Posts Tagged Wikipedia

Wordsmith Wednesday – Not Guilty

Yesterday, the verdict came down on the Casey Anthony trial. A nation was stunned as she was found not guilty of first degree murder even though she was found guilty of providing false information to the police.

The words “not guilty” are powerful ones. They can (and have) reduced people to tears of joy, disbelief, anger, and a whole host of other emotions.

My feelings on this explosive topic are varied. One thing I know for certain is that the defense attorneys did their job. All they had to do was create reasonable doubt. The prosecution had a far tougher job to do, because the burden of proof rested in their hands. In the end, they did not have enough solid evidence to convict. Everything they had was circumstantial.

In my opinion, with the evidence they had, they should not have tried for first degree murder on such a flimsy foundation. Granted, I’m no lawyer, but it seems to me that one ought to have a rock-solid case before going for a conviction that could lead to the death penalty. There should be no shadow of doubt when lives hang in the balance.

I don’t know what the prosecutors and police know. I don’t even know what the defense knew. All I know is what the media told me, and they tried and convicted Casey Anthony before she even got to the courtroom. Yes, what I was shown of her behavior was strange and off-putting. However, the jury found her not guilty. The jury found her innocent of first degree murder.

Was she responsible for her child’s death? I think so. Caylee was only two years old. Casey was wholly responsible for her and anything that happened to her. Was she guilty of premeditated and willful murder? The courts have decided not.

Via Wikipedia, here are the degrees of murder under U.S. law:

First Degree Murder is any murder that is willful and premeditated. Felony Murder is typically first degree.

Second Degree Murder is a murder that is not premeditated or planned in advance.

Voluntary Manslaughter sometimes called a “Heat of Passion” murder, is any intentional killing that involved no prior intent to kill, and which was committed under such circumstances that would “cause a reasonable person to become emotionally or mentally disturbed.” Both this and second degree murder are committed on the spot, but the two differ in the magnitude of the circumstances surrounding the crime. For example, a bar fight that results in death would ordinarily constitute second degree murder. If that same bar fight stemmed from a discovery of infidelity, however, it may be mitigated to voluntary manslaughter.

Involuntary Manslaughter stems from unintentional, but reckless or criminally negligent behavior. A drunk driving-related death is typically involuntary manslaughter. Note that the “unintentional” element here refers to the lack of intent to bring about the death. All three crimes above feature an intent to kill, whereas involuntary manslaughter is “unintentional,” because the killer did not intend for a death to result from his intentional actions.

 

With that knowledge, what are your thoughts on this case? What do the words “not guilty” mean to you? How did the media coverage color your opinion? Do you think Casey Anthony would have been found guilty of a lesser charge, such as involuntary manslaughter? What would have been your moment of reasonable doubt had you been on that jury, sequestered from the media and internet with only the evidence and the testimonies available to you?

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What Is Fandom?

We’ve spent some time talking about fandom, and I figured it was time to talk about the phenomenon itself rather than aspects. For starters, here’s the Wikipedia definition:

Fandom (from the noun fan and the affix -dom, as in kingdom, freedom, etc.) is a term used to refer to a subculture composed of fans characterized by a feeling of sympathy and camaraderie with others who share a common interest. Fans typically are interested in even minor details of the object(s) of their fandom and spend a significant portion of their time and energy involved with their interest, often as a part of a social network with particular practices (a fandom); this is what differentiates “fannish” (fandom-affiliated) fans from those with only a casual interest.

Well, that’s a fairly accurate explanation, if a bit bloodless. The thing is, as Spike said in the season 3 Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode Lover’s Walk, “Love isn’t brains, children. It’s blood. Blood screamin’ inside you to work its will.” Fandom, above all else, is about love. Sometimes it’s a sick, deluded love that leads crazy people to become stalkers, but it’s still love.

The brilliant thing about it, is that it’s constantly evolving as we (the fans) do the same. With the advent of social networking and Twitter, fandom has exploded, and the lines have gotten blurred. When I was growing up, the people I was a fan of were untouchable. Now, I follow people on Twitter and sometimes, when I mention them in my tweets, they tweet back! The first time it happened, I was in a tizzy for days. I’m still pretty jazzed.

Fandom is quoting lines or lyrics, and spending hours listening to them to get them right. Fandom is reading and re-reading. Fandom is going to concerts. Fandom is studying interviews for someone’s “tells” so we know when they’re lying or when they’re accidentally telling on themselves. Most of all, fandom is sharing your love with someone else.

I’ve been a fan of Duran Duran since the spring of 1985. I wasn’t a part of that fandom until the internet led me to John Taylor’s (now defunct) website TTP and its chat room. Before then, I hadn’t known other fans. Now, I am part of a group of wonderful people who share my love for the band named after Barbarella’s evil sex fiend.

Fandom is, like the internet, a web. I fell in love with Duran, and from that I became a fan of David Bowie, James Bond, and the Harry Potter series, just to name a few. Being a fan of BtVS led me to my favorite author, Jim Butcher and to my current favorite television show, Castle. When we connect with other fans, find out what they like, we look into it. Fandom spreads its tendrils out, connecting along points of commonality like Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.

What is fandom to you? What is (are) your fandom(-s)? Do you have a favorite quote or lyric you’d like to share?

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