Point. Click. Convict.
So the makers of the Netflix series “The Making of a Murder” are taking some heat for the details they chose to leave out of their story on convicted murderer Steven Avery — apparently, including everything just doesn’t make a compelling enough story.
Regardless, hundreds of thousands have asked U.S. President Barack Obama to pardon the man.
It’s an example of how the justice system is being overtaken by opinion — and as if the court of public opinion wasn’t bad enough, we now have trial by social media.
And it’s unconcerned with issues of actual proof, and unbound by such constraints as rules of evidence
“For some victims of violence, social media is becoming the place to find community justice outside the courts,” a Now columnist wrote in Toronto last year.
Facts? Don’t need them. Hyperbole and opinion trump all.
We join the court — it’s always in session, with the selective use of facts to bolster whatever conclusion its prosecutors support.
“Did you see that Actor T is a sex fiend? ““I didn’t see that …” “He had sex with a CHICKEN!” “What? When? How?” “Follow this link,” to a magazine article in a online magazine you’ve never read before, or even heard of before, for a first-person account of someone who owns a chicken. Now, you have no idea what its editorial standards are or whether it regularly prints outlandish articles as Internet click-bait, but hey, there it is in black and white. Someone wrote it, so it has to be true.
“Well, I’m not sure if we can go that far — but I found the herbal Viagra ads and the ‘Click here for ugliest transformations — what 10 child stars look like now’ box off-putting … ”
“If you need more proof, I can tell you that my uncle’s ex-wife saw him once in Toronto and she said he was completely ignorant to her when she walked up to his table at breakfast.
And there’s a blog where someone named Wenday — Wendae? — talks about how Actor T’s situation is just another example of what always happens in cases like these. Plus, look at this Facebook page called ‘Justice for the Victims” set up by ‘Anonymous #6.’ Don’t you want the victims to have justice?”
“I guess, but, why doesn’t the mainstream media have any of this? Why are they protecting this obvious animal if Actor T really is a chicken abuser/closet smoker/serial killer?”
“The mainstream media works for the military-industrial complex, I mean, the outerspace oligarchs.” “Or maybe it wasn’t true.” “Of course it is. The people who say it wouldn’t be saying it if it wasn’t true!” Verdict? Guilty as charged. I am astounded how we’ve moved to a world where people who have been accused of something instantly become guilty. In Alberta, a driver who hit and killed a child had his thumb cut off with pruning shears after a social media campaign suggested the justice system wouldn’t deliver a strong enough penalty. At that point, the man had been convicted of precisely nothing.
I actually look forward to the day when a self-styled Internet prosecutor, one of the web vigilantes, is successfully sued, because we need a wake-up call: justice systems are only as strong as their weakest links.
Online, those links include anyone who can arrange their fingers on a keyboard. And they can be very weak indeed.
Oh, and Steven Avery? President Obama can’t pardon him; apparently, the 400,000 people who have petitioned the president don’t realize the basics of the law.
Avery was convicted under state statutes, and presidents don’t have the power to pardon people convicted on those terms.
The wisdom of the masses.