It Is Not About Amanda Knox

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Yesterday marked the start of the next chapter in the Amanda Knox story with her first post-release interview.  I made a point to watch it.  There is meaning in it but it is tough to figure out.  It was boring:  the hour consisted mostly of a familiar summary of the overall case; there were maybe ten or fifteen minutes of Ms. Knox speaking.  She was stoic and unemotional.  She was serious.  Her answers were brief.  She looked good.

This morning I even braved the nonsense of Good Morning America to catch more.  She smiled.  She seemed a little more relaxed.  A little more seeped out…  She said she didn’t want to become jaded, negative, and angry like people she knew from prison.  She wants to “make a difference.”

This last part–what she does with her life since exoneration–is the real reason to continue to watch her.

The book is out and the reviews are starting to come in.  amazon reviews5-1-13The reviews on Amazon reflect the continuing dichotomy of pubic opinion regarding the case and Ms. Knox.  The one-star reviewers consist of people who consider Knox selfish, spoiled, dishonest, and–this is the really ugly part–guilty.  The five-star reviews are compassionate, rational, and concerned; these people see the facts of the overall situation and not the personality or irrationality of a twenty year-old student.  This has been the distinction concerning Ms. Knox from day one and it continues to this day.

When I saw the Knox-Sawyer interview I was initially confused.  I felt disappointed and letdown.  I expected to see an energetic, articulate, re-energized (and attractive) young woman standing up for herself.  I expected, and wanted to see someone who was vengeful, and now, finally, well-armed.  I wanted to see the beginnings of the next chapter, the fight back.

That isn’t what happened and now I realize why.  She did look good, and that one I can come to grips with rather easily by considering it as fit, healthy, and nourished (thanks, Italian prison system).  Then I recognized that she was articulate, just in her own somber, serious, brief way.  Finally, the energetic, here’s-the-plan, vengeful part wasn’t there; my impression is Ms. Knox is still struggling with what it all means, plus, even though it will continue only in the circus theater some 8,000 miles away, it is not yet over.  Regardless, my own disappointments are entirely my own business/problem.  Amanda Knox never claimed to be an actor, lawyer, activist, or anything except a college student.  As has been a characteristic of this case right from the beginning, maybe she is a little different.  Maybe she acts in ways some people consider inappropriate or not like them.  That is absolutely her prerogative.

From the NY Times book review:

“She’s a complete blank,” the playwright John Guare once said, trying to explain the public fascination with Amanda Knox, the American student accused (along with two men) of murdering her housemate Meredith Kercher during a sex escapade gone awry in Italy. “You can project anything on to her. Is she Henry James’s Daisy Miller, an innocent young girl who goes to Europe for experience? Or is she Louise Brooks, the woman who takes what she wants and destroys everything? Or is she Nancy Drew caught up in Kafka?”

I am only a partial fan of the above quote.  Yes, certain events bring out who we really are… but the thought is not complete.  We forget, Ms. Knox is an unknowing, unwilling participant.  Participant in what?

prosecutorial misconduct

Police and prosecutorial misconduct is what we will learn about in the months to come.  Ms. Knox’s perspective on it will be a piece, but the overall issue is larger.  It is nothing less than a wake-up call for us all, and it doesn’t just happen to immigrants and minorities in ghettos.  “They knew what they were doing,” she said to Diane Sawyer, as well as “I trusted them.”  Dozens of in-cahoots, experienced police officers picking on an alone, foreign, twenty year-old woman?  That is hardly a fair fight.  It is brutal and it is cowardly.

And then there is the prosecutor, who in Italy is also in charge of the investigation.  Prosecuting based on the facts is legitimate public service; somebody has to do it.  Anything less–the list to the left from Wiki contains only the criminal offenses–is a failure of fiduciary duty.  “Political repression” notwithstanding they are all there; “American” and “sexually active” may be substituted for “racial.”

How will the political and judicial powers in Italy react?  What will they do?  And in the meantime…  stop picking on Amanda Knox.