Wednesday, October 28, 2009
On my upcoming DC Madam account
WWW--Things are proceeding nicely, and the text is nearly 3/4s completed and should clock in around 300 pages, give or take. I have a working title as well, after reading about the murder of Kitty Genovese in 1964 in Queens. Genovese was attacked, raped, and murdered over the span of 35 minutes before her neighbors called the police.
Their inaction was called "the bystander effect," and I think what happened to Palfrey and Genovese has similar themes in common. In Palfrey's case, it was obvious that she was suicidal, and a lot of us noticed. But what do you do when you're just not sure? It depends on where you're situated. I was that proverbial "fly on the wall," not that I ever planned on being one. But there I was, the guy in the corner taking notes, preserving things for the historical record.
Thirty-eight of Genovese's neighbors watched her being attacked, stabbed, raped, and finally finished off by her psychopathic murderer. What people tend to forget is that each neighbor only saw a small portion of the overall event, so that it was hard for them to put together what was happening. Finally, one of them did, but this is rarely remembered. Would it have mattered had they called earlier? Maybe. In Palfrey's case, things were so compartmentalized and fragmented (when she wasn't making inadvisable media appearances, Palfrey spent a lot of time in her Vallejo laundry room manning her computer working on her defense, corresponding, etc.) that it wasn't always easy to put a finger on whether she was just outraged over the charges against her, an underworld nihilist, or just unhinged. Perhaps it only became truly evident once she killed herself, but I have to wonder if there were outbursts by her during the legal proceedings that were blatant, obvious.
What could anyone have done? I don't think that there was anything to be done after she refused two very generous plea deals, and she must have made some sort of a quiet death pact with herself. It's reported that she let out a very audible sigh when the guilty verdict was read. Death it would be. Were there ever deals like this? What I cannot fathom is why she told them to me in our first telephone conversation in 2007, and in pretty good detail. She told Brain Ross, and he did mention them on air, but not their specifics, they were the best you could get from prosecutors. The prosecution team were dumbbells working for ignoble aims, but they certainly had a live one on their hands. In 2008, some of them were quoted as saying that they "felt bad" how it all ended, that it was "unfortunate."
They knew. I knew. You couldn't miss it.
Anyone who read or watched interviews with her at the time knew that she was expressing suicidal thoughts. "I'm not going to spend even one more day in prison," she said over and over again, her other mantra besides, "They're not taking my assets." Weirdly, the government prosecutors drove a disturbed woman over the edge and she killed herself as we thought she might. They knew. The Bystander Effect: An account of the DC Madam it is, at least for now. But I can't see it changing either.