I have been pretty disgusted with a news story that came out recently here in Chicago. "Allegedly," a woman killed her 5-year-old daughter by punching her in the face and beating her head against a wall, and then promptly gave birth to a baby boy, her eighth child.

Investigators have said that the girl was routinely tortured by the mother; she had cigarette burns on her skin, ligature marks on her ankles from being tied in a closet when the mother felt like leaving the home, burn marks on her back from scalding water and/or oil, black eyes from being punched in the face--a regular occurence, apparently--a broken nose, and marks that investigators believe were made when the girl was beaten with a cord upon her abdomen and legs.

To make matters worse, the other six children were encouraged to beat the girl--something a Cook County public guardian calls "a classic example of an abuse phenomenon where only one child is targeted by parents, but the others pay a terrible price....All of these kids, to an extent, they were abused, essentially raised in a climate of violence, taught violence....From my perspective, all of these kids are in the same boat." One of the girl's siblings explained: "Everyone hit Melanie because she touched our things."

I said it was disgusting, didn't I? It gets worse. The six surviving children were ordered to clean up the house before police arrived. When the police arrived and surveyed the scene, the mother pointed to one of her other daughters and announced, "She did it."

To be quite honest, I have been more disturbed by this story than I have been disturbed by anything I can remember for some time. Part of it could be explained by the fact that I'm about to become a parent myself. Lately, it has been hard for me to even see fictionalized accounts of children in peril.

The whole sorry scene is disgusting enough due to the gory details, but what's also disgusting is the fact that this waste of flesh upon which the word "mother" is wasted is only twenty-nine years old. Yet she had so many children that she popped an eighth out near about the same time she was murdering one of her remaining seven. Here I am about to turn 31, and I'm just getting around to welcoming my first offspring into the world. We want to have more, but it's a safe bet it will be a good two or three years before we start trying for offspring #2. You hear about so many people in the world who want so desperately to be parents but cannot for whatever reason, who have so much love to give to a child, and then there's this disgusting waste of life to make the whole thing even more tragic.

I believe myself to be pretty liberal politically, to the point that I identify with politically liberal stances that I would not choose for myself--for instance, I am pro-choice, but I think that abortion is horrible. I am also against the death penalty, but stories like this make it hard for me to stay true to that belief.

I think that the death penalty is a wasteful, ineffective, morally indefensible anachronism. One of my rationalizations is that it does not seem to be an effective deterrent, nor an appropriate penalty for the often horrendous crimes for which it is enforced. I believe that spending the remainder of one's natural life locked in prison, forced to while away day after day in institutionalized repetition, while people living often just yards away are able to live peaceful, law-abiding lives is far worse a punishment than being humanely put to sleep.

Having this position may make me out to be some sort of forward-thinking, humane person. I think it's probably more to do with my thinking the death penalty, if it is to be an effective punishment, should be less humane. If trading death for death is to be eye-for-an-eye and tooth-for-a-tooth, let it truly be
eye-for-an-eye and tooth-for-a-tooth.

It probably makes me a horrible person for suggesting such a thing, but I think that the above serves as a perfect case for such biblical punishment.

After hearing about all of the terrible things this "mother" did to her own child, does it not seem appropriate to wish the exact same damage visited upon her own worthless person? Who would cry for humanity at such a scenario, save for this wicked person's own mother, who in doing so would demonstrate far more motherly humanity than this other "mother" visited upon her child during her bitter, brief lifetime?

Proposing the invention of this kind of institutionalized retribution, it almost goes without saying, would institutionalize brutality on scale dwarfing the brutality currently at work in our own system of capital punishment. But it goes a long way toward suggesting an appropriate punishment for this worthless person, at least in my mind. So consider this: collect a detailed account of the torture and abuse suffered by that poor, defenseless child, and there you would have a schedule of horror ready to inflict upon this vile waste of carbon for the last five years of her worthless life.

Brutal? Inhumane? I think you're right. But again, consider what she'll be facing if she does in fact get the death penalty, and tell me you don't think my proposal fits the crime
far better.

In lieu of that Pol Pot-esque scenario ever seeing daylight in this country, the only solace left someone as disgusted by this story as I am is the old folk tale of the hatred other prison inmates feel for those prisoners who are convicted and jailed for abusing children. According to news accounts, this might already be taking place. "
[H]er lawyer suggested [the "mother"] is in danger in jail....[She] has been shouted at and given threatening looks by inmates in the Maywood lockup where she has been held since her arrest." One wonders if the prisoners read newspapers or watch the evening news, or even read blogs.

The death penalty, I argue, can never be morally justified, just as a moral society would never endorse the vengeful punishment that I wish would be visited upon this deserving piece of scum. Therefore, a moral society should abolish the death penalty. Let the evil scum of the Earth rot in prison, a place with its own sense of morality and punishment unknown to those who never cross its gates.