Sunday, September 10, 2006

Besides Bollywood movies, I watch an inordinate amount of documentaries. Yesterday I woke up to some sort of "prehistoric beasts" marathon on the Discovery Channel, and I was overjoyed. Hours and hours of dinosaurs and mammoths and other ginormous monsters? Wonderful.

Today, though, I'm watching much more somber fare - Paradise Lost: The Child Murders and Robin Hood Hills, a 1996 HBO documentary following the cases of three teenagers accused of murdering and mutilating three 8-year-old boys. The tagline - "It's frightening to think they did it. It's terrifying to think they didn't. " - is quite appropriate.

Regardless of how horrifying the crime is, the documentary primarily reveals how flimsy the cases against the teenage boys are. The police, the detectives, and the prosecution don't do a very good job - there's none of the neatness or precision that's shown on Law & Order or CSI. And the thing that makes me mad is that, in this rural, Southern, primarily Christian community, what gets reiterated the most is that these boys don't quite fit in. They like heavy metal, they wear black, they're interested in different religions - so what? In any city, no one would think twice about it. The strongest evidence against the oldest of the boys was testimony of two girls who supposedly overheard him talking about the murders at a softball game. One of the accused, the one who had initially confessed and implicated the others in the case, only has an IQ of 72.

Someone needed to be punished in this case as badly as the the community and the parents wanted (and the parents had some pretty vitriolic things to say) but I'm not certain at all that they got the killers. I'm not sure what sits worse with me - the crime that was committed or the trials that ensued.

I should have just read The Country Wife like I was supposed to today.


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