I promise my posts won't always be so tragic and heavy, or so lengthy. But I have to write this today. I can't-NOT write it. So bear with me.
It's happened again. This time her name is Chelsea King. Seventeen years old. High school senior. Beautiful daughter, full of life. Her body was discovered yesterday in a shallow grave near the park where she jogged. She had been raped and murdered by a registered sex offender.
Every time the news blasts another "child gone missing" story - whether the child is 3 or 13 or 23 - I feel the return of a familiar knot in my stomach. As if I begin to embody the horror of those parents waiting anxiously for news of their child. Can there be any worse nightmare for a mother or father?
And once again I get angry. SO angry. Why does this keep happening? And when will we recognize that this is an epidemic that MUST be stopped?
God bless John Walsh for using the grief he bore after losing his 6-year-old son Adam to help establish the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.
God bless Oprah for establishing Oprah's Child Predator Watch List in 2005, putting up $100,000 of her own money as a reward for the capture of anyone on that list. "I have had enough," Oprah said. "With every breath in my body, whatever it takes and, most importantly, with you by my side, we are going to move heaven and earth to stop an evil that's been going on for far too long."
But it's still not enough. You and I have to stop lamenting how sad these assaults and murders are, and start doing something about it. We all applaud Mothers Against Drunk Drivers for their efforts to get drunks off the road. So why don't we launch a nation-wide war against sexual predators? When will we, like Oprah, say we've had enough? When will we cry out WE'RE MAD AS HELL AND WE'RE NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANYMORE!
There has to be some way to be proactive in this. There has to be a better option than just picking up the bad guys after the crime is done. I don't begin to know how to go about that, but surely someone out there does. Someone who understands the mind of a predator and what makes them behave as they do. On the Today Show this morning, Cliff Van Zant, a criminal profiler suggested that instead of going to the moon again, we should take better care of our business at home and DO something about this epidemic.
I don't have the answers, but this much I do know: at the altar of political correctness, we have sacrificed the lives of these children. By tip-toeing around the multi-billion dollar pornography industry under the guise of "freedom of speech," we have allowed Pandora's Box to be opened and it will never again be closed. Ironically, "censorship" has become the dirty word here. Porn offers every form of vile and despicable behavior out there - sex with babies, sex with children, sex with animals, sex with dead people . . . Yet we dismiss it as some kind of protected "artistic expression," never giving another thought to the life-changing damage it brings to marriages, families, and yes, even to innocent children.
And we don't just dismiss it. We laugh at it. How many TV shows like "Friends" treat porn like some kind of cherished favorite past time? Oh look! Monica gave Chandler porn for his birthday! Is she the best wife or WHAT?
Yeah. Very funny.
But lose the humor and connect the dots here. Are we really so blind that we don't see the correlation between the rampant sexual exploitation in the porn industry to the alarming increase in the numbers of sexual predators willing to act out their perverted fantasies on our kids? Is it not possible pornography is like crack cocaine feeding the insatiable appetites of these predators?
Chelsea King's assailant, John Albert Gardner III (30) has a 10-year history of assaults against women and girls. Years ago a court psychiatrist wrote on his file, "Not a good candidate for treatment." Yet he was out on the street. And tonight, Chelsea's friends and family are in mourning.
When will enough be enough?
Sadly, I don't think most people care enough to do anything about it. Until it's THEIR son or daughter who goes missing.
Imagine, for a moment. Your little girl didn't come home from school today. They tell you she got off the bus but she hasn't been seen since. You know she would never wander off. And in your gut, you know. She's gone and chances are good you'll never see her again. Every moment that passes fills you with unspeakable grief. Hours go by. Then days. And weeks. Maybe months. And you would gladly kill for just one more chance to hear her laughter, see her smile. To inhale the scent of her. To feel her arms around your waist.
Oh God, I pray it never happens to you.
So I have to ask you one more time. When will enough be enough?