Somehow the story of JonBenet crept into national headlines nearly ten years ago, which was a tragic story of the rape and killing of a little rich, innocent girl in Boulder Colorado. There are other untold stories of other children that suffered the same fate that did not reach national acclaim, but in this case the nation has fixated for a decade.
There must be something titillating about stories that have a possible conspiracy theory that catapult them to the front page. In this case, Mrs. Ramsey has been the alleged co-conspirator. Now dead, the theories live on. As I bought a soft drink on Thursday at a small run down gas station where nicotine film coated the inventory and the soft haze of smoke filled the dark merchant, the small wrinkled woman behind the counter contested “that schoolteacher didn’t do it, it was the mom.”
That day the suspect, John Karr, had been found. And the continued turmoil of the middle east was shoved into less newsworthy slots to allow the gatekeepers of news media to report so we could decide whether in fact this man was the killer. Somehow all of America was charged with the role reserved for twelve of his peers, and we are given a decision that we are not charged to make. Sans the evidentiary and procedure rules the trial of this man began in the wee hours of morning news.
Among all of the other excesses in the American culture, deciding the guilt or innocence of the suspects the court of news-media brings to its jurors is nothing more than a masturbatory decision process. The effect of these misguided decisions across the country is innocuous and unnecessary, but we continue to engage them at the drop of the mornings stack of newspapers.
O.J. Simpson, Scott Peterson were both tried in the court of public opinion and the court of law. In one case the public opinion convicted while the court of law acquitted. Then the jurors of the court of public opinion lost faith in the court of law because the reached different results. Bound by traditional rules ensuring consistent, just, and fair results, the court of law charged its decision makers with the charge and the returned the infamous result.
The innocence or guilt of a killer is a grave matter not to be taken lightly. However, it is a matter that is taken lightly. For example, I weighed the guild of Karr while eating a bowl of cereal shaking off the remnants of sleep. Equipped with snap judgment, I formed my verdict of the incarcerated man beaming from my television, and I proceeded to inform my co-deliberators throughout the day. In a few short minutes I formed the verdict of Mr. Karr–a man that is well outside my sphere of relationship, but this is now the standard.
In case you’re curious, it was the mom–of course.