Does the 'Runaway Bride' deserve to be charged?

May 3, 2005 07:00 by keithkaragan
maybe. maybe just a little.
While the call she made before returning home where she claimed to have been abducted is definitely a criminal act, it seems that most of the noise over this incident seems to stem around the efforts and cost around the search for her. Well, as far as I know taking off is not criminal. Nor is not wanting to be found - at least yet.
I can easily stomach her being charged for her phony 9-1-1 call, but that was after the fact of the searching and the cost and effort of the search should seemingly be chalked up to the possibility of over reaction on the part of the family and investigators.
'She should have called someone when she became aware of the search efforts and let them know she was OK ...' - sure, that would have been the right thing to do, it would have certainly eased the minds of her family and saved a lot of folks the time and effort of the search, but it isn't illegal to decide to take off.
Are we to the point as a society where your whereabouts need to be known at all times, when you must present yourself upon the request of authorities - even when you have committed no crime? Am I the only person that feels this way?
America was founded on personal freedom. The right to move freely without having to ask permission to do so. and while Jennifer Wilbanks is not a pioneer or any such thing, nor is what she did considerate of the feeling of those who love or care for her, these are not requirements to hop a freight train, bus, car, or just plain walk away. She may have disguised herself, hell - she may have traveled under an alias for all I know but it's unlikely that she was heading underground with a new social security number and was going to fall off the edge of the earth. A talented investigator would have tracked her down pretty quickly once she started to spend money and identify herself and that would have happened if this played itself out - but that's really her business in the end. From what I've heard about this story, there wasn't any evidence of foul play in her disappearance.
Maybe I'm really off base but this story seemed to be blown way out of proportion, perhaps it has to do with who she and/or her fiance and/or family are. The wedding that didn't happen was a rather large affair so I can presume that they are well off - and maybe that has some relevance to the media that covered this story. Poor people disappear every day - some against their will, others willfully - we don't hear about these ... especially in NJ if they disappear in another region of the country. Maybe it's the bridal angle, and the emotions that stirs up - I really don't know.
But this seems like another Fox-News type anti-news, sensationalistic story that they (the broader 'they') seek out to deepen the fear and paralyzation of the public. I'm sure the media was convinced that this woman would turn up dead, and if she didn't the ordeal she would have been through would have been par for the news networks fear mongering reporting styles. They got more than they bargained for in this case, a genuine curiosity about why she split, what will happen now in her personal life, and what criminal charges might be leveled against her will stretch this story for maximum mileage. Of course the sensitivity of the situation has been escalated severely due to all the press coverage, and the authorities having egg on their face - Jennifer Wilbanks will pay the price of that, and the news networks will reap the rewards of the situation. Meanwhile, the people that care for Jennifer Wilbanks are probably just happy that she's home and safe.
Remember to present you papers when asked and report to your post at the required time. It might be a good time to watch Soylent Green, Gattaca, or Brazil (or maybe even OutFoxed).
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