One of the nice things about living outside of the US for years on end is that I don't have to sit through the annoying bits, the "Why should I give a fuck?" moments that one is constantly barraged with by the TV and on the covers of magazines in the check-out lane at Safeway. Aside from recognizing names I see mentioned in news articles, I can tell you next to nothing about Lady Kardashian, Snookers, or even the Dustin Beaver. My finger is definitely nowhere near the pop-culture pulse of the nation. I also get to miss out on those events that somehow manage to grip to whole of the population by their private parts and cause everyone to go into a collective, sputtering fit. These usually come in the form of sensationalist court cases (OJ, Jon Benet, Lacy Peterson) and can cause even the most humble American to wave a righteous finger and froth at the mouth.
This most recent spasm of rush to judgement came in the form of a woman named Case Anthony, who I honestly never even heard of until two or three days ago. The CNN we get over here is CNN Asia, and thankfully they omit such atrocities as anything hosted by Nancy Grace. Larry King used to mine some of the same soil, but he's now off the air, thank fucking god.
I know next to nothing about the nuts and bolts of the case against this woman, but evidently her kid went missing and she didn't report it. She also got a tattoo instead of mourning, which makes her very bad in the eyes of a lot of people. All the circumstantial evidence pointed to her killing the tot so she could go to the beach and drink mojitos every day. After all, girls just wanna have fun, right? Unfortunately there was one little hitch: nothing directly tied her to the crime.
From what I read (and it was admittedly not much), the whole of the nation was screaming for blood. The housewives of America, whipped up into a frenzy by the shrill harangues of uber-hag Nancy Grace, wanted this bitch's HEAD ON A PLATE. Ms. Anthony became the newest in a long line of scapegoats, a 21st century Hester Prynne. The jury was out but America had already delivered its verdict, cheered along by an endless parade of "legal experts" who knew a cut-and-dry case when they saw it.
I jumped on the internet this morning and perused the headlines, as I'm apt to do, and whaddaya know? They jury let her off. NOT GUILTY. Maybe she was an awful mother, the very portrait of neglect and willful irresponsibility, but the prosecution, for whatever reason, didn't prove its case, and now Hester Prynne has been released from the pillory.
I couldn't help feeling a little satisfaction - not because I have any opinion about Case Anthony's guilt or innocence (I don't) - but because the most hated woman in America was given a reprieve. She dodged the knife, putting egg on Nancy Grace's bitter, craggy face and the rest of the herd-like mob that followed her, torches and pitchforks in hand. I despise this kind of group think, this rush to pass judgement and ostracize and let blood that is so rooted in the American psyche. It is a remnant of the dark days of the Puritans, and one of our uglier traits. If flares up here and there like a bad case of shingles, and is easy for even the most critical minded among us to succumb to.
As expats we've built up a bit of immunity to this sort of thing. I'm still very American (whatever the fuck that means), but I can observe the travails of my country with more objectivity than before. I am not exposed to the caustic radiation of the 24-hour American news cycle, and feel like I've managed to hold onto a few more brain cells because of it, though these will no doubt be lost soon to the ravages of Korean beer and soju.