Winter sucks. I know very few people who claim it as their favorite season, and to be honest, I probably don’t like those people very much.
Winter is cold, it’s cruel, it’s boring, and it is devoid of light. As a self-professed vampire, a feeling that is embedded deep in my soul, I don’t need sunlight, but it really does help with things like Vitamin D, the growing of all things, and the absence of the cold bullshit. It also helps to chase away my depression.
I’ve been extremely fortunate and blessed in that I haven’t careened into a downward, seasonal spiral….yet. I am hopeful, yet resolute in my eternal belief that this albatross I have around my neck may occasionally leave to take a piss, but then it will return because it likes my neck; it may be arthritic and stenotic but it is sturdy. I think Depression also respects the fact that I accept it into myself in much the way one accepts a cantankerous and gossipy aunt into their home. You don’t want to, but she’s family.
Winter finds me binge-watching a lot of stuff and always searching for something fascinating to absorb. Serial killers and their capture are always a good tale, so I was pretty psyched when Netflix announced that it would be airing Conversations With A Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes. It promised to be a really binge-worthy event.
After spending a couple evenings, huddled on the couch underneath a blanket and the comforting weight of 3-7 cats, I can now understand the fascination with Ted Bundy. He was smart, handsome, and engaging. I’ve never delved deeply into his crimes, and I don’t think I need to. On the surface, just watching this guy interact with others, it does seem implausible that he could have been anything other than a successful, career-driven young man. A monster? A cold-blooded rapist and murderer who tortured and savaged his victims? No one would suspect it.
….Until you look into the eyes, and hear the tone of his voice change on those tapes. That was a very dangerous guy, and people like him have no use to society. I’m glad that the FBI was able to glean information from him that was useful in profiling, because he really was the first of his kind, in a long line of serial killers, who could be observed, interviewed, and provide valuable insight into what makes a malignant narcissist tick.
I do have to say that the circus atmosphere of his execution – the shameful “spectators” outside the prison – was one of the most disturbing things I have ever seen.
I will never understand the human fascination with executions; be it the Middle Ages, or the public hangings and much of the past.
Cheering, holding up signs, selling t-shirts, setting off fireworks? As the documentary showed the death chamber, the electric chair, and the narrator – an actual witness – described what happened, I was physically sick to my stomach. The finality of the situation was palpable to me and I realized how frightened he must have been as they strapped him into that chair. I don’t feel sorry for Bundy, but as an empath, I tend to feel things like a slap across the face or a punch in the stomach. I do feel for those who were tasked with carrying out the sentence and for those who were there as official witnesses. What an awful burden on the heart and mind that must be; the narrator who witnessed it now says he is ashamed that he was “overjoyed”. That’s encouraging to have heard; a person who gets enjoyment out of either the doing or the witnessing of such a thing is not a person who I would care to know, I don’t think.
How is the capital punishment meted out in this country somehow more palatable than the public executions we gasp about and wring our hands over, that are shown whenever there’s some genocide or terrible takeover in a third world country? Why is it perfectly acceptable to celebrate the execution of a death row inmate, but we were taken aback and disgusted when the Iraqis did the same thing to Saddam Hussein? “I don’t want to see this,” more than one American complained. Why not? He was responsible for the deaths of not just 30, but thousands. And yet, the execution of a monster like that was somehow distasteful and shocking to the sensitivities of people who may have been in that crowd in the days and minutes preceding 5:00am on January 24, 1989.
They gathered by the thousands, singing raucous songs, buying “Old Sparky” pins and “Burn, Bundy, Burn” t-shirts; drinking themselves silly while they cheered. If this isn’t the perfect representation of ‘Murica, I don’t know what is. We are nothing if not proud of our hypocrisy.
Am I against the death penalty? No, I am not. Some crimes are deserving of it. However, glorifying it, celebrating it? Gathering for it as if it was some celebration? The irony of this is not lost on me. As much as Ted Bundy killed his victims in order to reach that sadistic, sick, frenzied moment of euphoria, those who gathered at his execution did the same, damned thing.
Think about the individuals, at that very moment, who are taking part in taking a life, exacting the revenge for the victims and families and carrying out a punishment handed down by a group of peers. That is a tremendously sobering, serious moment, especially when you take into account that many of these individuals – guards, the warden, medical staff, and the executioner – could very well be Christian and as such, doing something that their God considers a mortal sin. Even the chaplain sent to provide comfort to the inmate, must be feeling the weight of such a final judgment.
It isn’t a celebration. It is a funeral. It is a moment to think, very seriously, about the fragility of life and the immense, awesome power we have over each other and all living things. It is a moment to take in solemnly and quietly, and to reverently dedicate to the victims. As a final thought, why would we want to give these sick fucks like Bundy the attention they crave? They may have celebrated his death, but in doing so, they sent him to his execution pleased with the knowledge that he was somehow important. He ended up getting what he wanted most in life: attention, his name in lights, books written about him, and the fact that, 30 years later, people are sitting on their couches, underneath blankets and 3-7 cats, watching a show about Ted Bundy.
I think that, when we make a party out of something as final as exacting an eye for an eye, the message is truly lost. The lesson is lost.
And with that, I’m taking my two cents’ and putting them down into the cushions of the couch, where my ass will be planted for much of this polar vortex bullshit. Underneath this soft, warm feline blanket, amongst 3-7 others of his clowder.