It’s not just “missing white girl”syndrome

Photo by Joel & Jasmin Førestbird on Unsplash

Joy Reid and others are far too quick to blame the intense interest in the Gabby Petito homicide on “missing white girl syndrome.”

I don’t deny the US is a racist country or that “missing white girl syndrome” is real.

But there are unique aspects of the Petito story we haven’t seen before. Things that don’t apply in other missing person cases. Things that, to some degree, overshadow Gabby’s death itself.

We understand parents wanting to protect their child. But we’ve never seen a “normal” family do what the Laundrie family has done. We’ve never seen an entire family casually inflict so much pain on another family before. We’ve never seen such contempt and cruelty from a supposedly law-abiding family.

The thing that we want — that we need — is justice. Brian killed Gabby and deserves punishment. But Gabby’s death may have been unintentional and Brian’s coverup motivated by fear and panic. He’s a young man. A decent attorney can likely get Brian a sentence other than death, and his family will get to spend the rest of their lives with him. He may spend all that time in prison — which I hope he does — but he’ll be alive. All that is precedented.

But now, that’s more than what they’re entitled to. They would have been entitled to that — had they behaved like human beings. But they did not. They behaved like monsters. They’re trying to get Brian much more than he, or they, are entitled to.

And for that, not for Gabby’s death, they have forfeited mercy. They deserve harsh justice. The parents have gone beyond what should be considered normal or reasonable protective behavior. They lied about Brian’s whereabouts and wasted many, many volunteer and law enforcement efforts. They inflicted unimaginable and unnecessary pain on innocents. They’ve shown that nothing matters to them — and that no one, other than their son, is important. Presumably that’s the lesson they taught Brian. There are limits to what a parent can do for their homicidal child. They can’t murder for their child. They can’t frame another. The Laundries haven’t gone that far, but they have still gone too far.

Doing the right thing matters. Other people matter. Other people’s pain matters.

We want justice. Calling it “missing white girl syndrome” misses the point. Ms. Reid should know this.

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