It's hard not to look at Amanda Knox and feel conflicted. Just a day after an Italian court ruled her guilty in the death of roommate Meredith Kercher and sentenced her to more than 28 years in prison, the 26-year-old came out on Good Morning America to say she's not going back to Italy "willingly." I'll confess my first thought was, "darn right!" and an unofficial survey (aka a perusal of my Facebook feed) shows I'm in the majority in my support of Knox and her vow to fight extradition.
And yet ... I'm a law abiding citizen, a rule follower. Refusing to listen to the courts? Possibly becoming a fugitive from justice? Neither sits well with me, or with anyone I know.
So why is it that we're so willing to come out in support of Amanda Knox? When she's suggesting the very things we'd normally look down upon?
Is it because we truly believe she's innocent? I tend toward that way, in no small part because a personal friend who did extensive investigation into the case, wrote The Fatal Gift of Beauty, one of the definitive books on Knox and one that makes a case for her innocence.
But what about the rest of America? The folks who are screaming "go girl" without having done a full investigation or even reading a book about one?
Are we betraying our xenophobic nature as Americans, our tendency to believe our way is the right way and to dismiss much of what happens in the rest of the world?
After all, in our justice system, Knox never would have been tried again for a murder for which she was already cleared back in 2011. Double jeopardy protects American defendants from being tried again for the same charges same (or similar) charges following a legitimate acquittal or conviction.
Instead, the Seattle native sat here in the States and watched an Italian court convict her this week, repeating the nightmare that already locked her away in an Italian prison for nearly four years. Now she has to wait and find out whether Italy will ask for her to be extradited -- and whether the US government will acquiesce. As she told GMA.
I will never go willingly back to the place where … I’m going to fight this to the very end. It’s not right and it’s not fair.
Very American words, aren't they?
We talk a lot about rightness and fairness in our justice system, a justice system we believe is superior to any other in the world. And maybe it is. I'll confess I don't know that much about other systems of justice, aside possibly from the British (gotta love the BBC). But I'll also confess that there's a mark of patriotism in the righteous indignation I feel over the Italians refusal to follow rules similar to our own, to go after a woman who was already acquitted of murder. Don't they know any better?
Yes, there is a bit of the condescending American that has come out in me -- and in many others, if they'll admit it.
There's also the part of me that always tends to support an underdog, and an American underdog at that, a part that supports someone with moxie ... because that is a quality we value here in the states. Amanda Knox is fighting back, and we are a nation of fighters, a nation that celebrates getting back up when you've been knocked down.
We can (and seemingly do) support her for all of that, and that groundswell of support could work to her advantage if (when?) Italy comes calling and the US government has to make a decision on whether to extradite her. Certainly public opinion will play a role here.
But we must recognize what that support means.
What the Italians did does not sit well with many Americans, but the fact remains that they've convicted Amanda Knox of murder. Again. And as we stand up for Knox, we must realize that we're also standing against the Italian court system, sending a message to an entire country that we simply have no respect for their justice system, for their rules.
What do you think of Amanda Knox? Do you support her? Why?
Image via GMA