Think Atlanta summer Olympics – Richard Jewell
– a victim of a ‘trial by media.’ Eric Robert Rudolph
was later found to have been the bomber, and does his name even ring a bell? He pled guilty to that bombing, as well as several others. The mayor of Atlanta publicly thanked Jewell in 2006, recognizing him as the hero we all initially thought he was. Almost exactly a year later, he died from heart disease at the age of 44.
No matter how publicly he was exonerated, Richard Jewell, in our minds, was the Centennial Park bomber. He couldn’t undo his unwarranted reputation, and it illustrates how the ‘guilty until proven innocent’ mentality’ reigns, mostly due to the immediate impact of the media. Ask anyone ever arrested for a sex offense, of pedophilia especially, and then later cleared. You don’t shake that cloak of guilt simply by being innocent. Is it the media’s fault? The system’s? The public’s? The fact is, it doesn’t matter whose fault it is. It’s a wrong we can’t right in this age of ‘catch-your-pants-down’ media mongering. Those in the legal system insist they’d rather let 99 guilty people go free than to send one innocent person to prison; the public doesn’t subscribe to that adage, and we have sources to fuel our frenzy.
The starting point to righting this wrong would be to only arrest someone when there is clear evidence to link him or her to a crime. But what do you do with the lynch-mob mentality? A child is murdered, like Jon Benet Ramsey, and we want answers now. The system doesn’t move fast enough for most Americans – we don’t want to wait. And when we’re forced to, there are Rodney King and Reginald Denny consequences. We’re the victims of our own making, and if we can get information, hands-free and right now, who cares if it’s accurate? It’s entertaining.
The moral? Always have an alibi…