Saturday, October 29, 2011

Lisa Irwin

Like the rest of the nation I've been following the case of  the missing baby, Lisa Irwin , closely. And, like most, I have my opinions concerning the issue. Personally, I believe the parents are innocent (apart from the very poor choice of drinking too much when one is the only parent at home). While that may influence my take on things,this is not what this entry is about.

I've been all over the internet as I've followed this case and have never been more dismayed by the behavior of strangers than I have been of late, reinforcing my deep suspicion that, as a group, people are mean, small creatures with a limited ability to see life from another person's point of view. But the thing that gets me the most is people's sense of entitlement and their certainty that they know what is happening in someone's life based on a few fragments of information given out at random by the media, the police, and a well-meaning lawyer who perhaps said too much. Somehow or another the vast majority of people who are following this case have reached the conclusion that they are owed something by these people. And when they don't get what they want, they write off the parents as obviously guilty because people who are innocent play by the rules set out for them by the public. They justify this by using the bits and pieces they do know to prove their point.

The story that inspired me to write this entry concerns a woman named Tina Porter whose own children were murdered by her ex-husband several years ago. I am terribly, terribly sorry for her loss and I'm sure she's suffering too, but . . .  Late yesterday evening she showed up--apparently without an invitation--on the Irwin's doorstep asking to see them while the media stood outside as they have for weeks, cameras rolling. She was incensed when whoever answered the door (presumably another relative) told her to contact their lawyer and closed the door on her. When she knocked again--claiming that she wanted to know who their lawyer was--they called the police.

And what was the oh-so-helpful message that she wanted to deliver? "You're doing it wrong." According to her, they should be outside talking to the media (you know, the ones who've been digging through their trash, rummaging around in their pasts, knocking on their doors, and constantly calling them for the last three weeks). And then they should throw themselves at the feet of the "so very understanding" investigators and beg to be accused--again. All so they can prove themselves innocent in the eyes of millions of strangers who probably won't believe them anyway. The media (who still needed a story, I guess) has vilified them for this action--as if not letting a total stranger into one's house to tell one what to do somehow proves one's guilt.

To be completely blunt. I'd have called the cops too. And while I was at it, I'd have turned the dogs loose on the reporters. Enough already. Leave them alone.

I'm human. I want to know stuff. But I don't believe anyone owes it to me to give me that stuff and I certainly couldn't imagine standing on someone else's doorstep and demanding entrance to their lives at the worst possible time.

Whether they are guilty or innocent, these people have lost a child. They are devastated. They are grieving, they are terrified,  they are suffering from waves of guilt (because every parent does--no matter how hard they tried, no matter how many or how few mistakes they've made). I''m not sure most of us understand the scope of the emotions this kind of tragedy creates and I'm not sure we even have a word for the depths of their pain. However I do have a pretty good imagination and I can picture being up all night praying, bargaining with God, crying incessantly, pacing the floor and wishing we could take back those hours previous to the child's disappearance.

 These people don't owe anyone a press conference. They don't owe us any information at all.  We've chosen to involve ourselves in this drama in a voyeuristic sort of way and though many of us are praying that Lisa will be found, and are scanning the faces of babies in grocery stores and at parks in hopes of finding her, we must understand that this belongs to them--not us. This is their real life, their family this is happening to. This isn't being done for anyone's entertainment. Why on earth would they want to stand in front of a camera with people out there stating nasty things about them--ranging from what kind of mother Deborah is, to whether she was justified in getting her hair done or not, and trying to decide she and Jeremy's guilt based on how exhausted they do or do not look. I had no idea there were so many closet detectives, psychologists, and body language specialists in the world. So far every public appearance has sparked only more criticism--nothing they say is right, everything they say is suspect based on minor gestures or awkward wording. 

As bystanders watching this tragedy we need to remember that we don't have all the facts.  We don't know what's going behind closed doors or what they are doing from day to day right now. The ability to Google strangers and collect facts about their lives or find articles put out by supposed authorities concerning them does not make us omniscient. We don't have all the facts and chances are (even if they find this baby alive or not) we never will. Our role in this tragedy can only be that of bystanders. Period. 

So if you're a praying sort, pray for this family. They have that much coming to them (so do we all). And you're not--then at least do some wishing. And if you really want to help them--If you can't think of something nice to say, don't say anything at all. 


Happy Elf Mom (Christine) said...

Thank you. This has been bothering me for some time as well. I was upset by the media also running footage incessantly of the "mystery stranger" who brought her to the store. Ok, turns out it is her brother.

You know, if they are guilty, the last thing the media should be doing is running stuff like this. It is going to hamper the case. Just leave the family alone and let the investigators do their job.

And yes, we all are looking for baby Lisa when we go to the store... you know? And yes, the parents do show poor judgment. It doesn't mean they are murderers. They might be... but it isn't our job as the public to decide.

IN FACT, it might be our job to try to stay as objective as possible so that there can be fair trials in the future. I would want that if it were me!!

Debby said...

You are right. It used to be that the courts decided guilt or innocence. Now these things are decided in the media, with all of us acting as if we are the jury.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for putting my sometimes incoherent thoughts into words.

Hal Johnson said...

I tend to agree that most people are small-minded and mean, and the older I get, the more I believe that. And, going along with that, people really aren't interested in justice. Nope, they're interested in resolution. An earnest search for justice is just too much trouble for most folks.

Mary O. Paddock said...

Many thanks all. For forty-eight hours my blog was subject to a record breaking number of hits--into the hundreds. Obviously most didn't comment, but I did get some hateful posts I didn't bother to give permission to. I love that feature. Be gone. You have no power here. Poof.

As for you guys--I'm glad to know I'm not alone in my feelings on this issue and as time goes by I'm finding more people expressing similar sentiments--some who have changed their minds.