Thursday, August 17, 2006

Now I Can Breathe Again

BREAKING NEWS: A suspect in the JonBenet Ramsey murder case has been arrested in Thailand. I guess it's now safe to let kids roam the streets, and we can bring mouthwash onto airplanes again. Combatants of the world can lay down their arms, hold hands and sing "Kumbaya". Apparently, all of the world's problems have been solved - or so it would seem if you rely on television news channels, because this is all they have been talking about. It's the latest non-story of the century.

John Karr is clearly a few fries short of a Happy Meal, and has a sick obsession with children. But I know I'm not the only one who thinks this whole arrest business stinks worse than day-old kippers. This schmuck gets picked up in Thailand, and we're to believe he's responsible for JonBenet's murder? The fragments of the story that he has told make no sense with regards to this case, and his ex-wife insists that he was with her in Alabama at the time of the murder (and she would remember because it was at Christmas time). He was obsessed with the Ramsey case, and it's not hard to see someone like him have delusions of physical involvement and then tell his story to the world because, in his twisted mind, he'd want recognition for earning that notch on his belt. Judging by the accuracy of his online resume, it seems that he has fantasized about his whole adult life. Furthermore, even with his love of child pornography and his teaching experiences close to young children, there haven't been any other accusations against him other than being "too affectionate" with the children, and it's rare for murderous pedophiles to stop at one. I could be wrong, but I'll be very surprised if any more compelling evidence comes out on this guy. Whether he is eventually convicted is another matter entirely.

Never in a million years would I have expected to blog on this subject. But since this latest development is so bizarre, I had to get that out of my system. My main point is how the media create importance out of things that should be much lower down the totem pole, particularly certain criminal cases that aren't really unique except for what the victim looks like. There are plenty of child abductions and rapes and murders in which the victim isn't beautiful and they get no attention, yet their parents grieve just as much. As sad as it is for the families, there is no way to argue that extensive national coverage of any of these cases is in the public interest or anything other than sick titillation. My first reaction to the new focus on the Ramsey case was that this was a flashback to the 90's and the frivolous, pre-9/11 days. Then, of course, I remembered that we never really left those days - there have been plenty of abduction cases, celebrity trials and runaway bride stories in the news in the last few years. In fact, the JonBenet headlines barely took attention away from the rumours about Vince and Jennifer. Ultimately, it's the public who is to blame for lapping this stuff up and not demanding something better.

I checked out the Yahoo!, CNN and Fox News home pages, and between the three of them I saw zero headlines about what is going on in Iraq, and just one about Lebanon. What should be the most important issues are now on the back burner, just as Afghanistan has been for about four years in the U.S. The Ramsey case isn't even the biggest legal story of the day. This would have taken the lead in the news on most other days. Coincidence? Maybe. But that's why people wear tin foil hats.

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