We live in an age in which a focus is upon holding accountable those who unfairly treat or bully others. But what of those whose actions bring about the silence of their victims, yet are considered to be the victims themselves?
Two recent, nationally known events took place which are indicative of our state of cultural decline.
Stephanie Neiman’s life ended in a manner so horrific, it’s difficult to comprehend. The paralyzing terror which invaded her last moments on June 3, 1999 make the stomach churn. Her life was too brief, too violently snuffed out, and has now been given second billing to her killer’s scheduled end. Stephanie was one of three victims. Her captors “…beat the victims, raped the other woman, then took all three outside of town. That’s where Neiman was shot twice and buried alive as she gasped for air. The 19-year-old’s body had been buried so shallowly that one reserve deputy later noted that her toes were sticking out of the ground.”
Convicted killer Clayton Lockett was scheduled to pay for Stephanie’s death with his life on April 29. The cocktail of three drugs injected into his veins spurred on an end ultimately brought about by a massive heart attack. The execution, described from then on as “botched” and “failed”, has been a major source of discussion and debate. The execution scheduled to follow Lockett’s was cancelled, and the confessed killer’s painful end questioned.
A Slate article, commenting on Oklahoma governor Mary Fallin’s refusal to stay the execution remarked:
“It was a horrifying display—a cruel and unusual execution that wouldn’t have happened without Fallin’s intervention. But rather than take responsibility for the mistake, the Oklahoma governor has lashed out, attacking critics for ignoring Lockett’s crimes and making this an issue of tribal loyalty, not competence.”
The unborn child growing in the womb of Emily Letts existed less than three months and became glossed over in place of Ms. Letts’ “brave” story sharing. The baby’s death by abortion was documented in a less than 3 1/2 minute YouTube video as the almost mother shared how she was not ready to be a parent. Her confession of inability to raise a life did not stop her from reacting in wonder at its very existence.
In the video, Emily said:
“I feel in awe of the fact that I can make a baby. I can make a life. I knew what I was going to do was right, because it was right for me and no one else.”
Emily Letts is a mid-20s abortion counselor. The filming of her first trimester abortion was most surely spurred on by her job, and the desire to justify to herself what she had been telling other women. She found herself on the opposite side of the story when discovering she herself was pregnant. I watched the short video, but had to skip over the actual moments when I knew a life was being snuffed out by selfishness. The video is supposed to be a positive one, with a smiling Emily and an almost “pep-talk-yourself-through-the-procedure” feel. In a column in Cosmopolitan, Ms. Letts admits: “I didn’t feel bad. I do feel a little irresponsible and embarrassed about not using birth control. I mean, Emily, wake up! What are you doing?”
The story of Lockett and Letts is not that they are the victims, but they’re the ones who’ve victimized. It comes down to choice. Both took the life of another in a premature, violent way. Both chose their destination and voluntarily consented to the end result. Some in society reeled when observing the “unfair” reality of these choices.
Because the pain suffered by Lockett made some uncomfortable, it was therefore declared wrong. Because Letts said her video was meant to show the abortion procedure wasn’t that bad, society shrugged off any negative feelings and declared it a positive.
When those in society viewed these events, they weren’t shaking their heads at the reality of the horror. Instead, they were reacting to the “horror” of responsibility. With the actual victims long gone or never seen, the aggressors were allowed to take on new roles.
These roles gained misplaced compassion and anger when it should not have.
In the same Cosmopolitan column where she shares her story, Emily Letts also says:
“Our society breeds this guilt. We inhale it from all directions.”
We do inhale something from all directions in society, but it isn’t guilt. It is a recoiling at responsibility.
It is a disgust at consequence, instead of the actions, which precipitate reality. This irresponsibility courses through culture, defines the current age, and seeks to soften the self-inflicted blows of life. What should be lessons instead become moments to deflect the fault elsewhere.
In these two cases, a murder victim and unborn baby are the least mourned.
Their existence gone forever, and lessons unlearned.