I just saw an advertisement for the CTV NewsNet coverage of the Robert Pickton murder trial. On one hand, I’m relieved that after all this time the trial is about to begin. On the other hand, there has been some backlash to the continued publicity among some groups in British Columbia, particularly from women’s groups. I’d like to add a thought or two, if I may.
Much is made about the “public’s right to know”. As a member of the public, I’d like to establish and enshrine right at this moment the right not to care. I am not interested in the day-to-day testimony, and I will not care until the verdict is in. The verdict is what is important, not the daily events in the courtroom. If I were one of the families whose daughters have vanished, I would be a little tired of the constant reiteration of the same speculation over and over again.
“The public’s right to know” is an excuse, and not a very good one at that. The media uses its’ supposed “championing of the little guy” language to disguise that fact that they are pandering to put butts in seats and eyes on screens. The transparent exploitation of tragedy to appeal to the baser parts of human nature is appalling. Why does the public have a right to know anything about this other than the verdict? The families of the victims will be in the courtroom, and as far as I’m concerned, those are the only people who have a right to the information presented at trial.
Let’s look closer at this supposed “right”:
1.) What constructive information will come from the details that are shared?
2.) How does knowing benefit the public at large?
3.) How does sharing this information potentially damage the families of the victims?
4.) How will the sharing of the information hinder the selection and voting process of a jury?
5.) Can a jury (or for that matter, a judge) be impartial, and remain so until the end of the trial, based strictly on what they have seen, and not be influenced by the rush to judgment that constitutes media coverage? No system of isolation is perfect.
There is no legitimate purpose to broadcast the details of this or any other trial. The purpose of the media is to make money for shareholders, and any implication that they are presenting you with unbiased information out of a sense of duty to the public is false. We are not being informed for our benefit, we are all the victims of a dishonest sales pitch. The media does nothing other than dishonor the families of the victims, and trivialize the lives and unfortunate deaths of too many unfortunate British Columbian women.
Robert W. Pickton may be a vile serial killer, but until he is declared so by a court of law, what happens between now and then is none of our business.