09 September 2008

Raising the bar of horror

I've just had the "pleasure" of reading this story about a Dayton, Ohio woman sentenced to life in prison for...wait for it...microwaving her one-month-old baby daughter to death. I believe for all the countless times i've sarcastically used the phrase i've just had the pleasure of..., this is the most sarcastic occurrence to date.

I'm still reeling. Her baby. In a microwave. And she, Ms. China Arnold, and her lawyers are still pleading her innocence. Yet from what i understand from that lone article i've read, she was in her home when it happened (the article claims that Ms. Arnold and her boyfriend Terrell Talley were quarreling). She was in the same room when it happened. From what i understand, she was there.

Oh, the horror. The desensitization bar has just been raised. No, i take that back. It'll take a lot more before i dismiss occurrences like that as mundane. I mean, i can understand heat-of-the-moment crimes of passion (and anyone who says they can't is a liar). I can understand (but not condone) murder with your bare hands or with the nearest instrument unfortunately within reach during that moment. Anything where an idea to execute violence has to be realized ("I've got a gun in the other room...I'll go and get it, come back and use it.") is already very suspect as far as i'm concerned. As they say, "your mileage may vary."

But the very idea, however convoluted the path of your arrival to the idea, of putting your one-month-old baby daughter in a microwave oven to cook her alive... How does a person even think of doing something like that, if not only in a nightmare? How does a person even consider putting their infant child in a microwave oven, much less turning the oven on? Much less closing the oven door?

This is the first i'm hearing of this ghastly story (the crime occurred in 2005) so i'm not entirely informed on the trial and its history. But nowhere in the article does it mention Mr. Terrell's hand in it. Either Ms. Arnold actually placed/tossed/threw the infant in the microwave oven and switched it on and Terrell did nothing, or a similar situation happened with the roles reversed. I'd even give Arnold the benefit of the doubt, that she couldn't remove her child from danger because Terrell impeded her. But alas, it is Arnold who has been sentenced and not Terrell. So...did Terrell even try to save his disputed daughter? No, i meant to say, did Terrell even try to save a human being from being internally boiled alive? Did Arnold impede his doing so? Or was that just not his problem?

I wonder: how long does it take to microwave to death a one-month-old infant? Seriously. 60 seconds? 90? I imagine (but do not know nor do i care to investigate the matter) at 30 seconds there is already irreparable damage. Maybe even less? Is that not enough time to react to this abominable situation and at least try to stop the microwave oven?

I'm currently reading Jared Diamond's Collapse (highly recommended) and am at the chapter regarding the recent Rwandan and Burundi genocides. Thousands of people massacred by guns and/or machetes. Thousands. We've also all heard the horror stories about (usually) teenage mothers leaving their newborns in garbage dumpsters, not always alive. Both of these unfortunately human stories are acts of violent desperation, from one end of the spectrum to the other.

But to put one's own infant daughter in a microwave oven and cook her alive...?

I'm done for today. This story has obviously shaken me.

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