Thursday, August 18, 2005

BTK All the Way

BTK UPDATE: This evening, the CNN online poll is asking if readers think Dennis Rader should be protected from other inmates? At nearly midnight CDT, I voted yes (of course! ALL inmates should be protected!). But 88% of all respondents so far had voted no. This is so discouraging. What DOES this say about "the American character"? It seems almost nine out of ten Americans want the same sort of brutal vengance Rader wanted, the ancient an eye for an eye, a sadistic slaughter for a sadistic slaughter. Don't they see the connection? Voyeurs who disparage a narcissisist. When Americans should be sad, they turn mad, even scary.

All inmates, no matter their crime, deserve the constitution protection of NO cruel or unusual punishment. The American people, at a ratio approaching nine to one, seem to not understand or agree with that constitutional protection.

I have rarely been as disheartened myself about this nation not by the existence of a few deeply disturbed killers like Rader but by the millions who so easily suggest savagery as a solution to any grievance.

...


The heart of a sociopath is selfishness, and in the case of Dennis Rader, a cold-blooded and brutal narcissism. And apparently, the same could be said of some grandstanding district attorneys. CNN not taking a commercial break for over three hours straight, what a compelling afternoon of real-life Law and Order.

Mr. Rader had said viewers should bring their tissues to his closing statement, but we needed was a window into his brand of evil. A short while earlier, several of the victims' family members had been eloquent, others dipping over the precipice into verbal violence, teetering on the edge of vengeful terror themselves.

But for most, it all remained a mystery. Outside dreams, imagination doesn't seem to run rampant in the human species. Rader was an extreme, and he was so atypical he wasn't even a typical serial killer. But his imagination wasn't particularly outrageous. It seems a lot of people have hobbies that include realistic and even sadistic aspects of his homicidal rituals. Maybe that's part of the fascination for some - that Rader is NOT so different from some aspects of some people.

I don't have sexual or sadistic fantasies, but I have certainly learned enough about how humans are built to understand how and why some do. And as I say, for some of your neighbors, some B and some T make for a memorable Saturday night. It's just that your neighbors don't often go for the K part.

But back to Mr. Rader's closing remarks. What did we expect? What did we want? A new man? A rehabilitated man? A man with the rosey glow of sorrow and eloquent statements of remorse? We didn't get that, maybe just the barest hint with a few tears. But Rader's remarks were the laborious corrections of a maniacal micromanager. By spending most of his time thanking those who'd helped him in the "175 or so days" since his arrest and not by dwelling on the 31 years of damage he'd caused before that arrest, he proved himself BTK All the Way.

And all afternoon, the media were Bound, the audience was Terrified (or at least Horrified), and then the DA bounded out of the courthouse gaily implying that she hoped Rader would be bound, tortured and perhaps even Killed in prison, the sooner the better. She spoke to the camera in such a way as to prove those right who'd said she was grandstanding the whole case, hoping to ride the coattails of the case to fame - and the very media attention victims' family, witnesses, prosecutors, defenders and defendant seemed to both feed on and deeply disdain.

What a Catch-22. Whether serial murderer, DA or talking head on TV, all seemed to want to gripe about the presence of the press - and to see themselves on television.

No one should assume that we're all hungering for the death penalty. No reporter should use adjectives even in such a case as this. But definitely a dose of human nature. Perhaps monstrous but not, literally, a monster. Perhaps a seriously, dangerously, selfishly sick human being but a human being. Perhaps peculiar, "perverted" and "pathetic" but not "not a person."

It doesn't seem that hate and vengance are the best lessons to get from this. But now that's a lot of what we're seeing, media-driven vengance, some o' that good ol' Kansas plainspoken spite.

Perhaps this too is just as human, a rather vile catharsis, the therapeutic winding down of pent up rage, with a jumbled mix of sentiment and anger. And there seems to be public outrage that so much was televised. But then didn't those who are complaining watch. Seems they could turn off anything they don't want to see. What they really don't want is the awareness that human life can be as harsh and heinous as this.

Oh, we're all so, so human, some so humane, some so much less.

"It's just a shame."

6 Comments:

At 9/19/2005 9:46 AM, Blogger louise said...

Vengeance is often diguised as justice. We are right in killing the killer, because we are teaching him a lesson or vanquishing evil. Therefore we don't have to recognize that we have become what we say that we hate. It's that childish argument that, "If you do it to me I'll do it back to you." youre a killer and I'm not therefore, even though we are spectators and have no reason to interfere, through voyerism, we exalt ourselves.

 
At 9/19/2005 10:08 AM, Blogger louise shelby said...

Vengeace is often disguised as justce. We are right in killing the killer, because we are teaching him a lesson or vanquishing evil. Therefore we don't have to recognize that we have become what we say that we hate. It's that childish argument that, "if you do it to me i'll do it back to you." Your'e a killer and I'm not therefore even though we are spectators and have no reason to interfere through voyerism, we exalt ourselves by calling for the death of the killer.

 
At 9/19/2005 11:37 PM, Blogger Lawrence said...

By the end of your comment, Louise, I'm not quite clear what side you're on. I'm not sure we are teaching the right (or best) lessons with an eye for an eye. I think we need for civilization to counteract vengeance and brutality, not prolong or participate - but indeed teach and live a different, more humane way.

 
At 9/20/2005 12:27 PM, Blogger louise shelby said...

sorry about the double message. What I'm saying is that in our quest for this percieved justice that we persue with a vengeance, we forget to be compassionate adults. We teach our chilren not to hit back, but we do the same thing and call it justice. We twist the word to veil our own inability to be better than those that we hate. Certainly we can learn more from these people by keeping them alive as an example of how people go wrong.In the beginning people were terrified of Charles Manson, now he's just a burned out insane old man.

 
At 9/20/2005 12:34 PM, Blogger louise shelby said...

(sorry about the double message)What I'm saying is that chanting for the death penalty is as psycotic as the person who committed the murders. Justice is often used as a polite excuse for revenge. Like the children say, "If you do that to me, I'll do it back to you." If these people are kept alive, we can use them as examples of deviant behaivior. Look at Charles Manson. In the beginning he was terrifying because he could control other people and he was insane. Now, he's just a worn out crazy man. Had we put him to death, he would have continued to be an icon of evil. Now, he's just crazy.

 
At 11/07/2005 8:36 AM, Blogger TheDevilIsInTheDetails said...

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