Backward Messages

The straight story on influences that turn teens violent.

Beth Winegarner

Beth Winegarner
SAN FRANCISCO, California, United States
March 05
At Backward Messages, Beth Winegarner gives you the straight story on all the influences you’ve been told will turn your teen violent: the occult, violent video games, heavy-metal music, and more. Winegarner is a San Francisco author, journalist, and mom writing a book for parents on the most controversial teen influences and why they’re a healthy part of growing up.

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DECEMBER 19, 2011 4:42PM

Knox exonerated, but Satanism remains on trial

Rate: 12 Flag

Amanda Knox: still not a “She-Devil,” and never was.

As Amanda Knox — who was wrongly jailed in Italy for four years — gets ready for her first Christmas in freedom in many years, new details about her case reveal there was essentially no evidence against her. Including no evidence that she was involved in “Satanic orgies” the night her roommate, Meredith Kercher, was murdered.

The appeals court that exonerated Knox released an 143-page report this week uncovering just how badly the lower court bungled the trial. “No murder weapon. Faulty DNA. No motive. Even the time of death was wrong by nearly an hour. The Italian appeals court that cleared Amanda Knox in the killing of her roommate explained its ruling on Thursday: The evidence just didn’t hold up,” according to the Associated Press.

In short, the report finds that the original verdict:

… Was not corroborated by any objective element of evidence and in itself was not, in fact probable: the sudden choice of two young people, good and open to other people, to do evil for evil’s sake, just like that, without another reason. It is not, therefore, sufficient that the probability of the prosecutors’ hypothesis is greater than the hypothesis of the defense, not even when they are notably greater in number, but it is necessary that every explanation that differs from the prosecutors’ hypothesis is, according to the criteria of reasonability, not at all plausible.

We can probably also presume that Knox is also not a “Satanic, Diabolic, She-Devil,” as one prosecutor put it.

After her Italian nightmare, Knox must contend with many things: the fact that she was separated from society for four years for a crime she didn’t commit; the fact that she was so boldly convicted in the press; and the fact that her sexual life and supposed “Satanic” inclinations were the stuff of international headlines — even though none of those suggestions were true.

Deeper than that, though, is the troubling idea that simply being involved with Satanism or the occult makes you de facto guilty of violence, regardless of other factors. We’ve seen this again and again, most troublingly with with the West Memphis Three, who spent half their lives in jail for murders they did not commit — all because people in their small southern town figured if a boy wears black and practices Wicca, he must be an evil child-slayer. All an unscrupulous attorney has to do is raise the “Satanic” flag and his case is as good as won. When you step back and look at it, that’s not a very impressive lawyering technique, is it?

And yet, it keeps working — and will keep working, as long as people continue to fear and misunderstand practicing occultists. Who, as much as any other religious group, are respectful, peaceful, law-abiding people.

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My experience of Wiccan and Pagans is much less violent than Christianity currently is. They people I know are more connected with the Earth and its creatures, valuing all life. I don't know any that are "Satanists," so that may be different. "Satanism" must be theists that believe in the dicotomy of good versus evil, white versus black, forgetting that there are more shades of gray than anything else. You are right to note that it becomes a hot point with bad lawyers.
I wonder if most folks notice that the Italian appeals process appears to review the actual evidence for validity. That is not the appeals process we have here. In the U.S., the appeals process is only used to challenge judicial error. Rarely, it might look at prosecutorial misconduct or adequacy of defense counsel. It is almost never used to consider whether the evidence makes sense. A conviction based on almost nothing is not that unusual here. People are on death rows across the country whose their convictions were based on slight circumstantial evidence, jailhouse snitch testimony and forced, improbable confessions. It does happen here. What doesn't happen is this thorough a review, especially since the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, the law that "streamlined" the appeals process (meaning, greased the skids to the death house). Good for the Italian court.
she was wrongly jailed for one year: Amanda was given three years for slander against a mr Lumumba (wrongly) accusing him as the killer.........
Maybe the trick of "christianity" is to make people believe that they are not the devil.
We can all be so grateful that we have not been convicted of a crime in an Italian court, or, for that matter, tried to prosecute someone else for rape. I prefer to live in the modern era.
There are formal religious Satanists (Church of Satan, et al) who seem to be harmless eccentrics, and self-styled disturbed, often adolescent, Satanists who may occasionally overturn some memorial stones or something. Most horror and evil is perpetrated in daylight, by authorities - cf. Syria.
sorry oryoki, but a lot of wrongly convicted americans who lost their lives in the american justice systems, would still be alive, and probably free (see knox) in the italian system.....
Oh, you are now favorited, Beth Winegarner! I too am obsessed with the Satanic Panic and its fevered grip on people's imaginations, as I've written in many posts. Another recent favorite claim was the "mobile crematoriums" and satanists stalking Scott Peterson's wife. I wonder if attorneys do see it as a valuable tool for winning a case?
I forgot the references to Satanic orgies. What exactly are those, anyway? Rated.
@Erica - I dare you to find one satanic ceremony or orgy on film that isn't campy or laughably funny. I dare you!
This is what it must have been like to be a bystander in Salem.