Until today, I had never heard of Colton Harris-Moore, the 19-year-old boy from Washington, recently arrested for a string of thefts and burglaries in Washington and other states, as well as Canada and in the Bahamas.
Intrigued, I read more about the life of this celebrity-in-the-making. According to different internet websites dedicated to him, he belongs to a “dysfunctional” family in Washington, and because of this, experienced living in the wilderness at a very young age. He started committing crimes at the age of 12 and had regularly gotten in trouble since then.
Among the properties he had stolen throughout the years were small airplanes, which he allegedly learned to pilot by reading flight manuals and by playing flight simulator computer games. Though he crashes some of the planes he has stolen and flown, it seems as if he has never been seriously hurt. Among his other crimes, he has broken into homes and grocery stores to steal food and other “essentials,” and has stolen cars and boats, along with small airplanes.
I’m not going to pretend to know anything about his individual aside from the articles I have read online. What I find amazing about this boy is not so much his life as an outlaw survivalist, but the way people are reacting to his lifestyle and the amount of positive publicity and support he is getting – online and in “real life.” He has several Facebook fan pages in his honor, one of which has over 80 thousand members, and another with over 20 thousand members, all supporting him, with members praising his skills. His mother seems to have his biography in the works – a biography which, once written will most likely be turned into a movie.
It’s just amazing and absurd how everyone seems to be romanticizing the life and alleged crimes of this individual. Thousands of people are showing their support and admiration of his special skills, regardless of his blatant disregard for the law. People online are predicting riots and protests in the event that Harris-Moore be found guilty of his crimes and put behind bars. He is adored by his fans who not only condone his actions, they even encourage it. Everyone is in awe of his amazing ability to fly planes without prior experience, and without getting himself killed. Yes, this is an amazing feat, especially in one so young, but have they all forgotten that all the planes he has flown were stolen?
Yes, he deserves a fair trial for his alleged crimes, and yes, his mental and emotional state should be taken into consideration – after all, it doesn’t seem like he grew up in a positive home environment with positive role models, and all of these could have played a part in making him the person he is today.
However, I find it a little disturbing how so many people see him as some kind of tragic, misunderstood hero to be worshipped and held in high esteem. His side of the story deserves to be heard, but people shouldn’t ignore all the negative and illegal things he has done and turn him into a victim. He is a victim of faulty government systems designed to protect children from abuse and neglect, surely, but it’s not as if he has been innocently trying to survive on his own all these years. He chose to lead a life of crime, showing no respect for other people’s properties and no respect for the laws of society, and he must be held accountable for his actions and choices in life.