Thursday, October 19, 2006

Despair is the Only Response

There are days when the only response to the headlines is despair and confusion. Take the story of a sexual assault on a developmentally disabled man:

The 21-year-old victim was hospitalized at Brookhaven Memorial Hospital Medical Center, and two Shirley teens, ages 17 and 19, were charged with first-degree aggravated sexual abuse, police said.

The attackers followed the victim into a bathroom at the AMF Shirley Lanes on the Green, off William Floyd Parkway, police said.

While one attacker held down the victim, the other forced the plumbing snake, which is used to unclog drains, into the worker’s rectum and spun it several times, causing him severe pain, internal injury and bleeding, according to a police news release, which said the worker was “sadistically assaulted.”

Where the hell does that ever sound like a good idea to 17 and 19 year old boys? Such a cruel, vicious thing to do to someone. What kind of sentence is appropriate? How do you punish people for something so vile?

Consider the kind of broken minds that would even concoct the crime because, whatever the punishment is, these two young animals (they certainly don’t deserve to be called men and probably never will) will almost certainly be back in civilization again some day. When their time is up, they’ll be released back on a world that can barely grasp the enormity of this crime much less understand how to “rehabilitate” the minds of the people who would commit the crime.

There is a certain way of thinking that refuses to blame the criminals and insists that something in their upbringing must have twisted them and that, somehow, they aren’t entirely to blame for their actions. I won’t argue that point--it’s a foolish and irrelevant argument. We can mull root causes all we want and hope that something like this never happens again, but it doesn’t change the fact that these two need to be dealt with. I don’t care where the blame goes, I care that these animals are removed so far from the rest of us that they can no longer act out in a way that hurts us.

The truth is that whether you want to blame them or not, the enormity and severity of the crime isn’t just in the action; it’s in the allowing ourselves to realize that the massively warped minds that would do this aren’t constrained by anything approximating a normal, civilized human response to the humanity in others. Now, imagine yourself ever finding a way to trust these two in your daily life as an employee or fellow worker. Or perhaps as a father and husband.

That natural repulsion that we feel when we consider one of these two being a caretaker for a child is nature’s way of letting us know just how far we should trust these two. Sometimes people step so far outside the bounds of our laws and customs that they simply can’t ever be trusted to be put back in with the rest of us. This seems to be one of those times.

Update: Kindly updated, and expanded upon, at MTPolitics.

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