divorce, Ex, psychology, true crime

Armchair quarterbacks…

When I used to post on Blogger, I would get all kinds of comments from all over the world. Sometimes, people would offer me unsolicited advice, based on what they thought they knew about me. Sometimes they would armchair quarterback when I’d post about situations we were dealing with. Often, the comments were left in a spirit of being helpful, but sometimes they were spiteful and cruel.

I think there must be a lot of people out there in the world who feel a lot better about themselves when they tell off some stranger on a blog or on social media. For most of my years on Blogger, I didn’t moderate comments before they were posted, so sometimes I would get nasty surprises from mean-spirited people who didn’t like something I’d written or disagreed with my opinions.

The first “nasty” comments I ever got were based on a post I wrote about Jessica McCord, a woman who, with the help of her police officer husband, killed her ex husband and his second wife. I had seen an episode of Snapped, a TV show on Oxygen about women who kill, and was horrified by how much Jessica McCord’s behaviors, prior to the murders, reminded me of Bill’s ex wife’s. So I wrote a post about it. That was a bad move.

News piece about Jeff McCord, a former cop who helped his wife, Jessica, murder her ex husband, Alan Bates, and Alan’s wife, Terra, after Alan won custody of his daughters.

My blog entry about Jessica McCord caught on fire several months after I posted it. I got all kinds of bile from people over that post about Jessica McCord and my comparison of our situation to hers… a lot of people wanted to blame Bill for not fighting harder to get his kids away from his ex wife. In retrospect, maybe he should have fought harder for custody… although by the time I saw that episode of Snapped, the girls were already grown women. Both of the girls stopped speaking to Bill in 2004 or so, and back then, we had no money or time for court battles. I saw and wrote about the Snapped episode in early 2012. By then, older daughter was 20 years old, and younger daughter was 18, and it had been over seven years since they had completely quit communicating with their dad.

I wrote my post about Jessica McCord because I was shocked by how much she had behaved like Ex before McCord and her husband resorted to murder. At least, to our knowledge, Ex never tried to murder Bill, although she did once tell him, when she thought he was sleeping, that she should just “slit his throat”. Surprisingly enough, Bill didn’t leave her at that point. He still had hopes he could save the marriage and be there for his kids.

Although a lot of people had negative things to say to me about my Jessica McCord entry, that post also attracted sympathy from someone who was friends with Alan and Terra Bates and understood the dynamics of dealing with an unhinged ex spouse. He was also a man, and he understood that it would have been difficult for Bill to get custody changed, and just taking the kids from her and refusing to bring them back would have landed him in jail. Ex had made it very difficult for Bill to see the kids, anyway. She lived on the other side of the country, was taking about $30,000 a year in child support, and absolutely refused to cooperate with him. We later found out from younger daughter that Ex was terrified that Bill would “steal” them from her. “Steal” was the actual word she used, even though two of the three kids for whom Bill paid child support were also HIS children (older stepson has a dad, but his dad didn’t pay support– Bill paid for him, instead– how’s that for being an irresponsible father who “copped out” of parenthood?). She clearly sees her offspring as extensions of herself instead of people unto themselves.

Upon reading all of the nasty spew in the wake of that post, I ended up writing a follow up– not so much about Jessica McCord, but more for the people who read it and left negative, shaming comments and unsolicited advice for me. One woman who commented on the first post claimed to be an “academic” and pretty much gave us both barrels. I would say that for an “academic”, she was remarkably uneducated about parental alienation syndrome. She also lectured me about not showing appropriate “deference” for her academic achievements. However, she also used a pseudonym and blocked her profile, so there was no way to know if she was who or what she claimed to be. I would say that anyone who leaves a comment like that but doesn’t allow themselves to be vetted is probably brimming full of shit.

I am glad to point out that the follow up post got sympathetic comments rather than the hateful bile the first post attracted. In the follow up post, I explained in more detail what happened and reminded people that having one’s children completely disown and reject them without ever giving them a chance to explain their side is extremely hurtful. At that point, I was still very angry with Bill’s daughters. I thought they were complicit. Since they were adults in 2012, I held them responsible for their actions. I have since changed my mind about them, now that one of the girls has resumed communicating with Bill and we’ve learned more about what was going on from their end.

I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised that people felt the need to “armchair quarterback” our situation. People react with righteous indignation when it comes to certain subjects, and they love to take what they think is the moral highground. When it comes to children, it’s easy for people to become sanctimonious about what other people should be doing, regardless of the individual circumstances they might be in at the time. For an easy example of what I mean, check out any video or picture of a child in a car seat. You can bet there will almost always be at least one comment on how the child is strapped in. It never fails, even if it’s a cute video. Nowadays, I’m seeing less about that subject as everyone is now preaching about wearing face masks. Many people take a “no excuses” attitude about some topics, even when such an attitude is not based in reality and doesn’t take into consideration other perspectives or circumstances. I guess it’s human nature.

On the other hand, it was pretty scary that some people felt that Bill should have been willing to be murdered for his daughters. What the hell good would he have been to them dead? Years later, Bill has finally reconciled with younger daughter, and he’s helped her out financially and emotionally, as she’s tried to make sense of her childhood. If Bill’s story had ended like Alan Bates’s had, his daughters would have lost BOTH parents forever.

My post about Jessica McCord was a source of a lot of angst for me, mainly because so many people left shitty, judgmental comments, mainly based on projection from their individual experiences. Also, a lot of people automatically blame men when a relationship doesn’t work out, and they assumed Bill was a “typical guy” (trust me; he isn’t). It got many thousands of views and, for years, it was one of my most popular posts of all time. It’s now been long surpassed by a post on my little visited music blog, Dungeon of the Past. For some reason, people are fascinated by a post I wrote about Mindi Carpenter, daughter of Richard Carpenter of the Carpenters. That post has generated many comments and, at this writing, has 117,790 hits.

Nowadays, I don’t get a lot of nasty comments. I moved the blog to WordPress, and comment moderation is turned on by default, making people a lot less willing to driveby with nastiness. I also have a smaller readership because a lot of the people who read the old blog were drivebys who read one or two posts and moved on. Now, I have some regular readers, but they’re mainly people who know me and know that Bill isn’t a deadbeat dad. I also don’t have as many posts about controversial topics on this blog, although I add new content pretty frequently. Today’s post, for instance, might ignite a fire.

Hope springs eternal that one day, I’ll write something as explosive as that Jessica McCord post was. In my experience, people tend to get the most upset about true crime posts. Sometimes I even hear from people directly involved in the cases I’ve written about. I can’t blame them for being upset– I suppose that even though I always try to be fair when I write, they still feel judged and/or attacked. I have to remind them that my comments come from what I’ve read or seen in the media, as well as my own deductive reasoning.

I empathize with them, too, because people did the same thing to me when I stupidly compared Jessica McCord to Ex. I couldn’t help myself, though. Jessica McCord really did eerily remind me of Ex. She pulled a lot of the same evasive tactics Ex did before Bill finally quit trying to fight with her. I’m truly grateful that she didn’t slit his throat or get her husband to help murder Bill and me, even if it pisses me off that she got away with what she did. Had it been my choice to make, I think I would have done all I could to take her to court and sue for custody. But I say that as a woman who wasn’t directly victimized and financially ruined by her, as Bill was.

I do sometimes get funny “advice” from spammers. Not long ago, someone left a comment on a post on my travel blog. It read like an actual person posted it. It started with something along the lines of, “Where’s your contact link? I have some ideas for your blog that I want to share with you.” Um… thanks for the attempt at giving me advice, but I don’t remember asking you…

I was a little astounded by that comment. It’s a fucking travel blog. Who says I want or need any help with it? I don’t write any of this for money! It’s mainly for myself and those who might find it interesting reading. If I make a little money from ads, that’s just icing on the cake! Really, I just write because it’s something to do, something I enjoy, is good for processing things, and helps me preserve memories. Not everyone appreciates what I do, though. Good thing the Internet is such a big place and people are free to go somewhere else.

Anyway, if my comments about Jessica McCord have piqued anyone’s interest, here’s a link to the episode of Snapped from which it came. I found it a truly chilling case. I am also going to repost my review of Death Trap, a book about the Jessica McCord case.

As an Amazon Associate, I may get a small commission from Amazon from items purchased through my site.


6 thoughts on “Armchair quarterbacks…

  1. Clare Palmatier says:

    I’ll tell you something and you can take it into consideration or not. The best person I’ve ever known is my stepmother. She’s an absolute blessing to everyone who knows her and my sister and I did not always make life easy for her, especially when we were younger. As for my mother, of course I love her but she can be a very challenging personality. Trouble with boundaries and unreasonably hostile towards my father, even decades after the divorce she wanted. She did not want either of us to have a good relationship with him even though he was a great father. In fact until I met my own husband I was somewhat estranged from Dad and and Mom had a lot to do with that. My husband was responsible for the reconciliation. We dated for a few years and then got engaged. At the time I was living at home. I paid Mom $120 each week just to live at home (and this was in 1996) but I was well into my 20’s, had a good job and I wanted to pay something. Well, long story short, a few weeks into the engagement she threw me out of the house because I wouldn’t let her choose my wedding gown (even though I was paying for it). For the next seven months (until the wedding) I lived with my Dad and stepmother. They never asked me for any rent ( “put it towards the wedding”) and we got along great and yes I talked to my stepmother a lot about about my Mom, but at the same time I didn’t really like to hear her criticize my Mom, not because she was wrong but because my Mom is still my Mom. Sounds like you’re building a nice relationship with one of your stepdaughters and I ‘m sure she’s glad to have you but remember, that woman is still her Mom. She might vent to you but that doesn’t mean she welcomes criticism by you against the same person. In my case, I think my stepmother picked up on my discomfort because she once said to me “I’m sorry if I’ve been too critical of your Mom lately and as crazy as it sounds and even though I probably brushed it off, I appreciated it. I hope all this makes some kind of sense. Anyway, that’s my two cents.

    • Thanks so much for that comment. It is most appreciated.

      To be honest, I don’t talk to Bill’s daughter. He Skypes with her and I let them have their time. I have only met his daughters once, and it was in 2003, when they were still young. He was only able to arrange one other visit before they lost communication. That was Christmas 2004, which Ex arranged at my father in law’s house. I decided not to attend because I knew it would be a disaster, and it was. Ex stayed with the in laws while my husband got a hotel room. The kids barely spoke to him. Younger daughter was especially distant during that visit.

      After that Christmas, they became completely estranged, although ex stepson was in touch for a few years before it became clear that he was using Bill for money. It wasn’t until a few years ago that younger daughter started talking to Bill. His older daughter is still estranged.

      When he went to see his daughter in March, she gave him a lovely thank you note for me, which I really appreciated. I thanked her with a Jacquie Lawson e-card, which surprised her. We may someday chat, but right now, she needs to make up for lost time with her dad. That visit in March happened because he had a business trip in Las Vegas and that afforded him the chance to go to Utah for the weekend. I encouraged him to do it. I am so glad I did, given the coronavirus nightmare going on. They spent the whole weekend talking and clearing up lies and half truths. It was a good visit, but emotionally draining.

      Anyway, I don’t know how she feels about her mom, but I suspect they have had a rough time of it. Ex doesn’t like younger daughter’s husband.

  2. I admit to being judgmental in regard to people who don’t wear masks, though both because I don’t know their particular narratives and because I’m essentially non-confrontational, I never say anything, nor do I even mean-mug them, though it would be pointless for me to give anyone a dirty look when i’m wearing a mask, anyway.

    Why would anyone with half a brain expect anyone else to give him or her deference or even due respect over non-verifiable credentials, qualifications, or academic standing? People can be so odd.

    I read a single Betty Broderick book. I feel sympathy for her, but I do think she’s not playing with a full deck even now. With the deaths of Dan and Linda, I cannot see how society lost anyone whose continued lives would have enriched the world much if at all, Perhaps I am being too harsh where Linda was concerned, though. She was young and might eventually have grown a conscience. Then again, maybe she wouldn’t have. Regardless, Betty obviously didn’t have any standing to act as judge, jury, and executioner (except that she had a key to the house and a gun).

Comments are closed.