No Such Nonsense

A little of this, that and... what was I talking about again? It's TV, sports, pop culture and politics - all the stuff that really matters in life.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Death in America

Ten years ago, 6-year-old Jon-Benet Ramsey was found beaten to death in the basement of her parent's Colorado home. In no time at all, the case became a media sensation. Like Natalee Holloway and Laci Peterson after her, little Jon-Benet became a fixture in the newspapers and on TV for months after her death. Inevitably, insidiously, as Boulder police failed to make an arrest, suspicion fell on the family.

The morbid fascination with case and the cloud that hung over the family sprang from the same source - endless videotape of the tiny Jon-Benet in full beauty-queen hair and make-up, prancing down the runway at various child beauty pageants. That so many people were willing to believe that her parents would do her harm emerged at least in part from the belief that, by entering their child in these bizarre contests, the Ramseys were already doing harm to Jon-Benet. Our disdain for, and fascination with, this strange subculture, in which little girls are shellacked into strange living dolls, translated into disdain for Jon-Benet's parents. Patsy's own beauty-queen past cast her as the evil mother desperate to live vicariously through her child.

For a decade, the Ramsey's lived under the shadow a double tragedy - the loss of beloved daughter and the crushing suspicion of the rest of the world. Her parents watched as news outlets even accused their son of killing his own sister. Amid accusations of police bungling, they waited for an arrest that it seemed would never come. Indeed, for Patsy, who died earlier this year, it never came. Thankfully, now it has. The mystery comes to an end, and the Ramseys emerge cleared of suspicion. Somehow, after 10 years, it cannot possibly be enough.


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