Thursday, March 19, 2009
Fritzl's change of plea could, I suppose, be an attempt to reduce his sentence, but, as he is certain to spend the rest of his life in prison, this seems unlikely. His daughter, meanwhile, seems to be writing a book. I report these matters because, for the first time I have read a Fritzl story all the way through. Previously I have just glanced at them or, when the case comes on radio or television, thought about something else. This is not because I am squeamish, it is because such stories mean almost nothing to me. I don't draw vacuous conclusions about 'broken' societies nor do I even meditate anew on the human abyss. And I don't expect to learn any lessons from the case. As I said about Mary Bell, the singular extremity of such cases makes them useless as a basis for future policies. Vile people have alway done vile things. Tomorrow there will be another Fritzl. In fact, there are probably thousands of Friztls doing much the same kind of thing at this very moment. Either they get away with it or they don't live in societies with such a voracious media appetite for horror. Catching Fritzl and punishing him might make people feel better. It shouldn't.
Posted by Bryan Appleyard at 6:37 am