Monday, January 23, 2012
The Case of Amanda Knox by Nina Burleigh
Was the American girl, the star of the trial, guilty as charged or culpable in some other way? Amanda’s behavior looked suspicious, even though the police were not able to pull together convincing material evidence. She was unable to show sorrow after the murder, and in many instances afterward, when she might have shown empathy for her dead friend, she did not. Listening to her make gurgling death sounds during her trial testimony was chilling. At that moment, it was easy to see what the colpevolisti (those who side with the prosecution) saw behind the pretty blue eyes.
British psychoanalyst Coline Covington, writing after the conviction on the U.K. news aggregator called The First Post, diagnosed Amanda as psychopathic:
“Our deepest fear is that the ‘girl next door,’ whom we trust and see as innocent and loving, turns out to be a vampire or a murderer. This is the stuff of horror movies and we all want to believe that in real life these horrors don’t occur. We also want to believe that we are not capable of doing evil deeds. Evil is something done by others – not one of us. Knox’s narcissistic pleasure at catching the eye of the media and her apparent nonchalant attitude during most of the proceedings show signs of a psychopathic personality. Her behavior is hauntingly reminiscent of Eichmann’s arrogance during his trial for war crimes in Jerusalem in 1961 and most recently Karadzic’s preening before the International Criminal Court at the Hague.”
A girl monster of that stature is truly something to behold, and – contrary to Covington’s assessment – people do want to believe that in real life ‘these horrors’ walk among us. In fact, so many people wanted to believe that Amanda was one of “these horrors” that many spectators and investigators in the Kercher murder refused to believe it wasn’t so, even when presented with convincing evidence…
The Meredith Kercher murder hooked into the global psyche because the story is filled with ancient female archetypes – rewarded good girls, punished evil girls, virgins and whores, the monster of insatiable female sexual desire – that people across many cultures instantly recognize. Amanda Knox inadvertently fed these archetypes by the ways she behaved in public, and advertised herself on the web, and, eventually, in her own compulsive writings from prison. Despite her short lifetime of writing exercises, and her outwardly confident mien, she didn’t possess the language, the words, the maturity, the style, the true self-confidence that comes from being emotionally whole, to define, let alone defend herself. Meanwhile, others – stronger, smarter, older, more eloquent – were eager to define her. Locked up, she might have all the pencils and notebooks she wanted and still not match the authority of other people’s words.
The Perugians didn’t know what to make of this unusual, slightly damaged girl with the inappropriate emotional responses, whose overconfident exterior masked a person with a deep aversion to conflict. Needing to solve the high-profile crime, they made a deduction about her and extracted a statement that put her at the scene. Everything in the investigation evolved from that, including the subjective calls on low-copy-number DNA.
Then, the whole world was watching.
To admit they’d been wrong was not an option. “The imperative which they implicitly obey in all their decisions,” wrote Barzini, of his fellow countrymen, is non farsi far fesso – not to be made a fool of. “To be fesso is the ultimate ignominy, as credulity is the unmentionable sin. The fesso is betrayed by his wife…falls for deceptions and intrigues. The fesso, incidentally, also obeys the laws, pays the taxes, believes what he reads in the papers, keeps his promises and generally does his duty.”
The fesso might be fooled by a pretty American girl who is, in fact, a murderess.
Those who recognized the mistake responded by circling the wagon. Other persisted in the belief and blustered on.
All the fraudulent embellishments that were never proven nor officially corrected but which so captured the media and public mind –sex game, googling bleach, the mop and bucket, “mixed blood DNA,” Raffaele supposedly deviously calling police after police arrived, Amanda’s bare footprints supposedly being made in blood – were elements of an injustice, of a sort of sadly not uncommon in courts and police departments in the United States, only more fascinating because this one involved women, beauty, and sex in the Anglo-Saxon playpen called Italy.
By filing slander suits against not only Amanda Knox but also her parents ( for testifying that the police slapped her in the back of the head during interrogation), by kicking them while down (after her conviction) the Perugians reminded the world that vendetta is in fact an Italian word.
The spired settlement on the hill has been under siege countless times before. As it has for millennia, the walled city will hold out.