By now you’ve probably heard about this terrible story that has been evolving for the last week. A 33-year-old Georgia man named Justin Ross Harris was supposed to drop his almost two-year-old son off at daycare on his way to work. Instead, he supposedly zoned out, forgetting his son was in the car. He then drove to work, parked, and went on about his business, not discovering his now deceased son until some seven hours later.
The Georgia police almost instantly charged him with felony murder, causing many people to be up in arms about the situation. After all, devastating as it might be, it was still an accident. Petitions were started up, money has been raised for a vigorous defense, and the debate was on.
The debate in the early stages had basically two sides. There’s the ones that fall on the side of “accidents happen” and while Harris might be guilty of something, it certainly shouldn’t be murder with no possibility of bail even to attend his own child’s funeral. The other side falls on the “burn baby burn” side. This side thinks that no “good parent” could ever make such a mistake (despite the fact that it happens dozens of times a year), and that even if it ultimately is an unintentional accident, there should still be some sort of legal punishment as justice for the loss of the child’s life.
Both sides are right in some regards. An accident certainly shouldn’t be considered the same as a premeditated intentional murder. However, most of the time when this happens, it is considered by authorities to be an accident. Most of the time no charges are filed, and when they are they are much more minor in comparison to the case of Justin Ross Harris. Certainly no parent would be held without bail for an accident. So the response of police in Cobb County, Georgia seemed like an overreach in a time when we are constantly seeing the police overreaching. Naturally, people just thought this was another example of the police doing whatever they feel like doing at a given time. Instead, it seems that the police charged Harris with murder because they knew a lot of things that the average person on the street didn’t.
Having said all of that, there is a smorgasboard of rumors going around that cannot be corroborated. Many irresponsible news outlets are reporting from an “anonymous source” that upon searching his work office, police found that Harris had Googled about how long it takes a child to die in a hot car. Or more specifically, he looked for animals as a guide. Now, let’s be frank here. If that is true, then it’s a pretty awesomely damning piece of evidence against Harris. However, the police won’t confirm it, and there is no real source. Who has to be an anonymous source when revealing evidence that a parent killed his own child? That’s not the kind of evidence you have to keep secret. This “anonymous source” may be anonymous because this was made up.
Furthermore, there are a host of eyewitnesses now enjoying their fifteen minutes of fame that saw Harris when he pulled into a shopping mall parking lot in hysterics trying to revive his dead baby. Suddenly everyone is an expert on everything from determining the time of death from the state of a dead body to human psychological responses to a situation of unimaginable trauma. Joe at the pizza parlor says he was definitely acting. Sue who does nails and pedicures says he was looking back to see who the police were talking to while handcuffed in the back of a car. Mike who works at the convenience store says that baby had been dead for “a while” from the looks of it.
Sure, eyewitnesses will play a big part in this case as it unfolds. But when we at Common Sense Conspiracy see people starting to talk about stuff like this, we wonder what their motivation is. And once again, why are these eyewitnesses not afraid to talk about all of this damning evidence but the “anonymous source” is?
Are we defending this father? Not at all. It is troubling everything that we are seeing here. It certainly looks like the police think they have a good reason to charge him with murder. An updated warrant indicates that the accused returned to his car during the middle of the day, something that was not mentioned before. And if these rumors circulating around turn out to be even half true, we have one of the horrible crimes of recent times on our hands here. There will be parallels to Casey Anthony and the like. In any case, though, a lot of people are missing the point, and that may just be the most terrible thing of all about this case. Too many “holier-than-thou” parents think it’s impossible to do something like this parent did, intentional or not. Well, it is possible, it does happen all the time, and while this guy might be the ultimate villain, most of the parents that sentence their child to a torturous death simply forgot. Their routines were disrupted. Something distracted them. Something out of the ordinary was going on.
The only crime worse than the one that Harris may or may not have committed is if all of these parents continue to insist that they can do no wrong even as this guy and dozens of others this year already have. If you think you are a unique breed of super-parent that is incapable of making a bad decision or doing something that might inadvertently and unintentionally harm your child, well, it’s real simple: You’re wrong. If you think that all “good parents” are incapable of not attending to their child perpetually every second of their life, you are wrong. You quite likely are even wrong about yourself and your own abilities. The first step to preventing these tragedies is coming to terms with the fact that we are all human, we all make mistakes, and the fact that these mistakes are concerning our most precious possessions doesn’t mean that we are immune from making them.
As the details of this case come out, it is quite likely this will look worse. However, even if the original story was true, the real message is what are you going to do to make sure that you are never in this position. Think about it. If this guy offed his kid in terrible fashion, now every time an innocent person makes an honest mistake like this, the media will crucify them as a murderer. This could be the start of a terrible trend. Anyone can make a mistake. If this guy did it on purpose, then it’s time to fire up the electric chair or get that lethal injection keyed up. If not, then we must all take a deep breath and realize that it can happen to you too.