Monday, a woman left her home for a quick grocery run. It's something that happens every day, and by her own admission, something routine.
But the result of that trip to Whole Foods on Preston and Forest is both unroutine and sadly routine, for now she's being victimized twice - once by a man who beat her and took her treasured necklace given to her by her father and her diamond wedding ring, and again by commenters at the Dallas Morning News.
The former, decidedly not routine. Nobody goes to the grocery store thinking they're going to be beaten and robbed. But sadly, the latter is becoming more routine as more and more people blame the victim - even when presented with evidence she's telling the truth.
In this case, the story went up on dallasnews.com, and immediately people began speculating that the robbery didn't happen at all - that her husband beat her, that it was an insurance scam. Even if it wasn't, she should have known better than to wear nice things to the grocery store.
thinker1: "ok she drove home after getting beat and robbed come on and I bet it was a black man who did it. I bet her husband beat her and this is a cover up story"
ToniWal: "The mention of a diamond necklace being yanked from her neck and the ring being pulled from her finger is certainly suspicious. Who wears diamonds to go grocery shopping?"
CY1: "I stopped wearing expensive jewerly and told my friends to do the same several years ago - is it just me or is wearing a $90k ring and diamond necklace almost anywhere let alone the grocery store STUPID - i think there is a lot more to this story than meets the eye - follow the money :))))"
When presented with evidence, in the form of a video from a local news report that shows the blood on the ground, the bruises and stitches on the woman's face, the terror in her voice, do people calm down and begin worrying about the fact that some "preppy-looking" guy is out there beating women for their jewelry?
No. Instead, we get more of the same. She shouldn't have worn that jewelry. She should've known better. She should've stayed put and called the cops.
David: "Wearing that kind of hardware in public is not a sure sign of brilliance either..."
Eboni: "I agree with the comment above. Just because you live in a high profile neigborhood, does not make you exempt from crime because crime does travel. I hope they do find the person who did this, but I also hope that the victim realizes that we do live in a society where there are people who live to hurt others."
And then, there's a report on the crime by online news source Pegasus News, which also tacitly implies that the woman was some how at fault. "Amazingly, the woman drove home to her husband immediately after, who called police," the writer says, again mentioning (the DMN and WFAA also mention this) the cost of the ring, as if begging someone to start talking about it.
It doesn't matter if the ring was $90,000 or $90. It was her wedding ring. It doesn't matter if her necklace was the Hope Diamond or 1/2 off at Claire's. It was a gift from her father. So get up out of this woman's grill about what she was wearing. Unless the robber was a diamond expert at 20 paces away, he had no way of knowing which is which. This woman need not be subjected to blame for wearing beloved jewelry on a routine errand.
And I am not anti-comment. I think I've gone on record enough for everyone to know I'm all for a healthy debate. But it's when people forget that the story is about a person, and that there are people behind every screen, that people decide they're not accountable, and can say any hurtful thing they want.
And there's also the fact that nobody wants to believe that their neighborhood could be unsafe. Nobody wants to believe they're vulnerable to the same crime. So to reassure, we pick apart the victim's actions. "She should have not worn that jewelry," we smugly say. "She should've had her cell phone in her hand," we finger point. "She shouldn't have worn that skirt/shirt/hairstyle," we assert. "She was asking for it," we imply.
But I am going to go on record that, despite self-defense training, I cannot positively say I would act just like the model crime victim in the same situation. I might want to see my husband. I might want to get away from this very scary place. I might be worried that the man who just tried to beat my face in for the necklace my dad gave me on my 21st birthday is still around, and can see me call the police. My fight or flight might just kick in, and I might flee.
I can't say, because it hasn't happened. And I'm certainly not going to judge this lady, nor anyone else. She did the best she could with the responses she had. Maybe a cooler head would've stayed put and called the police right then. Maybe a cooler head would've gone into the store and asked for help afterwards.
But a woman beaten about the face and distraught is not a cooler head. And we need to quit expecting her to be.
Or, for that matter, any victim of a crime.
So last night? Last night I watched, but I did not blog. And truth? These audition shows exhaust me. It's half promise, and half unmitigated crap.
So tonight, Orlando. Kristin Chenoweth is the guest judge tonight. And I predict, again, tonight will be half promise, and half unmitigated crap.
Dear sweet Jesus, right out of the box we've got a guy with feather and glitters on his noggin, and a sparkly scarf. Seriously. Theo is a joke, and everyone knows it. I am somewhat irked with the fact that they brought him out. I'd rather see more of the people that actually go to Hollywood, and less freak show.
He's singing Pat Benatar. "Heartbreaker."
"You released a lot of stuff," Kara said. Or something.
They all said no. And he's gonna cry on his glitter. I'm pretty sure he's wearing girl jeans. And he's lost trying to find his way out. One of his friends also has glitter on his face. Ryan Seacrest is grooming him or taking his giant sequins off his face.
OK. The Bing vampire ad is creepy. But it's still not as creepy as the chicken and the gnome trying out on American Idol.
Apparently Orlando is talentless. And Simon has a headache.
Now we meet Seth Rollins. Married. Two kids. Son is autistic. He's a sweet guy, and I hope he doesn't suck. They only spend this much time on an auditioner if they really suck or are really good.
He's gonna bust out "Someone to Watch Over Me." And he doesn't suck. Which is good, because his kid's literally on the other side of the door, crying for Daddy.
They all said yes. He's freakin' adorable.
Now a break, but Seacrest promises that "our most dramatic episode unfolds."
We come back to a montage of rejections and golden tickets. And tears. It's what I imagine 2 a.m. looks like on beautifulpeople.com.
And then Jermaine comes in, singing "Smile." Kara is gushing. His voice is honest. And she can gesture around her boobs. But all four judges say yes.
Shelby is the dead last to try out on day one. She had a nerve on her face when she was little that was undeveloped, and she couldn't use one side of her face. Again, this much time means she sucks or is awesome.
She's going to sing some Norah Jones. And you can tell Simon already likes her. Kristin is beaming. Of COURSE SHE'S GETTING in. And then she cusses, and everyone laughs. Everyone says yes, but Simon says his is with a small y.
In all, from the first day, 18 golden tickets, including one GIANT MAN.
Three judges the next day, Kristin had to go back to New York. Jay Stone is beatboxing "Come Together" by the Beatles. It's kinda cool? But uh...Simon looks like he wants to stab himself in the ear.
Kara said yes. Randy asked him if he actually sings. And he does. Simon says no. Kara says yes. Randy laughs hard. And apparently says yes, because Jay comes out with a golden ticket.
Now a montage of a buncha girls with basically the same name. And they all go to Hollywood.
And now Cornelius. His friends are male strippers, and that's how he learned to dance. He's singing "Rollin'."And then he jumped up and did the splits, and ripped his pants. In the crotch. Simon says yes. Because basically the dude nailed his boys between his groin and the stage. They all said yes.
Two sisters that raided a Frederick's of Hollywood for their outfits. They're from Jersey. I am not gonna bother learning their names. Blue dress sings first, "Hit the Road, Jack." Yellow dress sings Whitney Houston, in a very karaoke way.
Randy says yes for both. Kara says yes to both. Simon says no to the yellow and yes to the blue, but it doesn't matter because Randy and Kara already said yes.
Oh, Jared. You look like trouble in the three-day sushi on the kitchen counter kind of way, not the Harley and an attitude kind of way. He's gonna sing "Amazing Grace." If you want to call it that.
Kara asks him if he really thinks he's a great singer. She says he sounded like a lawn mower. Simon says thanks. And now he says something about trippin and losing it. And begins singing Amazing Grace again. They call for security. And tell him no again. Only Jared won't leave. Two dudes carry him out, and then they have to cuff him AFTER THEY TAKE HIM DOWN. And by take him down, I mean a knee in the neck, five guys surrounding him.
How awesome is that?
Simon waits two beats, and then turns to Kara and Randy and says, "Yes or no?"
So the next guy, Matt, robbed a bank with a BB gun. He went to prison, and now he wants to make his family proud. He's gonna sing some Ray LaMontagne, my favorite singer in the history of ever. He's singing "Trouble," to be specific. And it's actually a good fit for his voice.
Simon says it was brilliant. All three said yes. And he's the last one. Seacrest says 31 total made it through in Orlando. Next week: LA.
Lord help me, I'm watching another night of this. While I try to do math and figure out the trainwreck to awesome ratio for tonight, go get yourself a drink. I recommend whisky.
Tonight's guest judge is Mary J. Blige. Also, Randy doesn't want to get out of the car. I don't blame him.
The first poor chump says his uncle discovered Gladys Knight and the Pips. And he dances like Carlton from Fresh Prince. I am dubious about Duwone. He's singing his own composition.
It goes something like this: "Laaaaaaaaaty, I Know Youuuuuu, Baby I knowwwwwwwwwww you, Lay lay laty I knowwwwwwwww you, It's oooooooooooooverrrrrrrrr, It's Ovvvvvvvvvvv-her..."
Simon wants to know if he meant it to be a duet. Now Duwone said it's Simon's fault he didn't sing well.
And now he's gonna sing it again. Mary J. is laughing. Needless to say, he didn't go to Hollywood.
Back from commercial, some guy says he's good at high notes, and um, he wasn't.
I'm sitting in the office today, watching footage of this horrible, 7.0-magnitude earthquake in Haiti, a country that frankly needed another disaster like it needed the proverbial hole in the head.
It's a country that survived multiple hurricanes in the span of three weeks in 2008. It has one of the highest unemployment rates on this side of the globe, if not the highest. Housing is built out of what can be afforded, not what is safest. More than 80% of its population lives in poverty.
And all of this reminded me of a blog post I meant to write over the weekend, but for various and sundry reasons opted to let it marinate a while.
As 2009 ended and 2010 began, I saw a lot of grousing about the previous year. A lot of it, granted, is warranted. By all accounts, 2009 took most of us out of our financial, emotional and mental comfort zones in many, many ways.
But three little letters many people used in 2009 set me on edge. Every time. FML. Fuck My Life.
"I have to get all the kids fed and finish up a project before 10 p.m. FML." "My tire was flat this morning. FML."
To this, I have to ask - really? Your life is that bad? You have no friends? You have no family? You do not have moments of joy? Let's dissect the whole phrase, shall we? Fuck My Life. I hate my life. I want to chuck it. I abhor everything about it, and if I could find a new one right this very minute, I would.
Is that what everyone means when they tack on FML after a complaint? Because imagine this: Right now, there's a mother in Haiti worried about the fact that her husband hasn't come home from his now demolished workplace, trying to reassure her children that everything will be OK when she does not in fact know if it will be. She may very well be a widow, and possibly facing a lifestyle that will downgrade from impoverished to really impoverished.
If anyone deserves to say FML, it's her. Not me, or anyone who just woke up to an intact home, a fridge full of food, running water, and a job. No, we have it pretty good.
So while I know I'll complain this year, I can promise you this (and here comes Resolution No. 1): I will not be tacking FML on to any of my complaints.
And now that I've mentioned resolutions, I have one more: I'm going to accept help, and quit railing at karma. Yes, I do nice things for people. I'm thoughtful. But I got to thinking the other day that perhaps some of us are just not letting karma pay us back because it's not from an expected source.
My lovelies, karma is a bitch, and she always calls the shots. She chooses her way to pay you back, and it's not going to always be by conventional methods, or by your same close group of friends. If it always happened that way, you'd not respect and appreciate karma. You'd only do nice things for you friends, and they'd only do nice things for you. That's friendship, not karma. The two sometimes intersect, but they're not conjoined twins.
So be open minded to the myriad of ways karma may be trying to pay you back. I know I am going to try to do this more.
Rant over. Carry on. And be nice to each other today. It's rough out there.
First, I need to say this: Ralph Macchio wants his head scarf back, Posh. Also, please answer the age-old question: Are you really asking what I think you're asking when, in the Spice Girls work of art, "If You Wanna Be My Lover," you say, "If you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my friends?"
And if so, really?
Now, the first bit of cannon fodder. I have already blocked her name out, but Kara is head bobbing. And Simon is trying to not eat his pen and contemplating jumping out the window. And she thinks Kara is Paula. And she wins the American Idol Wii game ALL THE TIME. So she's a shoo in. Jenny. It's a no.
They're all saying no. And then she cusses.
Also, yes. I am 57 minutes behind if you're on the CST. But through the magic of DVR, I can now fast forward through commercials. And I'm still prescient if you're in Denver. And I'm completely psychic if you're in California.
Now we're on to Maddy. She's the 50th child in a a family of 72 children. Or something. I dunno. I just wanna get through the inevitable caterwauling. All of her brothers look like Trig Palin. And they adopted them all. Or most of them. And then she cried.
She's 16. And she's gushing. She's gonna go with "Hallelujah," by Leonard Cohen. So far, she's not sucking. But again, my benchmark is Jenny. Kara's either got gas or she likes it. Posh hasn't blinked. I'm not entirely convinced this isn't just on loan from Madam Toussad's. Randy said he thought she'd suck, but she didn't. Posh like's that she's nervous. Kara says, "Blah blah blah heart whatever whatever, look at my boobs." And Simon says she's totally not annoying for a 16 year old. But she's going to whatever. Hollywood. Yes. Hollywood.
Some guy is bitching that he has to wait for an audition. Clearly, he needs to be punched. And there's some kid that is going to be eviscerated by Simon.
Pat Ford is about to die. That is all. Seriously. Kara is dancing, and Simon is displeased. He's singing "Womanizer." He thinks he did awesome. And he thinks Simon is even "sassier in person than he is on TV."
Before we have another UT-OU game in the Cotton Bowl (the real one, not the Jerrydome usurper), I think we're all in agreement that DART and the State Fair need to figure out a better way than last year's debacle to get everyone there.
I was just as stymied as everyone else as to what the solution to overcrowded trains full of angry fans opening up to platforms equally full of angry fans might be. And then, last weekend, the answer came to me, by way of Memphis.
Specifically, the Memphis Area Transit Authority. Now, I know DART has already said it has a plan for the 2010 game. But frankly? It's unwieldy and confusing. MATA came up with a plan to get fans to the Liberty Bowl efficiently (save a little signage issue that was cleared up with a phone call), and get them all back, too.
And it didn't involve any trains. None at all. Which, to me, is key.
Trains break down on tracks. If they get full, you can't get any more people on them. They can't circle back around quickly.
But you know what is more flexible? A bus. More can be dispatched if necessary. They can circle back and pick up more passengers. This is what MATA did for the Liberty Bowl, which had an attendance of more than 62,000. Dedicated bus shuttles from specific pickup points in Germantown, downtown Memphis, northeast Memphis, south Memphis, etc., came at specific times. MATA workers were also out in cars driving by to assess the need, likely to make sure that extra buses got to places that needed them.
They were prepared for the influx. I'm guessing if fewer people had opted for the shuttle, those buses would've been sent back to the barn. If they needed more, more were available.
Now, I know this could be seen as negating the whole super-duper Green Line. But no, not really. Fairgoers can still take advantage of the Green line, which more may do if they know it's not going to be super-congested with UT/OU fans. Make the shuttles just for TU/OU ticket holders. Charge $5 round trip, like MATA did. Have a pickup in Plano, one in South Dallas, one in the Irving/Las Colinas area, etc.
But after watching happy fans get on the shuttle to go to the Liberty Bowl, and coming out of the game to find them all lined up like soldiers waiting to take them back, I know this for certain: This solution can't be any worse than last year.
Are you trying to lose this, or do you really want to know if we'd like government-issued GPS units in our cars that can not only record "taxable miles" (whatever the what that is), but also give the state a whole lot of other information it doesn't need?
Please tell us your Facebook account got hacked. Because this? This makes Rick Perry look smart and snuggly.
Mike Leach. Where to start? I could start with the hairstyle that even Vince Gill, the originator, gave up several years ago. I could start with the insane pirate thing he came up with, or the "fat little girlfriends" comment.
But all that is quirky and harmless. But it's this new stuff that has everyone up in a tizzy, and has me aching to point out the heart of the matter:
Mike Leach is a bad example to his players, and other players on other college teams.
It's not just that he allegedly pooh-poohed medical advice and sought to humiliate Craig James, although Leach says he was doing him a favor. Putting him in a dark shed/electrical closet/media room/Hanoi Hilton/luxury suite/outhouse/hen house/dog house may have been his way of keeping him out of the sun he said he needed to avoid as part of his treatment for a slight concussion, but that wasn't how he and his family perceived it.
And that is the point where Leach, as a coach, should be checking his ego. After all, isn't that what teamwork is about? Last I checked, a coach is part of the team as well. If this is still the case, a whole lot of this could've been mitigated by a simple apology.
Leach says that the school wouldn't tell you who complained. How many athletes get sent to solitary when they are injured, Leach? He couldn't maybe remember on your own that he sent Craig James' kid to the hole one time when he came to practice with sunglasses on and complaining of a concussion? Were there that many that he's just a blur in a long line?
So let's say we give Leach the benefit of the doubt, though, and say maybe he couldn't remember which one of his players had a concussion this season and was sent to a dark shed/electrical closet/media room/Hanoi Hilton/luxury suite/outhouse/hen house/dog house. He had no clue who it was, so he couldn't apologize directly.
That still doesn't mean he couldn't say, "Please tell the family I'm sorry for the misunderstanding, and find out if there's some way we can work this out."
Instead, he lawyers up and has the guy give the media a tour of the dark shed/electrical closet/media room/Hanoi Hilton/luxury suite/outhouse/hen house/dog house, and then proceed to slander the student athlete who levied the complaint to begin with.
Maybe Craig James is a helicopter parent. Maybe Adam James just isn't that good, and is inconsequential to the program in the grand scheme of things.
But none of that really matters. What matters is that Leach began looking out for himself, and not his team. Some might argue that by fighting to coach the Alamo Bowl game, he is looking out for his team. Maybe so.
But it also sends a message to his players. Suspensions can be circumvented. Punishment and apologies are for people who can't figure out how to throw someone under the bus and move on. If someone tells you that you're suspended for your actions, don't man up - lawyer up. You'll be back on the field by morning.
Football - from the NFL right down to the high school level - has been a case study in medical negligence when it comes to head trauma. It took a lot of time and convincing to make the NFL take concussions seriously, and that's hopefully trickling down to the collegiate level. Even just two concussions in a short span of time can do grievous harm, possibly even death.
So this was Leach's opportunity to do something good. He could've easily said to the family, "I'm sorry there was this misunderstanding about the injury. When I did what I did, I thought I was helping. Why don't we work together to promote some awareness of concussions and what coaches SHOULD do in response to one?"
That would've been a response that would have made all of this a non-story. It would have been a story with a productive ending.
But instead, we have a mess. And ultimately, Tech's program will suffer the most. If Leach stays, there will always be those parents that steer their kids to other schools, other programs, because they're unsure of the well being of their child. That seed of doubt has been planted.
If he goes, the program loses the one coach who can make that quirky Lubbock situation work and draw decent talent over to that corner of the world, and then coax out offensive wonderment.
And all because being a Leach means never having to say you're sorry.
Update: Local Texas sources are now reporting that Texas Tech fired Mike Leach this morning.
YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Dallas ABC affilate WFAA verified that this video, shot by Adam James, is real. What do you think?