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Elizabeth Smart and Who Shot J.R.
by Patrick Bryson
18 March 2003

Ed Smart's detractors accused him of frequenting gay bars and viewing child pornography, while Elizabeth's critics found her behavior "illogical."  To the critics, Elizabeth Smart's kidnapping was just another form of entertainment.

Elizabeth Smart has been found, but compassion and respect are still missing, at least in some people.

Elizabeth Smart, as the whole country knows, is the 14-year-old girl abducted from her bedroom at knife point nine months ago. She was found Tuesday at a bus stop 15 miles from her home in Salt Lake City, dressed in a veil, a wig and being held by two street scum, one who calls himself Emanuel.

For a parent, the nightmare experienced by the Smart family is overwhelming. A child gone and who knows where. It's the type of thing that makes you want to keep your kids in a storage locker surrounded by the United States Marine Corps.

For some, however, the grief of the Smart family didn't matter. The whereabouts of Elizabeth didn't matter. They only thing that mattered was that the kidnapping gave them an opportunity to massage their comic imaginations and display their hollow souls.

Elizabeth hadn't been gone a week when rumors started surfacing, mostly in private conversations but also in the newspapers and radio talk shows.

Ed Smart, Elizabeth's father, was somehow involved, they said. He had kidnapped his own daughter and blamed it on a stranger to hide his own grotesque sins.

Other rumors said that Elizabeth wasn't the sweet religious girl photos portrayed her to be. She had green hair and multiple piercings. She was rebellious, angry and probably ran off with some ex-con who had offered her a doughnut and some kindness.

Another rumor, which also surfaced in the papers and the radios shows, was that Ed Smart had been seen in gay bars or that he had child pornography on his computer.

The police initially considered Ed Smart a suspect, but dropped the idea after just a few days.

The actions of the police are understandable and correct. Even the wild public speculation that surrounded Elizabeth's initial disappearance was, usually, reasonable. The news media has often bombarded us with stories about a disappearance. We've seen the weeping family members begging for their safe return and later we find out the victim was dead at the hands of that same blubbering kin.

In the case of Elizabeth Smart, however, the weird speculation didn't stop even after she was found. As Ed Smart was hugging his daughter in the Sandy, Utah, police station, people continued to whisper.

Ed Smart had paid Emanuel to take Elizabeth, some said.

One woman called a radio talk show and told the host “I cried more than he did. His tears were fake. He never wanted to see that girl again.”

Perhaps Ed Smart assassinated John Kennedy for the CIA and Elizabeth saw the whole thing. The scenarios for her disappearance were just that unreal.

The sick, weird theories didn't abate. Intellectual and emotional prostitutes from all over the country continued to apply their weird outlooks to the case and at the expense of Elizabeth and her family.

Why didn't she run, was one of the questions. Emanuel was in jail for six days when the three of them were in San Diego. Why didn't she run?

When the cops stopped the three on the streets of Sandy why did it take Elizabeth so long to tell them who she was?

People who ask those questions aren't being unreasonable. Those are honest questions.  It's people who automatically assume she didn't run for sinister reasons who are irresponsible, cruel and stupid.

These people sit in their warm homes, watching far too many reruns of Baywatch, and assume they can crawl into the mind of a 14-year-old kidnap victim.  

“I would have run,” they say.

“I would have screamed,” they proclaim loudly. “Why didn't she? She must have been in on it.” 

They completely ignore the psychological and emotional damage done to a 14-year-old girl who was taken from her home at knife point, married in a grotesque ceremony to a Whack Job and carted all over the country like human baggage.

These people think normal laws of logic apply to Elizabeth Smart. They're not intelligent enough or perceptive enough to know that logic goes right out the window under that kind of duress.

To them the kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart was mere entertainment, like determining who shot J.R. The questions they ask and the answers they supply to their own questions are an insult to the Smart family and to those of us who agonized when Elizabeth was taken, and who wept when she was found.

The day Elizabeth Smart was found was joyous, but revealing.

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