Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Jackson "Acquitted" not "Innocent"

Question: Did another guilty person go free?
Answer: I don't know.

I normally have very little to say about celebrities on trial. I just am not interested in movie and TV stars that choose to put their life in jeopardy with silly choices. Beyond that, I choose not to participate in the frenzy. This morning, however, after a lengthy story on Fox News about the Jackson verdict, my son asked an interesting question that lead to topics that do interest me, justice, the media and constitutional rights.

Number 2 Son: So, Dad, do you think that Michael Jackson is innocent?
Dad (me): I don't know. All I know of the case is what got reported in the media.
Number 2 Son: So you can't tell because Fox may not tell the truth?
Dad: The media, not just Fox News, may not lie but no media can present everything that the jury hears and all that matters is what the jury hears.
Number 2 Son: From what you heard, do you think he is innocent?
Dad: Nobody likes child molesters and that tends to color the way any human beings feel about someone accused of molestation. Reporters tend to report the things that are "news worthy" and they may miss stuff that is very important to a jury. And the opinion of the jury is all that counts.
Number 2 Son: All right, Dad, quite dancin'! Do you think Jackson is innocent?!
Dad: I don't know about this case. I think that he lives a very bizarre life. I don't know if that extends into his sex life.
Number 2 Son: So you think he "could" be guilty.
Dad: Yeah, maybe, but the jury didn't find him innocent. They only acquitted him of these charges.
Number 2 Son: That doesn't mean he is "innocent?"
Dad: It only means that the state couldn't show the he was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Number 2 Son: So he could be guilty but they couldn't prove it?
Dad: Yep.
Number 2 Son: Why would we set up a system like that?!!!
Dad: Remember the situation that our founding fathers were in. They had come from a system where anybody could be thrown in jail for almost any crime. You only had to make the wrong person angry and the sheriff would come and arrest you. Our system is designed to make it hard for the state to prove it's case and hard for innocent people to be convicted of something they didn't commit. Unfortunately that also makes it hard sometimes for guilty people to be convicted of a crime they did commit.
Number 2 Son: So that's why forensic evidence is important, isn't it.
Dad: Yep. And there was no forensic evidence in this case.
Number 2 Son: Wow
Dad: I agree.

Michael Jackson Verdict News

Please let us remember:

"Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time."
House of Commons speech,
November 11, 1947.