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Letters from America
The Great Hostage Hoax
By Greg Evans
Special Correspondent
US police in Bristol, Virginia

In Bristol, Virginia this week a hostage hoax took place that is more or less defining a problem we are having in society. Crime seems to be increasing and still there are calls to disarm police. Punishment for serious offenses are less than adequate and it makes some of us wonder what is going to happen, and what kind of society are we going to leave for our kids.

This week in Bristol, Virginia a hostage scam event took place that reverberated across the globe and was one that would never have happened in Singapore. Two truck drivers from Florida, a father, Don, and son, Jason Lord, receive a phone call allegedly from Mexico claiming that Don’s grandson had been kidnapped and was being held, hostage. Though once they trace the phone call, they’ll probably find out that it was local, from the Iredell County jail, or maybe town hall. The ruse was to exhort money from the elder Lord. That is not in itself bizarre, but what happened next was a bit odd. The call created a whirlwind of police activity. Officers from the Bristol City Police Department, The Swat team, K-9, the Virginia State Police, and even an armored vehicle arrived on the scene. There was no indication whether the men reached out to the family to verify if it was true that the child was “actually” missing, and wouldn’t someone notice the child missing long before an international phone?

The Lords were instructed by the scam artists to drive to a Walmart, whereby they would transfer ransom money to the scammers. At this point in the story, we pause. A Mexican international kidnapping ring holds an American hostage on American soil and expects payment to come from the local Walmart in Bristol, Virginia. That seems hokey for a B-Hollywood movie let alone real life. As I am reading about this incident the only picture I have in my head is of a redneck sitting in his pickup across the street from a local Walmart looking at this buddy with wide eyes, “Man, I think this might actually work!”

I use Singapore as the benchmark of the one location on earth where something like this would never occur because of their exceptional and ruthless judicial system. The type of person that would commit such a ludicrous act would have long ago been exiled to some remote barbarous place like Detroit or downtown San Francisco. And before they were shipped off, they would be sufficiently waterboarded, flogged, sleep-deprived or whatever else the authorities felt would adequately instill absolute terror in their minds to inhibit any future thoughts of committing a crime in Singapore. Unlike the U.S., Singapore doesn’t have people walking the streets with 15–35-page rap sheets. Over there you are born and given one chance to do it right and live a civilized life adhering to the rules and laws of the country. If you decide to break the laws they break you, physically, mentally or both. Never in my life have I come across anything that made so much sense.

Humans are, in a sense, like a dog. If they pee on the floor and get smacked, then they will think twice next time about committing the act. 2,000 or so years ago the people of Singapore realized that such techniques work wonders and put them into practice. In the United States, such use of reason is still light-years away. The last thing a criminal expects to happen upon getting caught committing a crime here, whether it is littering, jaywalking, rape, or murder is a reprimand and maybe a slap on the wrist. Occasionally and the offender will go to prison with a cell complete with air conditioning, access to the prison library, television with 250 channels courtesy of the American taxpayers, three warm meals, and free counseling for anxiety. As if life for a criminal here isn’t plush enough, there is a call for police to be disarmed? That is about as logical as having to take your flip-flops off at the airport TSA checkpoint.

Such leniency for misbehavior only encourages the promulgation of widespread criminal activity. And it seems to be getting worse as opposed to better. The more “civilized we are supposedly becoming,” the less civilized we truly are. What are we left to do, pray about it? Praying nowadays, in this age of promiscuity, pyramid schemes, fast food, and pornography is considered taboo. We have to start holding each other, but especially ourselves accountable. Imagine a world where people were honest, believed in working hard for what they want and living humanely? A world like that would have rivers of Godiva chocolate, jellybean rain, and four-day weekends. Maybe someday, somewhere …

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Greg Evans, associate director of communications of King University in Bristol TN, in the US, serves as a special correspondent for The Seoul Times. The seasoned journalist has been writing for such papers as the Mooresville Tribune, Lake Norman Citizen, the Bristol Herald Courier, and the Sentinel-Progress (Easley, SC). He can be reached at






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