jeudi 5 février 2009

Welcome frenemies!

A few of my favorite things







I had a weird experience this week that ended up as an epiphany. It was a fairly typical day. I worked all morning and then took Neko for a long walk. I discovered upon my return that someone had blown up a photo of me and posted a URL to it on the Seattle PI blog. Not only that, but the poster posted as SkepticalBystander, thus stealing my name as well. Not that anyone thought it was me. That wasn't the point. The point was to inflict pain and send me a message: hey! We have been to your blog! We know who you are! We know where you live! We have invaded your space! We are space invaders!
Naturally, I called the PI and had the posts removed, but they sat online for at least an hour before I saw them. I don't know how many people happened to see them, saw my photo, visited my blog. Some other kind soul had the wonderful idea of copying the URL and posting it on another blog, much later in the day. A friend called and told me. I was on my way out, so I set my blog to private in order to think peacefully about what to do. I set it to private four minutes after it was posted.
I must admit it was jolting to see a giant photo of me come into view on the screen. When I called the PI, I was upset. When my friend called to tell me about the second one - surrounded by some silly posts about me and my husband following teenagers into a restroom, which in fact is not true, but never mind - I envisioned an exhausting battle for my privacy. And then I thought, "fuck it"! My life is an open book. If strangers and frenemies want to visit this blog, take photos from it, quote from it, ridicule what they find here, whatver - if that gives them satisfaction and fills their lonely hours, then so be it. I'm not going to live my life "as if." And neither should anyone else.
In fact, from now on, I'm going to use this space in part to write about the murder case I have been following since November 2007, which is when British exchange student Meredith Kercher was brutally tortured and then murdered. Three suspects were eventually apprehended, and one of them, Rudy Guede, an Ivory Coast national with dual citizenship, who has lived in Italy since the age of five, opted for a fast-track trial and has been sentenced to 30 years in prison. The other two suspects were indicted by the judge who found Rudy guilty and are currently standing trial. One of them is an American exchange student from Seattle, who was Meredith's flatmate. Her name is Amanda Knox. For reasons that may become clearer as I write, I became interested in this case and in the media frenzy surrounding it. I started reading and then posting on a couple of blogs.
For many reasons, which may also become clearer, this case has inflamed passions in the blogosphere. The discussion got very personal very quickly. Knox supporters in Seattle - some of them friends and family, including an ex-boyfriend, others working for the PR firm hired almost immediately after Knox was arrested - joined the fray. Being new to all of this I didn't know, but apparently Friends and Family of suspects often do get involved in these online battles. But most observers agree that this particular group is more vicious and aggressive than most.
My position from the start has been that of a skeptical bystander - hence my moniker. I did not and do know know if Knox was involved, but for a long time I have believed that there are enough clues and enough troubling elements that the Italians had every reason to indict her and Raffaele Sollecito, who is now her ex-lover. They had only just begun seeing one another when Meredith was murdered, but Knox has allegedly described their relationship as the most intense of her life. Remember, she was all of 20 when this happened.
For reasons that will emerge, I am one of the targets of much of the wrath of the hysterical pro-Knox contigent, but also of the hysterical anti-Knox contingent. The lunatic fringes, so to speak.
I don't know if this first interactive experience in the blogosphere will be my last. But I do know that I'll see this case through to the end. I never knew Meredith, and obviously never will, but I have grown to like her so much. My heart jumps whenever I see a photo of her smiling face. Such a lovely smile, both shy and inviting. Nobody can know what Meredith suffered, and nobody can pretend to understand or share the pain - the unbearable pain - of her surviving family. All I know is this: Meredith did nothing wrong, nothing to deserve this. What happened to her could have happened to anyone. It isn't because you've been raped or lost a loved one that you can relate. It is because you're a human being, and you're alive. But you could have been that other human being. You could have been the one who was home alone that night. And because you are lucky enough not to have been that human being on that particular night, you should care about her and what happened to her. No one is fussy; we are all potential targets. No one is lucky all the time, and anyone can get unlucky. On any given night. And when you read the report of the sentencing judge, and you begin to get a feel for what Meredith must have endured, you feel that justice must be done for her. Those accused of killing her deserve a fair trial and they shall have that. It might be a bummer for them to spend time in jail, but they are alive. They should be grateful for that.
So some little prankster decided to publish my photo on a blog. My privacy was invaded. Big deal. Then someone with a burning grudge decided to pile on a bit. Ouch! But you know what? I'm alive, and I'm so grateful to be living my life. What harm can a minor annoyance like that cause in an otherwise happy life? You know what they say? Living well is the best revenge!