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I know I make a lot of fun here about the silly trivialities of our local news, and I have every right to do that, because mostly our local news is about silly trivialities.

This is not necessarily a bad thing.  There is something very comforting about living in a place where the stuff people get worked up about is the amount of traffic being generated by the Oktoberfest festival and the lack of parking near the second run m ovie house on Main Street.

Unfortunately, this does not mean that we don’t have real crime, if not on our doorstep, but very near it.  Chesire is about an hour’s drive away, and the Cheshire home invasion made national news.  Newtown is much, much closer–and, well, there’s that.

When we get crime up here, though, it’s seldom of the Cheshire or Newtown magnitude.  It’s seldom even interesting, like the case of the New London lawyer who paid a hit man to kill her brother in law.

What we get are the kinds of things you’re all probably used to:  domestic violence cases, gang shootings in inner cities, the occasional amateur bank robbery or convenience store stick-up. 

Out in the very rural districts, we get the occasional meth lab exploding and taking the double wide with it.  I don’t know what makes the rural white poor so fatally attracted to playing with chemistry, but there it is.

All these things are serious enough, but they also happen seldom enough so that every one of them is reported. 

The relative rarity of them all does not make any of them any better, and it especially does not make the case we have this week end any better.

I’d say stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but you’ve definitely heard this one before.  So I’ll just ask you to bear with me.

The story is common enough.  She had a boyfriend and a 13 month old baby.  She had something she had to do, and she left the boyfriend to babysit with the baby. The baby was whiny and fussy.  The boyfriend got fed up.  He picked up his fist, hit the baby in the stomach, and a few hours later, the baby was dead.

You can go here, if you like


for a fairly comprehensive report on this particular case.

Oddly enough, it was exactly this kind of crime that was the first I ever heard of when we moved into this house.   

In that case, the boyfriend punched the baby so hard, he split its spleen.  He was also older than this kid–who is, in fact, a kid.

A kid whose life is, effectively, over.

I think I’d feel a lot better about what is inevitably about to happen in this case if I thought this kid was malicious, that he was violent and meanspirited and close to psychopathic.

There is, however, nothing to indicate anything of the kind.  He seems to be just a kid, the kind of kid who could show up in one of my classes.  What happened was not an act of deliberate malice, but a momentary loss of self control. It was probably one of a history of momentary losses of self control.

What’s going to happen now is that the apocalypse is going to rain down on this kid’s head.  He’s already admitted the act.  We’re all waiting for the courts to decide for sure and finally what the charge will be that he will have to plead to.

In the meantime, of course, a baby is dead, her mother is hysterical and the authorities are not wrong that there have to be consequences for that kind of thing.  We don’t excuse people, especially people who are technically adults, when their momentary losses of self control result in real damage.

What’s more, we can talk all we want to about homes without fathers and young men without role models leading to responsibile manhood, but people with a history of momentary losses of self control have existed throughout the millennia. 

I don’t really have a “take” on this.  It just bothers me, and it will  probably go on bothering me. 

And it’s Sunday.

Written by janeh

September 15th, 2013 at 9:40 am

Posted in Uncategorized

5 Responses to 'Ruined'

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  1. I know the feeling. We all do. Sayers wrote about how pitiful the arrested and prosecuted murderer looked. But we don’t keep courts and police around to protect the beautiful, the wealthy and the powerful–they do that quite well themselves–but poor people and drunks, old women and babies. If we don’t look after them, who are we?

    Ending a human life has to have serious consequences, and “I just have no impulse control” ranks as a defense a bit below “I was drunk at the time.” I’m sorry the kid’s life will be much more limited–but I’m even sorrier about a little baby who won’t have one.

    Lots of things happen regularly and will go on happening. Doesn’t mean we can ignore them.


    15 Sep 13 at 2:49 pm

  2. Sometimes I think that the only good that can come out of a case like this one is that the public reprisal – however pointless it is as an attempt to punish the repentant perpetrator or bring back the dead baby – might possibly make the next frustrated babysitter exercise a little bit more self-control.

    But it won’t do that in all such cases.

    A Canadian woman went public recently over the death of her infant some years back. She forgot to drop the baby off and left it in her car on a hot day, and it died. The authorities decided that this wasn’t a criminal act, so she wasn’t charged. The response to her was condemnatory. Understandingly so, of course, but it’s another case in which a ordinary human failing had fatal results.


    15 Sep 13 at 4:45 pm

  3. I always have mixed feelings about these things too. I haven’t seen any relevant research which is probably in there somewhere, but it seems to me that these sorts of crimes have become far more prevalent since it became common over the last 25 years or so, in Oz at least and, if Anthony Daniels is correct, in the UK too, for people to have serial relationships. Some young women down here have several children before they turn 18, all with different fathers. In one well known case, a woman had 9 children with 7 different fathers. Needless to say the “men” involved are not notably domesticated. Few ever stay long enough to witness the birth of their progeny, and their successors rarely bond with other men’s children.

    While extreme violence as in the case mentioned by Jane is relatively rare, the most common problems here seem to be caused by frustrated parents, usually fathers or blow-in boyfriends shaking babies. Still, there are enough of the other kind to make one wonder whether the human race is regressing to bestiality when, as with lions, a new dominant male kills the off-spring of his predecessors.


    15 Sep 13 at 9:19 pm

  4. God knows I’ve never been fond of the kind of small, tight-knit community, often with large, close families, in which everyone knows everyone else’s business and there are strict rules about who does what, but in such places impatient young men would not have been assigned to care for a fretful baby. Even younger girls probably were, but they’d have done so after having been cared for themselves by somewhat older girls, and having initially been supervised by slightly older children and adult women. They’d have known what to expect and what the appropriate reaction was, and been trained out of dangerous impulsivity. Most of the time, that is. No system is perfect, but ours is in some ways less protective of infants, particularly infants born into families in disarray and not connected to a nosy larger community. So many very young women from such a background are woefully unprepared for child care, too. They sometimes just want someone to love them, and someone they can dote on, and are completely unprepared for the level of care needed – and the lack of love one feels from (and sometimes towards) a child screaming with colic.


    16 Sep 13 at 6:20 am

  5. This popped up in today’s paper: http://tinyurl.com/neftgvo

    I remember when it was discovered. Poor little mites.


    16 Sep 13 at 8:26 pm

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