CrimeNews & MediaOdd

The Story Changes…And the Crowd Goes Wild!

It’s quite amazing to see the reaction on AOL’s message boards (Keyword: News Community, click “Crime & Courts” link) about the 20-year-old Wisconsin college student who was found alive after a four-day disappearance, and the follow-up story that her claims are no longer being considered credible by police who are investigating the incident.

There are scores of them who doubted her story. A few of them were convinced from the start that her story didn’t make sense. Some of them were so sure, in fact, that they held nothing back in denouncing her as either a “nutcase” or “psychotic.” For reasons I cannot understand, they now seem to be reveling in their shrewd, early observations, as if they’ve won the weekly football pool!

Some of these armchair detectives based their theories on the notion that she was found without life-threatening injuries. How, they ask, could someone be kidnapped at knife-point and not have life-threatening injuries? “Life-threatening injuries” are those which, if not treated immediately, will result in death. Life-threatening injuries would include gunshot wounds, stab wounds, internal bleeding, etc. But the absence of “life-threatening” injuries does not mean she had NO injuries, as some have assumed. A kidnapping victim can be struck, even beaten, by an assailant without receiving a “life-threatening” injury. Elizabeth Smart was found without “life-threatening injuries.”

Others said her story didn’t hold water because she wasn’t raped. Not all kidnappings are about rape. There are cases in which people are abducted for other reasons, including ransom, and that a sexual assault does not automatically occur.

Then there are some of the posters who are really “out there.”

A few claim that if the student had been black instead of white, no one would have cared about her disappearance. I can’t relate to this one: when I heard a 20-year-old college student had gone missing, I didn’t ask what color she was, it just seemed like an interesting story. But I suppose there are those — of both races, to be sure — who enjoy making race an issue in everything. I just wonder if those who do so realize that they are being racist, too?

Others claim she was just out for attention, and that she knew “the media would hype the story.” They fail to mention the fact that their own obsession with the story is why the media would focus attention on it to begin with, but that’s another story.

The most outrageous post I’ve seen so far, made after news that the student had changed her story, is written by someone who claims that the student deserves to be raped for lying. No one deserves to be raped, not even someone who would say something so cruel as cruel as that! These people need to talk to a rape victim and ask her if she felt she deserved what she went through. Then talk about punishment.

It makes me wonder why people are so obsessed with the story, and why they felt such a need to be right in thinking that her story was bogus. The posts don’t say much about our society, or our capacity for compassion for our fellow man. Let’s hope they’re not representative of a large segment of our population.

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 28 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.