2 min

Media makes us criminals

How the 'lesbian killers' and the 'fake man' were smeared

OUR SUN. Fewer killers, more buxom babes please.

The killer bull dyke is built like a fridge. Both of the killers are, actually.

“The accused are lesbian lovers who bear an unfortunate resemblance, as someone noted yesterday, to a matching pair of major appliances.”

So wrote the National Post’s Christie Blatchford on Oct 15. I doubt she meant colour-coordinated toasters.

The described women are Elaine Rose Cece and Barbara Ann Taylor, the two dykes who confessed to so skillfully stabbing a plainclothed Toronto police officer that he died on the spot. (One did the deed; egged on by the other to “prove her love.”)

Blatchford’s columns had that whiff of class bias (these women were homeless and addicted to crack).

Recent coverage of high profile homo law-breaking is making me rethink how Xtra should cover crime. I’ve always been against extensive crime coverage; it can falsely engage readers to think that crime is on the upswing, promote fear, encourage kneejerk reactions.

The Toronto Sun, which has rediscovered tabloid screamer headlines, kept calling the deadly duo “lesbian killers.” Every time I picked up the Sun, I’d wonder who was killing all these lesbians….

Then there’s Smurf. The Sun was all over her. Gender-bender Perv Jailed, states the Nov 11 paper. Kelly Ann Laird, 22, will be imprisoned for 16 months because she lied about her age and pretended she was a man – to have sex with underaged girls.

The coverage sucks. I can’t figure out why she’s in jail. Because of the age? Because of the “fraud” of her male impersonation? Laird’s lawyer won’t talk, and the Sun is unable to properly tell this story. (One 15-year-old wanted to keep dating the “fake man”!)

The mainstream can’t tell us whether some of these girls were raped, or whether Smurf is being smeared. We may never know.

Over in Vancouver, the mainstream media has mindlessly allowed the Crown to perpetrate what may be an injustice.

John Robin Sharpe was acquitted on kiddie porn possession charges back in April. At the time, British Columbia Court Of Appeal Justice Mary Southin implied that the Crown’s supporting documents smeared gay men as being paedophiles.

The Crown, conveniently enough, refused to show its supporting documents to the media. Actually, only to Xtra West, our Vancouver sibling, which is the only media outlet that tried to get it. In fact, the paper had to go to court.

“Justice Southin’s comments suggest that the Crown relied on materials that were unrepresentative and because of that it furthered the stereotyping of gays. We want to see what exactly the provincial government, through the Crown, put in front of the justices,” says my colleague, Xtra West managing editor Gareth Kirkby, in explaining why the paper sought access to the evidence.

The British Columbia Court Of Appeal ruled Nov 12 that the newspaper could view photographs and written material filed by the Crown as exhibits.

Clearly, the mainstream media is dropping the ball. Clearly, we have to pay more attention to the mega-stories that the mainstream is already covering.

We obviously can’t trust them to do it.

Eleanor Brown is Managing Editor for Xtra.