BANG 'em up.
This seemed to be the mood online as news emerged that two young women had been caught at Lima airport with 11kg of cocaine in their suitcases. Melissa Reid of Lenzie and Michaella McCollum Connolly from Northern Ireland claimed they had been forced at gunpoint to be drug mules, and that they had acted in fear of their lives. However, what was striking, both in online comments and some newspapers, was the relative lack of sympathy for them. They had committed a crime, said many, so they should do the time - which, at its upper limit, could be a jail sentence of 25 years.
Indeed, a frequent reaction to the initial news coverage seemed to be gloating and mocking condemnation. Online comment boards were littered with those who looked forward to seeing the pair in a future series of Banged Up Abroad on TV. Where there was a smidge of sympathy it was reserved for the parents - for Willam Reid, for instance, who flew to Peru to see his daughter, hug her and hand her some pyjamas and Ugg boots for comfort.
When the first news stories emerged, few seemed willing to even contemplate that the pair's story of victimhood might be true. Most simply wrote them off as idiots, naïve fools. "As dumb", wrote Jan Moir in the Daily Mail, as "a couple of rocks on Stupidity Beach".
Then as the week went on, more articles appeared presenting the girls in a sympathetic light as interviews with them emerged. So were they genuinely forced at gunpoint to smuggle drugs? We don't yet know. But small details count in the telling of a tale, and the early publication of pictures and footage of the girls laughing did a lot to convey the image of two young women - they are just 19 and 20 - living their own drug-trafficking movie, caught up in a fantasy, a moment of fame.
Moir wrote: "The girls were photographed behind bars earlier this week, eating doughnuts and laughing together as if they hadn't a care in the world. Yet any half-sensible, quasi-adult finding themselves in a similar situation would be paralysed with fear and foreboding."
However, to me their laughter spoke of the natural nervous reaction that comes with the absorption of some awful truth. And wasn't it possible, after all, that they were experiencing a moment of relief at being out of the frying pan, while not having taken on board the fact that they were now in the fire?
Reid described herself as a "victim". Yet, judging by last week's online reaction, not everyone saw her that way. Many had already written their Banged Up Abroad storyline and it had these girls as giggling chancers who had got so caught up in the hedonism of Ibiza that they thought they could get away with drug-running and making some big money. There was little embracing of the notion that these girls might be victims - not just of a particular group of gangsters but also of the war on drugs which has seen many people killed, robbed or forced to live in fear because the distribution of illicit substances is controlled by drug lords, through violence. How did we become so lacking in sympathy?
But I think there is also another reason why there was, initially, such enthusiasm to see these women do time. And that is because this story is, in part, about Ibiza, the party island, the pleasure world that has become a symbol of all that is hedonistic, liberal and indulgent. "Two girls banged up in Peru" forms what many feel is the correct ending to a parable about Ibiza, its values and the mores of young people who swarm there - and also about the liberalisation of our wider culture.
What it says is that when you lose a grip on society's moral boundaries, you take a journey, a limitless one, towards amorality. Go to an island famed for its drug-taking culture and it should be no surprise if you end up smuggling drugs for a ruthless cartel. Go and work as a go-go dancer - and pictures of Michaella McCollum Connolly show her doing just that - and you're bound to get in trouble.
Meanwhile, there is one other generational divide in this story, and that is the "yolo" philosophy. Reid and McCollum Connolly belong to the generation whose motto is: "You only live once." When William Reid dropped his daughter off at Glasgow airport seven weeks ago he told her: "Have fun, but be careful." But many young people don't go to a party island like Ibiza to be careful. They go there for the full "yolo" experience: for the party, the risk-taking, the drugs, the sex.
The lack of sympathy for this generation is extraordinary, since we are all involved in navigating an increasingly liberal culture, and prone to getting it wrong. Almost all of us have done an occasional "yolo". Those who write off Reid and McCollum Connolly as "stupid" must have forgotten the mistakes of their own youth. And they must have failed to see the ways in which our culture has blurred the boundaries of what is permitted and made these territories more difficult to navigate.
Stupidity in itself is not a crime, though nor is it an excuse. Drug smuggling is a serious crime and hopefully this story will make the young and reckless more aware of that. And, if it turns out that Reid and McCollum Connolly were calculating opportunists, hopefully it will make others less inclined to risk getting involved in such crime. But, in the meantime, couldn't we spare a little compassion for two young women who are facing jail?
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