"If you're an Elvis fan, no explanation is necessary; If you're not an Elvis fan, no explanation is possible."

(George Klein)



"History has him as this good old country boy, Elvis is about as country as Bono!"

(Jerry Schilling)






Does Elvis matter: Elvis and the Petersons

by Michael Fitzgerald

An Elvis scholar introduced me to the idea that Elvis doesn't matter. What people think about Elvis matters.

To some, the scholar explained, Elvis is an icon. To others, he is a laughingstock. To Rolling Stone, an important interracial artist. To Public Enemy, a racist. A has-been. A stamp. Et cetera.

The lessons lie in the prism of different group and cultural beliefs about Elvis. For Elvis, you can substitute the Scott and Laci Peterson case. On the surface, the attraction of the case was simple, the real-life mystery surrounding a horrible crime grinding toward a solution in the public eye. On that score, certainty is impossible, but probably justice was done, said John Phillips, a sociologist at University of the Pacific.

Most wrongly convicted defendants are victims of prosecutorial misconduct or poor defense, said Phillips. His specialty is criminology. But prosecutors played it straight. Scott Peterson hired the best defense. So probably, "The evidence was solid enough to convince any jury any time," Phillips opined.

As for the circumstantial case, "Most evidence is circumstantial," Phillips pointed out. "Who commits serious crimes in front of a witness?" As to why the Peterson case became a national obsession, the editor of the National Enquirer told us in 2003 the case became a national fixation for two reasons: mystery and emotion. The mystery was Laci's disappearance. Then the whodunit. The emotion was her pretty smile, glowing pregnancy, Christmas. Mystery and emotion. Add media and stir. The emotion was not all outrage. I think Americans spot-check their criminal-justice system through celebrity trials. Is the system equal to controlling chaos in the suburbs? Details at 11.

A woman called to say the guilty verdict illustrates the wisdom of paying child support. I had to request an explanation. Laci learned of Scott's affair, the woman explained. She was going to divorce him. Fearing he would be taken to the cleaners, Scott Peterson murdered her. Now he's convicted. How much better if he'd just sent the checks.

From views such as hers, the Elvisness of the Scott and Laci case can be inferred. Another man called to say he just couldn't believe a husband could do such a thing. He meant a white, married, white-collar suburbanite. Suburban illusions are proof the system works, at least in the suburbs. Or suburbanites couldn't kid themselves like they do. Legislatively, our leaders saw the need to pass the "Laci and Conner Law" making it a separate crime to kill a fetus. Such legislation should be left to the states, Phillips said. "I consider that (law) political exploitation. P

ersonally, I think using a tragedy as a hook for some policy that can't stand on its own is immoral." Many believe the law will affect the fight over abortion. All this from one murder in Modesto. Arguably of no importance beyond one Valley town. "For many, many months, I've been able to look up at TVs in bars, restaurants, the gym, etc. -- and when the Peterson trial was on, I knew right away that there was no actual news to report," blogged Instapundit. "Now I've lost that valuable tool." (Source: Recordnet.com)











Feature interviews for November
Paul Simpson
Ed Bonja (Part 2)
Ed Bonja
Ernst Jorgensen
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Elvis Odd Spot (updated 22 Sep 2004)