November 10, 2005

Always look on the bright side of life.

Chai Soua Vang, sentenced to life without parole for murdering six persons:
He called Tuesday the happiest day of his life, saying he would no longer have to deal with child support and mortgage payments.

33 comments:

Bruce Hayden said...

I love the quote: "He called Tuesday the happiest day of his life, saying he would no longer have to deal with child support and mortgage payments."

Bruce Hayden said...

Sorry. I used exactly the same quote as Ann did. Comes from not seeing the original article when I posted (yes, I know there is an option for that, but I almost never use it).

Troy said...

Zen and the Art of Avoiding Being Punked in Prison

Goesh said...

- always the practical fellow, this Mr. Vang. I wonder if he enjoys the taste of venison too?

Ann Althouse said...

Mary: Thanks. I didn't realize one of the victims was a woman. I was just trying to avoid saying murdering "six hunters," which most of the reports say. Murdering hunters isn't a special crime.

Anyway, as a usage matter, it should be "murdering six persons," not "murdering six people."

Dave said...

Execute the bastard.

Pastor_Jeff said...

I know there's a level of humor in that comment, but ... dang. That's one heartless bastard. The day I go to jail for killing six persons is the best of my life? Because I get out of child support? What the...?

Well, it's in line with what we saw of this guy during the trial, but still...

tomas said...

My praise to commenter human being Mary for focusing on the core issue of this post. I suggest human being Althouse find out whether the human being of the female seo be heldx that was murdered suffered the action in the first place, second or whether this human being was the last one toexperience termination of human existence. This would undoubtedly shade more light on whether the human being perpetrator was or not a gentlehumanbeing or just an uneducated and ungentlemanlyhumanbeing, to be held responsible for such a heinous attitude towards human beings.
Rgds,
Tomas

Ann Althouse said...

Dave: We don't have the death penalty in Wisconsin -- unless you count what happened to Dahmer.

Performing Bear said...

Speaking of life in prison: CBS radio news ran a tastless--pun coming-- story on a death row man's last meal. The piece poked fun at his 2 cheesburger, 4-slice pizza, nacho, chocolate cake, multi-soda meal.

Sounds like what I do on my birthday.

Dave said...

Right. I realize you don't have the death penalty in WI.

Perhaps this will force voters' hands and realize that's a poor decision to make.

But then there seems to be a lot of muddy thinking about murderers and the death penalty everywhere these days.

Joan said...

No, he shouldn't be executed. He should be made to work and continue to make child support payments (at the very least) from whatever he earns. That's one of the problems with the prison system -- the inmates don't have to work to earn their keep, or anything else. (I know that's a gross generalization, but it's basically true.)

Pastor_Jeff said...

Ann,

We were living in Racine at the time of Dahmer's trial and later death in prison. I support the death penalty, but what happened to Dahmer was just wrong. I imagine that Vang will be as much a target as Dahmer was. Is it more humane to execute a person painlessly or allow them to be beaten and bludgeoned to death?

Murph said...

The larger question this raises is just how many crimes are committed every year so someone can escape the responsibilities of life. It is a frightening thought that men in particular would murder, rape or perpetrate other heinous crimes simply to earn lifetime membership to a state or federal prison thus avoiding their obligations.

Perhaps we need something similar to the French Foreign Legion where life’s losers can escape reality without causing harm to others. I know that leaving a woman with kids and no money is harmful – but less so than killing her just to avoid child support and alimony payments.

The paradox is we build an escape route out of life or continue to have desperate people carry out unspeakable acts. Interesting.

me said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Pastor_Jeff said...

Wait a minute - Ann, were you thinking of "The Life of Brian" when you wrote that title?

me said...

I'm not a big death penalty proponent, but what happened to Dahmer was just desserts. First, Dahmer wanted to be killed. Second, his punishment was no harsher than what he inflicted on his victims. Third, and probably most important, Dahmer did not bathe in prison. How would you like to be Dahmer's cell mate?

Pastor_Jeff said...

Saul,

I agree that Dahmer's life was forfeit when he was convicted. I'm simply saying that in outlawing the death penalty, the state has created a situation that is potentially more cruel. He deserved to die, not to be brutally beaten to death -- justice, not vengeance.

... though I might make an exception for people who don't bathe. That's just wrong. I hadn't heard that about Dahmer.

Dave said...

Dahmer's murder in prison was undoubtedly a good thing--Ann and the rest of Wisconsin's taxpayers no longer bear the burden of his sustenance.

Due to the gravity of his crimes, in my view, Dahmer held no moral claim to his life. That the state failed to execute him is their fault. That one of the state's wards bludgeoned him to death is to the benefit of those whose taxes supported his incarceration and existence.

How much is the life of a murderer like Dahmer worth? Certainly not equivalent to the expenses incurred by the state by keeping such people alive.

PatCA said...

Murph, I don't think that's why he murdered those people. It's just a nihilistic thing to say afterwards. He reminds me of the lead character in Camus' "The Stranger," alienated, remorseless, affect-less. Now he has some certainty and accepts it, even welcomes it.

Pastor_Jeff said...

Pat,

I agree that doesn't seem to be why he killed those people. Acceptance is one thing, but "the happiest day of my life"? Compared to getting married, having kids? How bad of a home life do you have to have to make killing six persons and going to prison for life the high point? Unless he's acting, this guy is layers of messed up.

paulfrommpls said...

I live in Minneapolis: let me make that clear. But I'm a cosmopolitan hereabouts, in that I travel just as easily in St. Paul. (Meaning not all that easily but it's no different.) I know the neighborhoods where the Hmong have tended to live, and I read about the problems they have and see the gains they make. But I hate this case. This case makes me nervous. I would guess that many of the Hmong here believe the convicted man's story of epithets and being fired upon first.

I don't know enough about the case to know, though: is there evidence to back up the hunters' version: espeically that they didn't fire first? (This is aside from the question of whether it matters legally.)

girlfriday said...

paulfrommpls: seriously? So what if they fired first? Would *you* blow away six people/persons/human beings? These are not the acts of a rational person, which has been substantiated by his "best day of my life" comment.

If it makes us nervous, it should should make us nervous in the "what-if-our-neighbor-lost-the-plot" kind of nervous?

Ann Althouse said...

Pastor Jeff: I'm not saying Vang should get the "Dahmer death penalty." And yeah, I was thinking of that song.

Joan: I agree. Prison should entail hard work and the deprivation of ordinary pleasures (but no brutality). The death penalty is too easy, and it damages the souls of those who impose it, I'm afraid.

paulfrommpls said...

girlfriday -

If I understand what you're saying, that is how it makes me nervous. I'm hyper-attuned to the seductioons of victim-think. And all race relations seem dicey these days.

Undercover Christian said...

Also, did you know that Wisconsin's reluctance to enforce the death penalty came when the more staid German and Scandinavian peoples attended a public execution and were horrified by the spectacle of it all ?

That was an execution of a man who brutally murdered his wife. I think he stabbed her and then put her head first into a giant barrel and stood on her until she drowned. The whole neighborhood heard her screaming for mercy. Neighbors came out to see what was happening, but she was already dead.

When he was sentenced the judge told him that he feared for his soul and hoped he would spend his last days before execution repenting of his sins. He did. By the time he was executed he was a very religious man and apologized for his crime at the gallows. That's what made the "spectacle" so hard for people to take. (Once people see someone broken and full of regret it seems like they well up with so much pity that they forget what the person did.)

The house where he killed his wife was recently up for sale. My mother was thinking of buying it until she found out that it is now next to some noisy train tracks.

brylin said...

Murph said: "The larger question this raises is just how many crimes are committed every year so someone can escape the responsibilities of life."

Years ago when I represented male matrimonial clients faced with alimony and child support obligations, I would frequently hear similar expressions, or worse (I'll kill her), although very few acted on these statements when all was said and done.

Mary, very good research on persons/people! And thanks for the WI death penalty history.

PatCA said...

Pastor Jeff,

Agreed.
Layers of messed up=alienated, remorseless, affect-less.

girlfriday said...

paulfrommpls: I see now.

Jeff said...

Regarding Dahmer, lest we forget:

"He achieved notoriety after his arrest following the discovery of several decaying bodies in acid vats in his apartment. Severed heads were found in his refrigerator and an altar of candles and human skulls were found in his closet. Accusations soon surfaced that Dahmer had practiced necrophilia and cannibalism. Dahmer admitted to eating the biceps of his eighth victim, Ernest Miller, whose skeleton he also kept, noting that human flesh "tasted like beef" to him."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeffrey_Dahmer

Being tortured to death would seem more appropriate, a la Native American practice of yore, as well as English practice until the last couple of centuries

Pastor_Jeff said...

Ann,

Aaaaargh! Now I've got that whistling part stuck in my head!

I didn't think you were advocating for the Dahmer treatment. I was just making a general observation: in an attempt to be humane, the state ironically has created a situation which is potentially much more inhumane than execution.

I don't want to see Vang live out his days at taxpayer expense. But even less do I want him beaten to death by a mob. I disagree with the law against captial punishment, but the solution is not vigilante justice.

Troy said...

Pastor Jeff

Is it technically vigilante justice if the killer of Dahmer was merely seeking notoriety and credibility as a bad-ass in prison (though beating a a filthy smelly cannablistic nerd with a lead pipe is sketchy) and instead a "reap what you sow" justice. Karma for those who Bible quotes make itchy and angry. That wouuld make the inmate the karma police (so you can tel what song is in my head!)

Rumor has it Dahmer became a Christian (sincerely, not nominally) behind bars and if under that belief system, which I share, there is no hell waiting for him.... Just a thought.

Noumenon said...

Prison should entail hard work and the deprivation of ordinary pleasures (but no brutality).

Seems like work would improve the prisoners' psychological state as well.