March 23, 2008

Elizabeth Smart: Hey, You Brought It Up

A post sure to offend everyone, conservatives and liberals, parents and pedophiles.

No one asked me if I wanted to see the docudrama that was Elizabeth Smart, incessantly for  almost a year, at the expense of a thousand other more relevant news stories.  Fine.  Can you at least tell me how it ends?

Elizabeth Smart: "If someone comes up to me and says, 'we prayed for you,' I say, 'thank you very much, we couldn't have done it without everyone's prayers and support.'   Who's "we" and what did you do?

Elizabeth's boyfriend never asks about the abduction.  He just ignores 20% of her teen years.

And the mother:  "In order to move forward, we have to let the past go."

I think, "why?"  I think that these words can't be emotionally connected to Brian Mitchell (the kidnapper.)  They must link to Elizabeth.  It sounds like forgiveness not to a man for taking their daughter, but to their daughter after finally coming home.


So that's my opinion, anyway, uninformed, instinctual, semantic.  In my worldview bad people facilitate bad behavior from otherwise neutral people.  But what I think isn't really important since I don't have the facts. It's easy for me to speculate that she wanted to go, or at least was ambivalent about escape.  Certainly you'd expect Mitchell's defense to suggest this. (1) Fortunately, through the magic of trial, we get to hear all of this evidence, we don't have to speculate.   

But wait, hold on a second: where have kidnappers Mitchell and Barzee been for the last five years, since they were caught?  In jail, awaiting trial.  I'm sorry, let me rattle my GPS-- for some reason it doesn't show that I've been teleported to Russia.  How is it that someone can be in jail for five years without a trial?

I'm no liberal-- if execution is what they deserve, let's get on with it.  But in no way is it logical or ethical to have non-convicted people in jail for years, no trial in sight.   How can anyone justify this?  Oh, yeah: psychiatry.  They're "not competent to proceed" with trial and are "recommitted" for a period of X days (and renewable indefinitely after that) for treatment  to restore their competency.

Now, there are a number of intelligent explanations for why such a system benefits  defendants and serves justice, and they are all wrong. (2)


And so I am left with the suspicion that this is-- I'll say it-- a stonewall.  Or a whitewash, whichever.  No one in Salt Lake really wants a trial because no one really wants to know what really happened.  And I have to wonder if there wasn't the backest of back room deals to keep the story suppressed, leaving Mitchell in jail forever (but not getting the death penalty) so that the truth need never be told.

I wasn't there.  But if my 15 yo daughter was kidnapped at gunpoint and forced to... and they  catch the guy, I don't think my response would be the same as Ed Smart's: "I just wish he would take a plea deal so this could all be over."  I'm not saying he has to pull a Ransom, in which Mel Gibson goes on TV to announce that the ransom money will be instead be paid as a bounty on the heads of the kidnappers--

-- but no anger?  None?  No desire for any vengeance?  I know, I know, he's religious.  Me, too.


It calls to mind David Chappelle's routine, "How old is 15, really?" in which he observes that if 15 is old enough for a black male to be responsible enough to get the death penalty, it probably is old enough for a white girl to try and escape, or at least not go with your kidnappers to a public party, with burka and beer.  Chappelle also observes it's old enough to get peed on by R. Kelley, which isn't relevant here, but funny anyway.

I know, I know, she's only 15-- terrified, Stockholm Syndrome, etc.  And I have no right to judge her (in)actions since I am not her, I didn't live her life. Though that brings us back to the black teen: why is fear an acceptable explanation for poor judgment, but anger is not?  (Hint: they're both not.)

How old is 15?  Well, not old enough to get executed in the U.S. anymore.  That's a good thing, but it was decided for the wrong reasons.  When Chris Simmons was 17 he broke into Shirley Crook's house, tied and gagged her, and threw her into a river.  He did it, but the Supreme Court decided he wasn't accountable for it, only because of his age.

The Supreme Court unilaterally decided that juvenile executions were wrong.  Awesome.  On the one hand we have the old conservative refrain of an activist judiciary doing whatever it (and France) wants, and on the other the liberal refrain that Congress lacks the balls to simply do the right thing, ever (e.g. make a law banning juvenile executions.) I guess that's a conservative refrain as well.

One of the reasons, other than France, that the Court banned juvenile executions is that science has evidence that the adolescent brain is immature, and thus cannot be as accountable as an adult brain.  Which makes the France argument not nearly as stupid by comparison.

If you're using the science argument, than the age cutoff is inappropriate, antithetical to science-- period.  If science says your brain is immature, then science should be checking each person's brain for immaturity.   It can't generalize and say all 17 year old brains are immature-- you have to check each defendant individually.  And if there's no reliable way to check, then it's not clear how you knew they were all immature in the first place.  And if its immaturity alone that is important, than that opens the door for a lot of other reasons for immaturity.

You have to be consistent-- either we're doing science, in which case we're looking at a spectrum of immaturity that can occur any time for any number or reasons, or we are not using it because it isn't complete.

Psychiatry really excels at butting in where it is neither wanted nor needed.  The moral argument for banning executions is entirely sufficient: "you know what?  Shut up. We're not executing kids.  Go to hell."  But, instead, it turns to make believe science: "there's some evidence that the brains of adolescents are different than adults."  Really?  So are hormone levels-- is that relevant?  Why is it less relevant?  And this "brain" you speak of: it's large, no?  Which parts are different?  Do you actually know what those parts do?

Psychiatry has no business here, but here it is anyway, with its trite observations projected as an evolving science.  It is, as Pauli said, "not even wrong."  Only psychiatry has the power to be wrong from both political viewpoints.

You know where else you find brain immaturity?  Pedophilia.  So if having sex with a 15 year old is pedophilia (definitional) we can just generalize that this pedophile, like all pedophiles, has brain immaturity.  And so can't be exectuted.  Though this defense probably isn't necessary for Mitchell and Barzee, as they likely have both the mental retardation exception and the soon to hit mental illness exemption.

There's some irony that 15 is too young to expect a girl to try and escape, but apparently it is old enough to consent to a polygamous marriage (with court approval, of course.)  Oh, I know, polygamay is illegal in Utah.  Sure.


I get this kind of idiocy from parents, as well, especially concerning marijuana. I say, "I'm not going to let my teens smoke marijuana," and I get these smirks back, "you won't be able to control kids from doing what they're going to do.   They're going to experiment, you won't be able to stop them."  Really?  It's possible I won't be able to stop them, but is it a foregone conclusion?  Are parents completely powerless?

Seems hard to believe that parents have "no" control, but at the same time tell me Elizabeth was entirely under Mitchell's control.


More than a few people have observed that when there's a story in the media about a kidnapped girl, she's invariably white.  Some, but not a lot, have observed that when it's a kidnapped girl who escapes on her own-- she's black.  This seems to support my observation that minority kids are generally considered responsible for their situations (e.g. can be executed; can escape) while white kids aren't (can't be executed, can't escape.) Maybe this isn't a bias, but real: perhaps minorities learn, are raised, observe, whatever, that they have no one to rely on but themselves, their wits.  While for whites, there's always a higher authority to appeal to.  Or maybe this is the bias that the media has, in reporting these kinds of stories.


While we're on the subject: are the Smarts, the cops and the media going to give Richard Ricci's survivors a formal apology?  You know, for giving him a stroke?


(1). It can be suggested that whether or not Elizabeth wanted to go with them is irrelevant, as she is a minor and can't consent.  Maybe.  Aggravated kidnapping, one of the charges, gets you the death sentence.  So you know what?  It's relevant.

(2.) "Justice is not served sending to trial people not able to assist in their own defense."  That could be a valid reason, except that this is rarely the reason competency evals are done.  In other words, competency evals aren't information, they are tactics.  As in, "we're not prepared to defend this guy yet, let's postpone for 30 days by... oh, yeah, he seems wacky."

So, yes, if your name is John Dupont, after killing a wrestler in your house you might have some useful information to give to your highly paid lawyer(s) which could help in your defense.  However, if your name is, say, Darnell Jones,  then it is more likely that your (in)ability to aid in your own defense is irrelevant since your public defender doesn't actually care what you have to say: he's just going to suggest you plead guilty and take time served, whether you're eating feces or communing with thrones, or not.  (You want to guess if Mr. Jones is a real person?)

(2b.)  Some have argued that lingering incompetently in a pre-trial jail indefinitely is better than lingering in a post-trial death row cellblock.  So Mitchell and his lawyer came up with this scheme to stay incompetent.  Well, a) why is such a loophole allowed? If society wants the death penalty, there shouldn't be all these back doors to avoiding it.  Otherwise, simply get rid of the death penalty (which we should, IMHO.)  Have some fortitude, conviction, don't play games with human life.  Either we are executing people, or not, no more escape hatches for some and not for others.  b) If he did was able to put this scheme together, then he probably isn't incompetent to stand trial, which means the whole thing is a farce;  c) if he is "faking," then why isn't the treating psychiatrist, who is responsible for medicating him back to competency, not detecting the faking?  Why doesn't he say, "nothing here to treat?" Oh: Mitchell's not been medicated in 5 years.  So is the treating psychiatrist in on it, or is the court recommitting him despite the clinical assessment of the psychiatrist?


Huh? This is a bizarrely st... (Below threshold)

March 24, 2008 2:17 AM | Posted by Nathaniel: | Reply

Huh? This is a bizarrely stream-of-consciousness post.

Half of the paragraphs, I'm not even sure what it is you're trying to convey, and the other half are filled with rhetorical questions that seemingly criticize society for not being extreme enough in categorizing every situation into comical black and white oversimplifications.

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Okay, a little tangential, ... (Below threshold)

March 24, 2008 3:36 AM | Posted by Kevin: | Reply

Okay, a little tangential, maybe, but I followed you entirely. Want my take on it? The collective we does not feel comfortable with the death penalty. Many are consciously conflicted over it; many more, yet, unconsciously struggle with it (reaction formation as a defense? Dad's lack seeming lack of anger?)

So, ultra-sensationalized case, and in wriggles pyschiatry's ugly head. Although, pragmatically, this is a symptom of the criminal justice system that allows for this tomfoolery. But, I think we (collectively, again) want psychiatry coming in and further confounding these cases that we don't want to face.

Age of consent? Age of accountability regarding the death penalty? Who the heck wants to make those calls? Listen, if the shrinks come in and talk about the immature brain, maybe even toss in something about "myelination," and we all collectively sigh. Psychiatry's psychobabble-purported-as-science allows us to abdicate ourselves! If it were true science (psychiatry applied in these cases, not as a whole--I'm not entirely condemning my profession), it wouldn't get us off the hook from having to make tough moral decisions.

Once the expert witness can show a grand jury some as-of-yet discovered neuroimaging study: "See, the defendant's maturity lobe is clearly intact and therefore fit for trial" -- then we're in trouble. When the time comes where psychiatry can lend true scientific input, chronological age will disappear (as it is a wholly artificial distinction) and things will start to become really murky. Tell me you haven't met a 24-year-old who you know is less mature than some 14-year-old you know? What happens when that je ne sais quoi that makes one responsible for his or her actions becomes visible on some fancy functional imaging study? Things to ponder.

How's that for stream of conscious?

J. Joyce.

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It's not like all white gir... (Below threshold)

March 24, 2008 4:27 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

It's not like all white girls are helpless.I can name a white girl who escaped from her kidnapper all by herself:MicKenzie Smith.Then there's Elizabeth Shoaf,who snatched her kidnapper's cell phone & text-messaged her mom.The Smart's don't owe Ricci's widow an apology.They didn't cause Ricci's brain hemmorhage.& they never blamed Elizabeth for what happened to her either.You seem to think her kidnappers gave her a choice in what she could do.They didn't.Fear can be a powerful motivator but it can also be a powerful inhibitor & in her case it was the latter.Fear isn't a justifiable reason not to do anything that will get you killed by your kidnapper?Elizabeth isn't the only person who chose self-preservation over death in that type of situation.Remember Shawn Hornbeck?Jessyca Mullenberg?Patty Hearst?Steven Staynor?You need to READ about the Smart case & Stockholm Syndrome & understand what a psychological leash is.

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I guess I can't, for one th... (Below threshold)

March 24, 2008 4:50 AM | Posted, in reply to Kevin's comment, by Nathaniel: | Reply

I guess I can't, for one thing, decide which side of this whole maturity debate we're supposed to be demonizing and which side we're supposed to be embracing.

I suspect most people would be happy to find the magic neurological connections that we could measure and weigh and point at as the difference between a child and adult. But that's a long way off, and in the meantime we...what? Ignore the certain knowledge we have that children are not yet adults, even though we can't say precisely at which nanosecond that transformation is complete for a specific individual? So what, we either execute 2 year olds for being disruptive or have to let 40 year old dyslexics go free for mass murder? Are those really our only options until the day we have absolute perfect knowledge of all human biology?

You just seem to be flailing around a lot, complaining about white girls and the supreme court and defendants being unable to understand the charges against them and dammit somebody should do something to fix the whole world tomorrow because Mormons are weird and why won't those darn kids get off my lawn!?

Is there some sort of thesis here or is this whole post just a rorschach test to see what people pick out and respond to?

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First off, I don't think we... (Below threshold)

March 24, 2008 5:07 AM | Posted, in reply to Nathaniel's comment, by Kevin: | Reply

First off, I don't think we're the first bunch of folks to sit around debating the interrelations between mental health, developmental maturity, and responsibility for one's actions. I think this topic lends itself to tangential thinking because it resonates on so many fronts. The case involves all the issues we've been discussing, but in addition there's religious and racial aspects that have been brought up.

I think as psychiatrists, we tend to hear about these cases and tend to "go off" a bit, because ultimately we come out with egg on our faces. (Even though the majority of us will never willfully enter into this forensic madness.) So in a way, I think you're right, it is a bit of a rarschach. Any sane response to hearing about a story like this is a complex response -- messy. Speaking for myself, sometimes I feel the need to scream that these sensationalized cases with some mental health twist can not simply be attributed to some DSM diagnosis. When you start trying to explain the multitude of other factors, you inevitably start bringing in a lot of other issues that don't make their way into our sound-bite culture. Which makes me thankful for this medium where we can feel free to nonsensically rant away.

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Ms. Smart's parents have to... (Below threshold)

March 24, 2008 10:37 AM | Posted by B: | Reply

Ms. Smart's parents have to forgive her and not speak of her confinement. If they don't, they are acknowledging the possibility/fact that she may not be a virgin, and therefore is 'fouled' in the eyes of their religion.

If she is thus 'fouled', she is no longer eligible to be married in her church's 'Temple', and be afforded all of the 'benefits' and 'rights' of her chosen religion.

Like the rest of your post, everything comes down to what a person's belief system is, and where one 'draws the line' within it.

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"Mitchell's not been med... (Below threshold)

March 24, 2008 1:20 PM | Posted by Stephany: | Reply

"Mitchell's not been medicated in 5 years. So is the treating psychiatrist in on it, or is the court recommitting him despite the clinical assessment of the psychiatrist?"

1. No treatment to gain so-called ability back to competency to stand trial is loss of civil liberties if in fact the psychiatrist has deemed mental illness.

2. The Smarts would rather keep all of this under the rug so they can continue to live in denial.

3. Mr.Smart appeared plastic, fake, phony and never showed appropriate anger and rage and what happened to his daughter; his honey-coated talks with the press were sickening and so is the "we couldn't have made it w/out you" BS about the prayers and faceless people who probably never prayed at all.

4. If the Smarts do not face reality, and Elizabeth especially, it will end up coming back full force in her adult life, once she stops being continually brain washed by her parents and her parents choice of religion they placed on her when she was born.

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In your primer on pedophili... (Below threshold)

March 24, 2008 10:43 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

In your primer on pedophilia, you refer to "he regresses to a pregenital sexuality" to describe regressed pedophiles. Yet here, you say, " So if having sex with a 15 year old is pedophilia (definitional) ... ." I'm assuming you can't be post-pubescent and the target of a pedophile.

Is there an age when the target is too old for the criminal to be a pedophile? Or do you think that depends on race? Sorry for my confusion.

Alone's response: no, I was making fun of the semantics. Pedophilia of a 6 year old is obviously different than a 15 year old (right?) yet they're still "pedophilia." And psychiatry loves to make gross (as in nauseating) generalizations, like "pedophiles have lower IQs."

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There may be another reason... (Below threshold)

March 25, 2008 5:46 PM | Posted by AK: | Reply

There may be another reason why the kidnappers are mouldering in jail.

Lets look at the social context. Utah, with Mormonism as the state religion, as it were.

The LDS ended up in Utah, because it started out as a polygamist sect. To become respectable, the 'official' Mormon church had to renounce the practice, but its roots and that of teenaged girls being pushed into marriage to older and powerful men, is part of the hidden family history that the LDS and State of Utah would prefer to ignore.

The LDS was forced to renounce polygamy, but to this day there are still plenty of deviant polygamist Mormons out there, perpetrating teen marriages, and Utah turns a mostly blind eye to this.

So...if the State of Utah took a definitive position that it was wrong for Mitchell to coerce 15 year old Elizabeth Smart into going with him, later on, and were to get off its ass and put Mitchell on trail, they'd then have to face the question, 'Why are you going after Mitchell and not taking a more aggressive stand against the the many, many polygamists who are out there forcing teenaged girls into marriage---and burdening the state's welfare rolls with payments to support all these kids?'

Rather than open this can of worms, they prefer to let Mitchell stay in jail.

Just my guess.

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"I'm no liberal-- if execut... (Below threshold)

March 25, 2008 9:20 PM | Posted by Mike: | Reply

"I'm no liberal-- if execution is what they deserve, let's get on with it."


"Otherwise, simply get rid of the death penalty (which we should, IMHO.)"

Which of your humble opinions are you thinking of now, or is only one of them humble enough to believe?

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My main concern in this cas... (Below threshold)

March 26, 2008 6:02 AM | Posted by Obdulantist: | Reply

My main concern in this case is the effect that the apparently endless avalanche of intense public scrutiny is going to have on Ms Smart in the longer term? Seems to me if she is going to have any real chance of recovering* from her experience, it needs to be done in private.

*For want of a better word.

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Contrary to what someone po... (Below threshold)

April 27, 2008 11:14 AM | Posted by Arlo: | Reply

Contrary to what someone posted earlier, the Smarts clearly do owe Ricci's family an apology. They may not have caused his hemmorage, but they did push police to arrest and charge him with Elizabeth's abduction, and this was after he came forward on his own to offer any help he could. Thus, they are clearly responsible for the fact that an innocent man died in jail, and their apparent lack of remorse only shows that they deserve all the pain they went through in losing their daughter.

As for the matter of Elizabeth's "willingness" to go with her kidnapper, the kidnapper used a gun to take her, and while she was with her younger sister, so she probably felt she had no choice. She was also forcibly held for more than a month before she went with her kidnappers willingly (after Stockholm Syndrome had set in).

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I'm afraid your understandi... (Below threshold)

May 1, 2008 6:01 AM | Posted, in reply to B's comment, by Douglas Cootey: | Reply

I'm afraid your understanding of Mormon doctrine isn't quite as solid as you think it is. Whatever may be going through the minds of the Smarts, there is no doctrine of being 'fouled' in our church. If a girl is raped, she's a victim of a violent crime. That's not her fault and we counsel her as a victim, not a culprit. If she's pregnant, she can even have an abortion. Quite modern of us, no?

If she is not guilty of a sexual sin, then when she sits down in front of her Bishop (followed by the Stake President - two interviews are required for a temple recommend) and he asks her the set questions (every one is asked the same questions), when she answers in the same way that you would imagine Snow White would answer - Tada! Temple Recommend. If she is asked if she has ill will towards anybody and she says "no", even if she's lying it isn't the Bishop's place to call her on it unless he'd seen her out the local Fox channel screaming for the castration then slow death of Mitchell.

The Bishop would be more concerned if she'd been knocking the boots with her fiancé than what happened to her when she was 15 years old and kidnapped from her house at knife point.

Douglas Cootey
The Splintered Mind - Overcoming AD/HD & Depression With Lots Of Humor And Attitude

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Stephany ~ Harsh. And ill i... (Below threshold)

May 1, 2008 6:48 AM | Posted by Douglas Cootey: | Reply

Stephany ~ Harsh. And ill informed. The Elizabeth Smart kidnapping hit our community like an atomic bomb. There were prayers in church, prayers on TV, prayers in the Smart's neighborhood, prayers in our homes. I know I prayed. There was little else my family and I could do.

AK ~ Not even sure where to begin. So many errors. Like polygamy began years after the church was formed. The Saints had been driven out of many communities, their homes burned to the ground, simply because they believed differently than other Christians and long before polygamy was a factor. As for becoming respectable, one major tenant of our religion is to obey the laws of the land. The Church tried to fight the feds in the courts for their freedom of religion, but when the feds threatened to confiscate church lands and revoke Utah's statehood, the writing was on the wall. The fight was over. As for "deviant polygamist Mormons" they are not Mormons. They are fundamentalists whose belief systems are nothing like ours. They felt the prophet had fallen when he made the proclamation discontinuing polygamy. Families wanting to stay together fled up into Canada and down into Mexico. They went underground and changed over time.

However, if I were to announce to my wife that I had taken another wife, after she took the kids and left me and filed for divorce the Church would excommunicate me. I would also likely be prosecuted. It's against the law, you know. The State of Utah breaks up polygamist rings all the time. That's why the FLDS fled to Texas. While Warren Jeffs fled authorities his followers set up camp in Texas. Once Jeffs was caught, Arizona and Utah fought over who got to bust Jeffs hiney in court first. Utah won. That trial is still going on. Everyone I know is sickened by the polygamist lifestyle as it is practiced down South, including some polygamists I know who escaped.

Now for some facts that might cast new light on this case for some of you.

Currently Wanda Barzee is in limbo. The Utah Supreme Court told the state to hold off involuntary medicating just last month on the 8th. They are awaiting word from the US Supreme Court to see if they will hear the case. The state prosecutors are chomping at the bit to close this sordid chapter and are frustrated with all the delays. But then again, Barzee is wackier than Punchy the kid serving drinks in Hawaii. She and Mitchell dropped acid together and she lived under Mitchell's bizarre edicts for years. Local info on Barzee

Mitchell has the uncomfortable habit of bursting out into song or quoting scripture whenever he is brought into court. He is so disruptive that he is usually removed. The most recent article I found is this one, which is six months old. His case languishes just like Barzee's. The prosecution wants to involuntarily medicate so they can proceed, but the defense has successfully stalled this in the higher courts.

As for Ricci, blame the Salt Lake Keystone Cops and the press, not Smart. That was a terrible shame. Many of us felt they were barking up the wrong tree and should leave the guy alone. I wish they had.

Fascinating post. I hope you don't mind my corrections and updated information. Many of us scratch our heads and wonder why Elizabeth stayed with Mitchell. We wonder why she didn't flee. But she was 15, and obedient to adults, and scared, and she adapted to her new lifestyle. She was not a 15 year old street punk living a life of violence. She was a sheltered white girl who lived in a gated community up in the hills. When she finally saw her chance to escape she took it. We're all glad for that. I just wish the Smarts weren't so private after such a public event. Many of us need closure, too.

Douglas Cootey
The Splintered Mind - Overcoming AD/HD & Depression With Lots Of Humor And Attitude

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The man who wrote this arti... (Below threshold)

May 30, 2008 4:08 PM | Posted by N/A: | Reply

The man who wrote this article is a bastard

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i thought you provided a ve... (Below threshold)

June 12, 2008 3:59 PM | Posted by shell: | Reply

i thought you provided a very good arguement. if my daughter was kidnapped and used like she was then we as taxpayers would save a lot of money. he would not be here to stand trial or to take up a room at a hospital. we have spent billions on people that plead insanity or i didn't know any better. also, i wanted to comment that i don't think it is a black or white thing. it is a culture thing. if a white or black boy/girl from the projects got caught doing something wrong and they can't afford an attorney then they are used as examples. but if they come from good stock then it gets swept under the rug. just my opinion though. my prayers are with smarts family. maybe they should all enroll in a self defense class.

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you sociopath. didn't you d... (Below threshold)

June 12, 2008 5:06 PM | Posted by mary: | Reply

you sociopath. didn't you do ANY research? this is all your o-p-i-n-i-o-n dumba**

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She can get married in the ... (Below threshold)

June 13, 2008 1:22 AM | Posted by Teresa: | Reply

She can get married in the temple if she does not have sex for one year prior to the wedding.

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Thought provoking article; ... (Below threshold)

June 15, 2008 8:33 AM | Posted by Charles: | Reply

Thought provoking article; very interesting and quite insightful.

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What was written was intell... (Below threshold)

June 17, 2008 7:59 AM | Posted by Bry: | Reply

What was written was intellectual in many ways, but, not well thought out. Several issues that were incorporated seemed out of place and definitions of words were used incorrectly. I say this only because if a well-intentioned article (or at least one that wants to get attention) is to be written, it ought to be correct at least in grammar and flow of topic.
The article is the writer's opinion (as a reply to a previous post) and although there are parts that (what I would consider to be) a bit uneducated and somewhat rambling, it is the writer's right to say these one is hurt.
The comments regarding race--be careful about that. If you look more carefully at statistics regarding what it seems you are talking about, the issues actually focus around who the CAPTORS are, not the children. Take a forensic psychology class sometime--very informative and interesting. Also, focus on where these kidnappings, etc. take place. Compare south central L.A. to the O.C.-- Very different demographics and very different surroundings in which to gain socialization and survival skills. Often, the captor is the same ethnicity or race as the child.

Brief statement regarding the comments made about the LDS church. To go back and forth on the matter of whether one can marry in the temple if or how long after they have engaged in sex is a moot point. There have been exceptions made in every way. The LDS church (this is neither good nor bad) knows that there are things in this world that happen and rules need to be examined. Counseling happens. Good things can come of leaders making decisions that are out of the ordinary. The Church is not in the stone age. As far as the state of affairs in Utah, I think it would be wise for the church to come together on this. With required tithes and missions doing very well oversees, we ought to start helping Americans at some point.

The reason for ages used in the court can be changed depending on the situation. This really has nothing to do with Elizabeth's case. It is not that "she was too young to try to escape". A 50 year old woman could be put in a situation where she was unable to leave (not physically, mentally). She actually came out of this better than most people would have--most who develop Stockholm Syndrome don't necessarily fear their captors (Elizabeth does). There have been male/female adults affected by this from the Holocaust, being held on airplanes and some POWs. Some think courts need to change age laws despite everything that happens with "adolescents". A brain doesn't actually completely develop until a person is in their 20's (later for males than females).
One more point. Many times, defendants may be held in jail/prison psyc ward (if needed) based on their defense attorneys wishes. They might be the one postponing repeatedly. They have been known to do this. I do not live in Utah, but, defense attorneys have the right to try to draw the process out. If it was being pressed hard enough, they would be in court based on due process. Also, not many defendants are found to be incompetent at trial. They don't have to be able to do much to prove that they are able to assist in their own defense. Speaking of Elizabeth's captors, found incompetent or not, neither is insane (in court terms).

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The essay is exquisite. </... (Below threshold)

June 29, 2008 3:52 AM | Posted by Alan: | Reply

The essay is exquisite.

The insights regarding Elizabeth Smart are not only thought-provoking, they're courageous. One doesn't need to condemn the young girl (young lady now) in order to broach the important question of escape versus perplexing acquiescence.

Thankfully she came through that experience alive and healthy. But there's something just not quite right there. And if I'm correct about that, and that "something not right" is an affectation of Elizabeth Smart as an individual, I'm betting she resembles her father in that regard.

Watch all the interviews. Listen intently and look into Ed and Elizabeth Smart's eyes. I'm not suggesting that they're disingenuous, but still much more than a little cagey and eerily weird. Focus particularly on Ms. Smart's multiple denials of her identity to a uniformed police officer on the day she was found. And oh yeah, her vocal concern to the police for the well being of her nomadic fellow travelers. This time together wasn't four or five years, it was nine months.

Your (TLP) other observations were entertaining and appreciated as well. I hope to tune in some more.

Everybody be well.

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Or, perhaps he simply has .... (Below threshold)

June 29, 2008 3:59 AM | Posted, in reply to N/A's comment, by Alan: | Reply

Or, perhaps he simply has ... the courage of candid observation.

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Elizabeth Smart could not h... (Below threshold)

October 11, 2009 11:42 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Elizabeth Smart could not have had Stockholm syndrome immediately after her abduction, when she heard her family calling her and didn't answer nor tried to escape even though she just had to run . Stockholm syndrome is a long term reaction to torture or extremely bad treatments. When she was found, she tried to avoid being recognized by police and later said she was the "girl who ran away".

Ed Smart was happy to find that his daughter was in a great shape, tanned and "became a real woman".

All this stopped when they got a lawyer. From that point, they refused to give more details and even now, avoid answering questions. Especially questions about her wish to escape.

She appears unharmed in all aspects of her life. Nothing to do with other abductees such as Natash Kampusch for example.

It is probably very convenient to them that her abductor is deemed uncompetent to testifies. Even if in the end , he does, his credibility will be low. He could say that she actually enjoyed escaping her sheltered life and believed she was married to him; Was she raped then? She was naive, apparently not smart, impressed by his religious zeal, she might just have believed him and consented.

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so why does elizabeth smart... (Below threshold)

March 20, 2010 11:48 PM | Posted by lalala: | Reply

so why does elizabeth smart get all the attention anyway? the truth is shes ok but theres alot of others who arent. its frickin obvious black teens who go missing rate 2nd. or anyone whos not white and pretty or idealistic for that example. i mean shes ok, good, but this is old stuff and we need to focus on others.

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Did Lewis Black write this?... (Below threshold)

October 29, 2010 12:18 AM | Posted by Reay: | Reply

Did Lewis Black write this?...It's Fucking Brilliant.

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I dont really think Elizabe... (Below threshold)

September 14, 2012 5:15 PM | Posted by marian: | Reply

I dont really think Elizabeth Smart was kidnapped

|SXS| post this exelent comment in another wesit and now every one need to rethink tha her kidnapping was a lie. An iniccent guy Ricci was held in prison and die. But God always said what goes around comes aroun!!! And what you do here,here you pay.

03-14-03, 01:17 PM

There are too many problems with her story.

The first, and most obvious reason, is that not many people disapear for nine months and then suddenly turn up unharmed and completely healthy. On top of that, there are now problems with the story. Elizabeth claimed that she was kidnapped at knife-point, while her sister (who witnessed the whole thing) was quite adamant that the man had a gun.

On top of that, she's said that she could hear people calling her name in the first few days after the incident. One would assume that she could have made a break for it and yelled for help. Someone would have heard her (if she could hear them) and ran for her.

A car she was travelling in was stopped twice in the nine months that she was gone. Both times she gave the cops a fake name. She easily could have jumped out of the car and told the cops who she was and what was happening.

She also went out in public many times. She easily could have made a scene, and with all those witnesses, the kidnappers would have just ran off. Leaving her free.

She also stayed in an apartment one block away from a police station. The landlord stated that it would have been easy for her to leave and run to the cops any time she wanted to.

When the cops finally found her, she told the cops for half an hour that she wasn't Elizabeth Smart. She also refused to take off her wig and veil that was disguising her. The cop finally made her remove her wig and veil to see who she was. Elizabeth even told the cops that she "Knows who you think I am. You think I'm that Elizabeth Smart girl. Well, I'm not".

When the cops saw her and were trying to rescue her, she was busy proclaiming not to be who she said she was. Doesn't sound like someone that wanted to get home to me.

I also don't buy the whole "brainwashing" explanation. I don't even believe in brainwashing, much less believe that homeless drifters know enough about human psychology to brainwash an intelligent and astute teenage girl.

She voluntarily left, and when they prove it, she needs to be punished. She should somehow have to repay all the lost time that law enforcement spent looking for her.

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i know it's been years, and... (Below threshold)

June 8, 2013 6:39 AM | Posted by me: | Reply

i know it's been years, and you may not hold the same opinion you express in this article. however, i can offer a point of view which you cannot ever have or understand: i was abducted at 13 by friends (strangers to me) of the father i barely knew & went years without hearing from. not only that, i was taken to mexico where i was held for almost exactly a month. it was pure hell, and my younger sister was with me. the situation is obviously not the same, but some parts of the story which most people can't understand are COMPLETELY understandable to me! i'm 26, and have many regrets in life... some about my inability, at 13, to protect my sister during that time. but one thing i do NOT regret is allowing myself to feel what i feel. whether that be forgiveness, simply wanting to move on regardless of what that meant, anger, hatred, whatever, it was okay to feel those things. so to judge Elizabeth - or ANY victim - is simply wrong. remember, you are expecting a NORMAL REACTION in the most EXTRAORDINARY SITUATION which is the furthest thing from normal possible. all sense of logic is suspended, and for awhile, it's all you can do to grasp that this has actually happened. especially when you are dealing with CHILDREN who are not as daring/bold and who see themselves as inferior to an adult as far as strength, speed, etc., escape seems impossible. death threats feel like promises, and the idea of being alone in a foreign country (or any strange place) seems worse than being with someone - at least those people have some interest in keeping you alive for awhile longer.

so to you, and all those who commented in support of your opinions & views... be blissfully unaware. continue to be ignorant of the reality of this experience. because if you can grasp its horror, you will be scarred in a way you never knew possible.

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Reading you is like reading... (Below threshold)

May 27, 2014 7:19 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Reading you is like reading William S. Burroughs. (Me: Major in Critical Theory from UCIRVINE (YEAHAH!!!!!). You shall go down in History.But then thats another conversation altogether.

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