Friday, August 18, 2006

The Truth and Nothing Like the Truth

People... please....

He was with her. But he was also in Alabama with his ex-wife and family, celebrating Christmas at the same time. He drugged her and raped her. But, according to her autopsy, she was neither drugged nor raped. He strangled her, he says. But she is said to have been beaten to death. It was an accident, he says. But, by his own account, how does one accidentally strangle someone to death? It is a truly incredible confession -- incredible in the sense that there is very little of it that is even remotely believable. And yet, the arrest of a suspect in the ten-year-old unsolved murder case of JonBenet Ramsey has driven every news story of real importance off the front pages.

Did he do it? Most likely not. Even the Boulder County DA isn't saying he did it, and they sure weren't bashful back in 1996 about pointing the finger at Patsy and John. They even hurled accusations at the Ramseys' then-nine-year-old son, vaguely insinuating that he might have had some hand in his sister's gruesome murder, though every scrap of physical evidence indicated such a thing would be impossible, given the children's respective sizes and the nature her injuries.

Notice I didn't say "beauty queen" in front of her name. Because JonBenet Ramsey wasn't a beauty queen. She was just a little girl, playing dress-up and showing off, the way all bold six-year-old girls love to play dress-up and then show off. She was a little girl -- just a little girl with brownish hair dyed blonde, perhaps, with a little bridge to hide the gap made by her not-yet-grown in big girl teeth, perhaps. But still, just a little girl. The mascara and the hairspray and the sparkly clothing was all just for play to her. We made more of it than she ever did. We dirtied it up and sexed it up and made it something ugly and gross and unnatural. Which it kind of was to most of us, but not to her. She was just doing what little six-year-old girls do -- pretending to be a grown up. Whatever we think or feel about pageants for girls and women of all ages, JonBenet was only a sex object because we decided to treat her that way. It's what pedophiles do. When a pedophile uses the "he/she seduced me" defense, that's what they are talking about. Some misconstrued act, like asking for a hug, or dressing in Mommy's high heels and lipstick, is taken by a sick, freakish adult and turned into something disgusting and immoral.

We may not all be pedophiles, but we did that to this child. Not Patsy Ramsey. Not the pageant system. We did that. We let the media take her and play up her most made-up pageant headshots (many of them proven later to be Photoshop-enhanced by the Enquirer and Star magazine) and, with no understanding of what the strange world of child pageants is all about (because, before JonBenet, who outside of the deep South had really ever heard of them?), we passed judgments and made proclamations and assertions about how John and Patsy Ramsey couldn't possibly have loved their daughter, if they let her display herself like that. We never made an effort to find out the truth. We jumped to every disgusting, horrible conclusion. We rationalized that because we would never parade our daughters around that way, then John and Patsy must have been asking for it when someone broke into their home in the early morning of the 26th of December, 1996, pulled their baby girl out of her bed, took her to the basement, then beat her until she was dead. Of course, they killed her, we surmised. What kind of parent puts mascara and lip gloss on their little girl, dyes her hair blonde, then dresses her in sequins and let's her prance around a stage? Only someone who would murder their own child would do such a heinous thing, certainly.

By "we," of course, I don't just mean the media. I don't just mean the Boulder County district attorney's office. I mean you. And I mean me. And I mean Oprah Winfrey, who pretty much had Patsy tried and convicted because the distraught mother wouldn't submit a handwriting sample to investigators who, we now know, had proven incompetent, inept and convinced of the Ramseys' guilt before every setting foot in a crime scene that their own uniformed officers had inadvertently contaminated out of ignorance.

We let this little girl, this sweet child, not to mention her grieving family, be dragged through the mud for the sake of our own prurient, unwholesome desire for gossip and entertainment. We should be ashamed of ourselves. And we should be on our best guard not to allow this pervert they've arrested use JonBenet yet again, in order to make himself famous or important with a false confession.

Before we disinter JonBenet's memory and slog with it through the mire of adult sexual fantasy and twisted pedophilic perversion, let us stop a moment and ask ourselves if this case isn't best left off of the front page until such time as concrete evidence exists to begin a murder trial. Rather than look at the distorted face of someone convicted of indulging in child pornography, who openly identified with Michael Jackson's sexual attraction to children, how about if we remember what this case is really all about. The sweet little face at the top of this post. That's JonBenet Ramsey. She wasn't a beauty queen. She was just a little girl. She deserved better than any of us gave her. We owe her an apology. Let's not spit on her memory any more than we already have.

After all, it's not like we don't have matters of more pressing importance to think about.


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