Monday, October 16, 2006

Jumping the Gun

[posted by Callimachus]

Bob Herbert of the New York Times is jumping the gun again. The man has more jumped guns to his credit than an ADHD track meet.

This time, he's blaming the Amish school shooting around here on ... wait for it ... PORN.

And the mainstreaming of "extreme forms of pornography that have spread like nuclear waste across mainstream America," featuring "disrespectful, degrading, contemptuous treatment of women" in, for instance, ads for Clinique moisturizing lotion. He goes to women's advocacy groups to get quotes like, "Once you dehumanize somebody, everything is possible."

There is no evidence yet of pornography in the case of Charles Carl Roberts IV, the killer of the Amish girls. Nobody involved in the case has called him a victim of society. He had deep, introverted troubles. Porn, apparently, was not among them. A daughter lost in infancy was, however.

State police said Roberts told his victims, “I’m going to make you pay for my daughter." His suicide notes to his wife said he was angry at God for the death of their infant daughter. He also wrote of molesting young relatives 20 years ago, but police and family members have found nothing to substantiate his claim. He wrote of his disturbing sexual dreams.

Many, many problems. Clinique ads don't seem to be on the list, however.

Now maybe somewhere down the line a porn connection will emerge. Some paedophile molesters use it; some do not. It does not cause them to exist, however.

I'm still withholding my theory of what made Roberts snap till I learn an answer to exactly this question -- if I ever do. I've been watching for one all this time. So far, either no reporter has asked the right question or the police haven't investigated this angle.

But Bob Herbert not only thinks otherwise; he's cocksure of it:

You're deluded if you think this is all about fun and games. It's all part of a devastating continuum of misogyny that at its farthest extreme touches down in places like the one-room Amish schoolhouse in normally quiet Nickel Mines, Pa.

Herbert's wrath strikes me not only as premature, but curiously selective. He writes:

In the widespread coverage that followed these crimes, very little was made of the fact that only girls were targeted. Imagine if a gunman had gone into a school, separated the kids on the basis of race or religion, and then shot only the black kids. Or only the white kids. Or only the Jews.

There would have been thunderous outrage. The country would have first recoiled in horror, and then mobilized in an effort to eradicate that kind of murderous bigotry. There would have been calls for action and reflection. And the attack would have been seen for what it really was: a hate crime.

A hate crime, hmmm? There was a case, years ago, where a woman was brutally sexually attacked by a man. Not too long ago, Herbert wrote an op-ed column about that Central Park jogger case. There his concern was not about the woman left for dead, or about suggestive advertising. There, the evil bugbear was ... wait for it ... RACISM (and Giuliani).

Bob Herbert Op-Ed column says ... most New Yorkers -- because of out and out racism, or deeply felt desire to see criminals brought to justice at time of high crime rate -- wanted [the later-released suspects] to be guilty; says now that another man has confessed to that crime, it is impossible to know what the five accused did or did not do to jogger; says whatever the truth is, there was no provision in reality of New York in 1989 and 1990 that could have accommodated their acquittal.