Sunday, July 13, 2014

CNN, Slut Shaming, and the strange case of Alix Tichelman

I was unfortunately watching CNN while I was trying to kill time waiting for the resort shuttle to bring me from the lodge in Park City, Utah to the train station in Salt Lake City, Utah to arrive.  Ironically I had set this shuttle up to arrive at 10 PM, and they had originally shown up at 10 AM.  Even with them showing up at 10 PM I would still have a four hour wait for the train at the station.  The result of watching CNN for about three hours was that first, they really know how to make mountains out of molehills, and second that they are huge fans of slut shaming.

There is the story of the woman who was a high class escort and was on a “date” with a Google executive.  It turns out that he had a heroin overdose and is now dead.  The apparent opinion of CNN on this story is that she is a horrible person and is being convicted as a killer by the media before the whole of the story has a chance to come out.  Likely by the time the rest of the story does start to break the surface CNN will drop their coverage and then all we will know about it was the hype. 
The story basically comes down to her being a pretty girl with boobs who wears makeup, and has tattoos, she must be an evil temptress who took this poor unsuspecting man who is most certainly the victim of a horrible crime, and also a virgin who only wears white suits and has never even had a parking ticket down a rosy path that led to his death.
How about we look a little further into this story than what CNN is willing to provide us.
The “victim” was a middle aged man who was wealthy, likely worked far too much to enjoy the regular dating zoo and instead took the easy route.  In this case he went online to a website called “seeking arrangements” and found someone who, for a fee, was willing to go out with him.  The oldest profession on Earth I think is the usual description for these kinds of arrangements.  In all reality I have found that most relationships are to some extent a trade-off of sex for some form of compensation.  Despite my personally bitter views on marriage and dating, hear me out.  Hey look, I am willing to have sex with you, and we will have fun, share food costs, and we only have to pay half rent!  Then we get tax benefits, can afford a bigger house!  Maybe there will even be some chitlins in our future.  The only difference is that since money is shared and not traded now it is legal.  The government has even found a licensing scheme whereas they can regulate it.

So she goes out on a few dates with the guy.  He wants to try new things, do all of those things that the kids are doing these days.  Apparently this was not the first time he had used services such as “seeking arrangements” as well.
He goes online to find out what those crazy kids are into these days.  Look drugs!  There are these fancy new club drugs.  Molly, etcetera, but you start going down the Molly path and next thing you know you end up in bed with Miley Cyrus, riding around on a wrecking ball and who wants that?
Well, there is always heroin.  Heroin has been around since the ancient times.  How bad can it be?
He had his days when he was going to college and all of the kids were trying new things and he had some heroin once or twice.  He was a geeky engineering major and it sounded like an interesting time.  He mentions to the girl he is paying to make him happy, since his wife wasn't, that he had tried heroin before and would like to again.  Maybe he even has a hook up being a rich guy with friends in unusual places.  He knows all about the dark web and can get anything or everything, for a fee.  Maybe there is that guy who lives in the marina.  He has some good drugs, hell, let’s give it a try.
So he gets a hold of some heroin and gives it a try.  It has been a long time, his heart isn't in the same shape after years of eating fattening foods and not doing exercise beyond riding the escalator to the third floor in twenty years.  The end result is that he has an overdose.
The “girlfriend” does not recognize the immediate symptoms of what an overdose looks like right off the bat and at first thinks that he will come out of it in time.  I am pretty sure that she does not have a lot of medical training in first response to drug overdoses.  She closes the curtains to give him some privacy.  Giggles because he really is off in la la land, but will come out of it in time.  By the time she realizes that he is not snapping out of it the time has passed and it is too late.
The Google Executive is dead.
Well, a dead Google Executive makes a juicy story.  What would have been another dead junkie if it were anyone else now becomes the fresh fodder of the week?  How can anyone ignore this story?  It has it all.  You have a beautiful girl who you can make out to be the most evil woman since Lilith.  You have a rich guy who you can make out to be the most innocent person since Dr. Mudd.  How can anyone ignore the spin potential of this story?

So now we have the story, all you have t do is figure out how you’re going to report it.  You have two choices.  You can either report the facts and only the facts or you can run with it and sensationalize it as much as physically possible.  You find the most provocative photos.  You find burned out rockers that can say whatever you want them to, because they just want the attention.  Maybe someone will remember who they are if they show up and talk on CNN for a little while.  You push, you do everything you possibly can because this is the story that will make your career!  To hell with what you do to the people that are actually involved.  They are fodder.  They are nothing. Only the story matters.  After all it is not news, it is entertainment.  The truth is irrelevant.
The story gets lost in all of this of course.  Whatever aspects of the story may have been the truth, and whatever aspects of the story may have been fiction get mixed up and tossed around in a feeding frenzy of hype and hyperbola.  You mix the parts that are real, the parts that are fiction, and the parts that are just made up on the spot.  You toss them in a bowl, throw them at the wall and see what sticks.  This seems to be the general attitude and methodology of cable news media.
But, what is the truth?  What is fiction?  Does it even matter anymore?
Let us start by looking at the male in question.
Forrest Hayes, age 51, was a married father of five who apparently had used services like the “seeking arrangements” website where he met the female in question, Alix Tichelman, before.
So we have a guy who has a history of cheating on his wife with prostitutes, a high power executive that likes the feeling of power so much that he is not below paying for it?
Or do we have the opposite.
Do we have a guy who is so used to being the one in charge and being in command all of the time that he needs an escape.  He needs to be treated like a bad little boy and get spanked.  He wants to be able to be bossed around, maybe some whips at the hands of his own personal Suicide Girl.  Maybe he even paid a little extra for the whole experience.  Maybe he wanted to make sure that he was not in control.  Maybe he needed that release to deal with the stress of his everyday life.  The wife, the five screaming children.
If I had five children that would definitely be enough to drive me to find a cute lil’ thing half my age and start doing drugs while rolling around naked in my private yacht to escape from it all.  Just like the old song says, the moms go running for the help of “Mothers little helper”.  Well mom was popping the Valium, dad was banging hookers. Or maybe being treated like the bad misbehaving boy that he knew that he was just brought out his creative juices.
What a bad, bad boy he was.  I bet he needed a good spanking.  Maybe just a little slap.  A little harder, please?
Something to make him feel cheap.
Something to remind him that he is a dirty white boy.
But what of the girl?

Alix Tichelman was in a bad place.  She apparently had developed a heroin addiction somewhere along the line.  Heroin is not a cheap drug, and as a result of that you have to take desperate measures to make sure that you have the fix that your body tells you that you need.
She worked as an exotic dancer.  She worked as a model.  Eventually she found “seeking arrangements”.  Now she had a way to make the money that she needed to pay for her sins.  Unfortunately one of the side effects of being addicted to drugs is that it also alters your judgment.
Her “boyfriend” wanted some heroin.  She had some heroin.  She shot herself up with a shot and then gave him the same amount.  The difference is that she had a tolerance for the heroin and he did not.  Likely he had other health issues that made sure that the effect of what would not have been a lethal shot now became a lethal shot.
She wanted to get back to Georgia and live with her sister.  Maybe she wanted to clean up.  Maybe she wanted the support that she had never had anywhere else along the ride that was the train wreck of her life.  It does not matter now.  She is a star.  The queen whore, the vixen, the scapegoat.
Is there anything else weird about this case that should make us ask questions?
Well, how about the boat captain?
All the time I was watching the CNN reporting talking about how Alix Tichelman was the worst human being on the planet (until America is bored with the news story, or Paris Hilton gets a DUI), they never mentioned the captain of the yacht.
You see Forrest Hayes was the kind of guy where although he owned a yacht he did not know how to pilot it how himself.  The end result is that he hired a captain to sail it for him.
Well this captain is the kind of guy who would clean up a crime scene before the police arrive.  The kind of guy who is willing to do anything for his clients.  The kind of guy who will hide from the police that there is video footage of the incident.  He wants the privacy of his clients kept.  He clients secrets are the clients secrets.  Secrets are meant to remain secrets.
So the crux of the case is that Alix Tichelman gave her boyfriend a shot of heroin.  The police are trying to say that she intentionally overdosed him.  Then she showed no regard for him and callously stepped over his body, wiped off her wine glass and left.
I have a different thought.

She gave him a shot of heroin at his request.  She gave him a similar dose to herself, which being half his size should have been a reasonable estimate.  This is not like the Michael Jackson doctor case where he should have known what the dosing limitations are.  After he fell back into a heroin induced daze she got up and finished her glass of wine.  Why would she do that?  Because he was on the nod.   There were not going to be any more fun spanking and miscellaneous horseplay going on tonight.  Nothing else to do but go home and check the Facebook.
Have the police checked the video footage from the boat to see if he ever did heroin with anyone else?  Or has that thought been driven out of their heads because looking for something like that seems a lot like work.
Then, most incriminating, she wiped off her wine glass.  I personally get annoyed when people do not clean up after themselves.  If you come over to my house you should not leave dirty wine glasses lying about.  Rinse them off, put them in the sink, or at least by the sink.
But…  But…  But….
She is an evil vixen!
No, it is called slut shaming.  She is young and beautiful and therefore she is easy to make out as being an evil witch.  Even better, she is in police custody so she can’t even defend herself.  She listens to that evil rock and roll music.  She has tattoos.  There are picture of her in lingerie!  I am just waiting until I hear someone point out that none of this would have happened if she would have found Jebus!
Do you know what I think?  To hell with you America!  Is this what you have become?  Do you need to bring someone else low so that you can feel better about yourselves?
Why is no one talking about the guy?  Oh, never mind.  He was rich and successful.  Obviously she was an evil temptress who had an agenda bent on his destruction.
America, you should be ashamed of yourself.  I am sick of your attitudes.  I am sick of your prejudices.  I am sick of you sensationalizing media circus. 
I am sick of you America.
If this would have been someone no one knew would anyone care that he died?
If he would have died in a gutter instead of a private yacht would anyone have cared?
What would have happened if it had been a slightly different situation?  How about if it would have been a friend and not someone he was paying to cheat on his wife with?
So since we are looking a beautiful woman who he was paying she is the evil vixen, the temptress, the whore.
The guy who is paying for sex, which one should note is also illegal, he is obviously a victim.
How about we change these things around a little bit more.  What if the sexes were switched and it were a woman hiring a younger man for services?  Would that change the story?
What would have happened if she would have died?
If she would have died would this have ever become a story at all?

Let us assume the story is switched and a young prostitute is found dead of a heroin overdose in the house of a rich executive.  What happens with that story?  A slap on the wrist, wink wink, don’t do it again.  She must have been a junkie or she never would have died of a heroin overdose.  She should have known better.  It must have been all her fault.
CNN.  Slut shaming, misogyny, sensationalized garbage.  Force feed the pubic what they want.  Well chewed up sound bites so that they don’t even have to try to think about the reality of the story.
Shame, shame, shame.

During the time I wrote this story I made it on a train from Salt Lake City almost all the way to Denver, Colorado.  It was not the only thing I was working on, but I hope it is the most important.