Aside from the justice that was clearly done, the best things about Scott Peterson’s conviction for murdering his wife, Laci, and his about-to-be-born son, Conner, was this full-page newspaper headline: “GUILTY: Crowd Cheers Verdict.”
Crowd cheers verdict. You see, the Petersons lived in Modesto, the county seat of California’s Stanislaus County, deep in the state’s inland agriculture belt and solidly Middle American. Not surprisingly, Stanislaus County, like the rest of California’s farming, ranching, and industrial counties–the places where real work gets done–went solidly for G.W. Bush in the Nov. 2 election. Chances are good that many in those blue-collar crowds that cheered wildly when Peterson was found guilty in the brutal double slaying of a 28-year-old woman and her unborn baby on Christmas Eve two years ago also cheered wildly when their televisions told them that Bush had won.
California, as we all know, is supposed to be a “blue state,” going 54 percent for John F. Kerry in the Nov. 2 election. But it’s blue only along the populous parts of its coastline where the rich and the arty folks live: Los Angeles County (where I come from), the Bay Area, Santa Barbara, Lake Tahoe. North and south of these enclaves of the intelligentsia, and in all of the interior, it’s a red state. And when you drive inland, you know you’re not in Beverly Hills anymore.
Now, the red people have been mighty vilified of late by their intellectual betters from the blue littoral after Kerry lost the election. Red types are supposed to be–oh, homophobic religious fanactics, and above all they’re supposed to hate women. Liberals caricature the Bush-voters as gun-toting, SUV-driving patriarchs who’d as soon beat their wives as reach for a longneck. But it wasn’t the red people who opposed “Laci and Conner’s Law,” the new federal statute that makes it two crimes, not one, to harm a pregnant woman and the baby she’s carrying (California already has a similar law, under which Scott Peterson was convicted). No, that was the National Organization for Women leading the charge against the law, the group that’s supposed to care about the female sex. Laci’s own mother, Sharon Rocha, testified in Congress in support of the law, but that didn’t faze NOW, which was much more concerned about potential liability for abortionists, even though the law contains an explicit exemption for legal abortion.
The red people–all those heavily armed Modesto misogynists–didn’t side with Scott Peterson as the liberals might expect. It turned out that the red folks didn’t really like a guy who cheated on his wife, lied to his own parents and his mistress, and, as the jury believed, cruelly bludgeoned a vibrant young mother-to-be and his own little son, then weighted down her body and dumped it into the San Francisco Bay so that he could get back to his golf game and the merry bachelor life to which he aspired. No, the Playboy ethic didn’t quite cut it with the wife-beaters of Stanislaus County. They were more like this guy outside the courthouse, quoted in an Associated Press report:
“”He’s a sicko. He needs to fry,’ said Bob Johnston, 42, of San Jose. ‘I wanted to see that justice was served.'”
So, who cares more about women, NOW or the red-county crowds that went wild with joy on learing about Scott Peterson’s conviction?