Serial: Guilt, Innocence, Viewpoints, and Motivation
Update: This essay was sloppily written and needed to be edited and thought out more. I also need to work on my tendency to press publish quickly.
Are you listening to Serial? Serial is a spin-off of This American Life by long-time producer and contributor, Sarah Koenig. The first series revisits a 1999 Maryland murder trial. The murder victim was Hae Min Lee, a High School senior and first generation Korean-American. The convicted murderer was Adnan Syed, her ex-boyfriend and first generation Pakistani-American. Both came from strict families with high demands. The State of Maryland’s star witness was Jay who was either one of Syed’s best friends or just a guy that Syed smoked up with every now and then, depending on who you believe. Jay claims to have helped Syed bury Hae Min Lee’s body in a public park. His testimony was recorded numerous times by the police and there are great contradictions in the various recordings. The big question many listeners had is whether Syed is guilty or not. Koeing became interested in the story when she was contacted by a family friend and lawyer of Syed’s family. According to my very unscientific study, lawyers and journalists who listen to the story are either convinced that Syed was wrongfully convicted or they think that the state convicted Syed on evidence that does not prove Syed’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. I am in this camp. The state’s evidence is the rather thin gruel that often seems to happen in murder cases with a wrongfully convicted defendant. The best evidence against Syed is Jay’s testimony which has numerous contradictions and the problem that Jay got a very sweet probation deal for pleading guilty as an accessory after the fact. Jay did not serve one day in prison. Episode One of Serial shows that the State of Maryland largely used circumstantial evidence against Syed. He was supposed to be a hard-working kid from an immigrant family but he smoked pot, had sex (with Hae Min Lee), went to dances and played on sports teams behind his parents back. In other words, Syed was a typical American teenager. Hae Min Lee was a typical American teenager because she also snuck around and did things behind her parent’s back. There are people who think Syed is guilty though and there is a chance he might be but some of their arguments are downright bizarre. Julia Carrie Wong at Buzzfeed Ideas and Jay Caspian Kang at The Awl both think that Serial suffers from a huge white-privilege problem and the problem seems to come from the fact that the show floats the idea that Syed might be wrongfully convicted. Julia Carrie Wong seems to think that Serial committed a grave offense by portraying Syed and Lee as “model minorities.” Wong writes: “Adnan’s ability to fill the role of the model minority is quite explicitly, the impetus behind Koenig’s entire involvement with the case. He’s the good, South Asian son, and that doesn’t mesh with the idea of a violent killer. She describes his ‘giant brown eyes like a diary cow’ and asks, ‘could someone who looks like that really strangle his girlfriend?’ She says, “He doesn’t seem like a murderer.’ After six months of investigation and phone conversations with Adnan, she responds to his question about why she is so interested in his case by saying ‘My interest in it honestly has been you, like you’re a really nice guy.” I admit that I am rankled by the white privilege charge. Koenig is Jewish like me and there is a long history of whether Jewish people count as white or not. I’ve written about this before but the term anti-Semitism was coined as part of a systematic attempt to prove that Jews were not white or European. I can guarantee that my ancestors probably did not see themselves as white or European either when the fled Czarist Russia for the United States. My general view is that Jewish people are considered white or not depending on what is ideologically convenient for the decider at the time of his or her decision. For Wong, this means she needs to accuse Koenig of white privilege. Basically Wong is ignoring the fact that Koenig is quite open with the fact that Syed smoked pot and had sex. Wong also ignores every time Koenig has openly expresses doubt at the idea of Syed’s innocence and the many times she has asked Syed to explain evidence that does implicate him in the murder or at least does not look good for his claims of innocence. The nice guy quote was followed by Syed expressing frustration that everyone thinks he is a nice guy but he is still looked up in prison for life. The following episode of Serial was devoted to interviewing Deidre Enright, a professor from the University of Virginia School of Law and head of the school’s Innocence Project. Enright explained that in her experience, people are innocent are their own worst allies because innocent and wrongfully convicted people don’t spend all their time thinking of alibis. I’m not sure what Wong wants except to express how horrible it is that someone is looking at this case again and we should just take it that Syed is guilty because a jury convicted him of murder. Wong does not seem to care that Syed might have been convicted on really weak evidence and she seems to willfully take things out of context to wave a banner against “white privilege” which in the case of someone potentially being locked up for life, seems to be a very odd thing to do. I admit that I am rankled by the white privilege charge. Koenig is Jewish like me and there is a long history of whether Jewish people count as white or not. I’ve written about this before but the term anti-Semitism was coined as part of a systematic attempt to prove that Jews were not white or European. I can guarantee that my ancestors almost certainly did not see themselves as white or European either when the fled Czarist Russia for the United States. They saw themselves as Jews. My general view is that Jewish people are considered white or not depending on what is ideologically convenient and necessary for the decider at the time of his or her decision. For Wong, this means she needs to accuse Koenig of white privilege. Image Source: “Artists-impressions-of-Lady-Justice, (statue on the Old Bailey, London)” from Wikimedia Commons. Edit note: I incorrectly referred to Wong as Chang in this post and Kazzy pointed this out in the comments below.
Dickens or Bronte
porno 3 Ways to Design Your Own Fashion Shawl
snooki weight lossAdidas MEN’S FP PRINT POLO