Tuesday, July 5, 2011

In the rush to blame someone...

It seems like few people remember the many frantic news stories from 2008 about how Casey Anthony wanted an abortion, and then when her mother pressured her out of having one, wanted to give Caylee Anthony up for adoption, which her mother also pressured her out of.  At the time, they were mainly being publicized to drum up further enthusiasm for Anthony as a suspect, rather than demonstrating how she had been victimized herself.
At 19 when her child was born, Anthony technically had the authority to defy her mother on either point—but she may well not have had the funding to get an abortion without parental assistance, and she may not have known what to do about organizing an adoption either.  Or she might simply have been cowed by her mother.
I haven’t had the stomach to keep up with the case, so I don’t know all the evidence that was presented and whatnot.  I’m also not sure about Anthony’s class status, though from the coverage I’ve seen, it seems like she was probably lower middle-class or working class.
What I do know is this: this was a strong situation for her to be found guilty on the murder count, if the evidence was there.  Women are held to a higher standard of responsibility in cases involving child victims, because they are perceived as being “naturally nurturing,” so the punishment for failure is worse.  Attractive women, which Anthony seems to qualify as, are seen as bad mothers and are typically punished more harshly for crimes seen to involve conning people or otherwise profiting from their attractiveness.
Anthony is not a woman of color, which would have increased the odds against her.  But I’m still honestly surprised that she was found not guilty of both murder and manslaughter, and it makes me think that the evidence wasn’t there, because the public opinion for having her drawn and quartered certainly was.
Which doesn’t mean that she didn’t do it.  I have no way of knowing.  But I’m happier with a court system that doesn’t convict on insufficient evidence to satisfy the mob, even if the mob is occasionally right.
And I do also believe, based on the points above, that Anthony was not solely culpable for whatever was done to her child.  This case was a tragedy—and like the majority of other similar tragedies, might have been avoided if we had comprehensive sex education, contraceptive access, and social support for pregnant people and children in the U.S.
I wish that people would take that away from this: that forcing people to have unwanted children does not create happiness or responsibility; it creates further tragedy.