Christine M. Flowers: Playing the girl card: Innocent or not, Amanda's act wasn't pretty

Amanda's tears.
Amanda's tears.
Posted: October 07, 2011

CASEY ANTHONY must have been smiling on Monday. Assuming she gets cable at her undisclosed location, Caylee's grieving mother would've learned that Amanda Knox also beat her murder rap. And that means Anthony now has competition for the "Most Hated Hot Babe" crown.

While their stories are different, their modus operandi are quite similar. Pretty girls with strong libidos and weak willpower get mixed up in some unsavory situations and then blame everyone but the Maneater in the Mirror for their woes.

I'll leave the criminal experts to disentangle the legal facts from the fiction. But as a lay observer, and a woman, I have some definite opinions about how beauty, youth and the willingness to play the victim affect our ability to gauge right from wrong, guilt from innocence.

From the moment she sprang into the public consciousness, Amanda Knox has assumed a contrite, deer-in-the-headlights look.

She's seduced the cameras with her doe eyes, so similar to Anthony's, and an expression that seems to say, "Why are these foreigners being so mean to me!"

Nowhere in that expression was there any remorse for the victim, Meredith Kercher. She did mouth some platitudes in front of the Italian judges about how dear a friend Meredith was (they'd known each other exactly a month) and how she'd never, ever want to cause her any harm (boo boopy doo!).

But the only person Amanda Knox felt truly sorry for was Amanda Knox. She just couldn't believe that her U.S. passport and honey tresses couldn't protect her against the corrupt Italian system, which actually provides more of a legal shield for the accused than our own (if that's even possible.)

That doesn't make her guilty. But it does lead us to examine how way too many female defendants play the victim card to deflect responsibility for their crimes. And Amanda did Casey one better. Not only did she bat her lashes and attempt to seduce the cameras from behind that silky curtain of hair, but she also played on the "Midnight Express" fears harbored by every American arrested abroad, the thought that the only country in the world where human and civil rights are protected is in the good old U.S. of A.

Amanda succeeded in convincing a lot of people on this side of the Atlantic that she'd been railroaded into a confession, that she was tired and manipulated by the Italian authorities into incriminating herself, and that doing cartwheels up and down the hallway of the police precinct after Kercher was murdered was perfectly normal activity.

I'm sure Casey Anthony would agree. I mean, some girls do cartwheels and publicly smooch with their boyfriends when under suspicion for murder, while others just enter hot-body contests while their toddlers are missing and presumed dead.

And here's the point: There may very well be legitimate reasons for the Italian appellate court to have overturned Knox's conviction, and you have to give the system credit for its willingness to re-examine the evidence and prove - despite criticism from Knox supporters - that it wasn't just going to rubber-stamp the shoddy work of the prosecutorial team.

And, as I was told after my column on Casey Anthony this summer in email after email, you can't convict a woman of murder just because she acts like a slut. (True, but you can if there's circumstantial evidence tying the slut to the crime.)

But there's a big difference between defending the integrity of the system, be it Italian or American, and treating an accused killer as a victim. There is something obscene in the way we often allow pretty, fragile women to escape retribution for crimes out of some twisted sense that females have traditionally been subject to a double standard, and so we need to treat them more gingerly.

You see it a lot in cases involving battered-spouse syndrome in which women who should have left instead kill their husbands, frequently while they are sleeping, and are called heroic.

Amanda Knox may be innocent of stabbing Meredith Kercher to death. Her only crime might have been sleeping around, doing drugs and being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

But any suggestion that she was an innocent abused by the evil system, just as any claim that Casey Anthony deserves to be left in peace to pursue her child-free existence, is - excuse my Italian - a big load of merda.

Christine M. Flowers is a lawyer. See her on Channel 6's "Inside Story" Sunday at 11:30 a.m. Email

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