Phi Beta Cons

Postmodernism Invades the Courts

The ongoing ordeal of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, convicted of murdering Amanda’s housemate, Meredith Kercher, during the two girls’ study year abroad in Perugia, Italy, in 2007, has alarming postmodern implications, that is, that the truth is based not on agreed upon facts and evidence, but is contingent on narrative and point of view.

Their original guilty verdict in the Italian court was overturned on appeal, then reinstated in a new trial ordered by the high court. The reason for the reinstatement was that the explanation for the innocent verdict did not, in effect, sufficiently account for the narrative–that is, the narrative of the multiple killers and supposed animosity between Amanda and Meredith, the narrative that the physical evidence does not support. (The original narrative of the sex game gone wrong was rejected in the new guilty verdict but replaced with Amanda’s anger at Meredith’s supposed criticism of her hygienic habits.) 

The only supposed physical evidence for Raffaele and Amanda being at the murder scene was two tiny specks of DNA evidence, from a crime scene that was violent, disordered, and replete with copious leavings from the real killer, Rudy Guede. When the prosecution finally allowed the tests to be released that supposedly revealed the DNA of Raffaele and Amanda, the specks were shown to be unacceptable as evidence by international standards. The DNA profile supposedly derived for Raffaele could belong to several hundred people in Perugia. The court that declared them innocent analyzed each piece of evidence and the testimony of supposed eyewitnessnes and found that all of it collapsed on investigation. There is simply no evidence that the two were at the scene of the murder at all, period, full stop.

But evidently the narrative can survive despite the facts. The judge who handed down the second guilty verdict acknowledges that it is nigh impossible to clean up a crime scene of traces of two people, while leaving intact those of a third, but concludes anyway that such a cleanup must have happened since Amanda and Raffaele were there. The narrative also serves to support the unbelievably lenient sentence given to Rudy Guede, because he supposedly didn’t act alone. In February it was reported that he was studying history via a nearby university, and, having served less than six years, is eligible for release on day parole. I wonder if he’s studying postmodern history.

So terrible is this whole situation that Steve Moore, the retired FBI Special Agent who has been defending Amanda in the press and public venues advises American students to avoid study in certain sections of Italy! Italy, birthplace of the Renaissance, the ancestral home of so many millions of Americans! But Moore points out that many Italians are fighting this injustice, somehow both primitive, in its witch hunt aspect, and postmodern, in its denial of facts and objective reality.

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