For a variety of reasons, I am tired of writing posts about the horrendous Christian/Newsom double murder. Now that the victim’s family and the Assistant District Attorney have finally spoken up, I’d like to think that the allegations of pre-mortem sexual mutilation have been put to rest. (Others don’t think they have been, though.)
The reason this series of posts started (in reverse chronological order, they are here, here, here, here, and here) was because something just didn’t seem right to me when I read numerous accounts of these unspeakable tortures, without any official confirmation anywhere.
Now that there has been official confirmation that the allegations were false, that ends my inquiry.
It does not, however, end the legal case, which is only beginning and which will of course drag on for months and probably years. I think it’s important to get the facts right in cases like this, especially when the claim is made that the MSM is ignoring them, and now that the unverified stuff has been debunked, it ought to make the discussion of the case that much clearer.
The bigger debate is the MSM’s treatment of the story. The MSM hysteria surrounding Duke “rape” case still being very much on the public mind, it is quite natural for people to ask questions about a media double standard. I know I’ve said this before, but I think media circus trials are a bad idea, as they make it very difficult for a district attorney to do his job and see to it that justice is done. In the Duke case, you had a politically motivated DA who was deliberately fueling the media circus even though he had no case. It was very wrong for the MSM to treat the case as a circus, just as it was wrong in the case of the OJ murder trial, the Michael Jackson child molesting trial, and countless others.
I’m having a conceptual problem, though, because on the one hand I don’t like double standards, and there certainly is a double standard in the disparate MSM treatment between the Duke “rape” case and the Christian/Newsom savage kidnap/rape/murder/corpse-burning case.
But on the other hand, there’s the principle that two wrongs don’t make a right. Should one improper media circus justify another?
It’s not clear to me that it should. So, it’s right to condemn the double standard, but forgive me if I don’t demand a media circus. As it is, I’ve written enough blog posts about this, and my only goal was to verify the gruesome pre-mortem mutilation details, which I believe fueled the story to the point where it could not be ignored.
In the comments to my last post, Scott from Buuuuurrrrning Hot asked me a very good question:

Does mutilation really add that much to the list of evil already performed?

I replied that it does, and here’s why:

In the normal scope of things, there is no crime worse than murder. But there are degrees of savagery which make some murders worse than others. Rape might come a close second to murder, but when you add cutting cutting off a man’s penis while his girlfriend was forced to watch, and torturing the girl for four days and cutting off her breast, I think this increases the severity and the emotional appeal — and very dramatically. I also think that these particularly heinous atrocities are what drove (and continue to drive) the story emotionally — to the point where people became far more hysterical and less willing to be logical than they’d have normally been.
I keep warning that this can only redound to the benefit of the defendants.
Now that the DA and the family have cleared things up, where are the retractions and corrections?

I don’t mean to point the finger at anyone here. I’ve been wrong lots of times, and relied on things I shouldn’t have relied on. So, what bloggers and web sites have said, what MSM journalist John Leo said, or what a particular college reporter said, are not so much the issue as is whether the continued recitals of these erroneous details will at least stop in the future.
IMO, none of them helped the DA’s case against the defendants. There are degrees of murder, degrees of savagery, just as there are degrees of hysteria. Had the live mutilation allegations been true, I would have considered this to be the most horrible contemporaneous criminal case I’d ever heard about in my life. This is not to defend the defendants in any way, but a double kidnap/rape/murder does not rise to the same emotional level as cutting off a man’s penis while his girlfriend is forced to watch and then cutting off her breast during four days of agonizing torture. Vicious tortures like these performed on live human beings rank among the most cruel and depraved activities of which man is capable. There is no way to read about them and not be horrified and emotionally overwhelmed — often beyond many people’s ability to be logical.
The emotional hysteria thus created can create a lynch mob mentality, and once again, clever lawyers could manipulate this to the advantage of the defendants. (More here.)
Because I want the people who raped and murdered Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom to pay with their lives, I don’t want to give their defense team any advantages.
In that respect, perhaps I should not have written about the case at all. I hope that my posts have helped defuse at least some of popular hysteria, and I also hope that people will stick to the facts of the case and let the prosecution do its job.
I also hope this is my last post about the unverified “reports.”
UPDATE: My thanks to Glenn Reynolds for linking this post. I’m on the road, and mostly offline, but I do appreciate all comments.
UPDATE (06/03/07): I just returned from vacation and found this email from Stefanie Williams, the text of which I thought merited an update:

So as I am on summer break, our news editions don’t begin until June
6th I believe. I am the opinion editor during the year, not the summer,
and rarely am I allowed to write articles anymore. So in lieu of writing
a “new facts show” article, I logged into my administrative site and
updated the original article, and removed the sexual mutilation
information.
I hope you understand whole heartedly I did not intend this article to
spread rumors and lies. I worked on it based on a reliable source. And
sometimes, reliable sources can make mistakes too. Before I removed it,
I wanted to make sure the information (no mutliation) was correct, and
as it has now been shown, there was no mutilation, so I promtly removed
it, leaving only the information that has been substantiated by reports
and documents. I am not a white supremacist, I am not a KKK member, I’m
pretty liberal to be honest-this had nothing to do with my “agenda”, as
I don’t have one, and I never wanted people to believe so. Your blog
upset me because I think a lot of people thought that’s who I was, a KKK
white supremacist looking to exploit the murders of two kids. It’s so
far from the truth, and I hope I have shown you that about myself.
Do I still believe this crime deserved more media attention?
Absolutely. Do I believe it was a hate crime? Debatable, though I do think
affluence and “white affluence” had a place in the attack, but I will wait
’til trial to make a full blown decision. I am not a racist. I just seek
equality all around. If this happened to two black kids by whites, I
would feel the same way if it weren’t reported. Just like I feel anger
that so many minority men, women, and children go missing daily and Greta
is not on their case 24/7.
I hope by me correcting the article, it will show you and others than I
was not trying to sensationalize this or lead to any further racial
tensions. I don’t believe the families of these two victims, nor the
victims themselves, would ever wish to create an atmosphere of dishonesty or
racial hatred–I think those who exploited this tragedy to advance
their own agendas (specifically white supremacist groups who marched in
Knoxville, for example) did nothing to help any situations that this
brutal double murder highlighted. Making a situation more tense is never a
way to solve it. That was not what my article intended to do either. It
just saught to put things in perspective coming from a very frustrated
former men’s lacrosse manager and citizen of a town that was under
scrutiny for so long after the Duke Lacrosse Hoax. Regardless of whether
the victims were white, black, yellow, pink, or blue, I think this case
deserved more attention, and the media failed miserably. I have my !
!
own opinions why, as I stated, but I don’t think anyone will ever
surely know why this case was overlooked. All I can hope is that the
families find some peace in knowing those who did this to their children are
in custody and justice will (hopefully) prevail.
I was hoping maybe you would be willing to post this on your blog, if
it’s not too much trouble. I would like people to see that I never
intended the article to be viewed as racial propaganda, nor am I a part of
any group or organization trying to advance an agenda. Simply, I saw
something that pissed me off and I wrote about it. That’s what I did as an
opinion columnist.
I apologize very much that it came out so late that indeed those two
facts (the penis and breast mutilations) were false. I never would have
printed them if I didn’t truly believe they were correct. And I hope
people understand that.
Take care,
Yours,
Stef Williams
Maryland ’08