Archive - May 18, 2005

Reverends: Threat Or Menace?

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Memo to runaway brains: YOU ARE DUMB.

If you're a regular reader of this column, you're already aware that the Georgia runaway bride thing was a complete waste of what passes for a national consciousness these days. But the beast must be fed, and so we were subjected to weeks of speculation, commentary, and analysis on something that, in a more innocent time, would have been a funny story in a small-town newspaper.

But at least I understand why the news networks gave time, attention, and effort to the case. They're whores, and having overcommitted to the Scott Peterson cum Amber Alert hysteria when Ms. Wilbanks went walkabout, they had to save face and manufacture a national media circus to cover their own asses. I don't RESPECT it, but I understand it.

What I don't understand, beyond the fundamental principle that people are complete fucking idiots, is the compulsion some people had to get involved in some way. Which is where the fine, glorious people at the Smoking Gun enter the picture. They got a hold of about a thousand letters people wrote to the city of Duluth, GA offering advice on how the city should handle the situation. A THOUSAND LETTERS. Probably bigger than the turnout in Duluth's last election. The Smoking Gun posted a few dozen of them, and they reveal flavors and shades of retardation that stun even a jaded tardwatcher such as myself.

One common theme amongst the troglodyte set who managed, somehow, to get their copies of Microsoft Word running and correctly answer the paperclip that noticed they seemed to be writing a psychotic missive to a small-town government, is Ms. Wilbanks' appearance, as if her physical attractiveness should have some kind of bearing on any criminal or civil action the city might take.

From the simple "Kind of a bowser." to the socioculturally/anatomically iffy "Jennifer Wilbanks is an ugly bug-eyed woman, all mesed up in the head. No, sorry, she doesn't have a head at all. My ex is 10 times better looking than this.", people I guarantee couldn't get a modeling gig in a zombie fetish mag were taking the time out to tell the city government that the runaway bride was ugly. Aren't people great?

Next, I'd like to turn to what I call the Bill Frist Memorial Institute of Remote Diagnosis Crazystupid people providing expert medical advice based entirely on snippets of video or photos.

"Just looking at her, I would seriouisly question her emotional stability...she has a "strange" look" - A bit imprecise, but I'm sure they thought they were being helpful. People like this always think they're being helpful, because they're idiots.

But my favorite is this. From an actual doctor. James Eichmeier, MD, of Okemos, Michigan. I mention his name because I can, and on the off chance any of my readers sit on medical ethics boards in Michigan. Jennifer, in all the pictures on TV, had white showing all around her pupils. This could be from Graves Disease, a form of Hyperthyroidism. It could potentially make her goofey in the head." Now, I haven't checked in with the DSM-IV in some time, but I'm pretty sure GOOFEY IN THE HEAD ain't fuckin' in there.

But to my mind, the best of the bunch - better than the guy warning the city about the "Oriental looking gentleman" lurking off-camera during a news conference, better than the woman who constructed an elaborate Julia Roberts conspiracy theory to demonstrate how the media is corrupting America, better even than the crazy old self-professed psychic who provided sketches of the two people who abducted the bride, are two letter writers I have dubbed the Pissed-Off Scrawlin' Reverends.

The first deviates from many by not having typed his screed at all, but rather just faxed one piece of paper in which, in thick black marker, was written: "The 'Lady' must pay for embarassing the police, the city, the country. If she was a poor mexican or black woman, she would be stoned to death in public after 40 lashes have been applied to her naked body. Land of Equality! My Butt" - That was the Rev. Frank Varelli, who has given us enough information that, were any of us actually to visit the Rev. in his home or church office, we'd know to stay far, far away from his My Pictures folder.

Our other Man of God is the Reverend Alan Jones, of the Concerned Citizens of Duluth. Jones goes way beyond "concerned" and into "apoplexy". First, he typed a page-long faxed missive demanding that the bride be committed to a mental institution, raving about the debauchery of Southern Baptists, and threatening to report them to the Baptist overlords. Then he starts getting crazy.

Apparently feeling his typed missive did not adequately cover the ground he wished to cover, the Rev. started adding handwritten bits - a note at the top reminding the recipient that "This is an OUTRAGE!!!", a post-post-script condemning Wilbanks for covering her face in the airport, and best of all, a postscript that exposes an aspect of Baptist ministry and concerned citizenry I'd been previously unaware of:

"She best watch the good ol boys in these parts - They'll giver what John couldn't." I can't remember. Where in the Bible is it that when a woman incites a media circus that offends you, you should advocate for her public rape by rednecks? Probably in Paul.