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Amanda Knox, Politics, and Tabloid Thinking

January 31, 2014

It’s pretty scary what can happen when tabloid journalism winds up at the highest levels of a criminal justice system.

Here’s a good conspiracy theory. (Insert name of president) issued “stand down orders” on September 11, (insert 2001 or 2012). All’s fair in politics, right? But what if this kind of wacko thinking winds up in courtrooms affecting the lives of real people?

In Italy, Amanda Knox was questioned by police and hit a couple of times as they pressured her to tell them what they wanted to hear. This happened years ago. When she was finally released from prison, she told her parents about the abusive behavior of the bullying morons who pass for Italian police and her parents told a newspaper. Now the Italian clowns are suing her parents for repeating this allegation. (Maybe they’ll sue me too.)

Italian courts have, comically, accepted the idea that repeating an accusation could be construed as slander and so Amanda Knox and her parents are actually facing two separate Italian judicial proceedings stemming from this “slanderous” police brutality complaint of Amanda’s and her parents’ conversation with a reporter.

It gets worse. Much worse.

In 2007, Amanda’s housemate in Italy was murdered by a local drifter/burglar and Amanda and her boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito were tossed into prison as was the actual murderer. Four years later, the two innocent kids were released, but now another Italian court has again declared them guilty.

Amanda is safe in the U.S. and will (probably) not be extradited but Raffaele might actually go back to prison even though we know that not only is there no evidence that either of them was involved, we can be virtually certain that they could not have possibly have been.

The Italian prosecutor’s bizarre story is that Amanda, her boyfriend, and the actual murderer all attacked the victim as part of a strange sexual game. After the murder, Amanda and her boyfriend somehow removed all traces of their DNA and fingerprints and footprints and handprints while leaving all of these from the third person both on and in the victim’s body and all over the room so that he would be blamed and they would get off.

Really. That’s the theory. This is in a real courtroom in Italy, not in some third-world country. A real courtroom, with terrifyingly real consequences. And this is not an exaggeration of or caricature of the prosecution’s theory. It really is that ridiculous. Needless to say, the prosecution does not explain how a couple of kids with no training in criminal forensics and no history of criminal activity could have pulled off this crime of the century.

In fact, of course, it would have been impossible for them to do what they are accused of having done. No one could realistically do it. Theoretically, I suppose they could have worn some kind of protective suits while their fall guy went barehanded and uncovered. But the prosecution doesn’t make this claim. They say the two kids did one hell of an amazing selective clean-up job such as has never before been seen in the annals of crime.

The prosecution theory is utter stand-down-orderesque nonsense in court affecting two young lives. I feel bad for the victim of the murder in Italy and for the two victims of Italian courtroom buffoonery and I worry that I’ll be next.

I live in a country where, more and more, people on the fringes are taken seriously. During the Benghazi congressional hearings, senator Graham actually asked General Dempsey about “stand down” orders. Yes, a U.S. senator actually asked the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff whether or not there was an order given to our military to not do the heroic job they’ve been doing in the middle east every single minute of every single day for the past twelve years.

In Italy, a prosecutor named Mignini puts forward nonsensical fantasies about satanic sex rituals to explain an already-solved crime and puts two innocent people in jail. Here, a senator’s questions give credence to absurd fantasies about a president who is supposed to be some kind of secret terrorist agent.

It is just mildly comforting that the stand-down-order craze shows signs of winding down. I’m sad to say the tabloid nightmare for Raffaele Sollecito continues in Italy. This gentle computer geek has already spent four years in prison with hardened criminals. Tabloid thinking at the highest levels of Italian government might well send him back.

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From → Amanda Knox, Politics

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