Miriam Fowler Smith, a 65-year-old woman from South Carolina, is facing a charge of felony animal cruelty after she killed a Pit Bull Terrier left in her care – for the capital crime of chewing her Bible. Apparently she feared that this “devil” dog (her words) would go on to maul neighbourhood children, so she hanged the poor creature with electrical cord before burning the remains.
While it’s clearly inappropriate to indulge in armchair speculation based on a sketchy news report, I think it’s fair to say that people in their right mind wouldn’t even dream of inflicting such torture on another living thing and certainly not on such a flimsy excuse. Where’s all this love and compassion the Bible supposedly teaches? Whatever happened to “thou shalt not kill” ?
On the bright side, however, at least the authorities are taking proper action over the case; the woman is facing six months to five years imprisonment. Let’s hope she gets the psychiatric treatment she clearly needs.
Though thankfully rare, this is hardly an isolated incident of a person invoking the devil as an excuse for horrific behaviour. Back in 2008, Joshua Mauldin from Galveston, Texas, was sent down for twenty-five years after microwaving his 2-month-old daughter a year earlier. Fortunately little Ana Marie survived (though not unharmed) and has since been placed in foster care.
Even more horrific than the little girl’s ordeal, though, was the reaction from her mother – and I use the term in its loosest sense. She actually excused her husband’s unthinkable actions, claiming that Satan saw him as “a threat” because of his efforts to become a preacher, so manipulated Mauldin’s known mental disabilities.
As Christopher Hitchens says, “religion poisons everything”. It causes otherwise morally upright individuals to commit, and condone, the most inhuman atrocities without batting an eyelid. At least the excuse of “the Devil made me do it” is not yet recognised by the courts.