Saturday, June 26, 2010

Androids in America

With subdued interest, I recently took note of an area legal case in which a young man pursuing a medical education was convicted of murdering his wife, a young medical professional, by slashing her throat. His only defense, which didn't go over well in court, dictated that he was certain the person he killed was an imposter pretending to be his wife. The jury didn't buy it, and he's going away for a long, long time to a place housed by imposters aplenty.

These little I-killed-a-pretender incidents seem to pop up with some regularity in the news and, of course, juries never accept the assertion, particularly when evidence indicates the involvement of mental illness in the defendant's actions. Certainly, it's one thing to say to one's spouse or partner, "You just don't seem like yourself today," and quite another to settle the matter with homicidal actions. How in the world does one ascend to that level? Where do delusions of identity take root and flourish into terror? What make us strangers to others? Is there indeed something about our existence causing us to appear different to those who think they know us? Does the fabric of reality occasionally flutter and bend in ways we can't comprehend? I'm not specifically referencing the UFO phenomenon, but we must admit that the UFO topic in itself advances the incredible.

Stories about this latest murder trial reminded me of a bizarre incident from 1991, reported by the Associated Press, another circus of identification horror ending in death that went on for 16 agonizing hours in Genoa, NY. Alleged perpetrator Rolf Rahn (pictured, holding a gun) was eventually shot and killed by NY State Police.

According to the AP, Rahn, 37, had called upon plumber Kevin St. John to repair a well on his property. At some point during the day an argument erupted and Rahn, calling St. John an "android," shot the plumber in the chest with a single gunshot. He then held St. John hostage in a barn for two hours until police negotiator David Gould arrived, when St. John somehow escaped and was rushed to a hospital in serious condition.. Then the weirdness factor escalated.

"I thought I had him at one time," Gould stated. "Then he started talking about this space stuff. He thinks I'm Captain Kirk, I think."

By that Saturday evening, dozens of state troopers had surrounded Rahn's farmhouse, with negotiators attempting unsuccessfully to defuse the situation by telephone. During the conversation, Rahn assured Gould he wouldn't be taken alive -- and demanded a spacecraft to take him away. "I told him it was broken down," advised Gould.

In a phone conversation with a reporter from the Auburn (NY) Citizen, Rahn insisted he was an "alien" surrounded by "evil androids," and would not do anything until police sent a large flying saucer to rescue him.

Unfortunately, as the long night progressed, Rahn was fatally shot when he pointed a handgun at officer Gould and refused to drop it.

Now, I know that looks can deceive, but even one's family dog would admit that Rahn, as shown above, appeared, um, curious, to say the least. Chances are, the guy was so far off the deep end that retrieval would have been all but impossible. Still. . .

Still, why aliens? Why androids? Why spacecraft and flying saucers? How did that stuff get into Rahn's extremely disturbing box of mental monsters? Time after time, UFO abductees whose fantastic stories seem plausible particularly because their mental status is rock-solid grade-A leave investigators truly puzzled. But then a berserker like Rahn pops up, posing a considerable threat to both lives and emotional credibility, and you just know the UFO debunkers are rolling with delight over the maggots of such tarnished reputations like coyotes happily permeating themselves with the essence of week-old road kill.

Yes, UFO evidence bears serious study, and some alleged abductions appear grounded in reality. But people such as Rolf Rahn are disturbing for other reasons. For instance, if one takes a poll at mental institutions we'll generally find that the "flying saucer" issue is rare among a population far more concerned with other torments. So, when we're confronted with the Rahns of the world who are obviously emotionally troubled, we have to wonder just where his personal alien, android and flying saucer demons originated.

For the record, I'm sure that most people who injure or murder those close to them certainly do know who their victims are -- in fact, that's why they do what they do, because they're infuriated by precisely what they behold. What you see is what you get. . .or more to the point, what you see is what you get rid of. These days, many marriages and meaningless relationships seem to fit that bill, just check the news every day. An old tabloid headline once summed it up best: "Other people can make you sick!"

But back to Rahn -- did he have some legitimate UFO experience that set him off, earlier in life -- or later? Of course, we'll never know. What do we know? We know that an android is defined as an automaton resembling a human being, and we know that an android is also described as a humanoid or a mechanical man. Putting medical textbooks aside, sometimes we simply have to wonder about the divisions between fantasy and reality. Mentally compromised people have enough trouble distinguishing between each, while the rest of us remain perhaps a bit too smug in the false belief that our bedrock bases of normalcy are secure. In the meantime, we believe that an android-obsessed farmer invited his own demise in 1991, and more recently a former medical student is about to rot in prison because he believed his wife an imposter. Don'cha kinda wonder if that person you sleep next to tonight or party with tomorrow evening might turn out to be your surprise executioner next week? Or you theirs? Whatever you do. . .don't be a stranger.