Many have called the Barefoot Bandit a modern day Robin Hood — a real man of the people. The only problem is that while the bandit in question did indeed steal from the rich, he only gave to himself, all the while putting innocent lives in harms way.
Colton A. Harris-Moore — better known as the “Barefoot Bandit” — was recently sentenced to six and a half years for his infamous two-year crime spree, during which he stole planes, boats and other vehicles to facilitate his cat and mouse game with police.
According to CNN, the Bandit gathered quite a following on Facebook during his time on the run — 50,000 followers in fact. Now, in order to pay off his legal fees, Harris-Moore will sell the movie rights to his life.
The fact that 50,000 people support this convicted felon and that a million-dollar movie deal is in the works is shameful.
Whatever you may feel about Harris-Moore’s anti-authoritarian ideals, the fact remains that he broke the law -— several of them. In a Seattle Times’ article profiling the bandit, it was revealed that he has been convicted of 40 felonies.
Even Harris-Moore acknowledges that he is a career criminal. The only difference between him and other career criminals is that he gets more press. Other career criminals have gotten more time for fewer crimes all while getting less than their
fifteen minutes of fame.
For example, a Dallas man named Michael Laurence Browne robbed and threatened several Dallas residents. He was finally arrested during a carjacking gone wrong that ended on the runways of Love Field Airport.
The Dallas Morning News reported that Browne had a history of mental illness and that he had expressed deep remorse about his crimes, just like our Barefoot Bandit. For Browne’s one federal charge of “interference with security screening personnel,” and in light of his past offenses he was sentenced to 22 and a half years in federal prison. I believe that his racial background may have also played a role in his sentencing.
A comparison of Browne and Harris-Moore’s rap sheets shows several parallels. Both stole and endangered innocents. Browne was under the influence of cocaine and admittedly more violent, but Harris-Moore had a much longer rap sheet with more federal offenses, yet he will serve less time and has become an infamous figure in American history.
In my estimation, the reason Harris-Moore will receive less time in the pen is the amount of time he has spent in the limelight. The criminal justice system needs to make an example of Harris-Moore. Instead, they are showing Americans that if you have the media on your side, you can do whatever you want and get off relatively easy.
The Barefoot Bandit received as much media attention as he did because he knew just how to incite pubic support through his “getting back at the man” mentality. Harris-Moore’s crime spree took place during a time when Americans were just starting to feel financial strain in a big way. As always, this created a backlash against the federal government in the quagmire of public opinion.
I believe the Bandit’s brash disrespect for law enforcement and federal law is more dangerous than all the stupid, dangerous stunts he pulled while on the lamb. His “catch me if you can” attitude set a bad example for an audience with very few reasons to play it straight these days. For that alone, the Barefoot Bandit should get a few decades in a federal prison, not a movie deal and notoriety.