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A public frenzy over Anthony case

July 8, 2011
Messenger News

Guilty. Hands up, when it comes to media-centered courtroom trials, my attention is focused on the drama unfolding. I won't readily admit it to others, but the details are replaying in my mind during the mundane tasks of the day. Perhaps my combing the evidence will reveal something new - call me a civilian detective.

So when a case comes along with such an obvious villain as Casey Anthony, I, like much of the world, am riveted. First came the shock of the disappearance of such an innocent child as Caylee. And when information trickled in about the partying, care-free actions of her mother - the audience steadily turned against the young woman. Her lies made her an easy target of blame, and I quietly wished the worst for her. When news came of her acquittal - I was disappointed, yet not surprised. Rage flew through the airwaves as circumstantial evidence mounted in her direction.

When you take a step back from the everyday focus on the scandal - it's a bit scary how drawn in the public is to such events. But why wouldn't we be? News shows like Nancy Grace focus on only that - luring television audiences in with each and every minute detail that producers can get their hands on. We get the "best" of two worlds - entertainment and reality. "CSI" and other crime shows are popular for a reason. Although we are sickened by certain criminal acts, it's like we can't get enough of worst-case scenarios. And with the fascination of true life stories - this one tugged emotionally for many.

Such a serious crime was committed, and the prime suspect was the partying girl next door. It didn't help that Casey was pretty and came from what seemed like a decent upbringing. The shock value was through the roof.

It's impossible not to scrutinize such cases. We should pay attention to them and make sure that the likelihood for something similar to happen is infinitely small. But is it healthy to be so obsessed with the drama? I mean, people were camping outside of the courthouse waiting to get seats inside, as if it were a theater performance.

Whether it is the Anthony case, or the O.J. Simpson murder trial - these criminal cases will always be brought into the limelight. But should we treat the proceedings as if they were staged events for our viewing pleasure? I doubt it.

If we really think about it - it's not much better than watching gladiator-like events. We are waiting for a death sentence of an individual. We are hanging on the prosecutor's every word, repeating silently, "guilty, guilty, guilty."

And when we do hear the words we are waiting for, it's as if the public is seething for vengeance. Message boards online for those accused will ask for an "eye for an eye" or for the criminal to receive much worse treatment.

I'm not saying that we shouldn't want justice. We should. And those who are guilty deserve a just punishment. But we shouldn't be viewing these events with such seeming delight. Casey Anthony is now an infamous celebrity. Not just because she could likely be guilty of a horrendous crime, but because the public has given her that power.

What we have to remember is Caylee Anthony wasn't an actor. She was a child.

And our thoughts should be with the innocent life that was taken away

So let's take a step back from the spectacle and realize what this really is. A very sad situation.

Carrie Olson is a columnist at the Daily Freeman-Journal in Webster City.



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