for what feels like weeks now, the first of the "cheshire home invasion" trials is underway. day after day, WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT labels are springing up like fruit flies all over the front pages of newspapers and on tv and computer screens. the testimony is so graphic, the pictures released so horrifying, a lot of people i know are refusing to look or even follow the story with more than glancing interest.
the cheshire home invasion is a horrible story. that it could happen here, in the mind-numbing land of steady habits, is even more horrible. that the state's wasting good money trying to get the death penalty when all you'd need are ten minutes, the petit family men and a few baseball bats strikes me as not quite as horrible but almost.
but what saddens and scares me even more are the people who are taking their children to see this trial. i can't imagine the lesson these parents are hoping to instill in their children. the justice system grinds on in all its majesty every day of the week. if you want to show your kids what the law really looks like, go down to your local courthouse. mostly its tedious and a lot of details and people sweat a lot so they smell bad. that's what the legal system is really like so i don't buy the rationale that this is a good introduction to Law in America.
don't get me wrong. i think you have to raise children who understand that the boogeyman is all too real and that little girls CAN die in awful ways. but i think these parents are doing something truly cruel to their children and i hope they're only doing it because they don't realize the damage they're inflicting. i dont believe in censorship and i think if you want to - god help you - encourage your kids to follow the trial in all its gory glory, go right ahead. but its not really a trial - everyone knows the murderers would've pled guilty if the prosecution wasn't so set on the death sentence. so it isn't really a true example of the american justice system - the facts of the case aren't at issue; the only issue is whether or not the defendants "deserve" to die. this isn't a pivotal matter being decided or a watershed case in state law; this is our legal system at its most sensationalized, at its tawdriest, if you will. a family's pain is being dragged into public viewing - must we all look?
and there's a difference, too, i think, in recognizing that every human being has the instinct to revenge a wrong - which is why i happen to think it would be okay in this case to give doctor pettit's family a few baseball bats, put them in a locked room with the two defendants for about ten minutes and dont ask any questions later about what happens in the room. however, abrogating that instinct and assigning that responsibility to the State is another question all together. just because there are people who do things that make others want to kill them - even for justifiable reasons - doesn't mean i think its okay for the State to put people to death. how many of the children who have attended this trial are going to be able to see THAT distinction, after viewing and hearing such graphic evidence first hand - EVER?
it seems to me fairly clear that parents who would inflict such experiences on their kids are engendering only one outcome, whether they know it or not: to scare the hell out of their children, to sear into their souls not only the idea of the boogeyman, but the memory of one of his faces.
damaged human beings are what got us to this horror in the first place.
and furthermore, the war will end. blessed be.