Monday, August 11, 2014

Behavior, irresponsibility and a girl's murder

Every year there are thousands of murder victims in the United States. In some major metropolitan areas, there are hundreds every year. Nearly all of them are nameless, faceless people—particularly if they happen to be black or Latino youth caught up in gang violence. White women and small children, however, tend receive much more attention, of course. They are actually the least likely demographics to experience homicide by rate, but apparently the news media has decided they are more “popular” news items than other demographics. The reality is that even though cases like the sexual assault/murder of six-year-old Jenise Wright outside a trailer park home in Bremerton, Washington are relatively rare occurrences—or because they are—they tend to arouse media attention, in this case even the New York Daily News found time and space to cover the story.

Nevertheless, I cannot help but feel as if my stomach is being turned over by a meat grinder every time I hear about stories like this. I find it difficult to imagine how a 17-year-old “person,” and I use that word with disgust, whose DNA apparently matched that found on the girl’s person, can actually summon the psychological ingredients necessary to even contemplate the actions taken (the father is alleged to have had arrests in relation to child molestation, but he was not believed to be “involved”).  According to the psychology manuals, this behavior can fall under the category of the subset of psychopathy called “disinhibition,” which according to Wikipedia means a “disregard for social conventions, impulsivity and poor risk assessment.” Of course, crimes of this nature go far beyond mere bizarre behavior, with those psychological elements with two actions that society has determined to be the most reprehensible combined in one sordid incident impossible to reconcile with the accepted norms we all need to “trust” to survive in this world.

But there are other questions about this case that tend to give one pause. For example, the girl supposedly went to bed at 10 p.m., when she was last seen. She apparently “disappeared” unnoticed by morning, but her parents were not “alarmed” because she was allowed to “wander freely,” and assumed her needs (such as meals) were being satisfied by “friendly” neighbors. The parents explained that the six-year-old was in the habit of “checking in” every few hours or so. According to news reports, her parents only started to become “worried” until 8:30 p.m., almost 24 hours after she was last seen. Was the apparent lack of parental responsibility partly to blame? Was this then an this “accident” waiting to happen, given the right time, place and circumstance along with the presence of a sexual psychopath?

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