Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Little Cooper Harris: A Case of Retroacive Contraception


  Look at the face of Ross Harris and his wife Leanna, the couple who  murdered their 22 month-old baby, Cooper  by leaving him in a hot car to suffocate, in what was coincidentally the most cold-blooded and simple-minded child-murder I have read about since the upstate New York woman who, during the Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Hysteria in the 80s, gave birth to 5 infants each of whom mysteriously"died" of SIDS  (it is very easy to suffocate a baby and claim that it has died of SIDS), one right after the other, until a very smart medical examiner put two and two together and declared that, in this case at least, there was really no such thing as SIDS. Waneta Hoyt  suffocated her babies while infants, garnering her overwhelming public  attention and sympathy.  She was eventually charged, tried, and imprisoned.

     Ross and Leanna look rather childlike, don't they? That's because they are still children. They did not ever grow up. Their baby was not their offspring, but rather a sibling who got in the way of their selfishness. Ross liked to send pictures of his genitals to young women. He also went to website which discussed a "child-free" lifestyle. (I know all about that--they used to call it sterility.) Their clumsily orchestrated child murder is being exposed, condemned, and at least one of them will go to prison. There is outrage, and people are going around to parked cars with babies in them, smashing windows at the slightest hint that the child within may be overheated. Laws will no doubt be passed, because in America, when there is evil afoot, people make speeches and pass laws.

     But what was the crime? The child was clearly unwanted. He clearly impeded his parents lifestyle--such as it was, the focus being, in the father's case, the transmission of photographs of his genitals... Clearly Cooper's parents, who probably did not see much of him between shuttling him to day care on their way to work and tucking him into bed at night, had more important things to do with their lives than change his smelly diapers, nurse him through ear infections, shepherd him through elementary school and pre-pubescence, hormones and bad skin,  only to experience the hell of his adolescence and the backbreaking expense of his college years....what was in it for them?

     Nothing. There was nothing in it for them. Babies are cute, but there is so much more involved When I was pregnant with my first child, in the  late 970's, a woman I met in New York at a friend's apartment said, aghast, "...You're going to keep it" Don't you know a baby costs you $100,000, over its entire life?"

     Indeed As utilities go, babies are not cost-effective. Unless you consider a parent's old age and long-term care until death, no benefit can be garnered from having children. (Even when a parent becomes infirm, there is no guarantee that a child will care for him, especially after divorces, psychotherapy, and the whole process of "self-actualization" involved in becoming an American adult.) Cuteness does not last, and is not worth it. Ask any parent of a colicky or teething baby at 3 AM. No human creature is entirely loveable under those circumstances.

     This couple only did what they were trained to do. They loved themselves. They put themselves first. The child they had who was supposed to make them happy did not in fact make them happy. He did not fulfill them. His presence in their lives was not rewarding to them. He was rather an inconvenience. He probably cried at the wrong times, didn't want to go to day care, perhaps did not smile as much as they needed him to, did not even come close to  justifying all the pain and expense they had gone to for him. My guess is that he was a quiet, sad little boy, poker-faced and not one of those noisy cute ones who show off on tv commercials, or grow up to make wisecracks and clown around, like that Honey-
boo-boo child with her expressive digestive system. I bet he was probably pretty expressionless,maybe even boring, when he was  looking up into their faces and seeing, not Mommy, not Daddy, but two other babies looking back at him, just as blank-faced as he was.

     It's hard to imagine the glories of an oft-imagined and very distant and hypothetical  Harvard graduation at times like that, especially if Harvard is as far away from your life as Mars. An untrained, uneducated imagination fails you at a time like that, and all you are left with is the face of the rather ordinary small boy in front of you whose physical and emotional needs confront you morning after tedious morning.

      Retroactive contraception. Find the argument against it. He was a human life devoid of value. He was small, and to all appearances, disposable. He never made much noise, I bet.  If I did not believe that some day, in some way, such evil will be punished, and fire rained down from Heaven on unrepentant baby-faced parents who kill not out of hatred or in sacrifice to some demon-God, but out of nothing more than numbness and stupidity , I don't think I could live in this country any more.

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