Monday, March 14, 2005

The extraordinary clothed in the ordinary: Ashley Smith

Watching yesterday's interview (I can't locate the video at the moment, but here's a report ) with Brian Nichols' ex-hostage Ashley Smith, I was struck by the reaction of the newspeople to her story. Not only was she allowed to talk for twenty uninterrupted minutes, but the anchors and reporters that I saw (Fox, CNN) seemed spellbound, riveted, mesmerized, and all but speechless. It takes a great deal to jar them (and many of us, as well) out of either cynicism or stock and facile responses to heroism, and into something approaching awe. Ashley Smith seems to have done it; we know we are watching the real thing.

The power of her story was in her sincerity, her courage, and her own belief in redemption. Whether or not you yourself are religious, there is no escaping the power of her belief, and its effect on what appears to have been the already-weary Nichols. This story could have gone differently--we all expected it to go differently--and the fact that it didn't is owed in large part to Ashley Smith, an extraordinary woman who looks like any young mother you probably pass every day in the supermarket.

And what of Nichols? He remains a mystery. But one of the things I heard Ms. Smith say about Nichols caught my attention, so much so that I wrote it down verbatim: "He said, 'Look at me, look at my eyes, I am already dead.'"

If you've read my piece on Mohammed Atta's Eyes, you'll recognize this is the same phenomenon criminologist James Gilligan reports most murderers exhibiting and feeling, the same deadness in the eyes and in the heart. But Ms. Smith's "amazing grace" under pressure was to have somehow convinced this man (who in some sense did seem already dead) that he is still alive, and that his life retains some purpose. No small feat.

Of course, he will have to pay the price, as Ms. Smith told him. His crimes were heinous. But to me, this extraordinary story indicates that there was still some part of him that remained reachable, and this woman managed to reach it, at least for a moment, at least long enough to save her own life and the lives of others.

UPDATE: Michelle Malkin has kindly linked to the video of Ashley Smith's interview.

7 Comments:

At 1:50 AM, March 15, 2005, Blogger lindsey said...

I thought the same thing when I saw his mugshot. Eyes like Atta.

 
At 12:27 PM, March 18, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

is it possible that nichols raped, date raped, Smith in her apartment that night? there are some holes in her story, time wise. and why did he let her go out at 9 am knowing she would call 911 if he said he just wanted to rest for 3-4 days first? i believe she is liar and in denial. i pray to god i am wrong.

 
At 3:16 AM, March 19, 2005, Blogger Alex said...

Your prayers have been answered: you're wrong.

 
At 7:55 PM, March 19, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your article was the best evaluation of the Ashley Smith story. You are correct in that the news reporters and anchors could hardly believe the story of the humanity, faith and courage that Ashley had. Its nice to know we have or had people in this world like Ashley and Pat Tillman( The professional football player who gave up a multi-million dollar contract and his life to serve our country). These people are the true heroes that we need to have to inspire us and look up to. Not the dubious ones that the PR people give us. Thank you so much for your wonderful article.

 
At 1:12 AM, December 05, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Back on March 18, 2005, Anonymous, me, same guy, i asked:

"is it possible that nichols raped, date raped, Smith in her apartment that night? there are some holes in her story, time wise. and why did he let her go out at 9 am knowing she would call 911 if he said he just wanted to rest for 3-4 days first? i believe she is liar and in denial. i pray to god i am wrong."

NOW it turns out that she gave the man crystal meth ICE a drug, and she admits having sex with him in her book. so she was and is a hypocrite fool. NO ANGEL HERE, just like I said back in March...

 
At 1:14 AM, December 05, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Remember a few months back when there was a courthouse shooting
(including the murder of a popular judge), then the perp held a woman
hostage a distance away from the court? She faced almost certain
death, but then she managed to talk her way out of it relatively
unharmed after she gave her would be tormentor a copy of Rick Warren's
Purpose Driven Life.

This seemed to be a huge coup for the evangelical movement and another
death blow for so-called "secularism." Even CNN caved in when they
dedicated an entire night of programs to the affair and Warren's book,
having him as a guest on Larry King's.

Now, the story can be told. This guy didn't voluntarily give his life
to Christ. He was drugged into it -- by her.

Via Kathy Shaidle: Ashley Smith admits she gave Brian Nichols
methampethamine. She gave it to him when he demanded marijuana. The
cops aren't going to charge her since she came clean. Apparently,
the affair made her find God, and go sober on drugs too.


To see how stupid bestselling author Rick Warren, a Christian pastor
who wrote "The Purpose-riven Life", is, look at what he said to Larry
King on CNN the other day. It shows how empty and dumb most Christian
pastors are, including this Rick Warren guy, a very stupid and dumb
person. It makes me feel sorry for what America has become, having
embraced a very stupid and dumb version of Christianity. Sad.


At first, Larry King, says: "In the past, Rick, you will admit the
evangelicals and a lot in
the church didn't look at AIDS."

WARREN: Oh, yes.

KING: Didn't deal with it and in fact called it God's revenge against gays.

WARREN: Yes, yes. Well, you know, they were wrong and we were wrong to
be quiet. I never called it that but we were wrong to not speak up.
The fact is AIDS is not a gay plague. AIDS is a human plague and it
involves -- actually more women have AIDS than men do.

Later, in the same interview, Larry King says:"Back to

- Hide quoted text -
AIDS and the gay community, you know there are some gay activists who
are wary of this sudden evangelical interest in AIDS is the desire to
change their sexual preference.

WARREN: ...Now people ask me all the time what do you think about
homosexuality, OK? Well, I don't approach it -- I approach it like
this. When you look at a female body and you look at a male body it
seems that naturally certain parts go together.

KING: It seems that way, therefore how do you explain why someone is homosexual?

WARREN: I don't explain it. I don't explain it.

KING: Well, then that doesn't suffice.

WARREN: Well, and...

KING: Do you know why women, why you like women, just because the body
is shaped differently?

WARREN: Oh, no, I'm sure I know why I like women.

KING: You do?

WARREN: I think -- I think I was wired by God to like women. I think they...

KING: So, what did he do to the gay person, God?

WARREN: I don't know that God did that. I really don't.

KING: You mean he did it to you but he didn't do it to them?

WARREN: You know, Larry, we all have instincts and we all have urges
and we all have desires. That doesn't necessarily mean that I fulfill
all of them. In other words, as a heterosexual man I might desire to
have sex with 100 women. That doesn't mean I do it because that
wouldn't be the right thing.

KING: All right, but if you desire another man and you're a man and
you're an adult, who are you harming if the two of you agree and it's
your life?

WARREN: Yes.

KING: It's not Rick Warren's life or Larry King's life. It's their life.


Here's the kicker,which shows how stupid Rick Warren really is, when
he asks how can a person believe in Darwin's theory of evolution AND
homosexuality at the same time. What a stupid, bigoted man he is!

He tells Larry King: "Well, again, I would just say I think to me the issue is,

- Hide quoted text -
is it natural? Is it the natural thing? I mean here's an interesting
thing I have to ask. How can you believe in Darwin's theory of
evolution and homosexuality at the same time? Now think about this. If
Darwin was right, which is survival of the fittest then homosexuality
would be a recessive gene because it doesn't reproduce and you would
think that over thousands of years that homosexuality would work
itself out of the gene pool.

 
At 1:15 AM, December 05, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Remember a few months back when there was a courthouse shooting
(including the murder of a popular judge), then the perp held a woman
hostage a distance away from the court? She faced almost certain
death, but then she managed to talk her way out of it relatively
unharmed after she gave her would be tormentor a copy of Rick Warren's
Purpose Driven Life.

This seemed to be a huge coup for the evangelical movement and another
death blow for so-called "secularism." Even CNN caved in when they
dedicated an entire night of programs to the affair and Warren's book,
having him as a guest on Larry King's.

Now, the story can be told. This guy didn't voluntarily give his life
to Christ. He was drugged into it -- by her.

Via Kathy Shaidle: Ashley Smith admits she gave Brian Nichols
methampethamine. She gave it to him when he demanded marijuana. The
cops aren't going to charge her since she came clean. Apparently,
the affair made her find God, and go sober on drugs too.


To see how stupid bestselling author Rick Warren, a Christian pastor
who wrote "The Purpose-riven Life", is, look at what he said to Larry
King on CNN the other day. It shows how empty and dumb most Christian
pastors are, including this Rick Warren guy, a very stupid and dumb
person. It makes me feel sorry for what America has become, having
embraced a very stupid and dumb version of Christianity. Sad.


At first, Larry King, says: "In the past, Rick, you will admit the
evangelicals and a lot in
the church didn't look at AIDS."

WARREN: Oh, yes.

KING: Didn't deal with it and in fact called it God's revenge against gays.

WARREN: Yes, yes. Well, you know, they were wrong and we were wrong to
be quiet. I never called it that but we were wrong to not speak up.
The fact is AIDS is not a gay plague. AIDS is a human plague and it
involves -- actually more women have AIDS than men do.

Later, in the same interview, Larry King says:"Back to

- Hide quoted text -
AIDS and the gay community, you know there are some gay activists who
are wary of this sudden evangelical interest in AIDS is the desire to
change their sexual preference.

WARREN: ...Now people ask me all the time what do you think about
homosexuality, OK? Well, I don't approach it -- I approach it like
this. When you look at a female body and you look at a male body it
seems that naturally certain parts go together.

KING: It seems that way, therefore how do you explain why someone is homosexual?

WARREN: I don't explain it. I don't explain it.

KING: Well, then that doesn't suffice.

WARREN: Well, and...

KING: Do you know why women, why you like women, just because the body
is shaped differently?

WARREN: Oh, no, I'm sure I know why I like women.

KING: You do?

WARREN: I think -- I think I was wired by God to like women. I think they...

KING: So, what did he do to the gay person, God?

WARREN: I don't know that God did that. I really don't.

KING: You mean he did it to you but he didn't do it to them?

WARREN: You know, Larry, we all have instincts and we all have urges
and we all have desires. That doesn't necessarily mean that I fulfill
all of them. In other words, as a heterosexual man I might desire to
have sex with 100 women. That doesn't mean I do it because that
wouldn't be the right thing.

KING: All right, but if you desire another man and you're a man and
you're an adult, who are you harming if the two of you agree and it's
your life?

WARREN: Yes.

KING: It's not Rick Warren's life or Larry King's life. It's their life.


Here's the kicker,which shows how stupid Rick Warren really is, when
he asks how can a person believe in Darwin's theory of evolution AND
homosexuality at the same time. What a stupid, bigoted man he is!

He tells Larry King: "Well, again, I would just say I think to me the issue is,

- Hide quoted text -
is it natural? Is it the natural thing? I mean here's an interesting
thing I have to ask. How can you believe in Darwin's theory of
evolution and homosexuality at the same time? Now think about this. If
Darwin was right, which is survival of the fittest then homosexuality
would be a recessive gene because it doesn't reproduce and you would
think that over thousands of years that homosexuality would work
itself out of the gene pool.

 

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