Saturday, March 06, 2010


Like many families in our community, mine was deeply affected by the Chelsea King case. Only my older son knew her personally, because he participates in two of the same activities that she did at their high school (cross country and orchestra). But it still feels like losing someone for whom we were responsible. I guess i also felt a personal connection because she was killed while running along trails that i've run dozens of times. There is a special kinship among runners whether you are acquainted or not. I was frustrated that i could not help in the search on these trails, since at the time i could still only walk for short distances with a cane. I'm also sad that i can't go out and run there again, to reclaim them in some sense.

I feel the same way as most people about the murderer in this case (whose name i won't dignify by writing). I want him to die. Not after some protracted legal process during which he gets more and more publicity until he transforms from scumbag loser into "notorious". I want to put a bullet in his brain, dump him in the landfill, and forget about him. This case might end up changing the laws regarding sex offenders, but that should be credited to the inspiration of Chelsea and not the evil of the criminal.

As a non-religious person the concept of evil is sometimes difficult for me. For the religious, the existence of an agent of evil is a necessity to reconcile the preponderance of evil behavior with the presence of an omnipotent and benevolent God ("hell must exist for heaven to have any value", to crib from a favorite author). I do not know if this culprit was in control of his impulses and chose to be evil, or was compelled to do evil things. I don't know if he was abused as a child, or if he lacks some crucial part of his brain that endows most of us with empathy. I also do not care. The point at which sympathy for him could be useful has long since passed. The damage that he has done to the world is out of proportion to any abstract notion i or anyone else might have about the sanctity of life. This is evil, simple as that. Whether you believe that this human being is a demon who needs to be sent back to hell, or a deeply dysfunctional machine that needs to be switched off, there should be no debate that he should be removed from our midst.

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