Op Ed

Casey Anthony and the Court of Public Opinion

A few years ago, I came home from class and turned on the television to see a distressed middle-aged woman speaking at a press conference about her missing granddaughter. I knew right there, as so many others did, that the story of Caylee Anthony and her mother, Casey, would expand wildly and seize the basest attention of Central Floridians until Casey was ushered to the electric chair.

The local news networks do their best to inundate Central Floridians with the “Case Against Casey,” so, for those of you who have escaped Casey Anthony by geography or willpower, let me recall the poignant details. Toddler Caylee went missing for weeks before grandmother Cindy finally reported Caylee’s disappearance. A nanny was implicated and later found to be fabricated. Search parties scoured the swampy Florida underbrush, and Caylee’s body was eventually discovered with a heart shaped sticker fixed on her mouth. Her mother, Casey, had a car, and evidence of decomposition found in the trunk of this car may or may not be viable in her trial for murder.

Obsessive media coverage elevated the entire Anthony family to infamy. I remember news footage of vigilantes storming the yard of the Anthony’s modest Orlando home as Cindy Anthony broke into a screaming meltdown. Her husband, George, was eventually Baker Acted in Daytona Beach – his nerves, presumably, were shot. Despite my own resolve to ignore the Case Against Casey, I still managed to absorb the lurid details by osmosis. If you plant yourself amidst a foreign language, you’ll be picking it up before long.

Jury selection recently commenced in the Tampa area, which is a two-hour drive from Orlando. A fair jury from Orlando was ruled out, as that well was poisoned long ago. Will Casey get a fair trial? What happened in the courtroom today? See footage of Casey being booked after transferring prisons! Watch Casey break down in agony! Read our Twitter feed for details!

I’m not going to say whether I think Casey Anthony is guilty or innocent, because I’m not sitting on her jury, and my evidence has been filtered through news outlets that have channeled the Nancy Grace school of wicked sensationalism. Their noblest aims are to sell commercials. Whenever a clown of a news anchor invokes poor, dead Caylee, as if to ground us all in remembrance that, after all, this is about the death of an innocent child, I’m roiled by their insincerity. Poor, dead Caylee is paying the bills. Poor, dead Caylee is the airtime that sells appliances, cars, and for-profit education. Their hands, too, are bloody.

I will never totally understand why one hideous crime captivates popular imagination above the innumerable others occurring every second. I do know that as a species, we kill each other, and that some murders ignite a pilot light to transcend all others as the overwhelming focus of concern. Casey Anthony was a young mother who breached our understanding of what young mothers do, and now her kitchen is on fire.

2 replies on “Casey Anthony and the Court of Public Opinion”

Casey Anthony was a young mother who breached our understanding of what young mothers do, and now her kitchen is on fire.

I think that’s exactly why it’s sensationalized, so, combined with what @baseballchica03 said. A pretty, young, white mother has acted in a way that shocks us. We can’t fathom what made her do what she is alleged to have done, what made her go out and party when he daughter was allegedly missing, so we stare and we scorn and we dissect. And opportunist news venues like Nancy Grace and Geraldo and Fox News reap the benefits by providing an outlet for all that scorn and speculation.

The story has been impossible to miss no matter where you are in Florida… Clearwater is definitely not far enough to find an impartial jury.

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