Saturday, July 9, 2011

Casey Anthony Jurors: an Act of Citizenship

This week's acquittal of Casey Anthony reminded me of these words spoken by actor Michael Douglas as he portrayed fictitious President Andrew Shepherd in the film The American President:

"America isn't easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad 'cause it's gonna put up a fight. It's gonna say, 'You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who's standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours. You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country can't just be a flag; the symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest.' Show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then, you can stand up and sing about the 'land of the free'."

The jury’s “not guilty” vote was a good example of advanced citizenship, and I admire them for following the guidelines set forth by our constitution in spite of their personal feelings about Casey Anthony’s culpability.

Imagine having to answer to friends and family about why you didn't vote “guilty”. Imagine the feeling of having to carry the knowledge that you helped acquit a woman who probably murdered her two-year-old daughter.

I also wonder about defense attorney Jose Baez. I understand that all defendants are entitled to fair legal counsel and that attorneys have a job to do, but what did Baez think and how did he feel when Casey hugged him seconds after the acquittal? Was it the embrace of a woman who betrayed all decency within his inner sanctum, or did he actually believe she was innocent?

Most importantly, what is Casey going to do with the rest of her life? Will the acquittal be a catharsis that enables her to do something good with this unexpected freedom, or will she simply revert back to the attractive young woman who always seems to land on her feet like a cat with nine lives, and who weaves a web of lies to serve her dubious agenda?

I am not angry about her acquittal because she will answer to a higher authority than the State of Florida, whether it is in this lifetime or beyond.

As is typical, controversy has a way of asking more questions than providing answers. I’m pretty sure Casey Anthony will transcend the stereotypical “15 minutes of fame” because she is forever woven into the fabric of our collective consciousness. Like it or not, we will hear from her again, but I’m not sure anyone will be listening.