Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Mary Winkler - Why? Why? Why?

The MSM and the Blogosphere are both full of the story of the Tennessee mother who apparently killed her young husband. Unfortunately spousal homicide is not an unusual event, so why did this murder make such compelling news?

Several factors contribute to the newsworthiness of this particular murder. First, the victim was young, a pastor of a church, and apparently of high moral character and well-loved in his community. Second, the homicidal (by her own admission) spouse is young, attractive, also perceived to be of high moral character and well-loved in her community. Third, young children are involved. Another important factor that makes this story so intriguing to the public is the fact that this young family, to all outward appearances, were living a wonderful life. They seemed to have every reason to be happy and every qualification to be successful in life. So the public is puzzled and becomes fixated on finding out WHY this horrible event happened.

It should not be surprising to anyone that the public wonders WHY this young pastor's wife committed such a despicable act. An entire genre of literature is based on the fact that when something unexplainable happens, people wonder WHY.

WHY? That very key question is the reason for the success of thousands of mystery novels. People read these books to find out WHY someone did something. (Sometimes the "who" leads to they "why"; but often the "why" leads to the "who.")

WHY? That very key question is the reason for the success of hundreds of true-crime books. People want to understand WHY the crime was committed.

WHY? The desire to discover the answer to that key question is responsible for much of the success of the media coverage of crime stories. We want to find out WHY Scott Peterson chose to murder Laci instead of just divorcing her. We want to know WHY those Manson girls were willing to kill for Charlie. We want to know WHY Susan Smith drowned her precious children and WHY she tried to lead the police to a fictitious "black man." We seem to need understanding of WHY Andrea Yates commited her awful crimes. We continue to watch all the coverage from Aruba because we want to know WHY that pretty young girl is missing as well as who is responsible for her disappearance.

The Median Sib wrote a post a few days ago suggesting one possible answer the the question of WHY Mary Winkler killed her husband, Matthew. For her speculation, some readers spewed the Median Sib liberally with vitriol because they didn't think one should ask the question - or they didn't want to consider that the suggested reason (frustration with her expected wifely role of submission) might be the correct one.

The writer at this site which identifies itself as "Support group for former members of Churches of Christ" has written about nothing else for several days and continues to ask "WHY?" History Mike's post proposed the question, of course. How can one discuss the event without the question? But he refrains from speculating. Home Sweet Home speculates on another possible reason for the crime (domestic violence.) Jane Genova mentions several possible motives before deciding on boredom! I am sure there are posts that suggest Postpartum Depression as a motive, although I have not read any. Lubos Motl's Reference Frame suggests many possibile answers to the big question.

The public is interested in the WHY of this case simply because it is human nature to seek understanding of other people and their relationships. It is often in others that we see our own reflections, and it is it sometimes from others' mistakes that we learn lessons to better guide our own lives. So, be human. Wonder about the motivation for this horrible crime. Be human. Learn from this terrible human mistake, and find productive (or at least non-destructive) ways to deal with whatever stresses fill your life.

No comments: