September 25, 2011

Landshark Park


The prosecution's closing arguments in the appeals of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito in Perugia, Italy comprised a  rehash of long-since discredited claims. They stated, for example, that they had proved beyond a reasonable doubt in the first trial that "mixed blood" of Amanda and Meredith was found. That claim was based on a preposterous misinterpretation of the mundane fact that Amanda's DNA was in her own bathroom, a fact without meaning since every one of us has left our own DNA in our own bathrooms. Oh, and, also preposterous because Amanda had no wounds from which to bleed.

There is a term for statements like this that are not true. They are called "lies".  The prosecution lying to the jury and the press in this trial is nothing new, lies have been the core of their case. It is also not surprising that they have been allowed to lie without correction. In other courts such deliberate misstatements could lead to disbarment, but Italian jurisprudence is flexible and sophisticated about such matters, we are told.

What has been amazing is how many times they have gotten away with it. The first court bought dozens of Mignini's claims hook, line, and sinker, except when it could actually improve upon them. Most of the press, too, went along for years, on the joy rides of a "satanic sex cult" then a "sex game gone wrong" along with many other Mignini fantasies, even though there has never been  a shred of evidence presented to support them. 

Amazing as Mignini’s ability to get away with serial prevarication has been, it is not without precedent.

In Saturday Night Live’s famous “Landshark” skit, the imaginary creature of the Jaws cinema era told ridiculous lie after ridiculous lie, trying to gain entrance to its prey’s home.  No matter how cautious, savvy, or well-informed the victim, that clever and persistent Landshark would eventually devour them.

“Flowers,” announced the tentative, nasal voice at the door as the ominous Jaws theme music began.
“Flowers for whom?” the suspicious woman replied.
“Plumber, maam,” the voice inexplicably changed its claim.
“I don’t need a plumber,” the woman skeptically replied. “You’re that clever shark, aren’t you?”
“Candygram,” came the voice, testing out another approach.
“Candygram my foot! You get out of here before I call the police. You’re that shark and you know it!"
“Wait… uh… I’m only a dolphin, maam.”
“A dolphin? Well, okay….” she said, as she opened her door to Landshark doom.

The comedic setup here, the conceit, is the idea that anyone would be so stupid, after hearing three consecutive lies, as to believe the fourth lie from the same source. One would think, after all, that the source's credibility might be shot after being caught two or three times. Not with that clever Landshark, and its infinitely gullible foil.

And not with Mignini. After his original "satanic sex cult" lie didn't catch on, he switched to the sex game story. When that didn't gain traction it was a "vendetta" held by Amanda against Meredith. And when no one seemed to remember any malice to support that, Mignini claimed that Amanda committed murder for no reason at all, which was especially despicable. Now it's back to the sex game theory, because, well, you know how kids are nowadays.

It has only been after nearly four years of false imprisonment that doubts are finally being expressed by much of the press, and more importantly, by the appeals court.

After repeating, yet again, a slew of such Landshark-like claims in his closing, Mignini demanded that Amanda and Raffaele's sentences be increased to life in prison from the current 26 and 25 years, respectively. He also asked, as he has before, that these sentences include six months of daytime solitary confinement for Amanda and two months for Raffaele.

Such confinement can cause irreparable psychological damage and is meant to destroy the will of the prisoner.  Mignini's sadistic attempt to inflict this cruel, unusual, and senseless torture is a clear indication that these are the actions of a deranged prosecutor, and anything but the pursuit of justice.

There was a controversy a while back about the naming of two parks in the sister cities, Perugia and Seattle. Each city was supposed to name a park for the other. Perugia then named one of their parks in honor of Seattle, calling it "Orca Park".  Seattle was planning to name one "Perugia Park" until outrage was voiced by some who have observed the apalling abuse of Amanda by Perugian authorities.

"Orca" is not "Seattle" but I guess it's the thought that counts, and I've had one of those.

I propose that we, here in Seattle, name a park "Landshark Park" in honor of Perugia.

We owe them no less.