Tolerating the barbaric for entertainment

Monday, October 21, 2002 at 10:00pm

In late June 1995, James Lewis, Nicholas Stroble and Christopher Bissey, all in their late teens, went looking for two girls from Bethlehem, Pa. One of the girls, 17-year-old Jennifer Grider, apparently owed Bissey $400 from a cocaine transaction.

The three young men were high on marijuana when they found Grider and her friend, 15-year-old Mary Orlando, near Lehigh University.

According to sworn testimony by Lewis, things quickly got out of hand when Bissey found out Grider could not pay. Bissey pulled out a handgun and emptied it into both girls; they died moments later.

It took a Pennsylvania jury just two hours to convict Bissey of first-degree murder. Eleven jury members voted for death; one dissented. Thus Bissey's life was spared, and he is now serving life without parole.

But that's not the end of the story. Even though Bissey has been convicted of the worst crime imaginable, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has been treating him quite well inside the Graterford State Prison. Bissey is a singer in a prison rock band called "Dark Mischief." Each day, the boys in the band get together to jam with instruments provided by the taxpayers.

It is all so civilized. The deputy warden at the prison, David DiGuglielmo, says, "Not giving inmates things to do is dangerous. They need outlets. They need to occupy their time. Some of the inmates, before they got into music, were difficult people."

Yeah, I guess so. Killing two young girls might indicate a "difficult" person.

So Christopher Bissey and his merry men sing the days away at Graterford, and then, all of a sudden, along comes the cable TV music channel VH-1, one of the most morally bankrupt outfits in the history of American television. That channel gets state permission to shoot Dark Mischief giving a concert inside the prison and then decides to broadcast the "entertainment" nationwide as part of their "Music Behind Bars" series.

Upon hearing this, the mother of Mary Orlando broke down emotionally. She has never really recovered from the murder of her daughter, and now she knows the killer has developed into a rock star inside prison.

Armed with Mrs. Orlando's emotional words, I confronted VH-1 President Christina Norman and asked her not to broadcast Dark Mischief for humanitarian reasons.

Ms. Norman, through flunkies, told me to stuff it.

This kind of thing is way beyond a questionable programming decision. This is inflicting direct pain on the grieving families of Mary Orlando and Jennifer Grider in order to make money for VH-1. Does it get any worse than that?

For far too long in this country, we have tolerated barbaric behavior on the part of some "entertainment" companies. We have seen the coarsening of America, aided by heavy doses of degenerate rap lyrics, movie plots and television series that feature sex without consequences, blatant disrespect for parents and teachers, and the glorification of criminals.

Now we have hit an all-time low

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