Dear Casey Anthony,
I have to say I’m probably the only person in the world who didn’t know about you two weeks ago. That’s not to say I keep myself ill-informed of what’s going on in the world. I don’t. In fact, I think I probably know more than I should.
It’s just that when it comes to murdered children…well, that’s the sort of thing of which I do try to keep myself ill-informed. I have kids, you see. I worry about them and fear for them enough. I figure I really don’t need another reason to do more.
That’s why I ignored you as best I could. Sure, there were a few times when I’d come across a newspaper story or some television commentary. But I turned either the page or the channel. I didn’t want to see you, didn’t want to read about you. No offense intended. Sometimes, ignorance is bliss.
But then came the trial and then the verdict, and it was pretty much impossible for anyone to do anything without hearing about you. So I did start to pay attention. I wanted to know what it was about you that had struck such a nerve in so many people, and I wanted to know what that said about us.
I’m neither theologian nor philosopher, just a guy in a hat. I won’t use this space to excoriate you (plenty have done that, right or wrong) or laude our justice system (ditto). I’ll just say this:
I’m not sure why you got all that attention. Ours is a world in which many children such as your own go missing and are found dead. And like you, their accusers are brought in front of judges and juries to be found guilty or innocent. I’ll leave the answers as to why your case became the focus rather than another to those smarter than I. But I do think ours is a society that must be entertained. We may walk straight in our going about, but inside our hearts are hooked downward. We crave the terrible and the depraved, and we found both in you.
We also found in you the culmination of our baser, more selfish selves. What parents in their weakest moments have not fantasized of a life of freedom from their children? Who has not secretly considered any means necessary to exchange a bland existence for one of fame and fortune? I suspect the difference between you and most is that those frail moments remain in our hidden places and yours were cast out into the world.
Much of the anger directed at you is justified. Much of that outrage, I think, is also a kind of fear. In you we see what evil results when we are untethered from responsibility and left to ourselves. We are reminded of the ease by which we can rationalize even the worst acts. We see the depths to which human beings can plumb.
I understand you’ll be free soon, at least the sort of freedom that imprisonment denies. I’ve heard of death threats and relocation plans. I’ve also heard of agents being hired and books being planned. Movies being discussed. And a desire for more children.
I think in the end, that’s what bothers people most. We have an inherent desire for justice, for the guilty to be punished and the innocent redeemed. For many, you are but one piece of evidence among many to prove that desire is an empty one that cannot be filled in this world.
Fair or not, in the end we see that a blameless child has been killed and her mother will now receive the wealth and attention she so coveted. I suppose that’s where we’ll end this. So much has already been said by so many people, and I hate to add to the pile. But I will say this before I go—you are not the first person to be hated in this world, nor the first to perhaps put your own wants before the needs of others in a search for some sort of earthly heaven. But as you step out from behind bars and into the world, you would do well to remember the many who have found that heaven and discovered it to be a hell.