Beware the double standard by recognizing the ways in which it has failed our society. SlenderChance focuses on the notorious Slender Man stabbing, and Morgan Geyser. This now infamous case has been widely covered both locally and nationally, and is featured in HBO’s newest documentary release by Irene Taylor Brodsky “Beware the Slenderman“. Much can be ascertained from delving into the SlenderChance blog, as well as the Journal Sentinel of Wisconsin, yet while the specifics of this case are of vast personal importance to those directly involved, the deeper seated issues have reverberations that touch us all!
Why do we as a society require a person to be 18 years old to purchase and consume tobacco? This law exists because we have deemed those under 18 incapable of making a well informed decision concerning their health. The same can be said about voting: we have deemed those under 18 incapable of making responsible decisions concerning who governs our country. We refer to the aforementioned people as “children”, and those 18 and older as “adults”, and this designation has far reaching legal ramifications. Rolling it back even farther, we have laws in place ensuring that anyone under the age of 16 cannot operate a motor vehicle alone, for similar reasons. So we must wonder why Wisconsin law allows a barely 12 year old child to be tried as an adult for a non-fatal stabbing. On its own this seems clearly inconsistent, but when paired with a child suffering from early onset paranoid Schizophrenia, it seems preposterous. We have determined that she is a child and cannot be responsible for driving, smoking or voting, but she CAN be held responsible, as an adult, for a mental illness induced stabbing? Should we then allow Morgan Geyser to drive a car, buy cigarettes, and vote for the president too?
Numerous motions have been filed, and many letters written in an attempt to convince Judge Michael Bohren that Morgan Geyser should be tried as a child and remanded to juvenile custody, but he has held fast. Tod Haller of Fox 9 (KMSP) in neighboring Minnesota explains, “In Minnesota, this only happens when someone is at least 16 years old and they’re charged with first-degree murder. But in Wisconsin, they only have to be 10 years old — it applies to a few types of murder charges including attempted first-degree murder, which the girls are charged with in the “slender man” case.” Nevertheless Morgan Geyser’s lawyer Anthony Cotton soldiers on, and recently won a motion to have Morgan and Anissa Weier’s cases tried separately. Bruce Vielmetti of the Journal Sentinel explains, “In their long statements to investigators, Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier have each implicated the other as more culpable for certain aspects of the incident or made statements inconsistent with the other girl, such that it would be difficult to handle evidence prejudicial to one of the defendants if both were on trial together.” (Separate Trials Ordered…) Both girls have entered pleas of “not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect”.
Most importantly, motions have been filed to suppress the potentially incriminating statements that were made by the mentally ill Morgan subsequent to her arrest, during a period of questionable interrogation by Detective Thomas Casey. Bruce Vielmetti of the Journal Sentinel explains, “The motion suggests that Waukesha police Detective Thomas Casey began his nearly five-hour interrogation with “grooming questions intended to make (Geyser) feel more comfortable and open,” then continually minimizes the gravity and import of the conversation.” (Slender Man defense seeks to block confession) Again we encounter a strange double standard: it is legal for a child to be interrogated by police without their parents present, and questioning only stops when the child requests a lawyer, yet only an adult would know that they CAN request a lawyer. Vielmetti explains, “In a recent motion to suppress her statements, Geyser’s attorney, Anthony Cotton, characterized the questions of whether a defendant understands, then knowingly, voluntarily and intelligently waives her rights to remain silent as legitimate inquiries in most circumstances. But he argues “they sound like a parody” when you replace “defendant” with “12-year-old girl with untreated early-onset schizophrenia.”‘ (Slender Man defense seeks to block confession) A decision from Judge Michael Bohren is expected sometime in early spring.
It strikes us odd at SlenderChance that as a society we are perfectly comfortable housing criminals, paying for their food, health care and education, and yet we are NOT comfortable as a society providing that up front. Similarly, we are ready to try a 10 year old as an adult in the name of vengeance and sensationalism, yet we aren’t willing to properly fund mental illness research in order to proactively address the epidemic of mental illness. Yet another double standard with far reaching ramifications. The easy route is clear: lock her up, throw away the key – out of sight, out of mind. But we believe that Morgan Geyser is the canary in the mine. The crime at the center of this case is merely the symptom; the problem is untreated mental illness. This problem does not exist in a vacuum, rather it is a problem that touches most of us. Whether we have a family member, friend, coworker, or we ourselves suffer from some form of mental illness, we recognize that it is in fact an illness. In an undiagnosed, untreated state, Morgan could not control her delusions any more than a person with cancer can control tumor growth. In an increasingly chaotic world with dwindling resources, where overcrowding is the rule not the exception, we can expect to see more and more mental illness. It is easy to dismiss until it touches down in your life, but the devastation it can create is terrifying. As a society we need to take responsibility for our own!
“Optimism is a strategy for making a better future. Because unless you believe that the future can be better, you are unlikely to step up and take responsibility for making it so.”
― Noam Chomsky