Ineffably Stupid

Herbert and Catherine SchaibleWhat was it President George W. Bush said? Oh, right: “Fool me once, shame on—shame on you. Fool me—you can’t get fooled again.”

No, really. He actually did say that, though I recall in the moment it did not occur to me that we were witnessing the stuff of legend. Stupidity, yes, to be certain, but such monumental, titanic idiocy? Well, come on; was a time when being President of the United States actually meant something.

Never mind; this isn’t about Dubya. Rather, this is about something even more stupid than our forty-third president.

No, really. Such things do exist, though as you might imagine, ineffable stupidity is also often tragic. The Associated Press turns our stomachs:

A couple serving probation for the 2009 death of their toddler after they turned to prayer instead of a doctor could face new charges now that another son has died.

Where does one begin? Quite obviously, the answer is that one simply doesn’t.

Naturally, it gets worse.

In 2009, the Schaibles lost their two year-old son, Kent, after trying to pray away bacterial pneumonia; after conviction, the couple was sentenced to ten years’ probation.

Last week, eight month-old Brandon passed after an extended bout with diarrhea and respiratory trouble.

Two down. They have seven more to go.

Right. Seven, who are now placed in foster care.

And then it gets even worse:

Catherine Schaible’s attorney, Mythri Jayaraman, cautioned against a rush to judgment, and said the couple are good parents deeply distraught over the loss of another child.

“There are way more questions than answers at this point. We haven’t seen the autopsy report. We don’t know the cause of death of this child,” Jayaraman told The Associated Press. “What we do know is Mr. and Mrs. Schaible are distraught, they are grieving, they are tremendously sad about the loss of their most recent baby” ….

…. “Nobody argues that these aren’t very loving, nurturing parents,” she said Tuesday. “Whether their religion had anything to do with the death of their baby, we don’t know.”

Actually, one might point out to Ms. Jayaraman thatsome would very much argue that these are not loving, nurturing parents. Rather, they are so caught up in securing their own salvation that the children are fair bargaining pieces.

Trying to map the psychopathology of everything amiss about the story is an exercise in drowning. At least when President Bush bragged that his administration would “never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people”, we could just laugh and say he was too presidential to speak properly.

But this? Here is a couple that had eight children. And then they let one die for the glory of God. Sometime last year, those remaining Schaible seven became eight again. Right. After letting one son die, they went and had another.

Start right there, and tell me the psychoanalytic meaning of this episode in history.

Because the latest plot twist defies the sort of language that is both civilized and sufficient.

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