What Casey Anthony Says About Us
Wednesday - July 13, 2011
Something is a little off about us right now. I mean, we’re so off kilter and extreme in our emotional reactions to events beyond our control. Take the sad and ugly case of Casey Anthony. The young woman was acquitted of killing her 2-year-old daughter Caylee, and the rage in America was palpable. I could almost hear the collective gasp across the land when she was pronounced not guilty of murder, even though clearly, in my opinion, the verdict was correct. I may not like it, but it was correct.
I will not second-guess the jury. I do believe the prosecutors failed to make their case. The burden of proof in a courtroom is supposed to be on the prosecution to prove guilt, not on the defense to prove innocence. So the jury did its job and came to the only decision it could, based on the evidence. Or, more precisely, the lack of it.
The outcry, though, was swift and loud. People were salivating for a conviction. They wanted her in prison.
They even wanted her put to death. Throughout her televised trial her carefully blank face mystified and enthralled but mostly enraged the TV viewing masses. She was and is the most hated mother in America.
I can understand the rage, although I do not share it. What kind of mother does not report it when her daughter goes missing? What kind of mother parties when she has no clue where her baby is? It boggles the mind. If Anthony had been on trial for being a bad mother, she would have been tried, convicted and locked up in no time flat. But she wasn’t on trial for bad parenting. She was on trial for murder. And they couldn’t prove she did it. The jury did what it had to do.
What bothers me more about this case is what it revealed about us. The public rush to judgment even before Anthony was brought to trial stank to high heaven. The mob mentality sickened me. The near hysteria of certain “analysts” nearly made my ears bleed. One in particular, CNN’s Nancy Grace, was relentless in her insinuations and accusations and the shrillness of her nightly diatribes. “Witch hunt” is the phrase that comes to my mind. I don’t care if Grace is a former prosecutor. She has apparently thrown all her legal and ethical training out the window in the name of the almighty ratings god, taking on the role of a mass media rabble-rouser. She basically tried and convicted Anthony on the air, and certainly stoked the emotional fever surrounding the trial. Grace, in my mind, is a disgrace.
I’m also wondering why so many people were so caught up in this trial. Why the sick fascination? Was it the luridness of the allegations of incest and abuse?
Did the dysfunction in this family make us feel better about our own? Or did we sincerely care about a cute little girl whose sweet face stared at us in photos and home videos, so unaware of the tragedy to come?
I think it was all that, plus something more. I think as a nation we are reeling from economic uncertainty, and that is bothering us. A lot. Many people are scared, unsettled, and that fear is affecting our confidence and our equilibrium. I’m seeing more of the segment our population that wants certainty and safety. They want clear winners and losers, good guys and bad, black and white. My way or the highway. No gray. And no compromise.
So in this unyielding atmosphere, Casey Anthony had to be either innocent or guilty. Anything less is almost unbearable. But in the end, that is what we got a murky, unsatisfying non-conclusion to a crime that cries to be solved.
There is one thing we all want, regardless of whether or not we agree with the verdict. We want justice for little Caylee.
We still don’t know who or what killed her. We don’t know how. We don’t know why. I don’t think we ever will. All we are left with is an anger hangover and unanswered questions and pity for a little girl who never had a chance. Caylee Anthony may never get the justice she deserves.
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