I just got back from a 2-week trip across the country, and now that I'm back in the NYC area, where I currently live, I've been catching up on all of the sad news of the last few weeks that has taken place in the Brattleboro area (where I consider my true home to be, at least in my heart). So, please pardon my delay in responding to all of this. I know in our "instant" culture, news that's a few weeks old is, well, old, but it really isn't, because these issues haven't gone away.
While I am understandably very sad and heartbroken over the murder at the Brattleboro Food Co-op, I'm going to save my opinion on that for another post, or not. I'm still sorting out my feelings and thoughts on the matter.
What's really been bothering me about the murders of late is the huge difference in response between Melissa Barratt's death and Michael Martin's.
I don't recall there being a candlelight vigil for Melissa. Did I miss it, or did it never happen?
Did not enough people know Ms. Barratt, or was her murder more acceptable than Mr. Martin's because she wasn't part of an institution where even casual members and adherents are under the impression that "bad things don't happen here"? The two murder victims were of two very different socio-economic classes -- an issue (class difference in SEVT) that gets scant discussion, if any. Was Ms. Barratt's murder more acceptable than Mr. Martin's because of her position in society, or her gender, or where she did or didn't work?
Even if people didn't know Ms. Barratt, isn't the fact that she was a woman who was kidnapped by her romantic partner, then driven out to a lonely road and shot and killed, enough to warrant some sort of public outcry over the fact that, yes, it does happen here? This is a woman who was killed by her boyfriend. Where is the outrage on her behalf?
Oh, but drugs were involved. I guess all bets are off.
I think a lot of people read "drugs" and their minds shut down. "Oh, she was into drugs. Drugs killed her. Her 'lifestyle choice' killed her." Meanwhile, that's about as correct and cruel as saying a person who has died from AIDS "chose" the disease because of their "lifestyle choice."
It's also reductionist.
Melissa wasn't a drug. She was a human being who had a lot more to her life and her story than the shocking end. She cared for her sister's child. She was a friend to all sorts of people, regardless of their race, economic status, background, et al. She was someone's sister and daughter. She was short and curvy and adorable and friendly. She had straight, brown hair. She smiled a lot. She made the best calzones at Frankie's, and I told her so, and she agreed! She used to manage the thrift store on Elliot St and when I shopped there, I saw her working hard and I heard her laughing and bantering with staff and customers -- she had a sweet lightness about her. She got her coffee from Coffee Country. And something terrible about her biochemistry (addiction issues?) or her life experiences (past trauma?) or both got her involved with the wrong people, and she is no longer Melissa, she is Drug Casualty.
This hardly seems fair, to reduce her entire life and all it was worth to the profoundly sad and violent way in which it ended. Even if you despise drugs and the way they affect a person and a community, can you not still lament a young woman's terrifying death, at the hand of her romantic partner, no less?
Where is the outrage? Where's Melissa's candlelight vigil?