Trial. . .

I loved yesterday’s Helen post.  Just loved it.  And wish I had something as adorable and romantic.  Instead, I come to you steamed, bewildered, and seeking clarity.

A media black hole has developed in my back yard –kindof– and it seems to have sucked in the attention of the entire nation.  It’s the Casey Anthony trial and it’s huge and ugly and costly and divisive.   The national media outlets are clogged with stories and speculation and declarations of impact.   People line up the night before outside the courthouse to get a seat in the gallery.  Fistfights have broken out among spectators!  Why this particular story and why this frenzy of interest in such an ugly and disheartening case.  It all centers on this woman, Casey Anthony.  She has been scrutinized and analyzed ad-nauseum and her experiences and actions have been examined under the harsh light of national media for more than three years now.  Every aspect of her life has been made public.  Every part of her psyche has been picked apart on national television by “experts” who have never met her.  And the results have been. . . ugly.

Every interaction, every thought, rebellious impulse, and desire have been catalogued and weighed on differing scales to produce wildly dissimilar conclusions.  She’s a poor, troubled girl; she’s a demon walking. She’s a pathetic victim; she a vicious and unnatural killer.  She loved her precious child; she hated the little girl she was “forced” to bear.  Who knows the truth?  Will we EVER know the truth about what happened to the bright little three year old who was murdered and discarded in a trash bag?

What is it about the case that fascinates us so?  It has epic themes, I’ll grant you that.  Mother-daughter battles, familial jealousies, moralistic parenting that may turn out to hold darker motives, partying life, attractive young woman who behaves inexplicably toward her child, and . . . lies and more lies.  Whatever else you think of Casey Anthony, she has been proven to be a liar.  She changes her life story and motivations as some women change shoes.   Does that make her a murderer, too?

Are you watching the trial or reading about it in your papers?  Have you caught some of the media hype with Nancy Grace and Dr. Drew, Heraldo Rivera and Court TV and all the national morning shows?  What do you think?  If you’re following more than casually, what draws you to the story?

Personally, I just wish it were over and the verdict had been read so these people would get off my TV and out of the headlines.  Yet, I want the truth to come out.  I want to know that justice has been done.  And my great fear is that (like the OJ Trial) we will never know if justice is done.  Doubts will always linger and guilt will shroud many of the participants in the drama for the rest of their lives.

The other thing that haunts me is the fact that the woman’s whole life is dissected and on display for the world to see.   And no life can withstand that kind of scrutiny and opinionizing and still be sympathetic.   Not mine.  Not anyone’s.  Think of the small secrets, petty animosities, youthful indiscretions, dumb choices, and little white lies that litter your own background.  Think of the well-intentioned blunders or ill-informed mistakes you’ve made.  Think of the strains and disruptions in relationships you’ve had that could easily be cast in a sinister light. . . making you into a “narcissistic personality” or  “pathologically needy” or even show you to have “sociopathic tendencies.”   Me?  I put my foot in my mouth sometimes when not meaning to at all.  And what if someone– looking for a juicy story– cast that in a malicious light.  I could be a monster, too.

Am I empathizing with defendant Anthony?  I don’t think so.  I’m just thinking about the limits of our very human ability to KNOW.   As a writer, I create people and backgrounds and interior lives shaped by experiences.  And I’m increasingly aware that my characters (like real humans) can be misinterpreted and slandered and despised. . . when I intend them to be understood.   Ever had a hero that readers found difficult or unpalatable?  Ever looked at one of your friends’ spouses or significant others and thought “What the hell does she see in him?”  We see things though different lenses, through our own unique and complex prescription of morals, experiences, and desires.   So what is the truth about us? 

What is Casey Anthony’s truth?

Yeah.  Probably too philosophical.  Somebody– twelve somebodies, actually– have to decide about Casey Anthony.  At least with regard to the matter of her daughter’s death.   And each of them, like each of us has a Point Of View.   I don’t envy them that duty.

Ever wonder about God’s Point of View?

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20 Responses to Trial. . .

  1. Cindy Gerard says:

    Very thought provoking post, Betina. And I’m so there with you. I want this over too but i fear that even when the trial is complete, we will never know the truth about what happened to that precious little girl. I suspect that this case draws so much interest because of her. We want someone to stand up for her. We want someone to break the barrier of lies and confusion and TELL US WHAT HAPPENED. Give us something to make sense of a senseless act. Or PROVE to us that it wasn’t a murder, that it was a horrible accident and someone panicked and compounded that mistake with more ugly irreversably bad decisions. ANYTHING to give that little girl justice.

    • Betina says:

      You’re right, Cindy. At base, this is all about a defenseless little girl who had a bright, loving, and trusting spirit, whose trust was violated in the worst ways possible. I can’t hel;p thinking about my own little ones– my grands. Even as a grandmother, I feel a huge responsibility to protect them. I’d go to the mat with anyone trying to hurt them. From all appearances the grandparents loved the little girl. What hell they must be going through. . . having known things were not always right and not having protected her better.

  2. Leanne Banks says:

    I think people are focused on this because it’s about a mother who supposedly killed her own precious child. Mothers are supposed to protect their children, not kill them, so MANY mothers and others are horrified. I’m not watching it because it makes me sick to my stomach. All I know about God’s point of view is that He is a LOT smarter than I am!

    • Betina says:

      Leanne, it makes me sick, too. Just a glimpse or two of the photos and film clips of the little girl romping around with her family are all I can take. I have to turn it off.

      As to God’s POV. . . I guess it depends on your view of God. Some see God as the supreme judge that will someday mete out justice with a vengeance. Others see a loving parent who knows our flaws and sins and loves us anyway. . . Imagine how hard it would be to judge the worth of a single human life. . . knowing all of the hurts and pain and experiences that person has endured, as well as the pain and injustice they have brought on others.

  3. Kathleen says:

    I liken this trial to a train wreck, it is so horrific, yet you can’t look away. I have been getting caught up on this trial daily on The Joy Bahar Show when I watch it, so I don’t actually watch it, only get snippets. I have better things to do with my day, that sit glued to the TV watching this debaucle.

    To tell you the truth, I don’t want to think she is guilty, because the thought that a mother could kill her own child, for what ever reason is just too horrific to me, yet it has happened many times over. The thing is, most of the woman who have killed there children, have admitted it and got sent to jail, but this one is not budging. But I tend to lean toward guilty. The evidence to me just all points to her. But if they could let off OJ Simpson, and Michael Jackson, then anything could happen..

    • Betina says:

      I don’t want to think she’s guilty either. But I just can’t get past the reports of lies and conflicting stories. . . and the way she callously drags others into her story and falsely accuses them to try to get out of trouble. She’s created a whole world view where she’s is innocent and misunderstood and every one else (including her parents and brother) are guilty of horrific stuff.

  4. Helen Brenna says:

    I walk out of the room whenever the TV turns to this topic. Can’t stand it. Couldn’t stand the OJ trial, either. Glad I’m not a juror!

    • Betina says:

      More and more, I do the same, Helen. The Pool Boy has more interest in it than I have and so when I’m walking through the family room, I catch more than enough.

      How much of the hoopla is really the circus of the media trying to find something to fill air time or print columns?

  5. kylie brant says:

    I think Leanne nailed it. It’s the visceral response people have when a woman allegedly kills her own child. Remember the Susan Smith trial? And mark me a cynic, but no, we’ll never truly KNOW what happened. Lawyers on both sides of the aisle give a performance to convince the jury of what happened. And the best performance wins. It’s that simple. Both performances will have elements of the truth but neither will be the whole truth.

    • Betina says:

      I just read Michael Connolly’s latest book “The Fifth Witness” and it lays out the prosecution/defense dance better than anything I’ve read in quite a while. It’s not pretty.

      Performances. That’s exactly what they are. Thanks, Kylie.

  6. Hellion says:

    I don’t think we’ll know what the truth is. I’m pretty sure very few people are interested in the truth where this case is concerned. The prosecutor is interested not in Casey’s truth, but in the truth that a little girl is dead. The defender is interested in any plausible truth that will acquit Casey–and I can see it as plausible. That drowning in the pool and trying to cover it up does sound plausible. It’s down to was this done negligently (accidental drowning) or maliciously (“I want my life back”–which no one wants to believe a mother is capable of doing.)

    I watch a lot of TODAY show, so yes, this crops up a lot. I am interested (despite myself); and I do think similar things to what you mention. The media has the ability to color a situation and make us believe anything. Looking for the angle, the hook. But even if Casey does ever decide to tell us her truth–how much of what she tells us will be her slant, her hook?

    • Betina says:

      Great analysis, Hellion! I loved the way you delineated the various POV’s. And I agree, even if someday she does a tell-all. . . could we believe it? Remember the OJ book “How I Did It, If I Did It”? He seemed to be taunting us with the fact that he got away with it. . . and would use it to make money!

      I’d love to know who has book and movie deals in the works. . . and for how much.

      Or would it just disillusion me more?

  7. loisgreiman says:

    I’ve seen or heard very little of the case. Crazy busy and all that. But I don’t think anyone can avoid it completely. And from I’ve seen it just seems that she’s not feeling the kind of gut tearing agony that one would if she lost a child. I would be non functional. She seems too poised to me…too casual to be innocent.

    • Betina says:

      Her casual air and strange behavior have been a great source of suspicion and anger during the entire investigation. Most people, upon losing a beautiful young child, would be devastated. The young woman on television hasn’t seemed especially devastated– until the reality of the pupnishment she’s facing if convicted was driven home by the trial. Now when she cries, I find myself wondering (yes, cynically) just who she’s crying for. Her little daughter or herself.

      And I don’t like myself for thinking it. This is one time the “presumption of innocence” seems out of place.

  8. Recently gave Elizabeth a copy of a book by an author I saw on “The Daily Show.” Book titled THE PSHCHOPATH TEST. (Same guy wrote MEN WHO STARE AT GOATS.) I didn’t read it first–it came the day I needed it for a gift–but she’s been reading it, says it’s fascinating but scary because many of the traits of a psychopath are also traits found in people in power. (She also says nobody sits next to her on the bus when she’s reading it.)

    I think Casey Anthony is the only person who will ever know what happened, and I wonder whether she’s capable of knowing what really happened. I think she’s missing a big chunk of “the better angels of our nature.” Psychopaths are totally devoid of empathy. They can take an action against someone without having any care for the person at the moment of impact. They can separate themselves entirely. I think you can see a void in Anthony’s eyes. I remember seeing it in Susan Smith. I remember thinking after the first couple of news conferences with her–My God, she killed those kids.

    Hard to imagine a woman capable of such actions, but it isn’t a new phenomenon. It’s as old as Greek tragedy. Remember Media? Insanely jealous, that woman. Psychopath squared.

    • Betina says:

      Kathy I have got to get me that book! Sounds like a goldmine of character traits.

      For some time I’ve through that any man with an ego big enough to think he deserved to be President of the US. . . probably shouldn’t be elected. Maybe we should draft our presidents. Whaddaya think?

  9. The story that really interests me as a writer and tugs as my heartstrings as a woman is Anthony’s mother. Is it Cindy? (I’m not watching closely. Can’t stand Nancy Grace. Her demeanor, her tone–he reminds me of a vulture.) Anyway, I hurt for Casey’s mom, Caylee’s grandma. It’s hard to imagine being torn that way, the loss of child and grandchild both under unthinkable circumstances.

    I will say that even in a case as horrific as this, I’m opposed to the death penalty. The courts make mistakes–witness the Innocence Project. But just from a financial standpoint, I heard just yesterday that in CA it costs an average of over $300 million to execute someone. I’m sure you’ll find some more or less stats if you look that up, but just for today’s discussion, i found this on FL:

    Enforcing the death penalty costs Florida $51 million a year above what it would cost to punish all first-degree murderers with life in
    prison without parole. Based on the 44 executions Florida had carried out since 1976, that amounts to a cost of $24 million for each
    execution. (Palm Beach Post, January 4, 2000).

    • Betina says:

      As a grandma, I’m with you, Kathy. I hate to think of the pain she must be going through. And the guilt.

  10. Argh! That’s PSYCHOPATH.

  11. Marcelle Cole says:

    The saddst part is we will nver know if the child suffered, & if so for how long. Or is it possible her suffering began the day she came home brand new to the world. I beleive we are giving too much interest to a person I feel is abhorrent in nature based on remarks, allegedly, that mom made about the burden her child was. As a mom I have to know where my children are if even in the distracted sense for my 21 year old as I have been raised to always let someone know where you are. Just in case and who would not be fereaking out when a child so young is gone 10 minutes. I know we handle grief differently but this mom has not shown the devastation parents show when a child is first missing then found deceased.

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