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Barefoot Bandit: Did Society Fail Him?

July 13, 2010


Well, the Barefoot Bandit has been caught after a two-year run from the law. You gotta give the kid credit;  he sure was crafty. And although I cheered silently every time I heard he’d dodged another capture, I don’t condone his criminal activity. I mean, I like a good escape as much as anyone else. And when you think of it, the people who were victimized by Colton Harris-Moore will have a good story to tell for the rest of their lives. They may even be immortalized in film. But he vandalized innocent victims’ homes and property. On the other hand, most of the people were owners of vacation get-aways, airplanes and big boats. So what if they were “victimized?” They can afford it, right? Well, some would say “Indeed.”

I just read about how the kid’s sister is chastising the media for not reporting on the reasons that Harris-Moore turned out the way he did. The schools failed him. His family failed him. Some say he learned how to be a crook from the person he was closest to, his own mother. It is sad to read reports from the kid’s records claiming his mother was abusive when she drank. His dad left when he was very young, and his stepfather died. Did he lack positive role models in his life? Quite possibly.

 I don’t want to pass judgment on his mom based solely on one article I read, but I won’t be surprised if the description of her character turns out to be accurate. There are so many like her around the country and right here in Washington State. She lives in an isolated trailer, in the woods. There is a sign on the driveway saying trespassers will be shot.  She doesn’t work. It’s easy to speculate on her character. It’s easy to understand, perhaps, why a kid would run.

That Harris-Moore’s mom is poised to profit from her son’s crime spree and capture has created a bit of outrage in the blogosphere and on op-ed pages across America. It seems crass to profit off of the victimization of others. But then again, isn’t this free market enterprise at it’s best? If there is money to be made, it would be un-American not to exploit a good thing. So go ahead, Mom. Find your American dream. I’m willing to bet you’ll be broke or dead in less than two years.

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