Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Atticus Finch doesn't work here

John Grisham's new book is a terrific read and an important work. It is non-fiction and tells the story of two wrongly convicted men. I hope that Grisham's popularity will bring much needed attention to this issue.

We live in a media world that encourages these type of mistakes. If the police arrest no one, they will be excoriated for days, weeks, even years if the case is high profile. (See Natalie Holloway, Jon Benet Ramsey, etc.) But if they charge and convict the wrong man, his exoneration is a one day local story.

At times, media coverage of criminal matters seems like a reversion to our primitive history. Watching Nancy Grace or Greta van Sustren brings to mind images from the Roman Coliseum. The goal isn't truth or justice, it is closure. Closure demands that someone must pay for the crime. Someone can easily become anyone, guilty or not.

I suspect that this is why the tabloid media continues to bash Aruba, but has lost interest in Chandra Levy. Both crimes are unsolved, but the DC police get a pass. Levy's murder, though, did cost Gary Condit his seat in Congress. Someone paid. That he was innocent of her murder is of little concern.

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