June 21, 2001
6:18 AM   Subscribe

Swedish toddler, home alone, dies of malnutrition and dehydration while druggie Mom is in police custody. Two thousand turn out for the funeral, and Switzerland engages in an orgy of national anguish. Anybody think this incident would cause the same kind of soul-searching in the U.S.? Or would Americans shrug it off?
posted by luser (23 comments total)
You mean Swiss Toddler right?

Swedish people are from Sweden. Swiss people are from Switzerland.
posted by da5id at 6:21 AM on June 21, 2001

and austrians are from australia :)
posted by kliuless at 6:24 AM on June 21, 2001

posted by da5id at 6:26 AM on June 21, 2001

Soul-searching? What do you, luser, think is the lesson to be learned?

I personally think that the police should have verified that the child was in responsible custody.
posted by jennak at 6:41 AM on June 21, 2001

jennak: I wouldn't have agreed with you at first because I don't like the mentality that a lot of people jump to in blaming the officers for everything. BUT, after reading the full article, I have to agree, they should have done more. There was just too much that was missed when it came to that child.

Reading that story really hurts since I have a 2 year old of my own and also a niece that's around a year old. :(

Now to the soul-searching of America comment in the post, I'm really not sure. I see too many things that don't make sense in america where people like this get custody of their children even though they are in the shape they are in. Say this child would have lived and this would have been in america. I can guarantee you that this child would have been given back to the mother after some time in child services. It just doesn't make sense. This same sort of thing happen right where I live here in PA, father beats the hell out of his 1-2 yr old child and then after some "rehabilitation" time, gets custody back. And guess what, the child is now dead because he got pissed and threw the baby up against some furniture. So, no, I really doubt there would have been any kind of soul-searching in America for this child.
posted by the_0ne at 6:51 AM on June 21, 2001

Lesson, jennak? No lesson. My point isn't that the incident itself was horrid, or avoidable...obviously it was both. I was just trying to imagine how often something like this happens in the States, and how much less fanfare there is. It's sad that we're numb to it. Glad you got a laugh out of this, da5id, and thanks for perfectly illustrating my point.
posted by luser at 6:52 AM on June 21, 2001

Luser, find me an incident of this happening in the States.

I don't recall having heard of a case in which a child died while its guardian was in police custody.
posted by jennak at 7:02 AM on June 21, 2001

Swedish? Swiss? Hell, it's those damned Dutch who always bother me. They live in Holland. Or maybe in the Netherlands. But they definitely don't live in Dutchland or even Deutschland. You can call them Hollanders or Netherlanders (but no one does), or maybe you can't call them that if they live in Flanders, that Flying Dutchman of nations. Then they're Flemish, maybe. The Flemings. It's sabotage.

And, no, I don't think this would be much more than a local story on the late news in the US. Kids die in rotten ways every day in America. Maybe the Swedes Swiss aren't quite used to that sort of thing.
posted by pracowity at 7:11 AM on June 21, 2001

luser, the One, see this thread. We really don't suck as much as we, for some reason, like to think we do. Of COURSE there's be anguish and heartbreak and outrage.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:13 AM on June 21, 2001

I would not take this lightly. The swiss(heck any benelux) has a reputation for social responsibility. This incident surprises me. this stuff does not to seem to happen with any great rapidity. But if your hooked on hard drugs, hell... I think the authorities will burrow themselves in this because they will not become a nation of junkies. Use the U.S. as an example of free citizenry on hard drugs. Freedom is the key. Chiner provided rifle rounds in public places for those addicts and dealers who refused "treatment". I would be interested on our benelux friends comments.
posted by clavdivs at 7:35 AM on June 21, 2001

No, Luser's right. We are a horrible, shallow people, incapable of anything other than light mockery in the face of obvious tragedy. How dare da5id express humor at a peripheral point that tickled him.
We simply lack the depth of the Sweeds.
Er, Swiss.
Er..... well europeans, at any rate, you know..... us with our lousy little barely 400 years of history and our brains so jammed up with junk food that the emotional centers of our Yankee brains just won't fire right.

posted by dong_resin at 7:48 AM on June 21, 2001

"The swiss (heck any benelux) "

Eh? The Benelux = Belgium, Netherlands, Luxemburg.
We don't want them damn Swiss bastards in our little clique, thanks.
posted by prolific at 8:04 AM on June 21, 2001

Anybody think this incident would cause the same kind of soul-searching in the U.S.? Or would Americans shrug it off?

Oh, please. We Armenians (oh, I mean "Americans") are still all torn up over Columbine. We may be assholes in this country, but we never miss a chance to feel bad at someone else's loss.
posted by jpoulos at 8:05 AM on June 21, 2001


Oh, is that where all the cocaine comes from? Yes, I am pretty upset about that.
posted by daveadams at 8:40 AM on June 21, 2001

Well, while the case isn't directly parallel to this one, in New York, a little girl named Elisa Isquierdo was murdered by her mother (a horrible case of child abuse where the rest of the family didn't do anything) and it completely took over New York City...there were thousands of people at her memorial, and there are still murals in my neighborhood that commemorate her (and ask people to report child abuse.)

So while for the most part, I think this country has become numbed to the death and abuse of children on the whole, a case like this (or like the Swiss child) can often "capture the imagination" of a city, or country (in the worst way, mind you) and perhaps renew one's faith that some terribly small, good thing will come from it.
posted by ltracey at 8:58 AM on June 21, 2001

Let this not mark me as a "law and order" conservative, however: Far too frequently I read stories of adults that have raped, beaten, abused, injured or killed someone while driving drunk or high, and the sentence they receive is pathetic. Indeed, some child/wife abusers get dropped right back at home and do it all over again. I think America has been less than successful at keeping incompetent or dangerous people from doing more harm.
posted by 4midori at 9:06 AM on June 21, 2001

When "things like this" happen here in America, we do tend to get all caught up in it (well, at least as long as OJ isn't being arrested for something the same day - we do have our priorities, ya know...). Unless you lived in Switzerland, I don't think most Americans can really understand how deeply this must have shaken their whole national self-image. It's one thing to be on the outside and make "clockwork culture" jokes; it's quite another to experience how people are born, live and die in an environment that's really not that different from the stereotypes.
posted by m.polo at 9:39 AM on June 21, 2001

So while for the most part, I think this country has become numbed to the death and abuse of children on the whole...

I disagree. If anything, I think the overwhelming presence of the media in this country today has made people hypersensitive to small-scale tragedies. Example: As horrible as the recent school shootings have been--the whole country has become obsessed with some non-existent "epidemic" of violence in schools, enacting the infamous "zero tolerance" policies that are routinely trashed here at MeFi. America is obsessed with horrible things that happen to children--it's the big ticket items that we can't be bothered with.
posted by jpoulos at 9:39 AM on June 21, 2001

I think I'll resist yet another attempt to have me feel bad about myself because I'm American and therefore, apparently, too self-absorbed to sympathize with anyone.

Fortunes have been won and lost in the press betting over what particular tragedy will tug the heartstrings of the populace, and there's no way to predict what the reaction will be to anything like this anywhere. This country is numbed to the death and abuse of children? Is that to say that the public outpourings over Columbine, JonBenet Ramsey or Kaycee were entirely manufactured? Of course not. But tarring 'Murricans as dumb-bunny media drones has become easy sport. It's certainly easier than reasonable discourse.

Besides, as a disaffected thirtysomething, I'm more interested in killing old people.
posted by Skot at 9:41 AM on June 21, 2001

prolific-sorry, my american thinking came into play. Benelux is specific in economic terms, with the EU and all. But all that beautiful landscape seems to meld together. Geographically, it would be like leaving Ohio out of her Midwest regional orientation.(at least i did not blame the dutch)
posted by clavdivs at 9:49 AM on June 21, 2001

Skot, I think I love you.

... no wait, I can't possibly, I'm an American. never mind. I'm certain I'd have loved you were I of Swiss extraction, however.

I bet if this thing had happened in the US, especially in a big city, it would result in just as much attention, sadness, and outrage... not because of any shattered national-identity issues, but rather because Americans seem to be pretty good at leaping at opportunities to vilify the police. Imagine this happening in New York City or LA: not only is an innocent little girl dead, but it was the police who separated her from her mother, and who failed to verify that she was being cared for? Cop heads would roll, I daresay.
posted by Sapphireblue at 10:10 AM on June 21, 2001

Damn! I was so close.

But now at least I have lie-fodder for my geek friends: "One time, this hot Swiss woman totally fell for me. We used to neck under the boardwalk. Yeah, it was sweet for a while, but I had to cut her loose . . . "
posted by Skot at 11:08 AM on June 21, 2001

I think America has been less than successful at keeping incompetent or dangerous people from doing more harm.

...go to jail?

Skot, you almost-dog.
posted by rodii at 11:14 AM on June 21, 2001

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