Quick…someone hide the ducking stool!
Posted on September 27, 2011 in Blog
Although I haven’t closely followed the Amanda Knox trial, I have certainly become interested in the language used to describe her in court. It is rare we see such displays of emotive and elaborate description, legal eagles are ordinarily known for their reserved and selective comment.
Knox is fighting to have her murder conviction overturned following a 26-year sentence together with her then boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito.
Addressing the jury, lawyer Carlo Pacelli said, ‘Within her lives a double soul: one which is angelic, good, compassionate … tender and ingenuous.” Pacelli continued, “And then a Lucifer-like, demonic, satanic, diabolical one which sometimes leads her to borderline and dissolute behaviour.”
Pacelli urged the jury not to ‘fall under the spell’ of Knox and described her as a she-devil with a dirty soul.
Looking at the language alone and not becoming embroiled in her guilt or innocence, I do feel that Knox is being billed quite sensationally as a femme fatale with the evil, almost mystical qualities that this archetype embodies.
I wonder if Knox’s former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito was described in such a colourful manner in his trial. Could it be that Western society vilifies women – particularly in regard to sexual crimes or those involving children – on a
scale that exceeds men who commit similar offences?
I found this quote from Michele Elliot, in a 2009 article in the Guardian. She writes about an unrelated crime to the one discussed here but her thoughts are interesting.
‘Women abusers are also treated very differently by the media. If a woman is accused of abusing
very young children, then she is likely to be far more vilified than if she were a male. It is as though we don’t really expect any better from men, but from a woman, it is the ultimate taboo.’
And I think the same applies in the Knox case where an attractive young woman appears to have willingly taken part in a
sexually-motivated murder. It seems sexual crime is a strictly male arena in the eyes of the law and the media and
Of course, I’m not suggesting that men have it easy. Sentencing as a whole is generally more lenient for women and, as Elliot points out in her article, sexual crimes against teenagers are certainly thought of as less serious when carried out by a female perpetrator rather than a male.
But that lawyer, Pacelli, really is wasted….with his imagination he should be on my Creative Writing course. Someone needs to tell him to “Calm down, dear.”