Nikki Araguz, Jewel Thief Extraordinaire
I’ve largely stayed out of the ruckus over the whole “Nikki’s a jewel thief” meme going on because it had little to do with the trans community. However, it’s gotten to the point where I think that bias has come into play. As many of you know, Nikki just spent 15 days in jail and was just given 50 additional days in jail for her role in the supposed theft of a watch.
The facts of the case are that Nikki and a lady went out drinking. Then, depending on who you believe, the drunk lady traded watches with Nikki or, if you believe the drunk lady, Nikki took this lady out drinking as part of a plot to secretly drug her so that Nikki could then steal her watch… and in a stoke of genius, Nikki replaced the stolen watch her old watch.
My opinion is that the lady she was out drinking with made a drunk-trade (it happens). Under Texas law, you have 72 hours to back out of a contract (verbal or written) and from what I can tell, the drunk-trade lady wanted to back out of the trade within the 72 hour time limit. However, by then the watch had already disappeared.
So, instead of taking this to some small-claims court like any normal person would, the drunk-trade lady begins to ham it up in the media. She actually claimed to be the victim of a nefarious plot wherein she was suspiciously drugged and the jewel thief’s (Nikki) best and brightest idea was to replace the stolen watch with the thief’s own watch. The media pounced on the story without question and MANY people actually thought that this was the best, most probable explanation for what happened that night.
I suspect that this wouldn’t have turned into a 3-ring circus had the drunk-trade lady made a trade with just some random person that night and I’m sure that Nikki isn’t the first person to show up to court late. In the end, I think Nikki was guilty of not knowing the 72 hour rule, for being late to court, for not having the cash to pay for a criminal defense in this case and therefore having to instead accept a plea deal… that’s all.
Is spending the better part of a quarter of a year in jail plus paying the ‘victim’ several thousand in restitution a reasonable outcome in this case? I’m thinking no… I can’t help but notice that there seems to be this sense that Nikki should pay for something… that she’s guilty of something and that it’s good that she’s finally getting her comeuppance. That collective feeling is called bias.
I mean, if people are really going to buy the ”drunk-trade lady is a victim of a nefarious plot” scenario as being the most reasonable explanation to what happened, then that seems (at least to me) to be a clear-cut suspension of critical thinking due to bias. I’m not sure that Nikki has ever had any real shot at not being automatically seen as some demon hell-spawn who eats mewing kittens for breakfast. Where did that bias come from? Well, these ideas were manufactured through the hard work of print and television media.
From August 2010:
Do you think that media treatment just impacts Nikki? Well, you’d be wrong:
Therefore, I wanted to make a quick post and simply encourage people to use their critical thinking. She wasn’t found guilty; she has no money, can’t pay for a criminal defense and took a plea deal. Did any evidence ever arise supporting the idea that the drunk-trade lady was drugged? Nope. Was the reaction of the judge normal for folks who turn up late to court? I don’t know; I’ve never been late to any courtroom… but I’m betting that being late isn’t a rare occurrence. How common is it to know about the 72 hour rule? I don’t know… Did you know about the 72 hour rule?
Here’s an example of the way most of my conversations go when I talk about Nikki:
Random Person: It’s only right! This “woman” lied to her husband about being born a man! (Seriously, they’ve actually made the air quotations with their fingers)
Me: Actually Thomas knew, he used to accompany Nikki to my transgender clinic.
Random Person: Erm, uh… Well, she left her poor husband!
Me: Actually, it turned out they were living together. Here’s a copy of their new lease signed just weeks before Thomas died.
Random Person: Uh… okay… But she wants to steal the kids benefits!
Me: Actually, Nikki worked to get the kids their benefits – which they now have.
Random Person: Okay… But her birth certificate clearly says she’s a man!
Me: Actually, it turned out her birth certificate says she was born female. Here’s a copy of it.
Random Person: Oh hell. Can’t we just hate her without facts getting in the way?!?
I get it; there’s a lot of people out there who don’t like Nikki and I’m betting that they don’t even know why anymore. And that, my friends, is the entire point of this post.