complaints, musings, poor judgment, true crime

What would you have Skylar Mack do?

I know I can and should write about how today is the very last day Trump will be called “president”. Or, at least he has to wait four years before he runs again, which I hope will never happen. I do have some thoughts on Trump’s departure from the White House. I also realize that things aren’t going to noticeably improve for awhile. It takes time for the stench of big business to clear, just as I’m sure it takes time for the stench of Donald Trump’s farts and shits to dissipate. We will have some wild news days for some time to come.

A screenshot of a funny image making the rounds today. Kudos to Portuguese cartoonist, Vasco Gargalo for this awesome image. Here’s a page for him.

However… although I could write about Trump’s departure, I want to address something else on my mind. It has to do with mean people and mean comments.

Last night, I got a drive by visit from some butthurt guy from Charleston, West Virginia. I’m not sure what he was doing on my blog. I don’t know for certain, but my guess is that he’s a Trumper who is upset that his orange leader is departing Washington, DC and wants to lash out at strangers. Or maybe he’s not a Trumper. Maybe he’s just an asshole who likes leaving rude comments to people he doesn’t know who happen to have a different viewpoint than he does.

Anyway… this guy, name of Marty, hit my post about Skylar Mack, the 18 year old young woman who was arrested in the Cayman Islands and spent about six or seven weeks in jail. Not the one I wrote yesterday, but the one I wrote last month.

In his post, Marty wrote some choice words about what an entitled jerk he thinks Skylar Mack is… then he called me a SJW, as well as a few other things. I could tell by my statcounter report that Marty had spent a total of about four minutes on my blog, and felt compelled to spew his nastiness at me, a perfect stranger, simply because he doesn’t agree with the views I express on my personal blog.

I did not publish his comment. In fact, after skimming it, I deleted it. And if he comes back here and leaves me another shitty comment, I will ban him. Maybe some people think that’s harsh or a violation of his right to freedom of expression, but this space isn’t a democracy. I pay a lot of money to host my blog. It’s my space. And while I used to let people pretty much write whatever they wanted, I’ve decided that I’m not going to do that anymore. Life is too short. If you want to be rude and nasty, go post somewhere else. I will not allow it here.

Speaking of Skylar Mack. I noticed similarly nasty spew written about her on the news sites. Many people, the vast majority of whom have never met Skylar Mack, are calling her a selfish, entitled, spoiled brat. They laugh at her apology, and even the fact that she admits she deserved to go to jail. Last night, I left a supportive comment for her, writing that I hoped she’d learned something from her experience and could move on with her life. I got a response from some woman who feels sure that Skylar didn’t learn anything but how to run to mommy for help.

Skylar Mack speaks out.

I responded that I felt like that wasn’t a fair assessment of Skylar Mack at all. I highly doubt that woman has ever met Skylar. Granted, I never have, either, but I’ve read that she’s 18 years old and a junior in college. If that’s true, she must have done some things right. I don’t approve of her choice to go to the Cayman Islands and then break quarantine. It was a stupid mistake. But she’s paid for her mistake, and now it’s time to let her redeem herself in peace.

The lady came back and said that I only feel this way because Skylar’s name is “Skylar”. In other words, she assumes, not ever having met me or knowing a single thing about me, that I am only being supportive because Skylar Mack is a pretty White woman. That’s not true at all. It doesn’t matter a whit to me that Skylar is a pretty White woman. I wouldn’t think locking her in a cell for months on end for her crime would be appropriate no matter what she looked like or what her name was.

I don’t think locking people up is appropriate in all circumstances. I think it’s done far too often in the United States, particularly for non-violent crimes. Skylar was jailed in the Cayman Islands, but I’m pretty sure that time behind bars was very unpleasant for her. I doubt she’ll forget it anytime soon. And I think the reduced punishment she received was fair and just, particularly since her initial punishment didn’t involve jail time at all and was reassessed by someone wanting to make an example out of her.

Skylar Mack can’t help who she is. She can’t help that she was named Skylar, and was born White. She can’t help that she has a supportive family who did what they could to help her. You know what? If she was my daughter, I’d do the same damned thing. I would be angry at her for making a poor decision and would definitely voice my strong disapproval of her choices. I certainly would not have bankrolled her trip. But if she was my daughter and she got in trouble in another country, you bet your ass I’d do whatever I could to help her. I think most decent parents would. I don’t blame Skylar Mack’s family for reaching out for help. I would do it, too, for a friend or a loved one.

Then I asked the lady, who was still challenging me, what she would have Skylar Mack do. Does she honestly think another month or two of her sitting in jail would have made more of an impression on her? How about a year? Should Skylar be forced to wear a hair shirt or self-flagellate? Should she kill herself or be beheaded? Exactly what punishment, in this person’s view, would be sufficient? And what makes her think she’s qualified to judge? Would she want that for herself if she made a mistake and landed in jail? I would also strongly caution her to never say never. All too often, “never” turns out to be a famous last word.

While I might agree that people of color typically get treated differently by law enforcement– that is, much more harshly– than White people do, I don’t think the solution to fixing that issue is to treat White people worse. I think the solution is to treat everyone with more respect, fairness, and kindness. We all make mistakes, particularly when we’re young, inexperienced, and impulsive. It’s not effective to be cruel and abusive. The goal of punishment should be correction and reform, not breaking people down so they can’t recover.

If it later turns out that Skylar didn’t learn from this experience and goes on to commit more crimes, I might change my mind about her. I’m sure I’ll be less inclined to give her a pass for bad behavior. But at this point, I truly hope she can move on from this and get back on the right path. I think she got the point, and no, it doesn’t matter to me that she’s a pretty White woman and apparently privileged. She’s a human being, and I think she should be given basic respect and consideration for that.

I feel that all people should get basic respect for being human. I am inclined to forgive Skylar Mack for making a mistake. I think I should be able to state that without someone making assumptions about the type of person I am, making fun of me, or leaving me mean or insulting comments. And again, leaving me a rude comment here will result in nothing more than laughter, deletion, and banning. I ain’t got the time for it.

Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, maybe I’ll be back later for one last Trump post. Or maybe not… today might be a good day to make some music.

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