- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 27, 2000

Blame society

"Once again, the left has deified a criminal.

"[Texas killer Gary] Graham is the latest poster boy for the left's disingenuous, but highly seductive campaign against the death penalty … whether it's attacks on the death penalty or calls to restore voting rights to felons, the premise remains the same: Shift the moral onus from criminals to society.

"In the 1960s and early 1970s, the cultural elite made law enforcement officials the outlaw and turned thugs into victims… . [A] young Yale Law School student named Hillary Rodham served on a student journal that depicted cops as literally racist pigs… .

"Recall that in the 1970s vandals were elevated to graffiti artists. Thanks to Norman Mailer and others, with just one can of spray paint any punk could be Picasso. That was kid stuff compared to what followed. In 1981, Mailer, smitten by Jack Henry Abbott's literary prowess, got the career criminal released from jail. Six weeks later, Abbott killed a young waiter… .

"Now, Gary Graham, a vicious two-bit thug, becomes a civil rights martyr. That he raped and maimed is a mere afterthought."

Evan Gahr, writing on "To Execute a Murderer," in the American Spectator on line at www.tas.org

Musical nihilism

"Marilyn Manson is the most popular emissary of self-destruction, suggesting we all kill ourselves with drugs after we snap, and slip ourselves into a coma where we become little but Mechanical Animals… .

"For those who have truly lost it, we have the musical styling of bands such as Cannibal Corpse. We can listen to songs such as '[Raped] with a Knife' and 'Meathook Sodomy' or even the creatively titled 'Necropedophilia,' and we can lose ourselves in fantasy barbarity… .

"But such a lifestyle is nihilistic only in the most basic sense. There is no nihilistic ideology behind it, just a half-understood hatred of life. Thus, such self-destruction can only appeal to the stupid among the disaffected. These are the weak who flirt at the edges of the goth and black metal scenes, who are into the music, but despised by the elite of those scenes they are the drug addicts and the prostitutes and the others who stop by a given music scene on their way downhill into the same abyss as those who smoked too much crack in the ghetto.

"And, every once in a while, one of these individuals hears too much about what a great release rape and killing is, snaps, and does it, creating fodder for the culture distorters in the media to use to promote a new government program to further break down our culture."

Bill White, writing on "Hate, Nihilism and Culture," Thursday in the Libertarian Socialist at www.libertariansocialist.com

Life with Bryant

"It's a bustling Friday morning on the set of Bryant Gumbel's 'The Early Show,' and Gumbel's guests … are ready for their close-ups. Gumbel's personal assistant, Trish Peters, who's hanging out with the cameramen, is typically unfazed by her proximity to the rich and famous… .

"Ten minutes later, the show is finished, Gumbel walks over and Peters, a 41-year-old Talbots-preppy blonde, clicks into action. 'I've gotten rid of your workout for next Wednesday,' she says, rapid-fire and unstoppable… . 'The part on Sunday is in Short Hills… . The car is coming at three… . I'll fax you the directions… . I've gotten tickets for 'Rigoletto, and it's not black-tie… .'

"[W]hat about lunch? Gumbel wants to know. 'Hilary is taking you out today,' she tells him… . Hilary is Bryant's girlfriend (his bitter divorce from his wife of 26 years has been tabloid fodder for the past few months), and, Peters will not hesitate to tell you, Hilary has Gumbel acting like a lovesick puppy… .

"[T]o Peters, who has been working as Gumbel's personal assistant for 18 years, he has become 'like a brother.' "

Evgenia Peretz, writing on "Celebrity's Little Helpers," in the July issue of Vanity Fair

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