Facebook, Twitter & the Fate of the Missing!

girlsTwo recent kidnapping cases that have captured the world’s attention have demonstrated the importance and power of Social Media as it applies to missing children. In one case a foreign government’s ambivalence over a mass kidnapping was exposed as the world took note and promised action. In the other social media empowered a girl held captive for decade to break the bonds of abduction and abuse.

Boko

A militant Islamist group called Boko Haram abducted more than 200 girls from a boarding school in the northern town of Chibok, Nigeria on April 14, 2014. This jaw-dropping mass abduction received little attention outside of Africa and the Nigerian Government’s indifference to girl’s plight prompted the #BringBackOurGirls Twitter campaign which has thus far been tweeted more than a million times. As a result the world has taken note and France, China, Canada, and Great Britain have all joined the United States in sending advisors to Nigeria to help recover the girls. The case remains wide open and it is difficult to envision a happy ending, but if it hadn’t been for the Twitter campaign the girls would have either been killed or sold into slavery in obscure anonymity.

Alleged kidnapper Isidro Garcia

Alleged kidnapper Isidro Garcia

Ten years ago a fifteen-year-old girl who had just arrived in the United States from Mexico was stolen from a park near her mother’s apartment in Santa Ana, California. The incident was reported to the police, but the case soon went cold, until this week when the now twenty-five-year-old woman told her story to the Bell Gardens Police. She had been kidnapped, drugged, raped, tortured, conditioned and told that her family would be deported if she went to the authorities. The kidnapper eventually forced her to marry him and two years ago she had his baby. Finding her sister’s Facebook account finally empowered the young victim to break the chains of her psychological captivity. Her abductor, forty-two-year-old Isidro Garcia, has been charged with kidnap for rape, lewd acts with a minor and imprisonment.

 

Less than a decade ago both of these cases could have easily disappeared altogether. Instead, because of Social Media and the Internet, several things have happened. Many countries with no dog in this fight have volunteered to aid in the recovery of more than 200 young kidnap victims, so the morally bankrupt Nigerian government can no longer sweep their plight under the rug. Unlike Nigeria, our government and our people care very much about the rights of the individual. Now, one child, kidnapped more than a decade ago, has an opportunity to put her life back in order knowing that her tormentor will never be able to touch her again.

 

As the Internet and Social Media become more ubiquitous there will be even more opportunities to expose the plight of the unfortunate and rescue the victims of abduction and abuse. This is an exciting time in the war to recover kidnapped children: a very exciting time.

The Botched Execution of Clayton Lockett

Murder victim Stephanie Neiman

Murder victim Stephanie Neiman

People seem to have forgotten that after raping her friend, Clayton Lockett shot and then ordered his friends to bury his teenage victim alive. Stephanie Neiman’s parents, who have spent the past 15-years going through the motions of living, are constantly faced with terrifying images of her last moments. They eat, they sleep, and her father goes to work and comes home again. Stephanie’s mother says that, “We do what we have to do to make it through the day and we start all over again the next. We exist.”

 

All Stephanie Neiman’s family has ever wanted was for justice to be served. In this case that meant that Stephanie’s killer needed to be executed because that was the sentence imposed at trial. In a statement released to the press on the killer’s execution day they said in part, “God blessed us with our precious daughter, Stephanie for 19 years. Stephanie loved children. She was the joy of our life. We are thankful this day has finally arrived and justice will finally be served.”

Stephanie Neiman and Parents

Stephanie Neiman and Parents

Now, because of arguments being made by death penalty opponents Mr. and Mrs. Neiman are implicated in death by torture through association. Lockett was an unrepentant, sexually sadistic psychopath, and the case against him was solid, making it impossible for abolitionists to argue that an innocent man had been executed, or that his trial lawyer was incompetent. Instead their best case scenario was realized when his vein collapsed, because it provided them with an opportunity to pass moral judgment. They say that he was tortured to death, that the death penalty is inhumane, that it is beneath us as a civilization, and that it is immoral. The obvious implication is that if you favor the death penalty as a fair and just punishment then you favor torture, are unenlightened, and are morally bankrupt.

 

The ironies of the death penalty are not lost on me. Good people who lost loved ones to maniacal killers are portrayed as cold and vindictive, while killers being led to the death gurney are victims of a cruel society. Death penalty abolitionists want a factually innocent person executed so that they can gloat, while death penalty proponents fear that possibility.

 

It is also worth noting that the states that execute the worst of the worst are scrambling to purchase death penalty approved drugs. They now pursue a back alley and black market approach to securing the drugs used in the executioner’s cocktail because of the abolitionist’s success in convincing drug manufacturers to stop selling execution approved drugs.

Killer Clayton Lockett

Killer Clayton Lockett

Stephanie Neiman and Clayton Lockett are both dead. But, as was alluded to by Stephanie’s parents; her last moments were rushed, solitary, terrifying, and tortured. She was an innocent victim who was abused in the worst way possible and then buried alive. She did not have an opportunity to make amends with her God, say good bye to her family, or reconcile her brief life on earth. Lockett, on the other hand, benefited from a major public investment. After murdering Stephanie the state hired a lawyer, provided due process, held a trial, and subsequently housed, clothed and fed Lockett as the appeals process wound its way through the system. He had 15-years to contemplate his deed, make peace with his Lord, and put his affairs in order. An army of abolitionists fought for his life as surely as he isolated Stephanie prior to assassinating her. Lockett died with full knowledge that a jury carefully and deliberately weighed the evidence and found him worthy of execution. He never showed remorse, and he never apologized for killing a teen aged girl. The manner in which he died cannot be compared to the soulless evil he inflicted upon Stephanie Neiman.

 

Will the botched execution of Clayton Lockett represent a watershed moment in the United States ongoing death penalty debate? The abolitionists and other prison rights apologists certainly hope so and will play it for everything they can. However, I have faith that the American public will see through their disingenuous arguments and administrative bottlenecks and continue to support the death penalty as they have throughout our history.