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Polygamy Focus Exposes Media Carelessness

Date: Mar 27, 2003
Word Count: 600 words
Cross-Reference: Elizabeth Smart, Brian David Mitchell, Lindsey Ryan, Terry Drake


Media focus on polygamy in one story, while not equally reporting a similar story, shows what media really cares about.

As   ever,   the   media   in   general   could   really   care   less.

Two   similar   heart-warming   events   occurred   in   March,   2003.   Two   missing   teenage   girls   were   found.

But   most   people   only   heard   about   one   of   these   profoundly   happy   endings,   Elizabeth   Smart.   Little   media   attention   was   given   to   the   equally   joyous   news   of   another   teen's   return,   Lindsey   Ryan.

Notwithstanding   differences   between   the   two   stories,   and   before   any   further   details   emerged,   some   similarities   were   startling.



ELIZABETH   SMART   CASE  

Elizabeth   Smart,   a   teenager   with   blonde   hair   past   her   shoulders,   was   14   when   she   disappeared.   When   she   was   missing,   she   was   disguised   in   public,   using   a   veil.   Even   when   out   in   public,   she   did   not   run   to   escape.     She   "appeared"   on   "America's   Most   Wanted"   and   was   found   by   a   tip   to   police   on   March   12,   2003.

Brian   Mitchell,   a   49-year-old   man,   was   accused   of   forcibly   taking   her   from   her   home,   desiring   a   sexual   relationship   with   the   underage   teenager.   He   is   a   man   who   had   worked   at   her   house   and   who   had   a   religious   activity   background:   conducting   himself   as   a   homeless   street   preacher   in   his   religion.     During   the   time   with   Elizabeth   Smart,   he   had   been   sighted   in   Utah.   He   also   had   brought   Smart   to   California.


 
LINDSEY   RYAN   CASE  

Lindsey   Ryan,   a   teenager   with   blonde   hair   past   her   shoulders,   was   14   when   she   disappeared.   When   she   was   missing,   she   was   disguised   in   public,   her   hair   dyed   black.   Even   when   out   in   public,   she   did   not   run   to   escape.     She   "appeared"   on   "America's   Most   Wanted"   and   was   found   by   a   tip   to   police   on   March   24,   2003.

Terry   Drake,   a   56-year-old   man,   was   accused   of   participating   in   removing   her   from   her   home,   desiring   a   sexual   relationship   with   the   underage   teenager.   He   is   a   man   who   had   worked   at   her   house   and   who   had   a   religious   activity   background:   he   attended   the   same   church   as   the   teenager's   family.     During   the   time   with   Lindsey   Ryan,   he   had   been   sighted   in   Utah.   He   also   had   brought   Ryan   to   California.



MEDIA   SENSATIONALISM  

The   trauma,   horror,   and   sickening   grief   was   equally   real   for   both   families.   Likewise,   the   tear-filled   joy   at   the   girls'   return   home   is   equally   real.

At   the   start,   before   anything   was   known   about   these   two   very   similar-looking   cases,   most   people   had   only   heard   of   Elizabeth   Smart's   return   and   not   even   knowing   of   Lindsey   Ryan.

Why?     Sensationalism.  

How?     Polygamy.

In   the   Elizabeth   Smart   case,   Mitchell   had   openly   wanted   "more   wives".   This   was   based   on   his   Fundamentalist   Mormon   reasonings   for   plural   marriage.

That   tiny   fact   got   the   media   "all   abuzz."

Because   polygamy   was   not   referenced   in   the   Lindsey   Ryan   case,   however,   her   equally   tragic   story   was   treated   as     "less   important."  



ABSURD   BIAS

Thereby   did   the   media   once   again   sensationalize   to   smear   polygamy.

Because   polygamy   was   not   involved   in   the   Lindsey   Ryan   case   ---   despite   other   commonalities   between   the   two   cases   ---   her   case   was   comparatively   ignored.

Conversely,   the   media   jubilantly   smeared   polygamists   because   Brian   Mitchell   wanted   Elizabeth   Smart   as   "another   wife".    

The   media   would   never   otherwise   smear   all   people   involved   in   any   of   the   other   commonalities   between   Mitchell   and   Drake.   But   smearing   polygamists   was   "open   game".

Most   men   who   are   over   45,   who   work   in   a   house,   are   religious,   spend   any   time   with   blondes   or   girls   with   long   hair,   or   travel   to   Utah   or   California,   would   vehemently   oppose   what   Mitchell   and   Drake   did.

Equally,   the   unreported   fact   is   that   polygamists   are   no   different,   just   as   adamantly   opposing   Mitchell's   vile   alleged   actions   too.



WHO   TRULY   CARES

But   sensationalism   ruled,   being   more   important   than   any   story   itself.     Neither   Lindsey   Ryan   nor   even   Elizabeth   Smart   mattered   to   the   media.   Excluding   sensationalism,   the   media   could   care   less.

But   the   rest   of   us,   including   polygamists,   do   care   very,   very   much.

Welcome   home,   girls   ---both   of   you!

###

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