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GUILTY UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY
7 December 2009
The piece is, of course, about American Amanda Knox, awaiting the verdict in Italy for the murder of her roommate, at the time of the writing of Cooper's article. Cooper writes, "For those living under a rock for the last two years, she is the Seattle native standing trial in Perugia, Italy, for the sexual assault and murder of her British study-abroad roommate Meredith Kercher."
The jist of the article revolves around the decisions that had already been made about Ms. Knox before the jury returned its verdict. ("She has also been tried in the court of public opinion, and we have responded with indifference.") and how this will affect her life for the rest of her life, should she be found not-guilty by the Italian court.
She has, of course, now been found guilty so that it a moot point, but it brought up something that has been bothering me a lot since the decision was made to try some of the 9/11 terrorists in New York.
This newspaper headline made me so angry when we were in New York that I took a picture of it.
We in this country like to feel we are better than so many other countries. We live by the rule of law, we tell ourselves. One of our most cherished rules of law is that people are innocent until proven guilty.
True, it's pretty well accepted that these guys were the ones (still living) responsible for the tragedy of 9/11, but how are we any better than the people who tried and conviced Amanda Knox before she was tried and convicted by the Italian courts if we are already thirsting for blood before the prisoners have even entered a courtroom. What's the point in having a trial if it's just going to be a sham? If the only reason we are having a trial is to make it OK to execute them? How is it better to hold them for years in deplorable conditions without ability to speak with legal counsel and then bring them into a court which is eager to convict them as quickly as possible than it would have been in the old west to string 'em up on the spot? Or to take the law into our own hands, as Jack Ruby did in killing Lee Harvey Oswald after the Kennedy assassination?
We live by the rule of law when it's convenient. Be honest, how--how many readers here were disappointed in the original O.J. verdict. How many sat glued to the television simply to watch his reaction when he was found guilty? How many truly watched that trial with an open mind and accepted the decision reached by the jury?
The 24 hour a day news cycle has made all of us judge and jury. We make our decision based on talking heads who may never have even met, much less spoken to the person about whom s/he is talking or have any of the details the police have about the case. We are influenced by the choice the media makes in posting photos.
Which one of these two is the convicted killer?
Only one has been convicted and we are crying for a retrial saying that a foreign court wasn't fair. The other hasn't been tried at all and we are already discussing details of his execution.
I'm as upset as the next person about 9/11 and I'm as eager to see justice served as anybody, but I also think it does no good to our reputation as a good, moral and just people to bring someone to trial for the mere purpose of making his death OK in the eyes of the law.
Sorry, but Khalid Sheik Mohamad should be considered innocent until proven guilty. It's what we tell everybody we do. It's what makes this country great -- our ability to let the law take its due course.
And if he's guilty until proven guilty, why not save ourselves the cost of a trial, be honest with the rest of the world and just kill him and be done with it. Isn't that what they do in countries which do not have the rule of law to guide them?
PHOTO OF THE DAY