To the People

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Friday, January 11, 2008

DC Mother Kills Her Four Children. Is the State to Blame or the Mother?

This week a horrible tragedy surfaced in DC. US Marshals enforcing an eviction notice found a disoriented woman, Banita Jacks. The home had no furnishings on the entire first floor, which was spray-painted with bizarre writing, and a foul stench permeating the house. When the Marshals went upstairs they found the corpses of Jacks' four daughters, ranging in age from 5 to 17, in an advanced state of decomposition.

Banita Jacks murdered her four daughters and is so sick that she lived with the rotting corpses in her house since, possibly, last May. She is a depraved maniac, yet all of the Washington media is focusing not on what a monster Jacks is but how it was a grand failure of the DC government that these children were murdered. Even an early story on the tragedy quickly (and editorially) posited:
Among the questions: How could Jacks's children disappear for so long without school officials, police or social workers noticing and stepping in to help? Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) promised some answers today.
Today's Wa Post story was 100% about the DC government's failure to prevent this tragedy. Every agency is on the hot seat, but if you read the article you learn that social service agencies tried on many occasions to tend to the family but Jacks did not answer the door. Even the concerned godmother of two of the children gave up and thought they must have moved away. The girls fell out of the school system because Banita said she was homeschooling them.

NPR today had an hour-long show devoted to decrying the state failure in these girls' deaths in which the hosts berated the participating public official that DC needs to do much more to prevent such atrocities. The pressured DC offcial in turn promised much more public (tax) spending to combat this sort of problem, and I am sure much more spending on ineffective programs will come. There is only so much a government can do when a mother wants to kill her children.

The media's treatment of this story is a sad statement of the transfer of responsibility from the individual to the state. DC did not kill those four young girls, their mother did.

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