Thursday, May 02, 2013

Guilty until proven innocent - trial by media

With the capture of the Boston bombing suspects and the recent arrest of three more suspects various social media and news media have discussed the initial failure to read the suspect his Miranda Rights. What has been interesting to me is how many seem to feel that the suspect shouldn't have been treated until questioned, potentially even water-boarded and should be treated as a enemy combatant.

After all he perpetrated this monstrous act why should he have any rights or privileges. Because perhaps he didn't do it?

No this isn't one of those wack-job conspiracy theories. What I'm saying is that until proven in a court of law Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is a suspect not a convict. So why this desire to ignore that tiny little problem?

Because we want 'justice' now, not later when the facts have been carefully sifted, examined and arranged to be be presented; now! We can't wait and want to be able to make up our minds now; it's so much easier and simple to just declare someone as the guilty party without having to go to all the trouble to prove it. Heck if the police have arrested them, that just goes to show they're guilty of something right? If the media has named names that's good enough too right?

Okay this was a major murder, the intent to kill can hardly be denied and the need to locate those suspects quickly means the police doling out the old fashioned Wanted posters, but is that always necessary.

My news-feed popped up with the fact that Ken Roache's character has been temporarily written out of the TV soap programme he appears until after any trial. Makes sense he's unlikely to be able to appear. But even if proven innocent does anyone think he'll just be able to come back to the show?

He's accused of two counts of raping a 15-year old in 1967 (who else is curious as to the exact causes of the delay?) he's going to have that hanging over his head for the rest of his life. So who's he accused of raping? We don't know because their identity is being kept a secret.

I agree with that. Currently rape trials are woeful (but supposedly getting better) and the stigma of being raped and having everyone know must act as a hindrance to coming forward to accuse the perpetrator. Anonymity for the victim is a must.

So why don't these exact same considerations apply to the accused? If being a rape victim is a trauma, why isn't being accused of being a rapist not? Is it possible for Ken Roache or Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to even get a fair trial now their names are being plastered all over the media attached to these crimes. How can anyone now not associate these two with what they're being accused off.

If they're found innocent how many will still associate them with these crimes? How many will assume they must have 'gotten off' somehow, because they're obviously guilty - everyone said so (or implied as much).

It's true that justice and the law needs to be seen to be done, but in this case it isn't 'done' it's yet to start, but from the media and public perception it's all over so what's the hold-up; kill 'em or lock 'em up and throw away the key.

Where is the problem in not releasing names until after the results of a trial; and then only of the guilty parties? Why can't court cases be reported on without the need to name names? We'd still get to hear about the "too famous to use public transport" defence, but wouldn't know it was used for Sarah Harding until she was found guilty.

But damnit we need to know these things (we don't) and we need to know about them right now (we really don't) and that's what the media in all its forms is catering to. Quick decisions, snap judgements and if it goes wrong who cares if it doesn't affect me.

Decision made, job done, bored now, bring on the next victim.