Amanda Knox was not framed. She is fortunate — four years in prison could easily have been decades. Instead of a full-on framing, the police treated us to a bizarre reality show: The Emperor’s New Clothes Meets Monty Python.
A bit of misconduct? Yes. Make rational people cringe in horror? Yes. Anything that might risk a criminal charge? No, across that line we shall not go. In a crucible of irrationality and blood-soaked horror, the Perugia police presented a case that was transparent to the point of nonexistence decorated with logic that was borderline insane. It is a telling story.
I say “telling” because this story tells us about ourselves. When you dig into it, you find stunning deposits of evil, fine veins of stupidity, gullibility, and mindlessness, rich pools of irrationality, and valuable nuggets of humor and pathos. There are many other cases in which justice was horribly miscarried — Todd Willingham, Anthony Yarbough, and Earl Washington to name a few — but the Amanda Knox case goes far beyond any of these. It is hard to believe it even happened. Truth really is stranger than fiction.
Without further ado, here is the story of the Amanda Knox case told with a brief prelude followed by the full tale in all its absurd glory. Since you pretty much can’t believe a word of what you read about this case, there are many primary source quotes and references, mostly from the police, the prosecution, the police lab, and the convicting judge. I have endeavored to be accurate and I believe I have done quite well. Nevertheless, if I’ve missed anything, please let me know.
“We broke her and she confirmed what we already knew: Patrick Lumumba, Raffaele Sollecito, and Amanda Knox murdered Meredith Kercher. Once the American confirmed our theory, we were able to make the arrests. No forensic evidence was needed.”
That’s a paraphrase; see the exact quotes below. The point is, the Perugia police were as flagrant and as shameless as the weavers of fine cloth in the famous children’s story.
Interrogating the exhausted young woman in the wee hours one morning a few days after Meredith Kercher drowned in her own blood, police apparently told Knox they knew she had been at her house that night and if she didn’t remember, they would lock her up for decades. Officer Rita Ficarra may have helped jog Amanda’s memory with a couple of well-timed slaps to the back of the head.
One way or another, Knox signed off on the Lumumba theory after she “buckled” in the interrogation room at 1:45 am. Lumumba was arrested a few hours later. It was easy as pie.
Note: Knox’s claims of threats and violence cannot be confirmed by an audio recording because there isn’t one. The room was wired, but police say they didn’t turn on the recording equipment. Both sides agree about the “buckling” part, however.
Police deduced that Lumumba was a vicious murderer because his lovely young employee had texted him the night of the murder: “see you.” Stupid is as stupid does: Knox’s employer was arguably the least likely suspect in all of Perugia. It wasn’t long before Lumumba’s innocence was obvious, even to the Perugia geniuses. So police released the bar owner and charged Knox with slander!
A full-scale international farce now began in earnest. Millions fell for it. But it wasn’t just millions: it was Meredith Kercher’s mother, father, sister, and two brothers too. Even though police incompetence had killed their daughter/sister — the actual murderer had been arrested in Milan five days before on a rock-solid burglary charge but inexplicably set free with no charges against him — the Kerchers fell in line with the outrageous story the police were telling.
Lumumba was free, but police still had their pretty American suspect and her bewildered Italian boyfriend locked up. The tabloids had had a field day. Police had no intention of admitting to gross incompetence. So, with the Kerchers on board, they started looking for DNA evidence with which they could make a case.
Their plan was beautiful in its simplicity: find nothing, say it’s something, keep a straight face, and under no circumstances release the recording of the interrogation. It was a good strategy. They fooled the world (or enough of it anyway), imprisoned two innocent people for four years, and never risked an evidence-tampering charge.
Shakespeare said, “All the world’s a stage,” and it’s true. But as you read, keep in mind a young woman really did die horribly and two people really did spend four years in prison as participants in a sick real-life Monty Python skit.
Here’s how it happened.
The Full Story
Before they could break Knox, they had to suspect her. There is a short, scary-hilarious video of Edgardo Giobbi, the high-ranking Perugia cop, proudly explaining the “psychological method.” This method, which relies on the intuition of morons, led Giobbi and his colleagues inexorably to Amanda Knox.
Giobbi is pictured below, in a still from his prideful video. The quote in large letters is taken from Giobbi’s courtroom testimony in which he described how he and his colleagues broke Knox like a twig once they decided she was the perpetrator. As you can see, Giobbi and his gang are not exactly subtle: indeed, the emperor is pretty close to stark naked here.
After Knox signed off on the Lumumba theory and after Lumumba had been awakened and removed from his house at gunpoint in front of his wife and baby, Chief of police Arturo de Felice convened a triumphant international press conference where he explained to rapt reporters how he and his fellow professionals had solved the Kercher murder before the forensics team could set up their microscopes.
As the moron spoke and the reporters recorded, the handprint in Meredith’s blood found on the wall in her bedroom was getting a careful look in the police lab.
The international press reported the miraculous arrests made possible by the likes of Arturo de Felice, Edgardo Giobbi, Rita Ficarra, and the other mean little kids posing as adults. Newsweek and the Mirror quoted Felice’s wide-open admission of how the distraught Knox (“the American”) had confirmed their adorable made-up theory.
The following is from the Newsweek article.
Of course, we know now that Arturo de Felice “knew” precisely nothing. He knew nothing about participation, nothing about roles, nothing at all. I have a question. Is it possible to determine, by looking at a photo, that someone is an irredeemable moron, a buffoon for the ages? Probably not. I already know he’s an idiot, so that’s what I see when I look at the photo.
After police discovered that the Lumumba theory was grotesquely wrong — he was at his bar serving drinks all night as usual while a disturbed young man was seeing his last glimmer of sanity doused with Meredith Kercher’s blood — police dug in their heels. The “psychological method” must not be abandoned! Knox and Sollecito are guilty, guilty, guilty!
Lumumba was released (but not before his bar business was ruined by the publicity). Rudy Guede was extradited from Germany where he had fled after the murder. Police had overwhelming evidence against Guede including his fingerprint in the victim’s blood on a pillowcase and his DNA in the handprint on the wall. They had a veritable avalanche of forensic evidence — enough to convict Guede even if his six closest friends were to sit on the jury.
They had nothing at all on Sollecito.
What they had on Knox was her now-legendary, half-hysterical midnight wail: “Yes-yes-I-remember-now-oh-my-God-I-let-Lumumba-into-the-house-I’m-so-confused-I’m-so-scared-he-could-have-killed-me-too . . .” (paraphrased; exact quotes follow).
Here are excerpts from the least believable confession in the history of jurisprudence. These are translated from the original documents — written in Italian — prepared by police for Knox to sign once she had finished screaming.
The signatures police extracted from Knox led to Lumumba’s immediate arrest. A couple of weeks later, squirming under the light of the Lumumba debacle, the public prosecutor, a nut called Giuliano Mignini, “reasoned” that since the skin color of Knox’s employer matched the skin color of the actual murderer, therefore police had not actually extracted a false confession from Knox; it was good as gold. Incredibly, the Kercher family, whose daughter/sister would still be alive today if police had done their jobs, went along with Mignini’s argument.
Four years later, the president of the second court, Judge Hellmann, writing his motivation document, quoted Mignini on his way to trashing the prosecutor’s wild illogic, sending Knox home to Seattle, and freeing her absurdly unlucky Italian boyfriend.
As Hellmann noted, Raffaele had indeed signed a statement saying that, on the night of the murder, Knox had been away from his apartment, out with friends, until 1 am. In fact, this was true, as long as you are talking about the previous night. Sollecito informed police of this minor detail, but they told him to sign the document anyway, it would be okay. He trusted them, signed the document, and then spent the next four years in prison refusing to betray Amanda again.
That’s epic heroism from someone whom we should call Raffaele the lionhearted.
Of course, Raffaele’s story cannot be confirmed as there is, again, no audio record of the interrogation. This in spite of the extraordinary efficiency of the Perugia police when it comes to recording conversations. Indeed it is the stuff of legend — “Olympian” perhaps being the only word that can even begin to describe the amazing feats of the Perugia police and their hidden microphones. They picked up Raffaele ordering a pizza from the waiting room, but, unfortunately, missed his and Amanda’s interrogations. Oh well.
As was the case with Amanda’s signed “Lumumba dunnit” theory, Raffaele’s signed “Amanda was out” statement was nonsense. Jovana Popovic, a Serbian living in Italy to study medicine, visited Raffaele’s apartment twice on the night of the murder; she spoke to Knox both times. Her testimony was never called into question.
Police now had two signed documents containing “statements of fact” that were demonstrably false in addition to being disavowed by the people who had provided the precious signatures. The documents were a perfect match for two suspects with no history of criminal behavior and no motive.
False confessions. Essentially random suspects. No recordings. Who would conduct an investigation so far afield from any semblance of sense? It could only be one man. Yes, this was the MO of world-renowned nutjob Giuliano Mignini. In the psychiatry biz, the public prosecutor of Perugia would be called “diagnosable” — this case was not the first indication of his mental problems. Three years before, in 2004, Mignini went after author Doug Preston who told 48 Hours about his chilling experience facing the lunatic of Perugia.
Preston is arguably tougher than Knox, but the bat-shit crazy public prosecutor and his minions did a number on the American author anyway:
Here’s Mignini himself. Is he really nuts? You decide.
Nuts or not, Mignini is wise in the ways of logic. And his wisdom birthed a beautiful, fat, healthy baby whose cries of brilliant logic would echo for four years in the stark concrete of innards of the Perugia prison facility.
Raffaele says the night before the murder, Knox was out. The night before could be the night of. Therefore, Knox did it. Knox texted L the night of the murder. Therefore, L did it. Knox admitted L did it. Therefore, we were right about L. But wait! L was serving drinks. Forensics say G did it. G is black. L is black. Therefore, Knox did it because she knew the murderer was black.
Have you ever seen anything cuter than Mignini’s little crawler? Surely not.
From whence does such brilliance originate? Monty Python’s burn the witch skit is rumored to be Mignini’s inspiration. I haven’t verified the foregoing but it must be true. We know he loves Arthur Conan Doyle’s fictional sleuth so surely Monty Python is high on his list.
Mignini’s “black man for black man” logic, though as wondrous as anything Holmes ever ascertained, though deeply convincing to millions, was not quite enough for a conviction, even in Italy. Enter Patrizia. A woman named Patrizia Stefanoni, almost as scary as Mignini himself, would remedy the situation, take care of the unfortunate deficiency of evidence.
Police took a clean kitchen knife at random from Sollecito’s apartment and didn’t put any blood on it. Remember, no framing allowed; they were oh-so-scrupulous about this. They tested the knife and found no blood (TMB test), no DNA (Qubit fluorimeter), and no human residue (“species specific” test) on the blade.
Police had found in Sollecito’s kitchen a knife used to cut bread. It was what you might call a “triple negative” knife. But that wasn’t going to cut it: police needed a “double DNA” knife so that they could gaze into Knox’s clear blue eyes forever and ever. Finding Knox’s DNA on the handle was easy enough: she had been using Sollecito’s kitchen for days. Finding Kercher’s DNA on the blade would be a bit more of a hurdle.
Police had absolutely nothing and they weren’t prepared to tamper with the evidence. What to do, what to do?
Go to the lab.
Again and again, the police lab had amplified Kercher’s DNA. It was an important part of the investigation, after all. Fifty samples or more underwent chain reaction. Each molecule gave rise to millions as PCR worked its magic. The fruit of a modern miracle, PCR-created, highly concentrated DNA is the key to forensic genetics. The super-concentrate opens the door to analysis. It does, however, have an unfortunate tendency to get everywhere because it can so easily become airborne.
And now, Amanda Knox, we’ll see about those splits you did in the police station.
A little amplified DNA goes a long way. Even a completely blank negative control, which should return nothing, will come back positive, with a tiny signal, a contamination telltale if you will, if it is amplified using compromised equipment. The police had nothing to lose and everything to gain.
They used PCR to amplify the sample taken from the triple negative knife. They had no guarantee, only hope. Maybe a million times nothing would not be nothing in this particular case. Bingo! They got a match to Kercher. Of course, it looked exactly like lab noise, but that didn’t matter. The monkeys were flying.
Back in the 1980’s, Peter Gill and others invented modern forensic genetics. In his 2014 book, Misleading DNA Evidence: Reasons for Miscarriages of Justice, Gill first presents a number of case studies in which well-meaning police, lab technicians, and judges were fooled by what looked like hard evidence, even to experts. The flying monkeys in the Kercher case he saves for last. Dr. Gill chooses his words carefully, but the final chapter of his book makes it clear the Kercher case is special: There was nothing to fool experts.
Police worshipped the triple negative knife with the beautiful Kercher-matching lab noise; it had its own bodyguard. The Kercher family did not talk to Peter Gill; they still haven’t. The prosecution wielded an amoral police lab technician who intoned the three magical letters D-N-A for them. The judge duly hid behind his robes. The prosecution couldn’t lose.
In court, Patrizia Stefanoni swore up and down that as far as she knew there was no contamination at all in her lab, ever. She explained in detail the careful procedures that were followed. All controls were performed. Contamination risk was minimal. The robed man gave the final word: “Dr. Stefanoni’s testimony rules out that any laboratory contamination could have occurred.”
And that was that.
Stefanoni wasn’t provably lying; there’s no way to prove with absolute certainty she knew about any contamination. On the other hand, let us say this: Ms. Patrizia isn’t getting anywhere near the Pearly Gates, ever.
Because four years later, when Stefanoni was finally asked by the second court to hand over the negative controls, the purposely blank samples that are always amplifed alongside murder-most-foul breadknives, the scientific pages on which contamination telltales write their sad stories, she gave herself away. Can you guess what she said? Sure you can.
“No, I’d rather not, it isn’t necessary to show you those, but thanks for asking.”
Chutzpah! The quote above is paraphrased. Here’s a smattering of verbatim Stefanoni to delight the discerning reader followed by the most important sentence uttered in court in the entire 7-year Knox-Sollecito tragi-comic parable.
The quotes above are from a letter Stefanoni wrote to Judge Hellmann whose order she was flouting. Five months later, she was questioned about it in court. She did not lie. Here it is in the original Italian. Drum roll, please.
Bottom line: Let us say — diciamo — we’re not giving them to you. Ask all you want, you insignificant gnats. Amanda Knox may get out of prison, but as for the negative controls — non vedranno mai la luce — they will never see the light of day.
In the same category is the recording of the interrogation of Knox by police who “knew” what had happened in Meredith Kercher’s bedroom one nightmarish evening, but somehow couldn’t find the “on” switch when they interrogated her.
Presumably, Perugia’s Olympian interrogators and brazen lab technicians have access to private rooms for their snorting/giggling fits.
Not everyone is amoral, fortunately. Amanda’s college years had passed her by when Carla Vecchiotti and Stefano Conti of the University of Rome, real scientists, finally came to her and Raffaele’s rescue: they reviewed the DNA “evidence” at the request of the second court led by Judge Hellmann.
In their report, these world-class specialists provide a wealth of careful scientific detail some of which is reproduced below. Looking at the forest, though, as opposed to the trees, Vecchiotti and Conti, diciamo, trashed Stefanoni, the police lab, everyone associated with the police lab, and all their ancestors.
Here are key excerpts including my all time favorite of favorites: negative = positive.
I call Patrizia Stefanoni the Moron Queen. Here she is. A tiara would complete the picture, n’est-ce pas?
It’s hard to know how this woman sleeps at night. She tried to destroy two people she knew were innocent, but she never lied about anything, at least not in any way that could ever be proven. All the nonsense she pulled with the lab data could have been honest mistakes or, as Judge Hellmann himself put it, “understandable oversights.”
Just as they didn’t put any of the victim’s DNA on Sollecito’s knife, police didn’t put any of Knox’s DNA in Meredith’s bedroom. There was no need. They simply took a swab from the sink in their shared bathroom which was guaranteed to have both Knox’s and Kercher’s DNA and left the rest to Stefanoni and the idiot first judge (Massei).
When the sink turned out to contain the DNA of the two people who used it regularly, police said, “See, she’s a murderer.” They were shocked, shocked to see the mixed DNA. Again, no lying, no framing, no tampering, just an amazing belief in people’s gullibility.
There is no known science that can determine when DNA gets deposited. Judge Massei knew this fact very well as it had been pointed out to him repeatedly. No problem. Massei spent pages 277 to 282 in his motivation report explaining that even though mixed DNA is known to be meaningless, in the Knox case it wasn’t.
Here he is, the moron Giancarlo Massei.
Here’s why the impossible is possible in the Knox case.
Got that? Knox is guilty because she’s guilty.
Gotta love it. It’s impossible to determine if the components of a mixed trace specimen were deposited simultaneously. Except in this case. Yum. Serve me up another one of those!
It goes on and on. My favorite part of the Massei multi-thousand word gobbledygook comes right after the delicious story of the mixed DNA. There’s an absolute gem on page 282.
Massei correctly notes that Knox’s footprints found in her own house using luminol were tested for blood and came up negative (as one would expect since Knox wasn’t present when Kercher was killed). The great man then carefully notes, again correctly, that just because a test comes back negative doesn’t mean it really is negative.
A negative result doesn’t mean no blood was present. How precious. Love, love, love. Negative equals positive. Twice in one case. First the knife and now the footprints. My cup runneth over!
The moron Massei went on to discuss in impressive detail the many different substances including household bleach that can be tracked in one’s house and result in a luminol-positive bare footprint. Amazingly, in this particular case, all of these other substances could be ruled out because it just had to be blood despite the negative test. He explained himself with several paragraphs of incoherent gibberish and word play. Great stuff.
And therefore . . . SHE’S GUILTY! Massei’s definitive statement appears on page 284.
In their case against against the pretty American (Knox) and the Italian collateral damage (Sollecito), the police, the prosecutor, and the judge never tried to fool anyone. Instead, they created for us a grotesque hybrid of The Emperor’s New Clothes and Monty Python that, unfortunately, was neither children’s story nor amusing antics, for RS and “Foxy Knoxy” endured four years of all-too-real suffering.
Can anyone be indifferent to the suffering of innocents? My guess is Massei, Stefanoni, Mignini, Felice, Ficarra, and Giobbi, each unto themselves prolific fountains spewing forth from the bottomless evil of pure stupidity, probably sleep soundly each night, night after night, as if reposing by the soft gurgling of a gentle stream.
Ode To Massei, by Thor Klamet
Morons do so enjoy dropping science like a load of bricks.
But wait! We can do that ourselves, just for kicks.
The great Judge Massei will be our gracious host;
he’ll tell us all that Knox is a very shapely ghost.
How else could she commit a grisly murder and leave no trace?
Indeed, science can never prove that that was NOT the case.
How could this all have happened? Here’s Amanda Knox.
Here she is again.
Female beauty is a wonderful thing. But if we drop our humanity, if we allow others to drop their humanity, if we permit a person’s beauty to become some kind of weapon to be used against them, an excuse to harm, to violate, then we take ourselves straight to Hell. Maybe there should be law against tabloids. Maybe freedom of speech should have limits. I don’t know.
I know this. Until the Raffaele Sollecitos (remember him?) and the Amanda Knoxes and the Anthony Yarboughs and the Earl Washingtons and the Todd Willinghams (assuming he can still hear us where he is now) of the world can be told that grotesque miscarriages of justice can never happen again, we can’t rest. Until the Kercher family comes out and declares the treatment of Knox and Sollecito inhuman, we have to wonder if we have a future as a species.
There was a happy ending, sort of.
Even though they weren’t quite framed, there was enough misconduct to warrant jail terms for police and prosecutors: officer Rita Ficarra apparently lied in court; three hard drives were certainly destroyed, possibly on purpose; Stefanoni seemed to know the negative controls indicated contamination and brazenly suppressed them; interrogation tapes existed (99% certainty, in my view), but were not released. Utlimately though, the case against Knox and Sollecito did not rest upon misconduct by public officials, but was rather an appeal to public stupidity, a fervent hope on the part of so-called public servants that the world would not see that the weavers of fine cloth were, in fact, con artists.
Judge Pratillo Hellmann, president of the second court, obviously could not save Meredith, but he at least prevented her tragic death from snowballing into two more tragedies. Here’s to the lonely voice of reason and here’s to Meredith, may she rest in peace.
By now, the Kerchers must surely have realized that they were used by the police . . .
. . . and that the emperor truly has no clothes.
But who can tell the world and be heard? Not Amanda Knox. Not Thor Klamet.
The Kerchers and only the Kerchers have the moral authority to set the world straight.
Their beloved daughter/sister is lost, but rationality and decency need not be. — TK
The debate is tonight. I’m shaking in my boots.
Hillary can’t say anything. She can’t say we need a secure border, deportation when appropriate, and a sensible guest worker program. She can’t say the path to citizenship issue should be dealt with later. She can’t say the people and the Congress have every right to offer or deny citizenship as they see fit to people who came here as guest workers.
It’s not politically correct to say it, so she can’t say it. The republican position on immigration and especially Trump’s position has always been and is now outrageous nonsense. But add in a shot of political correctness and suddenly both sides look ridiculous.
Take Kelly Osbourne (please). She made some stupid comment about “who’s going to clean Trump’s toilet if he kicks out illegal immigrants” (paraphrased). She was vilified. But she was right. Illegal immigrants are here because citizens with money are hiring them to do low-wage jobs. We benefit from the importation of cheap labor; we are dependent on the cheap labor; we created the current mess; reasonable regulation would be win-win. Where was the focus? Oh yes, KO used the wrong words, how awful.
If we fall for Trump’s plan and keep playing immigration policy as a giant PC-fest, Hillary will lose. Calling Trump a racist and championing the path to citizenship is exactly what he wants. Trump is turning the whole election into a class at Trump University and we’re letting him do it.
Black Lives Matter is another great place for Trump. Hillary can’t criticize them, not even a little bit. She can’t say we need more police departments to be models of racial sensitivity and professional policing and community involvement like the Dallas police department. She can’t follow that up saying Black Lives Matter often pursues a narrative that tends to separate police from the communities they serve. President Obama said this (more or less), but even he couldn’t do direct criticism. Hillary Clinton can’t say Black Lives Matter needs to work on its message.
Clinton would be vilified if she uttered a single word of criticism of Black Lives Matter. And that is perfect. It’s perfect for Donald J. Trump, soon to be 45th President of the United States. Black Lives Matter does need to work on its message, but only Trump can say it.
Blacks have been shut out of the white economy and are still largely segregated. The result is black poverty and black crime. Black people die by the dozens every day. Black people who are murdered are usually murdered by other black people just as white people who are murdered are usually murdered by other white people.
Let’s do some numbers. About the same number of whites and blacks are homicide victims each year. About the same number of whites and blacks are killed by police each year. About the same number of unarmed whites and unarmed blacks are killed by police each year. These statistics are very easy to check. In fact, more whites than blacks are killed by police each year although the numbers are in the same ballpark — small compared to the number of homicides.
There is a higher crime in the black community largely a result of the higher poverty rate. The thousands of additional shooting deaths that result from poverty (I believe a cause and effect relationship can be established in this case) is hundreds of times more significant than any policing problem will ever be, but Clinton will hardly be able to mention it because it might involve criticizing Black Lives Matter.
Trump, on the other hand, is already all over it. He claims that blacks under his presidency will be better off because he will focus on the real problems. He is a con artist, but since Hillary isn’t even allowed to mention real problems without a thousand politically correct qualifiers, I’m afraid she won’t be able to counter him should he choose to press his advantage.
Political correctness is self-destructive. Watching Kelly Osbourne apologize to her fellow left-wing super-progressives was like watching a group of cannibals chewing each other’s arms off. It is unspeakably sad that even Barack Obama can only criticize Black Lives Matter obliquely. Clinton is the only thing standing between the country and a con artist and she’s muzzled by political correctness.
Think about what political correctness does in the online wild west world. Look at Leslie Rasmussen. Her childhood friend, Brock Turner, raped an unconscious woman at a party. After he was convicted, Leslie wrote a private letter to the judge saying essentially, “I can’t believe he would do something like that; he’s such a decent kid; the drinking and partying at college is so toxic; go easy on him.”
Now her career is destroyed. After all, Leslie was supporting rape culture, right? Look at the connection she made between alcohol abuse and sexual misconduct. Being drunk doesn’t give you the right to rape someone, but Leslie Rasmussen thinks it does, doesn’t she? She sure does — in the mindless world of political correctness.
Letters like Leslie’s are solicited as a routine part of sentencing. People who know the convicted criminal can give the judge an idea about whether the person is likely to re-offend. Leslie doesn’t know exactly what happened — no one does, not even the victim and the perpetrator. So Leslie lamented the dangers of alcohol-fueled partying. Who doesn’t? But she didn’t choose her words as carefully as she might have. She didn’t know the political correctness nazis would read her letter. Therefore she must die?
The letter was leaked and Leslie Rasmussen was promptly hacked to pieces by the online mob. Her band’s gigs were cancelled; her music career was damaged perhaps beyond the point of repair; she’s 20 years old and in despair. The people who cancelled her gigs have every right to do so, but they also have every right to ignore the mob’s insane lust for the blacklist (remember the blacklist, the vile right-wing weapon?).
All of this viciousness in the name of political correctness is rendering decent people powerless and thoughtful (but imperfect) people speechless. Real issues can’t be safely discussed. Clinton can utter platitudes and must otherwise watch every word like a hawk. Enter Trump.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is trapped in a politically correct box with Donald Trump sitting on the lid. We built the box and put her in it. What will be the result of our collective folly?
We shamed KO; we destroyed LR. Why? Because they used words incautiously. It’s as if they were dancing wildly in a puritan church 400 years ago. Nice work. Next thing you know the modern-day puritans will look on in horror as President Trump goes to Italy and parties with Silvio Berlusconi. Mark me.
Tonight the sulphurous and tormenting flames will lick at my elbows and singe my brows as I hear a tale whose lightest word will harrow my soul and freeze my blood. Political correctness will give Trump the debate and the election. Mark me.
On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron. – H.L. Mencken 26 July 1920 in the Baltimore Evening Sun
P.S. I watched the first debate. My worst fears were unfounded (so far). Clinton crushed him. Trump did not press his immense political correctness advantage. She was lucky. This time. Tonight is the second debate. I shiver anew.
P.P.S. I don’t mind being wrong.
Sorry, can’t get it off my mind. Is it that Shakespeare didn’t own books, didn’t write letters, and didn’t teach his kids to read? Is it the falconry metaphors saturating his works? Is it what Mark Twain said that he lived in London for 20 years as the most famous author in history and left nary a trace of such an august presence? Is it that when the great Shakespeare died, no one said a thing, no funeral, no burial in Westminster Abbey, no nothing?
Actually it’s none of these things. It’s the sonnets and, more importantly, what the mainstream doesn’t say about them.
Shakespeare’s sonnets are a series of personal letters he wrote to an unnamed young man probably beginning in the early 1590s. This is not particularly controversial: the writings we now know as the sonnets were written in the first person, addressed a young man, concerned personal matters, discussed real events, and were kept private. In 1598, a contemporary of Shakespeare’s praises his writing saying among other things, “witness his sugar’d sonnets among his private friends.”
If you regard the sonnets as private letters (in other words if you read them as written), they are a gold mine if you want to know who Shakespeare was. On the other hand, the sonnets must not be regarded as personal at all if you are attached to the traditional authorship theory. Maybe they are just, “poetical exercises” as one scholar famously said, trying perhaps a bit too hard to put the sonnets to one side.
One hundred and twenty six personal letters written in sonnet form were finally published in 1609. If they are letters, they are sufficiently descriptive of their author to disqualify Shakespeare of Stratford who is left with nothing but a name that matches an evident pseudonym.
Most people don’t know the sonnets were written to a real person and many scholars refer to the subject of the sonnets as the “fair youth” even though they know perfectly well who he is. The author of the sonnets insists the boy marry and make an heir, waxes poetic about the beauty of the boy’s mother when she was young, forgives him the mistake that led to a death sentence, and finally exults when his “love” is eventually released from prison upon the Queen’s death in 1603.
The “love” who was released from prison after the Queen died was, of course, Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton, the boy to whom Shakespeare’s two epic poems, the poems that were the first published writings to have the Shakespeare byline, the poems whose publication in 1593 and 1594 made the name “Shakespeare” famous.
The writer, who is probably NOT Shakespeare of Stratford, begins the series calling the boy a “tender churl” as he admonishes him not to waste his “content,” speaks with great emotional force about his own aging process, and signs off after 126 sonnets with “O thou my lovely boy . . .” eloquently warning of life’s brevity.
Throughout this series of deeply personal letters, the writer provides advice, love, and unconditional support for the boy/young man and he tells us a lot about himself too.
That the “fair youth” was the Earl of Southampton is not especially controversial although it is often claimed that we can’t be absolutely share who the fair youth was or even if he was a particular person. This is disingenuous in my view and is essentially a way for mainstream scholars to wriggle away from discussions of the sonnets as personal letters to Southampton. It’s a dangerous discussion for them to have because it can only lead to one place.
Shakespeare of Stratford probably lived out his life with his illiterate wife and illiterate children without ever referring to this or any other Earl as a “churl” or as “my lovely boy.” His name was Shakespeare and historians have verified that his wife and children were indeed illiterate. However, the man himself is known to have signed his famous name six times on legal documents, he was involved with the Globe theater in London as an investor, and a monument was built to him a few years after he died. There’s not much of a paper trail during his life (this was Mark Twain’s point) but this doesn’t prove he wasn’t Shakespeare. He didn’t seem to own any books (his will was quite detailed). On the other hand, for all we know, he may have borrowed the books he needed to become the most well-read man in England.
Shakespeare of Stratford is an unlikely, but not impossible, authorship candidate right from the start. Once you read the sonnets, unlikely quickly turns into impossible.
First sonnet: “From fairest creatures we desire increase,” Shakespeare tells Southampton. Don’t bury your “content,” don’t be wasteful, “tender churl.” You, my young man, have reached the time in your life when we expect great things, not least of which is an heir.
Do as I say, you churlish Earl. Maybe everyone was pressuring Southampton and Shakespeare felt he could put in sonnet form what everyone else was saying.
The second sonnet warns of time’s inexorable march: “When forty winters shall besiege thy brow,” you’ll understand how important it is to have children, my boy. When you get old you’ll want to children so you’ll “see thy blood warm when thou feel’st it cold.”
Forty winters does a number on you says the 20-something commoner to the teenage nobleman, so get with the program. Maybe Shakespeare was imagining what it was like to have forty winters besieging your brow.
In the third sonnet, Shakespeare waxes poetic with misty memories of the boy’s beautiful mother: “Thou art thy mother’s glass, and she in thee calls back the lovely April of her prime.”
When Southampton was born, Shakespeare of Stratford was 9 years old and had never been to London. Maybe he was imagining what Southampton’s mother might have looked like in the lovely April of her prime. Maybe there was a painting.
Despite desperate explanations for how a young commoner could have written the first three sonnets to the young Earl, I am already suspicious at this point. My suspicion deepens as the age of the writer, clearly a generation removed from Southampton, is revealed again and again and again throughout the sonnets.
Sonnet 22: “My glass shall not persuade me I am old, so long as youth and thou are of one date.”
Sonnet 73: “That time of year thou may’st in me behold, when yellow leaves or none or few do hang, upon those boughs which shake against the cold, bare ruined choirs where late the sweet birds sang . . .”
Sonnet 126: “O thou my lovely boy,” beware of “nature” and of “time’s fickle glass” and remember that “her audit (though delayed) answered must be.”
Read the sonnets. Shed a tear or two and do something mainstream scholars avoid with all of their hearts and souls: think about it.
If you want Shakespeare of Stratford to be the author, you have a man who is too old and who may never have even met Southampton, much less got close enough to him to call him a “tender churl.” But that’s only suggestive, it is not enough to bring down the mainstream house. But in Sonnet 125, the author writes, “Were it aught to me I bore the canopy with my extern the outward honoring . . . ”
This is a disaster for the mainstream. If you bore the canopy during a royal procession, but your true loyalties lie elsewhere, with Southampton, you most certainly not a commoner from Stratford.
But maybe we’re misinterpreting the reference to bearing the canopy. Let’s keep reading. It continues to get worse and worse for the mainstream.
The great author brimmed with confidence that his letters to Southampton would ultimately take their place amongst the greatest writing of all time. He said his sonnets would outlast “tyrant’s crests” and “tombs of brass.” Not having any truck with modesty, he declared, simply, “such virtue hath my pen.”
Okay, so he knew what he could do. So what?
As the sonnets flowed from the genius’s pen, the epic poems had been printed and reprinted, the plays had become popular, and the name Shakespeare was wildly famous. Shakespeare wanted to honor Southampton: “Your monument shall be my gentle verse, which eyes not yet created shall o’er-read . . .”
The great sonnets would thus forever extol Southampton’s greatness: “Your name from hence immortal life shall have . . .,” says the author.
HOWEVER, the author himself would remain unknown: “. . . though I, once gone, to all the world must die.” Did you get that? Though I, once gone, to all the world must die.
Smoking gun in Sonnet 81. (Now I know what you’re thinking: “Thor Klamet, you are no Shakespeare.” But a rhyme’s a rhyme, that’s what I say.)
But seriously, “I am writing under a pseudonym,” would have been an equally clear way to get the point across, but not as poetic. The name “Shakespeare” was unquestionably famous when Sonnet 81 was written.
Even this doesn’t give the mainstream pause. They usually refuse to discuss it.
We have now pretty well shot down the traditional theory that some commoner who apparently never met Southampton was Shakespeare. The author stated outright that he was writing under a pseudonym!
Even so, maybe we’ve misinterpreted everything. Maybe, somehow a 20-something commoner writing under his own name wrote these missives to his friend Southampton. I don’t see how by this point, but, for the deeply skeptical, there is another bullet in the gun.
When the sonnets were finally published, the lucky publisher included a dedication wishing Southampton the same “all happinesse” Shakespeare had wished him in one of the dedications as well as the same “eternitie” the sonnets themselves were promising. Here is the dedication, completely apropos, written by the man who held the original, handwritten copies of the sonnets in his trembling hands.
Like “all happinesse” and “that eternitie,” the “our ever-living poet” phrase is Shakespeare, Shakespeare, Shakespeare.
Here is a Shakespearean eulogy: “. . . our scarce-cold conqueror, that ever-living man of memory, Henry the fifth. . .” intoned over the dead body of the former King in one of the history plays. So, obviously, the dedication is also a eulogy.
Here’s the bullet. Shakespeare the commoner was still living in London in 1609; he moved back to Stratford the next year and did eventually die, but not for another six years. Thomas Thorpe clearly knew whether or not the author was dead when he wrote his dedication/eulogy. The only way out is to argue that “ever-living poet” isn’t a eulogy and I wouldn’t want to have to make that argument. So I feel for the mainstream, I really do.
The gun smokes, the body of the horse begins to decay, and the mainstream thinks it’s still mounted in the saddle galloping along with the wind in its collective hair. Where’s a good psychotherapist when you need her?
If you are brave, you can argue that “ever-living poet” isn’t necessarily a eulogy. Anything is possible, after all. You can note that Southampton’s initials were H. W., not W. H., and that as an Earl, Henry Wriothesley, should not be addressed as “Mr.” if one is to be proper. You can even argue that the sonnets weren’t necessarily personal or weren’t personal to Shakespeare. Maybe they were commissioned by an older nobleman who was close to Southampton. Maybe Shakespeare was writing about someone else’s pathos. Again, anything is possible.
You are welcome to make such arguments and, in fact, these arguments should be, nay, must be, made. However, if you argue that there is not even an issue to be delved into, that the authorship question should not even be discussed, I will have just one thing to say to you: Methinks thou dost protest too much.
So why all the secrecy? Why have a conspiracy to make it look like Shakespeare the illiterate commoner was Shakespeare the great author? Why hide the real author? Why weren’t the sonnets published sooner with a direct connection to Southampton and with the real author’s name? For that matter, why not include the sonnets in 1623 when all the plays were compiled into the famous First Folio and the number of published plays was doubled at a stroke? Where did all those unpublished plays even come from? Why would Queen Elizabeth and King James go to so much trouble to hide the true author and make it look like it was Shakespeare of Stratford?
If Shakespeare wasn’t Shakespeare, the powers that be had to have fixed it to work that way. So we have here a conspiracy theory which must be regarded as inherently unlikely even if you believe as I do that this particular conspiracy is real. Years after Shakespeare died in Stratford in his bookless house, a monument was erected implying he was a great thinker. Also, his Stratford origins were alluded to in the preface to the First Folio written by Ben Jonson. This, conspiracy theorists (like me) say, was the beginning of the great hoax.
Again, why do all this? What was going on? What do nutty people like me who read the sonnets as written (personal letters written from an older nobleman to a young Earl) say about this?
The outline of an answer is easy enough to sketch though far from definitive. Shakespeare’s dedicatee from the two epic poems, Southampton, was a controversial figure as you already know. But you may not know the half of it. The young man was supposed to marry Lord Burghley’s grand-daughter: the great Lord had commanded it. Since Burghley was the Queen’s closest advisor and the most powerful man in England, his grandchild wasn’t someone you refused lightly.
Someone close to Southampton put the whole drama into sonnet form. He told the young man, “From fairest creatures we desire increase, that thereby beauty’s Rose might never die” and then went on for 16 sonnets imploring the stubborn Earl, his tender churl, to marry and make an heir. It did no good. Marrying into Burghley’s family would have increased the scope of Southampton’s powers greatly. He was a fool to refuse, but refuse he did. That much is a matter of history.
By the way, the word “Rose” in the second line of the first sonnet quoted above was capitalized and italicized in the original publication just as it is here. No one knows why or if it means anything.
Ten years later, the Queen lay dying. Southampton (no longer a teenager) and his ally, the popular Earl of Essex, and a dozen or more men now attempted to gain access to the expiring Queen. The Tudor Rose dynasty seemed to be coming to an abrupt end. Elizabeth had no acknowledged children (no historian believes the flirtatious Queen was actually a virgin and it is considered quite possible that she had one or two illegitimate children) and so there would be no continuation of the bloodline and no clear succession. The uncertainty was frightening for much of the public.
The two Earls seemed to have good timing although it is by no means clear what they intended to do once they gained access to her majesty’s bedchamber. Presumably, they had a plan to try to control the succession. It didn’t matter, because Essex and Southampton were in over their fool heads. Fools and their heads are soon parted, as you know.
Burghley, who had been secretly planning the succession for years, outsmarted the Southampton-Essex amateur hour and had them and their lot arrested and tried for treason. All were convicted of course, the outcome of the trial never being in doubt. Essex, despite his popularity, had his date with the axeman, though it was a little on the brief side as dates go. Some lower-ranking members of the conspiracy did not fare so well as the pretty young Earl: they were tortured to death.
But not Southampton. He was sentenced to die and watched his friend die, but, as he waited fretfully in the Tower of London, his sentence was mysteriously commuted to life in prison. There is no formal record of the legal proceeding that allowed this extraordinary thing to happen.
But the sonnet-writer was chronicling these events and apparently had inside information. Sonnet 87 has both a happy and resigned tone as if a big decision has been made. It says to Southampton, “The charter of thy worth gives thee releasing” which could mean a lot of things. In the same sonnet, we are told of a “great gift upon misprision growing” and we find out that this gift “comes home again on better judgment making.”
What is being released? What is the charter of Southampton’s worth? Why the legal term, misprision? What was the better judgment?
Misprision of treason means you knew about treason, but didn’t report it. This is a legal term that was common in Elizabethan times but is no longer. Misprision of treason was a crime, but not a capital crime. If you love Southampton, this is obviously a “better judgment” than plain old treason. Something about Southampton’s “worth” apparently led Burghley and Elizabeth to spare the young fool. Maybe.
All we know for certain is that Southampton was not executed.
Southampton was not only not executed, the convicted traitor was in fact released after the Queen died. As soon as King James I had safely ascended the throne, Southampton felt the warmth of the sun on his face. Shakespeare, or rather the actual author, who we can now surmise cannot possibly be the young commoner named Shakespeare, celebrates this event in the famously ebullient Sonnet 107, the poem most clearly linked to Southhampton, not only by crazy conspiracy theorists, but also by mainstream scholars for centuries.
After the “mortal moon” (Elizabeth) suffers her “eclipse” (death), Shakespeare’s “true love” who was “supposed as forfeit to a confined doom” in the Tower now “looks fresh” as “peace proclaims olives of endless age” (James has peacefully acended the throne) and the “sad augurs mock their own presage” (people who predicted a civil war now look silly).
Whoever wrote this was pretty happy about the turn politics had taken. Meanwhile, Southampton began his second chance at life though without his great friend Essex.
Some people think Southampton’s idea that he could control the succession together with the mysterious pardon plus Shakespeare’s enigmatic mention of “beauty’s Rose,” make everything perfectly clear: Southampton was obviously Elizabeth’s son, a possible heir to the Tudor Rose dynasty if he were ever acknowledged.
According to this theory, Elizabeth wasn’t prepared to drop the virgin Queen thing and let Southampton become King, but she wasn’t going to kill her own son either. Had the stubborn youngster allied with Burghley and married his grand-daughter per the original plan, he might perhaps have become King anyway with Burghley’s influence behind him. Of course, if that’s the case, then we have to wonder why he wouldn’t marry Burghley’s progeny in the first place. It’s a tangled web. Still, this so-called “Prince Tudor” theory has its fascinations.
It is commonly assumed that Elizabeth had unrecognized children, but we don’t in fact know who they were. If Southampton was actually her child — he grew up in the royal household because his supposed father died when he was very young — it would certainly explain a lot. Without exhuming bodies and doing DNA tests, we will never know.
But even without Southampton as (one of) Queen Elizabeth’s unacknowledged bastard son(s), the sonnets make an extremely strong case that Shakespeare the commoner didn’t write letters or own books or teach his children to read for the most obvious of reasons: he was not literate beyond the ability to painfully scrawl his name.
There were no word processors at the time and Shakespeare of Stratford supposedly wrote more than a million words. Nevertheless, his hand was seriously shaky compared to writers such as Ben Jonson, Philip Marlowe, Edmund Spencer, Francis Bacon, and Edward Oxenford (aka Edward de Vere, the father of the girl Southampton was supposed to marry, a brilliant and dashing nobleman who was identified by a contemporary observer as one of the Queen’s lovers, the father-in-law of the Earl of Montgomery to whom the First Folio is dedicated, and a man who just happened to have run across the names Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in a private piece of writing by his brother-in-law who had visited Denmark).
Here are some signatures to ponder.
Of course, there is a way out aside from the necessary assumption of bad handwriting. Maybe Shakespeare was commissioned to write the sonnet/letters. Maybe all that sentiment isn’t Shakespeare’s at all. Maybe it’s someone else’s. An older nobleman, a member of Southampton’s family, commissions the great author to express these sentiments and to chronicle the life of the great Earl. Could be.
Many theories are possible. The only theory that is not tenable is the mainstream theory: we know for sure Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare. We know knothing of the sort.
As countless non-mainstream academics and reputable intellectual leaders in many areas, even including the living descendant of the great Lord Burghley himself, regularly point out, the sonnets and other evidence create an eminently reasonable case that Shakespeare of Stratford may have been cast by the powers that were (Elizabeth, Burghley, James) as a front-man in perhaps the greatest and most successful hoax of all time.
The mainstream appears to know this. They just don’t want to hear it.
The reaction to the Turner case has, in general, been the usual combination of hysterical, irrational, and harmful. Everyone understands that the perpetrator should be punished and no one, not Leslie Rasmussen, not anyone, supports rape culture. Unfortunately, the hysteria surrounding this case and the mindlessness that seems to be de rigueur these days has hurt many people, including the victim herself.
In case you’ve been living in a cave, Brock Turner is the white, wealthy, absurdly privileged Stanford swimmer who decided to use an unconscious (comatose, actually) woman’s body to help himself masturbate one night at a campus party. He put his hands where he wanted and was grinding away on top of the victim in the early hours one morning when a couple of bikers noticed the movement, realized Brock’s “partner” was unconscious, and then held the pretty drunk pretty-boy until police and an ambulance arrived. The victim woke up three hours later with an intravenous tube in her arm and no memory of anything that had happened.
Brock’s thin story — he and the victim were engaged in consensual, barely conscious sexual activity when she suddenly passed out completely — was not believed by the jury. No one is questioning the verdict. Even Brock and his family have given up claiming innocence. Brocky-boy was sentenced to six months and was released after just three months because he didn’t rape anyone while he was in jail (good behavior). Brock can now enjoy his September as a free man if not as a college student. But there is a lot more to this story than a light sentence. Trigger warning: The story is not 100% about rape.
Every 4 years, a medium-sized college with 2,000 or 3,000 students is selected at random and every student in every major, every freshman, every sophomore, every junior, every senior is summarily executed. That this dark image is not literally true is beside the point: just because people are dying quietly doesn’t mean they aren’t dying.
But wait! Drinking deaths are things that happen to other people, right? If you are reading this, that is undeniably so. Still, have a look into Shelby Allen’s eyes and see if you don’t feel the grim specter of our favorite social poison tap you on the shoulder.
Skull-crushing car accidents, alcohol poisoning (“I thought she was sleeping it off”) and other nightmarish consequences remove from the rolls of the living upwards of a hundred thousand people in the U.S. alone every year, year after year. More than a million people will seek treatment for alcohol abuse this year — they will be the lucky ones.
100,000 dead. How does this carnage translate to colleges, exactly? We don’t know, exactly. You may wish to do some statistics and translate the overall number of deaths to the college student demographic; please let me know what you come up with. My niece recently lost her friend to alcohol — instant translation for me.
Is it 600 students a year? Or is it the 1800 cited by a National Institutes of Health website? Again, I don’t need to know. Shelby’s dog misses her and even the best case scenario is terrible news; that’s enough for me.
Imagine a whole college of Shebys dying every four years. Imagine the funerals. Imagine parents burying their children. On the other hand, you don’t have to imagine anything. You can go to the funerals. So go. If, for some reason, you don’t believe me, if you aren’t sure college drinking is a real problem, go to the funerals. You’ll never have enough time to attend them all, but it’s worth a try.
Back to the night in question. The soon-to-be-victim of a terrible crime was slurring her words into the phone with her deeply alarmed boyfriend on the other end. The man was beside himself because he didn’t understand a word she was saying. “Find your sister,” he told her again and again. But her sister had left the party to help a friend who had been — you guessed it — drinking too much.
Now the woman who could no longer speak hung up and wandered outside. She collapsed near a dumpster. She wasn’t unconscious, comatose is a more accurate descriptor. No one thinks this absolves Mr. Turner nor does anyone think it qualifies as an extenuating circumstance nor does his own intoxication make him any less guilty. But. Are you prepared to say alcohol wasn’t involved at all? I certainly hope not.
A young, wasted woman lays on the ground, drowning in alcohol, without an intravenous tube in her arm, without a friend or a doctor or a heart monitor. Her blood alcohol punches a dangerous multiple of the legal limit. The gibberish delivered to her worried boyfriend fades — an ephemeral disturbance in the ether evaporating without delivering meaning.
If your blood alcohol hits three or four or five times the legal limit (for driving) and there is no one there to measure it, do you still die?
As it happened, the two bikers saw the movement of Brock’s energetic hips. They did not see the victim. She was most likely invisible to them as they cycled in the dark. Human eyes are, after all, attuned to and exquisitely sensitive to movement. Without Brock’s desperate grinding, the two men might have rolled on, unknowing of proximate tragedy and unable to offer help.
But they didn’t roll on; they saw and they intervened. The police arrived. The victim vomited but did not wake up. Soon delivered to a hospital bed, the woman whose speech centers had been compromised didn’t stir for three hours as saline dripped into her bloodstream. Imagine her surprise when she finally opened her eyes, when she saw the tube in her arm and took in the strange surroundings. How did I get here? Am I okay? Will I survive?
What if Brock Turner hadn’t raped her? What does the alternate history look like? We’ll never know. She might have died. You want irony? There’s irony. Does this mean we have to think of Brock as a hero? No, of course not. If Brock had ejaculated into his jeans, he probably would have got up, stumbled home, and perhaps read with horror the next morning about a dead body found by a dumpster. The biker-heroes, Peter Jonsson and Carl-Fredrik Arnt, might well have saved Brock Tuner from himself in addition to saving the victim.
And what about the general public? As usual, we are NOT heroes. We think we are but we aren’t. We don’t deserve medals or self-administered pats on the back. We deserve nothing but scorn. Truth be told, we’re a ship of fools, mindlessly wandering where-ever the wind takes us.
Consider this. We the people guaranteed that the victim of this terrible crime would suffer a long one-year trauma. Instead of a sensible system where Brock Turner can show remorse, do his time, pay some money, do probation, and do public service, we’ve set it up so that he is told, “defend yourself or your life is forfeit.”
Suppose he pleads guilty. He still gets a lifetime as a felon, a lifetime on the sex offender registry, and a lifetime ban from USA swimming. Like far less privileged youth who commit crimes and do their time and are nonetheless forever tarnished, Brock Turner too will have trouble getting a job for the rest of his life: he’s a convicted felon for the next ten thousand years. That’s how we do things in America.
It’s lose-lose-lose across the board and for what? For one brief hit of vengeance.
Fight or else. That’s our message. It probably took some lawyer all of 30 seconds to convince Turner to plead innocent. Then the victim had to spend a year making her argument: “NO, if I drink to the point of coma, call 9-1-1; do NOT rape me. Is there any part of that you need repeated?”
It must have been agonizing for her. In our lust for vengeance, we destroy the perpetrator and we go so far as to hurt the victim too. But even that’s not enough. The long knives want blood.
Leslie Rasmussen offered an opinion in a letter to the judge. She said she knew Brock Turner and she regarded his story that he was making out with the woman when she passed out in the middle of the encounter as not just plausible but likely. Echoing the president of Vassar College who worried, “Two drunk kids, both out of it. Is it always the male at risk [for a sexual assault charge]?” Rasmussen argued that drunken sexual activity may or may not be rape. Ms. Rasmussen also criticized the heavy-drinking party culture at colleges saying it can lead to terrible mistakes committed by ordinary, otherwise decent people.
Rasmussen’s letter is not perfect or perfectly sensitive; who of us is perfect in all that we say, in all that we write? Must we destroy her? Please read her whole letter and please, if you like long, gleaming knives, let them be wall decorations.You can argue, of course, that Rasmussen has it wrong, that while alcohol and impaired judgment and misunderstandings may sometimes contribute to horrifying events, it is actually a lack of respect for women as human beings baked deeply into our culture that makes rape so common. You can argue further that the evidence indicates Turner did, in fact, commit rape and should therefore face substantial prison time. I would personally argue along those lines.
But even though I disagree with some of what she said, I can’t imagine attacking Leslie Rasmussen in such a scary and personal way, taking from her her right to express herself, and demanding she and her band be shunned. It’s barbaric. How could this have happened to us? Who are we that we would do this? The behavior of the online mob was a million times worse than any of the phraseology in Leslie’s imperfectly-worded opinion.
I know, we’ll respond to a horrific rape by hurting three more people! Great idea! Is this the new normal?
Misguided weaklings who think they are helping women by choking off discussion of this serious issue gave us nothing but more violence and cruelty when they cancelled scheduled appearances of Rasmussen and her band. Some of these people positively dripped with that old, easy-to-recognize self-righteousness spewed by mindless witch hunters through the ages: We will not tolerate the support of rape culture.
We want, no, we demand, a culture in which women are respected, in which no man would even be able to imagine ever committing rape. So what do we do? We show monstrous disrespect for Leslie Rasmussen. We don’t consider the context of her (private) letter, her position as a childhood friend of the perpetrator, or the inevitable uncertainty about everything that happens that is a part of life that we must all accept. No. We destroy her. This is the exactly the kind of gross disrespect that created rape culture in the first place.
What were we thinking?
Rasmussen has of course prostrated herself and apologized for having an opinion about the dangers of alcohol-fueled college life (she didn’t mention alcohol-fueled college death). But her apology may not save her music career.
And so Brock Turner’s dick now claims a whole host of victims besides the woman he raped and besides himself. A woman in Ohio with the same name as the “real” LR apparently found herself targeted by the online mob as well! What a godawful mess: the victim, the perpetrator, a musician, the musician’s two sisters, a random woman — all are fair game for the righteous witch hunters.
Political correctness as fascism: the left-wing goes so far around it becomes right-wing. That’s where we are. Mob-mentality reaction helps no one, not women, not rape victims, not future Shelby Allens, no one. In a rational, decent world, we would be discussing our casual acceptance of almost drinking oneself to death. We would ask ourselves why we can’t find a way to bring sane, sensible justice to a perpetrator. Why must we sacrifice even the victim herself in our thirst for vengeance?
Who will ask such questions? No one. If you step out of line one millimeter, you shall be shouted down and forced to spend the rest of your life apologizing. So there’s no discussion at all. And that is literally deadly.
As a semi-professional cynic, I like to brag about how I am never, ever surprised regardless of the feats of absurdity exhibited by humans and by instututions made of humans. But I must admit defeat. Vassar, that prestigious college in NY, has got my number.
A Strong Woman
Mary Claire Walker transferred to Vassar as a sophomore in 2011. A strong, confident woman, she was also a superb student and a fine athlete. She made friends and found a boyfriend too. One of her friends was Peter Yu, a freshman. She and Peter were both on the crew team and, as college chums will do, they confided to one another their romantic interests.
One night in February 2012, Mary Claire and Peter were hanging out together at a team party. Mary Claire had just broken up with her boyfriend and she told Peter. After the party, the pair, already drunk, walked arm in arm to a nearby drinking spot where they drank more and made out some. The would-be lovebirds made phone calls to their roommates to see if they could negotiate the guarantee of some precious privacy. The roommates couldn’t be reached but Mary Claire and Peter made their way to his room regardless. The two drunk athletes climbed four flights of stairs, split up to visit the bathrooms, and met at Peter’s room; Peter’s roommate wasn’t there. So far so good.
First the Oral Sex
Peter felt a little embarrassed. He was a virgin and he told his friend this would be his first time. Peter was also a little shy about how his body looked. Mary Claire kindly reassured him saying she knew what to do and that he looked fine. She decided a little oral sex would be a good start and she took on the role of teacher. Peter, a top student in more formal settings, was a quick study. Mary Claire complimented him on his technique expressing surprise that he would be so adept his first time. “Did you learn this on the internet?” she asked. Better and better.
According to court documents filed many months later in what became a bitter dispute between Vassar College and Peter Yu, Mary Claire Walker outfitted her “student” with a condom and took his virginity. Neither Vassar nor Ms. Walker deny Peter’s version of events. The court documents also reveal that Peter’s roommate showed up while Peter and Mary Claire were engaged in sexual intercourse. The interloper left immediately, but the interruption caused Mary Claire to rethink what she was doing: She no longer wanted to have sex with Peter. She talked about her previous relationship, lamented its demise, got up, got dressed, and walked out as she of course has a perfect right to do even if it isn’t the nicest way to treat your virgin friend.
So much for that magical first sexual experience.
A Brief Aside
Mary Claire’s extensive communications with Peter after their sexual encounter are a monument of kindness and caring: she had hurt her friend and felt terrible about it. Her messages (most of which were sent to Peter via Facebook) are described and quoted below and can be read in full in public court documents. Ms. Walker was evidently a responsible young adult.
A year after Ms. Walker took full responsibility for hurting her friend, Vassar officials produced a new and bizarre account of her drunken sexual episode. Peter was suddenly NOT a hurt ex-virgin who watched his first lover walk away in the middle of sex; he was a now drunk man who took advantage of his friend who was so drunk she could neither consent nor resist.
Vassar says Mary Claire changed her mind. She eventually decided, according to Vassar officials, that actually she was “in shock” and “in denial” when she wrote to Peter in the weeks following their interrupted intercourse. According to Vassar officials, Mary Claire ultimately realized that she had written the messages “out of fear” although no threats or hostility from Mr. Yu was in evidence or even alleged.
Mary Claire’s wild change in perspective is, to put it mildly, suspicious. When you read her Facebook messages, it becomes clear (I think to anyone) that her reversal is so extreme that it implies manipulation. Human beings, in my experience, do not dramatically shift their entire view of reality unless they are being influenced from without, usually by multiple authority figures.
Don’t take my word for it. Here are the facts taken from court documents. Mary Claire’s detailed, extensive, unequivocal, crystal clear Facebook messages are quoted below. I did not cherry pick: it’s all there. Perhaps you’ll read what follows and find that you disagree with me though I don’t see how.
A Woman of Character
The day after their encounter, Mary Claire and Peter discovered that two people had noted Ms. Walker’s drunken condition and had reported their concern that Peter might be taking advantage of his friend. Mary Claire immediately communicated to Peter her firm belief that “you did nothing wrong” as well as her clear intention to “stand up for you” should it become necessary.
But Mary Claire wasn’t just powerful ally, she was an empathetic friend too. She went out of her way to explain to Peter that her lack of interest in pursuing a relationship with him wasn’t due to anything he had done; she just wasn’t ready for another relationship so soon after her breakup. She then explicitly apologized.
“I led you on,” she said. “I’m sorry.”
But even that wasn’t enough. “I had a wonderful time,” she assured the rejected freshman. “I don’t think less of you,” she said kindly.
Unless you have a heart of stone, you cannot fail to be impressed, upon reading Mary Claire’s messages, with her simple human decency and maturity. Almost a year later, Vassar officials ascribed all the messages to “fear” without any explanation.
Vassar would never present any evidence indicating Peter had ever caused anyone to be afraid of him nor would they present any evidence that he had done anything at all to make Mary Claire afraid. Not only was no such evidence ever presented, no one, not Vassar, not Mary Claire, not any witnesses, even made any unsubstantiated claims that Peter ever did or said anything remotely threatening. The phrase, “out of fear,” would simply be thrown around like some kind of bizarre incantation that explained the unexplainable.
The person who Vassar claims later realized she had been writing out of fear, told Peter via Facebook that she “should have known better” than to drink right after breaking up with her boyfriend. Indeed, the introspective young woman overtly took full responsibility for what happened. “I did not treat you very well,” she said. Her own actions she called “disrespectful.”
“I never, ever meant to hurt you,” was an especially heartfelt part of Mary Claire Walker’s consolation to her friend who had lost his virginity with her. Yes, she made a mistake. But she did everything she could to make it right — until Vassar officials got their grubby hands on her.
My high opinion of Ms. Walker is based only on the Facebook messages, but they speak volumes. Unfortunately, when faced with authority figures with their own strong motivations, even the best of us can be influenced and pushed and coerced.
Mary Claire is obviously a strong, confident, kind, empathetic, ethical, sensitive, thoughtful, introspective, and caring young woman with a powerful sense of personal responsibility. She’s an amazing 21st century young woman who couldn’t quite stand up to malicious older adults determined to turn her mistake into a deeply anti-feminist political statement infantilizing all women while denying that a young woman can ever be mature and responsible and powerful.
People like Mary Claire Walker often attract scum determined to bring them down. Half the time these useless weaklings, acting in concert, succeed in their inveterate desire to keep their own low level as populous as possible.
I obviously have a pretty low opinion of certain Vassar officials although, as you’ll see, the president of Vassar herself shares my concerns.
Enter the Time Travelers
I can’t explain the details of what Vassar did in a rational way. It makes so little sense to me that I had to come up with a fantasy to explain it: Some people from the 1940’s traveled more than 70 years into the future, passed themselves off as modern people, and got jobs at Vassar. Nothing short of that can explain Vassar’s outrageous behavior.
In 1940 in the the United States, a woman could never become an adult. No matter how old she was, she would always be, to a certain extent, a child, not fully responsible for her actions. So Mary Claire Walker, a modern adult woman who appeared to be as responsible as any adult male ever was, was an impossibility as far as the time travelers were concerned.
Almost a year had passed. It was very nearly too late to file any sort of sexual misconduct complaint against Peter. Vassar has a one year statute of limitations on such complaints. But the tight timing actually worked out rather well for the time travelers.
Under the influence of the time travelers, Mary Claire tossed aside everything she had written to Peter and created a brand new narrative that made no sense whatsoever — this is how we can identify a narrative created by people who weren’t there. Nonsense is the telltale.
So Mary Claire had NOT led Peter on. Actually, she didn’t remember what happened. She had NOT mistreated Peter either. Actually, Peter had taken advantage of her drunkenness and she, Mary Claire, had been “unable to resist.” Finally, she had NOT been disrespectful to Peter. Actually, Mary Claire now said, she had been “helpless.”
The revisionism went on and on. Mary Claire had suddenly NOT had a wonderful time and now did NOT think Peter did nothing wrong. Needless to say, she was NOT going to stand up for him, just the opposite in fact. All she could say now, a year later, was that she didn’t remember much because it was “fuzzy.”
But wait! There’s more.
After their sexual encounter, Mary Claire Walker invited Peter Yu to come to her and her parents’ home for dinner. The invitation was a text message and was not saved, but Mary Claire doesn’t deny sending it. Did she invite him to her home “out of fear”? Is this Vassar’s claim? Do Vassar officials all have Ph.D.’s in making ridiculous claims while keeping straight faces? What is going on here?
Peter the Rapist
We don’t know what really happened. How could we? For all we know, Peter’s account of the night in question is entirely fabricated. Peter’s account wasn’t contradicted by Mary Claire or by anyone else, but then again we don’t have video do we? All we have are Mary Claire’s Facebook messages which are quite clear, but which do not contain a minute by minute account of events.
So Mary Claire may or may not have made the “my how quickly you learn” comment about Peter’s supposedly brilliant oral sex technique. Mary Claire may or may not have called her roommate to see if she could arrange for some privacy where she could take the young man’s virginity. I think these things happened, but we have only Peter’s word and Mary Claire’s “I don’t remember,” to go on.
Suppose Mary Claire had successfully contacted her roommate. Suppose the sex had taken place on Mary Claire’s bed. Would Peter have still been kicked out? Probably not. I doubt even the grubby little Vassar officials could have stomached going that far, but I may be underestimating them.
I can just imagine Vassar investigating Peter’s alleged sexual misconduct. “Do women ever want to have sex with virgins?” they would ask. “Could she really have had ‘a wonderful time’ having drunken sex with a virgin?” Obviously Peter’s virginity makes him more likely to be guilty of taking advantage of his friend. Obviously.
Maybe it’s just as well they didn’t bother with an investigation or even an attempt at appearing to be fair. Vassar ignored Ms. Walker’s Facebook messages, avoided questioning the young woman, reached a foregone conclusion, and unceremoniously kicked Peter Yu’s sorry butt out of their precious college without a second thought. The whole process took all of 18 days: Vassar is a model of efficiency.
I note here that Vassar’s president, Catherine Hill, has given the college’s policies and their appropriate application some real thought and has expressed concern that the policy essentially just says that any drunk woman is considered unable to consent. Since this policy has never been and would never be applied to a man, Ms. Hill is rightfully concerned: It is very scary. Two drunk kids, both out of it. Is it always the male at risk [for a sexual misconduct charge]?
So it’s not like everyone at Vassar is a dirt-dwelling grub. But Ms. Hill’s clarity of thought didn’t help Peter.
Now tossed out on the street, as it were, the high-achieving student who was no longer a virgin found that he had been blacklisted at every other top school from coast to coast. Gotta love that! Meanwhile Peter’s bewildered parents received a massive bill from Vassar for the balance of his sophomore year tuition.
Peter is now attending a fine college you have never heard of.
Good Luck with the Lawsuit, Dude
Of course, Peter is suing Vassar for discrimination — a team of New York lawyers took his case (while rejecting many similar but less outrageous cases). The New York lawyers are not claiming a time traveler invasion at Vassar, but they might as well be. No man has ever filed a complaint against a woman at Vassar for taking advantage of his drunkenness, so how can you prove Vassar wouldn’t take such a claim seriously? How can you prove Vassar is treating men and women differently?
Here’s the simple answer: You can’t.
Of course, Peter himself could, theoretically, have been the first man to claim he was too drunk to consent and, if his complaint had been ignored, he could then have claimed discrimination. Unfortunately for Peter, there’s a one year statute of limitation on sexual misconduct complaints.
Mary Claire’s complaint was timed to perfection. Both parties were violating Vassar’s official policy by having sex with a drunk person, but only one complaint would ever be filed.
You see, Vassar officials made sure Mary Claire filed her complaint exactly on the one year anniversary of her taking Peter’s virginity. So by the time Peter found out about the complaint against him, it was too late.
It’s beautiful when you think about it. Satan is grinning from ear to ear. Yes, the clock had run out on Peter Yu! Talk about being totally screwed.
Peter’s civil lawsuit against Vassar has been about as successful as his sex life. Judge Ronnie Abrams made things perfectly clear in her statement dismissing the case: If a man at Vassar got drunk and slept with a virgin woman and walked out on her and then apologized profusely for leading her on and then, a year later, tried to have her kicked out for taking advantage of him, and if this abused man was ignored by Vassar and the dangerous woman who used to be a virgin was not prosecuted simply because she was a woman, then, and only then, would there be a basis for a discrimination claim. Therefore, for the moment, Peter Yu has no case.
Got that? Peter and his lawyers said they vehemently disagree with this “logic” and are appealing.
What of Mary Claire?
Peter will be fine. He’s not at a name school, but that won’t matter. He’s a brilliant student and will get a great education anyway. He’ll avoid drunk women and probably casual sex in general and he’ll find success and happiness for his own reasons and maybe also just to spite the invaders from the past who tried to ruin his life. Good for him.
I wish I could say the same for Mary Claire. She didn’t say much at Peter’s hearing; she mostly just cried. That’s not the Mary Claire who wrote heartfelt notes to Peter.
I care about you and I never ever meant to hurt you and we were both drunk. — Mary Claire to Peter, April 2012.
I felt helpless and wrote the Facebook messages out of fear. — Mary Claire’s modified story as told by Vassar officials, February 2013.
Her change of heart is not just suspicious: it’s grotesque. What happened to Mary Claire Walker between April 2012 and February 2013? Who is responsible? I suspect Vassar is liable.
New Male Buddy System
Women have been using a buddy system for decades to protect one another at social gatherings that involve a lot of drinking. Men should do it too. It’s simple: when you see your friend about to leave the party with a drunk woman, you stop him.
“Dude, she’s drunk.”
“So am I. Whatever.”
“Dude, she can’t consent. You could get screwed.”
“That’s the plan! And she just gave me a hickey for god’s sake.”
“Dude, it doesn’t matter, she might not remember tomorrow. Or she might change her mind a year from now.”
“No way, she’s a friend of mine. She totally wants to hook up, she’s standing right here nodding her head and smiling. So back off.”
“Dude, it’s way too dangerous.”
“But, my good friend, facing danger is an important part of growing up!”
“Dude, she could text you the next day she had a wonderful time and they can still kick your ass out. The risk level is off the charts here my friend. Sorry.”
“But . . . but . . . can’t I face just a little danger?”
The landscape has changed for men and this isn’t all bad. Encouraging men to scrupulously avoid even the appearance of taking advantage of a drunk woman has benefits especially considering the prevalence of sexual misconduct on college campuses. On the other hand, women are obviously NOT made safer when we kick men like Peter Yu out of college. Also, denying a woman’s self-proclaimed full responsibility is a nightmare for scenario for feminism: women MUST be allowed to be adults. I don’t know any other way to put it.
Actions taken at Vassar and other colleges perpetuate the pernicious idea that women are perpetual children. By ignoring Mary Claire Walker’s own sense of personal responsibility and kowtowing to the time travelers, Vassar has delivered a big fat backwards kick to women everywhere.
No one at Vassar said, “Mary Claire, from your Facebook messages it looks like you are an adult who got drunk and made a mistake. Is it possible that’s exactly what happened?” Instead, we were treated to another installment of the woman-as-perpetual-helpless-child meme. The fact that a woman can be incapacitated by alcohol and/or overpowered by a larger, stronger male does NOT mean she is a vulnerable infant in every situation no matter what.
Unless we want to go back to the 1940’s, we must affirm an adult woman’s absolute right to get drunk and have bad sex. It’s truly bizarre that this even needs to be said.
Repeat After Me
This is what seems to have happened. Vassar officials convinced Mary Claire that she needed to complete a special project to pass their required “Helpless Female 101” course. Repeat after me: “You were taken advantage of.” Repeat after me: “You are a child.” Repeat after me: “You are helpless.”
Ms. Walker gave in and completed her special project. She became a victim (perhaps a lifelong victim) and the young virgin she hurt was kicked out of Vassar a year to the day after surrendering his virginity.
Mary Claire had expressed herself strongly, clearly, and repeatedly: her Facebook messages are utterly unambiguous. At the hearing, all the poor girl — her adulthood having been cruelly taken from her by Vassar officials — could do was cry hysterically and say she had been helpless.
WHAT HAPPENED? It seems obvious. Vassar should answer for their manipulation of the young woman. Even worse, Mary Claire’s father is a professor at Vassar and he was right there with a front row seat for the whole sordid mess. He allowed Vassar officials to destroy his daughter. Peter Yu will be fine. But what of Mary Claire? How will she recover? Who will help her?
Professor Walker and the Vassar officials are not evil people. Have they lost their minds? Maybe.
In Kornbluth’s great short story, humanity arrives at a future in which most people are so stupid they believe everything the tabloids tell them. A few million intelligent people remain; they must live out their lives surrounded by billions of morons whose stupidity and violence represents an ever-present danger.
We’re live in Kornbluth’s world today. Millions sincerely believe Amanda Knox is guilty. Amongst them is a Harvard law professor. A large fraction of the Italian judiciary could be characters in Kornbluth’s story.
The story has a happy ending; unfortunately, the modern day crystallization of Kornbluth’s dark vision appears horribly permanent. To soothe myself, I made a list of the seven most moronic antics in the Knox case.
Here it is, The Marching Morons by Cyril Kornbluth — the 100% true to life version.
7. The Psychological Method
Patrick Lumumba was known throughout Perugia for his gentleness. But one of his employees was the stunning Amanda Knox. When Knox’s roommate, Meredith Kercher, was murdered by a deranged maniac, police focused their attention on the quirky but compelling young woman. They eventually came up with a really brilliant theory: Knox and Lumumba had together murdered Meredith.
The physical evidence in the case had yet to be analyzed, but that had never stopped a group of morons before. Police openly bragged about how they used what they called “the psychological method” to quickly solve the case. “We don’t need to rely on other kinds of investigation,” one officer helpfully explained.
Chief Moron Arturo de Felice and at least 11 other officers used a classic tag team interrogation technique to break the distraught Ms. Knox who had hardly slept in the days since finding her roommate dead. Terrified and “howling,” as one of the officers put it, she confirmed their Lumumba theory. Knox even (briefly) believed it herself.
The great thing about morons is they don’t know they’re morons. At a triumphant press conference the next day, the idiot Felice actually laid it all out for the international crowd of reporters: “Initially the American gave a version of events we knew was not correct. She buckled and made an admission of facts we knew were correct and from that we were able to bring them all in. They all participated but had different roles.”
Yes, of course. Patrick Lumumba was not the kind family man he appeared to be: not at all; he was actually a psychotic killer. Officers arrested Lumumba that same night; the sweet hippie kid from Seattle who trusted everyone, especially police, went straight from the interrogation room to a jail cell; Knox’s bewildered Italian lover was also arrested and jailed. And so police had, in custody, the three least likely suspects in Perugia.
You know the guy who loses his keys in the woods but searches under the street lamp because the light is better? Well, it happened in Italy. Meredith’s other two (Italian) roommates lawyered up immediately following the murder; they knew better than to trust the police. Knox, on the other hand was an easy (and lovely) target.
Today, the Knox confession is gospel to millions of morons all over the world.
6. See You Later for a Quick Little Murder
Arresting the three least likely suspects in a city has to be some kind of moron high water mark for murder investigation. As word of the amazing arrests spread from Italy to England to the United States, witness after witness came forward patiently explaining to dumbfounded police that Mr. Lumumba had been in his bar all night serving drinks just as he was every night, night after night. After all, he was a bartender. Hmm.
Since they had neglected to measure the temperature of the victim’s body (!), they did not have a precise time of death. So they kept Lumumba, Knox, and Knox’s fantastically unlucky boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, imprisoned. After all, Lumumba might have slipped out of his bar at some point, murdered Kercher, and might then have returned, serving drinks, bantering with customers, smiling and laughing, and setting up his alibi. Clever fellow.
Knox went back to the story police had so forcefully rejected — she had been at Raffaele’s apartment all night getting high and having sex. Raffaele himself, who had been a lonely virgin a week before, simply couldn’t believe the whole thing wasn’t a bad dream.
But the morons were committed at this point so they stuck to their guns.
You see, Lumumba’s text on the night of the murder to his beautiful young waitress — “slow night, don’t come in” — and her reply —”okay, see you later” — had convinced the imaginative officers that the Congolese bar owner and the American student must have been conspiring. So they made Knox say so.
Police told Knox she had repressed her “memory” due to shock. If she didn’t “remember” what they wanted her to remember, she would never see her family again, they told her. A couple of slaps to the back of the head from officer Rita Ficarra did the trick. Knox suddenly had what she called a “vision” about her and her boss Lumumba paying Meredith a visit on the night of the murder just as police suspected. Amanda’s “vision” became the “facts” police “knew were correct.”
The moment the weepy college kid signed their little paper, police celebrated, hugging one another in a charming display of camaraderie. But now Lumumba was spoiling all the fun. He claimed he had been at his bar all night. Even worse, he could prove it. No one said being an Italian cop was easy!
Lumumba’s lawyers eventually documented a minute-by-minute account of his activities the entire night and police had to let him go. The innocent businessman returned home, but was unable to reopen his bar.
Meanwhile, the forensics people did their jobs. Someone had left a complete handprint with a clear fingerprint in the victim’s blood on the wall. The fingerprint was matched to Rudy Guede, a habitual burglar well known to police. Guede had fled to Germany. He was quickly found by German police and extradited to Italy.
Knox, the winner of the world’s least believable confession award, and Sollecito, winner of the unluckiest computer geek in the universe award, remained in jail. Police apparently couldn’t bear to admit their outrageous mistake. So they tweaked the story a little and, in the process, filled tabloid hearts with joy for thousands of miles in every direction.
5. Amanda Knox: Controller of Men
Kercher had been murdered by a troubled drifter with a terrible abuse history going back to childhood. Rudy Guede was burlarizing her apartment when Meredith came home at 9 pm and surprised him. They would have recognized one another as they had seen each other around town. At some point he attacked. Guede stabbed her in the throat twice with a pocket knife which hit bone, slipped, and sliced his fingers. Guede, an extraordinary athlete with mental problems, was obviously quite dangerous, but he had never killed before and didn’t really know how. His minor injuries had not yet healed when he was caught.
Kercher could not defend herself against Guede. His third stab plunged the knife to its hilt into the soft part of Meredith’s throat. The deranged man slashed sideways tearing open a gaping wound. Two liters of Meredith’s blood poured all over Guede and onto the floor saturating Meredith’s clothing. Kercher went down, still alive, but drowning in her own blood, feebly struggling. As she died, she exhaled a bloody mist while Guede removed her blood-soaked clothing and sexually assaulted her.
All of these details were determined by the Italian forensics team. Once they had identified Guede, the police had his friend contact him via Skype from the police station. “She was clinging to me very hard,” Guede told his friend. Guede claimed she had been attacked by someone else and that he tried to save her. But this did not explain why his DNA was found in her vagina.
Police knew Rudy Guede well. He had broken into at least three buildings in the two months prior to his murder of Kercher. He was caught in Milan in a building he was in the process of looting and he had on his person stolen goods from two previous burglaries. Milanese police arrested him and confiscated the loot, and let him go. No charges were filed. Most rational experts assume the kid-gloves treatment was due to Guede acting as a police informant. We’ll never know. Five days later Meredith Kercher drowned in her own blood while Guede molested her.
We don’t know why Guede wasn’t jailed for the burglaries. We do know that Arturo and his friends will never be topped. They will simply never, ever be topped unless something happens that is beyond imagination. Guede didn’t just burglarize buildings in the months before he killed Meredith. Let’s talk about a man named Christian Tramontano.
During his crime spree, Guede invaded a home in Perugia where he pulled a knife on the resident. Christian Tramontano called the police. Christian Tramontano visited the police station three times. Christian Tramontano did NOT report that Guede had by his side his trusty accomplice, a sweet hippie girl from Seattle brandishing a kitchen knife. He tried mightily to get the attention of the police, but apparently suffered from an unfortunate lack of female curves.
On 1 November 2007, Guede’s life of abuse and abandonment, of desperation and poverty, hit rock bottom. The mentally ill 20-year-old, who apparently possessed some sort of get out of jail free card, left a nightmarish scene in Meredith’s bedroom and went dancing. Yes, he went dancing. Witnesses at the dance club later reported an odd body odor exuding from the first-time murderer. Two days later, the athletic burglar from Ivory Coast who had transformed into a monster fled to Germany where he slept on trains for a few days.
Guede’s DNA was found not only inside Meredith’s body, but also on her clothes and in her purse. No other DNA on the scene was found by the police lab other than the victim’s. Perugia police engineered Guede’s release from a Milan jail. A visiting student lay brutally murdered. Guede was in custody and there was enough DNA evidence to convict him of being the Devil.
Case closed? Of course not. It was time for MAJOR ass-covering. And don’t forget how pretty Amanda was back then. She’s behind bars, terrified. Let’s keep the party going.
The Perugia morons now knew the truth: Knox, Sollecito and Lumumba were all innocent; even worse, they had been protecting the killer. To non-morons this probably seems like the ultimate crash and burn. It wasn’t. In fact, for the Perugia police force, it was actually no problem at all.
In the new “news” story fed to the tabloids, the teary-eyed beauty now sitting in a jail cell was actually a dangerously clever adversary whom police had outwitted using their amazing psychological techniques. The tantalizingly flexible Knox — she had performed a split at the behest of an admiring officer — had fooled the decent and honest police officers when she said “yes, sir” to their idiotic Lumumba theory.
That’s right. New story. Reset everything. Here we go.
Knox convinced her virginal Italian boyfriend — she had broadened the computer geek’s horizons just six days before — to assist her and the deranged Ivorian, also in her thrall, in the brutal murder of her beautiful British roommate whom she hated. Later, under questioning, she desperately substituted an innocent black man for the real black perpetrator in an last-ditch attempt to evade the tightening net of brilliant police work that had ultimately uncovered the shocking truth.
Moron’s everywhere smoked from the tabloid pipe — it was legal ecstasy.
The Knox confession remains exhibit A for the moron crowd: Amanda was in the house when Meredith died — the yoga aficionado had outright admitted it to police in the wee hours one morning and that’s all you need if you are a moron. The confession as a whole — with every single word written in Italian and consisting of 100% utter nonsense without the slightest relationship to any of the facts of the actual murder — was a real charmer for the morons. Knox signed the document. She had not only admitted to being present, she had even gone so far as to accuse an innocent man — her boss, Patrick Lumumba — of murder and cruelly ruin his life.
The police — who were almost as flexible as the delectable Knox herself — took the opportunity to charge the jailed beauty with slander.
Yes, really. They also conveniently claimed they had forgotten to turn on the recording equipment in the room where Knox was interrogated. But they were lying. The recording equipment in that room was on all the time. While waiting in that very same room, Knox and Sollecito had been recorded again and again. When the two hungry kids talked about getting some pizza after they were done at the police station, they were recorded. The first thing the police did after the murder was to tap their cell phones; every call was recorded. All of Knox’s later conversations with her family and her lawyers while imprisoned were recorded. And forty thousand (40,000) calls made by Sollecito’s family members in the succeeding years as the endless legal battles went on were also recorded.
In fact, just about the only thing the Perugia cops are good at is recording conversations. Of course they recorded Knox’s “confession.” They just couldn’t release it. Arturo and his bright boys and girls were bright enough to know what would happen if anyone actually listened to their little game of “let’s make the pretty girl say what we want her to say.” For all anyone knows, the recording may still exist.
Much of the world blithely went along with the Perugian brainiacs. In Boston, a Harvard law professor nodded his head in agreement. In England and in Italy, the tabloid photographers polished their camera lenses and buttoned up their designer shirts. Morons by the millions stood impatiently in line to purchase the latest photo spread of the hot young murderess.
Even Meredith Kercher’s own family went along with the same morons whose gross incompetence (remember, Guede had pulled a knife on a Perugia resident in addition to the multiple burglaries) had killed their beloved daughter and sister.
4. The Presumed LCN Sample
As joy spread across the tabloid universe, police tested a large kitchen knife taken from Sollecito’s apartment and found no DNA of any kind on the blade, no human residue on the blade, and no blood on the blade. The triple negative result presented no difficulties whatsoever for the prosecution and the knife took its place as the central piece of physical evidence in the case.
If you’re not a moron, you may need to pause here and re-read that last paragraph (there are no typos, read it again). The thought process of a moron can have a wonderful simplicity to it that is almost artistic, but it does take time and effort to fully appreciate this particular kind of art. Do read it again, you’ll be glad you did.
Ready? Okay, I’ll tell you how they did it. You may want to sit down if you aren’t sitting already. If you’re sensitive like me, you may want to find someone you trust and hold his or her hand. Okay. Here we go. Hold on. It’ll be over quickly. I promise.
Negative = Positive.
Yes, that’s it. The perfect solution. It is a thing of beauty, is it not?
Negative = Positive was the brainchild of the Moron Queen, Patrizia Stefanoni, who looked at the three negative tests on the most important piece of evidence in the most important trial of her career and “accidentally” wrote the word “positive” on a form due to what the second court diplomatically called an “understandable oversight.”
Now the great Queen Patrizia could do PCR. PCR on a negative sample is the standard test for contamination in a genetics lab — even the slightest contamination shows up clearly on a blank sample magnified by the magic of PCR. “Negative controls” are used routinely in all labs — advanced labs with reverse pressure and ultraviolet decontamination and low-end labs like Patrizia’s — to check for the ever-present contamination. A microscopic spec of dust carrying DNA can easily contaminate a sample even in advanced labs with careful technicians.
So a negative sample doesn’t always come back negative after amplification. Just because the knife tested negative three times doesn’t mean it would always be negative. Patrizia’s approach was brilliant in its simplicity. Call the negative sample positive, amplify it using PCR, hope to get a tiny signal, say your lab doesn’t have contamination, and, above all, make absolutely sure that under NO circumstances, including a court order, do you release negative controls done by the lab technicians since the contamination will show up there as well of course. Then all you have to do is keep a straight face as you take away someone’s life. Easy as pie if your name is Stefanoni. After all, even though the knife DNA was contamination, it was obvious Knox did it; just look at her.
And so it came to pass that the great Queen Patrizia strode into the courtroom with her fashionable boots and her mane of thick black hair and stated clearly and unequivocally that contamination simply doesn’t occur in her lab. The tiny signal she got from the negative sample that matched Meredith’s DNA was therefore not contamination and the original triple negative result must have been wrong. The great Patrizia had in fact made a very fortunate mistake in classifying the negative sample positive because the amplification result proved that the sample had actually been positive all along and the kitchen knife, far from being used to cut bread, was actually part of a murder most foul.
The Stefanoni gambit created a wondrous Kornbluthian phrase, never before uttered in a courtroom: “presumed LCN sample.” Let us parse this wondrous phrase. The knife swab was presumed to be a sample that, if only it had been analyzed more accurately, would have registered as LCN (meaning extremely tiny) rather than as triple negative because it must have really had blood on it even though it seemed not to. And there is one and only one forensics genetics lab in the world that never has contamination — the one controlled by the great Queen Patrizia.
No one before had ever had the balls to even try to introduce a negative sample as evidence, withhold the negative controls, and claim that contamination simply was not an issue. The Knox defence didn’t have access to the lab data so they couldn’t get their hands on the routine negative controls that are automatically run. Stefanoni released only the data she chose to release.
And so the Massei court became the first court in history to find someone guilty based on a DNA sample that started out negative, became positive only after amplification, and was presented with no control data to back it up.
In the U.S., the initial negative result would immediately disqualify the sample and it would not be admissible at all, much less become a lynchpin in a murder conviction. Peter Gill, the inventor of modern forensic genetics and probably the world’s foremost forensic geneticist, said in his book that the knife sample gave a “classic” contamination signal. But Knox was put away anyway.
Knox once said of her beauty, “I’m not that pretty . . . I’m not Helen of Troy.” But she is. How many women can say they turned negative into positive? Launching a thousand ships was nothing.
Years later, when the second court repeatedly demanded that Stefanoni finally turn over the negative controls, she repeatedly refused, stating that the court had all the information it needed and issuing veiled threats to institute one of Italy’s ubiquitous slander suits over the court’s vile insinuations that she was hiding something.
The second court asked two of Italy’s top geneticists (not morons) to examine the DNA evidence — such as it was. The independent experts noted the triple negative result and the likely contamination and the unfortunate lack of negative control data. They provided the most concise characterization of Stefanoni’s negative-equals-positive-no-negative-control charade on record: “incomprehensible.”
And that was that. The moron judge was over-ruled by an honest judge and Knox boarded a plane where, in the exhuberance of her deliverance, the emotional young woman, now fluent in Italian, kept forgetting to speak English to her parents.
Peter Gill is, like the Kerchers, a British citizen. Peter Gill, like every other geneticist in the world, regards the Knox case as a grotesque miscarriage of justice. If a rational word is spoken and there are only morons there to hear it, does it make a sound?
No. The Kercher family still, to this day, believe Knox is a vile murderer. Will they ever see the light of day? Will they ever realize the Perugia police first killed their daughter by releasing Guede and then cynically used them to railroad Knox and Sollecito? Are they stupid or just gullible?
The fact is, without the support of the Kercher family, the case against Knox and Sollecito would never even have gone to trial. Had they declared the police case absurd from the start, their moral authority as the victim’s family would have carried the day. Arturo de Felice, Giuliano Mignini, Patrizia Stefanoni, Rita Ficarra, and the other morons would have been laughed out of town.
But it was not to be.
3. Anything is Possible, Mr. and Mrs. Kercher
Having lost their daughter to a deranged maniac with a pocket knife and no money, the Kerchers wanted to believe their daughters death was something less horribly banal. So they believed the knife story concocted by police morons.
The kitchen knife police took from Sollecito’s apartment was much too large to have been the murder weapon, so it didn’t actually matter whether the lab found anything on it because the wounds on Meredith’s throat were obviously made by a pocket knife, not by a large kitchen knife. But Amanda’s lovely hands had cut bread with Sollecito’s knife meaning her beautiful DNA was on the handle.
The “presumed LCN sample” gambit turned water into wine for the prosecution: Meredith’s DNA was officially on the blade of a big kitchen knife randomly selected from amongst the many kitchen knives in Sollecito’s drawer. Amanda on the handle, Meredith on the blade: done deal, likelihood be damned.
The too-large knife was inches from being the official murder weapon. But it was way too big. What to do?
No problem. We cannot in fact say all three wounds on Meredith’s throat were caused by a pocket knife. Theoretically, the final slashing wound that opened up Kercher’s throat before she drowned in her own blood could have been made by any sharp object — from a broken bottle to an axe to a pocket knife to a carefully-wielded kitchen knife.
Police told Meredith’s grieving family that two knives must have been used on their beloved’s throat with the assailants switching from the small pocket knife that made the first two, non-fatal wounds to the too-large, randomly selected, triple-negative-but-really-positive kitchen knife. Yes, in the middle of the assault, the assailants switched knives and carefully made a pocket-knife-sized slash with a large kitchen knife. It’s possible. Knife switching happens all the time. Well it could, theoretically happen. Besides, Meredith’s DNA was found on the knife blade after the three negative tests were ignored and the sample was amplified anyway. So there.
Morons everywhere believe and still believe this bushwah wholeheartedly. The Kerchers follow along, ever gullible.
2. Every Horror Movie Needs a Bloody Shower Scene
The oops-we-forgot-to-record-it confession confirming the nonsensical police theory and the gigantic triple negative knife that magically became positive in the lab that doesn’t release control results even when the court requests it have their places as true derring do in the annals of morondom. But the Perugia police may have set unbreakable records in this case. They may have found a low point in public stupidity that makes a good case for rivaling what you might see in a Monty Python sketch.
I know, it’s hard to believe. Read on.
Amongst the weaponry employed by Italian police officers are such diverse elements as phenolphthalein, cameras, and tabloid reporters. The Perugian Inquisition gave the gullible public and Meredith’s family a real treat when they treated Knox’s bathroom with phenolphthalein and waited a few hours. The bathroom now appeared to be covered in blood. Get out the camera. Now we have a weapon to wield against the beautiful Amanda.
And wield it they did.
The police made no statements whatsoever about their psychotic little photograph. They simply released it to the press. Morons were, as you might expect, rapturous, but in no danger of overdosing as there is no known limit to the stupidity a moron can ingest without ill effect.
The picture of the “bloody bathroom that Amanda Knox showered in after the murder” even made it onto a CNN newscast, proving once again that morons lurk everywhere.
Perhaps the best of Monty Python Comes to Perugia is not the Spanish Inquisition sketch, but the witch scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail: “We did do the nose. And the hat. But she’s a witch.”
Worth a watch if you haven’t seen it.
1. Logic is a Wreath of Pretty Flowers Which Smell BAD
When grotesque stupidity lurks under a judges robes, be afraid.
Knox left footprints in her own house. The footprints, needless to say, tested negative for blood. In fact, ALL tests to determine Knox’s involvement in the murder were negative except for the stand-up-to-a-dozen-police-officers-in-a-foreign-country psychological test which she failed.
But a thousand negative chemical tests would not sway the great Judge Massei. He is a man with the courage of his convictions! As part of his 400-page decision he wrote that negative tests don’t matter. Here it is word for word from page 282 of the English translation:
“It must be noted that the negative result for blood does not necessarily indicate that no blood was present.”
The best part of this is that Judge Moron is entirely correct! He gets 100 percent on his moron exam. It is indeed true that the fact that a scientific test is negative for blood does NOT mean there was no blood. Indeed, there might well have been blood. We don’t know and will never know that Knox had NOT stepped in Kercher’s blood and had NOT tracked it all over her house. Maybe she did. In fact, Amanda Knox might be guilty, guilty, guilty even if a million chemical tests come out negative.
Morons do so enjoy dropping science like a load of bricks.
But wait! We can do that ourselves, just for kicks.
The great Judge Massei will be our gracious host;
he’ll tell us all that Knox is a very shapely ghost.
How else could she commit a grisly murder and leave no trace?
Indeed, science can never prove that that was NOT the case.
Our hero, Dr. Massei, explained the damning evidence against Knox with such wonderful clarity and detail: a sample swabbed from a large area of the girls’ bathroom sink which they had shared for weeks did in fact contain DNA from (guess who?) both girls — shocking evidence of murder; Knox’s footprints in Knox’s house tested negative for blood, but might really have been positive if only the test had been more sensitive; the knife tested negative three times, but if PCR shows a faint signal and Patrizia says there is no contamination that’s good enough — who needs negative controls?; the experienced and athletic burglar named Rudy Guede would have found it so terribly difficult to climb a few feet up a wall and so Knox had obviously let him in — the defence video showing someone scaling that very wall in less than three seconds is irrelevant; finally, and most important, Knox’s transparent attempt to implicate poor Patrick Lumumba and fool the honest police who just wanted the truth implicates her — we don’t need a recording of the interrogation.
Massei distorted no facts and made no false statements; he simply confiscated Knox’s twenties and thirties and explained himself in full detail.
The Massei decision is, in fact, a beautiful document, perhaps more beautiful even than Amanda Knox at her most alluring peak. It is as fine an example of a self-refuting document as exists since reading it once is more than enough to convince non-morons that Knox and her absurdly unlucky virgin are innocent beyond a shadow of doubt. No defence team was needed at all. If only Kornbluth were here to see the reality of his vision: 400 pages of pure word play trying to pass itself off as a legal decision.
Case closed. Those were the beautiful words uttered by the world class idiot Felice at his frighteningly mindless press conference in 2007 when the terrible loss of Meredith Kercher was still fresh. Today, the Italian Supreme Court having vacated Knox and Sollecito’s convictions in their shocking move on Friday 27 March 2015, the not-quite-so-delectable Amanda Knox lives and writes relatively quietly. I note here, sadly, that Kercher’s family members — John and Arline and Stephanie and Lyle — were unhappy that the whole absurd case was put to rest and have thus been formally inducted into the panoply of morons where they will most likely remain for eternity.
I’m so sorry for all concerned, including the survivors.
It is painful, even excruciating, to realize that my fellow humans may lack empathy, embrace cruelty, and/or renounce rationality. Somehow our ability to put innocent people in prison after a careful process involving highly trained scientists, police, lawyers, and judges and leave them there or even kill them (Todd Willingham, Earl Washington, Anthony Yarbough and many others besides Amanda Knox) is worse than anything else we humans do; even a war in which 50 million die is not, in some ways, quite so unreasonable as Yarbough spending 20 years of his life in prison or Willingham being executed or Washington’s confessions to numerous crimes (including giving Eve the apple) being believed.
Knox, with her case followed by millions and, at length, spawning books, BBC documentaries, movies, comments on news sites, comments at the same level from Harvard professors (maybe Dershowitz should write for the tabloids), and widespread incredulous outrage from human beings, has created a whole new class of injustice in which it’s not just the system failing us, it’s whole nations, whole peoples. Perhaps this is why I, without good reason, think about the Knox case so much even though others have suffered more.
As an exercise, I posted comments on a news site in which I argued that Amanda and Raffaele were guilty. I did this to the best of my ability but did not stoop to leaving out crucial facts or making up nonsense. I tried to argue powerfully, eloquently, and honestly, but did not entirely eschew the occasional low blow. Of course, when one does this, it reads as nonsense. Nevertheless, I did learn something. The mindless people – not stupid people as they do not all have low IQ’s as Dershowitz proves – who believe in the modern-day Perugian fairy tale have, I think, an extremely simple set of beliefs: first, no one would tell police, under any circumstances whatever, that they were present at a murder when they were, in fact, not; second, once you have what amounts to a confession, all other evidence may be interpreted from the standpoint of guilty until proven innocent. Indeed, Massei’s verdict overtly reverses the usual standard of justice. This is assuming, of course, that at least some of the people who say they believe Knox is guilty actually do believe this and are not simply monsters who know she is innocent. Maybe they just think it’s all a big game. Who knows?
What follows below are two comments I posted on news sites where the typical commenters are, for the most part, “people” who cause me to doubt what species I belong to.
Knox and Sollecito are obviously deranged but dangerously clever. They used a kitchen knife to make a wound that looked like it came from a pocket knife and then they cleaned the kitchen knife exceptionally well and then used it again for cooking and just tossed it into a drawer with half a dozen other knives. They probably figured no one would test a knife that didn’t seem to fit the wound. But they thought wrong. The investigators not only zeroed in on the correct knife right away, but they also didn’t stop after three tests on the knife came up negative for blood, for anything human, and for any type of DNA. Thank goodness they broke international protocols and did the amplification procedure anyway on the apparently-clean knife. Their positive result matching Meredith’s DNA obviously does NOT mean the lab was contaminated; in fact, it means Knox and Sollecito didn’t clean the knife quite well enough. The pair of murderers left at least one cell from Meredith on the knife which the PCR procedure amplified into the DNA equivalent of a billion cells which were then analyzed and matched to Meredith (it was a perfect match, absolutely unassailable unless you believe the contamination theory).
And thank goodness for the persistence of the Perugia cops. They knew Knox was lying and they knew she and Lumumba had killed Meredith. They explained this at the post-arrest press conference: “Initially, the American gave a version of events we knew was not correct. She buckled and made an admission of facts we knew were correct and from that we were able to bring them all in.” Later police explained that they used what they called the psychological method to solve the crime, essentially studying Knox’s behavior and reactions to identify her as the killer. They clearly succeeded and they are clearly a formidable investigative team.
It was just a matter of breaking Ms. Knox. Once they got her to admit that Lumumba had sex with Meredith and then killed her, they were able to arrest both the Congolese bar owner and the Seattle native Knox. Later the cops were able to nail Knox for slander when they found out that actually the bloody handprint belonged to Rudy Guede who removed Meredith’s blood-soaked jeans and then sexually assaulted her while she was choking to death on her own blood (the blood on the front of her jeans and Guede’s DNA in her vagina make it clear that the fatal wound preceded removal of the clothing). Knox was there of course (as she admitted) and knew what really happened, so she was obviously purposely misleading the police when she described the sexual assault and the murder in the wrong order. Really Knox should have gotten two extra prison terms for her vile slander: one for saying Lumumba raped Meredith and one for saying he killed her. It’s a good thing Knox’s boss had enough customers that night to give him a minute-by-minute alibi completely covering the time that Knox, Sollecito, and Guede spent murdering poor Meredith.
If only the cops had collected the bra clasp early on when they first picked it up. If they hadn’t left it lying around for so long (46 days, come on guys!), they would have been able to identify all four (or five or six or more) of the male DNA signatures on the bra clasp and arrest ALL of the people who were involved in Meredith’s murder. We’ll never know exactly how many people committed this murder because of this serious oversight on the part of the cops who otherwise did a terrific job except for a few mistakes: not taking the body temperature of the victim when she was discovered, not taking proper care of the computer hard drives they took into custody, and, worst of all, allowing the bra strap itself to degrade so that it cannot be retested to 1) confirm Sollecito’s presence in the room and 2) identify the rest of the gang. When I think of all the murderers who are still at large, a whole deranged group who murdered that poor girl for fun, it makes me sick.
The true genius of the pair of murderers we do know about is the cleanup job they did or seemed to do. What most people don’t realize is that they didn’t simply clean up their DNA and leave Guede’s. They clearly planned the whole thing from the beginning. They undoubtedly both wore gloves and probably caps too to prevent any hairs from them from becoming part of the crime scene. They must have purposely let Guede do most of the dirty work and they undoubtedly thought that no one would believe that they could have killed Meredith without leaving any DNA behind (except for the bra clasp which they probably figured the police wouldn’t bother collecting – and they were almost correct).
This explains why they acted in such an obvious way, kissing each other at a murder scene(!); they thought their DNA trick would prevent anyone from suspecting them no matter how they acted. But they didn’t realize that the Perugian police would see right through their plan. The police and forensic investigators weren’t fooled, they didn’t focus on the lack of DNA at the scene AND they kept at it with Sollecito’s kitchen knife until they got a positive result AND they collected the bra clasp eventually AND, most important of all, they broke Knox who obviously isn’t nearly as tough or smart as she thinks she is.
Most importantly, we have to thank Judge Massei and the rest of the panel for finding them guilty in the first trial. Faced with the luminol footprints that tested negative for blood, he could have just left it at that, but he realized that luminol reacts to blood and, just because one test seems to show that there was no blood and just because the luminol print could, theoretically, be bleach or fruit juice, doesn’t mean you have to discount this evidence. Also, he knew that the swab taken in the bathroom sink that showed Meredith’s and Knox’s DNA mixed together could have been explained away because Knox used the bathroom. But Judge Massei, looking at all the evidence together, was able to conclude that the luminol footprints probably actually were blood and that the swab with the mixed DNA in the bathroom probably actually was a result of the murder. Of course, these things alone might not have been enough for a conviction. The key for Massei was seeing the big picture, from Knox’s admission that she was present when Lumumba raped and murdered Meredith all the way to the luminol footprints and the mixed DNA in the sink.
And, for the record, all police interrogations are a little harsh. It doesn’t mean all confessions should be ignored. Even if one of the cops gave Knox a smack in the back of the head to jog her memory (this cannot be proven and there was no bruising or any identifiable injury at all), it wouldn’t matter. She obviously needed a little help to do what she needed to do and tell the police what happened.
I really don’t see why everyone thinks I’m being sarcastic. People who agree with me that Knox was there think I’m really a Knox supporter and Knox supporters are complimenting me. It’s surreal.
I think Knox was there because she said she was there and I believe her. It’s as simple as that. I don’t believe the backpedaling she’s done since her statements at 1:30 am and 5:45 am on 6 November 2007.
She said, and I quote, “I do not recall whether Meredith was there or arrived afterward. I struggle to remember these moments, but Patrik had sex with Meredith with whom he was infatuated, but I do not recall whether Meredith had been threatened beforehand. I recall confusedly that he killed her.”
That statement speaks for itself. Her other statement about 4 hours later reads in part as follows:
“I cannot recall how much time they stayed together in the room but can only say that at a certain point I heard Meredith screaming and I, frightened, covered my ears. Then I don’t remember anything anymore, I am very confused in my head. I do not recall whether Meredith was screaming and if [I? she?](*) also heard thuds [tonfi] because I was involved, but I was imagining what could have happened.”
Again, this is pretty clear and stands on its own.
I realize that Lumumba didn’t (and would never) kill anyone. He’s a gentle, decent man. But he never admitted to being present when Meredith was killed. Guede did admit this as did Knox. I realize also that no one had sex with Meredith and that the brutal attack came before the sexual assault.
Here’s what I think happened: Probably Knox let Guede in, helped him subdue Meredith, slashed her “friend’s” throat with the kitchen knife while Guede held her down (or perhaps it was the other way around), then helped him remove Meredith’s bloody jeans, and then watched in fascination as he fingered Meredith’s vagina as she was dying. Knox, of course, was smart enough to wear gloves. Feeling a little guilty about having helped to murder her housemate and “friend”, she covered the victim’s body. This is something the police, who spoke at length about the psychological method they use to solve crimes, realized that only a woman would do.
The fact that Knox twice says she was confused and says “do not recall” or “I was imagining” or “I don’t/struggle to remember” seven times in the above excerpts doesn’t mean we should ignore her confession. She confessed. Period. She, like Guede, is obviously a very confused person with many serious issues.
It’s true that her confession doesn’t fit in some ways with the actual crime as it happened and it’s also true that experts say that confessions that get the details wrong may be false confessions. But Knox did get a detail correct. As others have pointed out here, Knox said the victim screamed and that she (Knox) covered her ears. That seems like a pretty precise detail to me.
Once a Knox supporter (I used to be one but I changed my mind) realizes that the confession should be taken for what it is, it is easy enough to realize that the other evidence, such as the kitchen knife, should not be discounted.
Without the confession, the fact that the knife was tested for blood (TMB) and this test was negative and that it was tested for anything human (“species-specific test”) and this was also negative and that it was tested for DNA of any kind (Q-bit fluorometer) and this was a third negative would lead me to doubt the knife evidence. But the police knew Knox had confessed. They knew she was guilty, so they did the PCR amplification in spite of the three negative tests and did get a positive match to Meredith Kercher’s DNA (there is no question about this match as others have pointed out).
As Italian jurists have repeatedly explained, an “osmotic” evaluation of the evidence, in which each piece of evidence affects the evaluation of each other piece of evidence so that the evidence may be seen as a whole, allows us to conclude that the DNA found as a result of the PCR amplification was NOT due to contamination and was in fact on the knife from the beginning despite the three negative tests.
And suppose it was contamination after all. Knox supporters should remember: she confessed to being present when Meredith died.
NOTE: The second comment actually received a neutral response from a guilter and it showcases I think the power of scenarios. When you just make up what might have happened, as is legal in Italian courtrooms, you encourage all concerned to suspend disbelief as if watching a movie. The result: reality and logic go out the window.