This year The New York Times has been writing up every murder in the 40th Precinct of the South Bronx, one of the most murderful chunks of the city. Here’s the latest. I devoured all the preceding installments about three weeks ago. I love this true crime lens applied to victims (or criminals!) who otherwise might not even receive an obituary. Look to the left-hand column for the other dead. Plus, if reactions across the internet are any indication, it’s pissing off conservatrolls that folks living on the fringe are receiving compassionate treatment.
What do we do with criminals criming through Munchausen syndrome by proxy? Our understanding of human Evil with a capital E is that it’s the most extreme aberration from the “common sense” of human good. When mental illness is stigmatized, you end up with a sick young woman believing wholeheartedly in the futility of her boyfriend’s depression and seeking a silver lining. (“I can write a college essay about this~!”) Everyone’s hurt when we sentence criminals to punishment over rehabilitation. Prisons should be highly-controlled schools for “How To Be Good.”
It’s wrong that I’m sympathetic enough to write about this (but also it’s a fascinating, dark, contemporary, insightful story) while I don’t muster up the same emotion for thieves, rapists, killers. But maybe it’ll be in mind next time I’m confronted with “senseless” crime.
I just don’t think it’s wise to posture like this when, barring much more common drawn-out mental illness like I’m suggesting Carter suffered from, psychotic breaks can happen to anyone, any time. No testimony to your own sanity will protect you if it happens. And hopefully they won’t demand a live cremation for you, but I wouldn’t count on it yet. (After posting I realized I didn’t feature any of the comments from people wishing she could suffer the death penalty, but trust me: they’re out there en masse.)