The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Creeptastic News of the Day

Posted on | September 29, 2011 | 22 Comments

Sitting here in my home office with the cable TV news playing in the background, I occasionally overhear summaries of stories that have nothing to do with politics, but which are nonetheless interesting as news.

The case of Utah mother Susan Powell’s disappearance has been much-discussed today. This would be just another one of those “Perils of Pauline”-type stories — the attractive white female as crime victim — were it not for the bizarre circumstances revealed by the investigation:

Josh’s father Steve was arrested over the weekend after police found evidence that he shot pictures and video of women and children in various states of undress through several acts of voyeurism.
Josh’s wife Susan Cox Powell has been missing since December 6, 2009, when she was last seen in her West Valley City, Utah home.
Susan’s husband Josh took the couple’s two young sons and moved in with his father Steve a month after Susan’s disappearance.
West Valley City Police served a search warrant at Steve Powell’s Puyallup home in August, and gathered evidence that suggests Steve was engaged in several acts of voyeurism in which he video taped or photographed women and children without their knowledge. Among the video collected by investigators was video of Susan that was shot without her knowledge.
Police say some of the video and photos were of neighbor women and girls.

Ick. The missing woman’s father-in-law was engaged in voyeurism and pornography, including child pornography, and secretly recorded video of Susan Powell. And in case that’s not creepy enough for you, take a look at this angle of the story:

Details emerged Wednesday about Steve Powell’s past in a 1992 divorce case from Spokane County. Case documents reviewed by The Associated Press show Steve Powell’s ex-wife accused him of keeping pornography, damaging his children’s respect for marriage and inappropriately discussing sex issues with the kids.
Terri Powell wrote in the divorce papers that Steve Powell talked of teaching his children about birth control methods when they were as young as 9-years-old. Terri’s sister, Becky Mulcahy, wrote in the documents that Steve Powell told her that he had shown his youngest children books about sexual intercourse when they were 6- and 8-years-old.
Terri Powell said her husband viewed people as animals and that they should be able to have sex with anyone at any time. She recalled a conversation in which Josh referred to a girl his brother, Johnny, liked. “All she is good for is her body, right Dad?” Terri recalled Josh saying. “Yeah, that’s right,” Steve Powell replied, according to the declaration.
Terri Powell also said Steve Powell kept hardcore pornography in the home and that he visited pornography shops.
Jennifer Graves, Josh Powell’s sister, said in an interview with The Associated Press that she broke off ties with her father in part because of his problems with sex and pornography. She recalled going on a business trip with her father when she was about 11-years-old and that he viewed a pornographic video while she was with him.
“Looking back, I wonder if he was willing to do that with a 10-12 year girl — his daughter — in the room, what else would he be willing to do?” she said.


Whatever happened to Susan Powell, it appears she unwittingly married into a family badly damaged by Steve Powell, who “viewed people as animals” — hello, Darwinism! — and otherwise shared the perspective on human sexuality promoted by the disciples of Alfred Kinsey.

Perhaps “mental health professionals” will have some comment on this case. And if Steve Powell beats the rap, maybe Columbia University will hire him. Otherwise, he might become an anti-Palin blogger.

Of course, if you see this strange case as relevant to larger trends — a high-profile crime as the tip of a massive iceberg of perversion deeply embedded in our hyper-sexualized culture — then you’re probably some kind of right-wing Christian fundamentalist theocrat, and are therefore automatically discredited as a social critic.

When only secular progressive arguments are deemed admissible, when perspectives of faith and tradition are pre-emptively excluded from public discourse, we should not be surprised when the ghastly results show up on the cable TV news.

Yet those of us excluded from participation in the cultural debate must ask, if only among ourselves, how much of the human misery chronicled in the 24/7 news cycle is the product of a society that has lost sight of those once well-known moral maxims beginning, “Thou shalt not …”?

But this has no relevance to politics, of course.

UPDATE: Thanks to Pagan Temple in the comments, discovering that Susan Powell’s father-in-law Steve Powell was a singer/songwriter, using the pseudonym “Steve Chantrey,” whose Web site includes this interesting item:

[A]s an 18-year-old college student I used a campus talent show as a platform for unveiling a song I had written protesting the Vietnam War and the draft.

Also interesting is that the personal narrative on Steve Powell’s “about” page begins by talking about the break-up of his parents’ marriage. So Steve’s parents were divorced, then Steve was divorced, and now Steve’s daughter-in-law is missing and presumed dead. Something about those “Thou shalt nots” is perhaps relevant to understanding this three-generation legacy of dysfunction, now turned deadly.

UPDATE II: An August story from the Salt Lake Tribune provides background on Steve Powell’s obsession with his daughter-in-law. Some readers may have been following this story a while, and I apologize for re-hashing what is, to you, old news. But I hadn’t been paying attention until they started featuring it in the top-of-the-hour headline updates today on Fox.


22 Responses to “Creeptastic News of the Day”

  1. Guy
    September 29th, 2011 @ 6:10 pm

    Do you not contribute to that sexualized culture with your rule 5 posts?  I like your blogging, but you shouldn’t overlook your own contribution to the debasing of western civilization.

  2. ThePaganTemple
    September 29th, 2011 @ 7:00 pm

    Steve Powell was also an entertainer, a kind of lounge singer, or
    something like that, and recorded a love song that he wrote, reputedly
    for Susan Powell. If you looked around for it you can probably find it
    somewhere on the net.

  3. ThePaganTemple
    September 29th, 2011 @ 7:00 pm

    Are you kidding, or are you really that big of an idiot?

  4. tomaig
    September 29th, 2011 @ 7:22 pm

    To add to the creep factor, he recently accused this missing woman – his daughter-in-law- of coming on to him….said she was “very sexual” and that she allegedly asked him to “feel how smooth my thighs are” after she shaved her legs.

    The daughter-in-law who went was last seen by this creep’s son, who decided to take his very young sons camping in the mountains…in the middle of the night…during a snowstorm.   

  5. ThePaganTemple
    September 29th, 2011 @ 7:29 pm

    Here we go, here’s the song I was talking about, from his website, under his stage name Steve Chantrey. It has the printed lyrics and a small embedded recording of the song. There are other songs on the website, and pics, etc. Reportedly, some of the other songs were written for Susan as well. And this was his daughter-in-law, so yeah I guess you could say this was a man who did not respect any boundaries. 

  6. Adjoran
    September 29th, 2011 @ 7:58 pm

    Cops just hate coincidences.

    Of course, roughly 99.99% of the time, they turn out not to be actual “coincidences.”  In those cases they often end up as “evidence.”

  7. Anonymous
    September 29th, 2011 @ 7:59 pm

    People who can’t see the difference between (a) an occasional bit of cheesecake, and (b) the advocacy of perversion, are arguably beyond hope of persuasion. Some people are by nature humorless.

  8. Guy
    September 29th, 2011 @ 8:10 pm

    Well, that’s a well honed argument PT.  Since you aren’t able to do anything better than an ad hominem, I’ll spell it out for you.

    Stacy makes the closing point that the exclusion of Judeo-Christian ethics has led to exactly this type of crime being committed and thus appearing in our national news.  When society as a whole turns its’ back on the ethical standards derived from a belief in a Creator we act like “animals”.  Just as the subject of the article asserted.

    My point is that “Rule 5 Sunday” certainly violates that “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbors wife” commandment.  If we are to lament the state of our national culture, perhaps we should not add or propagate that which   chisels away at the foundations.

    As a born again Christian, I’m not telling you what you can or cannot look at.  I’m simply pointing out that if you are a Christian, then you should try to live up to the beliefs that you hold.  

    If you believe that our Nations culture is degraded because of the lack of religious informed ethics, then one ought to exam one’s own part in contributing to that culture.

  9. Anonymous
    September 29th, 2011 @ 8:17 pm

    ….teaching his children about birth control methods when they were as
    young as 9-years-old. Terri’s sister, Becky Mulcahy, wrote in the
    documents that Steve Powell told her that he had shown his youngest
    children books about sexual intercourse when they were 6- and 8-years-old………

    Isn’t this the role the government wants to have in our public schools?

  10. Guy
    September 29th, 2011 @ 8:22 pm

    I believe that is called the starting gate for the slippery slope… 

    Believe me to be without humor if you like… I’m not.  It’s just that you either have the courage of your convictions, or you don’t.  You seem to have the courage of your political convictions.  Opposing the RHINO lobby of the GOP.  

    I guess, I just don’t see how you can fail to note that the only difference between a bit of cheescake and perversion is one of scale.  Particularly when YOU brought in the Christianity angle.  Can you honestly say that you believe that perversion is anathema to a Christian but that a bit of cheesecake is something that Jesus Christs teachings would approve of?

    I’m just interested in how you square the two… since you are the one that brought up the religious angle.

  11. ThePaganTemple
    September 29th, 2011 @ 8:36 pm

    I respect your beliefs, so I shouldn’t have said what I said. It just seemed a little over the top to compare Rule Five to this story, which is about a man who not only allegedly engaged in child pornography and vouyerism against innocent, unsuspecting women without their consent, but who may have pursued an unrequited relationship with his own daughter-in-law, and may even have played a role in her murder and disappearance.

    I get your point that some things most of us see as relatively trivial and harmless might in s0me cases lead to some people not being able to respect any kind of boundaries.

    For the most part, I think those people would be hopeless regardless of the culture, it would just manifest maybe in a different way, or maybe in the same way. There are entire cultures in the world where discouragement and even illegality of sex and pornography have lead to abuses of its own.

  12. Joe
    September 29th, 2011 @ 8:55 pm

    Pagan, he is that big of an idiot. 

  13. Joe
    September 29th, 2011 @ 8:56 pm

    Guy, are you a serious Christian or are you some leftist trying to argue like a pharasee? 

    How about a little disclosure brother!

  14. Joe
    September 29th, 2011 @ 8:59 pm

    Guy, if you are a serious Christian, I apologize.  You are right, I would not engage in Rule 5 discussions in front of my kids and wife.  And I suspect Jesus would frown on it.  

    That said, if we are talking specs and motes.  Rule 5 is the spect and depravity on the part of certain leftists is the mote. 

  15. Guy
    September 29th, 2011 @ 9:11 pm

    Joe, I am a Christian. And of course, I am not without my faults. I do understand that they are degrees of difference between Rule 5 and the actions of the perp that the police arrested.

    That being said, the point to me was that we are seeing these things precisely because we as a Nation have turned our back on our Christian heritage. If that’s true (and I agree that it is) I think it’s important that we look at our own involvement in the destruction of our National culture.

    Rule 5 is a small and inconsequential part of it I suppose, but you start draining the swamp one cup at a time. If we are all bailing, that swap will empty sooner.

    Bemoaning the state of our great Nation and it’s lack of Christian ethics while chipping away at that foundation at the same time is hypocritical.

    Lefties are always portraying Christians as just that, oi it behooves us to not give them any more ammunition. I expect liberals to not live up to their stated ideals or to act hypocritical. We should be better than that.

    All this aside, I do enjoy this blog and Stacy’s writings and analysis.

  16. t-dahlgren
    September 29th, 2011 @ 9:20 pm

    Slippery slopes can also slide in the other direction.   Or do you not see that following your logic lies the path to the chador? 

    Reason, as in all things, but especially Christianity, applies here.

  17. Guy
    September 29th, 2011 @ 9:45 pm

    Why “especially Christianity”?

  18. Be Careful What You Wish For : The Other McCain
    September 29th, 2011 @ 7:28 pm

    […] imposing Ms. Dworkin’s image and ideas on you is because “Guy,” a commenter on an earlier post, accused us of having contributed to “the debasing of western civilization” through our […]

  19. The Real Guy
    September 30th, 2011 @ 12:49 am

    Sheesh, “this” Guy, finds the above Guy to no longer be a credit to “Those of Us with the forename of Guy”.  We will be removing him from the ledger as soon as possible.

    Thank you for listening, we now return you to the comments, already in progress.

  20. Anonymous
    September 30th, 2011 @ 1:05 am

    Admit it, you’re trying to get me fired, aren’t you?

  21. Anonymous
    September 30th, 2011 @ 1:06 am

    Yeah, but that’s the public schools! Nothing bad ever happens there, right? Right? [/sarc]

  22. ThePaganTemple
    September 30th, 2011 @ 2:49 am

    I thought it was interesting in his About page how he related the story of how his grandparents told him and his siblings while en route to their new home, that they “will never see your mother again”. I think he was something like eight or nine at the time. Some years previously, his father had abandoned him and his mother, and then they got back together. One big happy family, dysfunctionally speaking. I haven’t delved into it enough yet to ascertain whether he ever saw his mother again, or what may or may not have happened, but it seemed eerie reading that in context to present events.