Saturday, January 17, 2015

Serial

So, the Podcast culture was all a tizzy at the end of 2014 with a little thing called “Serial.” It was sold as a real-life real-time investigative journalism effort looking into an old murder case. Not a cold-case, since there is a guy serving life in prison for the murder already, but more of a huge second-guess. Getting in on things at the end of the run, it was a little hard to work up the excitement of fans. As they listened week-to-week they discussed and invented theories, and likely had visions of a huge reveal at the end of things.

I didn’t spoil my experience by looking into the outcome. I listened episode by episode right through the end. But, I was pretty sure I would have heard more had things been shocking in the end.

Instead it was all pretty much a whimper and not a bang. What the investigation did a good job with, however, was raise questions. It questions the official story. It questions the suspect’s guilt. It questions the primary witness. It mostly questions the American justice system. All of those questions are made on really good grounds, because there are serious doubts about all of it. If nothing else, this postmodern look at truth and reality causes one to let go of any naïve belief that justice is always accomplished in America.

A system like the Justice System is only as good as the scrutiny it undergoes. In an effort to expose Bad and defend Good, the system itself can never be seen as good. It must be a neutral tool. And as such it is our responsibility as citizens to constantly press the system to be perfect. In the absence of perfection, what should our stance be?

What is preferable, to allow some guilty to go free and never have an innocent person punished unjustly? Or is it better to see some people locked away for crimes they never committed in order to ensure all guilty are punished?

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