The Casey Anthony Paradox
The verdict is in from the Casey Anthony trial in Orlando: not guilty of murder or manslaughter in the death of her daughter Caylee. The unending coverage of this trial by the media has focused on every possible angle and detail of the trial, from testimonies of witnesses to facial expressions and clothing worn by spectators. Now at last the verdict is in and we can all stop holding our breath. We all know a not guilty verdict doesn’t mean she’s not guilty. It simply means there wasn’t enough evidence to prove guilt. As to what she may actually be guilty of…we may never know in this lifetime.
Not that it matters in the grand scheme of things, or that many people will even read my little opinions here, but I have a few observations about the story.
Part of the reason for such a swell of public interest is Caylee Anthony herself. She was an engaging, beautiful child. But it speaks to our values as a society that we care more about attractive people than unattractive ones. How many children go missing every year? How many children are murdered? And how many of those do we hear about…or see photos? Do we hear more about the attractive ones than the not-so-attractive ones? Should Caylee’s death matter more than the others?
I knew from the bits and pieces online about the trial testimony that it would be hard to get a jury to convict Casey Anthony of murder. There was no hard evidence connecting her to Caylee’s death. There wasn’t even conclusive evidence of how she died. With so little of the facts, no jury could find her guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Now, if she had been on trial for being a poor mother, I expect there would have been twelve votes to convict. But the jury did what it was asked to do: weigh the evidence and the testimony and render a verdict on the charges.
The really amazing thing is the mindset of the people around the country who have watched this story play out. Within seconds of the verdict the posts were flying on Facebook and Twitter. “No justice for Caylee” wrote one, and another said, “You have to be kidding! Not guilty?” and “Kill your baby in Florida and go free!” wrote still another. It’s a sad place to be when we would convict someone based upon emotion and suspicion. That kind of mob rule is for animals, not for thinking people.