Two years ago I was having this conversation with the Magnificent Geebs:
Geebs: “What the hell is taking them so long?”
Me: “They want to get it right. This is not a case that the public will allow any slipups on. It’s slam dunk or nothing; they’ll go right up to the filing date to not get this wrong.”
G: “But he’s guilty. He’s so guilty. Even I know that. Even if the evidence isn’t there, he’s morally wrong.”
Me: “I agree.”
G: “So then why don’t they just arrest him! He’s going to get away. I know it. He’ll buy his way out, or there’ll be some paperwork error, or Bush will pardon him.”
Me: “I don’t think Bush wants to be within sniper distance of this guy. Even if in the most legal sense their relationship was above board, there’s still something dirty about it.”
G: “So dirty! And he’s going to get away with it! Why don’t they just arrest him already! He’s guilty, we all know it.”
Putting aside the whole innocent until proven guilty foundation upon which our entire legal system rests, there are cases so clear cut, transgressions so foul that the stench reaches even the most rational mind. Geebs was fired up, she smelled a rat, she was indignant at the idea that this scandal could happen, that mere employees could lose their savings and their livelihood all for the greed and whatever backwater, shady, bullshit, Faustian deals that he arranged.
I think only one other time in my life has a case been this obvious to me, have I looked at the defendant and thought, “Oh, that mother fucker is so guilty.” You can see the devil on his shoulder. The first time was with OJ (and I don’t want to hear any of the arguments about his case, they wore me out, he did it, the bastard did it, you know he did it), and this is the second. In other cases I’ve been aware, even when the evidence (I write “evidence” as though newspapers and television don’t portray these things with a slant, as thought they just report the “facts”) compels toward guilty, my mind still fought for the better side of our natures. No one is really capable of that, I’ll rationalize. But of course they are. OJ did it, and so did this bastard.
Well, they got him Geebs. Near three years later, and hopefully with a mountain of evidence so tall they can lock him in a cave near the base, hide him from the Sun, let him feed on rats and grimy water. I cannot say this firmly enough. This bastard did it. I’m not normally and eye for an eye guy; I tend towards the belief that the punishment often far exceeds the crime, save in the most heinous of cases, but even the death penalty seems somehow like a “Get Out of Jail Free” card in comparison with the worst crimes.
I like to pretend that there is a lighter shade to us that, most of the time, wins out over our darker instincts. But not in this case. Kenneth Lay’s guilt is not just beyond a shadow of a doubt for me, as far as I’m concerned he is a rotten human being, an asshole of the first order. Veterinarians put animals down for far less than he’s done. I cannot think of a punishment that fits his crime, cannot think of a way he can pay back the employees whose livelihood and care were his to guard, the shareholders whose belief in his company he exploited, or an American people who already suspected the system was corrupt, the rules were skewed, the rich reaped the reward.
I do not wish ill on most people. Normally, I think people deserve, on the whole, far better than comes to them. But in this case I cannot think of a single punishment worthy of this bastard, save one. Rot in hell, Mr. Lay. You deserve whatever ill befalls you. I wonder if Geebs would agree.