In other news, Sarah Palin can do nothing right...
Once upon a time, when I worked for a newspaper in a far, far away state full of mountains and cows and sheep, a terrible and hideous, gruesome crime was committed by a man whose motives at the time he did it were unknown.
Armed with a sawed-off shot gun, he knocked on the door of the motel room next to his and ordered the family of four inside to tie one another up with the telephone cord he'd brought with him. When he finished tying up the youngest, a boy of 9 years, he then forced them to drink some sort of potion that rendered them unconscious. He suffocated each one until they died. But they didn't all die. One of the children survived, and he allowed her to live. She was barely thirteen years old and he forced her to come with him as he went on a drug buying spree. If he'd raped her, we never found out, because she was so traumatized that she was mute after the murders of her parents and brother, a fact only discovered at the trial of the murderer.
Of course, almost immediately after the crime became a news story, the reporters and editors of the newspaper speculated wildly, about why the girl was allowed to live. The consensus in the newsroom was that she must have known him, and perhaps had been having an affair with an older man and he killed her parents at her bidding so that they could be together.
What was their evidence? There was none, of course. But that was the first thing their minds created as a possible motive.
I thought to myself as I pondered this character assassination, that these people do not remember what it was like to be a thirteen year old girl. I did remember. Clearly. I wasn't more than 22 at the time of the crime. Being thirteen was a fresh and unhappy memory for me, as I am sure that it is for many awkward thirteen year old girls, even now. There was no way the girl was having sex with this lunatic, and she was a victim of his horrible crime. Had they published their speculations, it would have been a double crime against her.
Fortunately, they had the good sense not to publish their opinions about her, and with time and information, they realized how horribly brutalized she was. They did their job as reporters and editors well and the story that the newspaper printed was accurate, dispassionate and sensitive to the victims.
As it turned out, she was allowed to live because the man that killed her family didn't remember doing it, being high and crazy on angel dust. When he came off his high, he realized the girl was still alive and allowed her to live out of remorse. Two days later, when relatives notified the police of their missing family members, the police came to the motel where they found the family under sheets, and the girl in the man's room, he tearfully gave himself up. Drug induced insanity was the motive for his evil crime spree. Nothing so pornographic and interesting as the scenario invented in the fevered imaginations of the reporters and editors - though they were absolutely sure they were right at the time.
Epilogue: My sister declined to rent a room in the apartment house where he was living. He gave her the creeps when she saw him. As she told me: the hairs stood up on the back of her neck.