Because Violent, Sexual Pathologies Attract More Readers than Stories about the Murder of Two Women

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Today’s Sydney (Australia) Morning Herald profiles the convicted criminal David Russell Williams, former colonel in the Canadian military (here).  The article focuses on Williams’s “sadistic sexual urges” and photographic evidence (reprinted with the article) showing Mr. Williams dressed in women’s underwear stolen from his victims.  340 words into an 856-word story, the reader learns that he video-recorded himself raping one of his murder victims.  790 words until the reader learns that Marie-France Comeau, one of his murder victims, has a name.  The other is not mentioned by name.  But we know exactly how the women’s underwear worn by Mr. Williams looked.

The penultimate paragraph of the profile says that the convicted man’s crime sprees “may have been aided by the largely separate life he had from his wife, an executive with a large charity. During the week, he lived alone near the base. He spent weekends with his wife in Ottawa.”  Say what?

I want to give the writers the benefit of the doubt — that they meant to say that a criminal’s activity is more likely to be detected if the criminal lives in a household with at least one other person (a statement I do not know to be true or false).  What I hope they didn’t mean was that somehow the criminal’s pathology related to the fact that he didn’t have a wife nearby to “keep tabs” on him.

Perhaps the better observation would be that if the rape and murder of women were not so common, we all would pay more attention.

H/T Jane Osmond at Women’s Views on News (here).

-Bridget Crawford

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