I hope I’m wrong in what I’m about to say.
I hope that, a few years from now, some of you will wave this piece in my face and tell me just how badly I blew this one.
I hope, in fact, that one of you who’ll do this will be the individual on whom I’m now going to spend a few hundred words.
With that said, put me down as someone who believes that we and our legal system have not heard the last of Colton Harris-Moore. Put me down as someone who believes that at sometime in the future we will, once again, be reading news stories regarding Mr. Harris-Moore that involve photographs of him standing tall in front of a judge.
Call me a pessimist, but I believe that Mr. Harris-Moore will serve as yet another example attesting to the veracity of the old idiom about leopards not changing their spots.
Like many, I’ve followed Mr. Harris-Moore’s story from the beginning. At first, I thought he was just a kid who’d stepped off into life on the wrong foot, who’d soon be caught, punished, and — hopefully — would learn his lesson.
Then he escaped from authorities, resumed his crime spree, and did something that just set my teeth on edge. He took that infamous picture of himself, reclining on his back with a smug little smile on his face.
I know that I’m not alone in what was the first thought that came to mind when I saw that photograph. That thought being: “smart-assed clown.”
We’ve all met, worked with, or had to deal with someone like this at some point in our lives.
The ones who never wanted to just buckle down and do the work. The ones who always “knew” how to do things better or, far more likely, how to get around doing things at all. The ones who always seemed to disappear when any “heavy lifting” was required. The ones who came across as believing that they were smarter than everyone around them — especially anyone “in charge.”
That picture covered every one of those bases and then some.
The good thing is that, in some cases, these individuals get their butts handed to them and learn from it all. If they’re in the military, they bump into some 30-year master chief, some gunnery sergeant or some “mustang” warrant officer who takes them aside one day and provides them with “counseling.” If they’re elsewhere, some line chief, some manager or some no-nonsense boss reads them the riot act and puts them in their place.
For some, the lesson takes. For others, it never does.
Last week, I read a story in this paper about a number of Mr. Harris-Moore’s emails and calls that had been intercepted while he was in custody. In these, he referred to the government’s case against him as “propaganda” and called his sentence “political.” He referred to authorities as “swine,” “fools” and “asses.”
More telling — and much like his smirking photograph — was his statement about his flying escapades in which he was reported to have said, “The things I have done as far as flying and airplanes goes is amazing. Nobody on this planet have done what I have, except for the Wright brothers.”
Right. Got it. You’re great, we’re not. All hail (with some reservations regarding his grammar) Mr. Harris-Moore.
Like I said, I hope I’m wrong. I hope he gets out of jail and goes on to lead a successful and productive life. I hope he becomes a renowned physician, a remarkable engineer, a talented architect, a great teacher or a successful businessman.
As I said at the beginning of this column, I hope that someone waves this one in my face and says, “Boy, were you ever wrong on this one.”
Unfortunately, I don’t think that will happen. I don’t think Mr. Harris-Moore is or was “remorseful” for what he’s done. I don’t think he understands or even cares about what he put people through or the damage he caused.
What I do think is that Mr. Harris-Moore will, unfortunately, remain what he is now:
A smart-assed clown.
Larry Simoneaux lives in Edmonds. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.