Boy, when Americans get it wrong, we really get it wrong. We, like sheep, are followers and when public opinion is in a tidal wave one way or another, more often than not the public goes with flow, even if it's over a waterfall.
Most everyone knows O.J. Simpson is responsible for the death's of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman, a civil court said so, but not a criminal one. Got that wrong. Scott Peterson cheated on his pregnant wife Laci, and is prison until he dies without a shred of DNA evidence. His defense team has since written they believe his innocence. Got that wrong. Duke LaCrosse case, wrong. Tawana Brawley, wrong. Richard Jewels, wrong. Heck, Mary Magdeline, wrong (a princess, not a hooker). On and on I could go. And the sad part is that when we get it very wrong often lives are ruined and people get lost in the wake of scandal, without the media or public ever revisiting the topics with the same feeding frenzy as when they were fresh.
Such is the case with Ramseys. When I heard that new DNA Touch Testing had exonerated every member of their family my heart sank. Not because I wanted them to be guilty, but because Patsy Ramsey died with people looking at her like she knew something, did something, under a horrible cloud of suspicion after losing a daughter. To experience the horrible death of your child in your basement and then live under the suspicion until you die of cancer must be a horrible existence at times. While death brought her peace, she never saw vindication.
Most barely remember the story. Oh, the little beauty queen girl that got killed. But the Ramseys lived with it every single day for 12 years. Never being able to fully grieve, to be treated with the respect someone who has suffered this loss deserves because America knows best. Always. Who needs juries and trials, who needs due process...hell, the mood is such that even our President thought that Habius Corpus wasn't important at all. Who needs all of this hoopla anyway, we, the people, we can look in to their eyes on television or in a news paper and know John or Patsy know or knew something, Scott Peterson had to have seen his wife die, O.J. just wouldn't...
Face it, we don't know crap, really, when it comes to what people can and cannot do, what every human is or is not capable of in a fleeting moment.
Criminals often say that in prison and then on the outside one single moment comes to define them, their entire lives. I was just watching the movie Felon with Stephen Dorff and Val Kilmer and the entire thrust of the film was how one moment should not, cannot define a person's life in total. Yet, the Ramseys have been the couple that know more, the couple that did it, the couple that looked the other way while somebody else did...the couple who knew more than they were telling; they were never the couple that lost their gorgeous little girl. For the last 12 years the death of their daughter has dominated all of their lives, has defined who they are, what they are, and more importantly, how they are perceived. Perception is only everything. And the public has defined them as murders or co-conspirators.
And the public was wrong.
I'm not sure anyone in the media has done this yet. But as a major market talk show host on the #1 station, as a reporter for the #1 news station in Los Angeles, as a writer for the HuffingtonPost, Advocate and beyond, to John Ramsey, his family and the late Patsy Ramsey: I am sorry on behalf of my colleagues who got it so wrong, who caused you such pain and torture, who cared not for your emotions or for facts but for scandals and lies, sex and sordidness because it made profits for them. I can't take anything I, and I am sure I am as guilty as the next, or anyone else has said or done. But I can say on behalf of all of them, I, we, they are or should be sorry.
And I would say let's all learn a lesson from this. Let's talk substance and be a little hesitant in our rushes to judgment. Let's even act a little British and restrain our judgment of who is or is not guilty until at least an arrest and charge is made. But no, as we are reeling from Jessie Jackson wanting to castrate Obama I fear the missiles flying in Iran will be lost in whether or not yet another person should be on the set apologizing.
It's funny, over the last 18 months people have apologized for so many things we have become an apologist nation. Rev. Wright, Obama, Hillary, John McCain, aides, Senators, Congressional leaders, each has had a slip of the tongue caught and then vivisected under the public eye. The problem? For almost two years everyone has been apologizing for things that verge on ridiculous and some just plain stupid. Yet, when apologies are really due, to people who truly deserve them, to people whose lives have been destroyed (read Richard Jewel) the people and media are remarkably silent.
And why? Because most think "hey, what do I care, it could never happen to me anyway, I'm a good law-abiding person..."
And then they find themselves needing a lawyer in the middle of a horrible night mare like so many other people who thought it couldn't happen to them.
You are them to others, you are the person things happen to when others are looking in. Pray you never end up John or Patsy Ramsey or any of the others.
And if you do, I'm sorry.
Follow Charles Karel Bouley on Twitter: www.twitter.com/therealkarel