Saturday, December 5, 2009

The verdict in the Perugia trial

I just finished reading The New York Times article on the sentencing of American Amanda Knox to 26 years for the murder of former roommate Meredith Kercher in Perugia, in 2007.
The comments to the piece drew my attention even more. Threats to boycott Italy and Italian products. One person who "seethe[s]" for the country's "downfall." Calls for "Hillary" to get over there on the double. No demands yet for the Marines to invade. Yet.

Yo, fellow Americans, what part of "national sovereignty" don't you understand? One particularly ignorant and ridiculous reader saw the sashes with the Italian national colors worn by jury members as signs of nationalism. This is standard for Italian trials- jurors put on the sash and take their oath. It's a little rich for my flag-on-lapel-sporting, outside-of-house-flag-waving fellow citizens to be indignant at Italians wearing their colors for an official function, symbolizing the presence of the State.

Wanna talk nationalism? How about this being known as the "Knox trial"? The young Italian, her ex-boyfriend Sollecito, was also found guilty. Two black men had been implicated- one because of Knox's allegations, later disproved by a witness's alibi. Another is in prison already, and should be for thirty years. The victim, Kercher, was a mixed-race Brit. Four suspects and one victim, but only the American (middle-class and white) really counts.

How many commenters know Italian fluently and are well-versed in the Italian judicial system? Practically none. A number of people have arrogantly spouted the "fact" that Italy has no presumption of innocence. It's right there in their constitution (article 27.2: "l'imputato non e' considerato colpevole sino alla condanna definitiva"- the defendant is not considered guilty until the final sentence.) Further, those not present at a trial cannot and should not have a definitive opinion, as expressed in my brief discussion of the Sacco and Vanzetti trial.

I am disheartened by the continuing American belief in its own exceptionalism and overweening importance. Millions of people suffer atrociously and unfairly every day of every year, throughout the world. Many of them are children who never had a chance. And all in the midst of the profound indifference of most Americans.