Like most newspapers, we get a lot of outrageous missives. Take this recent e-mail: “Dear Editor, I am a working mom in New Jersey, and I am very saddened to hear about Lori Hacking’s murder because of a ‘girlie man’ of a husband she married. I hope that Utah law strings the bastard up by his balls.”
So much for decorum, an outworn charm in general society these days. No civilized person would advocate a castration mob.
Let’s try, instead, the words of Lori Hacking’s father: “As the facts about my little girl’s death emerge, I am outraged,” said Hareld Soares in a statement last week. “The innumerable lies she was told by her husband for years on end were selfish and shameful. The cowardly way in which she and her baby were brutally murdered in cold blood while she slept is despicable.”
That’s more like it. But Soares’ words were greeted by some as the unfortunate first sign of bitterness and anger in this tragic affair. Forget Mark Hacking’s lies. A woman, apparently five weeks pregnant, is shot in the head. Her body is disposed of in a Dumpster and then emptied into a heaping landfill. Amid all this, the Soares and Hacking families have been adulated for their grace under pressure, their absence of anger and outrage, their “example of love and unity,” as one letter to the Deseret Morning News put it. Even Mark Hacking himself, now charged with one count of first-degree felony criminal homicide and three counts of obstructing justice, has been likened to a good man at heart who probably just “snapped.”
Far be it from anyone to judge any family in the process of digesting so much grief. Pushing your way through severe misfortune is as much a matter of personal style as it is pragmatic method. If, after all is said and done, Lori’s mother feels forgiving toward her son-in-law, so be it. Commend both families for finding refuge in each another. Commend even more the efforts of Hacking brothers, Lance and Scott, who balanced the excruciating act of supporting their brother, even as they apparently extracted a confession from him and delivered it to authorities. What we can do without is the bizarre attitude that sadness and despair are fully allowed, while anger is somehow bad form.
Five months ago, Salt Lake City’s scandal “du jour” centered on Melissa Ann Rowland. You remember her, the woman charged with first-degree murder when one of her twins arrived stillborn after she refused medical treatment during her pregnancy. Facing life in prison, she pleaded guilty to two counts of child endangerment. Some would call that taking responsibility for your actions. Still, judgment rained down on her head like a Texas storm. Rowland was reviled as “selfish and arrogant,” a person wholly deserving of “our disapproval and disdain,” according to letters in the D-News. Before you dismiss the comparison, remember that we’re talking about two alleged killers of unborn children, one a mother, the other a father.
Let Mark Hacking make what he will of the allegations before him. But even with the benefit of a stable upbringing amid family and church—something Rowland never had—it’s obvious now that, on many levels, he failed as a husband. Then again, he could be a good man at heart who probably just “snapped.”