ow do you punish a man for locking up his daughter in a “squalid dungeon” for 24 years, raping her repeatedly, and making her bear seven children? asked Bojan Pancevski in Time. Austria sentenced such a man, Josef Fritzl, to life—or maybe only 15 years—in “an Alpine psychiatric unit,” with access to a gym and cooking classes. Many Austrians are “unsatisfied,” and embarrassed about the stain the whole Fritzl affair has left on their country.
Fritzl is unlikely to serve his whole sentence in a hospital, said psychiatrist Tim Kendall in Britain’s The Independent. If his new prison psychiatrists confirm the diagnosis that he’s “a very rare and very serious type of psychopath,” rather than merely afflicted with a mental illness such as schizophrenia, he should go to “a normal prison,” like the “evil” criminal he is.
Even life in prison “hardly seems like punishment enough,” said Susan Johnston in Lemondrop, for what Fritzl himself calls “my sick behavior.” But it’s a good place to start.
It’s probably for the best that Fritzl doesn’t face “a rope or a lethal injection,” said George Pitcher in Britain’s The Telegraph. Keeping him alive is an uncomfortable but important reminder that while he may be “evil,” he’s also a “chillingly ordinary” human being. It’s a “terrifying thought,” but one that might keep us vigilant to the darkness within us.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Mad Men recap: 'A Day's Work'
- The sexual politics of Game of Thrones just got enormously worse
- 31 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Aereo at the Supreme Court: No matter what, broadcasters lose
- 10 things you need to know today: April 21, 2014
- He said he was leaving. She ignored him.
- Why atheism doesn't have the upper hand over religion
- Wounded in Boston, two brothers endure
- 14 wonderful words with no English equivalent
- The hidden reason for the student loan crisis
Subscribe to the Week