- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 28, 2001

What makes a murder national news?

In insisting that the rape of Jesse Dirkhising deserves national media attention, your March 27 editorial "Unfit to Print" assumes that the murder of Matthew Shepard was rightfully publicized. In reality, the Shepard case was the political tool of those who want to criminalize certain thoughts and beliefs along with the actions that can accompany them.
The Shepard case was not newsworthy because it was brutal and tragic. Rather, it had a political purpose to villainize those who do not accept homosexuality as normal and to underscore the need for "hate crime" legislation as a response. The news media have not picked up on the Dirkhising case because it serves no such purpose. The boy apparently was not targeted because he belonged to any group, much less one the media perceives as victimized.
Truly objective journalists would not have considered either story worthy of national attention.

TOM DACRE
Greenville, TexasIn your editorial "Unfit to print," you fault the news media for failing to give the death of Jesse Dirkhising the same degree of coverage allotted to the death of Matthew Shepard. The motives involved in these two cases, however, are completely different, and perhaps the mainstream media understand this better than you think.
Personally, I hope the perpetrators of the Dirkhising murder are made to suffer the maximum penalty under the law. I have no patience or sympathy for pedophiles and rapists. However, this is no more a "homosexual crime" than Ted Bundy was a "heterosexual rapist/murderer." If the news media are paying little attention to the fact that the men responsible for this crime were gay, it's because they did not target Jesse Dirkhising because he was gay or straight. The facts surrounding this case indicate that sexual orientation whether of the perpetrators or the victim was not a factor. Considering The Washington Times chronic editorial bias against homosexuals, Im not surprised that you suggest the accused were motivated by anti-heterosexual prejudice, but nothing in this case indicates that.
In all the newspaper stories I have read involving men raping and/or murdering women, never once was the word "heterosexual" used. Similarly, if the men accused of raping and murdering Jesse Dirkhising were instead accused of raping and murdering a teen-age girl, I am certain that you would not be making it such a cause celebre of it.

CHUCK ANZIULEWICZ
Spring Hill, W.Va.
Your editorial "Unfit to print" misses the point. The Jesse Dirkhising tragedy and the Matthew Shepard tragedy are not comparable.Matthew Shepards story was publicized because he was killed for being a homosexual. Jesse Dirkhising, on the other hand, was like the thousands of women raped and killed in this country: He was merely in the wrong place at the wrong time. You would have it publicized because the killers were homosexuals. Unfortunately, women are raped and killed in this country all too frequently, and the media remain silent.
I agree that the news medias lack of coverage is wrong, but perhaps the media are merely reflecting our societys lack of value for children and women.

VANCE P. FREEMAN
Houston

Military 'lifers arent the only good soldiers

I agree with most of Col. John R. Brinkerhoffs March 26 letter, "Black and blue over black and tan." However, a portion of it is way off base.
The colonel states, "The good people are staying" in the Army." That statement infers that if you leave, you are not "good." He continues by saying, "People who leave the Army for more money or an easier life simply do not live up to the soldierly virtues." That statement is an insult to the thousands of American citizens who fulfilled their military obligation and left the armed forces upon completion.
Col. Brinkerhoffs statement smacks of what many junior enlisted personnel and junior officers call a "lifer" someone who has little concern or use for those who do not intend to make the military a career. The term is rarely used in a positive manner.
The military has advertised itself as a "starting point" for young men and women for many years. The armed forces advertise money for college, good technical training and a chance to build leadership skills. All this is meant to help enlisted personnel create futures, either in the military or the civilian world.
As a chief petty officer (CPO) in the Navy, I counseled many a sailor who was "getting out." Some were leaving the Navy for college, some to start a family and some to provide a better income and standard of living for their families. While they were all different, they had one thing in common. They had served their country, and they were patriots for doing so. I am not only a retired CPO, but also the son of a career Army officer. My son will graduate from the Army Institute of Technology in May. The colonel owes an apology to the patriots of this country who served their country for one or two tours and then went on with their lives.

Chief Petty Officer PAUL V. HURTT<
(retired)
U.S. Navy<
Great Mills, Md.

ANWAR an alternative to OPEC

Energy Secretary Spencer Abrahams comment that the Bush administration would not go "begging the OPEC countries or anybody else" to increase oil production as long as the United States has untapped reserves are refreshing ("Abraham: Bush not OPECs beggar," Nation, March 26). It is about time that a responsible U.S. official underline the need to look out for American interests. Other nations seem to have no problem doing so.
Like many, I would like to see Alaskas Arctic National Wildlife Refuge remain unspoiled. However, if that would mean submitting to extreme OPEC-driven gasoline and heating oil prices, then some modest drilling must be allowed. Reckless drilling is not in the interest of petroleum companies. I believe that wildlife and the American public can be served simultaneously.

JOSEPH C. FENRICK JR.
Capitol Heights, Md.

Dont create incentives for divorce

It is no exaggeration to say that politicians are destroying the foundations of American society. Many people are concerned about our high divorce rate and the large number of children affected by these broken homes. However, only the libertarians seem to have noticed that the government is paying women large subsidies to dump their husbands when the excitement wears off.
Now the Republicans are blindly moving to pump up these subsidies. President Bush proposed to double the child-tax credit by 2006, and the congressional Republicans want to do it even faster ("Bush lobbies for quick start in tax-relief plan," March 24). They seem unaware that this credit is available only to custodial mothers, but not to the fathers who are paying child support. This is just one of at least six divorce incentives in the IRS rules, along with numerous other support programs just for mothers. Consequently women initiate about three-quarters of all divorces. Is it any wonder that divorced men's suicide rate is almost ten times that of divorced women?

NEIL STEYSKAL
Arlington


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