Driving to a doctor's appointment for my son today, I listened a bit to talk radio. The story of the moment was that of the runaway bride in Georgia.
Long story short: she bought a bus ticket a week in advance of the wedding and used it to concoct a story of her abduction while she basically ran from her nuptials. Everyone in the town was looking for her and they were pretty hacked off to learn that she was not kidnapped, but instead had seriously cold feet. But at least she wasn't dead somewhere.
Other than wasting some people's time and burning through about $60,000 in search efforts for a lie (which in my opinion, she should pay back), this ordeal was victimless. No one was hurt by it.
I don't know the woman. She obviously did something very stupid. But do we take one act and then judge someone by it?
I've done some stupid things in my time (such as ride on top of a station wagon at 60 mph...), that if others were to look at me, they might question whether I were fit to do many things in life. I've had other moments that were equally ill-thought and plain dumb in retrospect.
The greatest thing about America is that we don't hold down people who fail. Instead, we cheer the underdog. We want people to succeed. It's okay to fail here. That separates us from other nations.
In a victimless act of stupidity, should society render a judgment that permanently harms the life of the perpetrator for the rest of their life? Should one act where no one got hurt become the basis of a character judgment?
I hope that we hesitate before we issue such a verdict. If it's a pattern, judgment might be fair. If there is someone who gets hurt by it, judgment should be expected.
But I think we all need the elbow room to be stupid once in a while. Even if it's nationally stupid.