Suffering Fools

« April 2008 »

Memo to the Neumanns, and by extension, the Wausau Daily Herald: YOU ARE DUMB.

I'm a bit uncomfortable with kicking people when they're down, so the case of Madeline Kara Neumann is more for a rage-inducing tragedy than a schadenfreude-inducing yuk-fest, but as is often the case with such things, the reaction to the tragedy tells us more about society's ills than the tragedy itself.

You see, Madeline Neumann died about a week and a half ago at age 11. She died from a pair of conditions, both of which, individually, people can live happy and healthy lives with, but can be fatal when combined: diabetes and faith. You see, Madeline hadn't been to a doctor since some vaccinations at age 3, and when she fell ill, here's how her mother related the parental response:

"We just noticed a tiredness within the past two weeks. And then just the day before and that day (she died), it suddenly just went to a more serious situation. We stayed fast in prayer then. We believed that she would recover. We saw signs that to us, it looked like she was recovering."

According to reports, that "more serious situation" was a diabetic coma.

It's unfortunate, and tragic, but that's one of the things that happens to stupid people. Their children die because they don't believe in doctors, and instead believe in the magical power of Jesus. And then, after their child dies as a direct result of their stupidity, turn to that stupidity for comfort as the authorities debate whether to charge them with criminal neglect:

"Our lives are in God's hands. We know we did not do anything criminal. We know we did the best for our daughter we knew how to do." - And the reason that's all they knew to do is that somehow, over the years, they've apparently been incredibly fucking lucky. They have three other children, all older than Madeline was. Somehow, the entire family had somehow gone a minimum of fourteen years without any kind of serious illness or injury. But if you wait long enough, and have enough kids, eventually your stupidity is going to catch up with you.

I'm not sure there's any point in charging the Neumanns with a crime - they don't have any younger children, and I would hope the older ones have the sense to learn from this mistake - but by the same token, I don't think there's any point in showing them deference for what is clearly a pathological level of religious fervor. But that's the tack the Wausau Daily Herald took in an editorial whose title asks us to "reserve judgment" on the case. ACTUAL QUOTE TIME!

"Those details have been more than enough for some people to come to some harsh conclusions about Kara's family, their faith and their culpability in this matter. Step back from our shared emotional reaction to this story, though, and judgments are less clear.

Um, no. If you step away from the emotional reaction, what you're left with is reason. Their daughter was sick. If they'd taken her to a doctor, she'd have received treatment and likely survived. They didn't take her to a doctor because they believed praying would work BETTER. Not as well as. Not even as a substitute for medical care they couldn't afford. But BETTER. And they were wrong. Refusing to draw conclusions from these events may seem like a kindness during a family's loss, but it also VALIDATES CRAZY.

The paper continues with alternate scenarios: "...perhaps her family knew she was ill but didn't know that her recent symptoms were an indication of a worsening condition as opposed to, say, a bad case of the flu." What the fuck? Bad cases of the flu KILL PEOPLE. If you think it's a bad case of the flu, you should get your kid to the DOCTOR. So they don't die from it. But wait, there's more!

"And though police say Kara was ill for at least 30 days, maybe her condition worsened so quickly that no one was aware of how serious it was." Well, except that we know that's not true either. The girl's aunt spent at least two days trying to convince the Neumanns to take their daughter in, and was the one who contacted authorities after that failed. Even the parents were clearly aware of how serious it was. They just were blissfully unaware of the correct action to take.

And then, in an attempt to be a paragon of even-handedness, they close with "Meanwhile we can remember to hug our own children a little tighter tonight, and to thank God for every day they're with us, and pray that another child's death might be prevented by someone reading about Kara's death."

Which means the Wausau Daily Herald is making the exact same goddamned mistake the Neumanns made. Instead of taking an action - correctly judging the Neumanns decision to be a horrible mistake by misguided fools - they instead say we should all pray that others somehow manage to learn from the mistake that we're not even allowed to say they made in the first place. Good fucking luck with that, geniuses.