Beyond Good and Evil

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
“And if you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you”-Nietzsche “Beyond Good and Evil.”

Submitted: May 24, 2013

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Submitted: May 24, 2013

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A two-year-old girl who had been placed in foster care was beaten to death by the 12-year-old occupant of the home.  This very brief news story was pulled from The Washington Post by the online paper called The Upper Marlboro Patch (Pompi, 2012).  The details are sketchy and I would assume this is because it was a breaking story and not much information was available yet.  That is what I want to assume and I’m hoping it’s not the alternative:  kids who kill kids is becoming so commonplace, the story doesn’t rate much more then this mention.

I’ve always been fascinated by true crime, not by the act but by the reasons behind it and all the circumstances surrounding it.  On Kentucky’s Death Row, the average age at the time murder was committed is 31.13 years (Larson, 2012).  Cristian Fernandez is awaiting trial for the murder of his two-year-old brother and is looking at possible life without parole.  He was barely twelve when arrested (Higgins, 2012).  And, sadly, Cristian is becoming the norm instead of the exception, as evidenced by the current story of the young man listed above.

Whenever I read a story of a child charged with murder, I’m always reminded of Eric Smith.  Back in 1993, Eric Smith was thirteen years old.  Smith lured Derrick Robie, four years old, to a remote area where he dropped rocks on the younger boy’s head, strangled him to death then sodomized him with a stick.  The cause of death was blunt force trauma followed by asphyxia (Leung, 2009).  I watched bits and pieces of this trial on Court TV and what was so amazing—and disturbing—was Eric Smith’s reaction to everything around him.  He was very uninvolved and unemotional about it all.  He has never given a reason for murdering Derrick Robie.

How does this happen?  How does a child this young murder another child?  And where has he learned the ability to appear so unaffected by it all?  There are many reasons given as to why a child might reach a point of no return and take another’s life.  Broken home, sexual abuse, excessive bullying in school, poor parenting or non-parenting, all of these can contribute to abnormal behavior.  The extreme popularity of violent video games in recent years has also been cited as a catalyst for violence and for blurring the lines between reality and fantasy. 

 

Kids are also developing drug habits and drinking at a much younger age as well.  I “get” all of that.  The part that I don’t understand is the statement made by prosecuting attorney, John Tunney, at Eric Smith’s trial: “Eric continued to deal with Derrick’s body because he wanted to.  Because he chose to.  And, most frighteningly, because he enjoyed it (Leung, 2009).” And that is where my fascination begins, because I truly cannot wrap my mind around such a concept. Murderers, of any age, are people I’ve always viewed as taking a step across a line into darkness, alienating themselves from their own peers, and becoming something that they themselves do not understand. 

 

They inhabit their own world, viewing the people around them as expendable, depending upon their mood.  To be driven to kill by rage, or fear, or mental disease is an abomination unto itself but to prolong those moments for the sheer joy of it all is something far beyond our comprehension and one which will never truly be within our grasp, in spite of all the research being done, and psychological tests given. These people walk a path unknown to the majority of us. They laugh when we cry and cry when we laugh and experience joy and happiness in moments none of us ever want to be made aware of in our lifetime. And some of these people are only twelve years old.

 

Eric Smith has been behind bars now for more than ten years and John Tunney has said, “My fear of Eric Smith is not diminished (Leung, 2009).”

 

 

“And if you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you”-Nietzsche “Beyond Good and Evil.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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