Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Quote of the Day
"Every time a Casey Anthony-type trial captures the public's attention, someone gets the idea that we need a new law in response to the completely unrepresentative case, a law that presumably would have prevented that particularly travesty from happening. The problem, of course, is that the new law -- usually poorly written and passed in a fit of hysteria -- is too late to apply to the case it was designed for. But it does then apply to everyone else. Laws named after crime victims and dead people are usually a bad idea. They play more to emotion than reason. But they're disturbingly predictable, especially when they come after the death of a child."
-- Radley Balko, in the Huffington Post, on the knee-jerk stupidity that is the proposed "Caylee's Law"
If you couldn't see something like this coming in the wake of the Casey Anthony verdict you've been living under a bridge for the past couple of decades. The public consensus that Anthony got away with murder is so overwhelming that it's the safest bet possible for any jackass politician looking to prove that he or she loves children and is tough on crime to back a new law aimed at undoing this supposed injustice ex post facto. There's almost nothing that stands against one of the clearest fundamental principles of America's legal system -- that this is a nation of laws, not men -- than actually naming a law after somebody, particularly a murdered child, as a means of honoring his or her supposed legacy. As Balko says, these kinds of laws are often hastily thrown together in a fit of outrage and heartbreak -- or at the very least the knowledge that the window in which that outrage and heartbreak can be opportunistically exploited is relatively small -- and they would rarely survive constitutional scrutiny should anyone give a shit about such things at the time they're sharpening their pitchforks.
When it comes to the potential exploitation or suffering of kids in this country, our brains shut down completely and we're happy to turn into a screeching mob because we somehow believe that it serves the greater good of keeping children safe, therefore the end justifies the means. This is a ridiculous tack to take and often a very destructive one -- and I say this as a father who'd probably be more than willing to strangle someone with his bare hands should a hair on his daughter's head ever be harmed.
Maybe Casey Anthony killed her daughter and will now get away with it. Maybe she didn't. Neither you nor I -- nor anyone else -- will ever know the truth. But a court of law has spoken and while its verdict may incense and infuriate you as a parent, a human being, whatever, it's absurd, disgusting and un-American to try to figure out a way to essentially set aside a jury's verdict through legislation or, maybe worse, to publicly castigate that jury night after night simply because the verdict it returned didn't satisfy your mindless bloodlust.
Which brings me, of course, to Nancy Grace.
The woman seriously needs to shut the fuck up because she's going to get somebody killed.
I happened to stumble across Grace's wall-to-wall coverage of the "Countdown to Tot Mom's Release from Jail" last night and I'm glad I hadn't eaten before I did. It for the most part goes without saying that I expect nothing at all from Nancy Grace: I don't expect her to behave like a reputable journalist, an upstanding member of the legal community, or even a semi-sane human being. But her constant and deafening drum-beat that justice wasn't served in the Casey Anthony case and that everyone associated with securing Anthony's acquittal on murder charges should burn in hell is new territory even for a woman who's already basically killed somebody.
Grace isn't parsing her language; she isn't offering the disclaimer that, "Well, the system did what it's supposed to do but given what I saw I don't agree that the right call was made." No, Grace is both narcissistically playing on the anger many feel in the wake of the verdict and feeding it by rallying the torch and pitchfork crowd with exhortations of joyous, dancing devils and an unfeeling, kid-killing bitch of a defendant who will now be free to go forth and make millions. She's spitting venom at Anthony, at her defense lawyer, at the jurors themselves and at the system that supposedly went so horribly wrong somewhere. Except that it didn't. The system did exactly what it was supposed to do -- and the details of the case that Anthony and her lawyer seized upon and exploited, horrific though they may be, are the same kinds of details that often ensure that an innocent person is able to prove as much.
Once again, is Casey Anthony innocent? I can't say. Neither can you. And neither can fucking Nancy Grace. That's why we have judges and juries and trials and verdicts -- and why we have to abide by them, even the ones we don't like.