Monthly Archives: July 2010

Manson Family Murderer Denied Parole

Leslie Van Houten, the one-time Charles Manson follower, faced her 19th parole hearing on Tuesday with a new lawyer. 

Van Houten, 60, remains in prison at the California Institution for Women at Frontera, which is the same prison where another Manson follower, Patricia Krenwinkle is imprisoned.  Susan Atkins, the third woman convicted of murder in the crimes directed by cult leader Manson, died in prison after parole officials denied her dying request for freedom.

Van Houten was 19 years old when she joined other members of the Manson cult in the brutal, sadistic, merciless killings of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca, who were murdered in their own home in their own bed in August, 1969.

Her lawyer says she is rehabilitated and remorseful. 

In the coverage of this story on Tuesday, many people posted comments online.

This one was for Van Houten’s release:

“I always find it amusing how un-Christianlike so many so-called ‘Christians’ are.  Before judging, ask yourself if YOU are the same idiot now that you were at 19.  No, wait – some of you probably are!  Yes, nothing will bring the LaBiancas back, but there is a difference between ‘justice’ and ‘revenge.’  If she is actually, truly rehabilitated (and not one of you is her psychiatrist, so you don’t actually know anything), and able and willing to be a productive member of society, then justice has probably been served.  Let the courts decide, and hope that if you ever end up on trial that the jury of your peers is made up of people who aren’t all exactly like you.  But if you have no compassion, then look at it this way:  it costs more money to keep her in than to let her out.  And the cell she’s currently occupying could be used to house another young violent animal until she learns some sense.”

And this comment argued against Van Houten’s release:

“Manson and his followers tortured and killed seven people, and have been in prison for 40 years – not even 10 years per life they took.  They should have all been executed in the beginning, and the tax dollars saved.  For the folks that say ‘but she was only 19,’ I know 19 year olds who join the military, willing to lay down their lives for an ideal; I know 19 year olds who work with Habitat for Humanity.  They are worth saving.  This piece of trash forfeited that when she joined in the massacre.  If her family wants to keep her alive, then let them pay the monetary cost.  When the money runs out, a bullet to the head will end it.  Send the bill for the bullet and the burial to the defense lawyer.”

Frankly, I am always amused to hear someone hasn’t committed crimes while in prison.  It’s kind of difficult to find a child to rape, or a family in bed to brutally murder you once you hook up with a team of sadistic buddies.  So what Van Houten has taken courses and participated in group therapy sessions?  People are permanently dead because of her actions. 

I was against her parole for two reasons:

1.  Symbolic - we don’t show an ultimate respect for life when we show mercy to the merciless; and
2. The price was life in prison - Van Houten forfeited her right to live in society.  It sounds like her life in prison has been quite rewarding – what with education, social life, and work.  She’s luckier than her victims.

I think Leslie Van Houten is exactly where she earned to be, and if it costs money to keep her there, it is money well spent.  Apparently, the parole board agreed with me too, because they denied her request for parole.  She will have the chance to ask for her freedom for the 20th time in the year 2013.

Single Parenthood By Choice

I often get fascinating letters and emails from listeners to my radio program. 

Dr. Laura:
Recently, I was invited to join a group in support of removing Father’s and Mother’s Day celebrations in public schools.  Upon looking further into this group, I found that the founder of this group was a single mom “by choice,” and was angry her child was being made to feel bad because the other children have daddies, and hers does not.  I wanted to send you the email I sent her:

I think you should seriously consider shutting down this group.  I find
it interesting  you “chose” single parenthood for your child, but are not punishing those who did not for YOUR decision.  The majority of children have a mother and father and those who don’t will have to learn to deal with disappointment and adapt.  You act as though she shouldn’t have to learn to deal with disappointment, but in order to become a productive adult, she will.  Sadly, this disappointment was thrust upon her by you.  Instead of sitting down with her like an adult and explaining why she doesn’t have a father and why you chose that life for you, you are placing the blame on the school system for making her feel bad and putting her in an uncomfortable situation.  You do realize Father’s Day isn’t the only time she’ll be reminded she has no father, right?  By making this subject taboo, you are making her feel further alienated and, in the same breath, telling her you made a decision for her that was wrong.  Make up your mind.  Either you did this by choice and are willing to deal with the consequences, or you are embarrassed by the situation you are in and you want to cover up your mistake so your daughter doesn’t have to know.  Grow up and take ownership of your choices.


I cannot tell you how happy I was to read this.  I hope that you are taking stands whenever you see people deconstructing the family to permit themselves the freedom to do whatever the hell they want.

The woman referred to in this letter, like so many others, decided :  “I want a kid.”  “I want a kid” – not “Gee, I’d really like to be a Mom.  What’s in the best interest of a child?”  How about a mom and a dad, married, and no daycare?  No.  It was just what “I” want for this woman.  So with this group, she has tried to deconstruct the family in the public schools by saying there’s no Mother’s or Father’s Day – it’s all irrelevant – trying to cover up that she knows she did something wrong to her kid, by intentionally robbing her child of a father, for her own selfish needs.  And our society is giving all of that a pass:  “anything you want to call ‘family’ is a family.” 

It appears that it doesn’t matter what a kid needs.  It just matters what the adults want.

Does the Punishment Fit the Crime?

I have to admit I was highly amused at this letter from a teacher who has a creative use for me in detention.  School may be out, but maybe this will be an inspiration for other teachers when they return in the fall!

Hello Doc!  I am a middle school teacher in [the Southwest], and I stream your show and often listen before school, during lunch breaks and after school (it truly calms me down).  When I would give a kid after-school detention, I would always still have your show on, playing it just loud enough for them to hear, hoping they would learn something extra (but always fast-forwarding to the next call if it was a sexual or adult-type of question).

There were always repeat visitors to detention, and they would always moan and groan about having to listen to the show at the beginning, but as these kids started listening and enjoying the show, it was amazing how they would police each other into being quiet so that they could hear or not be distracted from listening to it!  Until one day….

A girl was being, let’s just say…an eighth-grader, and I warned her about her punishment of detention.  Her reply was “Good!  I wanted to know if that lady did what Dr. Laura told her to do and if it worked.”  I guess previously you had given a caller an assignment and they were supposed to call back.  I couldn’t help but laugh.  The student still got detention, but everybody that day was punished because I didn’t turn on your broadcast!  Thanks for the show!


Quote of the Week

Those who won our independence believed liberty to be the secret of happiness and courage to be the secret of liberty.
               – Louis D. Brandeis
                  United States Supreme Court Justice

Happy Independence Day this Sunday, July 4th!

Happy Independence Day!

Sandbagging is Not What You Do in Baseball

“Sandbagging” is a term used to describe an awful thing to do to another person, where you collect years of grievances of all sizes and dump them on someone all at once.  There is nothing they can do about all these supposed “slings and arrows” as they are history.  The context is gone, the possible provocation is ignored, and the amalgam of complaints is impossible to dissect and respond to.  Basically, all that is left is for the target of the sandbagging to attack back or divorce themselves from you.

The point is that sandbagging never results in resolution or redress.  It just results in the feeling of being disdained and betrayed.

I believe that people sandbag when 1) they simply want to hurt someone else, 2) want to get superiority over another, and/or 3) desire not to take responsibility for their contribution to the problem.

I recently told one caller that she needed to apologize to her mother-in-law for sandbagging, whether or not any or all of the complaints had some modicum of validity.  The relationship is destroyed with the sandbagging.  There is rarely any coming back from being hit with one.  The hurt, anger, and feeling of betrayal and blunt humiliation cannot possibly result in any understanding or compassion for the complainer.

I asked this caller to apologize for sandbagging, to admit she was simply frustrated over some things and didn’t have the courage to face them together, and, in general, just bombed the heck out of her.  She agreed to do what I suggested, thankfully.

There are no excuses, folks.  Don’t tell yourself you’re justified to sandbag because you’ve been hurt, and never hit back with more than you’ve been hit with.  An “eye for an eye” does not mean eyeballs will be rolling.  It means that you must not punish greater than the insult.  In other words, you can’t extract a “life” for an “eye.”

Communication is everything, as humans are not clairvoyant beings.  You must let somebody know what they said or did that hurt your feelings and what they can do to repair the situation.  It is all too often true that whatever you feel is hurtful is your sensitivity and not necessarily their intent.  You need to be open to hearing that, too.