The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, July 07, 1994, Summer, Page 5, Image 5

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    S \K Ml \\ I S I
Victims are robbed of humanity
Tonya Harding, the queen of all
figure skating machismo, had
rival skater Nancy Kerrigan
(otherwise known as Little Miss Per
fect) bopped on the knee to keep her
out of the Olympics; Michael Fay,
American teenager and suspected van
dal, had his butt caned in Singapore
(pictures will be forthcoming, I’m
sure); and Nicole Simpson, 35, was
stabbed to death by her husband on
June 12,1994. No, we don’t know that
for sure. No, he hasn’t been tried and
convicted. Unfortunately, the minds
of most people can move faster than
the criminal justice system.
Normally, 1 am a civil libertarian’s
civil libertarian. That is, I am usually
the one who is making the argument
that the right of the accused to a fair
trial is the most important thing to
consider in a criminal case. I attest
that, when cases are “tried in the
media,” it makes it very difficult for a
defendant to get a fair trial. I debate
that capital punishment is cruel and
serves no purpose other than to offer
revenge to the family of a murder
victim. 1 assert that evidence obtained
through an illegal search shouldn’t be
admissible in court because it encour
ages police to do more illegal search
es. Blah, blah, blah.
You’ll have to excuse my brief
abdication of these concepts that I
normally hold in high esteem. You
see. I’m a little bit tired of hearing
about previously unheard of and espe
cially neinous rapes, murders, mutila
tions, and other crap of this kind. It’s
scary to think about, but stronger than
fear is a feeling of outrage at the way
in which these crimes arc covered in
the media and talked about on the
streets. When crimes are committed,
even murder, it’s “okay” to the public
and the press as long as the murderer
seemed to have a good reason (Elly
Nessler, the woman who killed her
son’s molester in a California court
room), if the murderer has a good sob
story and/or movie star looks (Lyle
and Erik Menendez), or simply has a
good public image. TheO.J. Simpson
case is a prime example of this. The
When crimes are committed,
even murder, it’s “okay” to the
public and the press as long as
the murderer seemed to have a
good reason.
public is now heavily heaping sympa
thy on “the Juice.4 Nevermind the
man is suspected of murdering his
own wife and apparently terrorized
her from the day he married her.
People actually feel sorry for him be
cause he got caught. People cheered
him as he drove down the L.A. free
way, a fugitive, dismissing his hei
nous deeds and conveniently ignoring
the victims. They held up crude signs
saying “The Juice” or “We love the
Juice” as his white Bronco drove past,
helicopter blades cut through the air,
and cameras flashed.
A more common occurrence than
the above scenario is that the press
waits at least a few weeks before they
totally forget a victim of a murder, or
simply replace the victim with a cli
ched martyr image. The victim is usu
ally portrayed as an angel that can do
no wrong. However, if the victim
doesn’t fit the image—as Nicole
Brown Simpson may not—the vic
tim’s memory isn’t cherished as much
or considered as valuable. After this
martyr image is created, the media
spends its time revolting at the actions
and image of the offender.
We all know what happened to
Candace Harms. She found herself in
the wrong place at the wrong time and
paid for it with her life. To those of us
who didn't know her, the idea that she
was a real person seems foreign. She
has become a martyr. She will forever
be remembered to us as young Candace
Harms, murder victim. And now, in
stead of a sweet-faced girl of eighteen
who was close to the beginning of her
life, we remember the martyr who was
close to the end and get angry when we
see the smirking.faces of the revolting
men that killed ncr. But at least people
remember that much of her—so far,
Nicole Brown Simpson isn’t so fortu
What do we know of Nicole
Simpson? Well, I suppose we know
several things. We know that she was
murdered, of course. We know that
she had two children by O.J. Simpson.
We know that she was a battered wife.
These are inconsequential facts that
are spewed forth by the media every
time Headline News goes “around the
world in thirty minutes."
These are mere footnotes to the
saga of O.J. Simpson. And the pic
tures that the networks toss up of a
smiling yellow-haired woman as the
anchor informs us that her throat was
cut and she was found in a fetal posi
tion arc nice complements to the tale.
This is how the media recognizes and
pays homage to the victim.
Unfortunately, while gore, minor
details and false images may make
nice copy, they don’t do very much to
memorialize the victims. It’s hard to
know exactly what could properly car
ry out this task. However, it is virtually
guaranteed that the answer won’t be
found in creating the best or most
complete news story. Nor will it be
found in informing us in “updates”
concerning the crime that O.J. alleg
edly committed or in getting the tight
est c losc-up shots ofN icole S impson ’s
family at the court proceedings. Per
haps a suitable memory is just that: to
remember, that’s all.
Sarah West li a freshman Political Science
major and a Daily Nebraskan columnist.
I I I 11 Us in I III Km I OK
Fireworks vs.
Brian Sharp’s editorial (“July 4th
more than fireworks,” DN 6/30/94)
fails to ask a most interesting question
of Doug the Homeless: Why is he
without a home? In my opinion this
inquiry is relevant and relative as to
how sorry we should feel for him.
Allow me to explain. Perhaps Doug is
one of those lazy (I prefer the term
“uninspired") folks who would rather
complain and go hungry than find a
job, as Sharp speculates that “a lot of
people blindly” believe. Or is Doug a
victim of undiagnosed mental illness;
a victim of physical and mental abuse,
addicted to drugs, homeless via an act
of nature, and/or jobless due to eco
nomic reasons beyond his control? All
of these situations may result in being
homeless, but how a person gets to
that point is important to this discus
In reference to last year’s fireworks
display where Sharp “watched all of
that money that could have been put to
other uses, better uses, turn the dark
sky overhead into a smoky haze,”—
what does that have to do with
homelessness? Let me see ifl got his
reasoning straight. If we don’t shoot
off over $20,000 in fireworks, Lin
coln’s homeless could be helped be
cause “the People’s City Mission re
ceives $30,000 in city funds for an
entire year of operation.”
If I apply this logic to other situa
tions. If Nebraska didn’t put money
into its parks and tourist sites, we
could apply that money to the home
less in our state. And what if Holly
wood stopped making just a couple of
multi-million dollar films, we could
probably eliminate homelessness in a
few months! “Somewhere our priori
ties have gone wrong. This isn’t the
way it’s supposed to be.” BOOM!
If we don’t allow ourselves any
pleasures in life (fireworks, vacations,
entertainment) until everyone (the
homeless) has everything they need
(food, jobs, shelter), we are all going
to be quite miserable. Since the begin
ning of time, there have been people
that have more than you or me. And,
get ready for this one, there will al
ways be people that will have less. It’s
called life. Our consumed pleasures
validate jobs and those who created
them. These jobs stimulate the econo
my and we consume more. An active
economy produces more jobs and more
consumption. If 1 consider something
a priority and it also happens to bring
me pleasure, I’ll buy it. If I can’t afford
it. I’ll have to work harder for my
wants and needs.
Our Declaration of Independence
mentions the “pursuit” of happiness,
not a “guarantee” of happiness. If
there are reasons beyond Doug’s con
trol that he can’t get a job to provide a
. source of income for a home, then he
needs to take advantage of the oppor
tunities and assistance that arc avail
able in this great country of ours.
However, if Doug is homeless due to
his own lack of inspiration, attempt
ing to make us feel guilty because we
watch things go boom on the Fourth of
July isn’t going to solve anything.
—r— K. R. Theesen
Staff, Densistry
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