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northstar

Post Partum Polemical Posturing

by northstar at 08:49 AM on February 20, 2002

To quote the immortal Mark Slackmeyer (apologies to Garry Trudeau): ďGuilty! Guilty! Guilty!Ē

Paula Yatesís murder trial began on Monday, though the race to mold public opinion has been underway for months. There are more people in Houston with an axe to grind than youíd find on ESPN2 at the Hayward Lumberjack Festival. Itís like a convention of spin-doctors, and Iím getting dizzy from trying to follow the rhetoric. For me, though, there is nothing to spin. Itís really a very simple equation. Paula Yates, by her own admission and all the available evidence, murdered her children (Is there a more heinous crime?) End of story; go directly to the electric chair. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200.

Iím not an expert in the realities of post-partum depression, and I certainly donít want to denigrate the legion of women who suffer (or have suffered from it.) I do have a question, though: should post-partum depression be used to make a case against the death penalty? I donít think so. You donít drown five small children and stack them on your bed like firewood, only to come back later and say ďOh, by the way, I was beyond crazy when I did that.Ē It strains credibility past the breaking point.

Iím no advocate of the death penalty, but it is the law in Texas, and as such should be enforced. If anyone EVER deserved to be given the death penalty, it is Andrea Yates. From Day One, as this case has gone from the ridiculous to the sublime, this reality remains unchanged: Andrea Yates methodically murdered her five children. She then calmly called her husband and the police. Despite her husbandís misguided efforts to defend her, and a creepy website dedicated to their children, Andrea Yates is guilty of capital murder. She has earned herself an all-expenses-paid trip to the electric chair.

comments (12)

I must disagree. Andrea Yates is the only one in this case that does not deserve the death penalty. I'm not sure if you have any children but I happen to be the father of one and can honestly say that even yelling at your own offspring creates enormous guilt. The fact that this woman was able to methodically murder all of her children is the ultimate example of insanity. Don't get me wrong revenge is an awesome thing and part of me wants to have this sub-human piece of *#%@ stoned in some public square, but that doesn't end the problem. Where in the hell were the father and mother-in-law who have admitted that they knew she was unstable and still allowed these children to be in her care? These are the people that need to be locked up. What ever happened to common fucking sense? Gee, I have a wife who has tried to commit suicide SEVERAL times and has told me that she has had thoughts of killing the children, well I'm off to work. That is the idiot that deserves the chair.

by Frank at February 20, 2002 11:09 AM


There is more than enough guilt to be spread around in this case. My problem is with the people who want to turn Yates into Mary, Queen of Scots.

I have a 14-year-old stepson, and yes, I am familiar with feelings of anger, guilt, and all that goes with it. All the same, I'm not going to drown him in the bathtub....

by northstar at February 20, 2002 1:08 PM


Sorry, I have to agree with you, northstar - she had been advocated to NOT have any more children and she continued to do so. Is there some kind of religious belief behind this fact? If not, why did she continue to stress herself to the breaking point? And if you are stressed to the breaking point, the only person you have the right (in my thinking) to kill is yourself. Lessen the burden on the planet, while you are at it.

I am sure that there are stories behind the story that we are not hearing, and may never hear.

And it is CRIMINAL the way people have children - there are entirely too many parents who don't have the ability to raise children. So they have more. Or they are finally recognised as being unable to cope and the children go into foster homes, or are placed with the grandparents, who are sometimes (often?) the root cause of the problem... but I digress.

We had the Lyle case up here, where the father tried to kill his entire family - not once - but multiple times, before he drove his station wagon into the Detroit River and managed to kill his kids.

by jenn at February 20, 2002 2:29 PM


Oh, in case you are curious - I am childless, or childfree - by choice. I KNOW I don't have what it takes to be a parent, and I would never subject a young child to long-term care in my home. I am way too strict, and have too short of a fuse...

And I get the horrid guilties when I yell at my cats, for instance... and we all know they don't care...

by jenn at February 20, 2002 2:33 PM


Right on, Jenn.... You need a license to buy a gun, go fishing, drive a car, own a business. In most cases, it is done to determine your fitness for the task. Unfortunately any $##&@)* with the right physical equipment can have a child. Is it any wonder we have so many screwed up children out there? What do you expect screwed up parents to produce?

Thank you; I'll be getting off my soapbox now....

by northstar at February 20, 2002 8:23 PM


I have this plan for when I rule the world. At birth, everyone will have a device surgically inserted into their body. That device will keep them sterile. Once a person reaches a minimum age, they can apply to have children. The person must pass pyschological tests, provide proof of financial dependence, etc. If approved, the device is removed, and they are able to have as many children as they want. Simple. Effective.

by mg at February 20, 2002 8:39 PM


I disagree. Killing the mentally ill in the name of "justice" does no good for anyone. It won't bring the kids back, it won't bring any hapiness to the world, it won't deter crazy people in the future, because, well, they're mad.
This woman was obviously mentally ill. What would be her motive to do such a horrible thing? It makes people feel all kick-ass when they give the death penalty to some psycho serial murderer. But it's the same as saying we should just kill people with cancer because they are sick.
What good does it do? People feel vindicated some way (even though it wasn't THEIR children), DA's get a hard-on because they might get to put another death-penalty notch on the bedpost? Lock up people forever - fine, but why kill them? I guess so we can be in the company of the handful of other countries that practice this, such as Iraq, Libya, Iran, Russia, Congo, and North Korea.
check out the death penalty info if you think it's a deterrent.
Fortunately I think - even here in Texas- people will not be so asinine as to send this woman to her death.

by Charles at February 21, 2002 2:32 AM


Never underestimate the bloody-mindedness of the Texan judicial system. Mentally ill, retarted, abomidable public defenders who fell asleep at court whose clients STILL can't get a retrial or even a reprieve - you name it, Texas (and many other states, for that matter)has done it.
And northstar, just because you might be a jerk on the inside doesn't mean you have to actively search for topics to illustrate how much of an insensitive fuck you are. The world already has one Bill O'Reilly, and he's already mg's hero. Stop trying so hard.

by westernexposure at February 21, 2002 6:32 AM


Charles, how can you relate mental illness to cancer? I have a friend dying from luekemia, and the last I heard he wasn't running around killing his family.

Just because she is mentally ill doesn't excuse her from the wrong she did. So if I go out and pick five people at random to kill, I should be held more accountable because I am sane?

(As far as you know I am sane, and picking five people is hypothetical)

I don't buy that mental illness crap. If you kill,for the purpose of taking someone elses life, you SHOULD have just forfieted you right to live. People use mental illness as a crutch in court.

Personally, I would like to see here sentenced to be forcably drowned five times, and revived four. No, it doesn't bring her children back, but she will never, ever kill another living creature after that.

by wilbur at February 21, 2002 3:34 PM


Cancer kills your cells, mental illness sometimes makes people do crazy stuff, but they are both illnesses - the afflicted do not choose to be sick.
I'm not saying it is always a viable defence - but in this case it certainally is.

by Charles at February 21, 2002 5:29 PM


She told the investigators that she waited for her husband to leave for work, because she knew he would stop her. Sounds like pre-meditation to me, whether she's crazy or not.

ANYbody that murders is not all there, the question is if she knew the difference between right and wrong. She called both the police and her husband right afterwards, to let them know what she did. She knew what she did was wrong. Women (not a sexist comment) have post-partem depression everyday, yet they don't wipe out their children!

What a travesty it would be to have her USE a mental illness defense to get anything less than what she desreves - execution.

by wilbur at February 21, 2002 9:26 PM


My best friend suffered from post partum depression. I watched her change from a fun loving, albeit anxious, woman into a paranoid, delusional one. She occassionally knew that her thoughts were crazy and that she should not act on them, but there were times when she simply could not control herself. She sought medical treatment. She told the shrink some of her bizarre thoughts...including the violent ones. She heard (I am not really sure that he SAID this!) that sometimes a woman has to do what she has to do to protect herself. Fortunately, she made it through and is the proud mother of 3 children. But, she had a lot of help...me, her husband, her mother, her sister and her church.
I don't think that Andrea got the medical care that she deserved...not unheard of for women in this country. She is suffering now, knowing that she ended the life of her precious babies. What good would killing her accomplish? Her punishment is the life long knowledge that she killed her children. She is the poster child for improved mental health care.

by texswan at February 25, 2002 8:26 AM



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