Monday, 15 February 2016

Angry with a storm

The news the other day reported that Joyce Garrard had died.  Readers outside of Alabama may not have heard of this person.  She was serving life imprisonment for causing the death of her granddaughter.  The child had lied about stealing sweets, and been made to run until she collapsed, suffering fatal health effects.

This case has stuck in my memory.  I'm a keen runner and it galls me to see the sport I love used in this way.  On the other hand, the case seems to be tragic, in the classical sense of people being destroyed by choices they did not fully understand.  Garrard had been raised in an utterly brutal manner.  It was reported that
Garrard ... grew up in a home where both her father and maternal grandmother were alcoholics and conditions were worse than "a third-world country."
[Her] family home growing up had no running water, little heat in winter, and very little provision for the children, who were left unsupervised. The family witnessed her mother stabbing her father in the neck, and the grandmother forced the children to fight each other "for her pleasure".
Children sometimes wore extra clothes to be prepared for the abuse they expected.
I'm no bleeding heart liberal.  I have no concerns with the punishment this woman received.  But I also recall the Jesuits' saying: "give me the child when he is seven and I will show you the man".  This woman clearly learned the lessons of her childhood.  She needed to be punished, but the punishment seems as futile as being angry with a storm or an earthquake.

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