This article is about a subject that is much more serious and delicate than I normally address, so please forgive the relative lack of levity compared to earlier topics.
Specifically, this article is about the media reaction to the deaths of Trayvon Martin and Caylee Anthony.
You probably know the names of the accused in both cases. It’s a quick Google search away, if you don’t.
And that’s the problem.
I’m not going to name either one of these suspects, because that could give more ammunition to a dangerous and immoral facet of our society.
We’ve lost the ability to presume innocence.
We’ve instead come to the point where we call for blood constantly when a crime gets reported in the media, regardless of the fact that most of us are not privy to all or even most of the details.
We’re all armchair judges and juries—and we fantasize rather unhealthily about being executioners, too.
We see a case like that of Trayvon Martin getting shot, and immediately everyone has an opinion, calling for the accused’s death or life sentencing or rape in prison, which amazingly combines racism, sexism, homophobia, etc., all into one ugly phrase.
Whatever happened to the presumption of innocence in our society?
Please don’t misunderstand what I’m saying. I’m absolutely not saying that there should not be a full and thorough investigation by neutral, unbiased parties into the events surrounding Trayvon Martin’s death.
That would be as big a disservice to Martin as is presuming the guilt of the accused.
My point instead is that over-anxious media are ruining the foundation of our human right to have a fair trial and not receive cruel and unusual punishment.
The trial on the death of Caylee Anthony shows this.
It is hard for me to imagine a more disgusting and farcical trial that I’ve been alive to witness, and not for the same reasons as those of Nancy Grace, prosecutor and nonstop disseminator of horrible opinions for HLN.
The entire trial was covered endlessly partially because of Florida’s extremely liberal “sunshine” laws, which allow for broad public knowledge of government affairs.
That’s not a bad idea in theory, but it absolutely should not be applied the way it was to the Caylee Anthony trial.
All it served to do was to stir up a mob mentality across the country and turn a very serious affair into, again, a farce. The media who were involved in that atrocity should be ashamed of themselves, because they ruined the defendant’s life.
Despite being found innocent by a jury of her peers in a lengthy trial after an exhaustive investigation, the defendant basically had to go into hiding after her trial.
It’s unlikely that said defendant or the accused in the Trayvon Martin case will ever be able to live normal lives as they know it again.
Is this how we want justice in this country?
The federal government has access to nearly unlimited resources and routinely operates outside the normal bounds of the laws it swears to uphold.
The examples of this are beyond numerous, and again a quick Google search will give you access to thousands of citizens wrongly accused and wrongly convicted.
And yet we as a society, in conjunction with the media, ruin people’s lives because we feel we know all the facts and have all the evidence and are the ones with the real truth.
The case of Trayvon Martin is just the latest example of this awful trend. I am all for governmental accountability.
I’m all for a thorough investigation and a trial, if deemed appropriate, especially because this case deals with all sorts of racial inequalities that exist in our justice system today.
That shouldn’t be lost.
But I’m completely, wholly, angrily not ready for another media circus in which we ruin the life of another defendant before a trial and in which we don’t presume innocence.
I can’t imagine a more thoughtless form of “justice” than a circus like that, completely at odds with one of the basic tenets of our Constitution.