Top Five Modern American Show Trials

by Kelly Breaux
File under: Fake Freedom09 Oct 2013 11:12 EDT

Because there's nothing more American than getting the public wrapped up in an escapist legal spectacle. Is the law becoming show business for ugly people?

5. People of the State of California v. Michael Joseph Jackson

The "To Catch A Predator" episode of the century. And a great chance for the American public to revel in the destruction of somebody they have built up to absurd heights through their mindless pop star fandom. 

4. State of Florida v. Casey Marie Anthony

Excellent fodder for moralistic housewives who resent their own children and wish they could still go to the club. The Anthony trial allowed them to escape their own households by hating a scapegoat, the 'monster mother' who killed her own daughter after several days of self-indulgence. But let's not take the outrage too seriously. As Time magazine reported, "Like many other popular attractions in Orlando, the Casey Anthony trial requires tickets." Enough said.

3. People of the State of California v. Scott Peterson

A fascinating case of MWWS, or Missing White Woman Syndrome. Laci Peterson, the pregnant wife of Scott Peterson, disappeared, and all the circumstantial evidence pointed to Scott, a serial womanizer and California-style smooth sociopath, as the killer. Sad, but people die and go missing every day, yet Laci got the Disney princess "Oh dear me!" treatment that's never rolled out for black boys on the South Side of Chicago. But then we're dealing with California here, and it's just impossible that a good looking guy like Scott could do something like this...

2. State of Florida v. George Zimmerman

This one really passed the time during the dull summer of 2013, when we were waiting for the next government shutdown or mass shooting to hit the news. And thanks to its recentness, it capitalized on 'viral' culture like no trial before. In a country with no imagination, this picture had to have been reproduced somewhere on the order of a million times, both by official media and young 'activists' looking for a relevant logo.

As gruesome as the actual reality of Trayvon's death was, at this point his face is nothing more than an Andy Warhol subject. 

And the number one modern American show trial is....

1. People of the State of California v. Orenthal James Simpson

They're never going to be able to produce another OJ trial.

To use legal terminology, it set all the precedents for how television show trials in the late empire should be conducted. It was the original study in how to get a disenfranchised population to invest an inordinate amount of concern in a purely symbolic event. The OJ verdict, a question of guilt or innocence which would only really concern an overpaid football star, his immediate relations, and those of the victim, became a verdict on the racial attitudes of millions of people. 

In retrospect, it's really quite amazing that the media barons managed to pull this inflation off, but perhaps only because these kinds of spectacles have become so banal today. Meanwhile the economy has collapsed, racial relations have sharply deteriorated, and a generation of Americans literally have nothing to do with themselves. Oh well. Give me the remote, honey. Nancy Grace is on!

Come to think of it, all of these cases were based in California and Florida: the two homes of Disney theme parks. And perhaps honorary capitals of Fakenation. 

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Please comment with your favorite American show trial below!

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X-Citizen says:09 Oct 2013 17:21 EDT
Nicole Simpson died for the sins of your cable ratings.
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