by Travis Mateer
The topic of this post might seem like a difficult thing to discuss–things NOT happening–but I assure you it’s a phenomenon that exists, and in a variety of contexts.
For example, speaking as a privileged white man, much of my power is derived from a whole plethora of things that DO NOT and DID NOT happen to me, starting at an early age.
Now that I’ve established my expertise in this field of things not happening, let’s take a look at the criminal justice system, where a lot of curious not-happenings occur. Or don’t occur, as it were.
While not prosecuting someone who committed a crime is a good example of the power of things not happening, specific cases, like missing persons cases, can offer different insights into this power.
In the Jermain Charlo case, which I wrote about last week, one of the things that didn’t happen was the timely use of cadaver dogs. The reason given by Guy Baker was that he wanted to use the higher grade FBI dogs instead of the sad mutts I assume the Missoula County Sheriff’s Department have.
One of the things that DID happen in the Charlo case was the early and ENTHUSIASTIC involvement of the LifeGuard Group. If you listen to the STOLEN podcast, the enthusiasm exhibited by Lowell Hochhalter–that his group would succeed in finding Jermain Charlo–feels borderline pathological.
The successes for the LifeGuard Group are communicated to the public through Facebook. When I went scrolling to the weeks and months after Rebekah Barsotti went missing near the end of July, 2021, the NOT HAPPENING, in hindsight, now feels palpable.
So, what WAS happening around this time in LifeGuard Group world?
Yep, on July 28th, the important thing to note was a new board member. And the following month, one of the important things happening in LifeGuard World was registering people for a golf event.
Things not happening can be even more conspicuous and fucked up than this, like the call that never came for the family of Sean Stevenson before he was removed from life support at St. Patrick’s hospital. I still marvel how few people in this town know that story, but I have strong faith that will soon be changing.
Not everything that doesn’t happen is clouded in seemingly nefarious intent. I’m not drowning my feelings in box wine, for example, despite storms of personal magnitude rocking my world.
But overall, from my current perch, the not-happenings in the criminal justice system are incredibly ominous and pushing some good people into a network of shady operators for answers they may never get because too many people have learned that non-action is a fairly decent survival strategy.
I can’t say I blame them.
Thanks for reading.