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Casey Anthony Freed while Africans Starve

August 5, 2011 by Somebody Else

If you’d been watching Nancy Grace’s television show in the weeks leading up the conclusion of the trial of Casey Anthony, a Florida woman accused of murdering her 2-year-old daughter Caylee in June of 2008, you might have gotten the impression that this was the most important news event in the world, no exceptions admitted. It was a suspicious story, the mother, dubbed “Tot Mom” by Grace, behaved in a suspect way, and there were some curious twists and turns as the evidence turned up, was gathered, and then presented. Was she guilty or was she innocent? Was the toddler’s death an accident, or was it a homicide?

Certainly, if it were your daughter or granddaughter, it would be the number-one news event for you. It would completely consume your mind and probably make it nearly impossible for you to lead a normal life for years, if not decades. You would want resolution. You would want to see the guilty punished. You would want to see justice done. But should it be in the national spotlight?

When O.J. Simpson went on trial in 1994 for the murder of his wife and her friend, it was, no doubt, a trial of national importance.

O.J. was a prominent and beloved cultural and sports icon. He was also an African‑American living in a society whose judicial system is dominated by white men.

Was he actually guilty of the murders? As the trial progressed, it became clear that whether or not O.J. was guilty was secondary to whether or not Los Angeles Police Commissioner Mark Furman had been involved in planting false evidence on O.J., namely, the bloodstained gloves which evidently did not fit on his hands.

Therein was the transcendence of the case. If Furman could plant false evidence on O.J. and get away with it, the door was wide open for cops everywhere to plant false evidence on African-Americans throughout the country -- or, to put it another way, cops who were already doing this would be led to understand that they might continue on with business as usual for the foreseeable future. Understandably, the jury in the O.J. case gave some serious thought to attorney Johnny Cochran’s famous words: “If the gloves don’t fit, you must acquit.”

This case was a transcendent one for the reasons given. But what about the Casey Anthony case? Was it transcendent?

Well, as I have already said, to Nancy Grace it was the most important thing in the history of the freaking universe. Her eagle-like visage stared back at us on the television screen, seething with indignity and outrage on a non-stop basis for months on end. She was angry, she was deeply offended, she was bursting at the seams with certitude and conviction, she was out to convict Casey Anthony with every last fiber of her being, and she was practically reaching out her hand through the television to grab you and take you along for the ride until the very end.

And the truth be told, Casey Anthony did seem pretty guilty. She really did come across as the spoiled, petulant, self-centered, lying, vain, and ruthless monster that Grace vehemently assured us she was. She was not likeable, and if you were like me, you found it hard to imagine that she was innocent, even if you paid no mind whatsoever to Nancy Grace’s hysterical, overheated, sledgehammer efforts to convince you of her guilt.

Casey Anthony and Nancy Grace

But the jury did not think that she was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, and since that is the legal standard in this country, at least in theory, she was found innocent of murdering her daughter.

So, was the Casey Anthony trial transcendent in the same way that O.J.’s trial was transcendent? Did finding Casey Anthony innocent open the door for mothers all over the country to murder their unwanted toddler children with complete impunity? Let’s not forget the Susan Smith case back in 1994, in which the young mother drowned her two sons, one a toddler and the other an infant. It was a trial that riveted the entire nation, and she was found guilty. Did the Casey Anthony case reverse the Susan Smith legal precedent for convicting mothers when they murder their small children? Will they let Susan Smith out of jail on that basis? I think not.

In that case, where is the transcendence? Let’s be perfectly honest here -- there is none.

Evil, heartless mothers have been murdering their innocent young children for millennia, for eons. Is it a terrible, heinous act? There is no point in even asking such a question -- it goes without saying.

Infanticide is one of those great, big, incredibly ancient taboos that probably predate the manifestation of spoken language among our species. It’s a primeval kind of sin, and it’s happened before in the United States -- actually, many times before in recent memory, with much less fanfare, and in some cases, with little to no press coverage at all. If that is the case, then why has this trial been so different?

I’ll tell you why it has been different -- because of the emergence of our newest news media star, the woman who has found a way to channel every gossipy, mean-spirited, obsessive, and self-righteous woman gathering with her coworkers at the water cooler or the coffee maker to share the latest slice of disturbing news and to blithely pass judgment on the parties involved before the real jury has even been selected, the woman who has added a decorative sprinkling of her legal training to the cases she covers in order to add an air of legitimacy to the emotional tirades that she tries to pass off as analysis, the woman whose fiancĂ© was tragically murdered when she was only a teenager, and who has turned her whole life into a crusade to convict the supposedly guilty in the courtroom of public opinion before they go on trial in front of a real jury, that is, Ms. Nancy Grace, who, in her inscrutable wisdom, decided that the Casey Anthony case must be front and center. And so, as she huffily decreed, it was.

I’ll admit that Grace’s loss of her fiancĂ© lends sincere personal conviction and urgency to the cases she covers on her show. Is she just cynically grabbing after ratings? No, I don’t think so. Is she really and truly upset by what she is talking about? Absolutely. Does that make it okay for her to rant and rave endlessly about these cases? No, it does not.

Why? Because, quite simply, there are bigger fish to fry out there in this world of ours, matters of much greater importance, matters of true transcendence, matters which are really crucial, matters in dire need of immediate attention. But Nancy Grace doesn’t seem to be paying any attention to those.

For example, let’s consider the horrible, deepening famine in East Africa this summer. The rains didn’t come, now the people are starving en masse in an area that has already been ravaged by endless, bloody civil war.

Has Nancy Grace wiped the fancy makeup off of her face, has she boarded a plane to Nairobi, Kenya, has she gotten someone to drive her around the devastated areas in a Land Rover with her film crew in tow, has she reported on the unspeakable suffering and loss, all of it preventable, all of it attributable in some way to human greed, to human corruption, to human prejudice, to human villainy? Has she sought out the murderers, the foul and awful men both directly and indirectly responsible for this unspeakable tragedy? No, she has not.

Could she do this if she wanted to? Of course -- she has the funds, the resources, and the time. Nothing could hold her back from doing this if she wanted to. Would her star power draw the attention of the nation to millions of starving, suffering people? Sure it would. Could it have a real impact on saving lives there? Of course it could.

But there are no signs of Nancy Grace making that trip to Africa any time soon. Don’t hold your breath, folks. Thousands upon thousands of innocent infants and toddlers are wasting away in the hot African sun, their distended bellies protruding out from beneath sharply outlined ribs, lying naked upon the dusty soil. Does Nancy raise her voice on their behalf?

No, she is too focused upon one small girl whose body was dumped in a Florida swamp three years ago to do anything about that.

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