Riding the Bike with One Pedal.

A Quieter, Less-Popular Voice

I know the entire city exhaled this week when Bernard Jackson was arrested, charged with rapes from the 1980’s, and has been all-but-officially named as a suspect in the recent rash of rapes in, Waldo/Brookside. It would appear that there is strong (DNA) evidence that ties him to those cold-case rapes, and his own record speaks to his violent history as a predator. The Kansas City Police Department simply can’t comment or divulge anything about the current cases, but I hope the DNA evidence is there to tie him to those attacks as well.  I want him to be guilty.

I also believe in the system. Flawed as it is. Innocent until proven guilty. In a court of law, not the media. Or at midnight in a jail cell. It kind of squicked my stomach, how KCTV5 proudly interviewed Jackson’s cellmate who gave him the midnight beat-down that sent him to the hospital his first night in jail. My heart, my gut, my empathy for the women who were attacked and who were beaten by this man, all collectively said, “Yeah! Know how it feels, motherfucker, to be attacked yourself.” I was a volunteer rape crisis counselor for years, and it is one of the burning causes inside me that I rail against. The man who perpetrated these rapes deserves to feel unsafe, feel battered, feel like his safety has been taken away.  But at the same time I felt that tiny exhilaration, my mind, my intellect, my values cringed.  And I know to even state this puts me in the minority.  Our society is a tv-news-fed, pop-culture, twitter-riding mass of instant judgment and categorizations.  Remember, I was raised by a liberal hippie who always cautioned me to step back and think. Assess. Don’t follow the mob. Stand apart. Vigilante justice is not part of a civilized, advanced society. Everyone who’s seen CSI knows how powerful scientific evidence can be, so let’s sit back and wait (it takes longer than 20 minutes to get those results), and let’s not let down our guard completely, and let’s allow our system to work. I have the utmost respect for the detectives and crime lab folks who have devoted their lives to this case for the past several months.  The dedication – the involvement at all levels (inside word is that the FBI has been all over this as well), is to be commended. And a breath of relief for the women who have waited tens of years for this man to be brought to justice. May it be the same for the women in these current cases. And let’s ratchet down the sensationalism. It’s a disservice to the women who are still waiting to hear if Bernard Jackson is going to be charged in their cases.


  1. Lynn

    Jennifer – it is so nice to hear someone else who is tired of the news media pushing for information that is not available (and therefore presenting speculation as fact or near-fact) or inappropriate/ to be published. I often wonder about some of the people that get interviewed. Perhaps, they want their ’15 minutes of fame,’ but it isn’t always necessary. I am as anxious as the next person to get the details, but I want the information to be correct and realize that not everything is my business.

    Just because Jackson is suspected (or even if he is convicted) does not make it right for his cellmate to beat him up. It doesn’t seem that the cellmate can be such a stand up guy if he was also in jail — certainly, the cellmate expects to be considered innocent until proven guilty, as well.

  2. Beth

    What worries me (besides the articulate and valid points you made above) is how many women are already letting their guard down. Oh, he’s caught? I don’t have to lock my door or be cautious when walking by myself. Just because one suspect is in custody doesn’t mean there aren’t 10 other people around you looking for a victim.

    I do hope the women involved can get a smidgen of peace of mind, once whoever is responsible for their crimes is arrested and tried. I do hope he gets a fair trial and that DNA can be used to definitively prove guilt. You’re right – that does make us part of a civilized society.

  3. Ernest Evans

    Dear Ms. Jen: Good column!! Yes, let us allow the investigative process to do its work-people should not be tried in the press and on the Internet. And, yes, he does not deserve to be beaten while in jail–those who relish the thought of him being treated that way should remember the Amish in Pennsylvania who reached out ministerially to the family of the man who killed their children.Lynch mobs are always wrong–whether organized by the KKK or the “Patriotism Police” of the right or the “Politically Correct Thought Police” of the left. Sincerely, Respectfully and In Christ, Ernest Evans

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