Something About the "Runaway Bride" (Gratuitious Soviet Union Reference Edition)

|

Before Jennifer Wilbanks disappears completely down the memory hole–and before she shows up on season eight of The Surreal Life–ponder what "ifeminist" Wendy McElroy has to say about the whole thing over at Fox News:

A sea change is occurring in how our culture regards and deals with those who make false accusations and police reports. Five years ago, it was commonplace to hear in the media that victims—especially women and children—never lie. Skeptics who doubted a victim's story, even in the presence of questionable evidence, were accused by victims' rights advocates of re-victimizing the person and, so, silenced. Today, it is clear that false reports occur with some frequency and there is an increased willingness to treat those who file them as criminals….

Until she made [false statements to police in New Mexico]–an act that occurred at the tail end of the police investigation–Wilbanks had done nothing wrong in a legal sense.

The foregoing statement is not an expression of sympathy. As far as I am concerned, Wilbanks should be disowned by her parents, shunned by friends, and bitten by the family dog.

But she is a free human being. Except for the purpose of fraud or other crime, she has a legal right to disappear, to run out on a wedding. The alternative is to require people to inform authorities about their whereabouts and movements, as they were required to do in the Soviet Union.

Whole thing here.

NEXT: iRony

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. she has a legal right to disappear

    Somebody needs to remind the media that she also has the legal right to disappear from the news.

  2. At the point that she admitted her “kidnapping” was a hoax, I ceased having sympathy.

    It’s one things to have taxpayer funded authorities investigate a missing person. However, when that person decides to fabricate a story to cover their cowardice -a story which directly calls for more police action and thus greater tax expenditures- they should be held accountable for those expenditures.

    If you want to disappear you should be able to do so. But atleast have the courage to STAY GONE!

    I don’t think an “I’m sorry” or “My bad” will get the job done in this case.

  3. Ranger

    I give her some sympathy here. I mean, if I ran all the way to New Mexico and saw my face plastered on every news program on TV I’d be scared enough to make up some story.

    I mean, haven’t you seen Rogue Trader?

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0131566/

  4. Dammit, I was proud of myself for completely avoiding this story to the point I didn’t know her name or any details besides the phrases “Runaway Bride” and “Flee-iance” which were plastered on the covers of the tabloids.

    But on H&R! Now I have to pay attention!

  5. I mean, if I ran all the way to New Mexico and saw my face plastered on every news program on TV I’d be scared enough to make up some story.

    If I was 13, then MAYBE I’d see that as a valid reason. This is an adult woman! At that point you’d think she’d atleast have called her folks and said “I’m alright, but I just can’t do this right now.”

    Of course, the kind of adult that still see “running away” as a solution to their problems probably isn’t much more mature than your average 13 year old.

  6. I look at it this way:

    The guy she’s marrying is a hardcore churchgoing Christian. She comes from a hardcore Christian family. She’s about to be married for life.

    So she leaves her ID behind and hops on a bus for New Mexico by way of Las Vegas.

    And what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.

  7. “We showcase missing, young, white, attractive women because our research shows we get more viewers. It’s about beating the competition and ad dollars.”

    http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2005_05/006284.php

  8. Never understood all the fuss being made about this case. Heck, I used to know this girl who liked to pretend she was a kidnap victim practically every weekend we got together.

    Or sometimes, for a change of pace, she’d be a captured spy. And I had to make her tell where she’d hidden the secret documents.

    (Will try to have a serious, thoughtful comment later.)

  9. BTW, shouldn’t there be some sort of Godwin’s Law equivalent for gratuitous rererences to the Soviet Union?

    “If we ban spam, we’ll be just like the Soviet Union where you coulnd’t get your penis enlarged without government permission!”

  10. Thanks for making me smile this afternoon, Stevo. Lord knows I needed it today…

    Keep up the good work!

  11. i stopped having sympathy when i heard the wedding had 600 guests and 14 people in the wedding party. bridezilla gazed too long into the floral patterned abyss.

  12. The only crime associated with this case is that the big three, Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC refused to drop this story after it was clear that there wasn’t anything worthwhile to report. It seems pretty simple to anybody with a brain she got cold feet and left. Unfortunately since the big three already had their logistics committed to the story I was forced to be without real news (on television, I get most of my nes from the internet but TV is a good background filler) for an entire Saturday. It was just amazing how much they beat the story to death while none of the talking head anchors or their producers realized that at some point the story ceased to be news if it ever was to begin with…

  13. dhex,

    I read it was 14 on each side. 14 bridesmaids and 14 groomsmen. Jesus H. Christ on a popsicle stick…that’s one bigass wedding.

    I’d zip off too. I stated off having a little sympathy for her but then she’s 32 years old and as Ranger noted, she’s way old enough to know better.

    But in the end, I don’t really care about it beyond having a response for the social question “what about that runaway chick from Atlanta…?”

  14. “We showcase missing, young, white, attractive women because our research shows we get more viewers. It’s about beating the competition and ad dollars.”

    I don’t tune into the news for this though I watch desperate housewives or some softcore action on HBO or Showtime….

  15. Stevo, you rule!

    And I will not comment on the matter further, because I don’t really give a damn…

  16. “I read it was 14 on each side. ”

    shit, i’m this close to reversing my stance on the death penalty.

    that’s fucking crazy!!! that’s crazier than running away to vegas and making up a kidnapping story!!!

  17. The tragedy in all this is that the Kentucky Derby field didn’t feature a single horse named Runaway Bride.

  18. If my wife had suggested 14 groomsmen, 14 bridesmaids, and 600 guests, I would have joined a monastery.

    After faking my death at the hands of my worst enemy.

  19. Just a few years ago, it was fashionable to brush off the notion of runaway brides as something “cute.” (Remember that godawful* Julia Roberts flick?) Runaway grooms of course were condemned; nothing charming about leaving the bride in the lurch! It’s refreshing that, at least in this case, the playing field has evened out.

    * Yeah, I know – like there’s any other kind…

  20. I dunno how I could come up with 14 guys. After the first couple, I’d be reduced to coworkers and guys I knew in high school.

  21. maybe that’s why she ran away, brian.

  22. I think this was a story in the first place due to the similarities between this case and the case in Utah where the bride (or wife, I can’t remember) disappeared while jogging and turned out to have been killed by her husband. Also, it drew some similarities to the Scott Peterson case. The media smelled blood with this one, and when it turned out to be nothing, well, they just couldn’t drop it.

    I certainly think the “white person” criticism is being a bit overplayed. I also think the class envy “rich” angle of criticism is being underplayed – we are fascinated when rich people do just about anything, let alone something completely stupid.

  23. I think this whole situation is being overblown by the media. When will the media attention end? There are more important things going on than someone deciding they were not ready to get married.

  24. Ranger: Of course, the kind of adult that still see “running away” as a solution to their problems probably isn’t much more mature than your average 13 year old.

    I don’t know. After our youngest daughter hit 13 (and I don’t use that expression lightly) my wife developed the technique of occasionally running away for the weekend. At the time it seemed a lot more mature than homicide, but maybe you had to be there.

  25. I dunno how I could come up with 14 guys. After the first couple, I’d be reduced to coworkers and guys I knew in high school.

    Not to mention your half of the 600 guests. I?d probably be reduced to posting an open invitation on the H&R message boards. Between all the libertarians and the 150+ Arabs (I?d probably have to dip into third cousins to fill it out), an entire FBI field office would be devoted to monitoring my wedding.

  26. Mo – hell yeah! So when you get married, you have to totally invite the Reasonites! And, of course, your Arab relatives. Can you imagine? The government would be wondering if us libertarians were colluding with some Arab faction(s)! Fuckin’ brilliant! Might be worth all the headaches it would bring just to mess with our overlord…I mean our protectors!

  27. Mo-

    Just remember not to bring in any Syrian musicians from out of town. Passengers on their plane might get nervous.

  28. I think this whole situation is being overblown by the media. When will the media attention end? There are more important things going on than someone deciding they were not ready to get married.

    I don’t really care about the story either, but it started kidnapped victim, which is certainly news. It continued to lying wench that wasted all kinds of police time and money due solely to ignorance and immaturity, still a story.

    It then becomes a debate on whether to hold these people accountable for their actions, even if they’re so stupid that a distressed mind is obvious. Still seems ok to have this discussion as well.

    And of course none of the stories have anything to do with “someone deciding not to get married” because the scenario is much different. As someone else pointed out, at any point had she decided to act like an adult and take responsibility for stopping what she deemed a bad situation, it never would have made the national news.

  29. Mo-

    Will there be open bar?

  30. Mo, even if you don’t have a fiance, I think you should throw a party for 600 Arabs and libertarians.

    I’ll chip in for the airfare for a dozen Syrian musicians.

  31. Considering the fact that the mere existence of an open bar would appall and offend the vast majority of my Muslim family. The answer to that question is, ?Most assuredly yes!? There will also be belly-dancers. Despite being religious conservatives, Muslims seem not to mind half-naked women dance suggestively at their weddings.

    How else do you think you can get 600 people to go a damn wedding?

    Why do I get the feeling that the presence of the Reasonistas would make the event smell like a Phish concert, minus the filth?

  32. Considering the fact that the mere existence of an open bar would appall and offend the vast majority of my Muslim family. The answer to that question is, ?Most assuredly yes!?

    In that case, you should throw the party in Salt Lake City, just to offend even more people.

    The SLC residents probably won’t like the belly dancers either.

  33. Oh, and I take a shower at least once per day, so I won’t be contributing any odor to the event.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.