Regarding Mark Wahlberg: Should the Famous Movie Star Be Pardoned for a Violent Crime He Committed as a Teenager?

Mark Wahlberg

Mark Wahlberg

By Elaine Magliaro

Mark Wahlberg—who was born on June 5, 1971— is a famous American actor and producer. He is also a former rapper who once worked as “a crotch-grabbing underwear model under the name ‘Marky Mark.’” According to Adrian Walker (Boston Globe), Wahlberg “would like to bury his history of terrorizing people of color in and around Savin Hill and has requested a pardon, acting under loosened guidelines put in place by Governor Deval L. Patrick. Walker said that the former “punk” from Dorchester, Massachusetts, claims that he has turned his life around.

Walker:

His request would have to be taken up by the state’s Parole Board and then the Governor’s Council. Such is Wahlberg’s star power that at least one Governor’s Councilor, Mike Albano, has already declared his support for Wahlberg’s petition.

It’s interesting that Wahlberg is bothering with a pardon request because he has suffered so little professionally as a result of his awful behavior. His application claims that his rap sheet could interfere with being granted liquor licenses and his work helping “at-risk” people. But, in fact, his restaurant empire is clearly thriving and has just announced plans to expand. In addition, he has been lauded for his support of groups like the Dorchester Youth Collaborative.

In writing about Wahlberg’s pardon request, Jeff Yang (CNN) spoke about the cases of black men—including Eric Garner and Michael Brown— who were killed by white men who went unpunished. He said that in each of the cases an “ugly theme” had “been raised in defense of the perpetrators: The victims should have known better.” He added that when it came “to the actions of their white killers…the accountability hawks” suddenly fell silent.

Yang:

In their eyes, accountability is apparently only for the dark-skinned (for being “uppity” or vulgar), the poor (for failing to bootstrap themselves into success), the recently immigrated (for failing to “mainstream” into American society) — and, as we’ve also seen, for women for failing to avoid sexual predators and LGBTs for being too blatant about their sexuality.

A flagrant new example of this “accountability for thee, but not for me” sensibility emerged last week, when New England Cable News reported that actor Mark Wahlberg — one of Hollywood’s most bankable leading men, who scored a staggering $16 million paycheck for his turn as a heroic father and inventor in the most recent “Transformers” movie — has petitioned Massachusetts for pardon of his brutal assaults on a pair of Vietnamese men, Tranh Lam and Hoa Trinh, while a teenager in Dorchester, Massachusetts.

The attacks were peppered with racial slurs; he called Lam a “Vietnam f*cking sh*t” before smashing him in the head with a large club and knocking him unconscious, and he punched Trinh so hard that he left him blinded in one eye. He repeatedly referred to both men as “slant-eyed gooks” while he was being arrested. Wahlberg, who was 17, was tried as an adult and served 45 days in jail for the crime.

In addition, two years prior to the violent attack on the two Vietnamese men, Wahberg was involved in another racially motivated incident. In 1986, he and some of his white friends hurled rocks at a group of “mostly black fourth-grade students on a field trip to the beach.” Wahlberg and his friends also shouted racial epithets as they chased the children down the street.

Philip Marcelo and Rodrique Ngowi (TPM) said there was a difference of opinion among the victims of that racist incident over whether Wahlberg should be granted a pardon for his crimes.

Marcelo and Ngowi:

I don’t think he should get a pardon,” [Kristyn]Atwood, now 38 and living in Decatur, Georgia, said in an interview with The Associated Press.

“I don’t really care who he is. It doesn’t make him any exception. If you’re a racist, you’re always going to be a racist. And for him to want to erase it I just think it’s wrong,” she said.

Mary Belmonte, the white teacher who brought the students to the neighborhood beach that day, sees things differently. “I believe in forgiveness,” she said. “He was just a young kid — a punk — in the mean streets of Boston. He didn’t do it specifically because he was a bad kid. He was just a follower doing what the other kids were doing.”

Yang said that—in the application that he filed to the state’s Advisory Board of Pardons—Wahlberg stated that he had dedicated himself to becoming a better person and citizen so that he could “be a role model to my children and others” and that “receiving a pardon would be a formal recognition” that he was not the same person that he was when he committed the crime. Wahlberg reportedly claimed that, “despite his use of racist language, the race of the men was not a motivation for his crime, blaming instead the ‘influence of alcohol and narcotics.’” Yang said that Wahlberg “committed the assaults while seeking to steal two cases of beer from Lam’s convenience store.”

Yang said that Wahlberg got off “with a trivial 45-day sentence after battering an Asian man until he was permanently handicapped.” Now—after being awarded three gold records, $200 million in wealth and untold fame and adulation later—the wealthy actor is “seeking absolution for his crimes.” Wahlberg claims that “troubled youths will see this as an inspiration and motivation that they, too, can turn their lives around.”

Yang says this is the unwritten phrase that should follow Wahlberg’s assertion: “That is to say, so long as they’re white and their victims are not.”

Yang:

If a black, Hispanic or Asian youth under the influence of drugs and alcohol had put out a white man’s eye while trying to rob his store, it’s inconceivable that he would have been let off with such a light sentence; implausible that he’d have gone on to the kind of marquee stardom that Wahlberg has obtained; unlikely that he would have the sense of unvarnished privilege that is driving Wahlberg’s desire for a whitewashing of his record, if you’ll pardon the pun.

Adrian Walker said that what Mark Wahlberg needs to do first is “to find every single one of his victims and apologize. (If the Globe can find them, so can he.) No hiding behind press releases or publicists. He needs to pull up to their houses, in whatever movie stars drive this week, and say, ‘I’m sorry I terrorized you. I was a horrible person then. I’ve since learned how and why to be a decent person. I’m no longer the person I’m sorry you met.’”

Walker added, “Then we can talk about the Parole Board and the Governor’s Council.”

Walker:

Given how little material gain he will get from a pardon, I don’t really doubt that Wahlberg feels genuine remorse for his past. It’s the only explanation for why he would voluntarily dredge up this embarrassing history.

But pardons are a serious process, to the point that many argue that recent governors have granted too few of them. Wahlberg shouldn’t get an E-ZPass because he’s a movie star and people like his restaurants. Cleansing his record and his conscience should be hard, not as easy as writing a few checks.

 
Opinions Mixed on Wahlberg’s Pardon Request

 

What do you think? Should Mark Wahlberg be granted a pardon?

 

SOURCES

Black Victim Of Wahlberg’s 1986 Attack: He’s ‘Always Going To Be A Racist’ (TPM)

Mark Wahlberg doesn’t deserve pardon (CNN)

Mark Wahlberg should apologize to his victims (Boston Globe)

This entry was posted in Celebrity, Courts, Crime, Criminal Law, Jurisprudence, Movies, Prison, Racism, Society, United States and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to Regarding Mark Wahlberg: Should the Famous Movie Star Be Pardoned for a Violent Crime He Committed as a Teenager?

  1. randyjet says:

    Give him a pardon when he makes full restitution to the guy whose eye he put out. That should run to a couple of million dollars I think. Then he can make another donation to some non-profits to the tune of a few million dollars as well. THEN he can apply for a pardon.

  2. What Randy said. Restitution, apologies all around, and perhaps some community service in impoverished areas. School for the blind, perhaps (not snark).

  3. buckaroo says:

    Of course Mark Wahlberg must provide restitution for his evil deeds – along with every effort to give solace for being a scum bag at a time in his life. If that is his intention then I’m for forgiveness & would gladly welcome him back into the good graces of those among us who hope to remain good citizens. Money & possession may provide trapping of success, but a clear conscience provide what British Nobel laureate Rudyard Kipling, wrote in 1895 & described in his poem IF.

  4. eniobob says:

    In a nutshell.
    “In writing about Wahlberg’s pardon request, Jeff Yang (CNN) spoke about the cases of black men—including Eric Garner and Michael Brown— who were killed by white men who went unpunished. He said that in each of the cases an “ugly theme” had “been raised in defense of the perpetrators: The victims should have known better.” He added that when it came “to the actions of their white killers…the accountability hawks” suddenly fell silent.”

    ” If a black, Hispanic or Asian youth under the influence of drugs and alcohol had put out a white man’s eye while trying to rob his store, it’s inconceivable that he would have been let off with such a light sentence; implausible that he’d have gone on to the kind of marquee stardom that Wahlberg has obtained; unlikely that he would have the sense of unvarnished privilege that is driving Wahlberg’s desire for a whitewashing of his record, if you’ll pardon the pun.”

  5. He’s a middling action star who would probably be flipping burgers with his brother if he hadn’t had the good fortune to model underwear for Calvin Klein. As far as actors from Boston go, he isn’t even in the same stadium as Matt Damon. Isn’t that a kind of punishment in itself?

    Almost as bad as listening to his “music”.

    DISCLAIMER: I did like the remake of “The Italian Job”. A fun ride, but hardly Oscar material.

    Seriously, I did read an article about this recently (I don’t recall where) in which Hoa Trinh clarified the story about his “being blinded”. He said it was true he was injured in the confrontation, but that he had actually lost sight in that eye beforehand in a separate incident. He also indicated he was willing to forgive Wahlberg. Personally? I think that given that a condition of his first sentence was that he would go to jail if he committed another “hate crime” (a problem for me in general but many of you know this and why) and he did later commit an attack with racist overtones should preclude a pardon (whether I agree with hate crime laws or not). Whether or not the victims choose to forgive him? Is strictly up to them and while I think that should weigh in the analysis I don’t think that weight should be controlling.

  6. blouise says:

    I’m not too sure about all this helping “at risk” people stuff as the reason for requesting the pardon. I tend to think it has more to do with empire building and expansion into foreign markets. I don’t know, maybe he wants to start a bank.

    There are all sorts of guidelines in Massachusetts Pardon Process but the main one seems to be “”show a compelling need”.

    I suppose if his petition is denied he’s no worse off so, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

    This is one of those situations in which I wouldn’t sign a petition pro or con. I’m content to leave it in the hands of the State knowing either way they go somebody is going to be unhappy.

  7. “I suppose if his petition is denied he’s no worse off so, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

    This is one of those situations in which I wouldn’t sign a petition pro or con. I’m content to leave it in the hands of the State knowing either way they go somebody is going to be unhappy.”

    I agree.

  8. Elaine M. says:

    Gene,

    I liked the movie “The Fighter”–which Wahlberg starred in and helped produce.

  9. Missed that one, Elaine, but I did hear good things about it.

  10. I think he was one of the producers too of “Boardwalk Empire” which I did enjoy quite a bit.

  11. po says:

    It is a more complicated question that it seems at first glance. Only a few, select people can obtain a pardon, ones who were wrongly convicted, ones who are politically/socially connected or ones who are rich/famous.
    Most people will never qualify for pardon, especially the poor, the black and the brown.
    So if we look at this from a wide-ranging perspective, where the pool is the general population, the answer is no. If we see it in the more restricted realm of fame,money and connection, where we tend to credit people for being successful, then he does deserve a pardon.
    Since the crime was committed while he was a teenager, he has paid some costs, and he has stayed out of trouble since, my feeling is why not?
    However, in lights of all of those who would never be provided with that opportunity, I think it is unfair to those, and therefore denied.
    Other factors:
    Based on his high obnoxiousness as Marky Mark (including trying to pick up a friend’s belle): No!
    Based on the bad acting and the many movies he ruined: No!
    Based on his having a brother who is a great actor: Yes!
    Based on his executive producing many interesting projects, including and especially Boardwalk empire:Yes!
    SO that’s a tie for me.

  12. Bob Kauten says:

    I’m a little suspicious. Of course, that’s what most folks say, when they see me.
    Could this just be a way for Wahlberg to get more publicity? A lot of his cachet in his younger days consisted of his being a thug. But I don’t know him, so I don’t know his motives.

  13. I am cynical, and I believe justifiably so. He wants to expand internationally, and in many venues and countries that is not possible if one has a record. He could not emigrate to the US from another country with his record. He would be stopped at the border.

  14. po says:

    I have read a few profiles of his at various times, and each puts quite an emphasis on the person he is now, the no-longer-partying-guy, happily-married-stay-at-home-guy, involved-with-his-children-guy, grown-up-mature-with-a-sense-of-community-guy…
    It seems to matter to him, at lot, to no longer be the person he was…it could just be natural maturity and growth, which is what it seems to me…or it could be a necessary step in one’s career and ambitions…we will know for sure if/when he comes out running for office at some level.

  15. Elaine M. says:

    Just found this:

    Remember When Mark Wahlberg Was a Violent Racist Bully?
    http://defamer.gawker.com/here-are-other-crimes-mark-wahlberg-needs-pardoned-1668011058

    Excerpt:
    Remember when Mark Wahlberg beat a security guard so badly his jaw had to be wired shut?

    In 1992, Wahlberg managed to avoid criminal charges for assault and battery when he reached a settlement with the victim just days before the trial was scheduled to begin. The victim, a 20-year-old security guard named Robert D. Crehan, said Wahlberg kicked him in the face repeatedly while Wahlberg’s bodyguard, Derek McCall, held him down.

    Crehan, who later had to have his jaw wired shut, said he was “satisfied with the [unspecified] settlement and didn’t want to pursue the case any further.”

  16. Mike Spindell says:

    I like Wahlberg as an actor and as a producer on good projects. That said I don’t think he deserves a pardon because he is rich and famous, which is really the only reason his case is being discussed. With $200 million in the bank I’m sure he could live with the shame.

  17. blouise says:

    I strongly suspect this has to do with the restaurant business. I believe I read that they are expanding into Canada and want to go into France, Switzerland and a few other countries. I would think he sits on the Board and has a heavy investment and this could be a problem once the corporation moves off shore both in getting licensed and involving foreign investors. That might be the “compelling need” he is able to show. Not to mention the show that accompanies the restaurant and whatever licenses other countries require for those production needs.

    America is all about business and Wahlberg has proven himself to be one hell of a businessman.

  18. pete says:

    Mark Wahlberg and Mel Gibson, “Boyz in the Hoods”?

  19. Elaine M. says:

    OPINION | JUDITH BEALS
    Don’t pardon Mark Wahlberg
    http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2015/01/12/don-pardon-mark-wahlberg/2zCWxyVay7QLD4MDGjGbAN/story.html

    Excerpt:
    I’m glad Mark Wahlberg has turned his life around. I’ve read that Hoa Trinh has forgiven him. But a public pardon is an extraordinary public act, requiring extraordinary circumstances because it essentially eliminates all effects of having ever been convicted. It is reserved to those who demonstrate “extraordinary contributions to society,” requiring “extensive service to others performed, in part, as a means of restoring community and making amends.” On this, I am not sold.

    First, Wahlberg has never acknowledged the racial nature of his crimes. Even his pardon petition describes his serial pattern of racist violence as a “single episode” that took place while he was “under the influence of alcohol and narcotics.” For a community that continues to confront racism and hate crime, we need acknowledgment and leadership, not denial.

    And while the $9.6 million he has raised over the 14 year lifetime of the Mark Wahlberg Youth Foundation — $2.5 million of which made its way to our community — has undoubtedly done some good, I question whether that truly is “extraordinary” for someone who earned $32 million last year and who has a net worth of at least $200 million.

    Lastly and most importantly, Wahlberg’s status as a “role model to troubled youth” would not be helped by a public pardon, as he claims. In fact, a formal public pardon would highlight all too clearly that if you are white and a movie star, a different standard applies. Is that really what Wahlberg wants?

    A larger public policy question is also at stake: what types of crime do we collectively forgive and expunge from the record? History tells us, again and again, that when it comes to hate crimes, forgetting is not the right path. Truth and reconciliation are all important in moving forward — but not a public wiping of the record. Not now when hate crime remains so high in Boston; not now when tension remains acute over the unpunished killings of black men at the hands of unaccountable white men. And frankly, not ever. Not in our name. Please.

  20. bron98 says:

    sounds like he grew up on the mean streets and had a good deal of anger. Seems to me like he channeled it into something positive.

  21. Pardon for Mark Wahlberg? No. My initial thought is he is planning to run for office, but the comments about expanding his business internationally make that seem more likely. In any case, neither is sufficient reason for a pardon. In addition, if he really feels badly for what he did, he can apologize and make restitution to the people he attacked, and he can give a sizable amount of money (enough to impact his bottom line — $2M+) to youth programs.& pledge ongoing support.

  22. bettykath says:

    I’m in the NO camp. He doesn’t need a pardon to be a role model for troubled youth who want to turn their lives around. He’s already done that. So what if he has a record. So do they and they are unlikely to get a pardon. As to his change of heart re: race, I need more information. What’s the racial makeup of those he hires? If some of those he hires are of other races, what are their jobs and salaries? Does he see people of other races as talented and competent or are they all doing menial jobs? How does the pay of those of the races compared to the whites on his payroll doing similar work?

    Imo, pardons are for the innocent who have been wrongly incarcerated, no exceptions.

  23. bettykath says:

    of other races.

  24. Inga says:

    I think he should be pardoned only if all the other troubled youth who committed similar crimes are also pardoned.

  25. Oro Lee says:

    I’m all for it if a black man in the same exact circumstances would get a pardon — until then, constant vigilance against white privilege..

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