July 06, 2011

Casey Anthony and Anthony Sowell

Sometimes I am so clueless about current events that it amazes me. What triggered that thought is that I had been almost completely oblivious to the goings on in the murder trial of Casey Anthony. It was only yesterday when she was acquitted of her daughter's murder that I became aware that this case had apparently been gripping the cable news world over many years and that people around the nation had been so obsessed by it that some actually flew to Florida from all over the country and lined up early outside the courthouse in order to get a seat at the trial.

Apparently the cable news world and chattering classes had decided Anthony was guilty and the acquittal seems to have caused some kind of national freak-out. Why are people so quick to dismiss the jury's verdict? After all, they are the ones who followed the trial most closely.

I had not been totally unaware of the trial. I check Google News headlines regularly and had seen mention of the name Casey Anthony accompanied by a photo of her and knew that she was on trial for something but did not see any reason follow it up.

While the death of a two-year old child is undoubtedly tragic and sad, there are many such murder cases and it baffles me why some become the focus of so much attention. Is it due to the fact that the media pays more attention if there is a young, white, reasonably attractive (as far as one can tell from the thumbnail photos), middle class woman at the center of events?

Right now there is a trial going on in Cleveland of Anthony Sowell, a man accused of the serial rape and murder of eleven women and burying their bodies in various parts of his home. It is a macabre and truly sensational case that is a big story locally. But as far as I can tell, it is not receiving much attention nationally. I would not be surprised if even many Clevelanders were following the Casey Anthony story more closely than the Sowell case. Is it because the people involved are all black and the victims were mostly drug addicts, prostitutes, runaways, homeless, or otherwise social outcasts?


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I don't know the answer to the question, but my guess is that there are many more cases of men raping strange women, than there are of mothers killing the baby that they carried through pregnancy.

For an average member of the public, they'd see male lust and violence as "in their nature", whereas maternal love is associated with women. Male rape is expected, but the act of a woman murdering her child is "unnatural" and unexpected.

I would bet fifty God-dollars (money that doesn't exist), that most of the viewers glued to the TV were women. They would be more emotionally attuned to the "how could she?".

Posted by healthphysicist on July 6, 2011 05:46 PM

You might google "Larry Bright": he murdered at least 8 prostitutes and buried them in his mother's back yard. All were black. This happened between 2003 and 2005; we got some national coverage out of this but not much.

Posted by ollie on July 6, 2011 06:40 PM

I think with Casey Anthony there was build up. The child was missing. There was a search with divers and everything. Volunteers searching fields. Etc.

There was build up.

With Anthony Sowell it was totally out of left field. No one was looking for this guy. In fact, no one was looking for any person. All those killings were not even linked. One day everything is normal. Next day they are digging up bodies.

No build up.

With the Casey case viewers probably had an initial feeling of compassion. Oh, the poor little girl is lost. Then later, those same viewers may have felt betrayed. I felt sorry for her!

With Sowell there was no time for this. One day the cops are at the door.

Posted by Henry on July 6, 2011 07:49 PM

We live an hour away from Orlando and were bombarded with this trial coverage. There was no other news, period. And, yes, my wife had the television on almost constantly, so I was subjected to quite a bit of the case. My wife thought Casey was guilty; I thought the prosecution didn't prove their case and agree with the jury's verdict on all counts.

What troubles me is the second-guessing of the jury's verdict by those who believed Ms. Anthony to be guilty, including many of the talking heads like Judge Alex and the truly obnoxious Nancy Grace. It would be better for all concerned if the jury were strictly prohibited from discussing their reasoning, at least for a cooling-off period if not indefinitely. Thankfully, I do not believe we are about to replace the right to trial by jury with voting by text message or Twitter....

Even more troubling, however, is the nation's willingness to bay for Ms. Anthony's blood while allowing the Wall Street banksters who ruined the financial lives of countless people all over the world to go untried, let alone unpunished.

Posted by Richard Frost on July 6, 2011 09:12 PM


I am totally with you on the trial. I had no idea what was going on until the verdict. I still don't, but I enjoy the outrage of Americans who see a "guilty" person get away with something. I think the realm of pop culture ceases to be interesting as one grows older, because it is relatively repetitive. Don't get me wrong - I love pop culture and find it to be a wonderful reflection of who we are, but it's just...kinda...boring. Lady Gaga is boring because I grew up with Madonna. Politicians cheating on spouses is irrelevant to me, because I went through Clinton. Most teen movies follow the archetype of Pygmalion or Romeo and Juliet.

This was a pop culture event and we missed it!

Richard, deciding trials by Twitter is one of the best ideas I've ever heard. I may run for mayor of Cleveland based on that platform alone!

Posted by Bruce on July 7, 2011 09:44 AM

Mano, I agree with you 100 percent on reasons why Casey Anthony got more publicity. Comparing her with Anthony Sowell probably isn't the best comparison, since the cases are different types of cases, but missing persons cases are better. How many black or Latino children go missing with no attention from the media? Yet, one white, pretty, middle-class girl goes missing and suddenly CNN is devoting all of their coverage to it. I'm a white male and I see this.

But there is a lot more bias in the media as well. Pictures of criminals (mug shots or whatever) are much more likely to be shown on TV if the criminal is black than if he or she is white. And I think we all remember how Time (or was it Newsweek?) Photoshopped OJ Simpson's picture to make him appear darker-skinned.

Posted by Scott on July 7, 2011 01:50 PM

WOW, i just can't believe she got away with this. we all know she did it but the state could not prove beyond reasonable doubt

Posted by Natalie on July 8, 2011 10:38 AM

"Is it because the people involved are all black and the victims were mostly drug addicts, prostitutes, runaways, homeless, or otherwise social outcasts?"

This is the question I've been asking. My mother back in Pittsburgh doesn't know anything about this trial (except what she hears from me). She did see a quick news clip when an arrest was made, but nothing about the trial.

Personally, I'm shocked that the Cleveland community is letting our law enforcement get away with allowing this to happen to 11 women, especially after Sowell was apparently questioned after at least one victim escaped, after people complained of that smell, etc. How was this man permitted to continue his killing spree?

Yes, I know the victims were not "stand-up citizens," and, because of their addictions and lifestyles, their lives are just not generally valued the same as an innocent toddler, but, for goodness sakes, these women are daughters, mothers, sisters, cousins, and, above all else, HUMAN BEINGS.

Where is the outrage that the (what I see as) lapse in law enforcement resulted in the deaths of more human beings?

Posted by Joey on July 8, 2011 01:06 PM