Amid the buzz over the court decision to try the defendants in the “Slender Man Trial” as adults, I paused and tried to recall a movie we saw called “The Tall Man“. Was it the same myth?
The “Slender Man Trial” is so called because at the center of an attempted homicide is a mythical character — Slender Man, who else?
In May 2014, two 12-year-old girls — Morgan E. Geyser and Anissa E. Weier — stabbed a schoolmate 19 times with a knife. The victim managed to drag herself from the woods and was discovered by a cyclist. She survived and named Geyser and Weier as her attackers.
Geyser and Weier were arrested. They claimed that stabbing the victim was meant to appease Slender Man who threatened to harm their families. There was also the belief that by impressing Slender Man, they could become his “proxies” (loyal followers) and live in his mansion. They also admitted that they had been planning the stabbing for months.
While threat, duress and undue influence are all legal defenses in the commission of the crime, it has to be proved that they were real. But Slender Man isn’t real. He’s a myth that started with a Photoshop contest. So, how could he threaten to harm the families of Geyser and Weier?
So, the girls’ mental health was scrutinized. Initial psychiatric evaluation concluded that the girls were mentally ill but that was later overturned.
The adult criminal court has exclusive, original jurisdiction over Geyser by virtue of WIS. STAT. § 938.183(1)(am), which grants jurisdiction to the adult court where a juvenile over the age of ten is charged under WIS. STAT. § 940.01(1)(a) with attempted first-degree intentional homicide. [Wicourts.gov]
The same holds true for Weier.
The case has once more brought to the forefront concerns about the internet.
“This should be a wake-up call for all parents,” Waukesha Police Chief Russell Jack said in a much-quoted statement about his two young prisoners. “The Internet has changed the way we live. It is full of information and wonderful sites that teach and entertain. The Internet can also be full of dark and wicked things.” [Newsweek]
Well, books, television and film are full of wonderful information that can teach and entertain too. They can also be full of dark and wicked things. Just Google “The Tall Man”, Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, George R. R. Martin, “Stranger Things” and “Wayward Pines”.
And for those who are so sure that Geyser and Weier are less than sane for believing that Slender Man is real, well… There are 1.2 billion Catholics in the world who believe that Mary was impregnated by the Holy Spirit, that Jesus really walked on water, turned water to wine and then rose from the dead. Their ancestors, meanwhile, burned “witches” — alleged followers of Satan — at the stake after undergoing mock trials.
What makes the belief of Geyser and Weier less real? Because we can trace the origin of Slender Man? Well, we can trace the origin of how Jesus the man became Jesus the Christ too. Four words. First Council of Nicaea.
Whose standard of reality and sanity should we follow?