Tag Archives: crime

There Are Things Worse Than Death

Sometimes the news gives you a story that you just can’t shake.

A woman accused of trying to suffocate her 11 month old.

Not your run of the mill child abuser, though. A loving mother who has cared for her child, born with severe physical defects that she can never hope to recover from. A devoted parent who has had to watch her child suffer her entire life, with no end in sight to the suffering.

Not just suffer, but have to be resuscitated over and over again.

To me this is the deciding factor. This baby’s body has been trying to die. It is done. But our ability to perform medical miracles keeps the poor soul alive to continue its agony.

Why can we not learn to use our skills wisely? Why have we not established a really good process for determining the situations when it is an imperative of humaneness to just let a person go when it is obvious that death would be the best thing?

I’m not talking about euthanasia here, which is what it sounds like this mother was allegedly attempting, perhaps after a mental breakdown. Although I do think there are extremely rare occasions that might call for euthanasia, (I approve of Oregon’s Right to Die Law), I think in this circumstance a more appropriate concept is Do Not Resuscitate.

From what I’ve heard it is even difficult for an old person to have their DNR instructions respected.

There are things worse than death.

Don’t get me wrong, I am all in favor of our amazing techniques to bring someone back from the brink of death. Had this baby been in a car accident, obviously any extreme measures would be most welcome to keep her alive long enough for her body to heal and regain function.

But this baby’s body is not going to heal. Her brain stem will never grow. It will never function properly, according to the doctors’ own diagnosis. And yet they perpetuate this body’s life.

People comment that it is up to God, not us, to take a body. But God HAS BEEN trying to take her body. I am not saying that our medical abilities exceed the power of God, but if you believe in prayer, then aren’t actions a very concrete expression of our will, what we wish to see happening? Are we very naively asking for a person’s life to continue, and perhaps God is “allowing” our prayer to be answered, the way God “allows” all sorts of horrible things like murder, rape, torture. “Allowing” us to exercise our free will and then deal with the consequences later.

And if found guilty, this mother will have to deal with the consequences of what she’s done, legally and otherwise. I would never attempt to condone or make excuses for her alleged actions, but I also believe that the way a person has lived counts for something. There is ample evidence that she has been a devoted mother to both this baby and her 3 year old son, including this online website that she has maintained. It appears that she herself has suffered through a situation that few of us could handle and come out the other side with our sanity intact.

I can’t help but wonder, in the event that this crime really was committed, how her community might also be held responsible: was anyone making sure she got enough sleep, enough to eat? Was anyone making sure she didn’t need some mental health care? Is the medical establishment in any way responsible for having developed the ability to diagnose permanent defects, having developed procedures for keeping humans alive when their bodies are failing, but then refusing to resolve these two aspects so that families do not get caught in a nightmare of suffering?

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Criminal Element

I am on a bit of a low due to the rash of robberies in our area.  My husband, as you may not know or remember, is a cops & courts newspaper reporter, so every local criminal event is, in some way, a personal event in our household.  

Before you say that maybe my husband shouldn’t bring his work home with him, I LIKE to be part of his life and to hear about how his day went.  And if you’d ever heard the way he tells a story, you wouldn’t want to miss a single one either.

I know robberies happen all the time everywhere, but lately they have been violent around here.  One middle aged waitress was pistol whipped by a scumbag thief trying to rob the restaurant where she was working because she claimed not to know the combo to the safe.  Obviously the s*** for brains criminal has never worked a service job in his entire worthless life or he’d KNOW that there’s no restaurant owner going to trust the lowly employees with the combo to the safe (just about the only jobs I’ve worked have been service jobs, so rest assured I am NOT insulting the employee with my sarcasm.)

Almost as repulsive as this man beating on a woman is the fact that a dishonest thieving rat is terrorizing someone trying to earn an honest living.  

So then I hear about the owner of a small country store being robbed for the third time this year, and he ends up shooting the two robbers, killing one.  I should be saddened by a death.  But it makes me want to cheer.  I feel like this store owner was standing up for all of us, sending a message that this sort of immoral insanity will not be tolerated anymore.  Additionally, there is one less criminal that will be able to wreak his havoc in our area.

I heard a comment stating that the deceased had tried to straighten out his life but due to his criminal record, no one would give him a job.  What else could he do but turn back to crime.

This softened me a little.

Is there ever a second chance?  Is there a way to turn your life around?  Would society let you do it, if you really had a change of heart?

What are we doing to ourselves that we have light sentences for the criminals and strict rules for the cops and courts so that violent offenders end up on the streets either with no punishment or after learning new tricks of their trade inside, and then there is no way for them to walk the straight and narrow even if they wanted to?  Aren’t we just setting the stage for disaster?

I have no solution to offer.  I just see it all up close and personal and there appears to be no end in sight.  Just a few days after the robbers were shot, there was a report of another armed robbery in a parking lot, but this time the victim was shot.  Perhaps, instead of being a deterrent, the injury or death of a criminal will just inspire them to shoot first?

Is there a way to encourage and facilitate the re-entry of criminals into “normal” society, or at least a way to get them to empathize with their victims?  Is this why they commit crimes in the first place, because they have no awareness of the feelings of their victims? Is there a way to determine if an individual is incapable of feeling empathy, and if so, what should be done with those people?  Should they be allowed to run loose?

It scares me to think like this.  I see Big Brother and machines hooked up to people’s brains and citizens in mortal terror of being imprisoned as a “preventative measure.”

I guess we have to value freedom and civil rights and accept whatever consequences come along for the ride.  

I just wish it didn’t always come down to physical safety vs. human rights.  Such a fundamental American conflict, and one that we might never sort out.

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Identity crisis

“All of me…
Why not take all of me?
Can’t you see?
I’m no good without you.
Take my lips…
I want to lose them!
Take my arms
I’ll never use them!”

I’ve always loved this song.  Best of all when Lily Tomlin sings it in the movie.  I like it as much as when Tony Bennett croons “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.”  I guess I’ve always enjoyed the idea of parts of me being lost to passion.

But somehow the passion of greed doesn’t enter into that fantasy.  Like, say, losing my identity to the lowest kind of white collar criminal.

My husband and I are enrolled in the local Citizen’s Police Academy, which has been quite fascinating.  Especially when you get to wander around the evidence room and peek in the prisoner toilet (don’t worry, no one was making use of it at the time.)

Our lecturer yesterday evening was in charge of the Investigations Department, and during his talk he highly recommended that everyone have identity theft insurance.  This got my drawers in a twist, but I managed to shrug it off and focus on his presentation which covered the number of violent crimes committed in our community last year and how one might go about solving them.  

FYI- if you need to bludgeon someone to death but are unable to procure yourself some gloves, use a bumpy rock as the police will be unable to lift your fingerprints off of it.

On the way home though, the thing that sprang to my mind was not the crime scene photo of a decaying corpse but my irritation at the suggestion of identity insurance.  I still cannot precisely articulate my emotional position (my intellectual position is something along the lines of: “Sigh.  What else.”) but I realize that I am getting closer to complete awareness of where I stand on this important issue.

It goes something like, “You have to be f&%#ing kidding.  I’M going to pay YOU so that I get to maintain control over the ONLY g-d thing in this world that TRULY belongs to me, during my life and beyond the grave?  I’m going to hand over wads of cash so that I get to continue being me instead of some lowlife immoral F#$% being me?”

Only I’m a lot angrier about it in private.

The idea that I would have to fight to re-establish the fact that I am me and that I have only done the things that I have really done, only bought the things I’ve bought… this conflict strikes me as fundamentally absurd.  I’m not denying that it happens, or that the threat is real.  I am sickened by the fact that we all carry on every day even though it happens, that many of us choose to submit to insurance sharks, that an authority figure in the police station would recommend that we pay to protect ourselves, INSTEAD OF TURNING THE SYSTEM UPSIDE DOWN SO THAT THERE IS JUSTICE.

Sorry, didn’t mean to yell.

I don’t have a whole lot in this world.  I have my kids, and they are the greatest thing I will ever have, but I don’t truly possess them because ultimately they are their own individual selves who will grow up to steer their own destinies.  Someday when they are big something will “steal” them from me, whether it is a spouse or a career or their own kids, and that’s how it should be.

I own some cool toys, like a computer and a van and a few shelves full of books, but I recognize that all the physical stuff is ephemeral and I have to enjoy it while I can because it could disappear at any moment, and anyway, I can’t bring it along.

All I really have is my reputation, my integrity, my identity.  How have we evolved a system in which it is possible for this basic unit of selfhood to be stolen?  And how is it that we allow it to be so inhumanly difficult for someone who has done nothing wrong to prove that they are actually the victim?  

And how can we allow people to PROFIT off of this absurd situation?

“Your goodbye left me with eyes that cry.
How can I go on, dear, without you?
You took the part that once was my heart,
So why not take all of me?”

But leave my ID alone, thanks all the same.

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