Sex, Violence, and Terrorism

This is part of a speech Connie Lawn delivered to her 45th Reunion Class at Simmons College in Boston. Connie has been a Senior White House Correspondent since 1968.

Sex, violence, and terrorism. These topics are probably not discussed much in college classes, but they should be. These are the topics we often deal with in the news business.

The sexual abuse of women, and some men, makes my blood boil. True, it is not generally as bad here as it is in some cultures where so-called honor killings take place. One of the latest cases which came to light involved a smart, beautiful Palestinian woman, who was reportedly thrown into a well and left to die by her uncle because he did not approve of her choice of an approved mate. He allegedly confessed to her mother 13 months later, and her friends now consider her a martyr. Sadly, hers is not the only case of barbaric, savage "honor killing." Some people have tried to stop it, including the widow of Yasser Arafat,

There is more public brutality, in the case of the smart, brave, and beautiful Lara Logan of CBS news. She was sexually abused and beaten by a savage gang in Egypt, as she tried to tell a story of their revolution. Lara was saved by some Egyptian women, who said this type of abuse is not rare. There are massive cases of gang rape in war areas, where soldiers are sometimes given Viagra and are paid to rape and brutalize women, girls, or sometimes young boys. There is also the unspeakable torture of the 13-year-old boy in Syria. Brutality and stupidity knows no nationalities or borders.

The alledged sexual abuse of women by former IMF Chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn and former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger may be considered to be on a milder scale -- no one was murdered or beaten. But the searing pain caused to them, their families and others cannot be minimized. Now NY Congressman Anthony Weiner can be added to the infamous list of those who lied and tried to cover up. What he did was stupid and insensitive, but not nearly as bad as the sins committed by John Edwards. And the list goes on.

As women, many of us have suffered from this type of behavior. I was not prepared for this when I entered the business world. Everyday, when I was young and naïve, I was mauled or propositioned by some politician or news director, who said we needed to be nice to them, and do what they demanded, if we wanted a job or an interview. I discussed this lightly in my book, in a chapter called "Sex in the Senate or Too Many Hormones on the Hill." (The book is You Wake Me Each Morning, 2010 Edition). But I have not been as explicit as I might have been and refrained from naming names. What I decided to do was start my own news bureau, to show them I could do it my way.

The other big issues are terrorism, war, and the stupidity of our foreign policy.

I do not understand why we have engaged in any of the wars since WWII. Why were we involved in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, and smaller wars? They drained our best and brightest, and bled our economy. Now, I am not a dove. I believe we have to fight and kill terrorists. But we do it the way the operation was conducted against Bin Laden. We utilize the best intelligence and the most skilled soldiers. These can be women as well as men. But we do not drain our country by keeping thousands of troops on the ground in foreign countries. We have occupied some countries since WWII... In some cases, the bases are beneficial to us. But in others we are spending our own trillions to protect the countries. Why don't we at least get a financial or an oil benefit from the occupation?

And why, in this day and age, do we tear mothers away from their children so they can fight in Iraq and Afghanistan? I am all for women serving in the forces. But can't there be exceptions, so they do not have to be deployed if they have young children at home? Maybe men can also have the option of staying home with the children.

These are some of the serious issues you may deal with as a reporter. It is true, these are difficult times in the news business. But it is a worthy profession. You have the obligation to investigate, expose, communicate, and "speak truth to power."