I grew up in the 1950s and have the scar tissue to prove it. So it was a little unsettling to see one of the victims of notorious alleged teen airplane thief Colton Harris-Moore generously dismiss the theft of a $620,000 Corvalis as sort of a teen-age prank. Never mind that it was Grand Theft Auto times about 30.
Said owner Don Miller, one of two brothers who owns the Corvalis, "He's just a kid. A kid who was misguided from the start." Miller's brother, John, said "I'd guess I'd talk to him just like a Dad talks to his son."
That got me to wondering how my Dad would have talked to me after I'd stolen my fourth airplane with the total haul worth a couple of million. Actually, I don't think there would have been much talking. I'd have been running for my life, assuming of course I still had two good legs attached to my hips and a couple of second head start. Given my father's Cheetah-like reflexes, the likelihood of that happening is right at zero.
And besides, where's the real harm? All those airplanes were insured, after all. They're just machines. No one appeared to be harmed. Of course, the whole sorry escapade set off the airport-as-terrorist bases paranoia. Here's an example. But that'll blow over, right?
I am alternately admiring and appalled by the Millers' exceptional magnanimity. I wish I could summon it myself, but having grown up in a time where such a thing simply would not be tolerated in any fashion just once, never mind repeatedly, I am distressingly unable to do so. I forgot what my Dad said when I accidentally torched the bathroom with a quart of gasoline, but I don't think it was father-to-son chat. I can't swear to it, however, because my memory was hazy once I'd regained consciousness.
Harris-Moore's exploits became quite celebrated during his months and years on the lam. I understand a few t-shirt vendors made quite a little windfall from his goofy wanderings. And what's wrong with that? It's just wholesome American capitalism at its best.
Maybe some of those vendors could contribute to his defense fund, which he will surely need. Young Colton could use some fatherly guidance, too. He could use some compassion, some love and some understanding. He's 19 now. He needs just one other thing.
He needs to go to the slammer.