Think of the Jodi Arias trial.
How, who, where, what and when were answered with mind- numbing detail, but will we ever know why she killed her lover?
That’s where prurient curiosity about the shocking violence comes up against the real human tragedy.
Why can this happen?
Why can there be such overwhelming ugliness and evil?
Should she live or die? And what are the arguments for either?
Our television was unavailable during the front room renovations, and I knew nothing about the case until the summation. So instead of having it drag out for weeks of numbing detail, for me it was real courtroom drama, raw and unexpected. Like the fascinating trials of literature and screen that I will list in the next blog.
I was quilting with friends the day after the guilty verdict was announced. Several of us had participated in a vigorous discussion about Gone Girl at book group the week before, and I wondered whether they, too, were pondering comparisons. Their response was, who cares, why bother, why do you waste your time? Good questions, I suppose, but surprising.
Setting aside the media frenzy, obscene television commentary, and Nancy Grace’s strident indignation, there is a great deal to think about, and thinking about serious ethical and moral issues is never a waste of time. This is the death penalty!
I have done jury duty in what turned out to be a very short trial. Jury duty in Ontario was enormously inconvenient because of my ongoing obligation to manage what was happening daily with the supply teacher in my classroom. My mother was also very ill at the time and her home care required close supervision. But the bailiff replied to my appeal that if I was able to work, I had to serve. A civic duty! The whole thing was utterly futile because after several days the accused changed his plea to guilty and we were excused.
So, I did not have to decide, after all, about what would happen to the foul-mouthed, scheming, drug dealing vicious little punk who, at great inconvenience and expense, had wasted all our time. Could I have been impartial and objective? I was not tested.
The Arias jury, having had their lives derailed for months already, having their minds filled with horror, forced to watch and hear such ugliness, now have to make a terrifying moral and ethical decision about the death penalty.
So I have been thinking about those twelve anonymous jurors, and feeling very sorry for them. And I have been thinking about the death penalty. The best arguments I could find are on a BBC site that outlines both sides of the argument with great clarity.
I wish I could find an interview or something written by Michael Sandel or Camille Paglia about the topic! Maybe it’s too soon for either to comment.
Meanwhile we wait.