Saturday, February 16, 2008

Revisiting the Bernie Ward Story

I recently posted an entry about local talk radio host Bernie Ward. I complained that the federal government appeared to be trying to railroad him into a lengthy prison term merely for downloading a few images of child pornography that weren't even on his computers when the authorities seized them. I said I was inclined to believe Bernie when he said that he was using the downloaded images for his research for a book about "hypocrisy in America." I believed him because I'd been listening to him for over 25 years on the radio, I liked him, and I had never heard even the faintest hint of a suggestion from or about him that he harbored any sexual interest in children. I admit that I had some dimly conscious doubts about his excuse, but I wanted so much to believe him that I was willing to overlook certain things in the news about his case that seemed suspicious.

Well, now that I've read more details about the case, I have to say that I now have an extremely difficult time buying Bernie's excuse. It definitely doesn't seem to fit the unpleasant facts that have come to light.

But while my opinion of the motives behind his acts has changed, I haven't changed my opinion that someone doesn't deserve to spend years if not decades in prison for merely possessing and distributing, for the briefest of time, a few images of child pornography that he didn't sell or buy or apparently play any role in creating. Yes, child pornography is a very bad thing, and those who make it or otherwise profit from it deserve to be treated severely. But what Bernie apparently did doesn't begin to rise to that level of egregiousness.

After recent revelations about his case, I can't see any way that he could ever return to talk radio. Not just KGO but also anywhere else. His reputation seems forever ruined. His media career seems forever ruined. And I can't imagine that his marriage and family life are ever going to be the same, and they may be ruined too. If the government wants to pile on with extended public service, probation, and, perhaps, even a heavy fine, well, I guess it has to do something because Bernie did break the law, as even he admits, and charges have already been brought. But a long (or even short) prison sentence and permanent status as a registered sex offender seems like an ostensive definition of "cruel and unusual punishment" not only of Bernie but also of his family.

And some of the hateful things I've heard people say about how Bernie deserves to spend the rest of his life in prison being raped, brutalized, and humiliated, or to at least have his life destroyed forever seem more disturbing to me than anything Bernie appears to have done.

I feel very sorry for Bernie Ward, for his family and friends, and for a community that has lost an intelligent, thought-provoking, and influential voice for the poor and middle class. What unfortunate pathology led such a smart and well-read man to bring such ruin to himself and such pain to his loved ones?


Anonymous said...

Hopefully a trial will bring some light to things. But the whole transcript of the email exchanges with the dominatrix is weird. Doesn't even sound like Bernie and one might ask why someone into kiddi porn (which it doesn't really look like he was) went to a dominatrix instead of to a kiddi porn person?

And the text in the transcript has him talking about homosexual & domination fantasies with adults in addition to children...and the domination thing seems to be the more prevalent theme.

All very disturbing but all seems to be fantasy talk except for those 3 px...and even then it sounded like Bernie was scrambling to come up with a second px for her....he didn't have one at hand!

I don't know. Sick stuff, but fantasy, and you can't send someone to jail for fantasizing....but you can send them to jail for downloading 3 px and sending them thru the email to someone else.

Let's see what unfolds.

Nagarjuna said...

What I personally find most unsettling in all of this is not the small amount of pornography, but his inclusion of his own children and their friends in his "fantasy talk." I don't believe that he's actually done any of the things he wrote about involving them, and he may not have ever even desired to do such things. It seems quite possible that he said those things simply because he viewed them as among the "naughtier" or most forbidden things he could think of that didn't fall into the nauseating category of absolute depravity, and he wanted to be "naughty" for his "mistress." But I find it disturbing that he would use his own children in this manner, and I find it even more disturbing and just plain sad that his wife and children are probably now aware that he did this and will probably never be able to look at him the same way again.

However, I hope that his faith and the genuine love that he undoubtedly feels for his wife and children and they for him can overcome all of this enough that the family is not destroyed by it, and I hope that his friends don't abandon him during these dark times when he needs them most. I would go out of my way to stand by him if I were his friend. For all his mistakes and flaws, I believe that he is a fundamentally good person who cares about people and has tried and done much to alleviate human hardship and suffering over the years.

Anonymous said...

I was reflecting on the past year with all the news about Bernie Ward and then his sentencing and now, his settling in to a federal prison in Texas (!) and I can't help but wonder about him. He did so much good in the world before all this happened. Then I found myself asking WWJD this Christmas season, with respect to someone like Bernie? I'm not sure, but I think Jesus would want us to keep him and his wife and family in our prayers, always.

What this has done, this series of public events with Bernie Ward, is to put a face onto human frailty and sin. What he did, anyone might do -- under the wrong set of circumstances. That's a disturbing thought, but also something worth remembering, worth keeping in the back of one's mind. Bernie Ward deserves time to think about what he did...but he also deserves forgiveness, as Jesus forgives.

Anonymous said...

This is devastating. I thought it was more like looking at someone and saying "wow they are good looking ", but for alot you men you take it a step further and desire the other woman for sex.not only does society tell us married woman that we aren't accepted by not being thin,now i know that even husbands are this way. I will never win this battle and hurts. No matter how fit i try to get, my husband will still desire others? What do i get out of this ? What do i do ? My only option is to grow in confidence in who i am. I will continue to workout everyday and be as healthy as i can. If this doesn't keep his attention, then thats life and i will keep pressing forward.

Unknown said...

I have been married for 31 years 3 children two grown 1 16 my husband use to support us now he got hurt on the job and collecting workmans comp I'm a nurse and continue to work my husband not interested in sex what's so ever we are suppose to move to KY on 14 acres in are cabin and live off grid I'm going to get a nursing job in KY while he works the land but I' m having second thoughts do I want to move there with someone not interested in sex with me should I go or stay someone please help