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  June 26, 2001
Mothers Who Think


Mothers Who Think
     Surprise! Another mom doped up on pills and postpartum depression successfully dispatches her children.

     She sits in a jail cell, in a state of deep psychosis and twenty-four hour suicide watch. With her bug-out eyes, stringy hair and pallid skin, she serves as an icon American males can recognize almost immediately. Andrea Yates represents every crazy, schized-out manic depressive you've ever accidentally considered propositioning for an evening of drunken, forgettable sexual intercourse.

    The crazy girl at the coffee shop, telling lies to whomever might listen. The loudmouth techno-bopper taking off her clothes at Burning Man. The lady in that one cubicle with all the plants who likes to read. Get involved with any of these people and you'll regret it for the rest of your life.

     Everyone has an Andrea Yates lurking somewhere in his or her past. If you don't remember which one she is - you are that Andrea Yates.

     But who - who - could be so unfamiliar with the monotony and daily irritations of family life that Yates's recent actions appear in some way out of character for any human being? Drowning your kids in a tub? Since when is that such a big deal? Were he alive today, Bill Hicks might suggest the miracle of infanticide is about as “unnatural” as eating a bean burrito and having a big, thick turd slide out of your ass. Let's look at the numbers.

     Yates is 36. Married eight years. Five kids ages 7 and under - that's a new one every 18 months. She attempted suicide after the 4th child before plowing ahead with number five.

     Noah, 7; John, 5; Paul, 3; Luke, 2; and Mary, 6 months.

     Hey - nice biblical names. Were these murders part of some haphazardly thought out baptismal ceremony gone ridiculously askew? Never has there been more supporting evidence that the family who prays together dies together.

     The Houston Chronicle was kind enough to draw readers a detailed map to Mr. Yates' house. Less than an hour after the story broke, his driveway became an impromptu memorial. People left cards, toys, teddy bears adorned with bows and ribbons on his front lawn - not for one second wrapping their minds around the fact that there are no longer any children living at that address. What the fuck is Dad supposed to do with a wheelbarrow full of stuffed animals?

   Right away, CNN and Fox News both offered exclusive home video of the Yates family during a past birthday celebration. Look everyone!! The kids were alive but now they're dead!! Can you feel the eerie??

     The viewer was encouraged to juxtapose these images in his mind like a first-year video activist cobbling together a documentary on the industrial disintegration of Flint, Michigan.

     Thanks a bunch, you insensitive clods. Why not just design a Shockwave game so visitors can chase each kid across the screen and drag him to an animated, bubbly bathtub. Can we all slip on the virtual reality gloves and molest them as well?
       If you can believe it, Fox chose to showcase alongside the Yates feature an interview with TV personality, mother, and QVC spokesmormon Marie Osmond:
When I was doing "The Donny and Marie Show," I mean, I literally, you know, would get 350 pages of script to memorize in two and a half days. I would take that home and work till 3:00 and 4:00 in the morning and be back at work at 6:00.

And you were sexually abused.

Yes, I was.

As a child.

As a child.

     Conspicuously absent was a plug for Osmond's collector's series of pudged-out porcelain dolls. Each one appears infused with themes of postpartum depression or some level of early sexual trauma.



     In 1992, Susan Smith drowned her kids: Michael, 3, and Alex, 14 months.

     Remember how she drove her burgundy Mazda Protégé to the shore of John D. Long lake in Union, South Carolina? Michael and Alex were strapped in their car seats, sleeping.

     Smith climbed out and released the emergency brake. The car, with its headlights still on, slid down a 75-foot boat ramp into the lake. The car didn't sink right away - it remained on the surface, bobbing up and down. In a few minutes, it filled with water, and Smith watched as it submerged.

     This she did hoping her boyfriend Tom Findlay might love her more. Smith, then 23, had received from him the equivalent of a Dear John letter, in which he expressed a lack of interest in taking on the responsibility of caring for her two small children from a previous relationship.

     His letter was kind and straightforward. He thought she was “a great person.”

GLUB  glub  GLUB  glub  GLUB  glub  GLUB

     Smith claimed her children were abducted, and went so far as to invent an imaginary black man (see police sketch, right) whom she described in rich detail: forty years of age, dark knit cap, dark shirt, jeans and a plaid jacket. Her statement was far more enthralling than Yates's shopworn I just killed my kids.

     "I was stopped at the red light at Monarch Mills and a black man jumped in and told me to drive. I asked him why was he doing this and he said shut up and drive or I'll kill you. He told me to get out. He made me stop in the middle of the road. Nobody was coming, not a single car. I asked him why can't I take my kids? The man said I don't have time. The man pushed me out of the car while pointing a gun at my side. When he finally got me out he said Don't worry, I'm not going to hurt your kids."

     She described how she laid on the ground as the man drove away, both of her sons crying out for mom.

     Smith's subsequent interviews with police were filled with embarrassing blunders. She referred to Michael and Alex in the past tense, indicating an awareness of their passing. An FBI agent who administered her polygraph test noted she made “fake sounds of crying with no tears in her eyes.”

     Furthermore, the light at Monarch Mills remains green unless cars are traveling in the opposite direction.

     Like Andrea Yates, Smith crumbled. In her written confession, she filled two pages with loopy script, rounded-off letters, and little hearts. When investigators dragged the car from the lake, they discovered the Mazda's windshield had cracked from severe water pressure and a sudden change in temperature. The car seats, and the bodies of Michael and Alex were found dangling upside-down.


      Insurance adjusters know the truth. The suggested Blue Book value of a 1992 Mazda Protégé - with air conditioning - is maybe $4,790. The Blue Book value of your life can only be assessed after you die.

      Your worldly possessions will be sold: homes, bank accounts, stocks and bonds, automobiles, computer equipment, stereo and CD collection - everything. Calculate the proceeds, subtract any debt consolidation, subtract lawsuits or designated bequeaths to living relatives. Imagine the final sum returned to the state. That dollar value alone is considered your worth. Nothing else is factored into the equation.

      White, college-educated older men are “worth” the most. They've had forty, fifty years to develop a rich suite of formidable assets the government can liquidate, back taxes already accounted for. Hit someone like that while driving your Mazda Miata, and guess what? Your life is pretty much over.

     How does the state place a value on the estate of a dead child? How can cold, critical numbers be assigned to the unexplored possibility of a young person's life tragically cut short??!$(*&/!1

     Answer: they aren't.

Clockwise: Worthless, Retarded, Ineffectual, Unprofitable
      Potential worth is an illusion. Children and babies of any race are valued at next to nothing, unless they're heirs or they've been set up with a trust fund of some kind. They might be useful for parts - if the organs can be harvested quickly - but as of today, there's no uniformly defined dollar value associated with that process.

      Five children dead? Auction off their stuffed Pokemons, their diapers, their Marilyn Manson shirts and Tickle Me Elmos and you're left with a sum easily overlooked. Christ, I've got as much in my back pocket. If Susan Smith is guilty of anything, it's littering. Andrea Yates was just rocking out to the rhythms of her internal chemistry - and possibly audiotaped lectures by one of today's top experts on killing children.
Inconsequential, Expensive, Unimportant, Embarrassing

     Peter Singer is a tenured professor of bioethics at the University Center for Human Values at Princeton.

     He argues parents should be able to kill their newborns up to 28 days after birth, if they have a defect. That's more or less equal to the time it took superstar Sandra Bullock to get clean and sober. Singer writes:

  "When the death of a disabled infant will lead to the birth of another infant with better prospects of a happy life, the total amount of happiness will be greater if the disabled infant is killed. The loss of a happy life for the first infant is outweighed by the gain of a happier life for the second."

    These days, it's safe to say the definition of disabled expands and contracts to fit most anyone's temperament, even angry young mothers like Andrea Yates, who did in fact believe each of her five children was in some way developmentally disadvantaged.

    Who's to say who's right?


      What if everything went according to plan?

      Mr. Yates, a NASA employee, has unwittingly architected a brilliant maneuver of uncompromising serendipity - a scheme which miserable, overwrought fathers across America will soon be emulating. The premise: leave a mother ill with psychosis in charge of your children, and soon you'll be afforded the opportunity to start life all over again.

      Since the drownings, Mr. Yates has done something every single day which astounds experienced journalists. He's been addressing the press. Not just talking, either - talking and talking and talking. He speaks freely, off the cuff, looking directly into the camera, declaring love and support for his wife. And why not? What's he got to lose by doing so? He has the option of never dealing with her again.

     At every opportunity, he finds the strength to offer a statement. His thoughts, his feelings, his plans for the next few days and the future. In no uncertain terms, here's a guy who's just won the lottery.
     Whether you call it the Texas Tragedy or the Houston Massacre or the Crazy Lady Polka, the moral of this story is clear. Moms and kids just don't mix. Are you a disgruntled dad who longs for a vacation? Hide the Prozac. Hide the Wellbutrin, the Zoloft, the Lithium. Keep her in a constant state of knocked-up. Leave the cutlery out within easy reach, and make yourself scarce for a good half-hour. The results just might surprise you.

( Posted by Rotten Staff )

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