Friday Firesmith – The Sins of Elizabeth Thomas

To begin with, let’s get the facts out into the open here; a fifteen-year-old female human is a child, legally speaking. She cannot buy cigarettes, beer, lottery tickets, or a gun. However, there’s some legal trickery that goes on when it comes to little girls and marriage in Tennessee.

“Tennessee: The age of consent is eighteen. With parental consent, parties can marry at age sixteen. Under special circumstances, younger minors can receive a license to marry. Common law marriage is not recognized.

Marriage consent law by state  (note there is no lower limit to (“younger minors”)

“Special Circumstance” is a term to describe pregnancy, which means in Tennessee, it is illegal for a teacher to run off with a student to have sex, because she is far too young to understand what’s going on, yet it is perfectly legal for her to marry the teacher (with her parent’s consent and a judge who is agreeable) even though having sex with her would have normally gotten him at least ten years in prison.

Take a moment to consider what it is like to be a ffifteen-year-oldgirl in High School. You have to compete with all the other girls in the class, and the older upperclass females, and at the same time, the guys who you are competing for are testosterone driven young teenage boys whose view of dating is driven by porn videos and a president that says as long as you’re famous you can grab them by the pussy.

 “There is only one princess in the Disney tales, one girl who gets to be exalted. Princesses may confide in a sympathetic mouse or teacup, but they do not have girlfriends. God forbid Snow White should give Sleeping Beauty a little support. Let’s review: princesses avoid female bonding. Their goals are to be saved by a prince, get married, and be taken care of the rest of their lives.”

― Peggy Orenstein, Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Frontlines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture

 So we teach young men that young women are prey animals to be taken and bragged about. We teach young women that other young women are the enemy and that they need a male to rescue them from…themselves? Their parents? Everyone else?

Elizabeth Thomas clearly bought into that idea, and she bought into it hard.

The law taught Elizabeth Thomas that marriage could save her lover from the crime of pedophilia because it’s okay to have sex with an underaged girl if you’ve gotten her pregnant and then marry her. Pay attention to this because it’s telling very young women it’s illegal to violate and prey upon a young woman, unless you’re married to her.

Take a moment to consider how young women feel about this sort of law.

Elizabeth Thomas was a prey animal for the young men at her school. Elizabeth Thomas was the enemy of every girl in that school who competed to have the prettiest dress, the most revealing outfit, the best make-up, the skinniest thighs, the best bathroom selfie, and sexist smile, and none of this, not one damn bit of it, speaks to her self-worth as a human being.

The only sin of Elizabeth Thomas is she was born female in our society where her self worth isn’t measured in intelligence or skill at craft or service to a cause but rather in her ability to be the princess.

We failed to protect this little girl.   

Take Care,


Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit.
Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.

50 thoughts on “Friday Firesmith – The Sins of Elizabeth Thomas

  1. “…We failed to protect this little girl…..” You may assume the burden of masculine and societal guilt yourself, leave me out of it. What happened to that child had nothing to do with me. I’m given to understand that her emotional state was poor to begin with, which was a huge part of her vulnerability to her teacher.

    • Unfortunately, roadgeek, you cannot duck responsibility for who we are as a society, and I might add that I’m gravely disappointed that you’re trying to blame the victim here. We all, everyone, if we are shocked by the idea that a teacher, employed by the government and therefore the taxpayers, would prey upon a child and then we must say that we are responsible for change as well.

  2. You’re a genius. Another ‘hit’ for you! I just thought you were a snake handler, expert dog trainer and political analyst. Keep up the excellent writing.

    • Margie, my first impression was that you were on an anti-drug kick.

      But the LDS people aren’t the problem here in as much as it’s the idea sanctioned by law that a 14 year old is a rape victim unless she married her rapist.

      That’s a much larger issue, I think.

  3. An excellent well written piece.
    How sad it is that when a girls self esteem is at the lowest point in her life, that’s when the predator finds her the most attractive. They seem to be able to sense it like an animal senses fear. They know just what to tell her to make her complacent. Any other time she’d fight like hell to get away.

  4. “You have to compete with…a president that says as long as you’re famous you can grab them by the pussy.”

    Amazing how some just can’t resist pointing out something negative about President Trump as part of the reason this happened, even though he said this in private long before becoming President. Well, how about a President who lied under oath, stating that he “never had sexual relations with that woman miss Lewinsky” and defended it all by redefining what the “meaning of the word ‘is is'”?

    And, what about the advocates of Islam who have no problem with Muslims ‘marrying’ girls as young as 8?

    And, lastly, more and more often, we are seeing adult women doing the same to under age boys.

    Aside from all the above, this is still a tragedy that needs to be addressed. So I do see your heart in what you wrote. There is still plenty of blame to go around.

    • You seem to think the problem here is Mike. Nope. The problem here is a sexual-predator-president named Donald Trump who happens to be the leader of this nation. I don’t get it why people can’t put that through their thick skulls. They get angry at the person who brings up the crime instead of the person who committed the crime! And that, is asinine.

      • In no way am I defending either Donald Trump or Bill Clinton. Neither do I “think the problem here is Mike” nor am I “angry at the person who brings up the crime”. I am simply entering the fray with some thoughts that hopefully contribute to the posting. Point is, even though both Donald and Bill either referred to or had contact with ‘of age’ women, what they say or do has great sway in influencing a society in flux when it comes to sex with minors. As often happens, it opens up the floodgates to defining deviancy downward. A terrible spiral that will not be stopped as long as we default to the ‘enlightenment’ mentality. Even now, there are forces at work to change the age of consent laws to justify their predator instincts towards minors. Both male and female. NAMBLA comes to mind as but one example. When Mike writes about this particular tragedy, it points out a much deeper issue that, as he makes clear, if it is not seen for what it is, it will only get worse and not better. So, as I am in no way shooting the messenger, neither am I advocating withdrawing from the discussion just for the sake of turning a blind eye to the situation. Something needs to be done before sex with minors becomes the norm. But where to begin? What say you duuude?

    • Wait, you’re comparing physical assault (Trump’s statement, which was recorded and no reasonable person would consider that “private” — they were wearing microphones, for crying out loud) with a consensual act between adults (Clinton’s statement, which did not meet the definition of “sexual relations”, as clarified through the testimony)? Trump’s statement is not part of the reason it happened — it’s a symptom of the culture, and the fact that he “won” anyway only proves it.

      Muslims marrying at 8? There are people who advocate what happened in Mike’s post. Same basic thing.

      Women doing the same to underage boys? Actually, when I read “it is illegal for a teacher to run off with a student to have sex, because she is far too young to understand what’s going on” in Mike’s post, I had the genders reversed — I had to read it twice before I figured it out. So yes, you’re right about that, but that doesn’t make the case described here okay either.

      What really gets me here is that if the underage girl becomes pregnant, she can marry her rapist and everything is fine. But if she’s not impregnated, then there’s a crime. So what about that period of time between when the adult male penetrates the girl and before the egg is fertilized? She’s not pregnant yet, so a crime has been committed. If the marriage is annulled, they divorce, or never marry in the first place, does it go back to being a crime again? This is all so wrong.

      • HJ, when it is broken down the way you did it I think it actually sounds a lot worse, and it likely is.

        At what point does someone who is 14, or 8, consent to sex or marriage? Do we dare say that there are some cases where a 14 year can consent and therefore have an open season on young women as long as some guy’s lawyer, or accountant, can bribe or convince a judge it’s okay?

        That’s where we’re headed with the marriage law. I think we may already be there.

      • Oh please! You defend a crook by comparing him to another crook to make it right? Yeah, great argument! If “other people do it too” were a strong argument then our prisons would be empty. Stop deflecting Kellyanne!

      • Mike – I see this as a real problem with both. NAMBLA has been pushing their agenda to ‘legalize’ sex with minor boys for quite some time now. There is even a push by some to ‘normalize’ pedophiles by putting forth the position that they were simply ‘born that way’ and thus ‘can’t help themselves’ when looking at little girls and little boys with sexual thoughts. Then there is this whole Pizzagate thing, whereby many high positioned people ‘allegedly’ are participating in sex with minors. As we continue down the slippery slope of defining deviancy downward, there’s not much hope that it is not going to get better. And, thanks for understanding that I don’t have a dog in this fight. I am not about defending anyone that advocates disrespecting either men or women in an objectifying manner. I am simply pointing out that this happens on both sides of the aisle.

        • Pizzagate has been proven to be a great example of fake news and has no credibility as a point reference for anything.

            • Bringing up a completely debunked example shreds any sense of credibility you have here. Besides, the reaction to it would seem to make the counterpoint, that people really don’t like the sort of thing it described.

              • I get what you’re saying. However, I would hold off deciding that the whole PizzaGate issue has been completely debunked just yet. It could well be that the jury is still out on that. One thing is sure: sex sells and, for those in power, the younger the better. Hollywood has plenty of examples to prove this to be true. Why should politics be any different?

          • Paul and HJ – Over 3500 arrests have been made in the PizzaGate child sex trafficking scandal. Among those arrested are high profile members of the military, politicians, and even one of Donald Trump’s campaign managers. David Zublick unseals the truth in this special report!

            • That’s rather amazing, considering at least 9 different news organizations (including Fox News) and the DC Police agree that the matter is completely fictitious, no alleged victims have come forward, and no physical evidence has been found.


              And yet, when I search for “pizzagate arrests”, all I get are conspiracy sites and other sources of Fake News. What’s wrong with this picture?

              • HJ – Good link! I read the whole story and came away with the understanding that nearly every organization (including the left leaning Snopes, New York Times and Huffington Post) were pro-Hillary organizations. Throwing Fox News into the mix to ‘justify’ this whole deal as one big conspiracy does nothing for me. I don’t read or watch much of Fox, let alone the other organizations. I have to ask: did you view my linked video before replying? The guy sure presented an awful lot of information, including naming names and pointing to an insider with Donald Trump being caught in this ‘conspiracy’ laden pedophilia ring. I still choose to wait and see what happens with this whole ordeal. Even so, you must admit that there is a real problem with child sex rings, right?

              • I don’t have to watch the video. The author, David Zublick, may as well be a street performer. He has fewer than 1000 followers on Facebook and Twitter (after nearly 10 years), fewer than 300 on LinkedIn (even I have more than that, and I’m picky), has posted exactly twice to his own blog, and has virtually no presence outside his own little world.

                And you’re going to find this person more credible than virtually everyone else, who got where they are by building relationships and at least some form of respect?

                It’s time to trade in your tin foil hat for a larger one. The one you have is cutting off the circulation to your brain.

              • Of course you don’t have to watch the video. Your choice. I did however choose to read your link and found it quite enlightening. Especially since everyone knows that Wikipedia is always 100% spot on with its information. As for the tin foil hat:

                Hopefully you will choose to click the link. Very enlightening! Have a great day HJ!!

        • Dave, I thought that was where you were headed and also thought if I opened the door that’s where you would go. Nicely done. While I think there is a much larger problem with exploitation of young girls, we cannot forget there are predators out there who are slowly pushed the boundaries of the laws in their own favor, and the Tennessee law sets a dreadful precedent, ancient that it is.

          I hadn’t realized that NAMBLA still existed after 60 Minutes did such a great job turning over the rocks they were hiding under so many years ago. You never saw a group of perverts trying to hide their faces and get back under their rocks.

          • It might also be worth pointing out the huge age difference between male actors and their latest girlfriends/wives. As is often the case, Hollywood produces imitation as the sincerest form of flattery from their fans. Including the sense that the age difference is not that big of a deal. Kind of like kids who go around wearing tattered jeans at $200 bucks a pop just because their movie or music idols do, so do many get the impression that it’s okay to embrace a huge age difference between male and female as being ‘normal’. This type of mindset creates a trickle down effect that can result in a shrug of the shoulders approach when something like this happens in real life. I guess there is truly enough blame to go around?

            • Dave – that was an eye-opener! Whereas I used to be think the age difference between male stars and their female love interest was ridiculous, I didn’t realize that I had totally come to accept it. Really says how easy it is to become complacent. You are completely correct that the actions of those in the spotlight create the model for people in everyday life. So, if Presidents justify their immoral behavior as “That’s my private life, so none of your business.” and actors justify both their portrayal of relationships and their real life ones as “Life in the entertainment field.”, then why on Earth would everyday people think that anyone’s ‘private life’ should be any different? We really do need to give very deep thought to what we can and should accept as the ‘norm’. I’m not suggesting that we need to wheedle our way in to other people’s lives and choices. I’m suggesting that we give more consideration to whom is being harmed, ensure that we highlight the dangers and act if we see it’s necessary.

              • Dianne – Thanks! You go on to say some very pertinent points as to how slippery this slope is. In addressing this further, refer to my response to HJ. No matter what, you are correct: there is no easy fix for this situation, including “not suggesting that we need to wheedle our way in to other people’s lives and choices”. It seems that, more and more, it is becoming difficult to address this issue without coming off as being judgmental in some way.

            • If the an age difference exists and the people in question are adults, what difference does it really make? My husband is 16 years older than I am. Is that somehow a problem? I’m 49 and we’ve been together for almost 23 years. Is a 16 year difference too close to be an issue for you? Exactly how much of a difference must there be for the relationship to be okay?

              If I were underage when we met, I can see the issue. But relating this to an issue with underage people people is a stretch.

              • HJ – I fully understand your position. My wife and I often talk about this very thing. She is five years younger than me. Not much difference now. But, when I was 18, she was only 13; just as your husband was 18 but you were only 2 (was my math on that correct?). As you so accurately pointed out, this is where it would have become a problem. For us (or you) to have met then and insisted that we were ‘in love’ would have been wrong. Not only in the eyes of the law but in the eyes of society as well. Having said that, the point is this: once we approve of such a difference in age within the definition of it being between two adults, many may take that and run with it to advocate that that age difference is now just as normal for two people in ‘love’ being ‘only’ five (or 16) years apart, even though one is 18 and the other is 13 (or 2). Not an easy solution to an increasingly difficult problem regarding the definition of ‘under age’ in a society that places such a premium on individual choice. I fear this does not end well.

  5. But doesn’t he get credit for kissing her thus reversing the effects of the poison apple, so they could live happily ever after?

    • Bruce – I like your sarcasm! and it is interesting. If one were to look at the story, the poison apple was given by someone who was jealous of her beauty. So, the prince kissing her, thereby reversing the effects of the poison apple, just means that he negated, or saved her from the jealousy, then marries her, cause that makes it all okay, right?? Hmmm, as Mike says, it’s amazing that in today’s society, we continue to champion these stories to little girls, as if a man appreciating the good looks of a female and thereby claiming her as his own, ‘saves her’ from the ill intentions of fellow females. It does tend to explain how Elizabeth fell into the trap of seeing this older man to be her savior and running off to marry him to be her salvation. So very sad.

  6. If you ever revise this post, maybe give an explanation of who this young woman is and what happened to her? While I get the gist of what you’re saying, I’m going to have to Google get name to fully understand your post.

    • Amy, this is a classic tale of a teacher, who is fifty and male, taking advantage of a fifteen year old female student. They were caught kissing and then he talked her into running away with him. After over a month on the run they were caught.

      To me this is a prime example of how men in positions of authority prey on young women and no matter how many times it happens you’ll find those who think we, as a society, are not to blame, or that the girl is someone how to blame.

      What this sort of mindset creates is the idea that women, of any age (see the Tennessee law on marriage) are prey animals and it is their own damn fault.

      I’m rather pissed about it, hence this week’s piece.

  7. This is so unfortunate from a variety of viewpoints. It truly is a failure on the part of society that this situation was able to develop to the point that it did.
    First of all, Elizabeth was, apparently, being physically abused by her mother. The mother violated the trust of her own daughter. While the mother would be feeding her own need for power and control, Elizabeth would be trying to process what is happening to her and why. Is she really that worthless? Is she truly such a bad person? Is she completely unlovable? Elizabeth had a right to live her life free from any form of abuse, so where were the people who should have protected her? Apparently some events of her tragic life were known both at her school and among friends, so why did no one report the information to Child Services or the police? Is it because people tend to “not want to get involved”? Is it because people justify their own lack of action by saying “It’s none of my business”? Yes, it IS our business and we MUST get involved. There is no point acting disgusted about what happened when we were in a position to do something about it, but didn’t.
    Elizabeth was a prime candidate for exploitation. She was traumatized and felt unloved. A man in a parental role tells her how lovable she is, he talks to her about how wonderful she is and offers to help her by offering safety and security. He connects with her, listening when she speaks, maybe touching her in a comforting way. She trusts that he really does care. She believes that he finds her easy to love. She desperately wants to know that he will be there for her when she needs him. She will be the princess and he will be her “Knight in shining armor”.
    Can you imagine the devastation that she would experience when she discovers that, yet again, he was only interested in her for his own gratification? Yes, he wants the power and control, but above that he wants to violate her preteen body and soul.
    Why, as a society, do we not become more aware of the rights of children? How can we ignore children when they need us, thinking it’s someone else’s duty or responsibility? How can we not become involved? The repercussions for society are huge. Abused children/teens may become violent adults, might engage in criminal behavior or abuse drugs, and sometimes even repeat the cycle of abuse.
    Children, teens and adults want to be wanted, want to be loved, want to be valued, want to believe that they are unique and special beings and that their talents are appreciated. In order to grow into emotional, physically and mentally stable adults, these needs must be met.
    Together, we all must show that working together, respecting one another, being considerate of the needs of others and caring are the most important characteristics of all. We must extend beyond our comfort zone to truly see what is happening in someone’s life and offer help and support where needed. Then maybe, both boys and girls will see that they are strong enough to be conquerors themselves.

  8. Sure, he was Prince Charming come to save her from her personal hell.

    “Apparently some events of her tragic life were known both at her school and among friends, so why did no one report the information to Child Services or the police? Is it because people tend to “not want to get involved”? Is it because people justify their own lack of action by saying “It’s none of my business”? “

    You forgot one, if I go to child services or the police, I’ll hear, we’re too overloaded to chase rumors, bring us proof. They get tired of investigating reported cases with no physical evidence and have to chalk it up to a teenage a woe is me story that turned into gossip. Even if they suspect it’s true, they are powerless without Sure, he was Prince Charming come to save her from her personal hell.

    “Apparently some events of her tragic life were known both at her school and among friends, so why did no one report the information to Child Services or the police? Is it because people tend to “not want to get involved”? Is it because people justify their own lack of action by saying “It’s none of my business”? “

    You forgot one, if I go to child services or the police, I’ll hear, we’re too overloaded to chase rumors, bring us proof. They get tired of investigating reported cases with no physical evidence and have to chalk it up to a teenage a woe is me story that turned into gossip. Even if they suspect it’s true, they are powerless without evidence, especially when the kid is confronted by the parent and authorities they clam up out of fear. Nailing a physiologically abusive parent is very very hard.

    • I agree with you with regard to the Police. They do need some kind of evidence before they can act. However, Children’s Services are required to follow up on every tip, whether there are physical marks or not. At least that’s the case in my area.
      As a teacher, i have reported many instances of child abuse – physical, psychological and neglect. Sometimes, when confronted by a Social Worker, the parent would break down and agree and explain the difficult circumstances that they are enduring. This would give Social Services an opportunity to help the family. Sometimes the parent would deny it, be livid that their ‘secret’ was exposed and take their anger out on the child. This would be the most difficult case – truly horrifying. The only advantage here is that when someone else reports the same information, Social Services has more power to intervene due to a ‘repeat pattern’. The time that I reported serious physical and emotional abuse of a parent against a teen, both the teen and the parent denied it, as you mention, due to fear on the part of the teen. Her mother, the abuser, had scared the girl s#%tless about what would happen if she was taken away. Years later, the girl thanked me profusely for reporting. While she was too frightened to do anything at the time, the fact that I ‘knew’, felt it was wrong and reported it, gave her the strength to leave the family situation as soon as the chance arose. I hope Children’s Services everywhere has the same mandate to protect children first and investigate what might or might not simply be a rumor, after.

  9. What can I say, I’m a metawhore.

    Diane gets it, kids and official systems, because she’s one of our non cape wearing superheroes… teachers.
    I live a couple miles from Chester, PA, which is as poor a city as you can find in the country. Social services (including child protection) is woefully understaffed, underfunded, and overworked. They’re lucky to stop the very worst cases, and that’s usually because of the persistence of a relative or teacher, but too often an ER doctor.

  10. Thank you, Bruce, for the compliment.
    However, “They’re lucky to stop the very worst cases, and that’s … because of … too often, an ER doctor.” , that makes my stomach go into twisted knots. Lord, that’s sad! With all the talk of where money needs to be spent, whether or not taxes should be raised, and what departments can be cut, it is devastating that something so obvious as increased spending on support for children’s well-being gets left in the dust. What kind of future can there be when those in positions of authority can take advantage of minors, then marry them to avoid charges; can abuse their own children, but deny it, claiming it’s just a rumor; or physically or emotionally punish youth at will, but get away with it due to a lack of ‘physical evidence’? It is beginning to make sense that there is so much anger and violence today. Kids are discouraged. The adults who are meant to protect them, to believe in them, to ensure their safety and security are the ones who, instead, are abandoning them. The more we ignore this issue, the more demoralized youth will become and the more resentment will emerge. As Mike says, as a society we need to take responsibility for insisting things change.

  11. Thanks, Dave! I love Weird Al … he’s both brilliant and hilarious! His ability to parody any topic is amazing! I needed a good laugh and your post came at just the right time 🙂
    Have a wonderful week!

    • You’re welcome Dianne! Laughter is still the best medicine and Weird Al always delivers. You have a great week as well!

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