COMMENTS: Women’s Justice

ABC continued with a couple more crime stories. Substitute anchor Elizabeth Vargas made Police Chief Cathy Lanier of Washington DC the network's Person of the Week. "She is not shy about sharing her past struggles," Vargas observed, retelling the inspirational upward journey through misogynist ranks of the high school dropout and teenage single mother who won a lawsuit against her own department for sexual harassment. Vargas did not inquire whether a court-mandated legalization of firearms might make her new job easier or more difficult.

Jim Avila (subscription required) chose the case of a kidnap-murder-dismemberment of a deaf woman in South Dakota. The controversy surrounds Daphne White, the accused killer, who is also deaf. Her defense lawyers claim that, because American Sign Language has a cruder vocabulary for legal jargon than spoken English, White is unable to participate in her own defense as fully as a hearing person--so it would be unfair to make her eligible for the death penalty. The deaf community rejects this legal argument since it implies that the deaf, as Avila put it, are "dumb."


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