Elvis matter: Elvis and the Petersons
Elvis scholar introduced me to the idea that Elvis doesn't
matter. What people think about Elvis matters.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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)