My Thoughts on a “Caylee’s Law”

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I’ve gotten a lot of great feedback telling me how “right on” I am with my previous post demonizing (deservedly) Nancy Grace for her larger-than-credited role in the Casey Anthony Trial. I’m betting I don’t get the same feedback on this post, mainly because I figure this post is going to upset more than one person. I, however, ascribe to the position held by Femi-Nazi Gloria Steinem (probably the ONLY thing she and I would agree on) when she said, “The truth shall set you free, but first it shall piss you off.”

Let the pissing off begin.

I personally don’t think Florida OR the US needs a “Caylee’s Law.” I think it is bogus and an attempt by pathetically pandering politicos to cash in on the furor surrounding the wildly unpopular verdict in the Anthony trial. While we’re on the subject, let’s go a little deeper, shall we? Take a look at the pictures in the following gallery, s’il vous plait?

I won’t keep you in suspense. These are all dead children who have or will have legislation named for them. These are the namesakes of Ginny’s Law, Adam’s Law, The AMBER Alert, Chelsea’s Law, etc, etc. Now that you know what they are, do you notice anything missing?

How about a Jakwuan’s Law? Maybe a Juan-Carlos Law? Bubba Ray’s Law? Leqweshia’s Alert? Thao Po’s Law? Mayeller’s Law?

Where are all THOSE laws? Why are all the dead children laws named for middle class White kids?

I’ll tell you why. They represent the greatest potential for political photo ops and sound bites. Dead, raped, and / or kidnapped W.A.S.P. children are ratings boosters for today’s Don Henley-esque “Dirty Laundry” news cycle. Dead colored kids or dead white trash / redneck kids? NOT SO MUCH.

Oh, no he didn’t! Yeah. As a matter of fact, he did. Does anyone who reads my blog — besides Ronald Taylor — realize just how skewed public perceptions are when it comes to finding lost or murdered children? I’ll grant you that a greater statistically valid number of white children are kidnapped and / or killed each year than other children, but where is the outcry over the missing black children? How many young black boys did Wayne Williams murder in Atlanta before pressure mounted on the authorities to “Do Something?”

Casey Anthony stayed in the spotlight for three years and prosecutors could do little more than wring their hands. Earlier this year here in South Carolina, a black woman murdered two of her children in Orangeburg. It was out of the news in less than a week. Why?

Why all the psychoanalyzing Casey Anthony, Susan Smith, and Andrea Yates, but most people can’t even name ONE black mother/murderer or ONE black missing child. The ENTIRE WORLD knows who Jon-Benet Ramsey is. She has movies and memorials and web pages to perpetuate her memory. Can anyone — ANYONE AT ALL — tell me who Celina Janette Mays is? Since I’m fairly certain no one can, I’ll tell you who she is. She is a beautiful young black girl who went missing from her home in Willingsboro, NJ on December 16, 1996. That’s nine days before Jon-Benet was found murdered in her basement under what can only be described as bizarre circumstances. Where are Celina’s memorials? Where are her made for TV movies?

I know this must look like I am saying dead and missing colored children are more important than dead or missing white children. I most emphatically am NOT saying that. I believe the death or abduction of ANY child is a tragedy. I assure you, as anyone who knows me can attest, if Caylee had been MY daughter or granddaughter, the City of Orlando and State of Florida would have had to spend MUCH less money on a trial since I would have plead guilty to first degree murder with VERY exacerbating circumstances. I don’t have much faith in lawmen, with the possible exception of the Texas Rangers and the R.C.M.P. Those are two organizations bad people would be wise not to cross. I have no problem with vigilante justice.

I’m afraid the lack of attention on missing and murdered colored children is a symptom of something much more insidious. I think the lack of media attention is the direct result of things not being all that different now than they were in 1955 when young Emmett Till was murdered in Mississippi. I think the media, despite Oprah’s near canonization and BETs success, is a white man’s game and white children make the news. People of color are marginalized, and I think it’s because of a subtle attitude of “that’s what you can expect from them.”

I even have one concrete example — Ennis Cosby. Ennis Cosby, for those who don’t know, was the only son of beloved comedian Bill Cosby. Ennis was murdered in 1997 while changing a tire on the side of the road. Even though Ennis had never had any history of drug use or even any negative history at all, because he was a black man in a bad neighborhood, initial media kneejerk response was “drug deal gone bad.” Eyewitness testimony from Ennis’ friend present at the murder soon cleared the air, but that initial reaction was black = bad.

People of color are not the only marginalized group though. The poor and those on the fringes of society don’t get much news coverage of their tragedy either. If a girl goes missing from a trailer park in Detroit or El Paso, well, she must have just run away. Really, bossman? Even if she was NINE?

To bring this back around to Caylee and land this plane, I don’t think laws named for dead children are a good idea or good legislation. I believe Caylee is in a better place, ala Martina McBride’s “Concrete Angel”. Do we REALLY want to memorialize her with a law that remembers only her death?

Finally, I’d like to pose the question of how much have things changed in this country? July 4th was a week ago. How far have we come towards “all men (and women) being created equal?” In my opinion, not very far at all.

After all, not all slavery involves shackles and chains.

Love y’all and keep the faith and feet clean.

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2 responses »

  1. Tom, I saw similar cases when I was at Clemson as an undergrad in the early 90s. It always astounded me how money and skin tone managed to get the higher ups moving.

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