Friday, December 31, 2010

Harvard Political Review Writer Alex Koenig Reproaches The Sliming of Italy’s Justice System

Posted by Peter Quennell

With the Pepperdine University and Washington University student newspapers consistently mis-reporting Meredith’s case, it is nice to see a Harvard publication getting it seriously right.

Alex Koenig writes a column for the Harvard Political Review. He is not commenting on the evidence of Meredith’s case as reflected for example on TJMK and in Massei. But he takes several deadly cracks at the arguments of the conspiracy theorists, which he doesn’t see reflecting the real world.

In 2008, 16,277 people were murdered in the United States. 1,176 of these murders were committed by women, of which about a third were confirmed to be white.

That means that in one year there were around 400 white female murderers on US soil”” the majority of whom were convicted to no public outcry. What America needs to ask itself is: does the fact that Amanda Knox is a white sorority sister exonerate her from the murder she is alleged to have committed on foreign soil?

Knox is currently serving a 26-year sentence in Italian prison, in Perugia, for the murder of her then-roommate Meredith Kercher. Seemingly lost among the outrage towards the Italian justice system, the demands of US government intervention in her defense, and the constant assertions of Knox’s innocence is the possibility that, maybe this once, the trained professionals who investigated, tried, and convicted the 23 year old Knox got it right.

Without getting into the facts of the case, and conceding that people are wrongly convicted on a regular basis both in the United States and abroad, we must consider just how America’s treatment of this case reflects upon our society.

The fact of the matter is, those that immediately claim that Knox was wrongly accused and jailed by a corrupt justice system make two extremely arrogant assumptions that reveal perverse American exceptionalism. 

1) It is assumed that, as an American ““ an American woman no less ““ Knox is incapable of murder. This case differs, of course, from the 1,176 domestic murders committed by women because, well, who knows?

2) It is assumed that not only is the Italian justice system incapable of fulfilling its legal duties, but that the intentions of the court were swayed by anti-Americanism.

This is not merely an abstract sentiment, but was actually articulated by Senator Maria Cantwell (D) of my home state of Washington. Cantwell, whom I generally agree with ideologically, released a statement saying that she “had serious questions about the Italian justice system and whether anti-Americanism tainted the trial.” She went on to say that she would seek assistance from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Regarding the first problem, I take Knox’s assumed innocence in the public eye to be a representation of national pride. I am as proud to be American as the next guy; I understand all the benefits being American has afforded me and appreciate the sacrifices men and women make each day to ensure that these benefits remain for me and my countrymen.

But assume the superiority of the same countrymen when compared to other citizens of the world I do not. It is as if Knox’s co-citizenship has absolved all her sins in the American court of public opinion. This, by itself, is difficult to grasp but can be forgiven.

What’s harder to forgive is the assumption that Knox has been wronged by a corrupt system because she is American.

Having lived in Italy for a year, I would never accuse the Italian justice system of being exceedingly efficient or flawless. However, I wouldn’t accuse the US justice system of this either.

Anti-Americanism does exist in parts of the world, but the chances of it being present in this trial are low. Are the judges supposed to see the conviction of an innocent American college student as a way to deter American tourists from coming to Italy?

“Putting this girl away for 26 years seems to be an easy way to get rid of those annoying tourists with their stupid hotel rooms, airplane tickets and restaurant bills. Good riddance!”

It’s not as if Knox is accused of murdering an Italian either. Kercher was a Brit. Raffaele Sollecito and Rudy Guede, Knox’s alleged accomplices who are both serving similar sentences for the same charges, are both Italian, although Guede emigrated from the Ivory Coast when he was five.

No, I doubt that anti-Americanism was involved in this conviction. It seems, instead, to be nationalism on the side of Knox’s supporters. Amanda couldn’t have possibly been the one at fault, she’s one of us.

And maybe they’re right. I really don’t know. What I do know is that the anger and offense that the American public has taken in response to this trial obscures the real tragedy at hand, the violent death of a young woman.

It’s possible that Knox has wrongly had her future taken from her. It’s a fact that Kercher has. As the appeal process continues and the story gradually slips out of the consciousness of the average American, with the protest left to the truly passionate among us,

I want to remind us all of one thing: Italy’s murder rate is 1/3 that of America. Perhaps, without the actions of one American there’d be one less death in Italy’s tally. I’ll leave that judgment up to the only court that really matters in such a case, the court of law.

One small correction to what Alex Koenig wrote. Italy’s murder rate is actually 1/6th that of the United States. It is a very law-abiding country with a very low crime rate and a very small prison population - less than 1/20th that of the United States.

But Alex is certainly right in his conclusions.Neither the Micheli not Massei Sentencing Reports show ANY sign of extreme nationalism.


You will see in the Comments there on the Political Review site that the conspiracy theorists have turned out in force and as things never go their way they are becoming even more rabid.

Some strong support for Alex Koenig seems called for.

One of the most confused, confusing and vicious commenters there, CD Host, posts misinformation now on his own site (Church Discipline) and on any website that will have him.

Our poster SomeAlibi addressed this message to him on PMF yesterday.

See my avatar? That’s in honour of your ludicrous claim on the Independent website that Amanda Knox was rabbit-punched in interview which put her life in danger. Amazing levels of horseshit that no-one has ever claimed in this case (not least Amanda who in her video testimony clearly mimics an open handed cuff over the head from the assailant she cannot identify from either of two alleged cuffs). Nor did you even know the basics about the length of interviews or when the statements were taken (you can see them here in the gallery with the times underlined in the original with Amanda’s signature) which you then base elaborate theories on, all of which are shown to be based on a foundation of sand.

But more than that, as to you, who referred to Meredith Kercher as “worm-food” on IMDB, once again, on behalf of myself and others: fuck off you loathsome inadequate. No wonder you were thrown out of your church. You lack the moral standing or intelligence to recognise that you have been expounding loudly on a case in which you are unversed in even the basics, just propaganda. You demean your own intelligence by spouting untruths as a lacky to those who can’t argue this case on the basis of the actual evidence but have to make things up to try to infuence public opinion. If you had a shred of decency, you would recognise you ought to have a very long look at yourself because you are a propaganda mouthpiece - a drone who is churning out the party line, based on the BS they told you, not the objective facts which you can verify yourself. What does that tell you about them or you?

Your permanent ban based on your callous comment about the victim of this murder is no doubt minutes away.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 01/18/11 at 03:48 PM | #


It seems that a lot of young people nowadays know how to work computers but nothing else.

They are not knowledgeable, thoughtful, and objective, nor able to employ logic and reason. Instead their heads are receptacles for unfiltered pap and propaganda. Yes,I know that most are not like that but when you read the sort of comments that we’ve been reading it makes one despair.

Personally I have come to believe that taking them on is just playing into their hands. They are not interested and we are just pushing their buttons. They react like rabid pavlovian dogs.

Just let them show themselves up for what they are. Morons.

Posted by James Raper on 01/18/11 at 07:40 PM | #

Hi James. Agreed on the depiction. A lot of corrections of their myriad “mistakes” by readers here have led more readers to PMF and TJMK where real facts allow them to make up their own minds.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 01/18/11 at 08:17 PM | #

James and Peter, I know you are discussing the commenters but Alex himself is a college student and a freshman at that! I am very impressed with his thoughtful reasoning. His writing is very clear and rational. Kudos to him for taking on such an inflammatory subject.

Posted by bedelia on 01/18/11 at 08:24 PM | #

I suggest to read carefully “Mr.Marler”‘s posts. He seems very well informed.

Posted by ncountryside on 01/18/11 at 08:52 PM | #

I think the author of this article made some great points. As an American, I have never felt when traveling to Europe that there was the slightest anti-American sentiment in Italy and was always well treated. Of course, I feel much of how one is treated is based on how they act toward the natives.

I have always gotten this vibe that initially, the Italian authorities were shocked themselves that this seemingly innocent girl could have been capable of this crime and on some level were hoping through their investigation she was not guilty. They certainly didn’t hesitate to believe her hokey story that Patrick Lumumba was the “real” killer, at first anyway.

The only reason I wouldn’t want to be tried in Italy over the US for a crime that I knew I was guilty of would be due to the fact that the Italian prosecutors would be more meticulous not to get anything wrong when possibly sending an American to prison for a long time-(if I was deemed photogenic enough for the American press to create a controversy over my guilt of course) and for this reason, I would be very nervous.

Posted by Kazwell on 01/19/11 at 07:32 AM | #


The Stiffnecked Truth: leopard can’t change his spots

Alex Koenig unmasks the pro-Knox camp as the radical Me First thinkers they are. They credit the Italian justice authority with no rights or power in Italy. Uber-nationalism maybe, or a hissy fit because a friend of theirs disgraced herself and they can’t get her out. So they condemn her courts, judges, and police. Koenig’s falcon eye spotted their movements in the grass.

Koenig is castigated for his term “the sanctity” of judicial process. It’s better than mob rule. Maybe they learned their respect towards elected authority from the example of Judge Heavey, who seems to have learned his from the high school dropouts before his bench.

I had grudgingly begun to respect Heavey after he was slapped on the wrist for illegal use of official letterhead which he used to send private opinions and interfering pleas to a distant prosecutor across the sea, based on his own prejudice planted by his young daughter. After a public outcry of foul play, he appeared to take his medicine like a man, seemed humbled and sorry, backed away from the poisoned swamp of Knox, and began living out a good example of learning from correction.

Now he’s right back in front of a Rotary Club pulpit expounding the same views as a private citizen. He’s technically within his rights, of course, but it reduced my admiration of him. He would have been wiser to stay silent a little longer and wait for Italian courts to decide the case to confirm at least by quiet self-restraint that Italian courts have the right to rule in this matter, not him.

Instead, he rails in a public venue against Prosecutor Mignini to whom he had at first written his embarrassing letters which got him censured.

Curt Knox has found a nice jacket to wear for Heavey at the local Rotary Club, but not for Mignini’s courtroom in the first years. Curt is sitting in the back of the Club smug and happy. Let me stop before I say something about this I’ll regret, a lesson I thought Judge Heavey was gallantly teaching me.

Posted by Hopeful on 01/19/11 at 05:09 PM | #

AK and RS dna evidence – contaminated

RG dna evidence – meticulously collected and valid

Antonio Coratolo’s memory – flawed and confused

AK’s memory – understandably flawed and confused (you’d be confused too after all that weed and blows to the head by someone or other)

RG’s knife carrying - evidence of homicidal tendencies

RS knife carrying – a harmless childhood hobby

Mignini’s eccentricities - signs of a damaged psyche

Amanda’s eccentricities - Amanda being AMANDA!!!!!!!

RG finger pointing – scurrilous lies

AK finger pointing – understandable under the crescendo of pressure

Witnesses for the prosecution – fame hungry liars

Witnesses for the defence – loyal, caring friends

American justice system – an example to the rest of the world (just look at those girl chain gangs!)

Italian justice – grindingly slow, corrupt, anti-American, Mediaeval, xenophobic, vibrator hating, misogynist

American press – unbiased and supportive

British press – tabloid gutter journalism

Meredith Kercher – sorry, who?

Amanda Knox – tragic modern heroine who foolishly remained in Perugia to help police with their enquiries and just look where that got her.

Posted by pensky on 01/19/11 at 07:24 PM | #

Like a rapier. Pensky you expose so much bluster in these sharp funny 2-line comparisons.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 01/19/11 at 07:51 PM | #

Hopeful, I could tell from Heavey’s non-apology apology to the State Ethics Board that he would be right out there again, as a “private citizen,” defending po’ li’l Amanda’s human rights.

I’m so sorry you got fooled. Hope you remember: Fulmewunz, shame on you, Fulmetwice, shame on me.

And Hopeful, as always, thanks for your sparkling writing. I especially loved this: “Koenig’s falcon eye spotted their movements in the grass.”

Thank you, Alex Koenig, for stating so well what so many of us have been thinking for the past few years. American exceptionalism has a long, proud, and sordid history. LOL

Posted by Earthling on 01/19/11 at 08:20 PM | #


Judge Heavey is sliming Italy’s justice system. I wonder if he has violated his agreement with the Commission of Judicial Conduct that admonished him. (see Steve Shay’s link to the Judge Heavey story in West Seattle Herald)

“The Commission alleged that Respondent (Heavey) had violated the Code of Judicial Conduct by writing three letters on his judicial stationery to officials in Italy, including members of the Italian judicial system, on behalf of Amanda Knox…; and speaking publicly on several occasions about that same pending criminal case in an attempt to influence the proceeding.”

Judge Heavey said his compulsion to right what he perceived as a wrong overcame his better judgment. He signed the admonition on July 29, 2010 in which he agreed with the findings of the Commission that “By lending his prestige of office on behalf of a person’s private interest (Amanda Knox), Respondent has negatively affected the integrity of and respect for the judiciary.”

Is his podium at the Rotary Club in recent days not considered speaking out in a public manner? Wouldn’t he have been right to avoid the appearance of impropriety? At first I thought he was within his rights to speak out as a private citizen, but having re-read the Admonition Order filed September 24, 2010 by the Commission of Judicial Conduct, State of Washington, I wonder if he hasn’t shown contempt for the leniency of that body?

Earthling pointed out that his non-apology apology was shades of things to come. So right. I think he’s on a suicidal mission and has found the right cause for his purpose. I will sadly but angrily leave him to it.

Posted by Hopeful on 01/22/11 at 02:04 AM | #

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