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Before we get into tonight’s post, I just want to say quickly: Hats off to Asia for coming through for Adnan!!!!!!!! I am so thrilled that she is back on the team. I’m sure it means beautiful things for the appeal, and I feel like we are one step closer to screaming #FreeAdnan for the last time. I’ll be blogging about that tomorrow, but first, I have to get this off my chest.
Fellow Serial Fans, I’ve got a dirty little secret, or some might call it a guilty pleasure. You know, like when you listen to NKOTB and dance around in your underwear, or eat pork rinds when your blood pressure is high. You know you shouldn’t, but you just can’t help it. I’ve been fighting it for about a week now, and I have to be honest: I feel sorry for Natasha Vargas-Cooper. It’s ok, take your time. If we can’t be friends anymore, I’ll understand.
This isn’t something I arrived at overnight. At first, I kind of hated Natasha Vargas-Cooper. For one, I disagreed with her. For two she thinks Adnan Syed is guilty. For three, she finds Jay Wilds to be a credible witness. Ugh. Three strikes, she’s out, right? Not so fast folks.
I joined a lot of you in talking about her. Oh yes, I did. Then I happened to have a conversation with her on Twitter one on one and had an epiphany: this girl is a real human being, and we have vilified her. And she’s nice. Like agree to answer interview questions for a random unknown blogger on Twitter nice — more on that later. I had stripped this woman of her humanity and made her the object of all the frustration I felt over Adnan’s conviction. Reality check: Natasha Vargas-Cooper did not imprison Adnan Syed, and Natasha Vargas-Cooper has no power to free him (or do anything to keep him there). She seems pretty committed to the whole “Adnan is guilty” stance she’s taken, and no matter how many arguments we have thrown at her, no matter how angry we have gotten with her, she hasn’t changed. I for one respect that. We might not like her delivery, but at least she’s no bandwagon jumper or flip flopper.
When did it become ok to spew vitriol about someone because they have a different opinion than you? Ok, I get it. We all have opinions, myself included, and we like to air them. We even like to vent about people when they disagree with us and question their intelligence. However, that’s not something that we normally spout at someone online. Serial fans, I know we love Adnan and we hate Jay. I know we can’t stand that lying Kevin Urick and I for one hope that if the court docs support it that they disbar him so fast it will make his head spin. We are passionate people and rightly so: this is a man’s life we are talking about. However, doesn’t Natasha Vargas-Cooper have a right to disagree with us? If we would suppress her freedom, how does that make us any better than those who are suppressing Adnan’s freedom?
I get it, she’s a hard pill to swallow. She may even be a jagged little pill. Here’s the thing though: if someone called you an idiot just for disagreeing with them, how seriously would you take their argument? I’ve seen this Natasha Vargas-Cooper go through Twitter battles where she had to take on Serial fans attacking a la Beyhive. We have questioned her intelligence, her journalistic ability, and even whether or not she is using her father’s journalistic contacts to get ahead via nepotism instead of skill. The woman has been writing for quite some time, but have any of you read any of her work besides her interviews with Jay Wilds and Kevin Urick? Don’t worry, I’ll wait. If the answer is no, I want you to go read her series on The Awl about the Jesse James Hollywood trial. It’s good work. Does that mean that I agree with her stance on Adnan? NEVER. But when did having a different opinion become so dangerous?
I have been almost embarrassed for some of our #FreeAdnan folks on Twitter. We have called this woman names, and we have made accusations. In short, we have said things to Natasha Vargas-Cooper and Ken Silverstein that I don’t believe any of us would say to them directly if they were standing in front of us. I’d at least like to think we are better than that. She made fun of some of us for being “creaming” white liberals. Wasn’t very nice. She wasn’t very open to some of our challenges to her work when we came at her on Twitter. That was frustrating. We love Sarah Koenig and we feel like she was trying to down her, and the whole Serial Podcast. I get that, but let’s look in the mirror. When we have a well thought out argument, we don’t have to stoop to character assassinating people for disagreeing with us. There is a fine line between strongly opposing and cyber-bullying, and I think it is being crossed here. Yes, hate her opinion. Yes, disagree with her. YES question her about the facts if you believe she got them wrong. But let’s do it with respect. If you are like me, you believe that one day the state of MD is going to have to give up and #FreeAdnan. Do you think when he can go back and read these things that are being said that he will be proud that we attacked someone on his behalf? I don’t. I’m not telling you not to say whatever you want, let’s just keep our opinions in a venue where they are appropriate.
I’m not saying she’s a saint. I’m not saying she hasn’t baited some of you. But Natasha Vargas-Cooper is a human being, folks. Having what we feel is a bad opinion doesn’t make her a bad person. Was she downright condescending towards us? Yeah. Do we have a right to say when we don’t like something? Sure. Do we LOVE Serial, and are we well educated enough to say we think he’s innocent? You bet your boots! But can we really shout #FreeAdnan if we try to shout down #FreeSpeech?
Until next time,
P.S. I welcome ALL opinions, so Serial fans, please, let me know what you think in the comments!