A Facebook status accurately reproduced a letter from and photo of a death row inmate who blamed his mother for poor parenting. See Example( s )
On 13 December 2015, a Facebook user published a status update which included the purported last words of a condemned man (titled “The Last Wish.”) The subsequently widely shared message, also called “letter from a death row inmate,” held:
A death row inmate awaiting execution, asked as a last wish a pencil and paper. After writing for several minutes, the convict called the prison guard and asked that this letter be handed over to his biological mother.
The letter said …
Mother, if there were more justice in this world, we would be both executed and not just me. You’re as guilty as I am for the life I led.
Remind yourself when I stole and bring home the bicycle of a boy like me? You helped me to hide the bicycle for my father did not see it. Do you remember the time I stole money from the neighbor’s wallet?
You went with me to the mall to spend it.
Do you remember when I argued with my father and he’s gone?
He just wanted to correct me because I stole the final result of the
competition and for that I had been expelled.
Mom, I was just a child, shortly after I became a troubled teenager and now I’m a pretty malformed man.
Mom, I was just a child in need of correction, and not an approval. But I forgive you!
I just want this letter to reach the greatest number of parents in the
world, so they can know what makes all people, good or bad …is education. Thank you mother for giving me life and also helping me to lose it.
Your child offender.
It wasn’t long before the copy-and-paste text made it to various social media scraping sites (such as one Daily Mail clone), predictably passed around Facebook and other social sites as a tacit indictment of lazy mothering.
Of course, the letter included no attribution, and the name of the condemned wasn’t included, nor was the date upon which he was purportedly executed. It lacked a location and a list of capital crimes, but a photograph was widely appended to the story. As is often the case for fictional narratives presented as real, the image was swiped from an unrelated news story; it depicted the widely photographed “hot convict” Jeremy Meeks. Meeks became internationally recognized in 2013 when his exceptionally flattering mugshot went viral, but he was neither involved with a capital case nor executed.
In terms of couched morality lessons, the “letter from a death row inmate” wasn’t even a very helpful one. Had it been real, it simply would have been an example of one individual’s projection of responsibility for criminal behavior, and not a legitimate indictment of the merit of mothers. None of the convict’s mother’s purported crimes sounded like common behaviors for even the worst parents; at best, the letter simply represented its writer’s presumptions about the moral failings of lifestyles of mothers of troubled boys. Few women need to be reminded via Facebook status update that theft and deceit are both immoral and occasionally illegal, but the letter presents those egregiously unacceptable behaviors as ones folks don’t already know are widely frowned upon.
We found no evidence that the letter was truly from a death row inmate, nor does it read like a legitimate document of that description. For those interested in the final words of the condemned, the web site Gawker periodically publishes such content. In stark contrast with this sanctimonious glurge, Gawker‘s series presents a dynamic (and often emotionally trying to read) picture of the final commentary of condemned men.