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Fifty-three-year-old Herbert Rogers was sentenced last week in a Chelsea, Vt., courtroom for blinding and disfiguring his then wife. He loaded industrial strength lye into a dishwashing detergent style squeeze bottle, broke into her home, beat her with a baseball bat, and poured the chemical on her. He also hit one of the victim's teen daughters during the assault.
Before you continue reading, if you are going to continue reading, take a moment to think about filling up a bottle with lye, restraining your wife, beating her with a baseball bat, and pouring the lye on her. Now, continue.
The woman suffered burns over 92 percent of her body, a broken arm and fractured eye socket. Forty-five operations, 39 skin grafts, a cornea transplant later, and she lives all busted up, with sight enough in her remaining eye that allows her to see very little of anything further than eighteen inches from her face. The woman suffers in sixty seconds more than the total of us and all our kin combined will suffer in a lifetime.
Someone out there please find that guy, beat him with a baseball bat, and pour acid on him. I'd do it myself but I can't; I'm trying to look at the larger picture that says even though what the man did is unconscionable, we should still grant him forgiveness.
I'd like to think I'm too filled with infinite love for the human spirit, the spirit of the woman who was tortured, and the spirit of the man, to realize two wrongs don't make a right. But I decided when I saw photos of the woman, and heard she has two teen daughters, and read her quote "I can't express to the court how it feels to be called 'unrecognizable' and you can't see it-I can't express to the court when you hear." "The scenes are graphic, beware" and "they're talking about me and I can't see what they're talking about." I'd change the amount of love I have for the human spirit from infinite, to something more like, a whole bunch.
Change? You want change? So do I. I want to change the way we punish barbaric human behavior. I want to change punishment from doin' time to, an eye for an eye.
A drunk driver smashes his vehicle into another vehicle filled with teenage kids and kills them. The punishment should be, loading the drunk driver (sober him up first) into a car and ramming him with a dump truck.
You shoot someone through the heart with a shotgun (description stolen from another headline in dear old Vermont last week), we shoot you through the heart with a shotgun.
Someone physically assaults a child? You fill in the blank. Yup, you're catching on.
I mean if we start using this eye-for-an-eye method of punishment-and when we do it we do it at noon in the middle of town for everyone to see; I'm not a Gol darn law enforcement specialist-I gotta think some folks are going to start holding back a little on raping and stuff.
Or maybe not. And if not, well, we're still getting rid of the barbarians who've done the deed and that's a start.
I know, I know: eye for an eye doesn't work. I know, I know: we can't go back to torturing and publicly humiliating killers. Deep down I know and you know it doesn't work that way. But I can dream can't I?
Rusty DeWees tours Vermont and Northern New York with his act "The Logger." His column appears weekly. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Listen for The Logger, Rusty DeWees, Thursdays at 7:40 on the Big Station, 98.9 WOKO or visit his website at www.thelogger.com