Opinionated @ CFE

Making Elizabeth Smart Say Something She Never Said

May
07

Elizabeth Smart recently delivered a speech at a human trafficking symposium at John Hopkins University about her experiences being kidnapped and raped. As she’s done many times before, she shared her feelings at the time that left her feeling trapped with her kidnapper for nine months. There are a number of important lessons we can take away from her experiences. Unfortunately, a lot of people are trying to make her says things she didn’t say to score some political points.

What is abundantly clear is that the way that chastity was taught to Ms. Smart was grossly insensitive to victims of sexual assault. The “chewed gum” analogy simply makes me queasy, and I can see how, with such an indelicate comparison, she would feel worthless after being abused. That’s a tragedy that should be avoidable, especially with the under-developed mind of a teenager.

Where this goes off the rails, however, is with the implication that this has anything to do with abstinence and sex education. In fact, I think it’s been made very clear that Ms. Smart’s remarks had absolutely no political or religious overtones to them:

Ed Smart told Fox 13 his daughter was simply sharing her experiences, speaking for herself as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but she wasn’t trying to make any religious or political statements.

And yet, the progressive media has decided that this is exactly what she did. Locally, a bunch of other left-leaning individuals have chosen to repeat this falsehood. While I get that their attitudes on sexual activity lead them to attack the concept of abstinence, what I don’t get is why any of them would feel the need to explicitly lie about what Ms. Smart said to try and lend more authority to their argument. Unfortunately, I don’t see that anyone perpetuating the lie is going to issue a retraction. At best, we’ll get a mealy-mouthed explanation as to why the mixture of her statements and injected outside opinions is accurate enough that it should stay up.

What this highlights is the supreme importance of going to primary sources when these kinds of stories pop up. You’ll almost always find that what was actually said differs greatly from the sensationalized headlines. This case is no different.

2 Responses to Making Elizabeth Smart Say Something She Never Said

  1. You know, although the chewing gum story is not gospel doctrine, the story is still being used to teach young women both in church and in Mormon schools. I’m familiar with it, and I’m afraid you pointing out what you did may undermine the fact that regardless of who is using this for political gain….the analogy needs to stop.

    Here’s a great piece by Joanna Brooks.
    http://www.religiondispatches.org/dispatches/joannabrooks/7104/did_mormon_morality_teachings_really_make_it_harder_for_elizabeth_smart_to_run/#.UYn9INRIcbc.facebook

  2. Even if you don’t accept the religious reasons for respecting human life via abstinence before and fidelity w/in marriage, you would have to take pause at the presumption that modern birth control makes any “consensual” intimacy no big deal for the “properly” educated.

    Humanity has spent thousands of years more usually protective of unmarried youth, and even now almost nobody feels other than regret about sexual involvement w/ those who didn’t turn out to be a keeper. The whole reason abortion/AIDS/etc are so bound up in the highest level of privacy anxiety is because IT MATTERS who/how/when/etc you get sexual.

    It’s personal on a level that abstinence education is as common sense as measures to prevent identity theft and avoiding posting regrettable pics on Facebook.

    Even more so youth will benefit from a sense that intimacy belongs to the union of marriage, and so to go w/ the “it’s my body” cliche’ is to justify embezzling — just because you are w/in arms reach doesn’t mean you should take what doesn’t really belong to you… it’s wisdom to consider how you would hope your eventual best match is taking care of their half of the someday mutual investment.

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