot more if you have kids, or a profession dependant on good social standing.

While we have every individual right to say and show what we please of our community, take a moment and consider what you say and do in on line communities, those stupid statements don’t go away.  If you run a forum, or website understand that more and more courts are making site owners turn over their logs and all documents in pending court cases. What you say, and how you allow your members to behave, will have an impact on more than just your standing in the community, it can have a very serious impact for people like R. who will be fighting once again to keep his kids in court as his former inlaws scream about the bad influence of “That oddball” who claims to  be a vampire…and now there is a legal precedent were a judge ruled such Odd ball statements are a means for long term mental health assessments and competency hearings.