The Real War on Women

The hubbub over contraception has given liberal Democrats a new campaign theme: that Republicans are waging a "war on women."  In response, Republicans should point out the Democrats' complicity in a real war on women -- a war with real pain and blood, with bodies piled up by the thousands -- a war with no end in sight.

This war began almost 50 years ago.  On March 13, 1964, a screaming Kitty Genovese was raped, mutilated, and stabbed to death on a New York City street while 38 people within earshot did nothing to stop it.  Horrible as her fate was, however, that's not what started the liberals' war on women.  After all, Kitty's killer didn't do anything Jack the Ripper hadn't done a century before.  The war on women really began in 1967, when the New York Court of Appeals spared this latter-day Ripper's life.

The court ruled that Winston Moseley should have been allowed to argue that he was "medically insane" when he killed Kitty.  Moseley went on to commit another rape during a short-lived prison breakout in 1968 -- a crime for which the judges who saved him were never held responsible.  He would also join the Attica prison riot in 1971, in response to which New York sought to appease its inmates by offering them the chance to receive a college education.  Moseley obtained a degree in sociology and, in 1977, wrote a New York Times column saying he had been rehabilitated and was now an asset to society.  Denied parole anyway, he continues to eat the people's groceries and waste the parole board's time.  Parole was denied for the 15th time last November [1].

Similar instances of liberal judges' refusal to avenge the lives of women can be multiplied endlessly.  One night in 1966, parolee Richard Speck raped and killed eight student nurses in Chicago; five years later, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed his death sentence, complaining that people had been excluded from his jury for opposing capital punishment.  Speck kept eating, drinking, and sleeping at public expense, while enjoying lots of smuggled cocaine and illicit prison sex, until his death in 1991.

This liberal malfeasance is not limited to a refusal to avenge the dead.  It refuses also to protect the living.  In 1966, Kenneth Allen McDuff and an accomplice kidnapped three teenagers in Fort Worth.  Forcing them into the trunk of their car, he drove it out into the country, where he shot the two boys dead, then raped the girl, had his friend rape her, raped her again, and finally threw her down and pressed a broomstick against her throat until her neck broke.  Ratted out by his remorseful accomplice the next day, McDuff was convicted but was saved from the electric chair in 1972 by the Supreme Court.  He never should have been paroled, but Texas was under a federal court order to ease prison crowding, so after many refusals he was set free in 1989.

Three days later, McDuff killed again, and he continued his second, court-enabled reign of terror until 1992, when he was nabbed after appearing on America's Most Wanted.  During his trial in Waco, defense attorneys urged jurors not to be like Pontius Pilate, who "caved in to public demand" and sent Jesus to the cross.  The jury, unimpressed, returned McDuff to Death Row.  In 1998, he finally paid the price, more than 30 years after he first shed innocent blood.  His execution closed the books on more than a dozen rape-murders committed while he was on parole [2].

The Supreme Court has based its interference on behalf of killers such as Moseley, Speck, and McDuff on the idea that the Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishments "must draw its meaning from the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society."  How does this evolution go down with the victims and their survivors?  Consider three more vignettes:

* In 1993, the Beaumont Enterprise reported: "Kim Durman can't put her slain twin sister to rest. Every seven months, she's forced to unearth the painful details of her sister's murder."  Kathleen Durman died on prom night in 1983 when former boyfriend Dean Alan Hernandez "shot her at close range in the chest and between the legs."  In the '90s, Hernandez's parole hearings were coming up every seven months.  He had already done time for shooting another ex-girlfriend before ever meeting Kathleen.  Yet -- unless he wins parole again and, like McDuff, has another go at yet another victim -- he will never see Death Row [3].

* In California, one woman for many years attended a certain convict's parole hearings.  Time and again, Annette Carlson told how Angelo Pavageau invaded her home; killed her husband; then raped, beat, and slashed her.  He then strangled her and broke her fingers, stripping the rings from them; left her for dead; and set fire to the house.  The San Diego Union-Tribune reported in 1985 that when Pavageau went to Death Row, "Carlson's relief was overwhelming.  It lasted two years.  In 1976, the state Supreme Court ruled the California death penalty law unconstitutional."  And here's the icing on the cake: "In prison, Pavageau has fathered two children through the system's conjugal visit program, earned a degree from the College of Marin, and received $400 a month in veteran's education benefits."  Gotta love those evolving standards of decency [4]!

* Finally, say a prayer for Rebecca Thompson.  One night in 1973, she and her kid sister, Amy, were abducted in Casper, Wyoming.  Their captors raped Rebecca, then threw both girls off the Fremont Canyon Bridge, 112 feet above the North Platte River.  Amy died in the fall, but Rebecca survived.  Perpetrators Ronald Leroy Kennedy and Jerry Lee Jenkins were sentenced to death, but in 1977, Wyoming's death penalty was overturned, so they lived on.  "Every time the two would come up for parole," the AP wrote in 1992, "Rebecca would relive that endless night.  For the past two years, Kennedy had been appealing for a retrial -- an effort that friends say deeply troubled and frightened her."  On July 31, 1992, Rebecca returned to Fremont Canyon and plunged a second time into the river, joining Amy in death.  As a suicide, Rebecca's death is not included in the FBI's crime statistics.  But here's how the county sheriff saw it: "She was raped and murdered 19 years ago, but she just died Friday" [5].

Who really murdered Rebecca Thompson?  Is it her attackers, or is it the system that spared them, the crime-coddling rigmarole dreamed up by liberal justices who value the lives of rapists and murderers more than those of their victims?  Who is really waging a war on women -- the Republicans who deplore and oppose such judicial activism, or the Democrats who applaud and support it?

Karl Spence is author of Yo! Liberals! You Call This Progress?  His work has appeared in the Chattanooga Free Press, American Thinker, and National Review.


[1] See also "Silent Witnesses: The Kitty Genovese Murder," Cynthia Crompton, producer, "History's Mysteries," The History Channel, 1999.  Published works cited in the program include Martin Gansberg, "37 Who Saw Murder Didn't Call the Police," The New York Times, March 27, 1964, p. 1; and A.M. Rosenthal, Thirty-Eight Witnesses: The Kitty Genovese Case.  (The "37" in the NYT headline reflects the fact that one of the 38 witnesses did call the cops -- after it was too late to do any good.  The attack on Miss Genovese began at 3:20 a.m.; the call was made at 3:50.  Police were on the scene two minutes later.  Gansberg writes that the witness "explained that he had called the police after much deliberation," first phoning a friend for advice and then even trying to persuade someone else to make the call for him.  It was this witness who uttered the infamous words, "I didn't want to get involved.")

[2] See also Mark England, "Authorities ask public's aid to find murder convict," Waco Tribune-Herald, April 16, 1992, p. 1A; Kristie Watthuber, "Police ID remains as Northrup's," Waco Tribune-Herald, April 28, 1992, p. 1A; Scott Wright and Jim Phillips, "Jurors send McDuff back to death row; other cases linger," Austin American-Statesman, March 2, 1994, p. A1; and C. Bryson Hull, "McDuff's legacy unearthed with bodies of victims," Associated Press dispatch, Oct. 11, 1998.

[3] Sonja Garza, "Twin works to keep killer in prison," Beaumont Enterprise, Dec. 15, 1993, p. 1A.

[4] Lisa Ryckman, "June is the month to see that her husband's killer never goes free," The San Diego Union-Tribune, June 24, 1985, p. A3.

[5] Julia Prodis, "Woman dies 2nd death 19 years after brutal attack," Associated Press report in the Waco Tribune-Herald, Aug. 23, 1992, p. 6A.

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