Atrocity in Rio
• Dozens of men took part in the gang rape of a Brazilian teen. Then the video surfaced online.
• Police identify four suspects in Rio de Janeiro gang-rape
• Brazil police identify 4 of 30-plus men wanted in gang rape
The 16-year-old girl arrived at her 19-year-old boyfriend’s house in Rio de Janeiro around 1 a.m. last weekend. She remembers being alone with him there. The girl says her next memory is waking up in a different house surrounded by more than 30 men, many of them armed. All, or at least some of them, took part in her rape. Naked, injured and penniless, she found some spare clothes and made her way home, she later said.
She is 16 years old and has a 3-year-old child. The attack occurred in one of Brazil’s notorious favelas, slum districts rife with gangs, drugs and crime.
Brazil is currently embroiled in unrest over the billions of dollars being diverted toward the interests of the upcoming Olympic games there, and taken away from essential social services, including policing.
How does this relate to us?
The favelas are extensive. To the best of my knowledge, there is no ethnic difference between the Brazilians who inhabit them and the Brazilians who don’t.
Everywhere in the world, there are poor people and slums. Sweden. Denmark. England. France. They all have them, and always have had. There is no ethnic difference between the not-poor and poor.
This contrasts with the impression one would get from the mainstream, politically correct American media — that racism is the sole cause of poverty. That even in this country, there are no poor whites.
Actually, there are twice as many poor whites in this country as poor blacks; in raw numbers. In other words, two-thirds of America’s poor are white.
Cross-culturally, there are universal commonalities in the behavior patterns, attitudes and belief systems of poor peoples, as contrasted with the not-poor.
We must study those if we are ever to understand the causes of poverty.
The agitated mom had three kids in foster care and she wanted them back. But she didn’t understand how to parent. She’d never worked. She had a short fuse. She was slow and didn’t seem to learn from experience.
Dr. Carl Bell studied the young woman. Flat cheeks. Thin upper lip. Folds at the corner of her eyes. It hit him like a thunderbolt: She had subtle features of fetal alcohol syndrome.
Bell had seen thousands of patients like this over the past 40 years and been baffled by their explosive tempers, poor social skills, spotty memories, trouble communicating, and learning disabilities.
Now, this psychiatrist realized their behavior might be explained by exposure to alcohol in the womb.
Fetal alcohol syndrome was first named and described in 1973. Since then, no small amount of attention has been paid to its effects on newborns and toddlers. Dr. Bell stumbled onto the inevitable: those babies grow into adults.
Significant numbers of them are all around us; and always have been, since fetal alcohol syndrome clearly has been among us forever, only not-named and not-described as such.
The PBS feature would practically lead one to believe this one phenomenon is enough to account for all society’s ills. On the one hand, this clearly cannot be enough. For example, it is difficult to discern between the effects of FAS and those of, say, lead poisoning.
On the other hand, I have to ask what sort of cosmic justice would have a child conceive in such a womb, that it is destined for a lifetime of difficulties.
I cannot conceive any such cosmic justice apart from reincarnation and karma: one has so conducted oneself in previous experiences, that one’s choices of potential parents have been constrained down to this one, or this one kind; and one will be biologically prone to certain sorts of problem behaviors throughout life.
Problem behaviors are neither to be overly harshly judged, nor excused. Each person is responsible for his or her own conduct. Each person’s own circumstances are a place from which she or he can begin — to improve his or her own life.
I have my own circumstances; my own bootstraps and difficulties; my own place to begin.
As also do you.
Related: A place to begin
To reduce the likelihood of children being born with FAS, earlier this year the Centers for Disease Control issued an advisory, that folk who drink should be sure to avoid risky sex. Jenny Kutner, senior staff writer at Mic, took this as an affront to her libertinism.