Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Vigilante justice will kill innocent people

I don't watch tv, and didn't get wrapped up in the Casey Anthony case, but I did hear the reaction. A lot of people are sure that this woman purposefully killed her daughter, and they want blood. 

We, as a nation, need to take a collective breath, and calm down. Killing anyone isn't going to make this little girl come back. We, thankfully, don't live in an "eye for an eye" justice system. Justice isn't black and white, and although she isn't always blind, I like to think that in the US, we do still presume people are innocent until proven guilty by a jury of peers. In this, as in all high-profile cases, the public has come to their own conclusions. If I had been following it more closely, I probably would have a more biased opinion also, it's human nature to draw conclusions. 

However, the knee-jerk reaction to the innocent (of murder) charges against Casey Anthony are too severe, and won't save children. See "Why 'Caylee's Law' is a Bad Idea".  And, as is clear in both links, may serve to further harm families. 

That being said, as a parent, and a sentient human being, the thought of anything happening to a child, especially my child, sends chills down my spine, and turns on my defensive mode. I want to do everything to protect her, and I'm also terrified, every day, of her accidental death. I want to do everything to keep her safe, healthy and happy, but I don't think arbitrary rules are going to help me towards that goal. Further, people attempting to take the law into their own hands is certainly not going to help, and will likely just cause further heartbreak.

So please, try to separate your anger and frustration at the Casey Anthony case, from your desire to protect children.

Instead, let's try to think of productive ways to make life better for our children. Here's a few off the top of my head:

- Increase the availability of mental health care, especially for parents of young children (who might be particularly stressed, sleep-deprived, and may not know that there is help).

- Get to know your neighbors, be friendly, offer help with what you can, or just a smile.

- Take the time to get to know your co-workers (as much as is appropriate for your profession). Simply having an outlet might be a lifeline for someone.

- In general, try to be patient, and try, hard as it might be, to understand how difficult it can be to ask for help. Think of ways to facilitate a warm, cooperative environment. 

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