Wednesday, April 16, 2014

You Have The Right to Remain Guilty Until Proven Innocent

So yesterday I participated in a discussion on FB regarding the news story of the French authorities collecting DNA samples of 527 male students and staff (with the threat of taking them into custody for further questioning and considering them a suspect, if they refused to willing give DNA) at a school where a girl was raped.

The discussion started off this way:

"Do you think this is an acceptable method to solve a crime?"

My answer:

"Acceptable? No, not at all. The very idea that all males in that school are potential suspects due to the fact that they ARE male, is just outrageous. The idea that they'd be remanded to custody for refusing to give up their DNA is purely insane. Thank God this isn't France. Clearly they've lost their minds."

100+ comments and statements later, I can honestly say I was floored by how many people (at least the ones commenting there, and apparently a bunch of them in France) are so ready and willing to quite eagerly sacrifice the rights of others (and by doing so, their own, even though they don't realize it yet).

I had no intention of revisiting this topic today but of course there were more comments and FB notifications and all that when I logged on today.  I won't re-hash the entire conversation but I do want to point out some things that really stood out to me about this topic.

"If you're innocent you'd have no reason not to give DNA to prove it"

That comment came up a lot and I'm honestly not sure if anyone saying it realizes what they actually said. Perhaps it's because I grew up in a culture where it's commonly believed (or it used to be anyway) that in a criminal investigation a person is considered innocent until proven guilty, but each time I read that statement it struck me how quickly people are willing to assume guilt of others, and essentially form a lynch-mob mentality. To me this is like saying, "if you're not engaging in criminal correspondence, you'd have no reason to not let the police read all your emails" or, "if you don't have any stolen (or illegal) property in your home, you'd have no reason to not allow police to enter and search every square inch" or "if you're not laundering money, you have no reason not to allow police to comb through every single financial transaction you've made in the last year"

Now, I'm not a lawyer, nor do I play one on the internet but from where I sit, these things are private and as law abiding citizens not under arrest, we should have the right to keep them private, should we not?  The implication that statement above makes is, only the guilty or only those with something to hide, would refuse to submit their DNA for elimination.  The same implication would have to be said about any random person who didn't let the police read all their private emails, search their homes or pull their financial records. It's truly an absurd idea that only the guilty desire to protect their privacy.

"Who cares about their right to privacy? A girl has been raped, what about her rights and justice for her?"

Another sentiment that came up many times.  Can you imagine if law enforcement carried out every investigation this way?  Let's say for example a blonde woman was seen committing a crime, and then got away before police arrived.  The only information they had to go on was that she is a.) female, b.) blonde and c.) there were eyewitnesses to her crime.  So then, every blonde female in a 20, 50 or 100 mile radius is now considered a possible suspect and for that reason, law enforcement is able to detain, search, enter their homes (without a search warrant), confiscate their property, etc. Even if she can prove she was no where near the crime scene.  Simply because she's female and blonde she is considered a possible suspect without any other evidence whatsoever.  Essentially, the police can do whatever they deem necessary because... who cares about their right to privacy? A crime has been committed. What about the victim's rights and justice for the victim?

Imagine the precedent such a thought process would set if this were to become common practice. At which point, no one, at any time, any place would ever again have any right to privacy.  It would be completely stripped away from every single citizen because... that's what they wanted. Of course they only wanted it in this case, but possibly the next one, and the one down the road, and then that other one and then one day, they themselves would be the one presumed guilty before proof of innocence and they would have no rights, and no defense and no protection under the law.  None.  

Of course this sounds ridiculous and outrageous and (hopefully) will never be a reality but the fact is, stepping on the rights of innocent people to catch a criminal who assaulted someone is unthinkable, unethical, and irresponsible.

Honestly, I hope they catch the monster who raped the girl.  As well, if they had asked the males associated with that school to willingly submit DNA without any threat of detaining/questioning/presuming guilt and they willingly volunteered, that would be just fine by me and there wouldn't even have been a story. I also hope when they do catch him, it will turn out that he isn't a match to any of the 527 they forced to be tested.  Because if he is, that seals it in the minds of those who were for this, to announce to the world that regardless of your or my personal right to privacy, the ends justify the means.  And that's a major slippery slope I honestly don't think any decent, private citizen wants to see coming to their community.

Because if it does, eventually it's going to be you, who has the right to remain guilty until you can prove you're innocent.  Or your husband, or daughter, or mother, or me, or someone else you care about.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

When the Meat Goes Bad and the Wicked Run Wild

Honestly, I don't even know where to begin with this except to say it's one of those things that has been unsettling to me for a long time (years, actually) and I think more and more of society is beginning to see the fruit of it.  And that fruit is rotten to the core.

My husband Kevin, demonstrating the Duckface.
I think for me, I first began to really notice it several years ago when teenage girls were posting the Infamous Duckface pics as their profile pictures online.  That odd, come-hither, aren't-I-so-alluring pose that 99.99% of the internet just laughed at.  Strangely enough, while we all laughed and mocked the nonsense, it didn't fade away but instead became more common.

The rest of us just shook our heads because it was so... dumb.

Over time, the gears shifted considerably.  Social media in the forms of FB, twitter, tumblr, instagram, snapchat and tons of other lesser known platforms became the Go-To for all things that feed the Naughty Narcissist in an entire generation of Internet People.  While my generation didn't even have the internet until 25 years ago, now we have 25 year olds who have never known a world without it.  Kind of strange to think about, isn't it?

In any event, we now live in a world where your self-worth depends on how many friends, followers, comments, likes, retweets & shares you get on any given statement or picture.  Younger people (and even some older people that get sucked into this vortex of self-importance) are doing more and more outrageous and risque things, for more and more likes and shares.  The pics are getting more graphic, the statements are getting more incendiary, and everyone just wants to "go viral".  Everyone wants to become "internet famous" and many of them don't give a rat's scrawny butt how they do it.  As long as everyone knows their name, and they're being talked about everywhere.  Ironically, because of the way social media is set up, it's actually pretty easy to get there because people WILL talk about the creepy, nasty, outrageous, horrible, graphic thing you said or did.  They sometimes talk about the awesome, wonderful, humanitarian thing you did too, but that happens far less often and the attention dies down much faster.  People definitely love a scandal.

Heather Elvis
Which is the perfect segue into what might be one of the worst examples I've read in a while.  You may or may not have heard about Heather Elvis.  Long story short, Heather was a 20 year waitress in Myrtle Beach who went missing December 18, 2013. My radar is sort of fine tuned for cases like this that hit the news because I have six girls of my own, and because I have this odd interest in crime cases.  More specifically, how law enforcement investigates and eventually solves cases and the bad guys go to jail.

As I began to follow the investigation into Heather Elvis' disappearance (via the local news station down there, as well as the discussion forum for amateur crime solvers called Websleuths and handful of twitter and FB accounts) I began to notice something very different about this case than previous crime cases I've ever read about.

ONE: both the victim Heather Elvis, and the accused of having something to do with her disappearance (and who have now been charged with her murder as well) Sidney and Tammy Moorer, had a VERY heavy online presence on a wide variety of social networking sites.

TWO: the victim herself was actively posting to one of her accounts just moments before her cell phone mysteriously lost all data.

THREE: Tammy Moorer, the wife of the duo suspected of having first hand knowledge of Heather Elvis' disappearance (and now murder) was not only super busy on her own social media networks, she was also the fake ghost-writer behind her husband's account(s).

As more and more details came out about the investigation and charges, the whole world learned that the missing young women Heather had a brief sexual encounter with the married Sidney Moorer, whom she met at work, and when the wife found out about it, she lost her biscuits. Literally.  Court documents revealed all kinds of graphic, nasty, threatening text messages from betrayed wife, to ex-girlfriend.  To be honest, that's perfectly understandable.  I suspect a lot of married women might not react so gracefully upon discovery that their husband cheated on them with a woman half her age. And frankly, much prettier.  It would be heartbreaking and infuriating at the same time.

What's more, she was still online on these accounts actively posting and maintaining her facade after Heather Elvis went missing.

Sidney and Tammy Moorer
FOUR: Tammy Moorer's online persona was completely and utterly fake.  And by fake, I mean FAKE IN SPADES.  This is the image of herself that she used as her profile pic and on various sites.  Pictured here with her husband Sidney, they appear to be a somewhat attractive, close, loving couple.  This isn't the only picture of them in this type of pose, there are many others I've seen and EVERY single one of them is extremely digitally altered.  I work with photoshop every single day and can spot photoshopped pics in a heartbeat.  I can tell when an image has been softened, which areas of the face have had the blur tool used, the darkening tool and the lightening tool applied. A lot of women do this to conceal blemishes, wrinkles, double chin shadows, etc.  They want to present the prettiest image of themselves they can and photoshop is what they use to do that.  There may in fact be pictures out there of Tammy Moorer that are not massively photo-shopped (maybe ones she didn't take) but I haven't seen one yet.
The REAL Sidney and Tammy Moorer

That is, up until her and her husband's mug shots when they were arrested for the kidnapping and murder of Heather Elvis.

Now you'd have to click on these images to see them full sized, to really get a good idea of what's going on here. In the first picture, Tammy Moorer doesn't have a single blemish, under-eye circles, discoloration of the skin, etc.  In fact, her face looks nearly flawless.  Granted, she's not wearing makeup in her mug shot photo but even if she was, her face still doesn't look the same.  By stark contrast however, Sidney Moorer looks relatively the same, except for the softening tool used in the first picture.  It's evident in this photo and many many others, Tammy Moorer was quite focused on making her online appearance look flawless.

It wasn't just her images she did this with either.  As more info came out over the last few weeks, Tammy Moorer painted this fantastic, wonderful picture of the Moorer home life. Hubby was a successful, self-employed man, she homeschooled the kids, they built their own dream-Disney-style Polynesian home, and took annual, exotic Disney-themed vacations.  I've even seen some screen shots of her own posts on the Disney discussion forums and she comes off as this bubbly, fun-loving stay at home mom who just loves life and enjoys Disney.

The truth is far from that image.  During the police arrest and the search warrant of the home, many many harsh realities came to light.  They both lied on their taxes (big time) and lied about their income for loan applications.  The condition of their home was absolutely horrific:

"Spoiled meat, moldy potatoes and three guns lying in plain view were among the findings during an Horry County Police Department search of the home of Sidney and Tammy Moorer, according to a police report.... According to the Feb. 21 police report, the Moorers and their children were present during the execution of the search warrant and they were all asleep in the downstairs master bedroom...One family member was sleeping in an oversized chair while another was asleep on a mattress at the foot of the bed. A third family member was asleep on a mattress in the walk-in closet, the report said....Police said in the report that three firearms were out in the open. Two long guns were leaning against the wall while a subcompact pistol rested on the night stand beside the bed. "Overall, the home was in disarray and unsanitary," the officer wrote in the report... Police further said in the report there was some sort of meat lying on the kitchen island and that it had aged for some time. Cooked potatoes were also on the counter top and had begun to mold... The report also said trash was left on the counter tops and floors... Upstairs, the home was in "complete disarray nearly in an unlivable manner," the report continued... Hundreds of Legos were scattered on the floor with other children's toys, trash and clothes and the backyard was covered in animal feces, according to the report." - source

Now, I've been a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom (we homeschooled for 10 years) and that doesn't sound like what police would ever find in my home.  Even on my WORST housekeeping day and trust me, the cat poop on the living room carpet some days was pretty bad, but it was the FIRST thing that got cleaned up, sanitized and blotted with stain remover every morning, even before coffee. Untold numbers of Legos and Barbies on the floor yes. But that's where any similarities end.  In fact, that police report description is a FAR CRY from the way Tammy Moorer gushed about her home life on the internet.  It's completely the opposite, and the fact is, she's a completely and utter fake.  From what she wanted "the world" to think she looks like to what she wanted the world to think she lived like.

While most people following this case are just hoping for ONE outcome, the Moorers confessing and telling law enforcement where Heather Elvis is (and I want this too, for the Elvis family) , many are also finding themselves somewhat dumbfounded at how FAKE the Moorer's really are.

But... it's so common these days.  It's the thing to do.  Fake your picture(s), fake your life, your home, your kids, your job, etc.  The internet has just given an entire generation of people this sort of Second Life where you can be/say/do whatever you want.

Frankly, I find it all deeply disturbing.  It's almost as if it's feeding this wicked, vile part of our soul and saying "post the lie, everyone will love it, and love you!"

Moms... dads... if there's ever been a time to take a serious look at your kid's online world (and your own), it's now.  Be sure they and you are keeping it real, be sure you and them are not so caught up in "fame" or being "known" that clicks/likes/shares/retweets/whatever aren't what matter.

And, for those who pray, pray for Holy Spirit conviction for Sidney and Tammy Moorer and they confess, disclose the location of Heather Elvis and the Elvis family can bring their girl home, and say a proper goodbye.  And pray for the Moorer children.  God only knows what these poor kids have actually lived with.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Can We Combat The Rape Culture? YES, One Little Boy at a Time

You've likely heard the term.  Maybe you even understand what it means.  Maybe you're not sure.  To clear it up, I thought this entry at wikipedia did a pretty good job:

"rape culture is a concept that links rape and sexual violence to the culture of a society, and in which prevalent attitudes and practices normalize, excuse, tolerate, and even condone rape. Examples of behaviors commonly associated with rape culture include victim blaming, sexual objectification, and trivializing rape. Rape culture has been used to model behavior within social groups, including prison rape and conflict areas where war rape is used as psychological warfare. Entire countries have also been alleged to be rape cultures."

I've written about this before and you can read it here, if you like. But today I want to focus on something specific and that is, how do we combat it?  How do we as a culture fight back against it and change things?  There is actually a way to do this and it's not as complicated as one might believe. It does however take a lifetime of commitment.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Christian Woman Blogger: 10 Years In

Christian woman blogger.

What comes to mind when you see that phrase?  Do you immediately think of your favorite blogger who is a woman and a Christian?  Do you read that phrase and in your head, hear it being spoken it with the contempt-laced tone that critics tend to use? Or does something else immediately come to mind?

I suppose it depends on where you're at, how you perceive that phrase.  After being a Christian woman blogger for 10 years now, I can honestly tell you the phrase means something entirely different to me today in 2014 than it did in 2004.

Back in that day, blogging was still pretty much new ground, and new blogs popped up faster than springtime weeds.  Some lasted just days, while others came along and were awesome and either faded away, or just became more awesome.  I can count on one hand how many women bloggers from that day that I read then, that I still read now.  I don't know how many of them are actually still blogging, I only know which ones came through the filter for me as I've grown over the last 10 years.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

I Have a Confession To Make

Do you ever have one of those thoughts that seems so complicated and multi-layered and has like, a hundred different implications, so much so that you can't even really figure out what it is you're so bothered about? Well of course you do, I think we all do.  So for today, here's mine:

"I hate mean people".
Now that I've said that, allow me to explain what it does mean and what it doesn't mean.  I'll start with the latter, first:

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Graveyard Wife

When my husband and I got married 16 years ago I knew that he worked night shift.  I was pretty sure I understood what that meant too, since I'd had plenty of experience as a kid whenever my mom would take an overtime day on the weekends, and it happened to be the graveyard shift.  I even went to work with her a few times, which was kind of exciting for a 10 year old kid.  Staying up ALL night? You bet, I'm in!  Of course I never actually stayed awake until her shift was over but that's not the point.  She worked a lot of those shifts when I was a kid and we still had a normal family with a normal routine.  Sure, I knew all about night shift.

Or, so I thought.