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Tuesday, May 03, 2005 

Runaway Bride Charges?

CNN reports that despite runaway bride Jennifer Wilbanks' having made a partial apology, Georgia authorities are still considering charging her for making false statements to police, which, depending upon exactly what they charge her with, could result in a prison sentence of up to five years. As of right now, it is still CNN's top story.

This whole situation highlights two seperate but equally important problems.

The first problem is the media's coverage of the affair. This should not be a major news story. Soon-to-be-married woman disappears into thin air? Certainly a news story. Woman is subsequently found, claims to have been kidnapped but later recants and admits getting cold feet? A news story, for a day. Why this is national rather than regional news I can't fathom, but that's beside the point. The point is, there are much more important stories to be covering. Lynndie England has pled guilty to Abu Ghraib abuse charges, at least one U.S. Marine pilot just died over Iraq and the questions over the killing of Italian agent Nicola Calipari continue. These stories all have real significance, far more than a confused woman who ran away from home. All this, of course, is not unusual of the media, which has taken lately to stories in which little previous interest and no public good exists (Laci Peterson, Terri Schiavo, anyone?).

The second problem is the amount of litigousness (criminal, not civil) that seems to exist here. For every action, there seems to be a legal reaction. In this case, why should an upset woman who gets cold feet and runs away on the eve of her wedding be charged criminally? There is no concern over her re-offending, no lesson for others to learn, and the embarrassment that she is suffering is certainly punishment enough. She was, without question, wrong to do what she did, especially lying to the authorities. But to prosecute her, especially for a felony, seems wildly unnecessary.

This brings to mind when Audrey Seiler disappeared and once they discovered that was a hoax, they wanted to charge her, too. People felt too hurt after the Dru Sjodin case.

I'm sure the cahrges will get dropped, and maybe the Bride will get her own play, much like Audrey.

Yeah, when I first saw (on The Daily Show) that she was being escorted by police, I was like, "is it illegal to leave a groom at the altar these days or what?"

Can I just say again, how much I hate what Big Media has become?

The issue isn't that she did something illegal. Lying to police (she claimed she had been kidnapped when they picked her up) is, as well it should be. My point is that charging her with a crime is unnecessary and that it puts salt in a wound. They should make sure she gets a psychologist, not a lawyer.

I could play the other side and say we can't pick and chose when we will and when we won't enforace laws. But I'm on her side. Believe me, I totally understand the desire to run away from your wedding.

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