ethel’s words

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Who murders infants and children is a question answered on page A-7 of The Salt Lake Tribune of November 18, 2007.

Any answer is chilling; the question is chilling. The study is helpful, but under-played. I would like to add another [complicit] killer of children: the entire society.

The final sentence of Tribune’s article gives a clue: the crime “second degree felony child abuse homicide.” “Second degree” is forgiving; “child abuse” waters down “homicide”.

Why is murder of an infant--which is usually torture-murder--not the same crime as other homicides?

Reason #1: A little study will reveal that the seriousness of a homicide is determined not by the method of killing--“not quite intended”, “halfway justifiable”, “brutal perpetual abuse”, or “cold-blooded and plotted”, but by “who” is the victim and, lesserly, the social status of the killer.

We can only guess at the extent and cruelty of child torture that remains secret due to the absence of death. Almost all murders of infants and children are perpetrated by care-givers--parents, step-parents, foster parents, unrelated residents in the abode--such as “boyfriends”.

The first hazard for children is the general societal disparagement (usually offered as “humor”) of children and teens. (It is the same kind of belittling that made wife-abuse acceptable.)

Second hazard is the cruelty-tolerant, opaquely insensitive majority of state legislators.

Third hazard: observers afraid to report, including family member witnesses. This is certainly a legitimate fear, and the only remedy is likely to assault civil liberties. (If there is suspected drug use, civil liberties are quashed.)

Fourth hazard: Women who favor their paramour over their children.

Fifth hazard: Courts that see persons, not their crimes, and that evaluate with extreme cultural and religious prejudice.

Sixth hazard: Media reporting that minimizes reports of torture of children while headlining Abu Graib.

Every apparent or suspected child murder should have front page coverage, equal to that of any adult. (So-called “protection” of minor’s identities is only a shield for kids “from good homes”.)

When convicted, a killer or abuser of children should have news exposure equal to that of bank robbers.

Punishment (torture small or large) is not an aberration of parenting. Even torture is usually planned. When a lawsuit increased disapproval of child battering in Utah, parents came up with a new method. They thought that punishment by water (this was not isolated cases) would leave no marks or other evidence. One torturer learned that forced ingestion of water can kill.

At a checkout counter in a Salt Lake City supermarket, I observed two grim-looking adults (male and female) buying handcuffs. A little boy was with them. Without thought, I exclaimed, “Handcuffs. How awful!” The checker said, “For cops and robbers?” But the little boy,s face was blanched with fear. I was stunned that such a hazardous item could be sold to any nutty customer.

The crime that gets attention in Utah is smoking cigarettes. You can count on everybody--psychopath to civil libertarian--to go after that one, sans investigation, thought, or evaluation. Give that some thought.

Ethel C. Hale