Phi Beta Cons

Lessons of the Amanda Knox Saga

As the longest study-abroad trip known to man now winds to a close, I find myself wanting to draw some sort of lesson from the Knox affair. I studied abroad in Italy around the same time she did. Those were some of the best days of my life. So the bizarre and horrific twists of Knox’s story, and that of her murdered roommate, Meredith Kercher, always hit close to home.

It was a sad tale. Some smart kids ran a bit wild overseas, trying to have a good time, maybe a little too much of a good time. They made some questionable moral decisions, allegedly got involved in drugs and heavy drinking. Then tragedy struck. The moral issues above were thrown around endlessly by a sensationalistic Italian prosecution team that, by any reasonable measure, made a mockery of justice, and certainly did no favors to the traumatized family of Ms. Kercher, who must now try to make sense of the reversal of the conviction of the girl they had been led to believe was partly responsible for the murder.

In the days immediately after her roommate was murdered, Knox, as has been reported widely, exhibited some strange behavior, made inconsistent statements, and falsely accused another person of the crime. Who knows why she did it? She was scared, careless, under duress perhaps. For whatever reason, she lied. She has served her time for this latter offense, which was the one item upheld by the appeals court.

Based on what I’ve read of the case, there was precious little evidence linking her to the murder. And the investigators in Perugia mishandled the evidence in a way that is inexcusable. Whatever her faults, Knox didn’t deserve to be falsely convicted and imprisoned. No more than the poor Ms. Kercher deserved to have her life cut short so tragically and maliciously.

Now, at the end, I am struck by two thoughts: First, I hope never to find my fate and freedom in the hands of the Perugian justice system. Second, life is short, and carefree youth can be cut off without warning. Better take care to live responsibly, to live well and fully, while the days are still ours.