Uptick of Family Disputes and Violence on Thanksgiving

Law enforcement has noted that there is an uptick of calls regarding family disputes or violence between family members during the holiday season, starting with Thanksgiving. There are things that can be done to help avoid sticky situations and keep the peace during the upcoming family festivities.

Picture perfect

Photo by: Andrea Goh

Photo by: Andrea Goh

Thanksgiving Day is a time when many people gather together with their relatives to enjoy a magnificent feast. They may envision laughing while good memories are shared and made with everyone eating delicious food and sipping on bubbly. Luckily, this is the reality for some families. Others however, dread the upcoming holiday knowing that Great Aunt Beatrice is probably going to say something snarky about a cousin’s questionable relationship while after four to five glasses of champagne, Uncle Joe usually loses his ability to filter the words that exit his mouth. Unfortunately, during Thanksgiving or other family get-togethers, it is not rare to have family disputes arise that can quickly escalate into violence.

It begins…

Photo by: Paul Townsend

Photo by: Paul Townsend

While the meal itself can be a joyous part of Thanksgiving, the time leading up to dinner time can be stressful for those responsible for feeding a small army. This stress becomes evident as people head out shopping for the ingredients needed to complete their glorious spread. Grocery stores are usually jam-packed leading up to Thanksgiving with hundreds of other people with not only the same idea, but often with a shopping list similar to those around them. When the pumpkin pies run out or stuffing mix is nowhere to be found, some may start to lose their cool. Others might manage to maintain their composure until they make it home where their stress can lead to agitation and tension between family members.

Wanted (and unwanted) house guests

Family Disputes

Photo by: Corey Balazowich

If hotels have no vacancy or family members want to save money on lodging, they may be invited (or invite themselves) to stay with family members in the area they are visiting. When multiple family members get crammed under one roof, differences of opinions are to be expected. Some arguments may arise due to bedrooms and bathrooms being reluctantly shared; too many know it all cooks in the kitchen; or family members who are not on good terms with each other being forced to rub shoulders more than desired. Any of these or other uncomfortable circumstances can cause already delicate situations to escalate. Sometimes family disputes quickly fizzle out, other times they simmer only to explode later on into physical confrontations.

Prepare and avoid family disputes

Everyone knows the holidays can be stressful and that every member of the family is likely to be in attendance at family gatherings, whether or not they are entirely welcome. With this foresight in mind, it might be wise to prepare for uncomfortable situations and avoid things that can cause disputes to spiral into violence.

Photo by: tinaxduzgen

Photo by: tinaxduzgen

Some suggestions to help limit intense arguments and calls to law enforcement include:

• Avoid hot button topics. If hot button topics such as religion or politics are liable to spark heated debates that can turn physical, make it a rule to avoid these while stuck together at a table.

• Seating chart. Recommend to the host a seating chart that will keep certain people apart who are more likely to argue.

• Limit embarrassing or unpleasant storytelling. If stories from the past aren’t enjoyable for everyone, leave them behind and interject immediately if these reminiscences begin to surface. This is easier for the host to do, as they should have a say in what goes on in their home.

Photo by: jenny downing

Photo by: jenny downing

• Keep the drinking to a minimum. Excessive alcohol consumption has a way of turning a simple argument into an all-out fist fight.

• Get out of there. If a family dinner turns hostile, it may be time to leave. If things do turn into physical confrontations, it is better not to be an involved party when law enforcement gets called in.

• Be a peacemaker. Often it can take a single person to help lighten the mood when things begin to go sour. Be thankful and courteous; patient and understanding. Set the tone and others will hopefully follow suit.

Results of Ballot Initiatives that May Surprise You

The ballots have been cast and the voters have decided; here are some initiatives from around the nation with results that may surprise you.

Photo by: Kelly Minars

Photo by: Kelly Minars

Legalization of marijuana

Some feel the legalization of marijuana is an issue that should’ve been resolved on a national level long ago. As it stands however, marijuana laws differ by state.

Marijuana Initiatives

Photo by: Chuck Coker

• Before Tuesday’s polls, medical marijuana was legal in 18 states; that number is currently 22. Now residents of Arkansas, Florida, Montana, and North Dakota who are suffering from medical conditions such as epilepsy, glaucoma, and chronic pain will now be able to use medical marijuana that includes the psychoactive ingredient THC to help treat their symptoms.

• For those who wish to have the plant for leisure use: California, Nevada, and Massachusetts voters have joined with those in other states including Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington (and Washington D.C.) by voting in majority of initiatives that legalize the recreational use of marijuana. Maine could join that list, but currently is 50/50 while they wait for the 2% that haven’t reported yet. 52% of Arizona voters chose to stick with medical marijuana only while Utah didn’t even have marijuana on the ballot; the beehive state currently allows limited medical marijuana only along with 14 other states.

Death penalty

Capital punishment continues to be a sensitive issue. Many believe that those offenders who are found guilty of the most heinous of crimes should be removed from existence while others don’t believe taking a life is ever okay. Three states had initiatives on the ballot regarding the death penalty:

Photo by: Global Panorama

Photo by: Global Panorama

• California voters chose to not only keep the death penalty, but to hasten the time it takes for executions to be carried out.

• Residents in Oklahoma chose to protect the death penalty by amending the state constitution and giving lawmakers the option to choose other methods of execution if needed.

• The people of Nebraska chose to bring back the death penalty after their state legislature voted to abolish it just last year. Nebraska rejoins 30 other states that currently support the death penalty.

• The death penalty was not on the ballot for Utah where it is legal and usually carried out by lethal injection. The firing squad is another option however, with this method being used last in June of 2010 for the capital punishment of Ronnie Gardner.

Gun laws

With the countless incidents around the country where innocent people have lost their lives at the hands of crazed individuals wielding guns, some states chose to add initiatives to the ballots which toughen laws regarding gun control.

Photo by: frankieleon

Photo by: frankieleon

• 63% of California residents voted “yes” on proposition 63 which would require background checks on individuals purchasing any ammo and outlaw the possession of large capacity magazines.

• Residents in Washington State voted to allow judges the right to limit a person’s access to firearms temporarily if a family member or roommate of said person states they are displaying signs of behavioral or mental instability which may lead to a greater chance of them hurting someone including themselves.

• By a very slim margin, Nevada voters chose to require background checks for all sales of firearms.

• Maine was the only state with initiatives regarding gun laws on the ballot that chose not to toughen those laws. 52% of Maine voters chose to allow sales of guns between two parties, even if neither one is a licensed dealer.

• Utah is one of the states with more lenient gun laws and it will likely stay that way a while as nothing was included on the 2016 ballot. Currently Utah does not require background checks for gun purchases, has Castle Doctrine and Stand Your Ground laws, as well as allows open carry without a permit as long as firearms are not loaded.

Other noteworthy initiatives

With hundreds of initiatives on the ballots nationwide, there were a few that caught the attention of residents and media nationwide:

Ballot Initiatives

Photo by: michael_swan

• Minimum wage increase. Arizona, Colorado, Maine, and Washington all had initiatives to increase the minimum wage with Arizona and Washington also including paid sick leave for employees. South Dakota tried to decrease the minimum wage for employees under the age of 18 years old but that initiative was highly rejected.

• Assisted suicide. Colorado joined California, Montana, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington by voting “yes” to allow terminally ill patients of sound mind the right to end their lives by taking lethal drugs prescribed to them by a physician.

• Condoms for porn stars. 54% of California residents voted “no” to requiring actors in porn films to wear condoms during sex scenes. Perhaps the other parts to Proposition 60 that required film producers to obtain a health license and pay for numerous medical necessities of their paid actors is what drove voters to not pass the initiative.

For more information on the initiatives and poll results for the state of Utah, go to electionresults.utah.gov .

Flying under the Influence in Utah

A pilot from Utah was recently arrested for flying under the influence (FUI?) after he attempted to fly a commercial passenger plane with blood alcohol content over the legal flying limit.

A tipsy pilot

Flying Under the Influence

Photo by: Cory W. Watts

38 year old Russel Duszak from Salt Lake City was arrested for flying under the influence after airport personnel detected a strong odor of alcohol from Duszak nearly 30 minutes prior to his flight from South Dakota to Utah. Authorities did not state the exact blood alcohol content of Duszak, only affirming that it was over the .04 limit for pilots.

Flying under the influence in Utah

Utah Code 72-10-50 states: “A person may not operate or be in actual physical control of an aircraft within this state if the person:
(i) has sufficient alcohol in his body that a subsequent chemical test shows that the person has a blood or breath alcohol concentration of .04 grams or greater at the time of the test;
(ii) is under the influence of alcohol, any drug, or the combined influence of alcohol and any drug to a degree that renders the person incapable of safely operating an aircraft; or
(iii) has a blood or breath alcohol concentration of .04 grams or greater at the time of operation or actual physical control.”
Any person convicted of flying under the influence is guilty of a class B misdemeanor or class A misdemeanor if someone was injured during the drunken flight.

In control of the plane

Some may argue that Duszak cannot be arrested for flying under the influence as he was technically not flying the plane, seeing how passengers hadn’t even boarded yet. This may be true however when it comes to DUI’s, a driver does not need to be driving a vehicle intoxicated to get a DUI- they only need to be in control of the vehicle. 30 minutes prior to takeoff, there was a high likelihood that Duszak was in the cockpit, in control of the plane. Additionally, federal regulations prohibit any pilot from consuming alcohol eight hours before a flight. So either way he would be facing charges whether state, federal, or both.