Don't Feel Too Soothed by Kidnap Victims' Video

Meghan Daum: Happy messages can't wash away how their community failed them

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 11, 2013 12:32 PM CDT

(Newser) – Chances are you've come across the video from the Cleveland kidnap victims this week in which the three women vow not to be defined by that horror. Good for them, because "these women deserve the happiest endings they can possibly find," writes Meghan Daum in the Los Angeles Times. But one aspect of the video troubles her—all the "saccharine" comments from people of the keep-your-chin-up variety. "The prevailing sentiment is all's well that end's well," and it runs the risk of allowing us to forget how "appalling" this story was in so many ways.

The sappy messages "let society—neighborhood, government, law enforcement, even families—off the hook for allowing, perhaps even enabling, the conditions that led to the horror," writes Daum. Consider, for example, that Michelle Knight had such a troubled background that police wrote her off as a runaway. The messages "say, essentially, that broken communities don't matter as long as their victims frame their stories so we feel soothed, so we aren't burdened with the hard work of confronting what went wrong and fixing it." It's not the victims' job to give us happy endings; it's our job to create functioning communities. "And that shouldn't require miracles, just common decency." Click for Daum's full column.

Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight.
Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight.   (AP Photo/Hennes Paynter Communications)
An image of Michelle Knight from the video.
An image of Michelle Knight from the video.   (AP Photo/Hennes Paynter Communications)
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