It’s an absurd thought, but it had to be thunk…

Unless you live in a cave, you’ve heard that John Evander Couey confessed to sexually assaulting and then murdering nine-year-old Jessica Lunsford.

You may have also heard that Couey is 46 years old.

This picture from the Houston Chronicle does NOT look like somebody who is only ten years older than I am (I just turned 37.)

This picture from CNN (which has since been replaced with the less flattering booking photo) is a little better. He looks less like a corpse, and more like a healthy 70-year-old.

Now… here’s the absurd thought. How is it that a 46-year-old man looks like he’s 70? Does a life of crime (burglary, indecent exposure, carrying a concealed weapon in violation of parole… a total of over 20 arrests in 30 years) age you preternaturally? What about a lifetime of depraved thinking? What about a decade’s worth of working your way from THINKING about depravity to actually COMMITTING depravity?

Okay, maybe he was just having a really bad week, and the photographer caught him in a bad light. Or maybe the news feeds all have his age wrong by 15 years. Or maybe there’s a message here for us from God, saying, in effect “if you think he looks bad now, just wait until you see how he looks when *I* take his booking photo.”


26 thoughts on “It’s an absurd thought, but it had to be thunk…”

  1. Seriously, I think you’re on to something.

    How we live our lives and how we think defines how our living vessels look. Kind of a subtle version of that Fable game.

  2. In the Flesh

    It has been my unfortunate experience to have heavy abusers of alcohol and nicotine on both sides of my family. Those two substances age a person, *fast.* (It used to be called “dissipation.”) It is not uncommon to appear ten to twenty years older than one’s actual age. If you add rough living, extreme anxiety, and — yes — evil, into the mix, then all bets are off in the “guess my age” pool.

    In some cases, it’s true — evil makes you ugly.

  3. I’m not sure it’s that the life of crime did it to this guy, although the associated stress can’t have helped. I suspect, rather, that it’s all of the other things that correlate strongly with the life of crime: drinking, drugs, smoking.

    BTW, I must chastise you: carrying a concealed weapon is not itself a crime per se, and, IMAO, shouldn’t be a crime at all. Vermont has it right in allowing people to carry concealed handguns without permits. It’s that the guy used his concealed weapon to commit other crimes that’s the bad thing.

    1. At the time he was carrying, I think he was already a convicted felon. That DOES make it a crime to carry (concealed or not, for that matter) and I suspect that’s why it was listed on the rap-sheet summary.


      1. Yeah, and I agree that a convicted felon has lost the right to carry weapons. I was objecting to your implication (intentional or not) that carrying concealed weapons, per se, was a crime. Maybe I’m touchy…but given the unrelenting hostility to the Second Amendment in our society in general, it’s important not to hand the gun grabbers any more excuses.

        1. The definition of “felon” hasn’t changed to keep pace with inflation.

          A person can become a “felon” for stealing as little as $500.00.
          When that became the law, $500 was a lot of money, a fortune. These days, it’s hardly a months’ rent/mortgage.

          When we say “Felons should lose their second ammendment rights,” I agree that _violent_ felons should lose their rights to firearms, but I think we as a society need to re-evaluate what constitutes felonious conduct.

          For example, “floating” a check to cover your rent and getting caught doing it… should that mark you as a felon forever? I have a friend who spent a year in jail for that offense, and he’s now and forever a felon (barring going through the arduous process of getting the felony conviction expunged from his record, which is not likely to be approved).

          Self defense is a natural right. We should be careful how and why we limit that right to people. ALL people.


          1. I agree. Glenn Reynolds has been covering this subject, pointing out that once upon a time a “felon” was someone who had committed a truly heinous crime.

            But now too many crimes are being expanded into felonies for the sake of people who have a political axe to grind. Democrats like doing it because it means one less gun owner. Republicans like doing it so they can be seen as “tough on crime”.

    2. He did say “carrying a concealed weapon in violation of parole”. It’s the violation part that’s a problem. As a CCW holder, I agree that for law abiding citizens, carrying concealed shouldn’t be a crime anywhere.

      How he could have done something like that – I don’t understand what level of depravity one would have to sink to to take a child from her home and do such things to her. My thoughts and prayers are with her family.

  4. I’m 40 and there’s no way I look anywhere near the same age as this guy. I hardly have any wrinkles and my hair just has enough gray that the kids finally noticed it a few months ago.

    *shakes head*

    I know a guy older than my parents (mid to late sixties) who looks closer to my age than this guy does. Last time we were visiting him and other friends near Austin, someone asked if I was his wife. It was funny is a slightly awkward way. But if your theory is right, then he really is the good person I think he is. He looks even younger than my parents.

    Hmmm. Rumor has it that he likes me. Maybe I should give that some more thought.

  5. Evil doesn’t age you. Unhappiness does. While there are some links between the two*, it is important to separate causes. A happy evil person will not reveal himself to you in his appearance. An unhappy good person could be condemned without just cause.

    If there is any message at all from God in this guy’s photo, it is “make sure you are happy and healthy.” It might include “being a good person will help with that, maybe and sometimes, so why not play the odds?”

    * The main one is that we are social creatures, with instincts which drive us to certain social stresses when we do things our fellows would not approve of. Since evil is defined purely by what is and is not approved of by our fellows, evil will tend to generate social stresses. Whether that makes you unhappy or not depends largely on whether you have good coping mechanisms for disapproval of your fellows. A solid self esteem is a good coping mechanism (although not perfect, and tends to erode a bit under sustained social stresses), while sociopathy is an excellent one (which is arguably perfect).

    Many criminals also establish groups of like-minded fellows, so that they have an approval support network to counter disapproval. We call them politicians 😉

    1. I’ve reread your comment several times and you’re right. I can think of several very good people who look older or are not as pretty as most and I know of some really horrible people who are very good looking.

      Maybe it’s more of a sign of the successful ability to express one’s self in happy ways on the outside?

    2. Adding a little more. (I’m not as groggy now – stupid allergies.)

      Anyway, I’ve been thinking over what I’ve learned about aging within the past year (I’m getting a bachelors of science in Family Studies and Gerontology), things that will age a person more is bad health, poverty and physical and emotional stress – with some genetics thrown into the mix.

      We could argue that some people do evil things because they don’t have the ability to interact with other people in healthy ways. And this inability to interact would cause what you describe. Of course, as you’ve alluded to, it’s not a certain indicator. Way too many variables involved.

      Someone after you mentioned that beauty=good is an idea that was abused by the Victorians. Which is very true. Flatland satires this very well. But then you have children who have a disease which makes them age faster and how could anyone consider them evil? But back then, some people did.

      Thinking on it longer, Christians especially should probably avoid this reasoning, because it was prophesized in Isaiah 53:2 about the Messiah –

      For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.

      And then there are all the references of not paying attention to the outer countenance. Though, I do know some people who do wear their souls on their faces, there are just as many who do not. Possible this criminal is one of them.

      Guess I will have to go back to not taking things at face value.

    3. In all fairness:

      Grey hair, particularly combined with a receding hairline, ages one’s appearance. Smoking also does ages skin a lot, as does regular and heavy exposure to the sun. (Construction workers and farmers, for example). People who smoke and get a lot of sun will look dramatically older than those who do neither.

      I had a friend who passed away at age 39 or so, and he looked like Santa Claus. He could easily have passed for sixty.

      And he was a very good man. *sigh*

  6. It is an old Victorian (and older) idea that depravity and evil thoughts would age a man and cause physical uglification.

    Certain activities and depravations certainly do cause preternatural aging and such, chiefly substance abuses and constant mental discord.

    Unfortunately, this has given rise to the concept that, if depravity causes uglification, then those who are ugly must be evil. Tolkein’s works are an easy case study in this. Those who were good and pure were beautiful. Those who were twisted by evil thoughts and acts were ugly and physically deformed. One must give some leeway for the necessities of a literary medium, but his works show these ideals of his cultural upbringing.

    1. When in crime one is fully employed
      Your expression gets warped and destroyed
      It’s a penalty none can avoid
      I once was a nice looking youth;
      But like stone from a strong catapult *a trice*
      I rushed at my terrible cult *that’s vice*
      Observe the unpleasant result! *not nice!*
      At least that is so in my case…..
      ~ Sir Despard Murgatroyd, Bart. *and chorus*… Ruddigore, G&S

    2. Aragorn

      In general, maybe you’re right about Tolkien, but he did make a point to say that Aragorn, “Looks foul, but feels fair” (Sam).

  7. I’ve read that the eyes are the windows of the soul. Look in those eyes and what do you see. It is quite possible that the darkness within him corrupted his physical appearance.

    He made the choices that turned him into the monster that we see here. I am sure that he was given plenty of chances to alter that course but neglected or refused them.

    I heard the analogy that there are two beasts within us. There’s that good and potentially angelic one and the monster. We choose which one we feed. One will grow up to be strong and overpower the other. The monster won in this case.

    If I were him, I would have the chosen the millstone around the neck option instead. The bible never did say what the consequences of his choice will be if the millstone was considered better than that.

  8. er

    Um, actually, I’ve never heard of this guy. Non-US news media tends to concern itself with more region-specific evils.

  9. I can’t find it but there is a series of pictures in the public domain that shows a woman’s degeneration due to the abuse of drugs. She goes from looking a bit unhealthy and unappealing to freakishly old before her time. I think it is part of the packet of materials that police use to scare kids away from drugs.

    How nice it would be if what we didn’t like in other people had a physical manifestation. Seeing such constant validation of our world view and instantaneous justice would be great. It would also mean that you couldn’t be shallow. “Hey, he’s ugly because he’s evil.”

  10. Have you read Oscar Wilde’s “picture of Dorian Gray”?

    *and my opinion?

    Evil ages you because evil makes you unhappy and unhappiness ages you.

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