JESSE DIRKHISHING was a 13-yearoldnboy living in Rogers, Arkansas, who inn1999 hooked up with two homosexualnmen named Davis Carpenter and JoshuanBrown. Maybe, possibly, he agreed tonengage in sex games with them, but mattersnsoon went far out of control. First,nJesse was wholly immobilized: He wasndrugged, and tied up with rope and ductntape. Then, for a long, agonizing night,nhe was subjected to every form of rapenand sodomy his tormentors could devise.nWhen they had finished with their newnpornographic toy. Brown and Carpenternleft him to die from suffocation.nThere are echoes here of anothernyoung man tortured and left to die,nthough we certainly have heard of thatncase. I am referring to Matthew Shepard,nleft to die on a fence in Wyoming inn1998. The difference between the hvoncases is, of course, the matter of celebrity.nhi death, Matthew Shepard became anworldwide martyr for gay rights, the subjectnof numerous television news specialsnand movies, and the case provoked generalnheart-searching about anti-gay hatencrimes. Matthew’s death, you see, wasntypical of how homosexuals are treatednby an evil and prejudiced world. JessenDirkhising, on the other hand, was a totalnembarrassment for the media, becausenthe event totally contradicted the requirednstereotypes. The case showed homosexualsnas brutal killers, reviving thenold linkages between homosexuality andnpederast}’, child molestation, and sadomasochism.nOne could easily object thatnJesse’s killers were in no sense representativenof gay men —and they certainly arennot. They are in fact about as representativenof homosexuals as Matthew Shepard’snkillers were of the heterosexual population,nbut that statement is politicallyninconvenient for a mass media in searchnof a good rhetorical message. MatthewnShepard became a national icon, a contemporarynChrist, while Jesse Dirkhisingnbecame a nonevent, an absence, an unperson.nTo give credit where it is due, a numbernof writers have bitterly complainednabout the relative treatment of the twoncases; Jeff Jacoby did a magnificent exposenin ]ewish World Review. Most critics,npredictably, come from the right,nwhich makes it all the more necessary tonhighlight one major exception. Writingn6/CHRONICLESnCULTURAL REVOLUTIONSnin the New Republic (April 2), AndrewnSullivan analyzed the media coverage ofnthe hvo cases, and noted that, in the singlenmonth following their respectivendeaths, Matthew Shepard was the subjectnof roughly 65 news stories to every onencovering Jesse Dirkhising. Sullivan, a homosexual,nwas harshly frank about thenreasons for the disparit)’: “The Shepardnease was hyped for political reasons: tonbuild support for inclusion of homosexualsnin a federal hate-crimes law. ThenDirkhising case was ignored for politicalnreasons: squeamishness about reporting anstor)’ that could feed anti-gay prejudice.”nThere could hardly be a better illustrationnof how our news media work, cynicallynselecting stories on the basis of hownfar their implications mesh with liberalnprejudices about polities, race, and sexualit)’.nPerhaps Chronicles readers might likento help with a project I am currently undertaking,nnamely, to list the topics leastnlikely to be taken ujj as cause-of-the-weeknTV movies. Let me start you off with ancouple of examples: How about ThatnEvery Woman Be Armed—A story of anteenage girl from a gun-owning family.nIn the first half of the film, we see her beingnmocked and stigmatized by anti-gunnfanatics, including teachers at her highnschool; she is vindicated, however, whennshe drives off a gang of would-be rapistsnwho break into her house. By the conclusion,nthe anti-gun activists are forcednto admit their mistake. In the closingnframe, the girl meets her liberal teachernin the gun store as he is investing in hisnfirst revolver. Their eyes meet, and theynsmile. Or we could propose Slings andnArroM^s —the story of a gutsy journalistnwho tries to expose the criminal financialnenterprises operated under cover of a localncivil-rights organization, and whosencareer is nearly destroyed by bogusncharges of racism. Or, just maybe, hownabout Jesse’s Tafe—the story of a youngnboy murdered by sadistic pederasts? No,nI’m sorry even to have suggested it; thatnwould be simply too ludicrous.n—Philip JenkinsnHUMAN BEINGS cannot be absolutelynevil, according to Christian theology,nbecause they are made in the imagenof God; though fallen, they always retainnnnan awareness of good and evil. Recent reportsnin the Spanish newspaper El Mundon(Februar)’ 26) reveal that some of thenhigh priests of French existentialism andnpostmodernity are making the effort tonprove Christian theology wrong. “Revolution”nwas cute and romantic in 1968,nbut we did not notice at the time that sexnwith children was as well. This has comenout in the course of accusations againstnone-time revolutionary student DanielnCohn-Bendit. A prominent leader of then1968 student revolts, which eventuallynled to the resignation of President CharlesnDeCaulle, Cohn-Bendit has joined thenhaute bourgeoisie as a member of the EuropeannParliament representing thenGreens of France. Now Cohn-Bendit isnin hot water as a result of an essay he publishednin 1975, regarding the “erotic” naturenof his behavior with children in a socalledn”alternative,” “anti-authoritarian”nkindergarten in Frankfurt, where he livednafter being expelled for participating in thenrevolts.n”There were boys [or children; thenSpanish plural ninos used in El Mundoncan be generic, but if he used the Frenchngarcons in the original, it meant boys]nwho opened the fly of my trousers and begannto give me caresses,” Cohn-Benditnwrote in a 1975 article. “I reacted differentlynon each occasion, according to thencircumstances, but when they insisted, Incaressed them as well.”nIn 1977, when three men were sentencednto prison terms for nonviolentnsexual contact with 12-and 13-year-oldnchildren, four prominent French “intellectuals”—nthe late Jean-Paul Sartre andnhis mistress, Simone de Beauvoir, andnhvo current government ministers, BernardnKouehner (minister of health, alsondirector of the NATO occupation forcesnin Kosovo) and Jack Lang (minister ofnculture) — signed letters calling for thendecriminalization of pedophilia. “Threenyears in prison for some caresses and kisses:nenough of this!” said a manifestonsigned by MM. Kouehner and Lang.nSartre and Beauvoir, joined by leadingnpostmodernists, Michel Foucault (whonsubsequently died of AIDS), RolandnBarthes, and Jacques Derrida and celebratednwriters Philippe Sollers, AlainnRobbe-Crillet, and Louis Aragon, allnsigned an open letter reading: “The lawnshould recognize the right of childrenn