Elizabeth Smart

Sick liberals exploit Elizabeth Smart’s rape and kidnapping to demonize abstinence education

Elizabeth SmartIn 2002, the kidnapping of 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart captured the nation’s attention. Rescued nine months later, Smart had been held prisoner and raped by Brian David Mitchell, who is currently serving a richly-deserved life sentence. Today, Smart is a 25-year-old author, advocate for child-protection laws, and missing persons commentator for ABC News.

Last Wednesday, Smart spoke at a Johns Hopkins University forum on human trafficking. She discussed her mindset while in captivity, the following excerpt of which has been picked up by numerous liberal commentators:

I remember in school one time, I had a teacher who was talking about, well, about abstinence, and she said, “imagine that you’re a stick of gum, and when you engage in sex, that’s like getting chewed, and if you do that lots of times, you’re gonna become an old piece of gum! And who’s going to want you after that?” Well, that’s terrible, but nobody should ever say that, but for me, I felt, oh my gosh, I’m that chewed-up piece of gum! Nobody re-chews a piece of gum. You throw it away. And that’s how easy it is to feel you no longer have worth, you no longer have value. Why would it even be worth screaming out, why would it even make a difference if you are rescued, your life still has no value.

Slate, the Huffington Post, Gawker, ThinkProgress, and MSNBC all have pieces up with headlines depicting Smart as saying abstinence education itself made her feel worthless and demoralized her away from trying to escape earlier. Liberals have a long, ghoulish record of hijacking victims to shame their enemies and emotionally blackmail people into adopting their policies, and this case is especially egregious because the victim in question said no such thing.

Certainly, Smart says the remarks of one particular teacher, whose “who’s going to want you?” dismissal to teenage girls seems lacking in Christian compassion, played a role. But while I do not presume to know her views on the general subject, Smart’s speech does not blame abstinence education itself, or the general principle of abstinence.

A bit earlier, she mentions being “raised in a very religious household, one which taught that sex was something special that only happened between a husband and a wife who loved each other,” which she was “determined to follow.” And near the beginning of her speech, she makes clear that, also while in captivity, she realized that her parents’ strong belief in abstinence wouldn’t make them value her any less:

I remember on that first day of being kidnapped and raped, I remember thinking of my parents, and after realizing that they would still love me, that just because I’d been chained, just because I’d been kidnapped, just because all these things had happened to me, that wouldn’t change their love.

Why would they? Generally, Christians are far more understanding toward those who fall for sexual temptation than we’re given credit for, but here we needn’t even go that far. Being raped is not giving in to temptation. It’s not consensual sex. It’s not promiscuity. It’s not you making light of the sacred or wasting God’s gifts. Rape is a foul, violent crime for which the victim bears no fault, and the only “Christians” who think otherwise either reside in some isolated fringe of no practical significance or exist within liberals’ slanderous imaginations.

It’s true that rape can lead to all sorts of doubts about one’s sexuality and self-worth, and it’s not implausible that those effects could be heightened for people with a religious attachment to their virginity. But it’s preposterous to suggest that valuing your virginity and wanting to save yourself for one special person are therefore intrinsically destructive beliefs, and it’s a stretch to suggest that the phenomenon is unique among conservatively religious victims – feelings of guilt and lost self-esteem are commonly reported reactions, and are routinely cited as part of what makes rape such a horrible thing to do to anyone, not just one particular subset.

Think of it this way: as disappointed as religious parents would be to learn their teenager has been sexually active, they’d be far more troubled to learn he or she had killed someone or stolen something. Does that mean they would look down on their child for shooting an attacker in self-defense, or stealing bread and water to save a starving person? No. The prospect is absurd for the same reason expecting them to think any less of a raped daughter would be absurd: having principles doesn’t mean we’re idiots who can’t understand the concept of facts and circumstances.

Well-intentioned and well-adjusted people do not stoop this low to demonize people and ideas they disagree with. Would it be too much to ask any of the abstinence critics in our audience what the real motive is?

  • Basset_Hound

    In actuality, it has been shown that those who delay their initial sexual contact until well into their 20’s are far more likely to achieve a higher level of education and academic achievement. They are far less likely to engage in destructive behaviors such as binge drinking or eating disorders.

    http://heritage.org/Research/Commentary/2010/02/Empower-women-Teach-abstinence
    http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2010/02/evidence%20on%20the%20effectiveness%20of%20abstinence%20education%20an%20update

    • Shetland3

      Heritage is a right-wing fake think tank, and not a legitimate source. Thanks for playing.

  • cyfairparentscare

    Thank God someone is willing to report the whole story! Thank you, Life Action News! I am sick and tired of reading the lies, half-truths, deceit and all the liberal media pushing the lies that abstinence education is horrible when it is not! Children deserve to know the truth about premarital sex and contraception INCLUDING the side effects and risks. Children deserve to know that premarital sex can cause depression and suicidal tendencies. Children deserve to know that HPV can be spread in mutual masturbation as evidenced in sexually active college men who had the virus underneath their fingernails – no condom will prevent that disease! Children also deserve to know that the HPV can be present on the genitals, and again, a condom won’t prevent that either. See Heritage.org data on depression and suicidal tendencies. See Dr. Miriam Grossman on the HPV proof. (And by children, I mean 11 and up – those who would be subjected to horrible Comprehensive Sex Ed).

    • Basset_Hound

      Kids also need to know that hooking up and breaking up will hamper their ability to form a long term satisfying relationship.

  • http://twitter.com/MarauderTheSN Marauder

    Elizabeth’s comments, to me, speak to the divide between a good message – abstinence is best for teenagers – and the bad way some people pick to convey it. It’s hurtful and demoralizing to tell girls that having sex will make them worthless, and Elizabeth’s former teacher should be thoroughly ashamed of herself. Personally, I think abstinence should be talked about in terms of good idea/bad idea, not in terms of abstinence allegedly giving a person more worth. That’s why I don’t like the whole concept of abstinence as “purity.” If you tell a lie or are mean to someone, you’re a sinner and everyone is a sinner. If you have sex before you’re married, you’re “impure.” I think a kind, loving, compassionate teenage girl who has sex with her boyfriend is a lot more morally pure than a mean-spirited, callous virgin without empathy for other people.

    The problem here wasn’t that Elizabeth Smart was taught that abstinence was ideal. It was that her teacher characterized pre-marital sex as something that reduces the basic worth of a human being, and no one should tell anyone that their basic worth as a human being is reduced.

  • http://twitter.com/Astraspider Ms. Spider

    “Christians are far more understanding toward those who fall for sexual temptation than we’re given credit for”

    In circumstances where the woman opts to carry to term, even if un-married, I’d have to agree (see: Bristol Palin). But in the abstract, I’d say there’s less generosity of spirit, particularly if there’s a sanctimonious message on self discipline to be made.

    But, hey, next time I see an LA poster dipping their toe in the slut-shame pool, I’ll just say, “hold on, Calvin said Christians are far more understanding toward those who fall for sexual temptation!? What gives!?”

    • Candi

      Some people call themselves Christians as an excuse to demoralize and condemn others. Those of us who truly serve Christ look down on and shame no one because we all have sinned in the eyes of God. People who claim to be Christian would do well to follow Christ’s example of love and compassion.

    • Calvin Freiburger

      I seem to recall getting unserious answers to this in the past, but what the heck: is there any justified, worthwhile criticism to be made against irresponsible sex? Or are “less generosity of spirit,” “sanctimonious message” and “slut-shame” just empty code for “this subject is off-limits”?

      • Ben

        No there really isnt, unless it’s your kid and they’re underage and living under your roof, people’s sex life with consenting adults is none of your business.

        • Calvin Freiburger

          According to your logic, then I guess we should abolish public schools, since kids who aren’t living under my roof are “none of my business.”

  • Ben

    “Think of it this way: as disappointed as religious parents would be to learn their teenager has been sexually active, they’d be far more troubled to learn he or she had killed someone or stolen something.”

    Unless it’s gay sex, which to those totally loving and understanding Christians is the worst thing in the entire world.

    • Calvin Freiburger

      You’ve memorized your caricatures and misleading generalizations very well. Bravo.

  • Amanda

    This headline makes me sick. Of course it is un-Christian to belittle a woman who is promiscuous much less who is raped, but calling anyone who leans liberal “sick” is somehow okay? When it comes down to it, Elizabeth Smart’s point was clearly made in her direct quote. It does not matter if there was rape or if sex was consensual. A person’s worth is not diminished by either factor.

    Abstinence only programs do not lower teen pregnancy rates and only accomplish lowering the self worth of individuals who are sexually active. Instead of attempting to control people and force one set of values, maybe we should teach safe sex and have realistic discussions about it. The current system is failing because of the culture that Smart outlined. The moment we make having sex a shameful thing and teach how evil someone is if they have it is when abstinence programs stop being helpful in any way. Sex Education teaches kids who want to have sex how to do it safely to avoid STD’s and unwanted pregnancy (which would solve any abortion complaints you most likely have). The kids who do adhere to abstinence can do just that. No one is forcing them to have sex.

    Stop being hypocritical in your articles and maybe I can start taking you seriously for once. The left are not the ones demonizes abstinence only programs. Facts and statistics about their effect on society, specifically young people, are what are hammering the nails into its coffin.