Monday, November 21, 2005

Teen Went Willingly

Kara Borden, the 14 year old teen whose parents were shot by David Ludwig, apparently went with him willingly and was not kidnapped. I wonder what more we will find out about this young lady in the coming weeks.

Update: Here is another story from the Herald Sun with the headline, Real-Life `Natural Born Killer' Tells. Is it my imagination or has every killer kid in America been said to be influenced by this movie? As I have said in the past, blaming Oliver Stone, the Internet and Satanism is not going to bring about a solution to the problem of kids and violence. People want to believe that violent teens just "snap" and become killers after watching a violent movie but the truth is, there is a long history of weird and sometimes secretive behavior, that many in the kid's milieu know nothing about or don't want to hear. If you had access to the kid's thinking pattern prior to their murder sprees, it would all make sense. But this would require actually listening and monitoring a teen's behavior, something many do not want to do.

It does not help that we have infused kids with a lack of guilt--trying our best to raise their self-esteem to the point where the normal social sanctions against murder no longer apply to some kids. According to a study by a George Mason University professor, guilt has been found to possibly predict later behavior. Kids who were more prone to feeling guilt were less likely to try drugs and alcohol, less likely to become criminals, less likely to commit suicide and more likely to practice safe sex.


Blogger Greg Kuperberg said...

You certainly won't find out that she pulled the trigger, because she didn't.

There are a lot of women and teenage girls in this country who make terrible choices for their husbands and boyfriends. I agree that many of them are not victims, even if that is a convenient thought for them. Many of them are free to walk away, but don't out of sheer bad judgment.

But that does not make them guilty of what their boyfriends and husbands do. It is possible that Kara Borden will turn out to be part of a conspiracy to kill her parents. People are more likely to want to kill someone else's parents than their own, but it's possible. Even so, she is just 14 while David Ludwig is 18. I argued before that he isn't completely an adult in any sense other than the legal one, but still, there's a big difference between 14 and 18. If she were 18 and he were 14, it would be a totally different story.

Meanwhile police have discovered some more about Ludwig. Police found a video in which he and a friend plotted to rob a house and kill the occupants, and also to shoot some other boy who knew too much about the sex that they were having with Borden (and maybe Borden's sister). Maybe this was idle talk, but one thing that made it sound serious was that they were planning to use some of the 54 guns in the Ludwig home. Have gun, will travel.

9:10 PM, November 21, 2005  
Blogger jau said...

Surely she bears some responsibility no matter what her age. This was her parents. Anger and disaffection are all just dandy but if you go this far, it's too far. I'm not saying she may not deserve compassion and/or psychiatric help, but let's not exonerate her just because she's young and in the thrall of an "older" man. (Gag.)

10:28 PM, November 21, 2005  
Blogger DADvocate said...

But that does not make them guilty of what their boyfriends and husbands do. It is possible that Kara Borden will turn out to be part of a conspiracy to kill her parents. People are more likely to want to kill someone else's parents than their own, but it's possible.

But is can make them an accomplice. Women can often be quite persuasive, as we've seen in the Pamela Smart case. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics "Of the 9,102 murders (with complete
data on victim-offender relationship) in
2002, 207 were offenders who killed
their parents." So killing one's parents isn't unheard of.

Greg - you seem too quick to give this girl a pass and so will most other people.

10:29 PM, November 21, 2005  
Blogger Greg Kuperberg said...

I'm not giving this girl a pass. I'm saying (a) it depends, (b) she's only 14, and (c) her older boyfriend was out of control, with or without her around.

If the question is whether she bears some responsibility, I don't think that it's enough to know that she wanted to elope with Ludwig. The question is whether she knew that Ludwig was going to shoot her parents. She could be dumb enough not to have known, and still be willing to elope with him. (I'm tempted to say that a 14-year-old girl could be stupid enough, but in all fairness a 14-year-old boy could have been just as dim.) Or it's possible that she planned the whole thing. The police can sort that one out.

One thing I will say is that a 14-year-old should not be tried as an adult. That is an illogical and ultimately unethical judicial concept. 14-year-old criminals are less mature, not more mature, than other 14-year-olds. It is backwards to cite criminal activity as a reason to pretend that children are adults.

I think that the statement "women can be quite persuasive" is off the mark for the same reason. I agree that women can be persuasive, but Kara Borden is a teenage girl, not a woman.

10:47 PM, November 21, 2005  
Blogger Kel said...

My take on this scenario:

Kara has "jailbait" written all over her. She and David Ludwig were "out all night" the night before. They were obviously engaged in sexual relations. Kara comes home to her parents, who confront her. She is caught red-handed, so to speak. After a thorough talking, she's sent to her room, whereupon she immediately contacts David via internet or cellphone or whatever, and tells him that the jig is up. David, fearing the threat of statutory rape, goes ballistic and gets his gun. He goes to the Borden house, confronts the parents, and argues for 45 minutes. After the father plainly says that he can never see Kara again, David, in a lust for Kara and fearing for himself under the rape laws, shoots the parents.

Kara, discovering her dead parents, convinces herself that she can run away to happily live with her boyfriend. She abandons her younger siblings and takes off with David. Obviously, when caught, she begins to play the role of the victim.

She either should get the book thrown at her as an accessory to murder, or should spend the next 10-15 years in a mental institution.

It might not be true, but I'll bet it is.

1:51 AM, November 22, 2005  
Blogger Helen said...

Yes Greg,

I do think you give this girl a pass a bit too readily. I have spoken with many teenage girls in my work and believe me, they can be more than persuasive at times. They can use sexuality, relationships and whatever else to convince people (usually men) to do their dirty work. That is called an accessory to a crime and deserves punishment.

6:51 AM, November 22, 2005  
Blogger BobH said...

To Sydney (and Helen)

I think you have it almost perfectly. The only thing that I wonder is if the girl would have killed her parents herself if the boy hadn't done it. I doubt it. I think that the girl badly wanted to win the dominance struggle with her parents, but found, probably to her horror, that her ally in the struggle had gone far beyond what she would have done. As you said, he probably did that because he was looking at several years in jail. His choice was between jail time and more jail time. Hers would have been between jail time and no jail time.

Once the parents were dead, the girl probably found that she had "won" the dominance struggle with her parents but that her life was now MUCH worse than it had been. Imagine her shock at discovering that she had predicted future events so badly and that she had had much less control over these events than she thought!! (A classic example of "Optimistic Bias".)

At that point, she HAD to go with the boy since the killings had locked them together.

8:12 AM, November 22, 2005  
Blogger Helen said...

To bobh,

I agree-to some extent that she may not pull the trigger--although girls do--look at Amy Fisher. Girls and women are more capable of vengeance and violence than people realize. I am not saying that is what happened in this case. Women and girls just do violence differently at times--many hire a hit man and others poison or use "quieter" methods than men. Does this make it ok? My answer is no--it does not. If people feel that females should not be held as responsible for crimes as men--then they should not be eligible for full responsibility in society.

9:28 AM, November 22, 2005  
Blogger DADvocate said...

All I can add is this, I have two sons and two daughters. When it comes to being persuasive it's no contest, girls win (at least in persuading males). My 9 year old practices making "puppy dog eyes" in the mirror so she can look more pitiful when she wants something.

My sons are 12 and 16 years old and thus hang out with a lot of girls around Kara Borden's age. While I believe these girls are "nice" girls, these girls are not naive to the ways of the world not even in the 7th grade.

Greg - I do agree that Ludwig was out of control. But that could have made him easier to maniplate. I also agree that Borden shouldn't be treated as an adult but she should come under close scrutinity. As far as believing dumb/stupid things or doing dumb/stupip things, that's a hallmark of being a teenager.

9:30 AM, November 22, 2005  
Blogger reader_iam said...

Dr. Helen, I don't know if you've been at all following the Sara Kolb killing (plus dismemberment) in Moline, IL, which is part of the Quad Cities straddling the Mississippi--I live on the Iowa side).

It's really both an amazing and an appalling story, with lots of complex issues attached. (Sorry if you've dealt with it before. I started reading you after the story originally broke, and I don't have time this minute to search your site.)

I'm running out the door so this is the quickest link I could reach :

12:04 PM, November 22, 2005  
Blogger reader_iam said...

Sorry, that should have been the Adrianne Reynolds case. Sara and Cory Gregory (a neighbor of my hairdresser, as an irrelevant aside), and Nathan Gaudet are those implicated in the crime.

12:07 PM, November 22, 2005  
Blogger Helen said...


Thanks for the link--I had not been following the Adrianne Reynolds case but it certainly displays the dark side of some teens whom everyone says "was not violent" or was a "nice kid." They never are if you talk to them for ten minutes--you can usually figure out their scam. I sometimes wonder why people do not see through violent people at an earlier point. I realize that we cannot accurately predict violence with certainty but it does seem that we should be better at reading others than we are.

12:27 PM, November 22, 2005  
Blogger BobH said...

To Helen:

I think that you're overestimating the amount of slack that I'm willing to cut the girl in this situation. However, I really do wonder if she expected her boyfriend to kill her parents. From what the boy said, it does appear that she expected to get away with a double homocide after it had occurred. Such stupidity and hubris cannot be allowed to persist.

As for self-esteem, Roy Baumeister did a relevant article in the April 2001 issue of Scientific American called: "Violent pride: Do people turn violent because of self-hate, or self-love?"

To dadvocate:

Are you children (especially the girls) persuasive or manipulative? (Is there really a difference?) As for your daughter's "puppy dog eyes", she'll never be as good as my dog. He's the absolute master.

12:37 PM, November 22, 2005  
Blogger Helen said...

Hi bobh,

Yes, I seem to remember that article--I think its a little of both sometimes--there seems to be something about high but unstable self-esteem that causes problems for some kids (and adults). But I do think that there are certain criminal types who have a mentality of entitlement and special rights that others do not have--meaning that they will strike out if others try to stop the person from doing what they wish--but typically these are psychopaths.

I hear what you are saying about Kara Borden--she may not have wished her parents dead--she just wanted them off her back. Perhaps. I suppose the courts will decide.

12:58 PM, November 22, 2005  
Blogger Greg Kuperberg said...

I had missed a key detail of the news report that led to this blog entry. The conclusion that Borden went willingly came from Ludwig's testimony to the police. What a convenient thing for him to say. It's a completely obvious way to spread the blame. It does seem that Ludwig is an idiot was well as an armed marauder, but I think that even he could think of this in custody.

All that we can really infer from this announcement is that Bordon escaped with Ludwig not unwillingly, not that she necessarily went willingly. She at least acquiesced to his plans. That does not mean that she ever actually planned a crime.

As I said, it is possible that she was complicit in this double murder — the police can ponder that one. But I think that it is premature to speculate, not only premature but callous. The fact is that Ludwig shot her parents. Whatever stupid or crazy ideas she had at the time, she must be grieving for them now. I think that she deserves the benefit of the doubt for that reason.

The "jailbait" comments here also lack perspective. I understand that women can have power over men. I wasn't born yesterday. But when you get down to it, the only real power that Borden may have had over Ludwig is that she had sex with him. The criminal significance of that is limited. A handgun is a deadly weapon; a vagina is not.

1:23 PM, November 22, 2005  
Blogger Helen said...

To Greg,

The newspaper account indicated that Borden herself said she left willingly:

"Kara Borden told detectives she left of her own free will, according to the filing. David Ludwig told detectives the two planned to get married and start a new life together."

You also understand little about felony laws--you do not have to pull the trigger of a gun to be guilty-- you can be involved in conspiracy to commit murder if you ask someone to do it. Your words strike me as similar to what female solicitors of hitmen say after they have been found out--"I am not guilty because I didn't pull the trigger." This is just massive denial, not the truth. I am not saying that Kara Borden is involved--its just that it should be checked out as a possibility.

1:53 PM, November 22, 2005  
Blogger BobH said...

To Greg:

I don't see why it is "completely obvious" why Ludwig would try to spread blame to Borden. What would he gain from it, except to take her down with him?

It is however entirely reasonable that she would lie about encouraging him to kill her parents, whether she expected him to kill them and whether she went with him willingly. If she is perceived as being his pawn, she might even gain her an acquital.

One thing that is certain, "expectations" and "encouragement" are shades of gray, not black and white. If she went into this with 50% expectation and 20% encouragment, her lawyer(s) are going to make it seem like 5% of the first and 0% of the second. People's memories of the past, including their past mental states, are incredibly maleable. People not only lie about this all the time, they usually end up believing their own lies. People like Elizabeth Loftus have provided ample evidence of this.

2:04 PM, November 22, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Guns don't kill people, people kill people.

"have gun will travel..." What silliness.

Ludwig could have tried baseball bats like a couple of kids did a few years ag o in Montreal. Worst crime scene the MTL Homicide Squad had seen in their lifetimes...

2:06 PM, November 22, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


While I agree that people are way too quick to blame "media violence" when their teen does something wrong, I have to take issue with one thing you wrote. Not all teens who act out do so because of a lack of parental listening and/or monitoring. My 17 year old has been raised in a reasonably strict household, with consequences for misbehavior that are commensurate with the deed. He knows he's responsible for his actions, and is closely monitored by me (a stay-at-home mother) and my husband. Nevertheless, he's done stupid and wrong things from time to time (never anything violent, I hasten to add) because--well, because he's a teenaged boy, whose brain isn't mature. It's going to happen, despite the most scupulous parenting,

So please don't substitute "lack of parental monitoring" for "media violence" as an account for teenage wrongdoing. It's too easy to find the one-size-fits-all explanation.

2:13 PM, November 22, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't have time right now to read all of the comments, but I'm really quite sure that this girl could very well have manipulated her boyfriend into killing her parents. In virtually every comment on this case that I've heard over the days since it happened, someone ponders how this boy could have done this. They assert that it's completely oput of his character.

Think about this: she's gotten rid of her 'troublesome' parents and will probably have control of all or at least a significant fraction of their (modest) wealth AND she's gotten rid of her boyfriend, who, conveniently, will spend the next few decades in jail.

No, this girl must NOT get a pass, and in my estimation, if she doesn't undergo some very careful questioning, then the prosecutor someply isn't doing his/her job.

2:22 PM, November 22, 2005  
Blogger submandave said...

Agree 100% that all angles of this matter need to be checked out but also acknowledge that subtle "persuasion" can be and often is difficult if not impossible to prove. "It would be so much easier if my parents weren't between us," could be innocent wishful thinking or intentional direction to an already unstable mind.

Reading about this matter I just can't help but remember a study I once read showing that when one includes murder-for-hire and murder-by-boyfriend that husbands are more likely to be killed by their spouse than wives.

2:28 PM, November 22, 2005  
Blogger Greg Kuperberg said...

Helen: I stand corrected on the technical point that I raised. You are right that Kara Borden also said the she went willingly. But, as you and I have both said, that by itself is not complicity in the murder, and it is up to the police to sort out complicity. So I don't see that we even really disagree on any on the core question.

The one thing I would maintain is that, given that her parents were the ones killed, I think that it is still premature and callous for outsiders to think out loud that she may have been complicit. I agree that the police should think about it.

Yachira: I am well aware that guns don't kill people, gunmen kill people. That doesn't affect my point. My question is how exactly David Ludwig grew up to be a gunman. I do not think that it's because his father, Gregory Ludwig, was a bleeding-heart liberal who was afraid to spank his children. Gregory Ludwig is no Alan Colmes. I think that one factor is that he had 54 guns in his house. Discipline is all about logical house rules. There is nothing logical about leaving guns and ammo lying around as if they are spare pencils.

2:31 PM, November 22, 2005  
Blogger Greg Kuperberg said...

BobH: The point is that Ludwig could try to win lesser charges, or at least jury sympathy, by claiming that Borden put him up to it. Or that she might have put him up to it. One of the ready tactics in a criminal defense trial is to turn "innocent until proven guilty" upside down, by floating an alternative theory that renders another involved person, or even an outright victim, guilty until proven innocent.

The movie Anatomy of a Murder shows a good example. The story was based on a real trial and was even written by the defense counsel in that trial. The guy got his client off by making the dead victim guilty until proven innocent of rape.

2:40 PM, November 22, 2005  
Blogger Helen said...

To anonymous from 2:13:

Please note in my post that I did not mention parental monitoring--I understand that there are good parents out there whose kids are just immature, have poor judgement etc. I think that the social safeguards of churches, schools, communitites and others who are involved with kids do not pay close attention and there are some parents who love too much or too little who do not teach kids right from wrong.

I do not believe in a one size fits all solution as I have mentioned many times before. The reason for kids and violence are complex and usually involve a combination of problems such as emotional disturbance, social problems, and peers that parents play no part of.

2:57 PM, November 22, 2005  
Blogger JAM said...

Helen said:

"...there seems to be something about high but unstable self-esteem that causes problems for some kids (and adults)."

That phrase, "high but unstable self-esteem" struck a chord with me, reminding me of something I'd read a while back about excessive self-esteem stemming from unwarranted reinforcement in the educational environment. Could be such high self-esteem is inherently unstable because at some level the individual is aware that it is unwarranted? And in some cases they may lash out violently in an attempt to punish those who remind them that their self-esteem is unjustified? Just a thought.

3:17 PM, November 22, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


You don't know any of the 54 firearms were laying around the house, do you? Even if they were accessible to the young man, I have to add that at one point I counted over 800 barrels of firearms (I wasn't breaking them down by category, a pepperbox was seven barrels, drilling was three, over-and-under was two, etc.) on the walls of my uncle's home once, just hanging on the walls, and none of them ever jumped down and shot anybody. The statement of yours, "Have gun, will travel." is revelatory of a bias on your part which frankly colors my view of the validity of any of your opinions.

Yours, Tom Perkins
molon labe
montani semper liberi
para fides paternae patria

3:23 PM, November 22, 2005  
Blogger DADvocate said...

There is nothing logical about leaving guns and ammo lying around as if they are spare pencils.

The number of guns Ludwig owned amazes me. I would say it makes him look guilty as hell but he already does. I limit my children to 50 guns max. :)

I am very curious about Borden's role in all this but it may be hard to discern because of all the legal defense stuff Greg mentioned.

3:23 PM, November 22, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The MSNBC article says _Kara_ told the police she went with Ludwig willingly. It also says that the police have receipts that were in Ludwig's wallet and are planning to use those to trace their run and get video surveillance to see whether she seems to be a hostage or not.

One thing nobody else seems to have mentioned is the power of sex. These aren't jaded 20-somethings, they're kids who may well have been each other's first lover, or at least their first serious emotional involvement.

That's huge, especially in the mind of an 18 year old guy. Whether or not she encouraged him (I tend to think she probably did, or she'd never have run off with him afterward) he might well have seen her parents as threatening his entire future.

Not, of course, that that excuses either of them in any way, but this could be more of a romeo-and-juliet (in their twisted minds) than natural-born-killers scenario.

3:28 PM, November 22, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess home schooling didn't help these two kids, eh?

3:29 PM, November 22, 2005  
Blogger Helen said...


Yes, your thought is correct--those with high but unstable self-esteem often strike out when they are judged, indicating that they do not like being reminded of how worthless they are. There are studies (found in the Harvard News letter) that show this to be the case--people who felt judged and had high self esteem would stike out violently but not against those who did not judge them.

3:32 PM, November 22, 2005  
Blogger DWPittelli said...

BobH said: "What would [Ludwig] gain from [spreading blame to Borden], except to take her down with him?"

Almost regardless of the defense Ludwig has in mind -- list below -- it's better for his situation not to also have a kidnapping charge already confessed to. This should be pretty clear even to an 18-year-old (at least, one who's seen a dozen episodes of Law & Order or Homicide) .

a) Plea bargaining to 2nd Degree Murder
b) Insanity, or sudden insanity
c) The girl asked me to do it (not a great legal defense, but the sort of psychological defense to personal evil which is common, and commonly sought by police).
d) She shot them without my foreknowledge, and asked me to take the blame.
e) She pulled the trigger. I only gave her the gun, and she said said she just wanted to shoot her old man in the nuts, since he'd been raping her since she was 6.
f) It was self-defense.
g) I lent my gun to her parents a while ago. That night the old man pulled it out when I asked for my gun back. He shot his wife and then himself -- a murder-suicide, so upset were they about their daughter's love for me. She and I knew what it looked like, so we took off to get married in Vegas and hide out in the desert, or maybe Mexico.
h) I don't know, I wasn't even there.
i) In accordance with my rights under the 5th Amendment, of which you have just reminded me, I respectfully decline to answer any questions until speaking with my Attorney. [Later amended to: My attorney has advised me to decline to answer any questions, in accordance with my rights under the 5th Amendment.]

3:34 PM, November 22, 2005  
Blogger DADvocate said...

Here is a case that involved adults but includes persuasion, sex and attempted murder. For me it's interesting because the intended victim grew up across the street from me. I barely knew him because he was much younger but my youngest sister knew him quite well. You can get some ideas how the defense for Ludwig and Borden might run. The victim is accused of all sorts of things he is innocent of. As Greg says, everyone will be accusing everyone to protect themselves if this runs true to form.

3:40 PM, November 22, 2005  
Blogger DWPittelli said...

What does it mean to go willingly?

Let's forget that she's a human, indeed a 14-year-old female who thinks she's in love with the defendant, who just saw her parents shot to death.

Let's assume that she is instead a robot or perfectly rational human without emotions, but who prefers not to die.

Even under these conditions, wouldn't anyone who witnessed a homicide, upon hearing the invitation of the gunman, even if a perfectly polite, "do you want to come with me, or would you prefer to stay with the deceased?" go along with little or no objection? And wouldn't the more likely exclamation, "come on, let's get out of here" seem at least as irresistable?

It is more than possible that he did not kidnap her, and yet that she did not go "willingly" in any reasonable sense of the word, even if she says she went willingly, meaning he did not force her to go.

The real question of course is whether she had foreknowledge of the homicide, and secondarily, whether she did more to help him after the fact than a reasonable 14-year-old would would feel necessary when travelling with an 18-year-old armed homicidal male.

Maybe she did order this hit, but I've heard no claims of any evidence which makes this seem likelier than not.

3:50 PM, November 22, 2005  
Blogger DWPittelli said...

All that said, I will concede that if she were a robot, and not a 14-year-old girl who was on a car trip with the boy she loved who just murdered her parents, she would come up with better testimony for the police, assuming these characterizations are accurate.

4:00 PM, November 22, 2005  
Blogger Greg Kuperberg said...

Nick and kschlenker:

Stories like this say something about the accountability of home schooling. Before you even think about test scores, with home schooling there may not be anyone to check whether the students ever even take any tests, or for that matter whether they ever take a bath. You see cases where the "teacher" murders her entire "class" (as Andrea Yeager did), and cases where the "classroom" has 54 guns laying around. I don't see how anyone can square that with "No Child Left Behind".

4:12 PM, November 22, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Actually, PA is one of those states who has the most state supervision over homeschooled children. This includes the requirement that the child be interviewed and evaluated for progress annually by a clinical or school psychologist.

4:28 PM, November 22, 2005  
Blogger charlieb said...

"You certainly won't find out that she pulled the trigger, because she didn't."

That comment shows one thing: prejudice.

She probably didn't pull the trigger. I believe that males are statistically much more likely to commit acts like this than are females.

We know, similarly that crimes of lethal violence are far more likely to occur among blacks in the inner city than among rich white folks in Martha's Vineyard.

But it is obviously illegitimate to draw this conclusion: Poor black men kill; rich white men don't.

That's exactly the kind of inference that Kuperberg is trying to draw here, and I think it's a dangerous substitute for honest and rational thought.

4:28 PM, November 22, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kids who were more prone to feeling guilt were....more likely to practice safe sex.

And if these "guilty" kids simply were taught to value and practice chastity—they wouldn't have to feel guilty at all!

4:54 PM, November 22, 2005  
Blogger MerryMadMonk said...

Greg Kuperberg said: "A handgun is a deadly weapon; a vagina is not."

Greg, have you never been to Bangkok? :)

I think the forensic examination of both Ludwig's and Borden's personal computers (as well as the ISP servers) will, more than anything else, bolster the case for or against Borden.

Either way, I don't doubt for a minute that a 14-year old girl could persuade an 18-year old boy to do murder, especially when sex is involved.

4:57 PM, November 22, 2005  
Blogger Greg Kuperberg said...

Next-to-last anonymous: You could well be right that PA has more state supervision of home schooling than other states. But even when home schooling has the most state supervision that you could expect, it still has less public supervision than even the least supervised organized schools, public or private.

Which is not to say that home schooling should be outlawed. I don't think that it should. The point is that accountability from on high, as in NCLB, and local and parental choice, as in home schooling, go in opposite directions. After all, the whole point of home schooling is that you know better than the authorities do.

Last anonymous: Studies have shown that when eyewitnesses report that a male pulled the trigger, it is statistically unlikely to actually have been a female who did it.

5:00 PM, November 22, 2005  
Blogger Greg Kuperberg said...

merrymadmonk: You have a point there. If a 14-year-old girl can persuade an 18-year-old boy to commit murder, just imagine what she can "persuade" a 60-year-old priest to do.

5:04 PM, November 22, 2005  
Blogger Jeff with one 'f' said...

I read an interesting article about self-esteem programs and bullies a few years back. It featured a round table of various experts discussing the then-recent Columbine killings. One social scientist opined that the reason bullies were bullies is that they lacked self-esteem.

This prompted a retort from a former guidance counselor or principal; someone who had to deal with practice and not theory. He said that the problem with bullies wasn't that they lacked self-esteem, on the contrary, they had self-esteem coming out of their ears. The problem was that they had no esteem for anyone else.

5:15 PM, November 22, 2005  
Blogger Helen said...

To Kschlenker,

I think there are two kinds of home schoolers--those that you pointed out who get in trouble at school and are suddenly home schooled and the type whose parents want them to have a different kind of education and set up a good program at home. Many of the kids who are homeschooled due to being kicked out or because of trouble with their schools seem to have little in the way of a schedule and start their studies late in the day. It seems to be congruent with their layabout lifestyle.

5:18 PM, November 22, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course, the guns are to blame. The fellow would never have thought to beat the parents to death with a ball bat of hack them with a machete. Guns bad, bad!

6:02 PM, November 22, 2005  
Blogger AST said...

I never had any daughters but from what I've seen of fourteen year old girls, this doesn't surprise me one bit.

I'm no psychologist but I've seen a number of teenaged girls whose rebellion against their parents put that of boys to shame.

I think a 14 year old enamored of a much older man would be impossible to reach with common sense. Kids are in a big hurry to grow up, but they don't understand what that means.

How old was Juliette again?

6:54 PM, November 22, 2005  
Blogger Greg Kuperberg said...

I have to revise my comment about home schooling going in the opposite direction from NCLB. The main metric of NCLB is test scores. Every school educator knows that the easiest way to improve test scores is to keep the school troublemakers from getting tested. Now, the NCLB rules are wise to the simple methods like missed attendance and expelling students from schools. But if the erstwhile school troublemakers are "home schooled", who can argue with that? Everybody wins. It helps the school satisfy NCLB and home schooling gains a student too.

Anyone who thinks that this talk is too cynical should look at the record of the Houston public school system, which was one of the model districts that motivated NCLB. Bush's education secretary when NCLB was signed, Rod Paige, had previously been the Houston school superintendent. Paige was congratulated for lowering the dropout rate in his schools. How did his schools do it? By renaming dropouts as transfers. After Paige went to Washington, Texas put Houston schools on probation for this practice.

However, neither Ludwig nor Borden were home schooled for this reason. They were home schooled because their parents did not trust public schools to instill proper Christian values.

7:34 PM, November 22, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Greg> I think that it is still premature and callous for outsiders to think out loud that she may have been complicit.

Greg> I think that one factor is that he had 54 guns in his house.

So, the general gist is:
* Prejudging girl, who we know did something illegal (flight) = bad.
* Prejudging gun owner father, who all we know about him is that he dared excercise 2nd amendment freedoms guaranteed to him = good.

Got it. Quite interesting to see where people are willing to just assume guilt, and where they are not.

7:55 PM, November 22, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


So what are we to assume from your comment? Do you actually think that kids who aren't forced to go to a government run school with a thousand or so other kids are predetermined to be pristine in their behavior, or that they will be excessively prone to violence? In either case, I wouldn't be so quick to assume too far one way or the other.

Homeschooled kids more often than not seem to be afforded a much better education than their public school peers. I must admit though, big government types (primarily, liberal) find this to be an endless source of annoyance, and I find THAT to be an endless source of amusement.

8:51 PM, November 22, 2005  
Blogger The Medicine Man said...

I think that many of the commenters to this blog missed the point of what Dr. Helen was saying.

I don't believe she was drawing any conclusions about whether Karabeth was an accomplice or not but whether she was as great a kid as some of her friends have apparently opined during media interviews.

I wrote more about this here.


9:14 PM, November 22, 2005  
Blogger Greg Kuperberg said...

Anonymous before last: There is a big difference between complicity and influence in this case, and the discussion has been at both levels.

Kara Borden was clearly not a good influence on David Ludwig (or vice versa). There is a cliche that teenage boys only think about one thing. If that was not true of David Ludwig before he had sex with Kara Borden, it was probably true after. But just because she was a bad influence, that doesn't prove that she was complicit in her parents' murder.

Likewise there is no evidence that David Ludwig's parents were directly complicit in the murder of the Bordens. But that doesn't mean that they are a good influence. Let us give the Ludwigs the benefit of the doubt that they didn't violate any gun laws. (Although I suspect that they would tell you that there are far too many gun laws.) Even if it's legal, having guns and ammo floating around is just not a good home environment for children. It may not be a terrible home environment for children who particularly restrained and trustworthy, but David Ludwig was rather the opposite of that.

In between complicity and influence you have enablement. I am talking about people around Ludwig who unintentionally helped him commit his insane crimes. For example, maybe Borden knew that he had a bad temper and that he packed heat, but let him into her house anyway. Back at the Ludwig house, there was clearly some enablement, because Ludwig walked out with several of his dad's guns. Or maybe they were his own guns. The police said that they saw guns in plain view upstairs and downstairs in that home.

Unintentional enablement of a crime may or may not be a crime itself, depending on circumstances. I think that there should be some sympathy for the Ludwigs on this question (as well as for Kara Borden), since after all they have probably lost their son to prison.

9:30 PM, November 22, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to jump in here on the gun side of this equation. I have been around guns my entire life. One grandfather owned a gun STORE (in a building in back of his house.) My other grandfather had guns in his house. The only person to shoot at anybody in 50+ years of gun ownership was my grandfather with the gun shop. That was with a US Navy 20 MM cannon during WWII.

Owning guns does not make you bad. Not owning guns does not make you good.

9:55 PM, November 22, 2005  
Blogger Greg Kuperberg said...

I don't think that there is anything wrong with owning a gun either, or 54 guns, or running a gun store. The problem is not owning guns, the problem is not keeping them away from out-of-control children and teenagers in the house. Sure, you could theorize that David Ludwig would have gotten hold of some deadly weapon, somehow, but why make it easy for him? Why encourage him? What kind of parental influence is that? (It wasn't just guns, by the way. David Ludwig also had swords to play with.)

Sure, you can point to perfectly trustworthy teenagers who hunt with their own rifles or what have you. But Ludwig is obviously not that kind of teenager. You should first establish discipline and trust in the house, and then perhaps consider access to guns (if that is important to you). Not the other way around.

No one would be talking this way if it were vodka. There are teenagers who show up drunk to school. In some of their homes the reason is obvious, it's because there are 54 vodka bottles lying around the house. No one other than the truly irresponsible parent would say, "Why not 54 vodka bottles around the house? They don't drink themselves. Teenagers who want to drink will find access to alcohol somehow." I don't think that owning vodka makes you a bad person either, but if you have vodka and children in the house, even older teenage children, you have to take some responsibility.

But if it's guns, you do hear these arguments, basically because of politics.

10:30 PM, November 22, 2005  
Blogger M. Simon said...

I saw a picture of the girl and her affect was rather blank. She looked like she had been abused.

You see the same kind of look on most of the faces in the Post Office posters of wanted criminals.

The "don't mean nothin' to me" look.

I think the 14 thing is significant. The rage circuits torn on if they have previously been activated.

She may in fact have conspired to kill her parents.

Girls who have been molested often look for a "champion" or protector. A violent guy who will stand up to the evil ones. They also tend to like a lot of sex because it produces endorphins. The body's natural heroin.


Others eat:

Big Mac Heroin Attack

A lot of this stuff gets embeded in the amygdala. A truly fascinating organ in terms of its regulation of behavior.

A lot of the variation in how humans deal with trauma is genetic. Some folks get over it. Some folks don't.

Genetic Discrimination

12:53 AM, November 23, 2005  
Blogger M. Simon said...

There was a time when guns were common in every home and kids regularly brought guns to school. Nine and ten year olds even. BB guns for younger children. A social mileu common only 50 years ago.

It is not the guns. It is the training.

1:03 AM, November 23, 2005  
Blogger Greg Kuperberg said...

The news development of this morning is that, according to testimony from both principals, Kara Borden did not ask David Ludwig to shoot her parents. No great surprise there.

What Ludwig did say in this article is that he made up his mind to shoot Borden's parents only after they told him to stop seeing her daughter. No surprise there either. Certainly after they had had sex, he was only thinking of one thing.

Ludwig also said, "I did not aim. I have a lot of shooting experience, and I usually hit what I shoot at." So here you have the well-trained marksman, trained and encourage by his father in fact, who never points a gun at other people unless he intends to kill them.

It is an absurd exercise to outright give guns to untrustworthy children, even older teenage children, and then tsk tsk about them being out of control. The time to tsk tsk is before you give them guns, not after.

Nostalgia for some peaceful but well-armed past doesn't change anything. There was never a time in history when all children could be trusted with guns. I played with BB guns too when I was a kid. That is a fine pastime for children that can be trusted with it. (Which is not all children; some that I know are lucky to still have both eyes.) But a BB gun is a completely different instrument from a .40 caliber handgun. That was the murder weapon in this case and one of several guns that Ludwig had with him.

12:08 PM, November 23, 2005  
Blogger Gem said...


This is in response to an older comment re: Andrea Yates as a 'teacher' killing her students. She was no more a teacher than any other stay at home mom is. None of her children were mandatory school aged.

1:56 PM, November 23, 2005  
Blogger Some Schmuck said...

Didn't we do this in 1958?

Sounds like another Fugate/Starkweather to me.

2:36 PM, November 24, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you all miss the point completely, you are judging with adult reasonsing. Ludwig not once thought about going to jail! It never crossed his mind. Kids don't read newspapers and they don't watch TV news, they are all tied up in their "thing"of the moment. Whether 14 or 18 they are in the same group range and think the same way.

Parents are so anxious for their kids to be popular they let them get away with almost anything. Bordon's parents should have put their foot down early on, not at this point in time. They should have set age-limits for her dates and strict curfews. Evidently they did have the latter.

Isn't it strange that there has not been a single word from Ludwig's parents? Where are they, what are they doing? I think Ludwig's father should be questioned about the free access to the guns.

As for Miss Bordon, her photo at her parent's funeral didn't show a girl in remorse, much less grieving. She looked as if she was angry about being caught and thinking about the lies she is going to tell to cover herself.

The histerics when they were caught told me she was very upset because they didn't get away.

Ludwig has an indignant attitude as if the authorities are beneath him.

Time will tell who is close to those two's true psychology.

12:28 AM, November 25, 2005  
Blogger Greg Kuperberg said...

Gem: You are partly correct and I did say it partly wrong. But not completely. Noah Yates was 7 and was eligible for first grade; John Yates was 6 and eligible for kindergarten. The Yates family made a conscious decision to home school their children, but you are right that they were just starting.

8:25 AM, November 25, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I once had a long discussion with another poster about trying a local murderer--age eight--as a child or an adult.
The court was going to try him as an adult and had undertaken to punish him, if found guilty, more or less in conjunction with the specified punishments for pre-pubescent murderers.
I couldn't get an answer as to why it was wrong to try him as an adult except for repetitive announcements that he was a kid.
What, exactly, was wrong with trying him as an adult was never specified.
There may be answers, but I have never found out what they were, once we consider child-age punishment is okay.
Problem is that getting to be twenty-one and free isn't reassuring when the guy showed he was a murderer at half that age.
I'd like to know they're fixed and would be interested in erring on the side of public safety.

The best way to deal with this kind of thing is in advance. Make sure the kids are at least as good at critical thinking as is age appropriate, and then some.
I don't know if this gets any gold stars, but I used to make disparaging remarks about people who did stupid or wrong things. And I made them in the presence of my children.
It's not merely a matter of knowing right from wrong, but of internalizing it and the associated attitudes when/because it comes from an authority figure.
My wife and I noticed that, as our kids' early friends got into trouble, that we hadn't seen much of them recently. Our kids were dropping these people from their circles before we knew there was a problem.
Proper prior planning prevents piss-poor performance.
By being mean and judgmental, we saved ourselves a lot of grief and bail money.
My wife and I are too mature to gloat, but some of the folks who commented that we were a bit, oh, old-fashioned, are having trouble with their now-grown kids.
It also helps to have an extended family whose lives were and are exemplary, a situation which can't be bought.
When I said, "This family doesn't do that.", it was clear I was referring to more than me.

I recall a guy who'd been in the insurance business for decades. When new, he'd approached a friend of his father, done a complicated (rookies always get too complex) estate plan and presented it.
The man said, "I have no idea what you're talking about, but I know your father, so I'll do it."
If the parent can model good behavior, and require it, and provide clear guidance to right and wrong, most problems would not appear. Those that did would probably be found to have at least partly an organic basis.

10:35 PM, November 27, 2005  
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