Amanda Knox, the world’s most determined aspiring victim, is in the news again.
After having evidently seen the requisite shadow from the rim of his own burrow, the latest in a growing colony of beady-eyed, black-robed Italian judges has recently announced an additional six weeks of guilt for the 27-year-old Seattle native. In overturning the apparently misguided “not guilty” verdict of his now-retired predecessor, this New Guy has reiterated the opinions of his several judicial brethren in confirming that way back when Walter White was still just a high school chemistry teacher, Knox, with the assistance of her boyfriend and another male acquaintance, did, indeed, fatally plunge a knife into the throat of her friend and roommate, Meredith Kercher.
In light of the New Guy’s reaffirmation of guilt one cannot help but wish that Knox would simply do us all a favor and, if not go quite so far as to outright confess, at least have the good manners to quit pressing her claims of innocence upon a world that is thoroughly sick of her. With the same callous indifference to others that she allegedly demonstrated towards her victim, Knox seems pathologically tone-deaf to the collective groan of boredom that greets each new television interview that she insists on giving. Like an annoying houseguest who has overstayed her welcome, Knox will simply not take a hint. She did not kill Meredith Kercher, by God, and as inconvenient as her innocence may be to the television viewing preferences of millions, she has taken to the airwaves yet again to let the world know.
If it was just that Knox was tedious, I suppose that I could tolerate her occasional network news appearances. However, what catapults Knox into the realm of rage-inducing, nails-on-a-chalkboard annoying is that although her claims of innocence are absurd she seems genuinely to expect us to take her seriously. With her sad, world-wary eyes and thoughtful, yet painfully pensive voice she becomes every bit the guileless, guiltless, much-abused victim. She’s good. No….really, she’s very, very good….which is precisely what makes her so aggravating. As one listens to her, it becomes easy not only to believe in her innocence, but also to actually feel just a little bit sorry for her. Her delivery – frail but determined, vulnerable yet brave – is wonderfully calibrated to pluck at heartstrings in a way that encourages her listeners to actually wonder what it might be like to live under a perpetual shadow of undeserved suspicion and to be universally despised for a crime they had nothing to do with.
Of course, the spell is broken the moment you allow yourself to stop feeling guilty for ever having doubted her and remember, instead, exactly how audacious her claims of innocence really are. When one considers the breadth, scope, influence and authority of the mighty constituencies that have arrayed themselves in order to promote her prosecution, it simply offends credulity to persist in the quaint belief that Knox might somehow be innocent of the murder for which the New Guy has recently reconvicted her. Yet despite this, Knox would have us believe that far from having brutally murdered her roommate, that she instead is the victim of a massive, worldwide conspiracy dedicated to her….to her….to her what? To her destruction? In that her claim is absurd her seemingly sincere and heartfelt exhortation that we nonetheless embrace her innocence invites us to be absurd right along with her. In point of fact, it is the impossibility of this bizarre, paranoid thesis – this “worldwide conspiracy of haters” whose members, mind you, presumably include all of us…you, me and everyone else in the world who ever rolled their eyes in disgust at reports of her monstrous antics – that represents the most compelling argument for her guilt.
None of this is to say, of course, that Amanda Knox had anything whatsoever to do with Meredith Kercher’s cruel and senseless death. She did not. While it may be laughable to think that Knox should escape a punishment that the world evidently feels is due to her, that absurdity pales in comparison to the notion that Knox actually hurt anyone.
On the night that Meredith Kercher died, Knox was exactly where she has always said she was….in bed with her boyfriend of about a week, Raffaele Sollecito. As this pair of besotted young lovers cuddled, watched a movie, smoked weed and made love, a short distance away a petty thief and notorious local nuisance, Rudy Hermann Guede, broke into the cottage Knox shared with Kercher and two other Italian roommates. When the unfortunate young Meredith interrupted this raid by returning home from an evening out with friends, the surprised Guede sexually assaulted her, stabbed her and then took from her whatever valuables he could quickly lay his bloody hands on.
We know all of this to an extraordinary degree of certainty because while committing his crime, Guede left behind a super-abundance of what many in law enforcement like to call “evidence”. It, this pesky evidence, is comprehensive and unambiguous – Rudy Guede killed Meredith Kercher and neither Amanda Knox nor Raffaele Sollecito were anywhere near him when he did it.
Of course, there’s ever so much more that could be said about the evidence contained in the Kercher Murder case files and about how, when it is thoughtfully evaluated from the perspectives of truth and reason (as well as law and….yeah, y’know…..science), they lead to no other rational conclusion but that Knox had nothing whatsoever to do with her roommate‘s death. But as the New Guy didn’t feel his verdict particularly constrained by the fact of Knox’s actual innocence, why should we? Rather than allowing himself to be drawn into a quagmire of honest deliberation, the New Guy’s recent ruling boldly abandons reason in deference to the far more relevant truth that animates Knox’s seven-year ordeal – Amanda Knox cannot be innocent because she simply must be guilty.
If this sounds to you like circular reasoning, then it’s obvious that you’re thinking about it too much. Stop that. It’s not necessary. It’s certainly not expected. Actually, it’s dangerous. As the true case against Amanda Knox exists not in messy matters of fact, but rather, exclusively in the grim funhouse of human intuition, to be troubled by her recent reconviction on the grounds that she is actually innocent of a crime risks setting all that we know by intuition in doubt. This is a house of mirrors to be avoided, a thin edge of the wedge to be ignored and reckless horseplay at the top of the slippery slope that simply cannot be tolerated. Knox, regardless of her actual innocence, simply must be guilty.
Damn the evidence, this is one you need to go with your heart on. Your heart will tell you what’s true. When has your heart ever lied to you? I ask you – when? There’s just something about Knox that screams “naughty girl who must be punished” and so, by all means, let’s punish her. Our gut tells us that a Universe in which the likes of a Foxy Knoxy is innocent simply cannot make sense. Do you want to be responsible for making a sensible Universe senseless? Well? Do you? The New Guy didn’t.
Knox cannot be innocent. We know it. We feel it in our bones. We’ve always felt it in our bones. As one particularly active American pro-guilt advocate once put it, “I just took one look at her eyes and knew she was a killer.” To my knowledge and for my money, no one before or since has ever managed to put the case for Knox’s guilt quite so succinctly as this.
“I just took one look at her eyes and knew she was a killer.”
There you have it.
What more do you need to know?
Yet notwithstanding the wisdom that our intuitions inevitably grant us, there nonetheless remain a significant number of hand-wringing moralists for whom Knox’s actual innocence presents an insurmountable impediment to embracing the dead-damn-certainty of her guilt. “Killer eyes”, these doubters seem to say, are not quite all that should be necessary in order to condemn a young woman who never actually hurt anyone to 25 years in prison. Even when one adds “sinister smiles”, “inappropriate kissing” and “splits at the police station” to those already damning “killer eyes”, these doubters, rendered impotent by their own thoughtfulness, insist that if she is innocent of an actual crime then the dictates of justice and simple human decency demand that we should probably leave her alone.
Unlike the New Guy, this stubbornly moral crew of lawyers, judges, journalists, authors, law enforcement professionals, scientists and no small number of pissed-off mothers, fathers and grandparents is simply obsessed with Knox’s actual innocence. Innocence, innocence, innocence….it’s all they ever talk about. It’s all blah, blah, blah, blood, yada, yada, yada, Yoga; luminol and lamp cords, timelines and TMB; as if Knox and Sollecito’s actual innocence matters to anyone or that the hundredth time they reproved that innocence was somehow any more helpful than the ninety-ninth….or the fiftieth…..or the second. Out of sheer boredom and just for the sake of mixing things up a little, it has become something of an amusing parlor game amongst them to first list all of the arguments advanced in support of Knox’s actual guilt and then explain how these, either individually or when cobbled together into some semblance of a comprehensive crime narrative, are thoroughly at odds with either physical law, known fact or simple common sense. In order to remain convinced that Knox actually killed Meredith Kercher one is necessarily compelled, they maintain, to adopt an almost child-like belief in impossible nonsense.
As correct in this as they certainly are, their insistence on things like proof and the sensible evaluation of evidence make them slaves to their own consciences and blinds them to the true case against Knox. In their insistence that one must believe impossible things in order to think Knox guilty, they completely ignore the litany of intolerable things that one is required to accept in order to think her innocent.
Unburdened by sentimental inclinations to justice and determined to do his duty, the New Guy, in reconfirming Knox’s guilt, has therefore embraced the impossible in order to save us from the intolerable. Recognizing that it is far better that a hundred innocent people be convicted than that any one of them be allowed to make us uncomfortable, he has made justice into a silly-stick with which to beat the world as it is into the world we all desperately wish it to be.
For this we owe the New Guy and, with only one tragic exception, all of the Old Guys before him a profound debt of gratitude as, were it not for them, the world would be compelled to confront the horrific implications of an innocent Amanda Knox.
While the nightmare consequences of a Knox acquittal are almost too numerous to list, the following summarizes just a few of the most obvious ones:
If Knox is innocent it means that the world at large and Italy in particular have done an unspeakable wrong to an innocent young woman who deserved nothing less than to be allowed to live her life in peace, and who certainly didn’t deserve to spend four years in a prison cell.
If Knox is innocent it means that her co-defendant, Raffaele Sollecito, is innocent as well. Acknowledging Knox’s innocence would compel recognition of the fact that, far of being incidental collateral damage brought low as a consequence of his willingness to indulge Knox’s manifestly wicked appetites, Sollecito is instead the one thing in the world guaranteed to drive amoral sophists insane – an honest man. If Knox is innocent it means that when the chips were down and it really mattered, Sollecito refused to throw an innocent young woman under the bus in order to avoid excruciating misery that he could have easily spared himself had he only been the coward that everyone, including his own family, demanded that he be. If Knox is innocent, Sollecito deserves his own cape and comic book.
If Knox is innocent it means that she is not the conniving, mean-spirited slut we all took such perverse pleasure in believing her to be. It means that for all of our pretenses about believing that women should be entitled, just like men, to define the terms by which they chose to live their lives or that beauty, intelligence, character, strength and kindness are not, by virtue of female anatomy, mutually exclusive attributes, the moment a group of silly, superstitious and misogynistic fools from Perugia declared a good ‘ol fashioned slut-shaming we were there with torches lit, pitchforks ready and rotten fruit in hand, screaming for blood right along with everyone else.
If Knox is innocent it means that the media – in this case, the enthusiastic promoters of the Foxy Knoxy myth – are more interested in telling salacious tales designed to drive readership and ad revenues than they are in telling us the truth about the world we live in. The surprise here, however, is not that the media would stoop to make a buck by promoting titillating slanders against an innocent girl just months out her teens, but rather, that knowing full well that this is what the media routinely does, we nonetheless bought into their crap anyway. It is one thing to be served a pile of slop; but it’s quite another to greedily shove it down your throat having convinced yourself that the slop is a big ‘ol bloody rib-eye with all the trimmings. Bon appétit, courtesy of “The Daily Mail”…..and don’t forget your mint on the way out the door.
If Knox is innocent it means that others who we have deemed to be guilty and condemned to long prison terms and even, in some cases, death, might actually be innocent, too. It suggests that police and prosecutorial tunnel vision, coercive interrogation techniques, the cavalier acceptance of false eyewitness testimony and the eager willingness to consume as “scientific fact” spurious interpretations of evidence delivered by unqualified charlatans cleverly disguised as scientists – all factors playing a decisive role in Knox’s wrongful conviction – have likewise contributed to the wrongful conviction of as many as twenty thousand innocent men and women sitting in U.S. prisons at this very moment. Recognition of Knox’s innocence obliges us to acknowledge the existence of these anonymous victims, to care about them and to DO SOMETHING to end their unjust suffering.
If Amanda Knox is innocent, it means that in pursuing their perverse obsession to make a case against an innocent young American woman who never did anything to anyone, that Italian police and prosecutors allowed Meredith Kercher’s real killer, the man to whom all of the evidence points, the man whose bloody fingerprints litters the crime scene, the man whose DNA was on and inside of Meredith Kercher, and the man whose admitted response to seeing a young woman choking to death on her own blood was to flee, got the sweetheart deal of a lifetime. Under the terms of his sentence, Rudy Hermann Guede, Meredith Kercher’s real and only killer is scheduled to participate in a prison work-release program this year and, if all goes according to plan, Mr. Guede will likely be free to kill again by 2016.
And lastly, if Amanda Knox is innocent it means that we, each of us who read the story and wanted to believe, have personally contributed to the destruction of a human being who had every right to expect more from us. It is to acknowledge that the pensive, frightened creature that appears occasionally on CNN to profess her innocence is a thing we have helped to create from what was once a happy-go-lucky teenager who naively believed the world was a dear friend who she was very, very excited to finally get a chance to meet. It means that when she periodically intrudes on our evening of television to plead for the restoration of her individual personhood, she’s making that plea to the very people who have, either through fraud, malice, boredom or indifference, contributed to stealing that personhood from her. In other words she is, in all likelihood, pleading to you.
In order for Knox to be innocent, each of these intolerable things must be true.
She can’t be innocent, can she? We can’t possibly be that cruel, that mean-spirited, that blind and that foolish, can we?
Of course we can’t.
Amanda Knox simply must be guilty.
To believe otherwise is simply too horrible to contemplate.