Holmberg is out of line in criticism of Behl's mom
I’ve been trying to dissect a comment Mark Holmberg made in his column yesterday. It was about the murder of Joseph Edward Roberts, a 60-year-old North Richmond man, whose slaying during an apparent home invasion in January went largely unnoticed amid the more high-profile homicides in the truly horrendous, murderous month. As he always does so deftly, Holmberg told us about this man most of us never so much as encountered -- a disabled handyman who had held every job you can name, a very social guy who “craved company”, a man who battled alcoholism and won in the final years of his life. And then Holmberg came to his point:
“It’s all too easy to dismiss this human driftwood -- and a death like Roberts’ -- isn’t it?"
Unfortunately, yes. And then Holmberg took it too far:
"It just doesn’t weigh the same as the other slayings that week, not to mention last year’s death of college student Taylor Behl. Which is why few reporters contacted Roberts’ family, while Behl’s mother continues to bask in the media spotlight like a contestant on some kind of strange “American Idol” for grieving family members.”
Whoa. Basking in the spotlight? "American Idol" for grieving family members? I can’t figure out whether this is merely insensitive or inflammatory for the sake of being inflammatory or perhaps, the most ignorant thing I’ve ever heard. If Holmberg’s point is that all deaths should “weigh” the same -- well, how is it Janet Pelasara’s fault that no one paid attention to Mr. Roberts’ death? Why did Holmberg feel the need to drag her into this? And to more than imply that Mrs. Pelasara is in any way enjoying this is just stomach-turning. God help you in Holmberg’s world if you happen to be a telegenic, articulate woman whose beautiful daughter goes missing and winds up murdered, because apparently you have no credibility as victim of crime. What would any of us do in that situation? You bet your life that if I were in Mrs. Pelasara’s boat, I would sell my soul to the devil -- or worse, cable news outlets -- to get my child’s face and information out there and I wouldn’t feel the least bit guilty about it. There are legitimate criticisms to be made of news outlets who spend way too much time on these “missing white girl” stories but not an ounce of that criticism should go to families who use every resource at their disposal to find their children or, after the fact, to speak out on the issues about which they have become reluctant experts.
“No, we might not feel such a small death, which means something has died in each one of us.”
Holmberg’s weird logic seems to say shame on us for not noticing some victims of violent crime but shame on us too for noticing others.