This week there has been plenty of criminal drama to satisfy my curiosity. Last night I was up later than I should have watching The National's coverage of the ongoing Russell Williams trial and sentencing hearing. When the news of his crimes initially broke, I was dumbfounded. The fact that such an individual managed to lead two very different lives without any professional issues, is quite amazing in the worst sense of the word. For someone to be committing serious, perverted crimes during the night, and still have the ability to function in a demanding, high-profile job come daytime, is so startling. It's like he just flipped a switch between his two identities. Though there are many dysfunctional relationships amongst those in the military, the men and women who serve our country place a high value upon human life and thus his actions are more puzzling.
The other question that coverage of his trial poses is how much the media should reveal to the public. During the broadcast, there were a number of details of the sexual torture that Williams put his victims through before he eventually killed them. The reporters were candid that there was a large discussion in the newsroom about how much should be reported, and what was considered excessive. Apparently they reported only a small fraction of the evidence the prosecution presented in the courtroom, and tried to balance the curiosity of the public and compassion for the victims' families. I think this is a very interesting question, and one that came up a few years ago during the Robert Picton murder trial as well. The gruesome facts of his story presented reporters with the same dilemma and I often felt that I was being told too much. My main issue with grisly crime details is that once I hear awful facts, I cannot unlearn them. They are stuck in my brain and will be summoned by my psyche at the worst possible moment. I will turn off the rational part of my head and become even more paranoid of possible crimes that may be committed against me.
As a woman who sometimes lives alone, I have enough things to fear. If my identity isn't being stolen because I bought clothing online, or I'm not being harassed by some drunk guy in a bar who thinks I'm a bitch for not wanting to dance with him or any other typical thing women think about, then I'm at my apartment concerned about home invasion. I don't actually worry about any of these things, but the media does promote a certain amount of fear amongst the population in general. Particularly, American news broadcasts seem to relay one possible tragedy after another. If I'm not prey for roofie-bearing slime, then I may get cancer from my plastic water bottle. Though I would never downplay the severity of any of these issues, I don't need to have any more paranoia in my life. Whenever I listen to coverage of high-profile trials, I lose confidence in my own instincts and my ability to protect myself. The women victimized by Williams were probably smart, savvy people and it's hard to differentiate them from myself. That's the real scary thing.