Thursday, July 7, 2011

22,000 Caylee Anthonys a Day

This week has been an odd one for news junkies.  I like staying up to date on politics and the world, but this week news outlets have been full of Casey Anthony updates – Breaking News Flashes and in-depth analysis.  (Several talking-heads seemed about ready for their heads to explode the day the verdict came down. )   The news of her acquittal of murder and child abuse charges sent shock waves in many circles.  Many were angry and outraged over the “miscarriage of justice.”  They were incensed that Little Caylee did not get justice.  A cry went out to light front porch lights in honor of her memory.

My Facebook and Twitter literally BLEW UP with comments condemning the jurors as idiots and morons, calling the justice system a mockery, and calling for Casey to burn in hell.  There were entire comment streams debating whether or not it was “Christian” to call on her banishment to hell.  Some posted warnings that Casey had better get out of town before someone took “justice out on her a$$.” The vitriolic language surprised me.  There were calmer heads out there but they were quickly hushed by the negative comments.

I had not followed the case closely, but had heard enough to know that most experts thought she would be found guilty.  I was not infested in it but know many who were.  The truth is that our system of justice is sometimes – ok, maybe more than sometimes – flawed.  But it is the best system we have.  And honestly I would want 10 guilty people to go free with a valid process before one is unjustly convicted. 

So my quandary is this – how do we “get justice for Caylee?”  Do we convict a person without appropriate proof of the crime?  Do we condemn Casey to hell?  Is this an eye for an eye situation?  How do we equate our Christian values of forgiveness and reconciliation with this?  What does it mean to be a Christian and still be angry?

I wish I had easy answers, but there are not any.  It is hard to live up to our call as persons of faith to be lovers and reconcilers.  But that is what we are called to do and be.  No matter how hard it is to believe, Casey Anthony is a child of God.  She is a lost and flawed child of God, but all of us are as well.  I do not wish to judge her but know she needs a lot of love and support.   I deplore acts of violence – by anyone against any person, but especially against children.  So I am saddened by the loss of Caylee.

But every day there are 22,000 Caylees who die around the world – of gun violence, abuse and neglect, hunger and often preventable disease, etc.  That is one child every 4 seconds.  That is 15 children every minute.  An American child is reported abused every 10 seconds.  34 people die every day of gun violence.  These facts anger me – my righteous indignation flares up about these things and I am working to make changes. 

We can all help the unknown victims – by honoring all of them, by working for change, and by being present in the lives of all the kids around us.  So tonight and every night – my porch light will be on because I want to be a light in the darkness for all of the children who die needlessly every day around the world.

But turning on the light is not all I am going to do.  What about you?


  1. Cheating by using a post on Facebook of mine to respond here, as to the First Christian Response gotta go with judge not, lest ye be judged and all. As a lawyer, burden of proof is big. In criminal cases, the prosecution has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt. As a trial lawyer, I've got to prove by preponderance of evidence (50.1%+ likely).

    Makes all the difference which one you get. Beyond a reasonable doubt, OJ Simpson was not guilty. More likely than not, he owed the families tens of millions of dollars. Same facts, even if you put in the same jury, different outcomes.

    Seems to me God says you might want to watch your judging, as I'm gonna give you the same burden of proof as you put on others. I'll take the Jesus Standard - Love God, Love Your Neighbors as Yourself. Better chance I get acquitted. :-)

    As to the second Christian response, gotta go with don't get mad, DO SOMETHING. If you don't like a child being killed and the Mom getting away with it, then help prevent the next one. Join a church, Like the Village that supports single moms who struggle every day. Join a volunteer group that works with battered kids, Mom's at risk, that encourages adoption, works against violence, searches for missing kids, etc.

    The Christian response is to see a flawed world and try to change it.

  2. I have been living in florida and can tell you that I couldn't escape the live coverage of the case. It played in restaurants, doctors offices, stores and homes everywhere - news break-ins were frequent. The prosecution painted a picture of a terribly abused young woman. Many of the commentators fed the stereotypes of women and mothers. She has a chance. She will need to leave Florida and at this rate she probably would be wise to get a Jason Bourne chic makeover. Some therapy and a supportive community and she may have a chance to survive. From my view this whole case hinged on our distorted social constructs of women and revenge. Neither dictated the outcome to this jury. We won't know how it will turn out for a long time but I wish more people would think about these things before they open their mouths. That's why I appreciate your article. It takes us into the realm of seeking ways to help instead of merely tisck-tisck'ing and feeling like we've done something.