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.


pxilated said...

I agree with this so strongly that I just had to leave a comment, even though I have nothing to add. Thank you, thank you.

IBG said...

The real crime here is that Nancy Grace is on the air in the first place. A responsible network wouldn't allow someone like this to spew. The fact that she can grab a bullhorn and whip up a few ratings points by stoking public outrage is all that matters. The Fox business plan of hiring the cast of Freaks as news commentators has proven to be lucrative. That other networks have adopted it is tragic.

Anonymous said...

At first I was supportive of the new law being proposed but when I take out the emotion and think about it, we have laws to cover this kind of thing. They could have charged Casey with Child abuse and neglect. I mean, her daughter was missing for a friggin month and she never reported it! They could have convicted her of that, at the least. So the law does already provide for such behavior. Anything more is a waste of time and as you noted, just a play to our emotions.

nancym said...

Ugh. That Woman- she gives us Nancies a bad name.

I heard a comment on Christiane Amanpour's show a couple weeks ago, where it was noted that France (discussion was about Strauss-Kahn) does not allow cameras in the courtroom, and that we encourage it here is shocking to many. If NG's foaming mouth had been duct-taped shut several years ago, no cameras allowed in the courtroom, attorneys not becoming insta-celebrities... ah, I don't know. We want to see and hear EVERYTHING so we can make our own decisions- but we are not the ones who matter.

"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." QFT.

Hsft said...

Long time browser, First time poster. I too, agree with so much of your post. I work in state politics and our inbox has been flooded with the form letter emails from Joe and Jane McDimwit to please "enact Caylees law". It's obnoxious. Not to mention, thanks to Mr. Bill O'Reilly, I have been fielding calls as to why our state doesn't have "Jessica's Law" on the books. (Well, Colorado has very similar legislation already in place, we never needed to enact it) but of course that doesn't fit the histroionic narrative that these souless harpies need to boost their ratings.

I was one of those who when I first heard the verdict, started immediately unfriending anyone on FB who posted a picture of Caylee as their profile pic.
Children die every day from diesease, starvation, casulites in war, but I suppose because they die in the name of capitalism, imperialism and the almighty profit margin, it's an honorable death.

Anonymous said...

I just really needed to say, I agree 100%!!!

Eric said...

Well said, Chez. Thank you.

namron said...

I have died and my essence has arrived at wherever it goes at death. As I come to some awareness or consciousness of my immediate surroundings I find myself in some country without divorce laws and I am married to Nancy Grace. The blonde Stormtrooper head and acid-washing voice are my constant companion and because I am in the afterlife suicide or homicide is not an option. I am in Hell!

Matt said...

Spot on Onion


Anonymous said...

If people actually knew how controlled DC is by the media, it would astonish them. This is so symbolic of just that.

Want to know something even more frightening? "Caylee's Law" already has 50,000 signatures.

Isn't that like a form of direct democracy?


Lisa said...

I work with quite a few people who really like and admire her and it's been hell for me lately because they all know I think she's a sanctimonious harpy. They claim I just can't stand her because I'm a bleeding heart liberal and I explain, no, I can't stand her because I have integrity and dignity and a working brain.

TheReaperD said...

Laws named after dead children, especially if they are enacted within 30 days of being in the media are a really, really bad idea.

The real "crime" here was that the prosecution was overreaching and they probably knew it. They just banked on the jury being so angry at her that they would convict her of murder, regardless of the crime she actually may have committed. This is a classic case of when prosecutors want to get elected to higher office or want to set precedent for the expansion of power for existing laws.

If the prosecution had went for negligent homicide, failing to report a missing child and obstruction of justice, it probably would have been a slam dunk.

Brian@attorneys letter said...

You are absolutely right.The people those are suffered from the crimes,accidents and other different cases faces lots of problems for getting their rights.So there should some facilities so that the people will get the solution quickly and easily.