Kill a child, get out of jail free

Yesterday’s not guilty verdict in the Andrea Yates trial underscores a growing cultural trend: if you kill a child, you’re not evil — you’re just not yourself.

The defense argued that Yates could not be held responsible for killing her five children because her mental state left her with the inability to determine right from wrong. We often hear similar arguments from pro-abortion proponents, like the notion that the mental well-being of the mother supersedes the life of the child. It isn’t beyond the realm of possibility that such thinking has influenced a society that could deny justice to five murdered children.

Cultural ignorance of evil also plays a role. A society that knows not evil must search high and low for an explanation for an act of atrocity. As my wife pointed out to me, some people can’t fathom anyone being so evil as to murder their children, so there must be some other explanation.

What Andrea Yates did was little different that the actions of Magda Goebbels when she murdered her own six children. The wife of Hilter’s right-hand man was under considerable stress there in the Berlin bunker, and she wrote to her eldest son:

The world that comes after the Führer and national socialism is not any longer worth living in and therefore I took the children with me, for they are too good for the life that would follow…

I wonder, would the Texas jury that acquitted Andrea Yates extend the same consideration to Magda Goebbels?