Americans have always been captivated by high-profile trials and crimes, whether it is the Scopes Monkey Trial, The Al Capone Trial, or the O. J. Simpson trials we have shown ourselves captivated by jurisprudence. Even the trial of Socrates still interests us. Today that thought hit me as I traveled up and down the I-5 corridor to have lunch with a friend. For a while I listened to my iPod (for those curious—Some Stones, G-N-R, a little Frank Sinatra) but then I turned to one of my favorite things to do—radio surfing. I discovered that the whole world was talking about one of two things.
Thing One: The Amanda Knox Trial.
I really do not know if Amanda Knox is guilty or innocent, but I must admit it is captivating. I’m torn over her conviction/release. If she is guilty, the crime she committed is awful, but if she really is innocent, I can think of few things worse than being imprisoned overseas. Once upon a time I entertained the thought of taking a church in British Columbia and one of the main reasons I didn’t was the advice I received from a friend: Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness ends at the border.
Aside from the forensics of the case—that a person was brutally murdered—the whole situation regarding her release has been odd. The media have been hounding her ever since she got out, and now they are apparently camped outside her home. I hope she has enough sense not to go home. Ironically, that is probably the one place she really wants to go to, but she shouldn’t. If I were her, I’d find a quiet cabin far away from civilization and hunker down for a month or two. That is all it will take for people to forget.
Thing Two: The Michael Jackson Doctor Trial.
Is it sad that, even though I’ve heard all about this trial and all sorts of information about it, I do not know the doctor’s name? I just know it is Michael Jackson’s doctor. Apparently the case revolves around his care of the King of Pop, whether or not he killed him by overdosing him on the drug that killed him. It is hard to tell, but the media seems to think he is guilty. To me, that might mean he is innocent. I do not trust the media to judge anything correctly.
The saddest part is that even in death, Michael Jackson seems to have no peace. I know that his life was a sordid celebrity explosion, swirling questions of child sexual abuse, and who knows what else, but death is usually the final word on such issues. But the cult of celebrity is so strong in our culture (notice the striking similarities between the word “cult” and “culture”) even death does not end the dog and pony show. Do not get me wrong, if the doctor is guilty he should be punished and put in prison. But this hardly seems national media newsworthy. How many other people will die today from medical malpractice? Is Jackson’s life (and death) that much more important than anyone else’s?
There are so many other stories I’d love to hear about, but these salacious stories suck up all the air. For example, I’ve not seen or heard much about protests on Wall Street, the looming demise of Rick Perry’s presidential bid, the drone killing of an American citizen overseas, or the quarreling in congress right now over funding the government. Does anyone remember Afghanistan? Libya? Iran? Israel?
Maybe news about trials are just a diversion for us so we don’t have to think about the things which have real impact on how we live.