The media has it all wrong

Posted: Mar 19, 2001 12:00 AM
"Jesse slowly suffocated and died." A jury heard those chilling words this week in the opening statement of a little-noticed Arkansas trial. A mother heard those heart-breaking words spoken about her 13-year-old son, Jesse Dirkhising, whom prosecutors say died at the hands of two men who raped and murdered the boy during a marathon torture session. The trial raises grave questions about society's increasing tolerance of gay pedophilia. But in New York and Los Angeles, the national presshounds were more interested in covering the trial of rap star Sean "Puffy" Combs than in reporting on the tragic death of Jesse Dirkhising. The details are sickening: On Sept. 26, 1999, Jesse was at the Rogers, Ark., home of a family friend, 39-year-old Davis Carpenter, and Carpenter's roommate and alleged gay lover, 23-year-old Joshua Brown. According to a local Associated Press account, prosecutor Bob Balfe told jurors Wednesday that "the boy had been given a strong sedative, then restrained while his own underwear was stuffed into his mouth and held in place with duct tape. Brown then folded Jesse into position atop a bed while supporting the boy's body with pillows." "While Jesse was bound and helpless and naked in this position ... he was repeatedly raped ... over a period of hours," Balfe said. "Jesse slowly suffocated and died." The prosecution says Brown raped and sodomized Jesse with various objects, including food, while Carpenter stood in the bedroom doorway watching and masturbating. According to a police affidavit, Brown took a break from the assault to eat a sandwich. When he returned, prosecutors say, he discovered that Jesse was not breathing. Carpenter then called police, who found the boy naked and near death on a bedroom floor. Police gathered evidence from the men's apartment that included lurid drawings showing a bound person, written descriptions of a homosexual assault, pieces of paper describing objects with which Jesse was sodomized, and a printed grocery receipt listing duct tape and other items found near Jesse's body. The defense will argue that Jesse - outnumbered, overpowered, overdosed, and strapped helplessly to a mattress - was a willing and consenting participant in this sexual torment. This was a child. A 13-year-old child. A boy who should be riding a scooter and wrestling with his friends and watching cartoons and doing his algebra homework. That the defense could even dare make a public case for consensual sex between a 13-year-old boy and two adult men shows how far this country has sunk into the cesspool of moral apathy and cowardice. Public leaders are so worried about not offending gay political interest groups that they remain silent about the mainstreaming of homosexual predation. The defense of gay pedophilia has metastasized deep and far into the national conscience. As Mary Eberstadt wrote in the Weekly Standard recently, "Today's pressures to normalize pedophilia are not the result of some omnipotent and unstoppable taboo-devouring social and moral juggernaut; they are occurring one bookstore, one magazine, one publisher and advertiser, one author and editor and consumer at a time." One of the nation's leading gay magazines, "XY," is targeted to readers as young as 12. It features photo spreads of half-naked men and publishes profanity-laced articles supporting lowering the age of consent. Instead of universal condemnation, the North American Man-Boy Love Association (which advocates normalizing and decriminalizing sex between adult males and boys) receives praise and sympathy from liberal magazine writers and literary critics. NAMBLA is the subject of late-night comedy monologues and the beneficiary of pro bono legal aid from the American Civil Liberties Union. Opponents of the group are smeared as right-wing homophobes; they and others who have criticized the media for ignoring Jesse Dirkhising's death are tarred as anti-gay propagandists. Political correctness is slowly suffocating our sense of public outrage over behavior that is perverse, coercive, and wrong. This is why the brutal death of Jesse Dirkhising has been met with deaf ears and a cruel collective shrug.