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J'Accuse

The Media and the Latest Jonbenet Ramsey Fiasco

by WALTER A. DAVIS

In recent days one has heard this complaint in many alternative media: why with all the deaths in Iraq and Lebanon and Haifa etc. the fixation in the mainstream media on the death of a single individual, a little girl who died ten years ago?

While I sympathize with this concern, I think there is another lesson we can learn here. (And, as I’ll show, one that connects what happens in Amerika on the little stage with what Bush and Company continue to project on the large one.)

Alternative media such as MWCNews, Counterpunch, Daily Kos, Truthout and others exist because the mainstream media are not doing their job. Or, to put it more bluntly, are doing a transparently ideological job in order to keep the Amerikan people in the dark about virtually everything. The Ramsey case is a conspicuous illustration of this situation. Here, a few high points.

From the start this story was played tabloid fashion to excite the voyeur and pedophile that has, thanks to the media, become firmly implanted in the Amerikan psyche. The sexualization of the child and of child beauty pageants as an institution dedicated to that purpose was on daily display. But not, be it noted, so that there could be a serious examination of why so many parents should be so eager to turn their daughters into miniature hookers, for the delight of like-minded parents.

Maybe that’s why 3,000 child beauty pageants were held in this country in 1997 the year after the death of JonBenét Ramsey. But have no fear: by 2001 the number annually in the U.S. had grown to 25,000. So much for learning from the news.

Moreover, to my knowledge no one from social services has yet investigated any of the parents who put their children in such pageants nor has there been any effort to introduce legislation limiting or criminalizing such activity. After all, we’re not the Taliban.

But of course a deeper purpose is at work in all this. As Bush’s actions in the wake of 9-11 indicate, for us the evil must always be outside us. In Iraq. In the pedophile lurking around the playground. But never in the bosom of the family nor in the actions Amerika takes in its thrust toward global empire. Projection and denial remain the primary principles whereby the collective national psyche operates.

Now, here’s the real scoop, and what the media could have done if it wanted to do some genuine investigative reporting on the Karr fiasco. The legal system, it turns out, is fully complicit with the disorder that demands that what happened to JonBenét Ramsey be projected outside the family. To condense the basic facts into what could have been tasty sound-bites even for the major news networks.

In March of 2003 Judge Julie Carnes of Atlanta, the Antonin Scalia of U.S. District Court Judges, made the unprecedented move while dismissing a libel case against the Ramseys by one Chris Wolf to issue the opinion that there is no evidence showing that the parents killed JonBenét Ramsey and considerable evidence pointing to an intruder. The only problem was that Judge Carnes only saw that portion of the available evidence that the Ramsey’s attorney Lin Wood permitted her to see. (Wood, as you must know, is one slick dude but this time he outdid himself and his Machiavellian chuckle could be heard all the way to Boulder.)

For Mary Lacy (then Keenan), the new Boulder D. A. within a week of that ruling issued a public statement expressing her agreement with it. By the way, before doing so Ms. Lacy did not review her own police files, where ample evidence exists contradicting the misleading "data" on which Judge Carnes based her opinion. (Ms. Lacy had also met for 4 hours in February of 2003 with Mr. Wood who threatened a lawsuit against the city of Boulder unless she took the case out of the hands of the Boulder police. Following that meeting, she complied.)

And so the race was on to find the intruder. (As Patsy Ramsey put it in her first News Conference, her finger angrily shaking at a terrified Amerika: "There’s a killer out there and no one will be safe until he’s found." The killer, the terror-forever outside. ) Large sums of public funds were invested in the search. And with time the pressure to make an arrest grew. Enter Mr. Karr. As the song goes, "just in time."

Unfortunately this situation is a win-win one for all those who want to continue to exploit a misunderstanding of the basic facts to solidify the hold of the belief that (1) that everyone now agrees that the murder must have been done by an intruder, and (2) that there is evidence that will prove who did it once the guilty party is caught. Let me take up, briefly, the four dominant misconceptions regarding the second issue. And note again that what you are about to hear you never hear in the mainstream media.

The palm print. No mystery here. It has already been identified as that of Melinda Ramsey.

The Hi-tech boot print. Patsy Ramsey herself indicated under questioning that she had purchased her son Burke a pair of Hi-tech boots. (By the way, Patsy’s sister Pam was permitted in the Ramsey household just a few days after the murder and she removed several boxes of items that were not catalogued by the police.)

The handwriting in the ransom note. Here-and it wasn’t too long ago when the handwriting and so many other things about the ransom note pointed toward Patsy that we were being told how inexact this science was-you can place your bets on one thing: the number of markers indicating Karr wrote the note will be far exceeded by the number identifying Patsy as its author.

But of course everything hinges we are told on the DNA. However, the DNA is "degraded" and "co-mingled." Moreover, the fact that it came into contact with the child body by way of the paint brush used to sexually assault her does not prove that this DNA is that of the killer. It could have gotten on the brush during its manufacture, its transmission, etc. It could even be DNA from, of all places, Thailand, since that is one of the primary places where menial jobs are outsourced in the global Amerikan economy. In a sense the Ramsey case spawned the fascination with the forensic that has now led to 3 different CSI TV series. But even the most slavish devotee to this genre should now be in a position to realize that once again the media and the boulder authorities are pulling the wool over our eyes.

But I also bring you glad tidings. There is an alternative to all this nonsense. A petition exists asking the Governor of Colorado to appoint a Special Prosecutor to take over the case.
One can sign that petition at: www.petitiononline.com/jbr246/petition.html.

There are also, thanks to the Web, places where one can go to get a detailed presentation of all the actual facts and the full history of this sorry affair. The two primary ones are: www.supportramseytruth.com and www.acandyrose.com.

Though it has become anathema in the mainstream media, it is time to re-instate the hypothesis that offers the most probable account of what happened in the Ramsey house on Dec. 24-25, 1996. That hypothesis agrees with Lin Wood’s belief, in alerting police surveillance people and the media, that the murderer of JonBenét Ramsey may very well have been present at Patsy Ramsey’s funeral. In terms of probability-and all we could know about this case if we would begin again and this time stick with the primary phenomenon: the whoring of a child by her mother-the killer was indeed in attendance and now lies in hallowed ground next to her victim.

Space makes it impossible for me to rehearse the details of that argument here. I have done so elsewhere-in An Evening with JonBenét Ramsey: A Play and Two Essays. Permit me instead to end on a personal note that in its way sums up the difference between the two sides in this case. The book took me five years to write, but the motive that is correctly ascribed to just about everyone who has involved themselves in this story had nothing to do with it. In fact, as page 9 of the book states, I have set up a Trust stipulating that all money due me from sales of the book and from productions of the play contained in it is to be given to organizations who work on behalf of sexually abused children. In contrast, the Ramsey’s lawyer, Lin Wood, has bragged often about how much money he’s made off the Ramsey case. I think you might find it instructive to read what he emailed me to tell me what would happen if I published my book or had my play produced. "I’ll buy myself another Jaguar and another thoroughbred race horse with the money I’ll make suing you." Isn’t it pretty when someone exposes their "character" with such clarity? I still await that suit, by the way.

But that’s nothing to what JonBenét Ramsey and all the other victims of childhood sexual abuse are waiting for in a society where the sexual abuse of children has grown to epidemic proportions and where the primary perpetrators are members of the child’s own family. They await a justice that is no longer possible in Amerika and that its mainline media regard, let’s face it, with cynical contempt. After all, that story could lead to the need to recover the discipline that most everyone, both in academe and in the society at large is so eager to dismiss-Psychoanalysis; and specifically a psychoanalytic understanding of Amerikan society and its most cherished institution, the one where ideology is, in fact, transmitted to those who have little choice but to comply with the desires and conflicts that their parents impose on them. Far better the saga of Mr. Karr, complete with yet another viewing of the JonBenét videos.

WALTER A. DAVIS is an actor, playwright, and cultural critic. His primary theoretical book on theatre is Get the Guests: Psychoanalysis, Modern American Drama and the Audience (U of Wisconsin P, 1994). His plays include An Evening With JonBenet Ramsey (Authors Choice P, 2004). His most recent work of cultural criticism Death’s Dream Kingdom: The American Psyche since 9-11 has just appeared and can be ordered in the U.S. at The U of Michigan Press and in the U.K. at Pluto Press (London). For further description of his work see www.walteradavis.com. He may be reached at: davis.65@osu.edu.