Friday, May 15, 2015

The Simpsons and the Boston Bombings



Oliver cobbled together all of his giftcards and money received for his birthday and bought himself the new Simpsons' Kwik-E-Mart Lego set. He put the whole dang thing together yesterday and this morning, and I have to say it's enchanting. I'm not a Simpsons' watcher, have never really gotten into it, but that's mainly because I've never gotten into cartoons, even as a kid. I do appreciate the humor that I see every now and then, and I still remember the episode when Marge and Homer go to marriage camp and the counselor declares that "it's all his fault" when Homer fails to show up at a therapy session. The other episode I remember is when Homer finds himself on death row and then realizes that he's actually part of a reality show. When I looked it up this morning on Wikipedia, I saw that the title of that episode was The Frying Game, and shortly afterward, I saw on the news that the Russian guy who bombed the Boston Marathon got the death sentence for his crimes. While Oliver screwed together a few more tzotchkes on his set, I told him this news, and his response was Awesome! My stomach curdled, to tell you the truth, even as I continued to read about the verdict, including the words of Sister Helen Prejean who evidently spoke in Tsarnaev's defense. Here's the thing: the institutionalized killing of another human being is nothing but revenge. Let's call it like it is. Strapping a human being to a bed and then injecting him with poison in the dead of night while people watch is more vile than a pathetic excuse of a young man packing a backpack full of nails and dropping it at the finish line of a marathon, blowing off the limbs of innocent people and killing three people. It's more vile because it's a collective effort by an institution and carried out under the guise of justice. It makes me sick, and it's not a reality show.

23 comments:

  1. I agree. It's just revenge. It would make way more sense to keep him in prison and study him -- figure out WHY so that we can work towards preventing this kind of horrific tragedy.

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    1. Jo -- That's such an interesting idea. That man will probably be on death row for many years anyway, and when he dies, he'll be a martyr and hero to his fucked-up people.

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  2. Yes, it is revenge and it is vile. It makes me feel lonely when I hear people praise the death penalty. I wonder if I'm the only one who feels that way, and I got on your blog today thinking you would probably make me feel less lonely about it. thank you.

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    1. Thanks, Emily P. Have you ever read Sister Helen Prejean's book "Dead Man Walking?" It's pretty powerful stuff. The movie is decent as well. They will both make you feel more secure in your opposition and less lonely.

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    2. I had seen the movie, but not read the book! I requested it.
      ps - almost finished with your book, too.

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  3. You will find plenty who will disagree with you.
    I am not one of them.
    If killing is wrong, it is wrong. That includes fucking war.
    Killing is wrong.

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    1. Killing begets killing and on and on --

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  4. It's really stunning how you wove this together, reflecting the way life happens, the sacred (Oliver and his patient labor) and the profane (the bomber and the death penalty) cross crossing your consciousness in a weird amalgam, and somehow you picked it apart, and made powerful sense of it. I agree with you about the death penalty.

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    1. Thanks, Angella. It was really jarring to hear Oliver exult in the sentence as he worked so innocently and diligently on his Legos. I know that I'll have the discussion with him at some point --

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  5. Yes, killing is wrong, no matter what form. An eye for an eye doesn't work.

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    1. I try to understand the logic of it because I know the place where it's coming is not all ill-intentioned, but I just can't wrap my head around institutionalized killing being anything other than barbaric.

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    2. I try to understand the logic of it because I know the place where it's coming is not all ill-intentioned, but I just can't wrap my head around institutionalized killing being anything other than barbaric.

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  6. Here I am in Boston and have had to listen to this business all.day.long. today and everyday for the past two months. I am not in favour of the death penalty, generally speaking, but I cannot agree that it is more vile than what this young man did, including placing a bomb at the foot of a child. I was pleased to see that the jurors were in no way celebrating the decision. Rather, they showed a respectful attitude toward the awful verdict that came down. They were not boastful: quite the opposite. That in the face of the sharks, otherwise known as the press, and their idiotic questions. There is room for ambivalence. All in all, a very sad day.

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    1. I've thought of you both in Boston and can imagine the news press. I disagree that there's room for ambivalence regarding the death penalty. It's a construct, meant for revenge, and has nothing to do with justice. And I'll stick to my feeling that it's more vile because it's sanctified by a "majority" and couched in language that anesthetizes what it is: state-sanctioned murder. While I am sympathetic to a jury having to even "judge" on this matter, I am not sure one can have a "respectful attitude" toward deciding to murder someone as revenge. it would only take one person to deliver a different sentence. That person would do far more to command my respect than those who decided on revenge.

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    2. Then we shall agree to disagree.

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    3. Definitely -- with great respect.

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  7. I'm not one to support the death penalty. I believe it is revenge and judgement and sanctimony. It reveals the too often hypocritical and inhumane aspects that lurk within our so called "civil society". There's nothing civilized about it. And that doesn't even touch the subject of war...ughh.
    I do think this young man and most people who commit heinous crimes, even worse than this one, are better punished with a life in prison. Which in most cases is a living hell.
    But I'm not sure about true monsters like hitler and his immediate cohorts. They really shouldn't have been allowed to exist. But I also believe that heaven and hell are right here. So maybe the hell they would have encountered here would have been a better punishment. Because the death penalty seems to allow someone to simply disappear into oblivion. What irony.

    Anywho.... Oliver is so awesome. He's just one of the most creative kids I've ever seen. I love that he wanted that and put it all together so fast. He is still able to have those kid fantasies where they are lost in another world of imagination. It makes me smile!

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    1. Thanks, Liv, for your thoughtful comment. I really appreciate your statement that the death penalty "seems to allow someone to simply disappear into oblivion." It makes them, as well, something of a martyr to whatever delusional cause they might have had which is ironic as well. I am most persuaded by the writings of Sister Helen Prejean when it comes to either denouncing or accepting the death penalty as a form of justice. I also found it interesting that the parents of the little boy killed in Boston were evidently opposed to that sentence. I'm probably presumptuous when I declare my utter opposition to it, particularly as I've never lost a loved one in such a violent way. I did sit on a criminal jury once for an assault case in New York City, and I can say quite emphatically that sitting in judgement and declaring someone guilty is something that I will never do again.

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  8. I had this discussion with my younger son last week in Providence--close enough to Boston. Our feeling was/is that killing is killing no matter what. So glad to hear such eloquent confirmation here.

    Best,
    Bonnie

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  9. This is a horrifying decision which goes against the beliefs of the majority of Massachusetts residents who do not believe in the death penalty under any circumstances. The trial -- its judge, prosecution, defense and jury were subject to the rules dictated by the federal government. This necessarily resulted in a "death qualified jury" -- meaning the jurors selected had to be open to imposing the death penalty if the evidence so persuaded them. Thus, the jury was not representative of the citizens of Boston or the Commonwealth. A sad, sad day. Will this country ever pause and question the morality of a federal legal system that institutionalizes eye-for-an-eye "justice"? ...sign me, Heartsick in Boston

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  10. Agreed; a planned institutionalized killing is barbaric and serves no purpose. "Vengeance is a lazy form of grief."

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  11. I am so completely against the death penalty and it always surprises me when folks whom I coexist with in my liberal-Seattle-bubble look at me like I'm insane when I say that. How can we not be honest enough with ourselves to see that this is all about revenge? As Dr. Dan Siegel says, "discipline is about learning, and learning can't take place when emotions are high." If what we truly wanted from any of our prison or justice systems was learning and the betterment of us all, we wouldn't be doing any of the things we currently do with sentencing or prisons because they are all completely counterintuitive to any sort of "justice."

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