Writing on the Double Yellow Line

Militant moderate, unwilling to concede any longer the terms of debate to the strident ideologues on the fringe. If you are a Democrat or a Republican, you're an ideologue. If you're a "moderate" who votes a nearly straight party-ticket, you're still an ideologue, but you at least have the decency to be ashamed of your ideology. ...and you're lying in the meantime.

Location: Illinois, United States

Friday, July 08, 2011

There Oughtn’t Be a Law

There Oughtn’t Be a Law
© 2011 Ross Williams

I’m going to side with everyone else in the country outraged that Casey Anthony was acquitted. But I doubt that many will appreciate my agreement. Too many people already don’t like my form of agreement on this subject.

Like everyone else, I believe that she killed her child – accidentally or otherwise. But it’s important to distinguish, here: I believe this. I don’t know it. That difference is crucial. A legal system which operates on belief and not proof is a legal system that is otherwise referred to as “mob rule”. Vigilante justice. The posse sometimes gets the right guy strung up by the neck, but it’s only by accident.

We’re supposed to be better than that. We’re supposed to be able to set aside our gut reactions and say, “Okay, big guy, prove it to me.”

People are now howling because a jury in Florida did just that: demanded that it be proved.

Only they’re howling at the jury and not the one responsible for proving the case to them: the prosecutor. The prosecutor, from all knowledgeable commentary, failed to do his job, and failed conspicuously. Watching from the sidelines, I was noting that the case being made against Casey Anthony was pretty much speculative and overly concerned with her not being qualified for Mother of the Year.

Yes, the prosecutor proved her to unequivocally be a bad mother. Oh, and by the way, here are some gory and gruesome photos of a dead toddler, so let’s convict her of murder while we’re here impugning her character.

No, Mr Prosecutor; the law does not work that way, and you of all people should know that.

I am not ashamed to say that I abhor how our otherwise nobly-intended legal system is run. The system itself is swell; the people who run it are charlatans, quacks, egomaniacal imperious assholes, power-hungry petty tyrants, overcompensating short-dick narcissists, and lazy political hacks. From cops to courts and beyond; federal, state and local. To say I have little respect for those who populate our legal system is to suggest that there exists a microscope so powerful as to actually detect my respect.

And nothing that occurred in this case does anything to change that.

When asked to explain how the jury reached its verdict, the prosecutor replied, vapidly, “They didn’t see what I saw in the photos.”

Pardon me? The photos showed a desiccated child. I’m sure they saw that; it would be quite hard to miss. If the prosecutor saw anything else, like, oh, I don’t know ... cause of death, or motive, it was his job to point it out. He didn’t. Near as I can tell, no one knows even now how the kid died. No one knows why. Without knowing how, you cannot conclude human involvement; without knowing why, you cannot conclude deliberation.

Murder is the deliberate act of taking someone’s life. Non-deliberate death, if it’s caused by another person, is manslaughter at worst, or an accident at best. If it’s not caused by another person, it’s an accident, period. They don’t know how or why. They just guessed. They guessed, paraded out a bad mother, and showed gruesome pictures.

If murder conviction is going to be a slam-dunk just by trotting out gory photos of dead bodies in front of a person who is easy to dislike, then why go through the motions in the first place? It would seem to be unnecessary. Paste the photos on the gnarled old cottonwood tree, slap the horse on its hindquarters, and watch as the varmint swings in the wind. Photos equal guilt; whoever we catch to pin it on is trivial – and justice is done.

A prosecutor assuming that a jury is nothing but a group of shallow, easily manipulated fools willing to translate grotesque photos into automatic guilt without him answering the pesky questions of “how” and “why” is insulting and offensive to me. And, apparently, the jury as well. They convicted the young woman of the Bad Mother charges – lying to the cops, and failure to report the death or disappearance of a child.

Casey Anthony has been in jail for so long waiting on this prosecutorial circus that her prison time for those Bad Mother convictions will be up next week, within two weeks of the verdict. And people are howling about that as well.

Some states, having watched this freakshow masquerading as justice, are now so indignant that they can’t [or won’t] see straight. Many bills for “Caylee’s Law” are being proposed around the country. They would turn the failure to “promptly” report the death or disappearance of a child into a felony. It is currently a misdemeanor to not talk to the police when you should.

Does anyone seriously think this is the answer, though? making a new law to cover for the prosecutor’s arrogant ineptitude? This won’t stop the next bad mother who offs her nuisance child she never wanted, and it won’t make that mother’s prosecutor do his job any better than this one did.

Want to know what it will do? It will give needless felony convictions to dozens of teenaged girls who, while babysitting for a neighbor, friend or cousin’s child, has the child run off somewhere; the babysitter will panic, call her own mother instead of the police, who will also panic and come rushing to help find the missing child ... who will be found in the basement playing with toys behind a row of moving boxes.

But because the missing child wasn’t reported, it will be a felony, and the babysitter will provide a prosecutor with a slam-dunk gimme conviction to pad his conviction rate. And this will help him get re-elected so he can continue in the fine tradition of the lazy political hacks that fill our legal system from cops to courts and beyond. He’ll then be free, for another term, to assume that the citizens who form the juries he presents cases to are nothing but shallow, easily manipulated fools willing to translate his inept legal quackery into a murder conviction ... as long as it comes with gory photos.


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