I love technology, social media, computers, instant information, and everything else that allows me to find out exactly what I want within moments of searching for it. I realize however, that with cheap, instant information comes cheap, inaccurate answers and sources. The internet is a fantastic way to learn how to change your oil, hang a picture frame, or find out what the capital of Zimbabwe is.
I do believe however, that there are some instances where social media and the internet have gotten so involved in something that it hinders the workings of this country’s most valuable tool – the Justice System.
One hundred years ago, we would have waited for the verdict of trials in the newspaper and on the radio. We would have put all our trust into those who knew all the facts inside the four closed walls of the courthouse. Americans knew that nobody had all the information but those that were sitting in those eight jury seats and that was good enough for them. Those that were present to watch the trial and passed word on by mouth were taken with a grain of salt by those not physically present at the trial. America knew that no matter what verdict was given, whether or not their own misinformed bias thought otherwise, that justice was done because this is the way that our country, in my opinion the greatest in the world, saw fit to operate.
What happens now? Media has sped up so quickly and the Justice System, if anything, has gotten more convoluted and slower. This creates a messy situation because even before first appearance, the public has already made their conclusion of what the verdict should be of a trial that is years away from taking place. They have based their opinion upon the one grainy, shaky, cellphone video that was taken by a passerby who sort-of caught five seconds of “incriminating” footage. Suddenly, the whole world is outraged by a tiny video clip which shows only one side and only a fraction of everything that actually happened there at the scene.
The court system should be immune to the public’s opinion. It should not matter if the whole population of America was standing outside the courtroom’s door screaming, “Not guilty!” The courtroom is an island. It must be this way to be able to deal justice as efficiently as possible. It does not matter what the public thinks. Because if it did, then why have the courtroom system at all? Why not just have a big online forum where all the social media people go to watch cell phone videos of people beating the snot out of somebody else and then at the end of the video hitting a button that says guilty or not guilty.
That’s almost what has happened here in America. Social media has turned the Justice System into a game show. Everyone places their vote into the big show then are outraged at the outcome and the other side. This all based upon the extremely limited and opinion-saturated exposure of the case by the media of their morning news show they are half paying attention to while drinking a cup of coffee. It’s ridiculous. How can people have the gall to believe that their opinion actually means something in the legality of the circumstances. You have to pretty ballsy to think that even though you weren’t in the courtroom, weren’t at the scene of the crime, aren’t a professional in law enforcement or an attorney, and don’t even know the defendant’s last name that you should get a say because you watch CNN or Fox or whatever you do to get your information.
Then these same people take to the streets protesting, dumbfounded that their cries weren’t heard or all their handmade signs they strived for hours making with glue and glitter didn’t get seen during the trial. What these people don’t understand is that justice is not something like a Congressional Bill or decision made by the influence of the people. No amount of phone calls to the judges or catchy slogans chanted outside the courthouse can (or shouldn’t) do anything to affect the outcome of the verdict. Justice is blind and will not tolerate opinion.
If you were on the losing side of the case a hundred years ago, you walked away shamed because you knew that someone you loved had done something wrong because that is what the jury had found without a reasonable doubt. It doesn’t matter what you think. Eight people had unanimously agreed that your son, daughter, wife, husband, etc., was guilty. Now, riots take place, people raid businesses, harass police and terrorize the city because a full jury who have received ALL the facts MUST be wrong. There is no way that I, who tweeted about this person’s innocence every day, could possibly be mistaken.