The Cleveland kidnapping case is one of those stories that leave you blinking and shaking your head. What was that about? Were the girls abducted for the enjoyment of the three Castro brothers? What sort of horrors did Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight endure before they finally managed to be rescued?
There’s a clinging air of bafflement about the media reports as commentators try to make sense of the bizarre details in this very disturbing case that seems to be a strange cross between Josef Fritzl , Silence of the Lambs and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, with added redneck weirdness.
What on earth were the abductors thinking, if they were thinking at all?
I don’t know a whole lot about this case and I’m not sure I want to know much more than we’ve already been told, but as a man who has a daughter, everything about it repels me. Somewhere deep inside the ancient amygdala fish-brain that has managed to survive through all these aeons after we hauled ourselves out of the swamp, there’s an impulse that says KILL. It’s not a particularly useful impulse, but nevertheless, it’s something we can’t escape from, even though most of us control it and most of the time, don’t act on it.
And yet, even though I’ve never been a violent man, that atavistic urge is still there, lurking and grunting in the half-light. In extremis I know that I’d have little difficulty ending somebody’s life if it meant saving one of my own.
Well and good, but would I boast about it? Would I brandish my new assault rifle and beat my chest?
No. I’d probably be sick for months at the thought that I had taken a human life. I don’t know if I’d ever get over it and I think the only consolation would be the fact that I had saved someone I love.
Would I kill someone in revenge for a hurt done? Only in my dreams. In my imagination, I’d kill them over and over again, but to be honest with you, if it came to the point of taking a knife and slitting their throat, I don’t think I’d be capable of it, because the act would diminish me. It would make me less than the man I thought I was.
That’s why today we have TV series like Game of Thrones. That’s why, for generations, we had Westerns as a means to sublimate our violent desires, but today, in a disturbing evolution of the fictional fantasy, people, especially in the US, seem to have bought in to the cinematic fantasy that other human beings are merely ciphers, little more than computer graphics to be zapped without compunction.
I find this worrying because it has implications for the whole human race and even though, as a father, I want to personally torture and then extirpate the people who abducted the three girls in Cleveland, I know that will never happen. To do so would be barbaric and I like to think I’m not a barbarian.
As with so many other things, I could be wrong about that.