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Why is CBC painting a sympathetic picture of an alleged child murderer?

The CBC's coverage of an alleged child killer asks reader to sympathize with the murderer, not the little girl. The man deserves a fair trial, but not sympathy.
Erin Perse London, UK

David Michael Moss has been charged with second degree murder for stabbing seven-year-old Bella Rose Desrosiers to death, in front of her mother, while she was settling her daughter to sleep.

The facts being what they are, it is remarkable that the CBC is intent on painting the alleged killer sympathetically.

On the face of it, you might wonder why any journalist would trouble to soften the impact of those facts for their readers. In this case, it was Janice Johnston.

His victim's mother, Melissa Desrosiers, called herself a friend of Moss. She let him stay at her house because he had been struggling with various problems. She knew about how difficult it can be to struggle, having lost her husband to suicide.

She was putting her daughters to bed when Moss burst into the bedroom with a pair of scissors, the weapon allegedly used to inflict fatal injuries on Bella Rose. Bella's sister was injured but lived. Bella Rose suffered from her wounds, and died in her home.

It is difficult to imagine a more repellent, cowardly act of domestic killing. The little girl and her mother were completely defenseless. Moss is described "as a family man."

However, the CBC wants us to focus on how terrible the poor man must have been feeling. We are supposed to accept that it is just one of those things, that a man's solution to feeling bad is to make someone below him in the pecking order feel far worse. In this case, that was both the woman who had showed him undeserved kindness and concern, and her young daughter.

CBC news editors decided to run the story under a strap line stating that the suspect "has no prior criminal convictions." The story focussed heavily on the statements of Moss' tattoo parlour co-worker, who expressed the denial, shock and disbelief conventionally expressed by friends and family of men who commit egregious acts.

Even though Moss' mental health was sufficiently in doubt that a police mental health crisis team visited him ten hours before he allegedly killed Bella Rose, they decided to walk away, to leave him in a home with young girls.

Moss must have been well enough in possession of his faculties to have been permitted by a health crisis team to stay in the home. This makes his alleged crimes even more heinous.

Each time a man murders a child, because he feels bad about himself, he is characterized as a lone wolf driven by personal pain. His pain weighs more heavily on the coalesced social mental fabric than do the lives of women and children.

Sympathy for the bad guy is a problem for the western, liberal left. As a culture, the west is addicted to letting men off the hook. Caitlin Roper calls male violence "the worst problem in the world." We cannot begin to solve it if its impact is denied.

Journalists are working hard to find reasons why we should all feel sorry for David Moss, the man who allegedly killed a seven year old girl in front of her mother who was settling her in for the night.

She had taken pity on him and invited him into her home as safe harbour. He repaid her by destroying what was most dear to her.

Moss had a blow to the head as a child, it is said. His business failed because of lockdown, they say. He had bills he couldn't pay. He was seeing a doctor for his mental health problems.

All of these tidbits of information are supposed to make us identify with the alleged child killer. Why? Because, if we stop identifying with men who kill children, we break links with an entire value system: violence and domination.

Moss, in common with any man who kills a child, has human rights which the Canadian justice system will uphold with scrupulous care. We cannot afford to confuse the system's recognition of his right to a fair trial, and so on, with personal sympathy for him.

One of his chief responsibilities, as a beneficiary of human rights, was to recognize that women and children are human. He failed at that in the most extreme way possible. He failed the baseline test of humanity.

We should be unafraid to shame this man, whatever his childhood and mental health struggles. Sympathy should not stand in the way of shaming him. No misfortune that has ever happened to him justifies killing a child, and depriving a mother of her child. Fear of retribution should not stop us, either. We need to confront male violence for what it is—a global challenge surpassing any other.

There is a name for the reflex which drives us to sympathize with the worst men. It's called 'men’s rights activism', and it is exercised at the expense of women and children. Our real challenge is to develop a new politics which recognizes women and children's humanity.

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Erin Perse
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