Wednesday, April 19, 2006

When Human Life is a Series of Zeros

If you were a cannibal, what would you wear to dinner?

"The skin of last night's main course."

- Kevin Underwood, on his profile at , titled "Strange Things are Afoot at the Circle K."

When a computer comes crashing down and a fatal error message flies into your face, there is a reason why. It could be a virus - or it could be a conflict of some kind, like certain applications that don't like each other. Your operating system, for example, has resident fonts. Let's say you purchase a $10 CD with thousands of fonts to install. Your computer might already have Palatino installed on the hard drive. You choose one from your CD called, let's say, Palamino and load it into your Fonts folder. In computerspeak, everything is a series of ones and zeros, known as binary language. The only difference between those two fonts might be a couple of ones or zeros. When your computer goes looking for Palatino or Palamino, there isn't enough of a difference between the two. Your computer recognizes them both simultaneously, becomes confused and freezes up. Unfortunately, you get mad at your computer, not realizing it was brought on by your own mistake.

When humans come crashing down, what are the conflicts that cause these fatal errors? Unless they are acts of violence brought on by sudden rage, most crimes of a physical nature are premeditated. Think of Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer, real life Hannibal Lecters, although Bundy didn't make entrees out of his victims.

Pity the family and friends of poor little ten year old Jamie Rose Bolin, of Purcell, Oklahoma. This freckle-faced girl, so full of life and innocence, was brutally murdered and raped, in that order, by her 26 year old neighbor, Kevin Underwood. Pity his family, too. He planned on having her for dinner. Without going into too much unnecessary detail, police found a dagger, a hacksaw, meat tenderizer and barbecue skewers in his apartment, along with her body, which was stuffed in a plastic storage tub in his bedroom closet. “Go ahead and arrest me. She is in there. I chopped her up,” he confessed to FBI agents.

What causes human beings to do this? Animals may stalk their prey, but they do it for survival. Humans do it for the thrill. What goes heywire in the minds of such men?

“For example, my fantasies are just getting weirder and weirder. Dangerously weird,” Underwood wrote on his blog in September of 2004. “If people knew the kinds of things I think about anymore, I’d probably be locked away. No probably about it, I know I would be.”

Does he feel any remorse? What do we do with him? Forgive him? Turn the other cheek? Burn him with the Bundys of the world? He acknowledged, on his blog, the effects of not taking his anti-depression medication. Whose fault is that? Yours, mine or only his? As a matter of fact, his last post came a day after the little girl’s disappearance. Is this the mind of a man who did not know what he had just done and shouldn’t be tried on account of insanity?

Computers are metal and plastic and not nearly as complex as the soft tissue that makes up the structure of the hard drive of the human mind. A computer does not premeditate a fatal error. Only man can do that. But, a computer is a lot easier to fix. How long was this drive to kill inside Kevin Underwood’s brain? Why did he go after a powerless little girl, unable to defend herself? Like a sociopathic online stalker waiting to pounce on the flesh of an underage child, what signals crossed paths in his mind that destroyed the logic that dictates respect and dignity for all human life? Something fried his brain. Now, I think the state of Oklahoma is going to fry it a little more.

This sort of crime - any crime, does not compute in my brain. Sometimes, I wish we could just reformat the whole lot of that giant fragmented mainframe known as humanity. Rest in peace, sweet innocence of youth. We lost it a long time ago.

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