• Law and the semantics of suicide baiting in San Francisco

    “You are not smarter than they are,” my attorney has told me.

    The “they” he means are the plethora of city lawyers and legions of legal workers researching and writing for judges in that “compassionate” city by the Bay who have apparently skimmed through whatever my case will be called next.

    In the Northern California District Court at the federal level it was Yount – v – City and County of San Francisco (3:11-cv-01141).

    In San Francisco Superior Court at the state level, it was Kathy Yount, Individually And In Her Capacity As v. City And County Of San Francisco Et Al (CGC 13 533102).

    Right now, I just refer to it as Yount v. San Francisco until we get a label and a new number before assuming last place in the long line waiting to be heard in the First District Court of Appeals.

    I readily admit my attorney is correct.

    I regret, though, I had not thought to reply that he was “unequivocally and uncategorically correct,” evoking the hilarious gaffe made infamous by the all-time controversial Clarence Thomas. During the televised 1991 Senate Judiciary hearings before he would become the sad and embarrassing successor of legendary Justice Thurgood Marshall on the U.S. Supreme Court, Thomas had testified “unequivocally and uncategorically” he had never sexually harassed courageous law professor Anita Hill during the time he was her supervisor.

    Thomas had meant to say categorically, or unconditionally, but his malapropism had negated the very essence of his self-righteous denial! History is always going to accurately reflect who Clarence Thomas was when he is gone. His legacy will be that he was neither all that smart nor all that nice.

    So, big deal. I am not smart. I have not been to law school. It takes me hours and hours to read through the cases cited to deny me a courtroom destination. So what?

    Everyone local knows I am near illiterate in math. My former students can tell you that once I showed them how to average their grade in my English class – “Your total scores, people, divided by the total points possible to find the percent!” – they quickly learned the formula. Many incredulous students have come to me at grade card time to say, “Um, Ms. Yount, um, I think you made a mistake on my grade,” and I usually had! And we fixed it.

    So, while I am not the sharpest tool in the shed, I might have possibly taught some students the value of knowing how to calculate percentages and despite my not being smarter than the San Francisco city lawyers or the judges and their writers, I have managed to muddle along.

    I understand the linchpin of law is semantics.

    If a lawyer tells his client, “I never told you this would be easy,” that would be true. He never told you that. He also never told you that Uranus is the seventh planet from the Sun or how much the federal government spent to find the rectal temperature of the average hibernating bear, either.

    I concede. I never told my attorney I am smarter than the city lawyers.

    For 62 years I was a simple and happy mom, teacher, and business woman who was way too stupid to realize how awful life can become. I was, as they say, gullible.

    It would be my own late son, in fact, who would occasionally tease me over the years about being gullible. Sometimes, as I would laughingly relate some current high school hijinks to him, he would laugh and exclaim, “You DO know they just play with you all day?” And I did. And he did. And all good teachers know this. And good teachers surrender and accept this generational stand-off and they still teach because they love what they do.

    I have always loved the play of language and have been enchanted by any dance led by a skillful wordsmith until now. I may be a few volumes short of a solid law library (as the good counselor has pointed out) but I can almost read legalese.

    It was actually Stephanie, one of my co-administrators at the Facebook page we manage, who brought up – again – the latest semantic chicanery in my lawsuit as we were privately messaging each other between the UK and Missouri about what I should be writing in regard to Yount v. San Francisco.

    Stephanie – who actually is way smarter than I am and who lost one of her children to suicide – said, “Tell them it can happen to anyone.”

    “But I have!” I insisted woefully, just as I had made the same claim not two weeks prior to this on a midsummer Supermoon night on my back patio to my late son’s friend, the school psychologist in California. She is home for the whole month of July. In 2010 she visited with my late son in person only 10 days prior to his death and she didn’t see any warning signs.

    So, here it goes.

    For anyone out there remotely paying any kind of attention: Suicide can happen to anyone with few or no signs of warning. Nothing in Stephanie’s life or mine had ever prepared either of us for the suicide deaths of our children. The triggers for impulsive suicide are often only minutes or hours long. In fact, one study of suicide attempt survivors has shown that 71% had thought about killing themselves for less than an hour! These studies prove that police as the typical first responders have the greatest chance for saving lives. A good starting reference point to understanding all of this is http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/means-matter/means-matter/impulsivity/

    I have also repeatedly recommended Scott Anderson’s brilliant The Urge to End It All, the best and most accurate, succinct explanation for suicide. Although I have intimate experience with suicide, I will never be an expert.

    At the same time, I know that no one in the world has read more or thought more about suicide baiting in the last 54 months than I have. No one.

    So my contribution to suicide prevention will come from this lawsuit against the SFPD and the “compassionate” city of San Francisco that must spend millions and millions of dollars each year to defend their cops while refusing to train them!

    Granted, I am not on the intellectual or emotional level of Justice Clarence Thomas (I hope not, at least!) but like most everyone else in America, I do recognize the law for what it is. SCOTUS Justices most often decide cases by voting straight down political party lines and in the most recent Hobby Lobby decision – by gender! In 2014. The rule of law, indeed.

    So this is what I want to say about my third try for a trial. The San Francisco Police Department caused the suicide baiting death of my only child, Dylan Yount, in Hallidie Plaza, San Francisco, on February 16, 2010. SFPD officers were the de facto death agents who did encourage my son to jump to his death.

    My attorney can prove that, if we can get him inside a courtroom.

    I need to hear the cops who emceed my son’s suicide baiting death answer this question: “If your son or daughter had been desperately standing on a ledge above the Forever 21 building, would you have been happy with the SFPD performance?”

    My attorney also says he dislikes my emotion. Tell me about it! This second denial for a trial just feeds the Mother Bear inside my soul!

    My latest absolute favorite comment was crafted and presented like a beautifully packaged gift for me, as satisfying for me to read as it had been watching Clark Griswold’s rant after he discovers his boss has dissed him in Christmas Vacation. My friend said, “I had to take sobbing breaks – tears of grief and outright rage – for you, for Dylan, for everybody those (pardon my language) half-assed, piece of shit motherfuckers have harmed.”

    She closed, “Keep making noise, Mother Bear.”

    And I will.

    I hope whoever wrote the next sentence chokes: “The defendant did not owe a duty to arrest the hecklers.”

    This bullshit sentence is the most loaded and legally forensic one written so far about this lawsuit. Its implications are much more than someone breaking a law being castigated as a heckler. Our language has nouns for criminals. We have rapists and robbers, muggers, kidnappers, terrorists, murders and hijackers. There are arsonists and forgers, embezzlers and pickpockets.

    On one hand we have this law: “Everyone who deliberately aids, or advises, or encourages another to commit suicide is guilty of a felony” (CA Penal Code 401).

    On the other hand, we do not have a noun for that criminal and “heckler” is just not going to fit the bill for that guy.

    A heckler is one who harasses a speaker or a performer. The 1788 word origin of heckle meant “to question severely in a bid to find weakness.” Heckle is much less than the sum of its synonyms – bait, provoke, badger, mock and taunt. The connotations for heckling are widely accepted as trivial.

    The two disagreeable old geezers from The Muppet Show – Statler and Waldorf – always harmlessly trashing Fozzie Bear from their balcony seats and then laughing uproariously at their mutual witticisms are what comes to mind when we think of hecklers.

    Or even South Carolina Republican, Joe Wilson, yelling, “You, LIE!” at President Obama during a State of the Union Address. His breach of acceptable Congressional decorum is the essence of heckling.

    And heckling from hecklers has become rather expected in some places and not just the seedy ones either. Offensive heckling is the second language at almost all sports events – de rigueur – an open fanaticism displayed regularly at hockey games, baseball, football, soccer, even Little League!

    Yet have we all not watched uniformed policemen escorting “hecklers” away from the field of play?

    Is this not how we fend off violence and keep the beasts at bay in our society?

    So, for all you out there today in San Francisco who write for “a” Clarence Thomas (or maybe to those of you just categorically writing for yourselves), I did not make your state law and I want to know why it was not enforced.

    Those who torture chained dogs and bears by pitting them to fight are not called hecklers. Their illegal “bloodsport” is called dog baiting. Or bear baiting.

    I want the name of those who maliciously encourage suicide to be “baiters.” They are suicide baiters, and their illegal bloodsport is called suicide baiting.

    Show some decency at least.

    • I hope at the same time you are fighting for your day in court you take a little time to do for yourself and enjoy a breath of fresh air, a massage, a good dinner etc. You deserve that for yourself as this drags on and on with no end in sight. Unfortunately, Dylan is gone but his spirit lives on in you. He also would want you to have some fun too. I hope that is happening too. Love you for your energy and hope one day this terrible injustice is righted. Education is all you ever wanted and it is shameful that the SFPD can’t see that.

    • The “buffer zone” of lawyers between the SFPD and me is WIDE, madegesw. This situation puts the “public” in the position of policing the police! If God is willing, I am going to be heard. My son’s suicide baiting should at least merit some DIALOGUE. Instead, our depositions of SFPD officers tell us that what happened in Hallidie Plaza was NEVER DISCUSSED! At one point I could almost see a little bit of a normal life for myself, but I don’t now. I was 62 when Dylan died. My birthday is in October. I will be at least 67 when we get to trial. It could be as late as our getting there in his death month — February — in 2015! They plan for this to drag on. Meantime, the story won’t go away, will it? What happened on February 16, 2010, is awful, but what happened SINCE may be even worse! We are not doing anyone any good by putting off a rendezvous with accountability. You are a such a dedicated reader (and writer!). Your comments are always great. My deepest gratitude

    • well said! now about this issue of how smart you are,,, you may hail from a series of small rural towns in Missouri but you aren’t a bumpkin, or the hind portion of our state animal… you are one fine, smart, persistant woman who is on a mission and making a point and if you come across as a angry mama bear so be it… The more they resist the more talk back they are going to get from you and some of us are going to be there encouraging you… p.s. your power & strength will not diminsh if the anger gives way… the passion for justice, the love of Dylan, the persistence to make it better for others, will persist… this too we will support. Blessings!

    • You understand me perfectly. I had gotten what I wanted — the trial — so I quit publishing in April for all this to be imminently resolved in what would have been court in August. When the trial was yanked out of our reach again, I realize how stupid it was if me to do that. I cannot ignore this story, much less forget my son. What happened (and is going on right now) NEEDS to be told. I am not an expert in litigation, but my personal experience exposes the reasons many problems do exist. Thanks for the blessings.

    • Yes, we hear you Mama Bear! ROAR! The handling of this situation needs to be brought to the light, exposed & corrected. If this is SFPD’s protocol in handling what they refer to as hecklers,what the rest of us refer to as suicide baiters & scum,then the protocol needs to be changed. ASAP!
      Hecklers are usually cause no harm. They make a comedian think quick for a come back line. These ‘hecklers’ were after blood. They cheered when they got it.
      Who was suppose to defend & protect the victim? ….crickets……..SFPD? Were they not told that their duty is to serve & protect?
      What if it was their daughter on the ledge? Those ‘hecklers’ would be under the jail.
      We are with you Kathie.Stand tall.

    • I so look forward to your comments, lidine. Your validation of my thoughts, combined with your original thinking, offers me tremendous support! In my letter mailed two days after I received the official SFPD report — at 17 weeks + 2 days — I asked IF the SFPD had a standard operating procedure to implement in the case of a possible suicide jumper. Still, 54 months after Dylan’s death I do not know that answer! Many “skilled” in the legal field keep reporting to us that the police owe us NO duty to serve and protect. If that is the case, then I protest that they showed up at all — for their presence exacerbated the situation! Dylan would have been better off if they had not arrived! If they have no duty to serve and protect, for what services do they receive their pay? Exactly how do they earn the starting income between $88k and $112k? What work do they do for that? If it is arresting criminals, they did not do that. If it was protecting the public from Dylan, then I protest that. HE was the crowd’s victim. He was a man who needed immediate medical attention. They treated him less than a human. It was discriminatory! am less afraid now than ever. Deciding to take the case on to the Court of Appeals HELPED me understand this was the right decision. I am not a mind reader, so I do not know what will happen, but people did not feel right about what happened to Dylan from the beginning, just as they know that now. I really am feeling some peace right now. It will be a long 12 -18 months, but it can do this. I LAN to actually write. There has been some talk about speaking. I don’t know for certain how I can be most effective. I will do what I can.

    • “LAN” is PLAN. So sorry!

      • Margaret cone

      • August 2, 2014 at 6:00 pm
      • Reply

      Dearest Kathie, Take heart, this is a long and arduous process. You are smarter than you think and braver than you know. Patience will out. During the next year we can only hope suicide and suicide baiting will get more public attention and that will help your case. Take care of yourself, you must survive, to thrive and win.

    • Thanks, Margaret. I have always believed we would win. I still believe it.

    • All readers who have not shown solidarity with our cause, we would welcome your support at our Facebook page, Suicide Baiting Prevention at https://www.facebook.com/SuicideBaitingCrowdPrevention?ref=ts

      • Marguerite

      • August 4, 2014 at 8:55 pm
      • Reply

      I, once again Kathie, am so amazed at how well you write! The power, the emotion, the rage…the need for the San Francisco Police Department to APOLOGIZE is settling into the core of my being. We, every human being that has heard your words through your Beautiful Dylan’s death, need to stand behind you, along side you, in front of you, above you and below you. We, all of us, need to surround you and your mission with love, and with a vengeance, FIGHT for change and accountibility in the SFPD! We Need To Stand Up and Fight For LAWS that do not protect the guilty! No Police Officer in any State of our Nation is above the Law. We all need to help Kathy win this case. Please, if you’re reading this and have some ideas…please share them. Maybe, just maybe…all of us can share in the JOY OF JUSTICE for Dylan through his incredible Mom!!!

      Love, light & blessings,

      • Thank you, Marguerite, for your kind words. I believe everyone who has heard the story of Dylan’s terrible death already DOES stand beside, behind, and all around me! I can feel their strength like an empowerment, and I wear this support like armor. All of us are looking for the same thing as citizens, so the question is — how do we, the PEOPLE, insist on police accountability — always and everywhere? We see this quest for accountability everyday as it is reported in our local and national news and in our social media networks. Yount v San Francisco has already won in the court of public opinion, but nothing positive will ever come to anyone UNTIL we win in court. All of us know that when injustice happens to any one of us, it happens to us all. The litigation process is excruciatingly painful. It is also completely necessary for the growth and positive change that will surely follow. If God is willing, I am going to be heard where I can make the biggest difference — an American courtroom.

      • Nat

      • August 12, 2014 at 7:06 pm
      • Reply

      Kathy, You are the best mom that ever existed. You are amazing. While your fight goes on, I can only offer you a website that has helped encourage me as I see morality disinigrate around me. http://Www.jw.org provides interesting articles that give me hope that there is a creator who cares about Dylan and you. Secondly, that you will find justice in the future, if not through this broken system, then through promises of justice from our creator. Please let me know if you need anything. Feel free to contact me anytime at maxmalto1@gmail.com. You definitely have a friend here who cares for you. Stay strong.

    • Thank you, Nat, for your kind words and website offering. I am not sure who you are, but if you know me, then you must have known Dylan as well. What happened to him in his greatest hour of need is shameful and haunts me like no other life event. I most certainly do not intend to stand by silently, for I would lose all self-respect if I did not pursue this case to the highest possible level. If that means the California Supreme Court, I am ready. Nothing in either Dylan’s life or mine prepared either of us for suicide baiting. Even so, if you are familiar with Harrisburg, let me describe my task in terms all the homies would understand — the ball is in my court. All my fans are in the stands. I am not afraid.

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