Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Who is Kermit Gosnell?

I plan to take the whole family to see the Gosnell movie Friday. In The Federalist, Jonathan Lang writes,
For years, his murders went largely unnoticed. Then, in 2010, the Philadelphia police, Drug Enforcement Administration, and Federal Bureau of Investigation raided his place of business. They were looking for evidence of an illegal drug operation. What they found was an office filled with corpses—more than 30 of them. They also found evidence of hundreds, perhaps thousands, more.

For instance, an industrial-strength garbage disposal had been completely worn out. Evidently it was used to grind up bodies for disposal into the Philadelphia sewer system. A waste-disposal company had unknowingly hauled off countless more for incineration. Still others had been taken to the killer’s vacation home and used as bait in his crab cages.

...The name of America’s most prolific serial killer is Kermit Gosnell. He avoided the death penalty by waiving his right to appeal, and is serving life without parole. His story is told in the movie, “Gosnell: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer.” It opens nationwide this Friday, October 12.

It is a riveting story on several levels. Perhaps uppermost is the question: how was he able to perform so many murders without getting caught? He had numerous witnesses, with evidence literally piled up in the hallways, stored in freezers and refrigerators. How could all of this go unnoticed for decades?

Answer: he was hiding his murders in plain sight. This was possible because they took place in an abortion facility, giving him an almost impenetrable layer of protection. Nobody wants to scrutinize abortion facilities or think too carefully about them. They have become sacrosanct, so that their very mention freezes us in place.

...Words do powerful things to us, but none greater than this one. It does powerful things to politicians, too. Because of the “A-word,” Philadelphia authorities were reluctant—unreasonably reluctant—to inspect Gosnell’s office or follow up on numerous complaints. While nail salons receive health department inspections every year, Gosnell’s facility had not been inspected by Pennsylvania’s Department of Health for more than 17 years—not once.

The most sensational trial of a serial killer in the history of America had virtually no reporters in the court room. The biggest crime since 1893 could not be covered because the reporters could not say why it was wrong.

One of those who noticed was Mollie Ziegler Hemingway. At the time she was a reporter for Nearly three weeks into Gosnell’s trial, there had yet to be any mainstream media coverage. So, on April 7, she published a story about the blackout. She followed up with six more, published between April 10 and April 16.

Meanwhile, J.D. Mullane, a reporter for Calkins Media, snapped a picture of rows of empty seats that had been reserved for the press. The photo went viral, prompting Kirsten Powers of USA Today to break the media silence. She published a column subtitled: “We’ve forgotten what belongs on Page One.”

Once the dam broke, all the major networks and newspapers dispatched reporters to Philadelphia to cover the trial. This had a significant effect both on the strength of the prosecution and on American public opinion.

In the new Gosnell movie, Hemingway and Mullane’s roles are woven together into a fictional character named Mollie Mullaney. In many ways she is the heroine of the story, and a reminder of the vital need for an unflinching press corps. Only by forcing us to face our hidden inhumanities can the press help us regain humanity.
Read more here.

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