- We all listen to a litany of things about how you did / didn’t do it.
- Twenty-four hour news hacks (the kind we would not invite to watch our dogs) give the accused emotive nicknames and spout undiluted vitriol in great gushing splashes against our screens.
- All the circumstantial evidence means we just know you did it.
- We bay and crow in true lynch-mob style.
- The jury go away and look at the actual proof of guilt versus innocence.
- They come back and say, based on the evidence you’re innocent.
- We do not have an alternative verdict in the USA of “not proven”.
- So, quite rightly, you are free.
You see, this is how justice works. We do not kill people just because we’re ‘fairly certain they did it and besides, they totally acted like they did it’. We condemn people when there is proof that is so compelling that there is no doubt at all that they did it.
And then we kill them…after a suitable number of double-checks to make sure we got the decision right the first time. Even then we sometimes kill people for crimes they did not commit or let them out just in the nick of time after their life has rotted almost from view.
This is the crux of the problem. You can’t give that life back.
We no longer storm the courthouse and string a screaming unfortunate from a tree limb or streetlamp. We realize that mob justice is no justice at all, not even if it piques a sense of revenge that must be avenged. We defer to a proxy of twelve people whom we have determined are good enough to make a fair decision based on what they have seen and heard unsullied by the quality of TV graphics and dramatic on-the-hour soundbites. When they decide, we allow them to decide for us all.
This is…civility. This is…how things must be.
Even a man rent on a rack and broken by the spasms of electricity and beatings will not always tell you the truth. Find the facts. Show them to our diligent dozen. Allow perspectives of guilt and innocence to be ascribed. Even allow lies – as long as we allow the lies to be shown as such.
Short dresses and inexplicable hot body contests make you seem weird, cold, callous or bizarre but they do not prove you a killer. A knife, a gun, bullet wounds, ligature marks, broken bones, photographic evidence: these work. But when there is no proof…then the case is not proved, even if it makes you want to scream MURDERER or write letters of protest and when the case is not proved then you are innocent and you are free to slither or crawl or trot on high-heels in a go-go skirt because that is what freedom means.
The victim is still a victim…however she died, she did.