Friday, June 30, 2006

The More things Change

On Christmas night, 1996, someone murdered a little six-year old girl named Jon-Benet Ramsey in Boulder Colorado.

That person remains at large.

Jon-Benet's mommy, Patsy Ramsey, died earlier this week due to a cancer which had been in remission before the murder, and before the slanderous and viscious media campaign and the wanton incompetence of the Boulder law enforcement and justice system branded her a murderess.

Patsy will be laid to rest next to her daugher in an Atlanta cemetary.  I pray they both rest in peace. 

The inconceivable torment of being judged and convicted by a sensationalist media is not unique to Patsy Ramsey.  Just ask current Seattle resident, the former Lindy Chamberlain, whose infamous treatment at the hands of an out of control media frenzy became the subject of the film A Cry in the Dark.  The Chamberlains were camping near Ayers Rock in Australia in 1980 when their 9 week old daughter was abducted by a dingo, a wild dog native to Australia.  As rumor and innuendo grew, media speculation about whether the Chamberlains were guilty of infantacide grew proportionately.  At last, the Chamberlains were prosecuted and found guilty.  It took a number of years for them to vindicate themselves and prove themselves innocent of their daughter's death.

Both Patsy Ramsey and Lindy Chamberlain were convicted by a scurrilous combination of rumor mill and witch hunt.  It is a peculiar thing about human society.  Every now and then we need a good witch hunt.  That is not to say that there haven't been mothers who have killed their children--there certainly have.  Susan Smith, Diane Downs and Andrea Yates are the most notorious, but there certainly are many, many more. 

But with Ramsey and Chamberlain the facts just didn't add up.  It took the cold light of science through dispassionate, unbiased investigation to correct the injustice by a wildly speculative rumor machine.  For some reason in these cases, as with others, the rumors were more interesting and entertaining than the facts.  Justice demands we treat every accused with the presumption of innocence. 

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