I am sitting in a hotel room in Omaha. It is near midnight. A friend sent me this news story. Elisha Anderson, Mom pleads guilty, ‘no remorse’ for kids’ deaths, Detroit Free Press (June 29, 2015).

Yes, evil exists. I don’t think I will sleep well tonight. My dreams will not be sweet.


22 responses

  1. Yet, the myriad crimes of your colleagues don’t discomfit you in the slightest.

    Evil comes in many forms. Often, it wears a black robe. And it thrives when good men do nothing. Silence always benefits the oppressor, and to cover up injustice makes you complicit.

    Contemplate well what your hero John Roberts recently said. By what right, Sir, do you rule?

    Do you deserve less furtive sleep than the victims of your power-besotted priesthood? I think not.

    The incident in Detroit was not evil. It was madness.

  2. Judge:
    Hurting children would, of itself, be unthinkable. But this story ratchets the horror to another level when the individual responsible was the one person on Earth, above all others, who was expected to protect these helpless victims from harm. Instead, she was the one who authored their demise. Trust me, you are not the only one who will toss and turn.

  3. Robert,

    Thank you for your heartfelt comment. I agree this story is so disturbing that men and women of good faith ought to be sleepless after reading the story.

    More to the point, those who almost never get in a courtroom, but want all sorts of reforms to treat prisoners more gently, ought to remember that monsters are real. They live among us. When they strike, they are merciless. They are evil.

    All the best.


  4. Anonymous,

    Yes, she is, but she is more. Specifically, she is an evil piece of shit. The word “evil” is important.

    All the best.


  5. That’s why I thought Justice Thomas had it right in his concurrence in Davis v. Ayala:

    “I write separately only to point out, in response to the separate opinion of Justice Kennedy, that the accommodations in which Ayala is housed are a far sight more spacious than those in which his victims… now rest. And, given that his victims were all 31 years of age or under, Ayala will soon have had as much or more time to enjoy those accommodations as his victims had time to enjoy this earth.”

    The simple eloquence. The pellucid clarity. Like haiku.

    *Those poor children. I have to believe that they are now in a special place with a loving God. (I know, I know… but I think your wrong on that one, at least I certainly hope so)

  6. Judge, It is arrogance to assume the ability to separate madness and evil from a newspaper story. To describe anyone as a piece of shit is unacceptable and jejune. My sins weigh heavily upon me and are not diminished by the use of crude and ill informed language. Evil is real ,see Neiman, Evil in Modern Thought,, but these orgies of self righteous indignation serve no purpose but to diminish you..

  7. repentinglawyer,

    I value your stinging criticism.

    That said, I point out evil to refute elitist notions that the idea of evil is old fashioned and useless. Some of the present prison reform gang have the same outlook, and I think them uninformed. That bothers me because I honestly believe there is evil and more of it than the general population is aware.

    As for distinguishing between madness and evil, I firmly believe the one can be both mad and evil. If the facts in the newspaper article are true, this woman is certainly evil, although she may also be mad. E.g., M. Scott Peck, People of the Lie (1983).

    All the best.


  8. I agree that the idea of evil is necessary and that the effort to replace traditional moral vocabulary with ill founded scientific explanation is harmful but searching across the net for examples of individual criminality to refute an opponent who is not reading you is an odd exersise, though I do shout at the TV.

  9. Perhaps that we should be more concerned about the victims of violent crimes than the comfort of convicted criminals.

  10. Rich–if they’ve never seen it, they don’t get it. And, as these evil things approach them, they will not be recognized. There is no amount of education that will save them.

  11. Skink, the notion that evil is hard to see is absurd, anyone who lived in the 20th century saw it in abundance, anyone who noticed the burned black churches or the KKK with the Battle Flag has seen it in the last few days, and the casual homophobia on regular display is a reminder that evil is much closer than the lady in Detroit.If you want real evil spend a few days dealing with child abuse cases or spousal abuse cases over at the Douglas County Courthouse, it is much more apparent than down at the Hruska Courthouse where the judge sits.

  12. Ms. Blair pled guilty to two counts of first degree murder. The penalty is life without parole. Those with sufficient institutional memory of the workings of the Wayne County Circuit Court and prosecutor’s office in Detroit, where the unspeakable acts leading to these convictions took place, observe that only once in the preceding 35 years or so has a person pled guilty to first-degree murder.

  13. The irony here is that the mother who killed her kids said that she was “punishing” them because they were “demons.”
    Maybe she was righteous and just, and they were the evil ones. Maybe she saved us all from Satan himself. /s/
    The problem begins with picking sides, with judging the person and not the behaviour. We have come a long way from the days of treating mental illness with the equivalent of exorcisms. By demonizing wrong-doers we essentially strip them of any remaining humanity, and most conveniently any remaining human rights.
    The worst massacres are instigated by calling out an “evil” that must be eradicated. Once the enemy has been thus defined, then no rules apply, because those guys are the bad guys and we don’t owe them anything, much less any respect for basic humanity.
    The next stage is to fight fire with fire. Any tactic we choose, any violation of rights, any bending of the rules is fine and necessary, because we’re the good guys, and at least we’re not as bad as those guys, and even if sometimes we are as bad it’s not really bad because we’re the good guys.
    Abusive parenting, abusive police and prison guards, indifferent judges, vengeful legislators, Guantanamo, the death penalty, ISIS, Hitler (hat-tip: Godwin), cop-killers… A truly endless list.
    An endless list of self-professed good guys just doing what needs to be done.
    It’s turtles, all the way down.

  14. Your point is well taken. The word “evil” can be, and is often, over inclusive. I get that.

    But there is true “evil.” Psychopaths, and some sociopaths, are truly evil. Those of us who have represented criminals or who sentence people see such evil frequently.

    Thanks for your insightful comment, and your engagement as well.

    All the best.


  15. Heard you on TV and found your blog. After much thought and occasional musing I came to the conclusion that there are definite levels of evil. However, the intentional killing of an innocent ranks high on the list. Stating an unrepentant and almost blase’ confession seems to elevate it further. For parents that have lost a child, it is a completely devastating event. To carelessly confess without remorse with pride is nothing more than apathy for life.

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