Helter Stupid
July 16, 2008, 5:52 am
Filed under: Chicago, Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

Today’s news got under my skin in a way that seldom happens to a jaded old broad such as myself, and my heart goes out to Ericka Barnes, mother of Mya Lyons.  I’m not going to hash out the details of this crime because I don’t want to cry again, so I’ll just say that a nine-year-old was brutally attacked and murdered and that this is obviously every mother’s nightmare.

Because it’s the only way I know to cope with things, I Googled it and came upon this brief but fascinating discussion on Websleuths, an online Crime Sleuthing Community.  One forum member actually points out a discrepancy between stories as to what time the body was found, although perhaps that will be accounted for later.  Not much consolation, but it seems a fair amount of evidence was left behind and that the some version of justice will be done.  I feel like Chicagoans will come together in trying to help this family deal with the life-shattering tragedy that has been dealt to them, and I wish that felt like more of a consolation.

In today’s other piece of stupid, senseless news, the California Board of Parole today denied Susan Atkins a compassionate release from prison, despite her apparent ability to do so much as snap her fingers.  Atkins, who has served nearly 40 years, is dying of brain cancer and has been given roughly three months to live.  Her crimes were unthinkable, but her life is over.  I’ve lived with cancer that was not one tenth of what she’s going through, and I can safely tell you that her prison is her body and will be so until she passes on.  Given the tremendous public outcry against releasing Atkins, I’m not surprised by the decision.  Problem is, Atkins will be forever be seen as Charlie Manson’s witchiest henchwoman:

Susan Atkins

rather than the woman she is today.  That image has been burned into the minds of the public and I’m sure all the more so into the victims of the Tate-LaBianca murders, more deeply and permanently than the “X” marks the Manson girls carved on their foreheads.  I know I’ll sure never forget it, for what it’s worth I do believe she did become the woman that appears in this 2002 interview with Diane Sawyer.Susan Atkins 2002

What has surprised me most about the whole sad episode is the commendable actions of Vincent Bugliosi, who had the class to put in a good word for Atkins and suggested the unthinkable notion that the State had the capability to show more mercy to Atkins than she had to her victims, and that this in fact might not be a bad thing to do.   I haven’t thought about this song for years, but for sure it’s today’s theme song.  I had completely forgotten it was written by James Rado for Hair, but I’m hearing Chuck Negron singing for Three Dog Night.

How can people be so heartless
How can people be so cruel
Easy to be hard
Easy to be cold

My heart goes out to Susan Atkins tonight as well, but I wish that felt like more of a consolation.  Another twist of the knife is of no use to anyone, just another act of stupid, senseless violence when a better option was available.  What a waste.

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