A reader from Northwest Arkansas passes along this series of screenshots from a Facebook exchange with Arkansas Secretary of State Mark Martin about the adoption and “rehoming” of two young girls adopted by Rep. Justin Harris (R-West Fork), which was the subject of our cover story this week.
The reader, who asked to remain anonymous, told me she does not know Martin and has never personally interacted with him in the past, but when a mutual Facebook friend posted the Arkansas Times story, she (the reader) became drawn into a back-and-forth with the Secretary of State.
She said she thinks Harris should resign and criticized him for his “self-pity” and refusal to accept blame. But, she also said (like many others who have responded to this story) that she has little faith in DHS and can believe their account may not be the whole truth.
Enter Martin. He replied to the reader’s comment, saying she was “making a judgement based upon misinformation by a vile socialist anti-Christian propaganda blog about one of the most righteous seeming, humble, and gentle men I have ever met in my life.”
The reader agreed that “my personal experience with our state’s media has been pretty bad” and acknowledged that “We all make HUGE mistakes (sins?) … I have and you have and everyone on this board has. The problem here is you have a man who admittedly did something that, for many, is inexcusable….but yet he is still making excuses and trying to justify his behavior.”
She pointed out that the central fact in the case is no longer in dispute: The Harrises did, indeed, send their adopted daughters away to live with another family: “My judgment is based on one fact…he GAVE AWAY CHILDREN LIKE THEY WERE ANIMALS HE PICKED UP AT THE SHELTER.”
Martin was not pleased. “Unless you have adopted a child and experienced what adoptive parents go through, I think there is very little you have a right to say. This judgement against the Harris’ [sic] is the most hypocritically self-righteous bull I have ever heard,” he responded.
“People like you are what makes people refuse to risk fostering or adopting. I believe it is people like you who are the problem. Not people who try and fail like the Harris’ [sic].”
After an increasingly heated exchange, he ended with a sarcastic remark: “You gots me. I am so dumb. You so smart. I sorry.” I recommend you read the whole exchange, below.
Martin is friends with Harris, and he’s surely speaking from a place of sincere emotion in defending the legislator, a fellow Northwest Arkansas Republican. Like Rep. Nate Bell (R-Mena), who sent me a series of hostile texts right before our original report on the Harris rehoming ran last week, Martin has worked with Harris for years at the Capitol. As I said in an email to the reader, he probably believes he’s standing by his friend. Her response to me via email:
You can be the man’s friend and love him unconditionally, WITHOUT defending or justifying his actions. You don’t always agree with your friends or family, and I do believe you can distance yourself from the “action” without walking away from the person. If Martin was a TRUE friend, he would let the Harris’ know that he loves them and supports them but there are ALWAYS consequences to any action you take. In this case the consequences is the public outcry and scrutiny for what most perceive as cruel and inhumane.
Is Harris being unjustly persecuted? I don’t know. As I said, for me it all boils down to one simple fact. He gave away HIS children because they were difficult…and he takes ZERO personal responsibility for that decision.
Here’s the full thing. One comment below, unrelated to the exchange with Martin, has been blurred out to preserve the commenter’s anonymity: