Tuesday, October 4, 2011

What the Amanda Knox case reveals

Bigotry is part of every culture--America of course, and, as the Amanda Knox case confirms, Italy. Along with the way in which power corrupts, sexism, the human failing of confirmation bias, and the way in which institutions formed to serve noble goals gradually morph into self-serving institutions.

It's not just that Amanda Knox is innocent. It's that she should never have been accused, much less tried, much less convicted, much less imprisoned for four years. The murderer was Rudy Guede, an African-Italian drifter. He cut a deal with the Italian prosecutor to get his sentence reduced from 30 years to 16 in exchange for fingering Knox and her boyfriend.

This benefited the prosecutor, giving him the fame that a simple murder by a rapist from Africa wouldn't have given him. The prosecutor got to exploit anti-American sentiment, as well as Italian madonna/whore misogyny, combining to let him exploit the prurient vilifying of an American woman having sex with an Italian man outside the sacred circle of marriage.

American prosecutors in the 1980s did the same thing with all those satanic child rape & murder cults using daycare centers as a front, sending dozens of men and women to prison for decades--and every single one of which turned out to be, like Amanda Knox's case, not just false but heinous abuses of power by the State, in the form of prosecutors looking for re-election as being tough on crime + as a stepping-stone to higher office.

American prosecutors have almost unanimously fought DNA testing for inmates they'd prosecuted. And in Amanda Knox's case, the prosecutor is of course not admitting his perversions of justice, but is instead appealing Knox's reversal of conviction to Italy's supreme court.

And if I'd written this in Italy, he would almost certainly prosecute me for the felony of defaming his character--law in many countries (and routinely used in putative democracies like Turkey to suppress criticism of government).

Meanwhile the Kerchner family (parents/siblings of the murder victim) continue to imply that Knox done it--and continue to not revile the Italian prosecutor for cutting Kerchner's murderer's sentence almost in half, instead of demanding that Guede be tried now for perjury. They should have been standing shoulder to shoulder with the Knox family as soon as the DNA research (done at the instigation of the Knox family, not the Italians) made it clear that Knox couldn't have done it, despite her coerced confession.

But here we have confirmation bias at work, in which you magnify everything that supports your foregone conclusion, while minifying/dismissing anything that contradicts it. Of course it's not just the Kerchners. It's also how eye witnesses so frequently finger the wrong person; why doctors misdiagnose patients; why cops jump to conclusions and then ignore everyone/everything else.

Finally, confirmation bias colludes with another human foible--self-confidence that vastly exceeds the certainly that the real evidence allows us to have, because we like to be certain and we like to be right.

Italy has a long way to go to redeem itself. Firing this prosecutor for incompetence would be a start.

What do you think are the odds?

1 comment:

dwm said...

crazy stuff indeed, but keep in mind, italy is the country that is prosecuting six scientist and one former government official for failing to predict the 2009 earthquake in L'Aquila.
the accusation is "negligence and imprudence... of having provided an approximate, generic and ineffective assessment of seismic activity risks as well as incomplete, imprecise and contradictory information".
seems like not much has changed there since the galileo trial.