Thirty years ago in Anchorage, a baker by the name of Robert Hansen was found guilty of murdering 17 young women over the course of more than a decade through the 1970s into the 1980s. He probably killed quite a few more. In his sick mind, he thought it was fun.
Now some people think Baker's deadly killing spree something to joke about. Here's radio commentator Shannyn Moore writing in a column in Alaska Dispatch News: "Maybe serial killer Robert Hansen could chair the Choose Respect Campaign. He knows a thing or two about women and violence. With this governor, don’t bet against it."
A fair number of the many people commenting on Moore's rant appear to think suggesting the governor would hire a sexual predator to oversee a program designed to improve conditions for women in the 49th state is OK, too, even cute.
What the hell has become of Alaska?
Whether you think Gov. Sean Parnell's "Choose Respect Campaign" is the dumbest thing since the Pet Rock or the smartest thing since voice-recognition software, the kind of crap outputted by Moore here is in bad taste. Worse yet, it's not funny. Nor is it effective.
Say what you will about Parnell -- and I'll tell you right now he makes me uncomfortable, and from all indications I make him even more so -- but he's clearly shown over his career that he respects women.
Argue with Sarah Palin's replacement if you want on oil taxes or fisheries policy or anything else, but in the area of treating women properly he has never shown anything but good intentions. There is no indication he has hired any serial killers who hunt women or is likely to hire any.
Suggesting he would do so -- "don't bet against it," Moore says -- is offensive, or ought to be, to all reasonable people because joking about Hansen demeans the dead women, their families and the writer.
"Maybe serial killer Robert Hansen could chair the Choose Respect Campaign."
Har, har, har.
Maybe Shannyn Moore could chair the next Inquisition or direct the new Buchenwald.
Har, har, har.
Wrong. These are things about which it is not OK to joke. Mass murder and mass murderers are not funny. And this is coming from someone who fully understands hyperbole and the sound bite. It doesn't matter.
You just don't go there!
You don't dig serial killers out of the dustbin of time and try to tie them to politicians. It was disgraceful when Republican Vice Presidential candidate Palin tried to pin the charge of "pallin' around with terrorists" on Democrat presidential candidate Barack Obama because of his acquaintance with Bill Ayers, a one-time member of the radical Weather Underground, a Vietnam protest group.
Moore herself was rightly offended by this pandering to fear and partisanship.
"Sarah Palin continues to infer Democrat Barack Obama is 'palling around with terrorists' and doesn’t see the U.S. like other Americans," Moore wrote. "(Palin) emphasizes, 'He’s pallin’ around with terrorists who would target their own country!' Barack Hussein Obama is repeated over and over at McCain rallies and even on local Anchorage right-wing talk shows. They are trying to invoke a terrorist fear in voters. It is a dangerous and unfounded connection."
But at least there was a connection. Ayers and Obama had at least met.
Hansen and Parnell have no connection. Moore just pulled one out of thin air. She got carried away. She over-engaged. It happens. She should apologize. I would.
Lots of commentators of our day get their undies all up in a partisan bunch and spin out of control. The thinking seems to be that it doesn't matter what you say about anyone as along as it's a zinger.
This wasn't a zinger; this was a distasteful cheap shot. This was the sort of comment that belongs in a bar in after a few beers, or a few too many, not in any debate about public policy in any forum.
As a woman, Moore ought to be especially ashamed.
As the governor of what just might be the most misogynistic state in the nation, Parnell has done a pretty good job of putting women in high-level positions in his office. His last chief adviser for fisheries, oceans and Arctic policy was a woman. His commissioners of Commerce, Fish and Game, Labor and Revenue are all women.
It's doubtful any of them are laughing at Moore's sick joke. And I don't have a clue what to think about the sort of mob-inclined people who cheer this on. If you think joking about serial killers is somehow funny, cute or even acceptable, your partisanship is probably poisoning you.
Contact Craig Medred at firstname.lastname@example.org
The views expressed here are the writer's own and are not necessarily endorsed by Alaska Dispatch News, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a piece for consideration, e-mail commentary(at)alaskadispatch.com.