A disordered world. To round out this week of horrors, here are a couple more, one new and one old.The new horror was the toddler killed by an alligator at Disney World in Florida on Tuesday. Two-year-old Lane Graves from Nebraska was paddling in shallow water in a lake by one of the Disney vacation hotels when a 7-foot alligator appeared and dragged him away. Lane's body was found the next day.
There is no political angle here that I can think of. Indeed, it seems impertinent even to think of thinking of one. I hope you'll allow me, though, to say that there is something metaphysical, something cosmic, about this particular horror. At Disney World! While the family was on vacation!
The phrase that came into my mind, and no doubt many others, was the old Latin tag et in Arcadia ego. The tag is spoken by Death, and he's saying: "I'm here too, even in Arcadia — the loveliest, happiest place. I'm here too."
British commentator Katie Hopkins, who worked in a Disney park one college vacation, got closest to my own mood here. Quotes from her:The real horror of the thing is that it happened at Disney — where dreams come true … It seems death is laughing at us from backstage. You fools, you believe in dreams? You know, here at Disney, nightmares happen too …End quote.
Everything [at Disney] is perky and upbeat — from Hakuna Matata piped at the line for the bathroom to Elsa the Ice-Queen's boobs.
Which makes the tragedy of the toddler on the beach so stark.
Even if you exhaust your duties as a mother, it is still possible a monster from the deep might come and eat your child.
In a world of terror threats and gun-toting nutters, just where does The Fear end? What can you put your trust in?
When dreams fail and nightmares happen, all you have left is chance. Roll the dice, hope your baby is the lucky one to make it through.
I keep thinking also of the classic Chinese tales, where the fall of a dynasty is prefigured by disorders in the natural world: earthquakes, strange vapors in the palace halls, two-headed cattle being born, and, in one of them, hens turning into roosters.
And then an older horror was brought back to us this week. This was the 2007 murder in New Haven, Connecticut of Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her two young daughters, ages 11 and 17, during a grisly home invasion. The man of the house, Dr. William Hawke-Petit, was beaten, tied up, and forced to listen to his wife being raped by the two intruders. He managed to crawl away unseen; but the intruders then killed his wife and raped and murdered his daughters. I have no stomach to give any details; read them for yourself if you can bear to.
The two beasts who did this, names Hayes and Komisarjevsky, were found, tried, convicted, and sentenced to death in 2010 and 2011 separately. Then in 2012 the state legislature voted to repeal capital punishment for future cases; and last year all 11 criminals on death row had their sentences commuted.
This week Hayes, one of the New Haven killers, learned what his death sentence has been commuted to: six terms of life imprisonment without parole, to be served consecutively. Komisarjevsky's case is still being adjudicated.
Hearing this weeks' result, Dr. Petit tweeted that, quote: "It is a very sad day when a prolonged trial and decision and sentencing by a jury that took 4½ months to seat is overturned by a legislature that ignores the wishes of the people of CT," end quote.
I second that sentiment, but would add the following.
Shame on the people of Connecticut for allowing some fools in robes to deny them a just sentence fairly pronounced and richly deserved.