lessons learned, social media

Never argue with a fool…

Now, more than ever, I think it’s important for people to stay out of other people’s faces. For obvious reasons, it’s a good idea to be distant. But since it’s also election season, I’ve seen a lot of people figuratively getting up in other people’s faces. I wonder if these people have given any thought to how they come across to others… or if they even care.

Here’s an example of what I mean. I have a bunch of cousins on my dad’s side of the family. One of my uncles married a very opinionated woman who is now deceased. My aunt was one of those people who loved to argue, even if a lot of her opinions were very one-sided and lacked perspective. My uncle, likewise, enjoys arguing. Both of them were heavy drinkers back in the day. My uncle is probably still a drunk. I don’t know, because I haven’t spoken to him in over three years, mainly because the last time I did, he called me a “nut case” because I disagree with him about Donald Trump making America great again.

My aunt and uncle produced four sons, all of whom are also very opinionated. They have cousins on their mother’s side who are just as opinionated. When I was still Facebook friends with most of that part of the family, I used to regularly see heated arguments, as my aunt’s family has a lively mix of extremely liberal and conservative people within it and they would publicly clash with each other on social media.

My cousin’s daughter, my first cousin once removed, is intelligent, sensitive, and very liberal. Lately, she’s been posting a lot of things about #BlackLivesMatter. That has inflamed her family members on both sides. Her grandfather’s side (my uncle’s side) of the family is conservative enough, but there’s also a cousin on her grandmother’s side (my aunt’s side) who is extremely conservative and has no problems opening verbal fire on anyone who enters a discussion with her.

I left a comment on this meme my cousin shared…

Another cousin had angrily posted that the above meme was “wrong”. This was his comment:

This is ridiculous. Race and audience are irrelevant and this insinuates police did this out of malice and there is no justifiable reason that this could ever happen. Garbage.

An argument ensued, and the same cousin posted this additional comment to the one above:

…there are justifiable reasons to shoot a man in the back. For example, someone running and firing a weapon at you.
Or, in a case like this, fending off police with a knife to keep them at a distance then saying you’re going to get your gun out of your car and running out of an area they can deter you non-lethally.
Having your kids there does not protect you from their right to self defense.

He has demonstrated the means and intent to kill the police and every second they didnt take action put them further at risk. 

If it was about blasting a black man in front of his kids, they wouldn’t have had to wait until he said he was going to get his gun to shoot them.

You can call me a coward on the street, but if someone told me they were going to get their gun out of their car and shoot me after threatening me with a knife, i wouldn’t wait for him to turn around with a pistol.

My comment was this:

I have a hard time imagining someone running AWAY from someone while also trying to accurately fire a weapon. That sounds like something on TV or in the movies, not something from real life. Either way, shooting someone in the back SEVEN times is excessive.

I based my comment on my own experience firing weapons. It’s pretty hard to be accurate with a gun, even when you’re standing still. Imagine being scared, loaded with adrenaline, and running away from someone while also trying to fire a weapon and actually hitting the target you want to hit. It doesn’t seem plausible to me.

I noticed I got a notification from my cousin’s female relative on my aunt’s side. I didn’t even read it until just now, though, because I had been observing the way she was interacting with other people who weren’t on her team. This was what she posted to me. I wholeheartedly disagree with her comment, but I’m still not going to respond, because I’ve seen her in action with other people. I know it would be a waste of time. I will give her credit, though, for not calling me “honey” or going ad hominem, as I have seen her do with other people.

“excessive” perhaps, but imagine if you were one of the officers trying to subdue this man. He told them he was getting his gun from his car to shoot them. Now imagine the 14 yr old that he raped was your daughter… he wasn’t an upstanding citizen. He resisted arrest. He should be thankful he’s still alive.

Regardless of what the man said, or my hypothetical 14 year old daughter who might have been raped, I still don’t think police officers should be killing or seriously injuring people as often as they do. This isn’t a huge problem in other countries. It shouldn’t be a problem in the so-called “best” country in the world, either. I understand the reasons why it’s a problem. We have a huge issue with racism in the United States, as well as free access to guns and a society where many people glorify violence.

I’m sure my cousin’s relative, who wants me to consider my hypothetical 14 year old daughter being raped, is not upset that Mr. Turner got out of jail so early. She already supports a president who brags about grabbing women by the pussy.

We have a political party that is all about protecting the right to bear arms as it also wants to force women to stay pregnant, while not making pregnancy and childbearing feasible and affordable. This party hates the idea of killing the unborn, who aren’t even conscious and have no concept of life, death, or terror; but they have no issues with killing the babies who have already been born, by employing their pro-violence, pro-racism policies.

And if you’re a white guy with a bright future, like former Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner, you get a pass when you rape someone who is drunk and unconscious. All because you might one day make a lot of money, and no one wants to see your bright future “ruined” by something as “trivial” as raping an unconscious woman behind a Dumpster. /sarcasm

If Brock Turner had been a man with darker skin, you bet your ass he’d still be in prison. Perhaps he might have even been killed as he was caught red-handed by two Swedish graduate students, sexually violating Chanel Miller, who was intoxicated and unconscious at the time. But he wasn’t. He was arrested, tried, and spent a laughably short amount of time in jail. Funny I should mention Sweden, too. That’s a country where police brutality is quite low, despite the fact that many refugees from Middle Eastern countries have settled there. Yes, it’s different in Sweden for many complex reasons that I don’t want to get into in this particular blog post. But the main difference I see is that basic decency among citizens and their leaders is expected.

Swedish police officers vacationing in New York City break up a fight without killing anyone.

In a news article about the off duty Swedish cops who, back in 2015, subdued a homeless guy in New York City, Swedes were reportedly unimpressed by the cops’ heroics. Here’s a screen shot from the news article, in which Swedes explain that it’s part of their culture to help rather than harm.

Why can’t more Americans adopt this attitude? Why can’t I have empathy for a man who was shot seven times in the back by police officers? Why is it necessary for me to excuse violence from professional cops, even if the man who was shot seven times in the back by them might have raped my hypothetical 14 year old daughter?

I read, with much disdain, comments made by Abby Johnson, a “top” RNC speaker and rabid anti-abortion activist, who not only thinks it would be good to have household voting with the husbands being the ones to cast the votes, but also thinks cops should be excused for racially profiling one of her sons. Johnson said,

“Statistically, I look at our prison population and I see that there is a disproportionately high number of African-American males in our prison population for crimes, particularly for violent crimes. So statistically, when a police officer sees a brown man like my Jude walking down the road — as opposed to my white nerdy kids, my white nerdy men  walking down the road — because of the statistics that he knows in his head, that these police officers know in their head, they’re going to know that statistically my brown son is more likely to commit a violent offense over my white sons.”

“So the fact that in his head, he would be more careful around my brown son than my white son, that doesn’t actually make me angry. That makes that police officer smart, because of statistics.”

Wow… so she thinks that people with brown skin are automatically going to be more violent and more likely to commit crimes, simply because of the color of their skin? She’s never heard of “gentle giants”? She’s never heard of nerdy white guys who sit in their mothers’ basements and eventually get so antisocial that they decide to shoot up schools? I could probably fill another blog post with many paragraphs about the “nerdy white guys” who have killed innocent children– former unborn babies that Johnson supposedly wished to protect before they entered the world as separate beings.

Think about Sandy Hook– 28 six year olds who just wanted to learn something in school– murdered by a nerdy white guy named Adam Lanza. Adam Lanza was just one such “nerdy white guy” of many, who have toted weapons into schools and killed innocent children. But Abby Johnson thinks her brown skinned son, Jude, is a bigger threat “‘cuz statistics”. Okay, then. If cops haven’t figured out that “nerdy white guys” can be threatening, then the cops are pretty damned stupid. And, by now, I’m sure people like Dylann Roof and Adam Lanza, Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, and Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, and all the other “nerdy white guys” should have leveled the statistics about nerdy white guys and “being dangerous” somewhat by now!

Anyway… I could certainly get into it with my cousin’s relative on her grandmother’s side about this… and it would likely get very heated, and one of us might resort to sarcastically calling the other “honey” or “punk assed bitch” or something stupid like that. It becomes uncivilized and unproductive in a hurry and raises my blood pressure.

In fairness, it’s not just the right wingers who are like this. On RfM, once one of my favorite places to hang out when I need a break from Facebook, there are several posters who are aggressively liberal. One of them recently called me a “rape apologist” because I have empathy for the late Mary Kay Letourneau and her former student and ex husband, Vili Fualaau. Whether or not I condone with Mary Kay Letourneau did, she and Vili were married, and he apparently still had much regard for her. I don’t know why he loved her. But he evidently doesn’t consider himself her victim, even if other people do. I think his opinions about Mary Kay Letourneau are much more important than mine are. Moreover, even though these women think his life was “ruined” by Mary Kay’s actions, it’s clear that HE doesn’t think so. And his opinion is more important, in my view. How would those people like it if some unknown stranger in Internetland declared their lives “ruined” without even knowing them personally? I know I wouldn’t like it. Acknowledging that Vili Fualaau might be genuinely sad that his ex wife died, doesn’t make me a “rape apologist”. That’s ridiculous.

You can see two of those posters at work in this recent thread on RfM. Personally, I immediately got what the OP was posting about… people going around “baiting” other people into behaving badly, getting it on video, making the video go viral, and then trying to score a payday or fifteen minutes of fame. I think it does happen. But God forbid someone point this out in a forum on RfM, where a few prominent posters seem to have taken over with their overbearing points of view. I won’t even engage with them anymore, because I simply don’t have the time for it.

Ditto to the COVID-19 mask crusaders who are extremely rude and intolerant toward people who object to wearing face masks. They routinely shut down any discussion whatsoever, even if it has merit (for instance, my example regarding the man who was missing parts of his ears due to going to war). You can’t have an exchange with them without being attacked, insulted, and vilified. So I just don’t bother with it. I’d rather just write a blog post where I can write my thoughts on my own space. But some people don’t even like that I do that, even though they’re in the business of working for the United States government, where freedom of expression is supposedly a “thing”. Only if you express what they want to “hear”, right?

Well… this post is causing me to have to repost a couple of old blog posts/book reviews, so I’ll stop here and get to that. Suffice to say that I have my opinions. I will share them, but I don’t have to defend them or argue with other people about them. I still have a right to them… and other people might think I’m stupid or clueless or call me things like a “rape apologist”. But if I see someone habitually going on the attack or am on the receiving end of an attack, I won’t be wasting my time in the fray.

As the Bible says…

Words to live by.

psychology, true crime

What makes someone an authority?

Yesterday’s debate about the legitimacy of Mary Kay Letourneau’s relationship with her ex husband and former student, Vili Fualaau, made me do some thinking. The two women on RfM who insisted that Letourneau was irredeemable and deserved no mercy were actively shutting down anyone else’s opinion, even going to the point of accusing commenters disagreeing with them of being “rape apologists”. After awhile, a man joined in the fray, also agreeing with the women. He left me a comment, even though I was “out” of the active discussion.

The man who left me a comment claims to be a victim of sexual abuse. In his comment to me, his very first question was “Were you a victim of sexual abuse?” He followed it with several statements about his experiences as a sexual abuse survivor, as if that made him some sort of expert on the subject.

I’m not sure what he was expecting my answer to be. My guess is that he assumed I have not been abused, and therefore could not relate to the experience. But, in fact, there is sexual abuse in my past. I have written about some of it in this blog. The rest, I prefer to keep private, because it’s really no one’s business. I also suspect that some of my memories of it may be repressed. I don’t remember anything truly awful happening to me on the level of rape, but for some reason, I’ve always had a very hard time trusting men. I’ll just leave it at that.

The other two commenters qualified themselves too, as they rabidly took anyone to task who didn’t cheer about Mary Kay Letourneau’s death from colon cancer. They seemed to be working as a tag team. Perhaps they know each other offline. One of them claimed the other has a law degree from a very prestigious university out west. Maybe she does, although one might wonder why she spends so much time on a message board for ex Mormons if she’s a brilliant lawyer.

On the other hand, I’m “overeducated” myself for my lot in life. Maybe people don’t believe that I did any time in graduate school. It’s not like I carry my diplomas in my purse. Either way, I only know about them what they post, just as most people only know about me what I post. There’s no proof of their claims about their credentials, although both women (I assume, based on their monikers?) are clearly very articulate and intelligent. Both are quick to argue with other posters with an air that they’re always right, regardless of the subject.

For whatever’s it’s worth, Rolling Stone magazine also agrees with them that Mary Kay Letourneau was a terrible person who was romanticized by the press. I can agree that the press did kind of make Mary Kay out to be more sympathetic than perhaps they should have, particularly back in the late 1990s, when this was hot news. There was even a made for TV movie done about her.

Penelope Ann Miller was a good casting choice. As to the movie itself, it’s been years since I saw it.

A couple of years ago, there was a documentary about Mary Kay Letourneau and Vili Fualaau. I remember watching it and thinking Mary Kay came off as less of a predator and more as someone with serious organic mental illness. However, given what she did, there is no doubt that legally, she was guilty of child rape, which is definitely wrong in the eyes of the law. For whatever reason, her victim didn’t see what she did as wrong, even if almost everyone else does.

I don’t personally know anyone involved in this case. I have no idea what any of them are like, other than what I’ve read about them. As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I try to be open-minded as much as possible about most things. I often try to give people the benefit of the doubt, too, although I’m not always able to do that.

I can’t picture myself speaking to Vili Fualaau, who is now a grown man in his late 30s, insisting that he has no right to be sad about Mary Kay Letourneau’s death. I can’t see myself grabbing him by the lapels and shaking him, demanding that he see her the way that many other uninvolved people see her– simply as a child rapist. He was the main victim in this case, although others have rightly noted that others were also victimized– her ex husband, her children, her colleagues, and her other students, as well as extended family members who have had to live with the shame and notoriety of her crime.

But many of those same people who knew Mary Kay Letourneau privately also didn’t know her as simply a child rapist. Those people have the right to their feelings, whatever they may be. Ultimately, that was what I was trying to get at when I initially fell down the rabbit hole on RfM. I was not one of Mary Kay Letourneau’s victims. I don’t approve of what she did. It’s hard for me to wrap my head around how and why it happened. I don’t have all of the facts. But when it comes down to it, she was a human being who had loved ones, including the man she victimized when he was a child. What right do I have to judge him for the way he says he feels? And what right do other people have to judge me for how I feel? Feelings are just that.

I have written in this blog about one of the men who sexually abused me when I was growing up. When I think about it, there were a number of instances involving people besides him, although they varied in severity and regularity. The man I have written about is the one who stands out the most to me. What he did wasn’t on the same level of what Mary Kay Letourneau did, although it was clearly abuse. I didn’t see it as abuse at the time.

It wasn’t until I spoke to mental health professionals that I realized that what he did was sexual abuse. Some people might see that as a problem. No one wants to be an abuse victim. In some ways, making that realization made things somewhat worse for me. It became something I felt like I had to hide. I never told my parents the full extent of what happened. Even if I had done that, back when it was happening, I’m not sure they would have done anything. I suspect they might have even blamed me for it.

I don’t know what Vili Fualaau’s life is like. However, it doesn’t appear to me that his life was ruined. He has two daughters. He was married for about fourteen years, which is longer than some marriages last. From what I can tell, he hasn’t turned to a life of crime. He’s not, to my knowledge, a sex pest himself. In spite of being a victim of child rape, it looks like Vili is doing somewhat okay. But I really don’t know. I only know what’s he’s told everyone.

I remember watching Montel Williams back in the early 00s, when he had a talk show. One time, he did a show on child sexual abuse survivors. I remember he got very emotional and shouted something along the lines of, “These victims’ lives are RUINED!” It bothered me that he said that. It seemed like an awful lot of power to give to an abuser, as it also seemed to diminish the power of the abused. Who is he to say whose life is ruined? It’s not his experience. He’s not an authority on their lives!

My life hasn’t been ruined because of what I went through as a child. I don’t give my abuser that much power, or really, that much regard anymore. I don’t even hate him, even though according to the women on RfM, simply based on what he did, he was someone unworthy of any compassion or sympathy. What he did was wrong, but that didn’t make him a person without any value. He had some good qualities. One thing I remember about him was that he was an incredible gardener. Also, our dog, Rhonda, loved him and used to run to greet him when he’d come home from work every day.

So… I guess my point is, I’m not an authority on anyone’s experiences but my own. I am in charge of my thoughts and feelings. No one necessarily has the right to tell me that my opinions are *wrong*, because they’re just that– opinions– not facts. You may disagree or disapprove of my opinions, but I still have the right to them. Shouting me down, either literally or in written form, doesn’t make you “right”. It makes you an insufferable blowhard. My experiences as a sexual abuse survivor don’t make me an expert on sexual abuse as a whole. They only make me an expert on my own experiences. Likewise, I think Vili Fualaau is the best person to determine if his experiences with sexual abuse ruined his life. From what I’ve seen, it doesn’t look like they have.

Sigh… I probably need to stop spending so much time on RfM, too.

obits, true crime

RIP Mary Kay…

I woke up to the news that Mary Kay Letourneau passed away on July 6th. She’d been suffering from colon cancer and spent the last month in hospice care. Her ex husband, Vili Fualaau, was at her side taking care of her. This would not seem like such a strange thing, except that Mary Kay Letourneau did seven years in prison for raping Vili when he was almost 13 years old. She’d been his teacher in both the second and sixth grades. Although Mary Kay Letourneau was regarded as an excellent teacher who, to my knowledge, was not a habitual sexual abuser, for some reason she couldn’t resist Vili Fualaau. It cost her everything, including her freedom and access to her four children from her first marriage.

Mary Kay Letourneau also had two children with Vili. They were married in 2005 and split up in 2017, finally divorcing in 2019. I remember reading that the split was mostly because Vili wanted to start a marijuana farm and couldn’t do so legally as long as he was married to a felon. In spite of their divorce, he was with Mary Kay until the end, even though she was technically his rapist.

Mary Kay Letourneau’s story was certainly unusual. In the late 1990s, she was a fixture in the tabloids. Lots of people had, and still have, very strong opinions about her. Just this morning, there’s a thread on RfM about Mary Kay Letourneau’s passing. A couple of posters are steadfastly taking people to task for expressing sadness that Mary Kay died. I am one of those they’re judging. They claim I’m a “rape apologist” because I expressed condolences. Incidentally, I remember a few months ago, someone else on RfM implying that I’m a racist because I described the people who punctured our tire in France as “swarthy”.

The person who implied I’m a racist is also among those claiming that anyone who empathizes with Mary Kay Letourneau is a “rape apologist”. I guess this puts me right down there with Donald Trump. Actually, I think these folks, both of whom are very intelligent, but sometimes quite rigid and argumentative, are guilty of extreme black and white thinking. And they seem just fine with telling other people how and what they should think, too. I’ve learned that there’s no point in having discussions with people of that ilk because it goes nowhere. Their minds are made up, and they simply aren’t willing to consider other viewpoints.

I often get into trouble with people because, for the most part, I try not to engage in black and white thinking, even when it comes to what should be done with rapists, child molesters, and murderers. Perhaps it’s because of my social work training, although maybe if I had actually had to do a lot of work with victims, that “open-mindedness” might have gone out the window. I see most people as capable of being and doing good things, even if they’ve committed a heinous crime. I like to hope that most people are redeemable on some level, even if I know some of them aren’t.

Anyway, my thinking about this case is what it is. I don’t tend to think of most people as all good or all bad. For instance, I despise Bill’s ex wife, but even she has her redeeming qualities if I stop and think about it for a moment. She could have been much worse than she was, although she was certainly bad enough. She did some really terrible things to people– to include rape. But I can still think of worse people in the world. I also realize that whatever I think of her, she still has loved ones who wouldn’t want to see her dead. Or, I assume she does, anyway.

I had a social work professor who did a lot of work in prisons with domestic abusers and child molesters. While that work is certainly considered distasteful to a lot of people, it’s very necessary, just as defense attorneys are necessary to advocate for people who are accused of crimes. My professor explained what it was like to work with pedophiles and child molesters (there is a difference). I remember thinking how difficult it must have been for him to work with that population, but I later came to realize that working with them was a kindness. He provided a much needed service for the offenders, but also for anyone who has to deal with the offenders, including their families and other incarcerated people.

A person can be a pedophile, but not a child molester. A pedophile is someone who is sexually attracted to children, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they have molested children. It could be that they’re just attracted to them and have fantasies. A child molester molests children, but may or may not find them sexually attractive.

Many people think that someone who victimizes children should simply be executed. I can understand why people feel that way. Children are innocent and powerless, and they are never in a position of strength over adults who victimize them. I agree that people who harm children must be punished and prevented from harming other children. However, many people also have issues with the death penalty. Although I grew up being all for executing criminals, my mind changed as I came of age and saw the death penalty unfairly administered. I read horrifying accounts of innocent people being exonerated, sometimes after they had already been put to death. So now, I’m mostly against executing people, unless it’s a matter of public safety, there is absolutely no doubt of the person’s guilt, and there is certainty that given the opportunity, they would offend again. I think it’s something that should be done exceedingly rarely.

What should we do with someone who confesses to being a pedophile, but never actually harms a child? If someone dares to admit to those feelings, especially to someone with training in counseling, should we just round them up and shoot them? Or should we offer them some kind of help? Do pedophiles have any intrinsic worth as human beings, despite their attraction to children? Can they be salvaged? Do they deserve compassion and understanding? As my professor said, people who are attracted to children are dealing with a very powerful drive. If they are brave enough to seek help before they hurt anyone, and even after they’ve hurt someone, I think that should be encouraged.

I also don’t think that all sex offenders are created equally. What Mary Kay Letourneau did was certainly very wrong. She did rape a child. But she was not on the same level as someone like Warren Jeffs, who repeatedly victimized scores of women and children for many years.

From what I have read about the Letourneau case, the relationship Mary Kay had with Vili wasn’t violent. He could not legally consent to having sex with her when they first got together, because he was a child. She certainly abused her power by giving in to having sex with him when she was his teacher. But he was, apparently, her one and only victim, and for whatever reason, he later married her and willingly stayed with her for years.

Did Vili have the right to make the decision to marry his rapist as a consenting adult? Yes he did, even if I don’t agree with his decision. It would not have been right for the government to say that he couldn’t marry his abuser, even if most people think it’s icky and wrong. Americans value their freedoms, as we’ve especially seen during the coronavirus pandemic. And Vili, evidently, did not consider Mary Kay Letourneau abusive, even if the law says differently. Mary Kay was also diagnosed with bipolar disorder, which may have had some bearing on her behavior, too.

I don’t see Mary Kay Letourneau as a monster, even if I definitely don’t condone what she did. I think what matters most is what her victim thinks. Vili Fualaau was Mary Kay Letourneau’s victim, not me, and he hasn’t been a child in many years. Apparently, he loved her, despite what she did. Mary Kay Letourneau went to prison for her crimes against him. She did her time, and to my knowledge, did not reoffend. She can’t ever hurt anyone else because she’s now dead. Colon cancer is also not a very pleasant way to die.

I don’t understand Mary Kay’s and Vili’s relationship, but since Vili is an adult, I respect his choices, and yes, I am sorry for his loss. That does not make me a “rape apologist”. Aside from that, Mary Kay Letourneau was still the mother of six people. I don’t know what her children think of her, although I did read that she managed to “mend fences” with her eldest children. Her daughter, Mary Claire, was even the maid of honor at Mary Kay’s wedding to Vili. They’re probably sad that she died. Or maybe they aren’t sad. They’re entitled to whatever their feelings are. As a fellow human being, I have empathy for them. It’s not my place to demand that they hate her or be glad she’s dead. It’s not my place to demand that anyone thinks or feels the way I do. It doesn’t mean I admire Mary Kay Letourneau or think she was a paragon of virtue. It means I see her as a flawed human being who suffered and is deserving of basic compassion. There are people who loved her and will miss her, in spite of her shortcomings as a person. And I am sorry for their loss.

true crime

Sexting your 13 year old student… bad idea.

Yesterday, I ran across a salacious news story about a 28 year old woman named Brittany Zamora of Goodyear, Arizona. Until March of last year, Ms. Zamora was a schoolteacher who taught sixth grade at Las Brisas Academy. Ms. Zamora, who has been married to Daniel Zamora since 2015, just got sentenced to 20 years in prison. Why? Because she had sex with one of her students, a 13 year old boy. They engaged in intercourse multiple times; on one occasion, another student stood watch. Aside from that, the pretty young teacher was also sending graphic sexually explicit text messages to her student, who responded in kind.

Ms. Zamora getting sentenced earlier this month. She had a female judge who clearly didn’t cut her any slack for “coming from a good family.”

The boy’s parents grew suspicious of the way their son was behaving, so they installed an application called Sentry Parental Control on the child’s phone. At that point, they got wise to what their son’s teacher was up to and called the authorities. Ms. Zamora was then arrested. It came out that she’d had sex with the boy four times in her car and once in her classroom. She also sent the boy nude pictures of herself, as well as photos of herself in lingerie. Some of the messages they sent to each other were downright X rated, as were their in person sexual activities.

Everybody has a phone, which means nobody has privacy… so why would you send dirty text messages to a minor? Or to anyone, for that matter?

When I read this story, my first thought was that it’s crazy for anyone to think they can get away with this kind of thing in today’s hyperconnected world. Thanks to the Internet and prying, nosy, curious information seekers, it’s becoming more and more difficult to maintain privacy. I know some people do things in an effort to hide themselves online. Here in the military world, a lot of women don’t use their last names on social media. However, that’s becoming a futile practice, since a lot of times, just a few mouse clicks will reveal the person’s identity. If you know anything about them at all, you can get more information.

My husband, for instance, was able to find his younger daughter online because she’d left a comment on someone’s Web site. She didn’t use her last name, but she did use her first name, and wrote in a way that easily identified her. He clicked on the name, which was attached to a link, and ended up on her blog. It took less than a few minutes to do this. He read her blog for years before she finally came around to speaking to him again. It was the only way he could stay in touch with his children. Likewise, when my husband’s ex wife decided to move to New Hampshire from Arizona without informing Bill, it wasn’t hard at all to find that information.

I have an acquaintance who seems to go to great lengths to hide her identity. She doesn’t use her full name online, nor does she post any pictures of herself. When she’s left me comments on my blogs or sent me private messages, she’s always done so using aliases. But I know her name. In fact, I know her full name. The other day, I looked her up to see if she was still living in the same city. It wasn’t hard to get the answer to that question, or any others I had. The information is out there, despite her measures to maintain “privacy”. Curiously enough, she doesn’t seem to mind invading my privacy, but that’s a password protected rant for another day.

So… why is it that a teacher thinks she can send dirty text messages and photos to a 13 year old and get away with it? It shows an astonishing lack of judgment on her part. I don’t know what drives people who want to have sex with minors. Ms. Zamora claims she is not a danger to society. But she did molest a child… so if that’s not dangerous to society, I don’t know what is.

A couple of my friends commented that they didn’t disagree that Ms. Zamora should get 20 years in prison, but they do think it’s unfair that some men get slaps on the wrist for similar crimes. They’re thinking of people like Brock Turner, the Stanford University swimmer who did less than six months behind bars for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman. The judge hadn’t wanted to ruin his “bright” future. Or, more recently, there is the case of the teenaged boy in New Jersey who got extreme lenience from a judge because the boy comes from a “good family”. The 16 year old in question had allegedly raped an unconscious girl, filming himself while he was engaged in the crime, and posting it on social media. He sent the clip to seven friends with the caption, “When your first time having sex is rape.” Some good family he comes from, right?

Bill’s comment to that was that, not too long ago, women were “slapped on the wrist” for molesting boys. He mentioned Debra Lafave, the blonde bombshell high school English teacher who famously molested a 14 year old boy who was one of her students. At the time, she was 24 years old and very attractive. In 2006, she pleaded guilty to two counts of lewd or lascivious activity and was sentenced to just three years on house arrest, seven years probation, and registration as a sex offender. Like Ms. Zamora, Lafave (whose last name is now Beaseley), had sex with her student. She also performed oral sex and engaged in these activities in front of another minor, her victim’s 15 year old cousin, who drove them around while they went at it in the back seat. I wonder why Ms. Lafave got such a comparatively light sentence. If she had been a male teacher molesting a female, she’d have probably done hard time.

Or, take Mary Kay Letourneau, the “brilliant” schoolteacher who had a sexual relationship with her student, Vili Fualaau, that turned into a torrid affair. Ms. Letourneau was given multiple chances to stay out of prison, but was eventually caught with her former student. She spent years in prison, but only after she violated her probation and got pregnant by the boy. Then, after she was released, she and Vili married. They have two daughters, in addition to the children Ms. Letourneau had with her ex husband, Steve Letourneau. If she had been a man, she probably would have spent much longer in prison.

Amazingly enough, according to the article I read, Ms. Zamora actually got the minimum sentence for her sex crimes. The boy’s parents had asked for the maximum sentence, which must have been much longer than twenty years (edited to add, maximum sentence would have been 27 years). As it is, Ms. Zamora will be in prison until she’s about my age, because she cannot be released on “good behavior”. Moreover, she will have to register as a sex offender when she’s released. Ms. Zamora’s husband, Daniel, tried to “settle” the matter with the boys’ parents, who, understandably, weren’t having any of it. The boys’ parents, instead, filed a lawsuit against Mr. Zamora for failing to contact the authorities when he learned of the affair between his wife and their minor son. Mr. Zamora recently settled with the boys’ parents for an undisclosed amount.

I don’t know if Mr. and Ms. Zamora will divorce in the wake of this legal morass. I would expect them to, even though they’ve known each other for many years and Zamora seems to be defending his wife. Fortunately, they don’t have any children. Hopefully, Ms. Zamora’s victim will be able to overcome this trauma and have a good life. In my experience, though, this kind of thing has significant ripple effects that will likely affect many people who will have dealings with that young man. For that reason, I don’t think it’s wrong that Ms. Zamora got a hard twenty year sentence. She deserves it.