A modest proposal in Casey Anthony’s defense

On Tuesday, Casey Anthony was found not guilty of first degree murder, manslaughter and child abuse in the death of her two-year-old daughter. Anthony failed to report her daughter missing for 31 days, during which time she was seen partying publicly. She repeatedly lied during the investigation, for which she was sentenced to a few misdemeanors. According to a USA Today/Gallup Poll, 64% of Americans believe Anthony definitely or probably murdered her daughter. (Source)

People are outraged. Perhaps it’s because Anthony’s lawyers brought a pretty weak defense. They did their job of raising reasonable doubt in jurors’ minds, but they didn’t convince most of the American public.

If I were Casey Anthony’s lawyer, I would have tried an entirely different defense. It would have gone something like this:

We’re not denying that Casey Anthony killed her daughter. However, we will prove to the jury beyond a reasonable doubt that Anthony did nothing wrong and should not be punished for her decision.

Anthony never asked to be burdened with a child. She was young and she was living her life and this daughter was thrust upon her. You have no idea how much having a baby changed Anthony’s life. She was incapable of doing what she wanted to do. It was infringing on her rights.

Besides being a burden, the child had little chance at a happy life. It was unwanted. Its mother wasn’t ready for parenthood. It might have been neglected, maybe even abused. Don’t we need a world where every child is a wanted child?

The decision to terminate parenthood was a difficult one, and Anthony made it only after serious consideration. But ultimately, the choice was hers. Anthony was the only one qualified to determine what was best for her. The men who are prosecuting Anthony don’t understand what she went through when making this decision. They are self-righteous to judge her.

Anthony’s decision to terminate parenthood was a private one, one she should not have to share with anyone else. Investigators violated her privacy with their prying questions, so she had to lie. Anthony’s partying was a natural response to the relief she felt in escaping the burden of motherhood that society had imposed on her.

The prosecution claims that Anthony committed murder. That is insensitive and ignorant. Caylee Anthony was alive, but that doesn’t mean she was a person. A two-year-old is incapable of taking care of itself. Its thoughts are very simplistic; in all likelihood it doesn’t even understand what death means. To claim this two-year-old’s existence is equal to that of a fully developed person is absurd and overly emotional. No one can prove when personhood begins, therefore we must not use vague philosophical terms to impose our personal beliefs on others.

Casey Anthony is a brave, independent woman. She made the difficult choice that was right for her. As compassionate people, we must respect and defend the choice that she made.

How would Americans react to that defense? I hope they would be far more outraged than they are now. And yet this type of defense has been accepted in America for 38 years. This is the defense for the murder of about 3,700 children every day in our country, or one child every 24 seconds.

Why are we not appalled at abortion?

Statistics about abortion

For women considering abortion or other options

For women hurting from their abortions: Rachel’s Vineyard or Silent No More

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About Nicole

Daughter of God, wife, mother, volunteer youth leader, substitute teacher, aspiring writer, rabbit owner, nature lover. These are some of my titles.
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4 Responses to A modest proposal in Casey Anthony’s defense

  1. FoolsGold says:

    >during which time she was seen partying publicly.
    And also observed eating, sleeping, ironing, doing laundry. There was no evidence submitted that the nightclub activity was anything special to her or anything other than a routine favor for her boyfriend/roommate who was promoting an event.
    > She repeatedly lied during the investigation,
    She repeatedly lied for virtually her entire life, particularly about major events: high school graduation, getting fired, having a nanny. Congenital liars can still have accidental deaths take place, leave a kid in a car or by a pool or perhaps have misplaced trust in others around her.

    We draw lines in this world. Not everyone agrees on where the lines should be. Most want to impose their views on others. A “life begins at conception” is historically a very recent viewpoint. Convenience to the mother and compatibility with her goals and current situation is seen as irrelevant by some. We think that two years after birth it is a life but the most common historic test was “quickening” which would normally take place at three months. We recognize post partum depression but don’t extend it to two years.

    Marriage used to be often described as the only contract the state enforced when neither of the parties wanted it enforced. Perhaps what we consider the “natural” bonds between mothers and children of tender years needs to be re-examined. Or perhaps a drowning did occur. Congenital liars don’t always confront reality too well. Do women under stress make good decisions? I don’t know. Ask the defendant’s mother. She provoked the involvement of the police and then regretted having her daughter face the death penalty.

    We accept murder in war, in executions, in pollution spewing factories but not in the womb.

  2. Nicole says:

    Perhaps I should have specified that this would be my defense assuming she did kill her daughter. As it stands, I am of the opinion that she probably did do it, though it’s possible that she didn’t. I am happy with the “not guilty” verdict. I believe it’s better to let a guilty person go free than to convict an innocent person, and I’m reassured by the fact that at least one jury still takes reasonable doubt seriously. Should she have been punished more for negligence and interfering with the investigation? Yes, but if the law wasn’t on the books then the jury had no say in that.

    I am more interested in the public’s strong feelings about this case. As individuals and as a nation, we should strive for moral consistency. This was a trial of a mother who may have killed her two-year-old. No question was raised about whether or not it would be wrong to kill your two-year-old: there was universal agreement that it was murder and was punishable. There have been other cases in which a pregnant woman is killed and the killer is charged with a double homicide for the life of the woman and that of her unborn child. Many supporters of abortion rights oppose the gruesome practice of partial-birth abortion. And yet when it comes to abortion over all, we talk about moral relativism and imposing personal views and situational conditions. Why? Because abortions are condoned by the government and done in regulated facilities? Genocide is often done that way. In many cases, killing someone may improve the life of someone else. But only when labeled abortion is that considered an adequate argument.

    You say “life begins at conception” is historically a very recent viewpoint. Actually, “life begins at conception” is historically a scientific fact, and has only recently become a “viewpoint” as abortion proponents have questioned it to defend their beliefs. Many abortion supporters and doctors readily admit that abortion takes a life. The question then is whether that life has value, or whether its value can be trumped by the mother’s rights. The only honest debate about abortion does not question when life begins but rather when life becomes valuable and when we must preserve it.

    Bonds between mothers and children are natural, but not everyone behaves in a natural way. Our world is dark, depraved and fallen. It’s a result of sin and humanity’s insistence that we rebel against God and rule our own lives. It is not normal for parents to kill their children, and yet it happens all the time. That’s why government and rule of law are necessary; when personal conscience doesn’t stop people, it is necessary to stop them by force.

    That leads me to the final sentence of your comment above. You are right that we accept killing in some situations but not in others. The death penalty makes me very uncomfortable, yet I believe in this broken world it is sometimes necessary. I base my beliefs on the Christian Bible, fully assured that God has the final authority in all matters. The Bible gives earthly governments authority to carry out punishments, including the death penalty:
    “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.” Romans 13:1, 3-4

    Even the life of a death row inmate has value. We have laws intended to prevent cruelty and try to end the convict’s life in a humane way. I believe the death penalty should be used extremely sparingly. I am an idealist when it comes to rehabilitation and second chances. Sadly, our penitentiary system is terrible at rehabilitation. I don’t know what should be done about that. I mourn the death even of an evil person, and accept it only with the knowledge that it could potentially prevent the deaths of many other people. Yet the soul of the person being executed can still be saved. God may forgive where governments do not.

    War is another uncomfortable scenario. If a war is unjust, but soldiers fighting believe they are only selflessly serving their country, are they guilty of murder? Or is the burden of guilt entirely on the government that made the decisions and deployed the troops? Does guilt rest more on one who willingly enlists than on one who is drafted against his will? When, if ever, is killing through war justified? There will always be questions. From a pragmatic view, we must be able to defend ourselves. But even the most righteous cause is always coupled with selfish motives.

    It again goes back to the fact that our world is broken and depraved. Our separation from God causes more suffering and death than we will ever comprehend. We will never be able to prevent it all, but we should never stop trying. We have to recognize evil when we see it and do everything in our power to counteract evil with love. Killing your two-year-old is evil; the whole world seems to recognize that. The point of my post was that killing your unborn child is equally evil, and it’s time we open our eyes and admit it.

    Our only hope of peace and restoration is to turn to God and to his son who died to redeem us. God gives us the power to counteract evil by love. “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:20-21

  3. Fleastiff says:

    >we should strive for moral consistency
    I’m not sure about that. We strongly advocate genocide and each morning you actually practice it. We declare that certain bacteria are good and others are bad and we take a morning shower thus nearly exterminating certain species of bacteria. Do you really want moral consistency? Or do you prefer a morning shower with hot water and soap?

    Young mothers do not want to spend all day every day at the DMV yet they are perfectly willing to send their kids off to school which is about the closest thing to the DMV experience a child can have. Those mothers may say that we as a nation should strive for moral consistency but when it comes to the screaming brats being at home with them all day they sure don’t want moral consistency! Schools are breeding grounds for pathogens that then spread to other homes and industry? So what? Moral consistency in the abstract is fine, but if it means homeschooling then moral consistency is a pain.

    I’ve not kept up with the literature but I do recall the assertion that our decline in crime rate has been attributed to the rise of the abortion rate. As with just about any public policy issue the evidence is probably weak and the studies not rigorous but if we assume that decreasing the homicide rate is an admirable goal then there is a certain problem with this moral consistency notion.

  4. Nicole says:

    Human life is vastly different than bacterial life or animal life. In the secular and scientific world, this is accepted as fact, with no need for further explanation. To the religious, reasons are given. Genesis 1:26-28: “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.'”

    Throughout Scripture, God reaffirms that humans are unique because we are created in God’s image. We have souls and are loved by God, therefore our lives are more valuable than all other life on earth. So valuable, in fact, that God himself was willing to take the form of a man and suffer death to redeem us. As stewards of the living earth, we have responsibility to care for animals and not to wantonly destroy the natural world. But to compare killing bacteria to genocide is to grossly distort the natural, God-given order. Moral consistency requires the wisdom to differentiate when one situation is not like another. Killing one child, Caylee Anthony (if she was indeed murdered) is very much like killing another child – the one who is aborted. Logically, we should have the same feelings about both of these situations.

    I understand that not all people follow God or heed His commands. But ignoring or disbelieving something does not negate it.

    I’m confused about your DMV and school comparison. Most parents send their kids to school because they want them to get an education and learn critical thinking and problem-solving skills, not to mention social skills that will be very helpful to them for the rest of their lives. Some parents would home school but are afraid they wouldn’t do an adequate job. Some can’t afford not to work. Others happily home school their children with satisfactory results. For the vast majority, sending their kids to school has nothing to do with thinking they are screaming brats who they don’t want to be around all day. Of course everyone needs a break from time to time, but most parents I know spend as much time as possible with their kids.

    I’ve not heard any correlation with the increase in abortion and the decrease in crime. I would be interested to see a source if you can find one. It is dubious, but even if it were true, it would not justify abortion. Abortion is homicide, though it is not currently recognized as such by our government. Atrocities like the holocaust were atrocities even though the government responsible insisted they were not. You might argue that killing a huge segment of the population would eliminate some who would have been murderers, thieves and other criminals. At the same time, it eliminates some who would have been doctors, scientists, visionaries, social reformers, etc. Even if you could ensure a net social gain by somehow only killing potentially bad people (which is impossible), the ends would not justify the means.

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