Sympathy For The Devil(s)
Mark Mayfield was a scumbag. If you don’t recognize the name, don’t feel too bad because I didn’t either. Mayfield was arrested in conjunction with an egregious invasion of privacy that occurred during the contested Mississippi Republican primary:
Authorities say the vice chairman of the Mississippi Tea Party and two other men conspired with Clayton Kelly to photograph U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran’s bedridden wife in her nursing home and create a political video against Cochran.
Mark Mayfield of Ridgeland, an attorney and state and local tea party leader, was arrested Thursday along with Richard Sager, a Laurel elementary school P.E. teacher and high school soccer coach. Police said they also charged John Beachman Mary of Hattiesburg, but he was not taken into custody because of “extensive medical conditions.” All face felony conspiracy charges. Sager also was charged with felony tampering with evidence, and Mary faces two conspiracy counts.
Mayfield recently committed suicide.
The issue is that while Mayfield was (at least arguably, pretty certainly in my book) guilty of criminal trespass, the evidence does not actually support the charges against him. I could be convinced otherwise, but felony exploitation is supposed to result in monetary gain which did not occur. And while the pictures were certainly not decent, it seems like a stretch to me to say they were indecent in a lewd or licentious manner which by every account I have read is the intent of the law. A case can perhaps be made that the spirit of the first law was broken because there was an attempt at non-monetary gain, but the letter of the law was not.
In other words, though it pains me to say it, as rotten as he was this comes across to me as a case of over-charging of the sort that I would otherwise condemn. So I feel the need to condemn it here.
While I am rallying up (weak) defenses of the indefensible, Jessica Valenti makes an outstanding point in The Guardian and penis-texters:
No matter how you feel about these men and their politics or work, let’s be clear: they are being punished for acts of which they were the victims. Jennifer “Ruby” Roubenes Allbaugh, the woman who posted Kuhn’s alleged picture, told a reporter that she was seeking “revenge” and tweeted “I hate you, AJK”. The Twitter user who outed her relationship to Schindler and apparently allowed a third party to post the picture of his penis only refers to herself online as Leslie, but she tweeted on Tuesday, “I wanted to inform his wife & embarrass him”.
Revenge porn, which will soon become illegal in New York state and was already made so in several others, is meant to shame, humiliate and potentially ruin the lives of its victims. This week’s episodes, though, have been played more for laughs than seen as serious crimes – perhaps in part because they happened to men. But policy has only recently caught on to how devastating revenge porn can be to all its victims.
Like most people, I have not felt much sympathy for the likes of such people, but she actually makes a pretty good point. I think by instinct, I tend to think of a man who would do such a thing in the context of a sexual harasser, but I’m really not sure how it differs from examples of women sending sexual pictures of themselves to men who then pass the image on. Valenti makes a serious case that I should think about these penis-texting incidents differently.