Phi Beta Cons

More Knox

Here are some more possible lessons to think about:

Students need more adult supervision, especially students abroad. Life in Perugia for the foreign students, or at least for many of them, seemed to involve an awful lot of bars, clubs, and discos. Meredith’s memorial vigil was organized by Perugia’s bartenders.

Students should be more circumspect and discreet in their behavior in general, and in foreign countries in particular. They could be more conscious that they are there to learn about another culture, not to act out their impulses, and remember that they are not the center of the world. They should be more discriminating about what they put on their Facebook pages and should watch that they don’t hurt themselves by spilling their insides and thinking aloud in their journals and other writings. They should be aware of how they are presenting themselves for all time to the world. (It’s funny. When I first started teaching composition, the word was that we needed to overcome students’ reluctance to write. Well, I guess we have done that.)

Women especially should be aware that there is a double standard. Even with the constant and hysterical celebration of sex all around us, it is possible that being too casually sexually active can be used against them. Hypocrisy abounds. Sexual freedom is pretty much supposed to be a given now, yet the media took Amanda’s sex life, probably quite ordinary as these things go today, and made her into a malicious femme fatale and cunning seductress. The Italian media took her innocent soccer nickname, Foxy Knoxy, and turned it into volpe cattiva, evil fox. In a country where women are strangers, casual sex may take on a different color. Meredith was sleeping with one of the Italian boys who lived in the flat below hers and Amanda’s, but he didn’t acknowledge her if they happened to cross paths in public. We might need a modern day Henry James to do this justice.

The original scenario of a sex-orgy-turned-murder around Halloween, orchestrated by a promiscuous and angry young woman who manipulated men had just enough detail to sound possible at first, but was soon discredited with some serious investigation and analysis. Nevertheless, the original story involving multiple killers mesmerized many people, and raised their expectations about the nature of the crime. Meredith’s family is perplexed because they had been led to believe that she had been killed by more than one person. Perhaps that is the reason they raised no protest at Rudy Guede’s sentence being reduced to 16 years. They thought the big fish, the female mastermind and her sidekick boyfriend, were the real culprits. Evidently many people feel the same, almost disappointed. So that is a lesson, that once a false story goes out, it may be very hard to undo it completely.

Regarding the whole affair, Amanda is a more sympathetic young woman than some are willing to give her credit for, even with her missteps and mistakes. She underwent a Hitchcockian nightmare, one that didn’t end after a couple of hours, and she stood up to some of the worst that life can hand out.

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