I feel so strongly about this one that I’m cross posting it on my blog sites… it’s a bit of a big deal.
This week, as she mentions, the internet exploded with opinions, largely aggressive, about the suicide of Ariel Castro, the Cleveland kidnaper. There’s a huge amount of anger, indignation and aggression, peppered here and there with expressions of relief and even some righteous preaching. Everyone has an opinion, as is their right, and most (let’s face it, like me) have taken to the internet to express it.
As Wendy point out, the victims have chosen to remain silent. In all honesty I see that as a sane, well advised and WISE decision. I doubt very much getting caught up in the endless back and forth of this would be useful to them in any way. I can only imagine how far those women must still have to go to get to a place we would consider to be normal, stable, and safe. I have a huge amount of respect for them for making that choice, and I hope very much that they can find some comfort and peace, and have some beautiful amazing experiences from here on out. God knows they deserve it.
I have issues with twitter as a communications medium for this kind of discussion. Any kind of discussion that requires caveat’s, if a) then b)’s, I feel X but actually think Y should happen, etc. 140 characters is good for what you had for breakfast. Where you are. The fun thing you’re doing. It’s great for the Paparazzi to be able to find you if you’re a d-list star looking for some attention. As a blogger it’s pretty good for linking up a punch line, and a link to some content (like this, for example) in which a deeper discussion is had. How can you really have a discourse about the ending of a man’s life, your position on it, societies appropriate response to it, and where we should go from here, in 140 character bites? That doesn’t really seem doable to me. In general, I doubt very many people are going to fall into the ‘poor Ariel, he should have been better looked after’ camp. I don’t approve of prisoners being left in positions where they can take their own lives, that’s terrible and the prison system should certainly be looking at how this happened and what can be done to prevent it, but… let’s be honest… I wouldn’t be going to the funeral even if they handed out chocolate pavlova.
Crimes of this nature are terrifying. He didn’t just kill people, that would have been horror enough… he took them. Held them, in his home, a normal house on a normal street, for years. Right under societies nose. That is terrifying! Horror movie, cue the music, the monster is right behind you terrifying! In a way, he made society a victim, not comparable with what he did to those three women obviously, but he affected a community profoundly, and our society as a whole noticeably. How did we miss this? How did we allow this to happen to these women? Shouldn’t we have seen? Shouldn’t we have suspected? If only, if only, if only… the fear, if you let it, could become paralyzing, but not nearly so paralyzing as the guilt.
From that perspective it’s only natural that everyone has an opinion, has very real feelings about what should happen next. That people should crave some kind of resolution, something that will restore to us the power he stole. For some, that’s now impossible. He was never out of control. He did what he wanted, behaved as he saw fit, he hurt people, tortured them, he did it right under our noses and then he decided how this story would end. I understand all these things, that deep seated need to wrest back the power, to prove that at least in the end, the monster can be vanquished and we’ll do it our way. Not this time ladies and gentlemen, and I’m sorry about that. It sticks going down, it’s unsatisfying and in many ways it means that as a group we’re going to have to come up with other ways to end this story. To find a resolution that makes the streets feel safe again… who knows, maybe it’s better that way? Maybe in the end, forming neighborhood watches, tightening community bonds, checking on each other, making sure your neighbors are OK… maybe that’s going to be better in the long run? Who knows.
I’ve talked before about turning villains into rock stars, and how the concept of it disgusts me, so at the end here I’d like to quote myself (I know, how daring) in a FB convo with Wendy this morning;
…in the end that mad man’s worth, his entire contribution to the history of humanity should be only in that he served as a test for the system, we use these lapses to close the holes. To better protect our citizens from these kinds of monsters. To redouble our efforts to make this kind of thing not only inconceivable, but impossible… he doesn’t need a name for that.