Not only is Edith Macias a thief, having been caught on camera in the act, but a thief who shows no remorse for her offense. But don’t condemn her so quickly. The University of California, Riverside, ethnic studies major saw red, and that, in her mind, was reason enough.
The victim, Matthew Vitale, then used his video camera to capture his effort to retrieve his red MAGA cap.
Granted, it was a facially illegal taking of property from the person of anther. And granted, her efforts at justifying her theft were incomprehensible gibberish, random mentions of genocide and microaggressions based upon the hat symbolizing vague horrors. So what if the hat reflects the slogan of the person elected sitting president of the United States? Edith hates him, and doesn’t that count for anything?
Did she come up with this on her own? Of course not. Poor maligned Edith is merely the by-product of her lived experience, which includes the indoctrination provided her by her college. She has been taught to believe that her feelings entitle her to seize, to steal, to take, that which offends her. If anything, it’s fortunate that she didn’t try to do harm to Matthew for his microaggression of wearing the hat in her presence.
Blame Edith for the theft? She’s merely a pawn, well-educated in the beliefs of social justice. Young, impressionable, weak minds succumb to the teachings that bolster their self-esteem and entitlement. Is she not entitled to a “safe” campus? Is she not entitled to feel “safe” by not being forced to see expressions of belief inconsistent with hers? What if those expressions, like MAGA, are ones she’s been carefully taught to hate? Is she not entitled to take action to end the expression of hatred?
So don’t blame Edith. Edith is doing no more than she was trained to do, told was her right to do. Indeed, told it was her duty to act against hatred. And so, the red cap of hate had to be seized.
What’s curious about the video is that Edith, having taken the hat to the “student life” office, was then handled with a level of accommodation that might be shocking. A student who confesses her theft might be expected to be told in no uncertain terms to give the stolen property back immediately. At bare minimum, one would expect a college staffer to not employ the dulcet tones of acquiescence to talk about it.
But the unnamed staff showed a level of gentleness, bordering on obsequiousness, that is rarely shown criminals, no less an openly admitted thief. This might have been a “teachable moment” where a grownup tells a child that regardless of how she feels about something, she does not get to steal it from its owner. The grownup could have demanded the hat, demanded that she hand it back to its owner, and demanded that she acknowledge that her feelings do not grant her the right to steal. Perhaps the grownup could have demanded that she apologize.
None of this happened. Indeed, even the staffer begging for a moment of her time to talk about it was treated cavalierly, his failure to acknowledge her actions for the greater good being dismissed by Edith in a flurry of curses for his shocking inability to grasp the horrors society perpetrated on her and others. As Edith expressed with dismay, wasn’t anyone going to back her up?
So don’t blame Edith. First, the grownups who teach her have empowered her to become a criminal in the name of social justice, rationalize her acting upon her impulses when her feelings and beliefs are implicated by whatever occurs in her presence. Thankfully, Matthew didn’t grab her as she stole his hat and defend his property with physical force. Thankfully, Matthew chose to engage in an argument of monumental silliness rather than use force to take back his property. Thankfully, no violence followed the theft.
And when Edith’s exercise of her natural right to steal was met with mere gentle words rather than the support she expected from the student-life staffers, what could be more natural than for her to feel yet again marginalized?
So don’t blame Edith for doing what she was trained to do. Her fellow students don’t, calling for U/C President Janet Napolitano to defend her against criminal charges and pay her rent. As for the college, they’re put in the untenable position of having to deal with the monster they created.
Vitale, 20, an economics major set to graduate next year, said he was a little disappointed with the statement.
“UCR affirms its dedication to free speech, but [adds] free speech has to come under our shared values of mutual respect, which is not freedom of speech,” Vitale said. “The whole point of freedom of speech is to ensure the right to say things reprehensible or mean.”
The meaning of “shared values of mutual respect” is that you’re fully entitled to free speech, as long as it doesn’t trigger Edith. So don’t blame Edith for what she did. Edith is merely the empty vessel to be filled with what her teachers pour into it. There is no mens rea there, as Edith has no capacity to think, to understand, to appreciate the consequences of her actions. Edith is what UC Riverside produces, criminals and hapless idiots. Don’t blame Edith. It’s not her fault.