- The Washington Times - Monday, June 26, 2000

No, no it was not an overdose of masculine lust that drove the rapists to attack the women in Central Park. Yes, rapists just as the man who exposed himself to my sister Bess, in another New York park one cold night, and drove her in icy, sweating terror to her death, was a murderer under the law and a rapist in God's eye and my Webster's definition.

Like my sister's killer, the rapists of Central Park do not even understand what non-rape sex is sexual relations of whatever kind that gives fulfillment to consenting adults. To use a phrase I hope this newspaper permits for clarity's sake: I suspect these rampaging rapists could not get it up for sex with consent and love.

Before we forget: It was not their mommies who ran around assaulting women sexually, and it was not their dadas, and it was not the police, nor poverty, nor the hundreds of witnesses immobilized by mass cowardice. It was not their teachers pouring ice water down the clothes of the victims and tearing them off, or sticking fingers into their vaginas. It was just our young heehawing laddies with their mod rags and tatoos, a pack out yapping and hunting for prey without claws.

Still they are humans, that must be conceded, so what could have moved them to do something so vile it will live in our city's history, if not in what rapists have by way of minds? We know other gangs have done more evil, but that is a copout. We are not dealing with Nazi Germany or Josef Stalin's Soviet Union. This is about men who grew up in a free country, poor perhaps but not so poor they do without food when they buy $70 sneakers.

It was not because they were born with "colored" skin. To say so is assault of another kind on the honor and work of all American blacks and browns. The thugs were out attacking because they are filled with contempt. They are contemptuous of themselves, because they know it is a filthiness to try to take sex, or what passes for it, by force and grab. They do that because they like it and can only get sex that way. They swagger in public, but in their mirrors they see sexual failure.

They are contemptuous of all women, to protect themselves against their sexual fears of them. Betcha the chicks love it, right? Maybe some of them would have preferred to assault men. But they knew they would get a fat lip and a kick in the groin.

It would be delusion to pretend other Americans have not shown self-contempt in their own work. TV's profitable "humanization" of gangsters, long coming-attraction movie previews selecting particularly nauseating violent scenes. And, as we know in the business, editors and publishers increasingly allow, or encourage, reporters to use print or air time to show off their cynicism.

We do not know much about the family lives of the marauders. We know parents often are absent or fathers can pick themselves up and leave their children with only the pain of abandonment.

None of that can be an accepted excuse for assault and rape. Neither can color of skin, for that would be a massive insult to every American born black or brown, a confirmation of the nasty demagoguery peddled so long by the Al Sharptons.

Rapists: There exists no acceptable excuse for your crimes in Central Park. Time is the only expiation as much as the law allows, not a day less.

Bess. She was oldest of my five sisters "the girls" and the gentlest. I was the youngest member of our family of eight, and only son. Through the girls, I came to prefer the talk and company of women over men, anytime. Like other young women who had to help their families instead of going to college, Bess proudly earned her living as a secretary. That night she was walking home from the subway, along a road in Van Cortlandt Park, a park deserted in the cold. This man leaped from the bushes, coat wide open, naked, genitals pushed forward.

She ran and ran, screaming for help that was not there. Her sweat turned into a cold, then swiftly pneumonia. She died within a few days, at home, on New Year's Eve.

Bess was frail, but not of mind. She would not have forgiven you, killer, nor would our parents and the three other sisters who died later, nor Rose or I, who survive. And we will not forgive the marauders in Central Park, who one day will leap from the bushes at your sister.

A.M. Rosenthal, the former executive editor of the New York Times, is a nationally syndicated columnist.

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