Padilla vs. Anna Nicole: The U.S. of Entertainment
Great editorial today in the Miami Herald on how we've turned into the United States of Entertainment. It begins:
Jose Padilla is not a dead buxom blonde, which may help explain why a hearing to determine his fitness to stand trial was no contest for the animated proceedings taking place one county to the north.
Anna Nicole Smith, dead two weeks, drew the cameras, the curious and the commentators. Thursday, a weepy Broward judge ruled on the fate of Smith's corpse as thousands followed the show on national television.
Down in Miami, the still-living Jose Padilla attracted just a couple of earnest reporters, some legal geeks and two cameramen who were stranded outside the federal courthouse because filming was banned inside. So it goes in these United States of Entertainment. Four years into the war in Iraq, torture has become the stuff of TV dramas while justice serves the cause of celebrity.
After a discussion of Padilla's case, it concludes:
Padilla, a former gang member, is not a particularly sympathetic figure. He is decidedly unsexy. And his case is complicated, the facts obscure.
But history will note that during one of the most important trials of our time, in a case that will test fundamental notions of American fairness and justice, the nation was transfixed instead by a tawdry story. Five years ago, an American citizen was arrested, held without charges and possibly tortured. What a downer. Bring on the bimbos and the hunky boyfriends; everything's going to be all right.
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