Justice For All

(cross-posted to my public blog)

You’d have to be living under a rock not to know that a horrible verdict came down in a horrible case concerning the murder of a little girl named Caylee Anthony. Like the rest of the world, I’d love to know what the jury was thinking. Ultimately, that little girl’s mother will have to answer for her actions at some point.

I was discussing the case last night and the conversation turned to media frenzy, rumors of Casey Anthony being pregnant with her attorney’s child, and celebrity. My theory on it is that the more we turn the cameras on her, even as much of a reviled person she is, the easier it becomes for her to go from pariah to media darling. Shut off the cameras, ignore her, let her try and walk the streets in public without being recognized. Her life will not be pleasant, nor should it be. But if we keep documenting and reporting her every move, every rumor, every detail of her disgusting life, the better the chance is that we’ll turn around one day and she’ll be the next contestant on Dancing With the Stars.

Even that, though, isn’t what bothers me the most. What bothers me the most is what nobody really wants to talk about. Why are we so invested in this case? Why are we so passionate about “Justice for Caylee?” I’d love to say that it’s because we are appalled every time a child is abused, murdered, or abducted, and it is patently wrong for us not to be invested in these cases. I might buy that. And I think for many of us, that’s true. This was different though. This was an incredibly high profile case. What makes it high profile? Why does the media grasp on to a story like this and plaster all over every news and social media site until the public is worked into a mob mentality? What makes this case unique?

It’s not the fact that a child was murdered and then lied about. It’s not the fact that her grandparents participated in the deception. It’s not the fact that Casey Anthony clearly is some sort of psychopath who partied while her daughter was denied a death with dignity. All of those things are awful. Wrong. Evil.

But it helps quite a bit in the court of public opinion that Caylee Anthony was a little white girl with a white mom living in suburban Florida.

That’s ok. I’ll sit and wait for the indignation to pass.

Ok, now. Think about it. Think about all the high profile kidnapping and child murder cases. Caylee Anthony, Jaycee Dugard, Madeline McCann, Haleigh Cummings, Brittanee Drexel. When was the last time a missing African American boy from the inner city made the news?

Take a trip over to the website for the Center for Missing and Exploited Children. A quick search for my home state of California reveals 384 missing kids. 125 of them Caucasian. Less than a third. Nationally, less than half of missing children are white (44%) And yet the news doesn’t cover the stories of these kids. The public doesn’t rage at a system that isn’t delivering justice for these kids.

Recently, in my hometown paper, the story of a young girl who suffered extreme abuse at the hands of her adoptive mother (her biological aunt who took her and her siblings in) came to light. She’s 19 now, but when she managed to escape her environment, which included severe beatings, broken bones, confinement to a closet, she was 15. She’d been living with her aunt since she was a small child. When she finally was treated for her injuries, they documented over 100 active injuries. Broken bones, healing scars, missing teeth. The closet she was regularly confined to was barely enough space for her to turn around in. She was pulled from school by her aunt and apparently there was one CPS visit that didn’t turn up anything (clearly they didn’t look very hard). She’s 19 now and living on her own with the help of public assistance. She’s attending college. Haven’t heard of the story? No, I thought not. Lilly Manning is black.

Why wasn’t the press camped out at the courtroom when Lilly’s aunt and her husband went to trial? Where was everyone’s righteous indignation then? Why hasn’t someone demanded justice for Lilly? She was lucky enough to survive, but so was Jaycee Dugard. Jaycee Dugard is getting book deals and $20 million from the State of California. Lilly is living on food stamps. Yes, every case is different, but clearly there’s a huge disconnect here between the kids who get attention in the media and the kids who don’t.

I’m not saying Caylee Anthony doesn’t deserve our outrage at the lack of justice delivered on her behalf. I’m saying don’t be lulled into thinking that the kids who get the media attention are the only ones out there. There are hundreds, if not thousands of kids who deserve justice. If you learn anything from Caylee Anthony’s case, learn that most kids never get that justice. It is right for us to be outraged. It is right for us to be appalled and disgusted that these things happen. It is right for us to stand up and demand justice. But we’ve got to stand up and demand justice for all the kids out there and start demanding visibility for the kids who don’t have the benefit of white privilege just as much as those who do.

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3 thoughts on “Justice For All

  1. Living in Central Florida with this case since the beginning I have more then one opinion. When Caylee went “missing” it happened on the heels of a local missing boy whose mother committed suicide. The mother was the last known person to have been with the child, she actually pretended he was around when he was not. Sound familiar? Trenton Duckett has never been found. This community wanted, needed a different outcome for Caylee Marie. When it was found out that Casey was living “A Beautiful Life” for 31 days before her parents discovered Caylee was missing. That was when the frenzy began. Something horrible happened to Caylee on June 16, 2008. Was it an accident? Who knows. Did Casey tell lie after lie to cover it up? Yes she did. Did her parents “help” her cover it up. I do not believe they did. No one can “pretend” anguish like we saw from them. Was this a first degree murder case? I never thought so. I am shocked they found her not guilty on the child abuse charge. Someone put Caylee in a trash bag and threw her in a swamp after driving around for 3-4 days with her in Casey’s car. I believe Casey and Casey alone did this. This jury was given 6 weeks of evidence, they asked to see NOTHING when they decided the outcome. This blows my mind. Why the media latches on to one case or another is a mystery, it does seem to help if you are cute and white. Fair not so much. I do know the Anthonys did everything they could to keep Caylee in the spotlight. All missing deserve the same limelight. I know Casey will more then likely walk out of jail tomorrow, to what? Her family was dysfunctional prior to all this so who knows. I have heard the real Zeneida (the fake nanny) has reopened her court case against her. The state of Florida plans to bill her for costs. She has the potential to make millions off of her “story” And yet Caylee Marie is still dead and no one has answered for her. The same public owes Caylee not to be part of the profit Casey will seek.

    Sorry for using your space for my soapbox, thank you for the forum

  2. I didn’t follow this case, (as I rarely follow stuff in the news) but a friend of mine who is a lawyer said that legally the jury didn’t have enough evidence to convict, that even tho she may be truly guilty, in our justice system there wasn’t enough evidence.
    not saying this child doesn’t deserve justice, just that I wouldn’t blame the jury. I wish peace for this family. I cannot imagine. 😦

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