First I want you to read this article about Rodney Knight, Jr. . Go ahead; I’ll wait.
Did you go read it? It was from NBCNews.com, so I reckon most employers/etc won’t have blocked it; but in case you couldn’t access it for some reason, here are the key points:
- Rodney Knight, Jr., a 19-year-old, broke into a house in Washington, D.C., in 2010, and helped himself to a laptop, iPod, savings bonds, cash, and a new coat.
- While he was at it, he took a picture of himself wearing the coat and holding the cash, and posted it to Facebook.
- He was eventually apprehended, pleaded guilty, and was sentenced to 44 months in prison for it.
And it really shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone that he became a punchline almost immediately…I mean, what burglar in their right mind posts a picture of himself with the stolen loot on Facebook, fer cryin’ out loud?
But y’know what? I think poor Rodney didn’t get a fair shake. He was just 19–a teenager, barely past being a child–with his whole life stretching out in front of him. The media hasn’t said anything about his talents or skills, or what he wanted to do with his life; maybe he was a tech-savvy fellow with a promising future in computer science. Maybe he was an amateur magician, who would have used his gymnastic skills to become the next Houdini. Maybe he had some entirely unrelated skill that we’re just not talking about–maybe he was incredibly gifted in science, or comparative literature, or music, and we don’t know about it because we’re too busy vilifying him…and now that he’ll carry the label of “convict” with him for the rest of his life, maybe we’ll never know what greatness he could’ve gone on to accomplish.
And y’know what else? I think it’s just b.s. that we aren’t talking about the culpability of the homeowner in all this. If you don’t want people to take your stuff, maybe you should consider investing in better home security. Have an alarm, or a dog, or some bars on the window or something. But noooo, they left all their electronics lying out, along with piles of cash and bonds and things, and just expected that nobody would take it? How is that even reasonable? If you’re going to flaunt your stuff, guys, you don’t get to be surprised when you attract the “wrong” kind of people to your door, is all I’m sayin’. I mean, c’mon, look at the coat you picked. What kind of message did you think it was sending?
So now, thanks to you and your Getting All Bent Out of Shape About Something That Was Your Own Fault Anyway If You Actually Think About It, poor Rodney’s life is ruined forever. We’ll never know what he might have become…and whatever else he is or might have been, we know for sure that he is someone’s son, someone’s friend, someone’s neighbor; and now he is also a convict, and that is entirely your fault. Thanks for that. Jerks.
…Actually, no. Strike all that. I forgot one other thing that he is: he’s an idiot.
He’s a damn fool who made a series of damned stupid decisions, including, but by no means limited to, breaking the damned law and then posting about it on the damned internet.
Let me say that again, in case you are the one person in North America who is missing the parallel here:
Rodney Knight, Jr., posted a picture of himself online via social media–in this case, Facebook. In that picture, he was committing a crime. He was eventually convicted of this crime, and everyone in the free world laughed at him for being a big ol’ dolt.
I’ve been reading about Mr. Knight for the better part of the last hour, doing research for this post, and you know what I haven’t found? I haven’t found a public outcry about how unfairly people thought he was treated. I haven’t found anything at all saying that folks thought it was a damned shame how his future wasn’t taken into consideration, or how the victims deserved what they got. This is because he is, as previously mentioned, a damnfool who made some damned stupid decisions, and in fact, deserved exactly what he got.
As opposed to, say, the response to the Steubenville rape case, which has been somewhere between “not entirely ok” and “PLEASE TELL ME YOU ARE KIDDING. LIE IF YOU HAVE TO” on the scale of appropriate human responses (pro tip: you will want to have a few bracing slugs of whiskey before clicking on that “tell me you are kidding” link. It might also help if you can get a friend to keep you locked in the house so you don’t hulk out on rage and go start burning the world). Because apparently, for reasons I flatly refuse to understand, burglary is all the burglar’s fault, but rape is the victim’s fault; and when a thief is sentenced to jail time, we all applaud and have a good laugh at his expense, but when rapists are sentenced, we bemoan the thought that now they might not go on to be pro football players.
(Side note: being a damnfool convicted criminal does not, apparently, stop one from being a pro football player. There’s a special place in hell for you, Michael Vick.)
So what’s the takeaway from all this? Hell if I know. The obvious takeaway is that society is deeply, deeply flawed, but we knew that; and there are a hundred bazillion articles and images and infographics out there about how what we really need to do is raise our sons not to be rapists and stop perpetuating rape culture (google either of those two phrases, and you’ll have reading material for days). And there’s a second takeaway in the idea that perhaps we should take some time to reflect on double standards, and how some things are apparently more criminal than others, and when it is or isn’t ok to mock someone for the damnfool things they’ve done.
But I think the biggest takeaway, at least for me, is that no matter how jaded and cynical I think I’ve become, people always find a way to surprise me. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing; all I know for sure is that I’m thinking again about canceling our cable service, because no amount of Project Runway can make up for having to watch the major news outlets utterly fail to mention the impact of this whole thing on the Steubenville victim’s life.
Damnfools, the lot of ’em.