Finally, someone had the courage to take a stand against the great scourge of our time.
Oh … not that scourge. Not child obesity or 1 percenters or sexually transmitted diseases or radical Islam or Citizens United or greedy bankers or Burmese pythons or Greek tax evaders or Iranian nukes or unmanned drones or union busters or feral pigs or Facebook IPOs or destination casinos or Boston Celtics or illicit voters or even Donald Trump.
No. Gloria Allred came to town Wednesday to warn us — those of us who might have been wavering in our resolve — that "cannibalism is a serious issue and is very dangerous to the health and the well-being of the cannibal and the victim."
Not necessarily in that order.
The ubiquitous Allred organized a press conference on behalf of Yovonka Bryant "to help her have a voice."
Bryant, a slender, striking 27-year-old Miramar woman, stood next to Allred and told how over the last four months she had been the girlfriend of Rudy Eugene, the man whom police shot dead on the MacArthur Causeway on May 26. That attack had been of such inexplicable brutality that the case has since been inundated in international publicity.
Some of us cynics assumed that the astounding media coverage explained the sudden appearance in Miami by Allred, who seems to hover around notorious criminal cases like a moth to klieg lights.
Allred stood in a Sofitel Hotel ballroom before a battery of cameras, ostensibly to assure the world that Bryant should not be judged by her association with Rudy Eugene. "She had no warning whatsoever that Mr. Eugene would have ever engaged in cannibalism," Allred said, delivering a rebuttal to a premise that had never occurred to anyone.
"Had she had any indication that Mr. Eugene could or would engage in an act of cannibalism, she would never have allowed him around her three children," Allred said.
She described how Bryant had been contacted by police investigators and had provided "all the information she knew that was relevant to this inquiry." Allred then added another bewildering non sequitur. "She was not and is not a suspect in this matter."
None of the reporters in the room, or anywhere, had entertained a thought to the contrary. We all sat wondering why it was necessary to call a press conference to rebut nonexistent accusations. And why Bryant needed the famous celebrity lawyer Gloria Allred to fly in from Los Angeles to say what didn't need to be said.
Here's why: "In addition, Yovonka and I are very concerned about the issue of cannibalism and the number of cases that are being reported in other states and countries, such as Alabama, Canada, Maryland, Japan and Sweden," Allred said.
Okay. Okay. It's not like any of us media types there were naive about Gloria Allred, who's been sopping up unwarranted media coverage for years, often as the lawyer for women associated with the very bad behavior of very famous men. Cynical or not, there we were on Wednesday, packing the ballroom in tacit acknowledgement of our symbiotic relationship with the likes of Allred.
Besides, she and Yovonka Bryant had a larger message to deliver. "It is very important that the social taboo and stigma that have long been attached to this subject continues and that society condemns cannibalism, rather than trivializing it or glamorizing it."
Those of us there who had been guilty of glamorizing cannibalism hung our heads in shame.
The only morsel of news that spilled out of the press conference was Bryant's insistence that, contrary to a police record of eight arrests, including a threat against his own mother, and the unhappy memories of his ex-wife, Rudy Eugene was a model boyfriend, who avoided drugs (except for one brief indulgence in marijuana), was religious and loved playing with her three kids. They called him "Uncle Beard." Another girlfriend has also been quoted in the media since Eugene was killed. It was important, Allred said, for us to know that the other girlfriend was not this girlfriend.
Allred did not allow Bryant to veer from her prepared written statement. Bryant read, "Rudy and I never discussed cannibalism or voodoo."
Which was all we really needed to know.
Fred Grimm joined the Miami Herald in 1976. Since 1991 he has written a column about crime, politics and life in Broward County. Contact him at [email protected]