I never want to serve on a jury. It's not that I'm one of those people who just doesn't want to be bothered. In fact, I understand it's my duty and it's an important task to perform. I believe in the system. I would never tell deliberate lies to get out of jury duty. I still don't want to serve on a jury.
I don't want to serve on a jury because I can't stand the idea of someone's fate being in my hands that way. I don't want to be responsible for an innocent person being locked away (or even killed) or a guilty person going free due to lack of evidence. The idea that I could be responsible terrifies me.
The jury in the Casey Anthony trial did what they were supposed to do. They looked at the evidence and saw that it was insufficient for conviction. The problem is that everyone "knows" she did it. (I heard a funny joke from Michael Moore this morning saying that the jury was unnecessary since Nancy Grace convicted Anthony weeks ago.) The court of public opinion is far too strong in this country. Those jury members were only doing their job and yet they will be pilloried the rest of their lives for the decisions they made.
Let's look at a different case: Scott Peterson. This was another case where guilt was assumed by the entire country. Many people felt that even though we all "know" he was guilty, the evidence wasn't really strong enough. I heard a few rumblings at the time of his conviction that the justice system was falling prey to the court of public opinion. Once again, the jury was filled with flawed human beings and not gods who knew everything.
What bothers me so much about the Court of Public Opinion is how it seems that Americans are able to work themselves into such an emotional lather over people they don't know. We want to see an alleged criminal hang for crimes against a victim we never knew, would never know existed if it weren't for the power of television.
Wouldn't it be nice if we cared about people in our communities who were suffering and dying as much as we cared about people on the other side of the country? The desire to seek revenge and punish has gone way outside the scope of friends and family and is now in the hands of total strangers. I really don't like that.
Let's talk for a minute about why we care so much about certain victims. Caylee Anthony was a tragedy, but it's hardly an isolated case.
Every day, right here in the United States, children go to bed hungry.
Every day, all over the world, children are sold into sex trade, often by their own parents.
Every day, in the US, children are abused and neglected or killed in acts of violence.
Every day in Africa children die of AIDS.
We are shocked by Casey Anthony, without realizing that the person most likely to kill any child is its mother.
I do hope that if we, as Americans who claim to care for and love children, want revenge for all of the wrongs done against innocent children, that we feel this way about all children and not just adorable, doe-eyed suburban white children.